It has been a couple days since we returned from Slobodskoy Russia, stopping along the way in Kirov for the final supper with the translators and disciplers, and then Moscow for a day of rest and gift shopping before boarding the flight back home to RDU. The train ride back between Kirov and Moscow is a special part of the physical travel for many. It is a time of utter relief, rejoicing, companionship, and exuberance, for we have just spent a most remarkable week together. There is no difficulty in sharing among ourselves why we are called to go, the beautiful people we serve and the beautiful people who serve us. We are also a tightly knit group now, as we have worked closely together every day. We can fit eight or ten comfortably in a sleeper car designed for four, sitting on two bench seats facing each other, maybe some hanging over the edge of the top bunks, taking turns telling stories while the rhythmic clang of the tracks and gentle swaying of the cars soothes our tired selves. Bread, cheese, salami, chocolates, bananas, and oranges are all part of a welcome feast of celebration. The translators and disciplers have stayed behind, except Sveta, leaving us with a tinge of sadness, but hope for the next journey to Russia.
Traveling to Slobodskoy is just a part of Mission 1:27, but it is an important part. It’s obvious that we are there to serve the children. But when I think of our purpose, I also think of the translators and the disciplers, for they are part of us and we are part of them. They share a similar passion for the orphans, and without them we would struggle with simple things like transportation, meals and hotels. We would also struggle with complicated things like communicating with the children and with those that care for them. We may even struggle with the witness and testimony that we hope to find, because much of it is given to us through the translation of words and the interpretation of actions and events. We are visitors, but they are part of the country and are responsible for what we understand during our trips to Russia, and afterward as well. We are inseparable in purpose and hope.