Day 5. Our last day at the orphanage. What a day. Last night as we were preparing for our final day, we struggled between the happiness the kids gave us and the sad feeling from realizing we may not see them again once we leave. We quickly agreed to focus the next day on loving the kids and enjoying the little bit of time left with them. That decision soon became a huge blessing to us all. After our morning skit about the importance of listening to God as our coach in life; the little kids left and the fun began. The teens began a game of “Spy” before playing an energetic game of what we called Fort where we simply built two forts on opposite ends of the gym and tried to tag each other with balls from the ball pit. As soon as the game began, the gym was filled with smiles and laughter. The rest of the day was filled with para-cord bracelet making and ended with lots of smiles and picture- taking.
The little kids were kept occupied with multiple crafts including Olympic rings, duct tape whiteboards; and of course, lots of stickers. Their day was filled with loads of hugs, snuggles, and smiles; and ended with stuffing fabric heart pillows to remind them to be kind, and let them know they will always be in our hearts.
After returning home we spent some time debriefing our ministry; and we could not stop talking about how much we love these kids and the time we had with them. As we drew pictures of moments experienced throughout the week, each person could not stop smiling (with quite a few of us beginning to cry.) Even though these kids are living in an orphanage, every one of them brought so much joy to our lives. It is safe to say we will not forget our time here, or the impact these wonderful kids have had on us.
Now that we have finished our time at the orphanage, we are preparing to do some more sight-seeing. Soon, we will be leaving to participate in the tradition of watching the bridges go up in St. Petersburg. Every day at 1:30am all the bridges in the city go up to allow large cargo ships to enter from the Baltic Sea. This event is attended by many tourists, along with a large amount of locals; some of whom watch the raising of bridges every night.
Tomorrow we will embark on our long-awaited journey to the Hermitage Museum. This museum was the Winter Palace that Peter the Great built for his daughter, which now houses one of the largest museums in the world, with art from all over the world. The Hermitage consists of the Winter Palace and five other former “palace” buildings. Rumor has it that even if we spent only 30 seconds at every work of art, it would still take us three years to see everything. Needless to say, the few hours we spend there, will be filled with seeing as many pieces as possible.
Thank you for all your prayers and encouraging comments. Please pray for us as we spend our last day in Russia and then head back home to share all of the memories with you, our family and friends.
The Russia GO! Team (written by Bethany and Melissa)