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Day 1

Today was the first full day of our trip to Russia.

We had left SFO on the 27th, arriving in Moscow a bit drowsy late in the afternoon on the 28th.  After a good night's sleep at the Hotel Izmailovo Delta, we ate a large Russian breakfast before the driver came to pick us up to head down to Ryazan. 

The team this year has changed plans a bit.  Due to the quarantine in the orphanage system, six of the eight team members decided to postpone their trip to March.  The other two of us me (Jeff) &  Vielka decided to continue on the originally planned dates.  If the quarantine holds, we will be doing ministry to orphanage graduates in Ryazan.  If it is lifted, we will go to the Rybnoe Orphanage.  We know that our final destination is completely in God's hands!

The ride down to Ryazan was snowy but quick.  We chatted as our van carried us, an interpreter and our luggage to a small hotel next to the “Ryazan Staraya” train station.  After dropping off our bags and grabbing some lunch, we decided to head over to the Fund Nadezhda Ministry Center in another part of the city.  This is the facility that Children's Hopechest, MPPC's missions partner in Russia, built with financial assistance from MPPC.  It is designed for Christian outreach to the orphanage system graduates.

The graduates trickled in over the afternoon at the Ministry Center.  We dabbled in karaoke and drank tea with the graduates, talking about their career plans after they finish their course of study.    After some time, we got to know the graduates much better and I played ping-pong with a 15 year old graduate who is newly living on his own.  This fact would be shocking to many Americans, but it is a reality in Russia.  Vielka took out her salsa Cds and taught the graduates how to salsa dance. 

One of the most interesting things we experienced on our first day here is the extent to which these teens have been impacted by Christian ministries at their orphanages.  We received numerous questions from the kids at Zarechney, Solocha and Sopozhok orphanages about the status of the Americans who came to camps at their orphanages, even years ago.  They asked about people from other states that we couldn't possibly know...but it was amazing how these missionaries stay fresh in their minds as they have moved on to this new chapter in their lives.

In the early evening, we rolled out of the Ministry Center and said goodbye to the graduates until tomorrow when we will be joined by 18 missionaries from Mariner's Community Church in Half Moon Bay.