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Day 2

December 31st was our first full day serving alongside the team from Mariner's Community Church from Half Moon Bay.

We started the day with a 7:30 AM devotional.  Because space is limited in a Russian hotel (and we of course would have to pay to use the conference room), we did our devotional in the hotel's breakfast room, competing for loudness with the televisions that were playing.  We made sure to lift up a special prayer for the children in the orphanages and prayed that would would indeed get a chance to see them during our stay in Russia.  But, we know that God will open that door if he intends, so we are focusing on walking through the door that is open, Ministry to the graduates.

We continue to be impressed with the Fund Nadezhda Ministry Center.  It is spacious and has good facilities for the type of outreach that is necessary for these kids.  The staff tells us that many kids are regulars at the center.  We already noticed when we arrived on our second full day that the same group of kids had come back.  Previously they had stayed all day.  There really is a large mix of talents in our group that manifest themselves in Ministry.  The Mariners team has many teenagers that enjoy going out to play snow soccer with the older boys.  Many of the women busily prepared gift bags for the graduates and for the children in the orphanages.  There were games and crafts   as well.  Everybody seems to be having a great time and building friendships.

One distinct thing that I have noticed so far is that the graduates greet us in very formal terms.  I have been hoping that they could regard us as friends and not as just visitors.  They tend to say “Zrastvootye” when we arrive instead of the more informal “Privyet” or even the highly informal “Zdarova!”.  They also use the formal usage of you, “Vui” as opposed to “Ti”.  Perhaps it will take time to break the ice.  Some of it is obviously cultural as well.

Many of the kids left earlier because New Years is a huge holiday in Russia. Under Soviet rule, it was emphasized in lieu of Christmas because of the communist view of religion.  People eat a large festive meal with their families and friends and generally celebrate all night.  For Russians, this celebration frequently equals considerable drinking (and considerable sleeping on New Years Day). The police began lining the streets of Ryazan early in order to deal with the inevitable chaos later on.

  After having some dinner and heading back to the hotel, we played games and took a stroll to victory square to see the sights before watching President Medvedev's address to the nation in the few minutes before midnight.   As the President addressed the nation with the silhouette of the Kremlin behind him, he reminded the nation that Мы любим наши дети, which means that we love our children.  Please pray that we can impart that the knowledge that God loves them too!