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DAy 4

Happy New Year Everyone!

We began our day with devotional and an icebreaker at the Ministry Center. The graduates, staff and team gathered together in the living room and we each shared something about ourselves to get to know one another a little bit better. We had a great time discussing God and his friendship to us. We felt so happy to be able to connect at a different level,especially by sharing our personal perspectives on how we view friendships in general and how God is supposed to be our best friend before anyone else. It was truly a blessing for our New Year! 

At lunch time, we had several opportunities to minister with other kids, but at this time, God allowed me to enjoy the teenagers from the Mariner's team. Drew — Jeff's cousin, Vivi, and Nicky were so much fun to get to know as well. They have such a passion for being here and sharing their own gifts and talents with the graduates. They were very excited to tell me how they feel so privileged to serve at this time in their lives. I was truly impressed with their stories because despite being busy with their lives as students, they seem to look forward to serving in this ministry rather than taking a vacation. It was so inspiring to see teenagers being so giving and loving with one another.

We had a special visit today from Valery, the Director of the Rybnoe Orphanage. I must say that Jeff and I were so delighted to see him here. He personally invited us to come on Monday and Tuesday of next week to visit the orphans. It was music to our ears. We've been praying all week for God to allow us (Jeff and me) to visit the children and bring a little bit of New Year and Christmas celebration. God is just amazing!  The door opened - and it's a true blessing. We are looking forward to going next week;  in the meantime, we are preparing a few items to bring with us so that the kids and staff feel the warmth of the holidays from their American friends.

We arranged the living room furniture and it became a “party room” for the day. We had dancing, karaoke and social time throughout the day. The teenagers from the Mariners team shared music from their iPods and the graduates were very intrigued to watch them dance. After awhile, all the teenagers (graduates and American teens) requested that I teach them “salsa” and there I was again, more salsa for the day! The translators were having a great time learning the new steps (except for Lena — she was busy translating all the letters from the sponsors - sorry Lena!)  They did so well. By the end of the day everyone had a a great time being themselves - enjoying the graduates and so many great Russian songs (wish I knew what they were saying!).  It was just awesome!

The team ended the day by having dinner with the translators, the MC staff. It was so relaxing and rewarding!