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Day 1

The team had an easy and safe trip from San Francisco to Moscow.  The only problem we encountered was that two of our bags missed our connection and came late.  Fortunately, two days later our luggage was delivered to the orphanage in Rybnoe and everything was intact. 

On our first full day in Russia, the team met early in Moscow and did our first devotional study together.  We then ate a hearty Russian breakfast and got on the van to head to the orphanage.  At that time we met our Children’s HopeChest guide and host for the trip, Galena.  Galena speaks excellent English and she made our travel to the orphanage quite easy.

We made a quick stop in on the outskirts of Moscow at a large supermarket and purchased one hundred and fifty liters of bottled water for the team.  The team members on their first trip to Russia got a small taste of Russian culture by wandering the supermarket aisles and seeing many unusual Russian products for sale. 

We arrived in Rybnoe at the orphanage about 3 pm to a warm welcome by staff and kids alike.  Many kids recognized a few of us from past camps, and they were also curious to meet our first time team members.  All of the kids, even the smallest ones, pitched in to carry our bags and water into the orphanage. 

We unpacked and familiarized ourselves with our new surroundings.  Then, we attended a welcoming ceremony held in our honor.  Each team member was assigned to one of two teams for the duration of the camp.  Half of us are ‘Pirates” and the other half are “Black Pearls”.  Many people say the Pirate team is the most fun, but it is a matter of opinion, of course. 

Each American had to pass a test prior to joining their team.  Our tests varied by individual.  For example, one of us got to pantomime being a fish, one of us had to say “I love you” in Russian, and another had to solve a Russian riddle.  Two of our team members had a race blowing up balloons, another had to throw darts, another had to jump rope, and one team member was asked to sing a song.  We all joined him in the singing of our national anthem.  Once we passed our tests, we went on to enjoy singing and dancing by the orphanage children and staff.  The ceremony lasted about an hour.

After the ceremony, we had our first dinner at the orphanage.  After dinner, we went outside and started to get to know the children a little better.  We listened to disco music, and some of the children danced.  Team members also taught the children how to throw a Frisbee and had a relaxed game of Frisbee catch. 

We ended the day with a quick planning meeting and some prayers.  Everyone was excited to begin the full day of activities planned for the following day.  Even though most team members were still pretty tired from jet lag, everyone felt a call to service which kept our spirits high.  Even though it was still light outside, most team members went to bed early, by 10 pm. 

It was a successful and fun beginning to our trip.