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Day 9

Today was our last full day in Moscow and we spent most of it touring the city.

Day 9We started it with breakfast in the hotel and a team debriefing on our impressions of our time at the orphanage.  Overall we are happy with how things went and feel we had good interactions with orphanage staff and kids, and that we worked together well as a team.  Some areas of concern for us were continuity of interaction with the kids at the orphanage now that we are leaving and continued support for the kids that graduate out of the orphanage.  The former is addressed in part since Elena, one of our translators, comes once per week to the orphanage to interact with the kids.  We also hope that as a team and as part of the larger community of sponsors and alumni of past trips to the orphanage we will be able to continue to write to the kids to provide encouragement and support.  As for the latter issue, we were all happy to see that the ministry center in Ryazan which we visited is an important step in the direction of providing support to orphanage graduates, and that a mentorship program for graduates is also spinning up.  There is still much that can be done for the Rybnoe orphanage, but we feel that as a team and as a church, we are having a positive impact on the orphanage.

Day 9Around 10am we were met by Katya from Fund Nadezhda (Children's Hope Chest's Russian branch) and headed into town on the Metro.  Our first stop was Christ the Savior Cathedral, which is the seat of the Russian Orthodox church.  The cathedral had been torn down during Soviet times, but was rebuilt between 1995 and about 2000.  The inside was amazing with its many icons, murals and golden inlays.  We also got to see part of a Russian Orthodox service which was underway.  Since most of us didn't understand Russian, it was hard to know what was going on, but it was interesting to see how the priests officiated both in front of the people and also from behind closed doors after retreating into an inner sanctuary area within the cathedral.

From Christ the Savior we walked to the Kremlin and Red Square where we stopped for lunch at a cafe inside "Gooms", a mall on Red Square that used to be the Soviet State department building.

After lunch we toured through St. Basils, the famous church on Red Square with the onion domes which was built by Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century to celebrate victories over the Tatars in the Kazan region.  While it is magnificent from the outside, it was surprising how small and cramped it was on the inside (albeit with some beautiful artwork and iconography).

Day 9By this point most of the team had had enough of the cold weather (about 15 degrees Fahrenheit today) and we headed back to the hotel. The evening consisted of a run to a nearby shopping center for some gifts and souvenirs and dinner in the Hotel restaurant.

Tomorrow we depart for the airport and our long trip home at 8:45am. We all look forward to seeing our loved ones and sleeping in our own beds, but at the same time will miss our time with the kids and staff at the orphanage.