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Day4

PictureNew Year’s Eve is one of the most popular holidays of the Russian culture. Much preparation goes into preparing food, entertainment, and festivities to celebrate the turning over of a new year. Celebration at the Rybnoe Orphanage is no exception.  This year, the celebration was even more grand as it marked the orphanage’s 50 year anniversary!

We awoke this morning to a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. The craft room was open and attracted kids of all ages to building wooden houses, beads and snowflakes. Meanwhile a group of boys joined in on a snowball fight for the daily sports event. Relationships continued to form and grow during activities and play time between organized events. The afternoon kicked-off with our first drama. Norm shared his personal story which spoke directly to the several teenage boys who “just happened” to be in the room.

PictureWhile the older children retired to their family units to help their caregivers prepare for the big orphanage dinner and celebration that evening, our team joined the pre-school unit to engage the younger children in games and crafts.  Each child was given a gift bag of toys, socks, and a toothbrush/toothpaste as our special gift. Before the final celebration, team member split up to visit individual children with whom they each made connections. The one-on-one time with these kids was extra special as it deepened relationships as we were able to visit the children in their own homes and simply get to know each other better.

PictureThe New Year’s celebration was a joint event including all family units in the cafeteria. We were invited to open the program with a few traditional American Christmas songs including Silent Night, Jingle Bells, and Frosty the Snowman (thanks to Norm who played our snowman) and even a traditional Russian New Year’s song (which we learned in Russian!). The family units invited each of us to join their tables for dinner. We participated in several traditional New Year’s games with Father Frost (thanks to Donna for participating as Father Frost’s granddaughter!).

After an exciting time of fun, laughter and lots of friendship, we retired to our room to continue the celebration and watch the presidential speech at midnight. Happy New Year everyone!