Russian Flag

Day 9

PictureThis was a morning full of hugs, good byes, presents, more hugs, packing and cleaning, more hugs, loading the van, more hugs, pictures, more hugs.......   Today was also a day full of different emotions by all.  Some are happy with the camp but looking forward to be heading home,  others want to stay longer and continue to touch these kids' hearts and be touched too, and others may not be sure of how they feel, being a bit confused and mixed up with their emotions, thoughts and tiredness.

PictureSo the day began with a morning devotional on "compassion" by candelight as the power went out many times this morning.  It finally came back on mid-way through breakfast and then we could set-up all the gift bags and we were ready for the good-bye ceremony.  It was a memorable time focused on the friendships that have been renewed or created between the kids, staff, and team, as well as friendships between the US and Russia and the continuing of MPPC's partnership with Children's HopeChest and the Rybnoe orphanage.

With the passing out of the gift bags comes a receiving line of handshakes and hugs from the team, to the staff and kids.  What an amazing feeling to be hugged over and over by these kids.  I know we each have gained so much with our days here and the love that was shown by so many.  A few examples I saw today:

- One small boy had shyed away from any hugs each night when we went to the famlly units to say Good Night.  He may take a pat on the back or give a handshake but he stayed far enough away and said No to hugs.  We respected that and still gave him a smile.  This morning he gave everyone at least a quick hug in the receiving line, and later he waved over one of the team members for a bear hug :)  So sweet to see how these kids open up. 

- There was also a large group of teenage boys that helped load the vans and see us off.  Many of them reached out for hugs again and again, even one of the toughest boys we had at camp.  To see his transformation over the last few days from a bully to a cooperative and happy kid has been amazing.  We are reminded again about how overflowing love and compassion can prevail.

- Seeing a few of the team members and kids they really connected with, just hugging and holding and smiling and crying for a long time. Sharing some last kind words and wisdom.

- The tiresome service of the four translators!!  They were amazing in so many ways from interpreting to helping set-up crafts, to playing games with  the kids, to staying up late at night translating letters, to helping us with the computer and email, helping us understand russian culture better, and on and on....

PictureSo we are now in Moscow heading off to bed before a day of sight-seeing and learning more about Russia history.  However ever present in our minds and heavy on our hearts are the the memories of the last week and this morning.  I know each team member is going to miss the nightly hugs and may reach out to many of you - friends and family - to share the stories and hugs with. 

 Spokoini Noche (Peaceful Night to you)!