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Today we had a really good time with the kids in the morning playing games and doing crafts.  In the afternoon we went to the local monastery.  All of the buildings on the monastery campus were very beautiful.  It was also great that the orphanage directory and several members of the orphanage staff came with us, including the house mother of family five who helped organize the trip for us.  She also knew the priest who gave us the tour and helped fill in extra information about the history of the monastery.

In the evening, we hosted a party for the older boys (8th grade and older) while the women went to sauna (“banya” in Russian).   In order to build relationships, we used pre-written questions written on cards that were dealt out to the boys.  Each boy then had to answer their question before we served the snacks and drinks.  Some example questions were “If you could invent anything, what would it be?”, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and “What do you like about yourself?”  The activity went well, not only did most of the kids answer the questions, but they also asked to deal the cards several times more so they could answer more questions.

After “good nights” to the kids we were up late preparing gift bags that we will give to the kids and staff before we leave on Saturday.

Overall we are tired, but God has been giving us the strength to make it through, love the kids and do so with lots of joy and peace.  It has been a wonderful experience getting to know the staff and the kids and I’m already thinking about coming back on a future trip.  It has also been great getting to know three of the kids more deeply and I plan to stay in touch by writing to them.  It has been a very enjoyable time and I don’t want to leave.