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This was our last full day at Rybnoe Orphanage, and the feelings of leaving began to kick in.


Our morning was spent in our camp activities, though the culmination of days of friendship shined through the entire time.  Our sports hour was packed with kids swinging on ropes in the orphanage gym and Frisbees being thrown in the hallway.  On many occasions, the kids looked up to us and asked “Ti zaftra yezhiash?” which means “Are you leaving tomorrow?” When we responded “Da”, they usually said “zhal”, which means “it’s a pity”.  When language lacked, hugs were abundant.


During our skit time, we reflected a bit on Christmas and after Jeff shared his story, one girl told us that she wanted to share a bit about her own difficult background.   Of course, always wanting to respect the children’s privacy we never make inquiries for such information, but on this occasion just listened to her as her American friends.


The afternoon was dominated by final day details, culminating with the camp talent show.  Children performed beautiful Russian songs and dances for us, and we amused our hosts with our incredible proficiency in playing the recorder (possible exaggeration).  Ben showed us how to make an apple magically appear out of a bag and we all performed a dance number about a grasshopper.


Having been able to finish our gift bags and final organization earlier in the day, we split off and spent time with the kids and staff.  Some put on their winter coats and took a walk with the kids in the snow while others went up to the family units.  It was a great way to wrap up the day on a personal note, solidifying the friendships that had been built.


When we said goodnight to the children, they packed the room and hugged us all.  It was nice to see everybody from younger kids to older teenagers joining the circle at night.  The younger kids gave big hugs and the teenagers gave the men a high five and back slap, AKA the cool hug.


While we look forward to returning home soon, those feelings are diluted by the sadness of saying goodbye.  Tomorrow morning we will hand out gifts and get on the van to Moscow.