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Today was bittersweet as we wrapped up camp and are now in Moscow.  The morning was a whirlwind of “good byes” as we took the gift bags into the cafeteria and presented them to the kids.  Other than a hiccup when we realized we’d left the bags for the secondary school boys in the supply room, things went smoothly.  Compared to past years it seems like a lot more kids were willing to come up and give us a hug as they received their gifts.  It was also a pleasant surprise to have the “kinder” kids ages 3-7 attending since they usually stay segregated from the rest of the kids in their own unit.  It was really cute seeing the 3 ½ year old boy come up and get his bag and carry it back by himself. 

After the gift ceremony we had the traditional protracted process of saying “goodbye” as we got our luggage and loaded our bus.  The bus arrived somewhat delayed, however, so when we finally did pull out there were fewer kids around than usual.  It was also interesting to see that the most persistent kids seeing us off were some of the teenagers who had not participated much in camp activities and had been slow to open up during the week (I think they thought they were “too cool for camp”).

For many on the team there are mixed feelings about leaving.  On the one hand, we had only just begun to get to know some of the kids and have them start engaging with us so it is sad to not be able to continue that process.  On the other hand, jet lag, long days and sleeping in an unfamiliar location have taken their toll on most of us so it is nice to have some rest in Moscow and the transition home to look forward to.

The bus ride to Moscow was pretty quiet as people mostly spent time in quite reflection and personal activities.  We had a pretty typical stop at McDonald’s in Kolomna for lunch and were happy to be typical Americans and eat food we are used to (although we tried some items you don’t find at McDonald’s back home such as a pork burger, a fish wrap, Brie nuggets and apricot pies).

In the evening we went to the Arbat Street district of Moscow for a dinner of traditional Russian fare at “Yolki-Palki” and then did some shopping.  Helen, who did a great job translating during our time at the orphanage along with Lena and Rita, helped us out as she is staying with us to be our guide and translator in Moscow.

The evening finished up with a time of debriefing and prayer which went well.  The team did a good job of opening up and discussing both what went well and what could have gone better with the camp and our interactions as a team.  Notes were also taken for the benefit of future teams.

Now we are off to sleep and are looking forward to our tour of Moscow tomorrow!