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Day 2

PictureToday was our first full day with the children and what a beautiful day it was! We watched a concert, played with the youngest children, and did sports and crafts with the older children.

The camp started with an impressive concert and welcoming ceremony by the orphanage children. The children performed a skit that included traditional “yolky” (New Years Tree) dancing and games. During the ceremony awards were given to students for good grades, good behavior, and the best family unit. As someone who has been coming to Russia for 12 years I personally was encouraged during the program to see the children receive gifts that were donated by a Russian company, and a representative of the company speaking to the children and presenting the gifts. This was a dream and prayer of mine becoming a reality.

While the concert was spectacular, the highlight of my day demonstrates the lasting impact of camps and the people that have come over the years. It started as I sat down to watch the concert; I looked across to the stage and saw a young man talking photos. When he turned around I instantly recognized him as a boy that I had first met at another orphanage 11 yrs. ago, when he was 7yrs old! We last saw each other 5 years ago! We both recognized each other at the same time and beamed with delight and tears in our eyes at seeing a long, lost friend. At the end of the concert we immediately hugged and shared our delight at reconnecting. Later he and I found time to sit and chat. He shared that he had moved to this orphanage when his closed last year, then we discussed what we were doing now, how things had changed in both of our lives, and memories of the past. PictureThis young man had tears in his eyes as he asked about men and women that had come to his orphanage to run camps over the years. He sat and listed name, after name of people he had friendships with over the years, it was so powerful! He went on and shared his desire to live a healthy life when he leaves the orphanage and expressed curiosity about trying to make a choice of what he will study when he leaves at the end of this school year. One thing he was very clear about was that he wanted to be different and make good choices!

When I agreed to come to the camp this year I was a little unsure of why I was supposed to come, but I knew I was supposed to come and did so as an act of obedience. Today I discovered why I am here, to be encouraged that the years of service and prayers of myself and others, leaves a lasting legacy in the children that could change the course of their future. So today I want to say “thank you” to all of you that have come before, and to those that have faithfully prayed and support these children in various ways, you are changing lives! Today I got to witness this first hand and still have tears in my eyes as I reflect on it!