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Day 7

"Moving forward with a changed heart"

PictureToday was our last day at the orphanage and it was a bitter-sweet moment to see the children and staff one last time.

To start our day we began with a farewell ceremony to thank the staff and children for their welcome and warm hospitality; it has become a tradition to provide gifts to the staff as a token of our appreciation and gifting each child with a gift bag of scarves, gloves, toys and school supplies. The reactions of the children as they were each called up by name was priceless - every child lit up with a smile and gave each team member a hug of gratitude. It was obvious that God's love was present in their home.

As the ceremony neared it's end, the first snowfall of our trip began to dress the outside in white. We could see thousands of flakes rain down as we gave our hugs and said our goodbyes. Receiving snow as we prepared to depart was magical. All along our trip we had hoped to experience a Russian snow day. At last it had arrived.

PictureAfter warm hugs and sad goodbyes, we loaded onto our bus and embarked on a three-hour road trip from Ryazan to Moscow. At this point the team shared silence and reflection for personal prayer, and wished well upon our new friends left behind. It was a quiet and solemn bus ride.

As our morning reflection reminded us this morning, ("I will never leave you nor forsake you" Joshua 1:5-6), though we had to leave our friends physically, they will never leave our hearts. Our love will always be unconditional. There is comfort in knowing that we carry a shared experience of sincere love and humbleness.

With every child, God has a promise. He reminds us constantly (Jeremiah 29:11) that he has a plan for everyone; plans to prosper us and not harm us, knowing what is best and bringing it to pass.

PictureGod knew exactly what he was doing when he called each one of us on this trip. It doesn't seem to amaze me that He would reveal his purpose for each one of us. With this trip being my first, I now understand what unconditional love means; despite our differences in language or any other barriers, love is universal. God is love (1 Corinthians 13).

Until we meet again....