Well, our final days in Russia have been quite the adventure. From saying our goodbyes at the orphanage to seeing more beautiful sights around the city, we have made these days count. Here is a recap:
Sunday (in the 90 degree heat), we went to our final church service and our favorite post-church food spot, the Teaspoon. We had our final servings of borsch and blini (crêpes), which were delicious as always. After, the team went to the Summer Gardens and had a picnic, spending some quality time in the city together for our final days. It was absolutely gorgeous. I am continually reminded how blessed I am by this remarkable team and the time we spend together – there’s never a dull moment.
Yesterday was our last day at the orphanage. The kids were having a rough Monday, but we enjoyed being at the playground and doing our final craft with them! It was so awesome that they remembered us and the time we spent with them before we left for camp. It was as if no time had passed. We surprised the workers at the orphanage by speaking much better Russian than we did before. One said, “They speak!” Being at camp for ten days and helping with the teens there definitely helped our language skills more than we thought. We ended our time with the teens. We taught them how to play American Football – a more revised version – and played for about 40 minutes. Krista explained the rules, and made sure we didn’t cheat (although that happened anyway). Personally, that was the highlight of our time with them. They’ve been wanting to play for a while now, and they had a football, so we figured it would be a good treat for them and for us! We also played a few rounds of volleyball and came to a close with making friendship bracelets in a common color so we would remember each other. Well, Krista, McKenzie, and I made the bracelets while the guys held the strings for us. It was funny to see the tough guys holding the strings and wanting the bracelets afterward. One guy said, “Let’s just make bracelets and talk.” It showed us that they had become comfortable enough with us to just sit and be. To us, that meant more than anything. It was hard to say goodbye to our new friends, but we know that God has them in His hand, no matter where their paths lead them.
We said our goodbyes and took a few last pictures together, then headed our separate ways. Tanya took us to an authentic Russian restaurant, Dachniki, set up like a dacha, which is a Russian summer home. It was so cute. They had a fairytale cartoon playing about three sisters and a king, Tanya was feeling nostalgic telling us about it. It was such a good way to end our day together as a team, and the palemini, morse, and dessert helped too.
Today, on this not-so-hot Tuesday, the girls went to the State Political History Museum and took our last metro rides in St. Petersburg. It was bittersweet, I suppose. Although at one point I’m sure we stopped breathing (except for Tanya) when the metro train stopped for about ten minutes in the middle of the tunnel. Tanya later told us the trains were backed up because one left later than it was supposed to. No worries, in the end! Tonight, we are getting late night dessert and seeing the bridges in St. Petersburg all light up for the White Nights Summer Festival!
Tomorrow, we are going to Peterhof Palace – something Krista has been waiting for since the beginning of our trip – and walking around the gardens and enjoying a bring-your-own-PB&J lunch.
We are packing up and getting ready to say goodbye to this beautiful city and our host, who has been pretty awesome. Pray for safe travels (and our heavier suitcases) as we are all heading back to the States on Thursday. We are all so thankful for your support over the last six months and we can’t believe the trip is coming to a close. We look forward to sharing our experiences with you when we get the pleasure of seeing each and every one of you upon our return!
Friends, God is so good. He works in ways that we can never fully comprehend, and he has shown the four of us that anything is possible with Him by our side. This last month of being in Russia has been a rollercoaster ride and we are thankful for every minute of it. We are walking away with memories and relationships that will last for a lifetime. Thank you again for supporting us, SPRINT, SunErgos International and the work that God is doing in Russia.
Little flock, over and out.