|Patty and Nastia cut fruit for breakfast|
|Knife wielding teenagers are a lot of fun in the kitchen!|
So, back to the day...
|Waiting to go back to the orphanage and "pack up".|
So, the money that was given to us for the air conditioner wasn't in a condition to be changed here, so I ended up using our own bills for that transaction. This left me without enough funds to get through the process so Marsh had to wire money to me.
To make this part of the story short, let me just say that Western Union is NOT the way to go. For the same price as it was taking Western Union to make me wait three days, sweat over it and end up cancelling it, MoneyGram had the money there instantly.
Still, we had the issue of driving to a bank on the other side of town, finding out that their "machine" that does this wasn't working and then driving back to a bank that was closer to our apartment to find that it was closed for lunch so we went to find a way for me to be able to call Marsh about another issue because my phone for this trip doesn't allow me to call out of the country.
We went to the post office to buy and use a calling card and, just as we walked in, my facilitator's phone rang. Though we had 10 minutes before the scheduled party, they were saying all the children were ready and waiting. We walked back out.
Guests of Honor
We joined them and watched a wonderful show. One little girl sang and danced a little dance, dedicating it to Nastia. Two teenage boys did an amazing hip-hop/break dance routine and dedicated it to Ruslan. Two children we know, Yuri and Yulia, both performed in their own routines.
|Yuri dancing with two other boys to "Puttin' On The Ritz"|
We were swarmed, but the kids were all very careful. I did almost lose my balance a few times!
A few special children, children I had come to really know and love, stayed and hugged me for a long time. One little girl (actually, she's 10 so she's not so little) came right up to me, crying and hugging me so long. I just love this sweet girl and I couldn't help but just weep right along with her as we held on for as long as we could. Another little boy who is listed on the hosting program this year but will not have his paperwork ready for another year, stayed with me the rest of the time. He and I had become very good friends, but Chris was his real buddy.
Another of Nastia's friends just ran out crying and every time she saw us, she ran away. It was heartbreaking...literally heart breaking. All of these children want families so badly. My facilitator was very generous in saying that the children were crying because they are happy for Ruslan and Nastia, but let's be reasonable. I wouldn't be crying for their joy if I were a kid. Ruslan was crying a little, too, and I guarantee it wasn't because he was joyful.
This is a huge page change for them. One they have anticipated and hoped for, but let's face it...as Chris said, these are the friends they have been family with for 2 1/2 years. It's not an easy goodbye.
|Saying goodbye to Jack (I don't think his name is Jack, but his Russian name sounds like it because of the way they drop their voice while they say it).|
She gave me an opportunity to say something, but told me I didn't have to. I took the opportunity to thank her for the way this orphanage is being run. I brought up the fact that I have seen the children hugged and kissed and spoken to in such loving ways and I thanked her for doing that for these children so we could come and bring them into our home as happy, caring, well-adjusted children.
On the Train
The kids were so excited for the train ride, I thought Nastia was going to burst. It turns out the only tickets available were first class, which meant the girls and boys each had their own cabins with fewer bunks (only two instead of four) and fake flowers (wheee!). Oh, and nicer curtains, too. I do have to admit that the toilet situation is so much better in the first class car because sometimes there is soap and you're only sharing the bathroom with 18 people instead of 36. It makes your chances better that you will actually get to use it during the 16 hour train ride...unless the train is stopping when you're in there...then they make you get out.
I got to room with a nice young woman and my facilitator graciously took the bed with the man in the cabin. She said it was no big deal since she had roomed with three men on the train the night before.
|Girls settling in.|
|Boys dealing with the 100 degree car prior to the start of the trip. Notice the sweat on Chris and Ruslan's battery operated fan (a luxury we can thank my mom for!).|