These last few days have been no different! Wednesday was our first day at the summer camp (#2) and we arrived to find out that we wouldn't be able to run through our complete VBS, as the kids were too excited to see us and couldn't settle down! :) So, rather than "fight it", we decided to do games, craft and snack - though we weren't happy about skipping the Bible story for the morning. That afternoon, however, we were able to adjust and do the Bible story while the younger kids were EATING their snacks....a simple change, yet a world of difference.
On Thursday, was team member Heather's 20th birthday! We were thrilled to be able to celebrate with her. Another team member brought streamers, balloons and candles, I brought a gift and card, and we were able to to surprise her in the morning.
We also went to another summer camp (#60). The two camps were VERY different. #60 looked very well kept, and we saw the caregivers more often. In fact, they stayed close by watching what we were doing (I'm guessing to ensure that we were "taking good care" of THEIR kids)! The kids were very attentive to the stories, loved the craft (we made salvation bracelets) and loved the snack. Even though it was just animal crackers, they enjoyed getting to sit around the table talking with the team members, enjoying every moment with them. Orphanage #60 made lunch for the team in their kitchen and it was delicious. The team continues to be amazed at how big lunch is for those living in Russia. It's considered the largest meal, with either a soup or salad, plus rice/noodles/potatoes and a main dish. Orphanage #60 made such a delicious (and large) meal, that most could hardly finish it!
One way the camps were the same was that the kids absolutely LOVED the peanut butter (and either crackers or pretzels) that were offered for snacks. They called it "paste", but the kids couldn't get enough of it. They kept asking for more and would rip open their cups to lick all the peanut butter out of it! The "paste" brought so many smiles, that I want to invest and buy stock in peanut butter when I get home! :)
While driving to the first day at the Crisis Center this afternoon (Friday), we learned our plans for the day had changed. We re-did the schedule and everyone's "assignments" so that when we arrived they'd be ready. The schedule changed once again during the drive, and then a final time once we actually got to the center. The biggest change was that the top floor was quanitined due to chicken pox and we were not allowed to see those children. So, that left us with 2 other floors, but those children were under a semi-quantine, where they must remain on their floor. We ended up have 3 teams, a preschool aged room, a elementary aged room, and an older teen room. God was so good, in that we actually brought 2 crafts (one that was appropriate for younger, and one for the older kids), 2 snacks and even extra game supplies to keep the preschoolers happy! The ladies did an awesome job, and both the kids and team members had smiles on their faces throughout our first day at the crisis center.
Due to the quarantine, we had much fewer kids than expected.....only 20 compared to the 72 we planned for. This made having 10 team members and 20 kids an awesome ratio! There was alot of one-on-one time with the kids - talking, holding, hugging and doing crafts. Everyone agreed they had a great day at the center and wanted to work with the same group of kids tomorrow.
At the very end of the day, the nurse came to ask one group (Aimee and Alison) is they "would mind helping to feed the babies"! We were told not to expect to hold the babies, as they are very protective of them, so when asked they quickly said YES, and had the most precious smiles of anticipation on their faces! I also managed to get in the room and help feed one of the babies....it was amazing to be able to sing to these sweet babies that have recently been placed here. Their smiles went right to my core, and made me smile! We hope that the other ladies will be able to hold the babies as we continue working in the crisis center!''
We do ask for prayer as team members are starting to battle some "stomach issues", and also attacks as they minister to God's children. Please pray for God to make it known to each and every team member how valuable they are, how God chose each of them specifically, and that He will heal each one of them.
Before going to the Crisis Center, we toured St. Isaac's Cathedral. It was absolutely beautiful!
Below are a few pictures from our last few days. I will post many more soon....but the connection is slower here and taking longer to upload!
Orphanage #2's summer camp - Camp Birch Tree (English "translation")