It's about 4 hours by train and then an hour driving to get to their little village. When I walked into the room I was mauled with loads of hugs and quickly became even more popular as I handed out letters from all their host families and bars of chocolate. They all retreated to their own little corners as they read the letters their families had written (and we had translated at my office into Russian). It was so cute to watch them sharing with one another the news that they were reading!
They were so excited to get these letters and hear what their host families were up to and of course play the 'remember when' game with me. I was amazed at the little details the kids remembered from their time in the US. From foods they ate, to various adventures they went on with their host families, all the kids were able to recount moments and the things they loved.
3 of these kids are in process right now of being adopted, so I'm super excited about that. Most likely the families will travel over in the first part of 2012. And for the rest of them that desire to be in a family I am praying!! (If anyone is willing to advocate for 2 amazing boys- the two boys pictured above on the right are brothers and are pretty darn sweet!- email me for more details.)
After my time with the kids at the orphanage I went to Tanya's house for dinner with her family (Tanya was the caregiver on the trip). What a humbling experience that was. The village where the orphanage is located is very tiny. About 400 homes I was told.
Tanya's family lives very simple.... toilet outside, no bath or shower, no running water. And yet she is one of the happiest most gracious people I have met-- as is her mama. They made me a lovely dinner and packed me down with loads of food to take home! Fresh fruit, canned veggies, walnuts, and a sack of potatoes that I could hardly carry home, and I'm not exaggerating! Their generosity out of the little they had amazed me. I felt bad that they gave me so much-- but they wouldn't have it any other way.
Tanya was so so so grateful for her time in the USA and all she learned about God while she was there. She continues to read the Bible since returning to the village, but struggles not having any Christian friends or community. I can tell it is hard for her to grow, but she was asking some great questions that showed she has a heart to learn. So, if you think of it, pray for sweet Tanya! Pray she can some how get connected with local believers and that she will continue to seek out a relationship with Jesus. I love her heart so much.