Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Friday Feb 29th-last day in Ivanovo

Two of our translators for the week. They did a wonderful job and became good friends. 

Last day in Ivanovo. I did not feel ready to leave. I suppose I never do. I definitely did not feel like returning home already. It’s a good thing I was on the schedule at work for the whole entire next week. Or I would have done my best to re-route to another stop. Turkey or Greece perhaps? The Mediterranean? I suppose those places aren’t going anywhere. I can make it there another day.
                Breakfast and tea, with plenty of sugar cubes. I am really not looking forward to the goodbyes in store today. We met out translators at the grocery store today. Purchasing lunch for ourselves, like usual, and also cakes! One day of the week the visiting team will bring or make dessert for the kids. This time we purchased cakes. A whole section of the store was specifically providing this, with labels of freshness no more than a couple days old (note: that read day.month.year). there were berry ones, and whip cream,  dry cakes that were like graham crackers and cream cheese. SO many options! And so different from what we have here. Though I suppose the baseline of fruit or chocolate is the same (both things I support). All were very very sweet. I think the sugar high award of the week goes to the marshmallows though, that were less fluffy and more dense due to the extra CUP of sugar in each dollop.
                It was snowing on our last day here. Not the freezing, sleeting, depressing kind, but the big fluffy kind. It coated everything in a lovely white fresh layer, adding slowly to the already deep , icy, dirty old snow, and decorating the cold bare trees. It instantly turned Russia’s weather into a charming and enchanting atmosphere.
                Our last lunch together (tea time is usually at 4, though it was not celebrated this week. Well, not officially anyways. Tea and cookies happened at some point pretty consistently).

UNO is one of the best games to play that involves no language barriers that can not be overcome with a good sense of humor and plenty of laughs. we played it incessantly. The other popular game: ping pong. 

This picture was a set up!!!! there were a table full of people who contributed  to the pile of these candy wrappers.  Myself included of course. 

                The kids trickled in and the lady who is also the caseworker here did a presentation.  Yes, all in Russian. Our translators really were our closest friends. And I mean that in the proximity sense as well. L and P put on a concert for the kids. They sat with rapt attention, some who had managed to not sit still for any length of time during the whole week remained attentive and focused the whole time. I was among them.
                Dinner is made by the directors of the center. But all the kids contributed to help setting the tables up, table clothes, getting out cups, then washing dishes after.
This dinner was unbelievable. Bellini (basically the Russian version of Crepes). There was a plate that were stuffed with eggs and meat, and a plate of plain bellini just waiting to be filled. Here were the options:
1.       Fresh strawberry jam. From one of the employee’s gardens. Crushes strawberries with sugar added in.
2.       Sweetened condensed milk
3.       Sour cream (or the Russian version) with sugar sprinkled on top. I almost didn’t  try this combo…but I gave it a chance and it was worth it! The moral of the story is. Try everything. Especially if those around you are urging you to.
I stopped counting how many I had.

                The lady who does crafts here let us pick something from her room that was filled with the beautiful pieces she had made. I was so surprised! This meant so much, this time and talent that she is sending back with us.
                We all gathered in the little office. Sitting around in a circle. This was the goodbye part. I like how they do it here. Everyone said something, the staff thanking the group. We thanked them (each person specifically to the staff) then we thanked each of our interpreters, and gave them a thank you gift.  The kindness and kinmanship felt around the circle was tangible, and not just in the hugs exchanged. It was something like a feeling of family. The relatives who are distantly related and a little farther away, so you don’t really see them much. But when you are together, everything you do lends itself to helping one another. The way Christians are supposed to be I think.
                  At the same time, sitting in the circle felt hopeful. There are so many injustices. So many things that are very wrong and feel unfixable. Here we were though, a group of people that want more, and make change. While it feels small and insignificant sometimes, when I think about this group of people, I know that we are not alone in this hope. 
Our team leader is on the far right. The other four ladies in the picture are on the staff here at the  center 

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