Today was our last day to spend with the church and church members. In the morning, we split up, Leisel and I went sledding with Masha (Maria) down by the Volga River. We walked around the park, and down to the Volga, where we –safely- walked out on the frozen water. While we goofed around in the park, Jay went to the hospital with Pastors Natalia and Olga to visit and pray with Tamara, who was the Headmistress at the orphanage. Tamara has been very sick, but was lifted to see Jay and hear the love that had been sent by people back in the United States.
We met up again a little after noon and headed out for lunch with Vlad, Natalia, Olga, and Masha. We went to a café where we had very large potato cakes and bellinis stuffed with various other foods like ham, cheese, cinnamon, cherries, chocolate, apples, and so forth. Conversations drifted around the table, in Russian and English. We talked about what we were going to do the rest of the day, as well as the next. We were prompted by each other to try all the different pancakes that had been ordered, and ended up with some left overs.
After lunch, we went to a craft fair, where one of the members of Samara UMC had a booth. We looked around and also learned how to make wool birds. After spending a good hour and a half looking at all of the handmade trinkets, we took the tram with Natalia, Olga, and Masha to the church. When we got there, we started setting up to make s’mores with the kids at the church. Now, Russia does not have marshmallows, and some of the adults had seen them before in America, but we showed them how to make s’mores, and they had a blast. After a while, they brought out sausages and started roasting them as well.
After the s’mores adventure, we took part in the leadership meeting for Samara UMC. The meeting was to help them figure out how to make leadership in the church work, and how they can make the organization of the church better. They have pointed out there is still a lot to be done for the church, but that the conversation helped them with planning ahead for the future. At dinner Pastor Natalia explained to everyone how to make a sandwich, because they had a buffet-style dinner, which is contrary to how they usually eat. The people at the meeting sang some praise songs, which even if we didn’t know the words, were still beautiful all the same.
When everything was said and done, there were many hugs and pictures. We thought we may not be able to leave the church, because they just kept providing hospitality and love, which is something I think all people should strive for, because there are a great many perhaps in life, but one thing that will always stand out crystal clear is the love and hospitality provided by people, through common bonds.
(posted by Allison Stickley-Miner)