We went to the country today to a special needs orphanage. Hope4Kids has had a long relationship with this orphanage which is State run and therefore does not have a name other than “Orphanage #2”. We had a great time playing with the kids, doing pipe cleaner art, balloon sculpting and playing with the parachute. Other team members went immediately to work painting the hallway of the main floor.
This orphanage has around 80 children ranging in ages 4-18. When they turn 18 they are sent to another institution and are there for life. The building is about 130 years old but fairly well maintained and very clean. The children are well cared for with dedicated staff many of whom have been there ten years and more. The director has been there 25 years. It’s obvious they are all devoted and think of one another and the children as family. We handed out beanie babies and donated balls, crayons, sidewalk chalk and other supplies to the orphanage. Some of the paint crew will return Monday to finish their job.
We then went to Peterhof which was the summer palace for the Tsars. During the 900 day siege during WW II the Nazis took over this palace. It’s a beautiful place with fabulous manicured grounds. Peter the Great was kind of a jokester and had hidden fountains put in so when someone would step on a certain rock water would spurt up soaking the person. There are 142 fountains throughout the grounds. Peterhof is on the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland. If you look way off into the distance you can see the coast of Finland.
After dinner our legendary Sasha came to visit. Tom met him in 1987 and has had many interesting times with Sasha. He took a small group of us walking behind a monastery where he showed us burdock plants. He wants Tom to juice the stems of the plant and drink it everyday. He said it will boost his immune system and would be very good for him. Last time we were here in 2003 Tom prayed for Sasha’s mother who was dying of cancer. Sasha was treating her with this plant and between the two he says she is alive and ornery. She’s living in the country and enjoying her life that has been returned.
Later some of us gathered in a lobby while Sasha told us stories about his fight for democracy in the late 1980’s. In 1990, one year before the fall of communism, Sasha attended a session of parliament which was broadcast live on TV. Sasha had sewed by hand a large Russian Flag from the days before communism. He stood on a balcony and with the cameras on he unfurled his flag. They stopped the session and didn’t know what to do. Parliament wanted to sue Sasha but the TV station refused to support the law suit because it caused their ratings to go up. For a number of years Sasha has printed a paper called the Anti Soviet Pravada. His papers can be found in the library of Congress. He’s a man in love with Russia and wants democracy for his people. It was extremely interesting. We hope to spend more time with him in our little time we have left.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support.