Wednesday, August 20, 2008
by Angie Simon

We had another great day today! The team had a special opportunity to visit an old children’s hospital in St. Petersburg in the morning. This is another place Hope 4 Kids has been visiting for years. The lovely director came out to greet us and to take us to visit the children. We gathered together in a large room with about twenty kids. They were shy and a little withdrawn. The team visited each child and passed out Beanie babies an finger puppets we got from Peru. After a while, the kids were smiling and started to warm up to us. Then, Heather comes out in this furry animal mask and the kids went crazy! They were screaming laughing and Heather was on her hands and knees crawling around like an animal! The kids were trying to pretend to shoot her and Heather would croak right there on the floor. The kids were laughing so loudly with joy we were afraid that we were going to upset the staff! It was so wonderful to see them laughing and forgetting why they were in the hospital.

After that, we toured the hospital, visiting all the children in the different rooms. Many were there from accident induced injuires. They had on many different casts. Even the teenagers were so happy to see us and enjoyed practicing their English and reciving a Beanie Baby.

After we passed out a few hundred Beanie Babies we gathered all together outside in the playground area, where the director of the hospital just thanked us with the warmest sentiments. She was so grateful that we came to see the children and that she is so grateful we continue to come year after year. The children are not forgotten. She had a finger puppet on her finger while she was speaking to us. She said, “Now, I will always greet the children like this.” and she waived her little finger with the pupet on it. She continued, “It will always remind me of you.”

After the children’s hospital, we toured their church and went on to see one of the most famous churches in all of Russia, The Church of the Spilled Blood. It was so magnificent and amazing in every way. The team took lots of photos, soaked in the beautiful architecture and was off to the Winter Palace to the Hermitage, one of the most famous museums in the world.

Tom believes the Hermitage has one of the best art collections in the world because during the Soviet Block, art collections were acquired from Czars from all over when they were taken over by force. The Hermitage building is inside the Winter Palace and the building itself is unbelievable. It looks like the Russian version of Versailles. The team had the opportunity to view priceless works of art for nearly three hours. Some of our favorites were The Prodigal Son by Rembrant and La Madonna by Leonardo da Vinci.

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