Tom and I arrived in Moscow and spent the first day looking for things that are difficult to find in the village. In a short time we located a store and bought nearly all of their school and art supplies. The next stop was for a stereo. We were able to find a portable system that plays CDs and tapes with two microphones for singing along. At that time I was unaware that Tom had packed some of our favorite CDs from home in his bag!
When we arrived at the orphanage the kids ran down the road to meet us. They were soooo - excited. It was a moment I will never forget. As I looked into those little faces I felt as if I'd known them forever. All of the things Tom had bought on the first trip were still there and being used to the fullest! The children were sleeping on their new mattresses and pillows and playing with the toys. The food they were eating was much better but there was still some work to do to improve their diet. We got to work right away replenishing the food stores, buying cheese, fruit, pasta, grain, flour, sugar, oil, eggs, meat, raisins and even watermelon.
We learned that the meat grinder was broken so we replaced it. The cooking stoves were very old. One was broken and the other one was shocking the cook. Ouch! We also found out that they were washing clothes by hand. It took several days but we were finally able to purchase two industrial cook stoves, a clothes washing machine and a rinsing machine. Going through this process was enlightening. We learned a lot about the culture and the people. There were many times during this trip that we were thankful to have the NBC Nightly News crew from Moscow by our side. They ended up doing all of the negotiating and interpreting. We worked together day after day, for hours on end to find the items needed. If they hadn't been there I think Tom and I would still be having tea with the fellow at the washing machine store!
It took a full afternoon to hand out the pen pal letters to the children. You should have seen their faces! Initially there was a hush over the room, then lots of excited chattering as they got busy writing their letters back. Some of the little ones drew a picture. We took a Polaroid picture of each child and stapled it onto the letter for the pen pals back home. Each child kept the letter from their pen pal. Later that week I noticed the letters from Seattle kids in carefully chosen places of safekeeping.
The other highlight of our trip was a musical program the children presented for us. They all danced, sang and showed their talents. We were glad that we had brought the stereo. They loved it and they really liked Tom's choice of music. He put on the Righteous Brothers, picked up a microphone and belted out "You've Lost That Lovin Feeling". The rest of the week they would all scream " Thomm, Thomm ", when the song would come on! It was really hilarious!
One evening we talked with the orphanage directors about possible adoption of the children. They were surprised that anyone would want to adopt an older child but were open to helping in any way they could. The week passed too quickly. It was very hard to say goodbye to the children. I had spent everyday with them, watching them play and learning their names. I found out which ones had brothers or sisters, or both. I knew a little about why some of them were there. I wished I could have brought them all home with me.
Jan 19, 1999 Oct 18, 1999 Oct 23, 1999 Oct 31, 1999 Feb 14, 2000 Sep 14, 2000
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