We headed out this morning for our last day of painting. We stopped at the bazaar in Uzynagash to get some lightbulbs to replace the burned out ones in the bedrooms we painted. While we were there everyone was able to do a little shopping. We got track suits, Kazakh traditional dresses and hats, etc. The merchants had never seen Americans at the bazaar before so it was fun to see them get so excited to serve us. We got some great deals.
We arrived at the orphanage and delegated the work that needed to be done. Two people to each room to do a second coat of paint and two people to the room that had not been painted yet. It went by so fast, it was amazing. On day one we knew there was no way we would finish but Praise the Lord on day 3 we were done and cleaned up by 4 pm, and we even got to play with the babies for an hour.
By the second day the babies were excited to see us and today, day 3, they were crying when we left. It is such a sad place. No love, no stimulation but I do have to say that the children looked healthier and "meatier" than last year. Even the babies looked better and some even had little chub rolls. I believe the water filtration systems we installed has made a huge difference along with the vitamins. The nutrients they are able to get are being absorbed.
A few of the children cried before we said goodbye, and of course the entire team was crying. Before we left the orphanage we prayed over it and the children. It was my favorite moment of the whole week. We all sobbed as we lifted up these precious babies in this orphanage and all the other children we visited. It was a very emotional time for all involved. As we headed out I thought I know we can't change the way they live as a whole but this week we changed the world they live in. It is now bright and beautiful, full of life and color.
On the two hour ride home we all talked about our favorite moments of the trip. Everyone had a different moment and it was so awesome to hear but the common was that we started off as a team and ended up as a family.
We hit the Tsum store for some souvenirs and then out to our last dinner. After that we headed back to the hotel to pack. We left around 1:00 am for our 3:30 am flight out of Almaty. Our flights were awesome (long but smooth) and we are now in Chicago. This is where we all said goodbye. Sad but all of us are ready to see our family and sleep in our own beds!
This week was physically and emotionally hard for every member of our team and our friends in Kazakhstan that traveled with us. We have the most amazing in-country team. This week we ate horse, played with over 300 orphans, replaced bed covers and curtains, took a Soviet train, painted 7 huge rooms in 3 days, built murals out of wall decals and paint, bonded as a family, laughed, cried and drank lots of tea, ate wonderful food and lots of it, got slammed in doors of elevators, hardly got to talk to our family in the US because of bad WiFi, slept less than 5 hours most nights, were treated with the utmost hospitality, listened to the Dombra being played, saw orphanages that were wonderful and some that were not so great, came within inches of car wrecks, shopped at village bazaars, danced and saw men cry and most importantly, brought glory to God. I am sure that I did not mention everything but in a nut shell, that was our week.
This week would not have been possible without all of you! We want to thank everyone who supported this trip, whether it was by sending donations, financially, spiritually or emotionally. We felt your prayers. We are so grateful for the 7 other people that sacrificed their time and money to join us as we were the hands and feet of Jesus by making a difference in the lives of these orphans.
We are forever grateful.