It has been an exhausting day. We were up till as late as 3am last night cleaning up after camp and packing away supplies and our personal bags. Students started leaving for home as early as 8:30am this morning so we were all up to start several hours of bittersweet goodbyes. Many of the students asked for photos and an innumerable number of selfies were taken. We are thankful to the Lord for the relationships we have built, the opportunity to speak truth into these individuals lives, and their desire to stay in touch with us even though we are thousands of miles away.
We left camp around 11:00 a.m. and headed to Tambov on small buses. Along the way we saw beautiful fields filled with sunflowers... but after a very tiring week the bus ride became an opportunity for many to take a nap. When we arrived in Tambov we went directly to a large market that sold everything from fresh food to souvenirs to Soviet era items. We ate lunch at a bakery that cooks fresh bread and hot sandwiches inside a large brick oven. We also got to sample many local foods including Sala: cured bacon fat (yes, just the white part - no actual meat).
After the market we travelled to the church to collect our bags. We took it as an opportunity to see all the renovation work that has been done since last year... and to get some more sleep. We were all so tired that we slept wherever we could get comfortable; whether flat on the floor or sitting in chairs. An hour or so later we split into groups and went to various homes where we are spending the next two nights.
We met up for dinner at a restaurant in Tambov where we enjoyed a large meal of traditional Russian foods, cake and coffee. It was very unique decor and would be considered an extremely hip setting in America.
We are now all back at our hosts' homes excited to get a full night's sleep before church tomorrow. We are looking forward to Pastor Bill preaching via a translator and to being able to attend the baptism of four individuals. Please pray for tomorrow's services and for the fellowship we will have with our Russian brothers and sisters!
We don't have WiFi right now so we are posting this via a cell phone hotspot. We promise to find a way to upload some photos tomorrow!