I never thought I would feel this sad to leave Russia. But I do, and it is basically uncontrollable.
Tonight we had a farewell party for me which consisted of all my English Club, and those from the church heading into the forest for a bon-fire, roasted hotdogs, and games. The mood was generally upbeat, and people kept saying “it’s a cheerful night, because we know we will see you again.” I have battled with God about that exact sentiment, and I believe it is true. When and how? Im not quite sure yet.
Three months is a pretty short time frame for someone like me. I am an observer, I take a while to dive into change and I need to assess situations before I really know how to handle them. Its basically taken me 2.5 months to get used to culture, people, and the language, and now its time to leave. I did not fully realize how much I have fallen in love with the people here until this week. Their constant encouragement and gratitude has blown me away, and to see the work that God is doing here -- well, its just too much for words.
Tonight, I cry. Their hugs linger in my mind.
A 13 year old girl who has never spoken English to me, ran up today and gave me a big hug and said "I like you." My friend Ilya politely asked "May I?" And then proceeded to hug me for five minutes and just repeated "thank you thank you thank you." A young woman who I have especially gotten to know remembered that it was my birthday in a few weeks and gave me a beautiful necklace and she hugged me as she said goodbye.
The friendships made in these 3 months are deep. I know I have a family here. People from the community who had never step foot inside a church before coming to the English Club now know they have a family here.
And most importantly, they know who God is, and they want to know more.
Tomorrow (or should I say, later tonight) I leave in a car for Nizhny Novgorod where I will then take an overnight train to Moscow where I will fly into New York City and get picked up and head to Rhode Island. I will never be the same, and I am hoping and praying for God to continue his great work here in Zavolzh'ye as well as in my heart.
Thank you to everyone who has made this experience possible. Please keep Zavolzh'ye in your prayers, as well as clarity for me on future endeavors in Russia.
More stories to come, just you wait.
Friends and family, Catch ya on the flip side.