A great day. We start with a morning prayer and we end the day with us going around the table at dinner and saying, "What I saw today was....." So here is what I saw today: my children working so hard in the heat without complaining or needing to be asked, friendly people happy to work with us and capable of lashing poles together without hands, children playing with other children joyfully, family spending time together serving, little children who love to be loved and have such trust and hope that it leaves you awestruck.
We pulled into Devi's colony this morning, about an hour away and went around and said hello to those that lived there in their small, 8' x 8', dirt floor, thatched huts. One old woman, who I believe was nearly blind and possibly mute who had some other deformities as well was in her hut, starting a fire for some tea. When I leaned in and said hello she smiled. Outside the doorway she had drawn lovely white chalk designs on the dirt out front. You could tell she was trying to beautify her home. She had done a beautiful job decorating other peoples doorways as well. We shook hands and chatted up with many of the residents and then started on the goat shed.
We picked up a mason along the way and he helped mark the spots for us to dig. Kendall was my partner; she would dig away with a long metal tool, and then I would dig out the hole with my hands. We would take turns until we had an 18" deep hole. While we were digging a near 70 year old woman went out into the road with her metal bowl and was collecting rocks for when we needed to backfill the holes. She would carry them back on her head and dump them near the holes. Others from the colony, a couple with thick glasses and deformed hands, almost no fingers, pitched in- helping take turns digging alongside us.
It was very hot, but we had a bit of a breeze and a large tree that had shade right by us. When we took a lunch break, I offered some of my dried mango to the woman that had been such a great helper, who worked beside us. She sucked on the mango, with her possibly 4 teeth and was really enjoying it- giving me a smile and a nod. I gave her some more and instead of hording it, she took it over to the others and shared.
We ate our lunches inside a small stone church inside the colony that had pictures of Christ on the wall and a couple of worn old benches. There was a small woman, no more than 90 pounds that lay on the step of the church, behind the small makeshift table/altar. I went up to her and rubbed her back, she turned and smiled and nodded. She only had a couple rotten teeth that made up her smile- it was still beautiful. I offered her some of the dried fruit and she was so pleased and put a piece in her mouth and then laid back down with the rest under her hand and gave me another smile. I found out that she was a mute like others, since the leprosy affects their throat and they often lose their voice.
After we started digging and had several posts in, a woman walked back to her hut, that is right next to the goat shed. She was fired up and wondering what was going on. Nate joked that she was probably saying to us, "I leave for lunch, and I come back to find a goat shed parked in front of my house?!!" It was some nice comic relief, while one of the men quickly told her that we were building a shed for their goats- she got real quiet and nodded and then she was so nice and offered to have us come sit with her.
We lashed together long skinny wood poles and finished what we could do that day, with the help of the "mayor," the 40 or so man that looked pretty healthy, he seemed to be the leader of the group- full of pride and fairly serious. By the end of the day working alongside us he became more and more friendly. The people there were so friendly and nice. We hugged them, shook their hands or their club hands and thanked them. They wanted to thank us and have their picture taken with us. We all gathered in front of the small church, even the woman who had been laying on the floor, she gathered her scraf and stood for the picture.
It was so hot by then, we got in the Rising Star van and headed back to the school. I was so proud of Kendall and Syd- they never complained once. They were down on their hands and knees working with these people and loving it.
Tonight we played with the kids from 4 pm until bedtime. The kids love to be spun around. We played games with them and then when it was bedtime we laid in their rooms and sang them "I See the Moon" again, hoping we can pass this song on to them before we leave. They learn so quickly. Nate read them a book and then we sang each child to bed. There are 25 kids in each room and the group of girls we have could not be any cuter. I feel bad because we try to remember their names but they are so different and not familiar. We try and they know we are trying. We sang a bunch of songs with them before we said goodnight. I have never seen kids that are so loving. They are smart and want to learn. The girls have beautiful deep pools for eyes with braids tied up on their heads with black bows. The boys are just wild and fun little boys. I can't not hug them and kiss them. They are so affectionate. It is amazing to see Syd and Kendall surrounded by kids, Syd had two baby girls, one in each arm and then others were gathering towards her and she just had to sit down. The older girls are attracted to Kendall and just want to talk with her and hang out with her.
Tonight we are all so tired. I am on the roof of the hostile/dorm typing. There is a tiny breeze and maybe it is about 85 degrees with the breeze, but very humid. It has been a full and rewarding day.