Hot and Sweaty!

Today was frigid.  I'm kidding.  Today.  Wonderful today.  Was.  Well it was plain out hot.  Ha.  But wonderful.  Let's see...

This morning we had the most wonderful opportunity to do spend time in another of the leprosy colonies Rising Star has been working with. As we arrived, the villagers wanted nothing more than to show us their amazing art school! The colony has opened an art school for their members. As we walked through the students beamed up at us as they proudly showed us their works. It was fun to thumb through their completed works; each artist has such a unique style. It was beautiful seeing that this colony could find something for many of them to do. Even many without all of their fingers learned to paint. It was a beautiful experience.

Following the art school we divided into two groups: construction and medical. I was in the construction group which was fantastic! The colony—through great effort—raised the money to build a community center. Unfortunately, very few of them can actually lift and build such a building due to their missing limbs and weakened bodies. Rising Star therefore is helping construct this community center for them. This really will be such a wonderful structure for them; it will give them a place to unify and gather which is uncommon for those with leprosy.

So…construction. Um…heat…humidity…and lugging heavy buckets of wet cement along an assembly line…fun? Ha. Actually it was a hot sweaty blast! We looked and smelled disgusting, but we loved every second! The funniest part about it was that where we were thinking everything was so heavy and really having to push ourselves, one local lady easily hoisted the same buckets (but that were more full) onto her head and easily walked back and forth. She put us all to shame.

We worked, and worked, and worked, the brunt of the morning and into the early afternoon. At one point we all really began feeling the heat and decided it was a good idea to add Gatorade mixes to our water to have those electrolytes. My sweet aunt, Elizabeth, was so kind as to offer such mix ins to the locals who were building with us too. They were hysterical; they drank it graciously but definitely did not ask for more. I think they must have added it to too little of water as they all reacted as though it was extremely potent. Haha.  Construction was seriously so much fun though!  It felt good to do some hard labor--even in the sun and humidity!  Loved it!

Following construction we were also able to visit the colony “Old Folks Home” (that’s actually what they call it). There were two rooms: the female room of 21 beds and the male room of 22 beds. They each had so little but were so gracious and loving. What was particularly impressive was how even with so little, each and every one of them offered us their lunch. Here with almost nothing they still gave.

While there, I noticed one man in particular who kept being passed by. In truth, every volunteer greeted him verbally, but he never responded so they all went on their way. In fact, I originally did just the same thing. Then looking at him I noticed his eyes; he was blind. I realized then that perhaps he had no idea that anyone had tried to greet him at all. I approached him again.

This time I touched his small hunched shoulder and said the local greeting. He brought his weak wrinkled hands up to his shoulder and touched my hand. Then he followed my hand to my wrist, then to my arm, until finally to my face. Upon reaching my face his own face suddenly broke into a big toothless grin. He then motioned for me to sit next to him on his hard bed. I did. He too offered me food. We then managed to understand back and forth a few basic things—his name, my name; but mostly it was the communication and power of touch that drew us close. I sat with him for the remainder of the time. Sometimes we spoke. Sometimes we just sat as he held tightly to my hand. He showed me his eyes, that he was blind and could not see. But above all he showed me love. He who had nothing, gave me so much.

He truly is a phenomenal man.

This guy was also amazing.  His English was very good.  He told me a lot about himself--that he lived with his friends, how his wife died six years ago, and much more.  He then asked for a photo with me.  I took it at showed him.  He suddenly look worried and asked to take another.  I then realized that he did not realize he was wearing a shirt and he wanted to be proper.  I deleted the first picture and took another with him.  What a gentleman.

The people at the colony are truly a beautiful people. Their bodies have been ravaged, but their hearts are solid and good. They offered us everything. They live on the smallest of salaries, yet they are willing to give. Such good people.

The evening was again simply marvelous. Today was Rosemary’s birthday. Like yesterday’s birthday girl, Rosemary was dressed in a beautiful skirt even with makeup.

She has an Indian sponsor who lives not too far away from here; therefore, for her birthday her sponsor brings cake for everyone. The children were all ecstatic. Typically they get but a sliver of cake; today, however, they each got a full piece! The girls and boys sat separately. Then after singing, sweet little Rosemary passed out her birthday cake to the girls first, and then the boys.

I thought the cake would be eaten in a heartbeat; I was wrong. Those kids rarely get such a treat; they savored every last bite.

They began with the frosting, and very carefully nibbled and licked it all away. Next, they ate through the top layer of cake ever so slowly appreciating every bite. And then the last layer. They were adorable and again so ecstatic. It seems funny that cake is such a luxury to them. In the United States we almost expect it; here it is something of great value.

By the way--is this girl not the most beautiful thing ever?  She and I are buddies.  She always wants to be held and hugged.  She is too precious!  Love her!

Following the birthday celebration we divided into talent classes. Each of the volunteers was able to teach a talent to a group. Bryan, Sarah, and I taught line dancing to some of the children. Sweet Sarah taught them the EFY dance which they loved.

The older girls did it so well. The little boys—did their best. Ha. But they were still all so cute.

Sarah was a GREAT teacher!  And a beautiful dancer!

Another favorite part of my day was definitely putting the children to bed tonight. They are too cute! And at long last I am finally learning all of their names (which as cute as their names are, they are very foreign to me). Tonight some of the sweet little boys started asking me what languages I speak. “English only?” they would ask. I told them English and a little Spanish. “What is Espanish?” they asked. I explained it to them and then the fun began. They wanted to learn! First they wanted to count to three, “Uno! Dos! Tres!” they would shout! Then “Hola!” and “Adios!” It was too cute. Then they began a game of asking “What should I say?” then I would tell a group of them a word in Spanish, at which point they would rush over to Bryan and shout the word at him. Then they would ask him “What did I say?” So Bryan would tell them what they had just said and send them back to me with a new word or phrase in Spanish. The most comical moment was when the little boys came running over chanting “Te amo!” To which I said excited, “You love me?!” They were horrified they had told me they loved me. Immediately they all ran away laughing and shouting “Ewe” back behind Bryan. They were all so embarrassed it took them at least five minutes to return to our little language game. Hahaha. Boys are the same no matter what country I’ve decided!

It was also extremely fun when they started teaching me some words in their local dialect. The only problem was they would later quiz me on the words they taught me. Anyone who knows me knows that I failed. Miserably. My vocabulary remains quite limited in their language. I have hello, thank you, and goodnight down. And that’s it. Ha. Though they did teach me cow, monkey, book, and many others…

So I love those boys. Aren't they so cute?

They're complete terrors.  And I love them for it!  One in particular was so cute today. You see, earlier on his way to prayer he tripped and started crying. No matter how hard everyone tried to get him up, he would push them away. Finally I went over and spoke with him and was able to get him to take my hand and walk over to prayer. He wouldn’t speak to me at first, but he just kept his head against my leg as we walked, then in my lap as we sat. Finally he forgot his pain and was so loving. His name is Rotish (Row-teesh).

What an angel. He is one of the kids I played the rock/clay game with last night. Well, during the day he went to my cousin Katie’s talent class of clay making. He was so excited to show me his clay. Then we began a game of him telling what to make out of it, and him telling me if it was right or not. So for about thirty minutes I sat making anything from a box, to a star, to trees, to so many more. The little boys were mesmerized. To anyone but them my clay molding would look quite juvenile. To them, however, they were masterpieces. Ha. The star was their favorite. Rotish kept it in a star and carefully placed it on his shelf (they each have sort of a cubby in their house for their book bags).

Another favorite part of mine and the boys nights here has been when Bryan sings them to sleep. They LOVE Bryan. For one thing, Bryan is definitely one of the boys. He just goes in and sprawls out with them.  It is so cute to watch all of them. He is so good with them!  The volunteers call him the Ben Folds of the group as he sings primary song after primary song with them until they fall asleep.

So in the video below you can't necessarily see much...but you can hear Bryan singing "I Am Like A Star Shining Brightly" with all of the little boys as he puts them to sleep!  Love it!

SO adorable!  That's my future hubby for ya!  Love him!  Love the little boys!  I may just take them home with me...ALL of them!

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