Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My journey has came to an end, I can’t believe 4 weeks ago I was just arriving to Sri Lanka.


First things first, I finished my fourth week at the children’s orphanage, and have completely poured my heart out to as many of the children as possible. I have never felt a feeling like I did at the orphanage. These children truly warmed my heart. I divided my days at the orphanage with the babies in the morning, and the toddlers for a short while in the afternoon. I’ve shed many tears, for I pray that each and every one of them will receive a family to be loved unconditionally.   


 Obviously I got attached, too attached for my liking. If I were out of school, financial stable, I would hands down, without question have brought home a dumpling or two.

The feeling of entering a Children’s Home all 80+ eyes glazing on you, the feeling is indescribable. I have never encountered the feeling of “love” in such a way. I woke up each morning in a rush to get to the orphanage. I loved entering the home with screams of “Sister, Sister,” the babies smiling from ear to ear with arms dangling in the air to be the first to be held, being tugged on, hung on, and swung on. I could see in the children’s eyes this twinkle of happiness that someone was here to hold, play, and love on each of them!
Leaving was difficult, harder then I could ever imagined. I cried as I held the youngest ones, praying 6 families, just 6 would take these tiny toots home and love, as each one deserves. I told each of the 6 (5 girls, 1 boy) how special they were, how pretty or handsome, I reminded them I would love them forever. Yet my words mean nothing, I could feel each ones tiny hand latch on tightly as a tear trickled down my face. I had been there for ones first step, taught two to clap, one to army crawl, and my to blow kisses.

Astonishing feeling, being the first to witness such big steps, I felt like for 2 weeks I was the mommy to 6 babies, and I couldn’t have asked for a better task.
I made a poster, a collection of all my favorite snaps of the babies over the 2 week period to give to the nursery. I thought, “If I were a orphan, I’d like to see pictures of myself when I grew old”, So I did just that. Turned out beautiful, all the staff was in awe!  

For the Toddlers~ Before I left, I sat on the ground, eye-level, and hugged all 24 of them at once, tickling, laughing, and loving one last time. Their caregivers told them what was going on(how it was my last day to play), the smiles turned into frowns, unsure how to express their sadness, we all just remained hugging. I left by high fiving each one, the American “happy” way to leave toddlers I suppose!

I was teary-eyed, headed to the van to head back to the house, then I was stopped by the oldest orphan at the home, age 17, she handed me a bracelet, a letter, and a firm hug, she paused, stepped back and said “Sister, the Children’s Home will never forget you, I hope you don’t forget us, I wrote you a letter, and would love to hear back.” I smiled, crocodile tears filled my eyes, and I told her “You each have a special place in my heart, I’d love to be your pen pal, and make sure where ever life takes you, you reach for the stars, for you are one special girl.” She nodded and smiled, she hit my soft spot, she ended my time at the orphanage in such a remarkable way. She’s enlightened me fully.

Ultimately, my heart has been crammed with the most precious, inspiring, loving, and tender children, I’m thankful for my time allowed, and the act “to love” has just reached a whole new level.

As I make my way back to the States, I recap of my time in Sri Lanka. I did it!!! We did it!!! Jen and I could agree that we have reached an understanding to life that has greatly benefited us. We have encountered some of the most eye-opening moments thus far in our 20 years of life, we have touched individuals in a way that brings only the biggest smile to our face, and most importantly…. We feel accomplished, more than satisfied. We left Sri Lanka in a positive manner. Friends were made, relationships were built, love was shared, and it all happened with a smile and from the goodness of our hearts. I could not have asked for a more surreal 3rd world experience!

Venturing back was dreaded, the sound of China and long lay overs didn’t sound to appealing. But. This time it seemed different. Reaching America, home sweet home, was enough of a reward to complain. Despite the awful food, traveling home was all right. The first non-rice, curry, or noodle meal with the fam was grater than taste-buds can describe. I couldn’t be happier after my hot shower, and to be in my mommas arms, telling her of my adventures, and starting to stir up my thoughts for my next voyage.

The Sri Lanka Excursion has ended. I’m so very blessed for a safe and sound time in Lanka land, as well as a safe return to the home land.

~till next time~ 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Officially halfway through our journey! Closing in on our second week, I finished my week with the school children, teaching English went surprising well. Wish I would have known that the grade10 knows English rather well as soon as you pull out some candy! Ha. Such great kids with so little, that made me believe they had the world with the constant smiles on their faces! 

The girls that never took their eyes off us! 
It was a change for sure going from Science nonstop for Nursing, to some basic English, eased my mind. The school children are precious; I of course had my favorites and also had some lil poops that I adored just as much. The school has no idea that Jen and I are raising money for them, I can hardly wait to purchase the school their first computer, or a fan or two, maybe even an endless supply of pencils, or paper towels!

(Huge thanks to the family and friends that have donated, words can't thank you enough!)

These are the older boys(15 years old!), AKA our boyfriends, they claimed. If you cant tell, "show offs" for the camera!  

The trouble-makers! 

One of the clearest statements that have been made to me while teaching is understanding the definition of “beauty”. In the US, this has to do with the materialistic aspect such as makeup, clothing brand, your hair style, does he/she have money, is her hair curled perfectly, is he wearing an expensive cologne, and the list goes on. In Sri Lanka, “beauty” means when I’m drenched in sweat, have mosquitoes bites from head to toe that have been scratched raw, a huge canker sore on my lip(due to the spice intake), no makeup, sunburnt nose, stains on my clothing, hair that is greased back, and a smile on my face. According to the school kids “tech you bootiful” I have never been slapped harder. Those many hours of getting ready, trying to look the cutest, trying on outfit after outfit, attempting to wear what society screams for. Beauty should identify that smile on your face, the heart that your are pouring to your surroundings. Beauty is expressed from the inside out, beauty has a new meaning, or maybe a meaning I never understood.

The week at the grade school went quick, too quick. I debated staying my third week BUT Norangela announced that the Children’s Orphanage is in dire need of someone with the slightest bit of knowledge about infants. The orphanage has many infants and they have reached out to Norangela requesting Jen and I. Jen’s in love with the school kids and will more then likely stay with them the remainder of the trip, I don’t blame her! But for me, I think my last two weeks are going to be spent with infants, infants left in dumps, left on the side of the roads, infants unwanted. Those of you that know me, know I am more then content cradling a small bundle of life for hours. I have been called. So, my third and fourth week will be at the orphanage caring for the small, innocent lumps of love. Can hardly wait!
It’s hard to believe this trip is half accomplished. I feel I have so much to see, so much to do, so much to give. This country constantly reminds me to be happy, to love, TO DREAM. I was riding in the tuk-tuk the other day and looked at Jen “You know what the greatest quality a human can have?” I told her, “To Dream”. I have never had the time to step back and identify the meaning, or what it fully entails. So I suppose a 2 ½ hour tuk-tuk ride did the trick. I went silent. I gathered my surroundings. As a mule is next to me lugging thousands of pounds of bulk up a curvy road, while raining. I thought. To Dream. I began with dreams that I had the night before, or the dreams I had wanting to visit a 3rd world country, or dreams of becoming a Nurse. But I’m talking much more simple. To Dream. To close your eyes, to step into a unknown place, to absorb, to recognize, to gather your senses, to expand. I closed my eyes and I dream of life, being the planner I am, I dream of a family, a job, a car, a house. I then notice I’m back on the materialistic route of “dream”. Moment and tears later I hit it. To dream. To let go of your issues, to wrap your mind in something that makes you smile uncontrollably, to allow tears that are freefalling. I felt it! To Dream, to me is THE, or one of the greatest gifts I have been given. I find dreaming a necessity. I found dreaming was something that I was able to come in touch with while in Sri Lanka. I understand that dreams can stretch from world peace to that happy tickle in the pit of your heart. I Dream. I live in a Dream, and I simply can’t define my favorite relax time more clearly. “To Dream is to Live, as Live is to Life” Dreaming has identified my growth, has made me eager to advance my dreams, to hope an spread my very own dreams furthermore. I encourage it, To Dream. Try it, it’s free, rewarding, and indescribable.

We are allowed to take one long weekend to explore the country, so this past week/weekend we took Thursday-Tuesday off!  We went and saw the famous Kandy Dancers in “Kandy” a popular tourist town, pretty neat!

Ventured to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage!
OKAY firstly, Elephants are incredible animals, and I have never stood so close to such a large form of life. We spent an entire day with these guys, truly the best zoo experience I’ve encountered. When I say "zoo", in reality I mean an open jungle with rocks as gating and a few fences that can easily be stepped over by an elephant. But hey look at this….Inches away, petting, talking, kissing, and feeding these big guys. I don’t think much more needs to be said. The pictures say it all.

Rodger the blind fellow, due to hunters.

Elephant crossing:) 

Next stop of the weekend was in Mirissa, a small excluded beach where we stayed a night, the weather was rather rainy WHICH was awesome, played in the rain like little kids, dove in the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean, felt incredible.
Lastly, we made our final stop of the weekend in Galle, one of the largest cities in Sri Lanka....was beautiful. I felt as if I were in a movie, and sure didn't feel like I was in a 3rd world country. Lots of tourists, many cute shops, somewhat American food, and I was happy to end our long weekend with such a city! (but I must add bats attempted to attack us, ants invaded our hotel bed, and there was random hammer banging in the middle of the night) HEY still my favorite city!

In two weeks…
I’ve gained a hint of color, okay more freckles.
I’ve done loads of laundry, by hand. Getting good at it.
I’ve finally pooed, after two weeks.
I’ve learned to bargain, since most "up" their prices for tourist.
I’ve began my craves for American food, anything but rice and curry.
I’ve learned the Sri Lanka way to dance, (simply sway back and forth)
I’ve drank so many coconuts, can’t seem to get enough.
 I’ve ate about 14 million ants, seems to always be in our food, good protein.
I’ve gained some tolerance to spice, and gained 4 canker sores.
I’ve learned some of the key Singhalese words, like food, and thank you.
 I’ve learned the perfect way to scratch a sketter bite without breaking skin.
I've reminded myself how blessed I have it back home!

 -Wishing all the best! Xo