“One Word Expression.” That is an exercise that the members of the “Dream Team” are very much familiar with. At the end of the day, Mr. Tom is fond of asking us to choose one word to describe our feelings. Finding words to adequately express each amazing, exhausting, but I repeat, amazing day is challenging at times. For tonight I would choose “emotional” as my one word expression…and that’s not just because I’m female! It was emotional in that it was both happy and sad, but the combination was heartwarming.
First, it was a happy day because today was the last day of school and “graduation day” here at ESD. “Yaaay!!!” Betsy likes to say, clapping her hands enthusiastically. I was so very excited to see each of the children acknowledged and awarded for their hard work during the school year. Betsy, Judy, Jen, and Elizabeth perhaps deserve an award ceremony all their own for the love and sacrifices they have poured into the school and the children here. It was a privilege to celebrate with them.
Second, it was a sad day (at least for me, but I saw others shed a tear or two so I think I wasn’t the only one) because today was the last day of school and the last day that some of most of us would get to spend with the students. I certainly hope this won’t be the last time, but goodbyes are never fun when they part you from people you love…and I have definitely grown to love (very much!!) the kids here at ESD. The emotions flood me again as I write.
The day started out in a bustle when the kids started arriving around 8am for the last chapel of the school year. We sang several songs and Betsy illustrated, using a dart board (with flaming darts), how the Word of God is like a shield to us. She then passed out shield necklaces for the children to wear this summer as a reminder.
We then separated into our different classes. The older group watched The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Betsy’s class, consisting of Zumaya, Naiska, and Saul, was called into session and I got to help out in there again along with Paulina…I enjoyed every minute just as I had the week before. By the end of class the three of them had completed their reading work books and got to do a “victory lap” around the courtyard…and then throw their completed books down with a flourish at the end of the run…what fun!
The other team members were hard at work during this time cleaning up and preparing the chapel for the “graduation” celebration. The younger members of the team worked hard on balloon “art”…we discovered today that Nathan is quite the balloon artist. The ceremony itself was wonderful, as I already mentioned. The families of the students came, along with many volunteers who give of their time to the school.
After goodbyes our team cleaned up and headed to the beach (to drown our goodbye blues). The drive was quite an adventure as the beach of choice lies at the end of a long dirt road full of potholes and water. “It feels like we’re in the jungle” says a team member as we skirt water, branches brush the van, and iguanas dart across the road. “That’s because we are!!” replies another.
We were greeted back at the school by one of the “seven most wonderful smells of the world”: BACON. Tracy had fired up the frying pans while we were away. Paulina and Tom then joined her in the kitchen, making eggs and pancakes. Elizabeth said that was the best dinner to date. After dinner we packed the van with supplies for our trip the service project that awaits us tomorrow…but I’ll let you find out more about that then.
The day ended with devotions as usual. Steve led us in our time as we learned about and discussed “Trials, Perseverance, Growth, and Joy”. And what a joy our visit has been thus far! I loved every moment spent with the children…even those times when they wanted “just one more” shoulder ride or push on the swing. They are precious. Getting to know Betsy, Judy, Jen, and Elizabeth has been a joy too. And spending time with my “family away from family” is a joy I’ll treasure forever.
Hannah Mackey <><