This morning was quite a strange one. Last night we collectively came up with the brilliant idea to all secretly wake up at 6:00 a.m. to have “group bonding time.” Everyone was super excited and we were all planning how to wake everyone up without disturbing the others in the house. When the morning came our plan started with me waking up as Lydia’s alarm went off. The two of us woke up the girls in our room who helped us wake the rest of the group. As we all gathered in the church classroom a serious flaw in our plan became apparent. We were all dead tired and had no idea what to talk about. After grumbles of how bad of an idea this was we eventually managed to have a pretty enjoyable bonding session.
After another wonderful breakfast the majority of the group walked to a home for children without parents, as it is called in Cuba. Five of us, including me, stayed to help transfer an intimidating pile of wood to the roof of the church. After the completion of this project we joined the rest of the group at the children’s home where we learned that we would be panting the outside of the house. The task was made much more fun with the help of three kids from the home, Isabela, Jose, and Christiano. Isabela, who is six, decided that she would steal my paintbrush and sit on my lap while painting both me and the wall. After lunch we returned to the home to give them some of the clothes and art supplies we had brought with us. The children put on a fashion show for us with the clothes. Only after the fashion show were they given the surprise that the clothes were theirs.
Afterwards we and the residents of the home sat on the porch to do water color paintings. After a few minutes of watching the kids paint (Isabela painted a house with butterflies above it) we got the idea to paint each of the children a sign with their names on it. I first painted a sign for Isabela by forming her name into a rainbow and surrounding it with butterflies, I then attempted a graffiti style one for Yordin which I didn’t finish but promised I would return and complete. We departed with many hugs and kisses and promises to return the next day.
For dinner we again broke up into smaller groups to eat at someone’s house. My group, led by Fran, went to the house of Carlos. After yet another delicious Cuban meal, in which I again out-ate Alex, we joined Carlos’ wife, daughter, and granddaughter in their living room. The two year old granddaughter, Vienna, had the spotlight. She was fascinated with our shoelaces, more specifically untying them. She even requested to wear my shoes and adorably walked/wobbled/hopped around in them. Our goodbyes were met with the cries of Vienna saying that she didn’t want us to leave.
Our experiences today reminded me of the incredible ability of these people to find light and happiness in everything no matter what their situation. It also reminded me how much I love kids.