I want to start off by saying hi! to my family and to reassure my mom that I am okay and having an amazing time here!!!
This mornings task was woodworking, which many of us were not sure what that entailed. My group was Carol, Jibri, Charles, and Jermaine and we soon learned that we would be sanding and varnishing all morning. We started this task and soon realized that we were going to be covered in dust and varnish. It was pretty funny seeing everyone either with white hair or having their hands covered in this sticky residue that never seemed to come off. We all were laughing the whole entire time because someone was always singing or making a joke. We were grateful that no one could understand us though. After lunch we finished off by cleaning up our mess that we had made and helped the other group change light bulbs.
After leaving the house we went back to Carol’s where we got to go to her mom’s volleyball team practice, which was so much fun to watch. We learned though that none of the Americans except for Reid could actually play volleyball but we ended up just laughing the whole entire time pretending to know what we were doing.
It was back to work today at Casa Ronald after a relaxing weekend on the beach. In the morning, we separated into two groups, one of which went outside to do woodworking while the other group worked inside. Natalie, Mahek, Malcolm, Sam, Katia, Miranda, and I were cleaning lighting fixtures and replacing bulbs, cleaning bathrooms, and replacing broken wheels on stowaway beds in a currently unoccupied wing of the house. I managed to make my thumb bleed somehow while we were replacing the wheels, and it was a bit of a struggle to try to figure out whether or not the Band-Aids they had were latex free (since I am allergic to latex) but luckily, in Portuguese, latex is still “latex” just pronounced differently. After lunch, we still had some lights to clean and bulbs to replace. They didn’t have enough bulbs that were all the same color, so Amedeo went out and bought some more. Somehow, despite my fear of ladders, I ended up being up on a ladder screwing the casings back onto the lights and cleaning the dust off the fans in the living room area. I’m pretty sure I have bruises from bracing my shins against the top step of the ladder so hard but I was (mostly) able to get past my fear, so that was cool. I was feeling pretty tired by the time we got home, so instead of going with Alex, Carol, and Roseli to watch the volleyball team practice after dinner, I stayed home and showered and laid in bed watching the crazy thunderstorms out of my window for a while.
Today we arrived at the Ronald McDonald house at around 8:30 a.m. We got split into two groups right away. Alex and I were put with Jermaine, Jibri, Charles, Sid, and Reid and sent outside. They said they needed girls that weren’t afraid of heights so we took the challenge. We walked outside to the playground area and there was a lot of wood pieces, varnish, gloves and masks. We quickly suited up and the guys started varnishing a porch and Alex, Erin, and I varnished pieces of a bench. We had to make sure we varnished all the corners and the curves because the pieces would be put into a new bench for the porch. We were very efficient and finished the job very fast although it was very hot and sunny outside. After we were done Alex and I joined the guys on the porch. We soon found out why they wanted girls that weren’t afraid of heights because they gave us a ladder, glasses, masks and brushes and told us to varnish the ceilings. Alex and I decided that I would do the first layer and Alex would go over it with the special paintbrush so we were more efficient. The whole time we were working we were being serenaded by Charles, Jibri, and Jermaine (this actually happens very often). Soon it was lunchtime and we had a lot of work to finish. Lunch was very good and some of the houseguests joined us. The little girls are warming up to most of us and their favorite hobby now is chasing Malcom around. After lunch we went back to work. One of the construction workers came to make sure we were doing a good job and he started tearing up when Jermaine walked past him. He held Jermaine’s arm and told me that last year his twenty-two-year-old son died in a motorcycle accident and that Jermaine reminded him a lot of his son so he was feeling very emotional but that he was very happy. His story motivated all of us to finish our work perfectly and once we were done I have to admit I was extremely proud. It was so shiny and brand new so now the kids have a nice porch to sit and hang out on. We were able to take a break when we were done and a couple of us went outside and layed down on the hammocks. One of the members of the house, Joao, was there with his thirteen-year-old daughter Ana Paula. He is a fisherman and makes fishing nets and hammocks. It takes him three months to make a net and three days to make a hammock. Alex, Mahek, Natalie, and Erin really loved the hammocks and so Joao made them hammocks to take back to the United States and he put them up until we leave so we can hang out during our free time.
A very important fact of our service trip is that Jibri is a celebrity here. If anyone needs a light to be changed they call Jibri. If anyone needs to pick up something from a top shelf, they call Jibri. The kids all laugh when Jibri stands up because he is so tall. So, it was no surprise that they asked Alex and I to help Jibri clean the fans around the house. It was a pretty fast job so after that they asked the three of us to wash the windows and the bug nets. Since Jibri was in charge of the water hose, Alex and I were quickly soaked. I wasn’t complaining because it was extremely hot out. After we were done we joined the group and helped them finish switching the light bulbs and then it was time to go home. Today was definitely the hardest day of work but I definitely had the most fun.
A lot of new kids are at the house and I made a new buddy named Lais. She is eleven-years-old and extremely smart. She quickly warmed up to all the girls and blushed when the boys started singing to her. Now she has been texting me non-stop asking me to text her words in Portuguese and its translation in English so that she can communicate with everyone else. It will be extremely hard to say good-bye on Friday. I am so extremely grateful for this group. When I started planning the trip last June I had no idea that we would be helping so many people. Every day we leave the Ronald Mc Donald house everyone thanks us for our work. It is heartwarming to see all the kids that have to live with a brutal illness have a few hours a day in which they can be kids and play around with a group of teenagers. I am sad everyone has to leave Saturday.
PS: Barb, I hope everything is going well! We all love and miss you very much!