Working with pals

Message of the Day: “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” ~William Penn

We started our day with breakfast together with a new twist: eggs cooked to order. Bobbie let us know she wasn’t well and would need to stay behind. Colleen and I (Mary) promised to team up with Breanna and watch out for her. (Each of us knowing well that Breanna would help us with her command of español!!). I thought our bus ride had a slightly quieter buzz of conversation as we discussed what our day might bring.

From Center 1 (from Sarah)

After climbing off the slightly fancier bus (with a coffee button but maybe less character than our usual carpet-ceilinged ride), we made our way through the less-active market (finding a gym on the way) to center one. After watching our kids drink colada and eat warm bananas, we had a bathroom break and switched students for different activities. Tía Yesenia and I prepared a painting with sponges activity for Kathy’s kids, but soon after they arrived, and Joel finally stopped crying, they left and we got Linda’s group (who, being 2 or 3, were not suitable candidates for painting). After a brief activity involving shoelaces and foam beads, we traded kids again and we got Ann’s little ones who danced with us for about ten minutes before they lost interest and moved on to playing with wood blocks. Snack time involved watermelon seeds that needed to be swept up. About ten bathroom breaks later, we had lunch… soup with yucca, then rice, beets, and spinach, of course only for those who finished their soup, and after making it most of the morning without a problem, Camilo finally fell apart and responded when I asked if he wanted to eat his rice and beets, that no, he wanted his mama. Then one of Karen, Theo, and Henry’s charges took Camilo’s spoon and proceeded to finish the meal.

Lunch for us was uneventful, but included some laughs about potatoes and the amount of food left on Peggy’s plate. English teaching was fun (but hard as Linda and I struggled to explain certain pronunciations and English-Spanish equivalents) but had a few interruptions, including cries of “sangro!” coming from the nap room where someone had a nosebleed. Also, we saw Camilo smile for maybe the second time today, as he chased some of the bubbles that Ann brought. Hair was unsuccessful as the only ponytail I made was deemed unsatisfactory by four-year-old Helen and redone by my tía. After sweeping, mopping, and picture taking, we left the center and settled in on our usual bus to ride to center 2, and later ride back to Quito with everyone piled on the left side to get a glimpse and hopefully a picture of a certain Chinese restaurant.

Outdoor Labor at Center Dos: (from John)

The men, young and old, accompanied by Kristi and Peggy, arrived to a fresh delivery of paving block. Dogged and determined, the team slapped down 1000 square feet of pavers in two ½ hours. The community provided a wide array of qualified volunteers. Our leader, Rodrigo, skillfully laid out the screed on the surface to be paved while the young men adjusted the sand base. Another crew – two guys and a lady who laughed and joked the whole time, worked hard to filter the stone dust with a screen and brought their product to the ever dynamic Peggy, who swept it into the spaces between the blocks with her rustic sweeping implement which obviously was a remnant of the Incan era.

When energy ran low, the team was bolstered by the arrival of Aaron (we had already confiscated Josh and Eli from the relentless taskmaster, Tía Olga).

We returned from lunch to lay another 600 square feet, then proceeded to move/throw the remaining 100 or so blocks into a staging area with help from Mary and Lily.

On a side note – it’s been just great working with my pals Aaron, Josh, Isaac, Eli, and the speed demon block layer, Leo. It’s been such a pleasure to meet your families and it hurts to see you go!

Inside center 2 (from Mary)

Without Bobbie, the older kid crew was a bit short this morning. Colleen jumped in with Breanna and her fifteen 2- to 3-year-olds, then returned to work with me and our 4- and 5-year-olds when Peggy (with a sore arm) arrived to join Breanna. Literally, I think the walls were shaking when those toddlers got taste of playtime “Peggy-style.” Kathleen and Delia were, as usual, swept away to care for their tiny, sometimes dribbling, sometimes crying, and sometimes giggling charges. As tutoring began, Delia, Breanna, Colleen, and I were told to go awaken everyone and come down to do hair. The three of us with the older ones took our time climbing the stairs, I must admit, as we considered the prospect of waking 35 or so 2- to 5-year-olds, herding them downstairs, and combing each little head as we attempted to keep everyone else occupied and out of the just washed toys. We made it – though I dare say some mamas were dismayed with braids that looked worse than this morning!! With everyone lined up, dishes washed and last blocks moved, we dragged out to the bus.

Addendum: Dinner Out

We truly enjoyed our meal at Crepes & Waffles restaurant both for the menu sin papas and wonderful conversation. Too bad we didn’t think of a crepe sin crepe for Josh!! The finale of dinner was delicious ice cream and happy laughter on the bus home.

Entry and message submitted by: The Bennett family


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