Good morning to you!

The mornings are frigid. Mountains, tall and green, tower over us, as we walk out our apartment door. The hill we have to climb to the breakfast place does not get easier as the days go by. My quads burn just the same. The forty-five minute drive to the village of Sahu was bumpier than usual and gave me car-sickness. I felt nauseous and was not ready to face a day of screaming kids. When I got out of the car I actually dreaded having to put on a smiling face, but then I saw the kids. Everyday they wait for us in their school. Today as we walked down they all stood up, and in unison said, “Good morning to you.” The moment I saw little Isha, a tiny girl who I am in love with, peeking around the corner to see how close we were my dread literally disappeared. First Isha, then, one by one, the kids grabbed our hands and welcomed us. Today their hands were cold to the bone. They reached for our hands just as much for warmth as in excitement. They called me didi, “sister.” “Hello didi.” “Didi!! Hello!!!” Their excitement is as contagious as their smiles, and as we started to play ‘Down By The Banks,’ all I could see was smiles. Even though it was cold, the kids were so happy.

The lessons today were harder than usual because dang Nick Liddell insisted on having the most fun lesson and taught jump roping. I had no chance at teaching body parts or “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” with the basketball rolling behind us or doing jump ropes and the limbo. But oh well, they liked coloring the star-shaped glasses I gave them.

Saying good-bye to the children is the most touching part of the day. I am not an emotional person, usually. But because there is nothing normal in India, I had small tears in my eyes as I watched Anna pick up the dirtiest kids and kiss them on the cheek, as Nick looked lovingly at the young girls and Todd walked the boys up the hill. And the moment Reena grabbed my hand and touched it to her face and kissed it, I became completely and utterly connected to these kids. I never understood what they meant when the older YMAD kids said they loved the children with all their hearts or how they could have connected on such a deep level so fast. But it does happen. I experienced it today, and I doubt I will feel it so fast and so strong in any other situation. These kids are unique, loving and open.

We came here to make a difference. I have no idea if I have made a dent in their lives, but I know they have changed my perspective.

On that intense note, we have had a ton of fun. Many laughs, few tears, and tons of memories!!! I miss home and ice cream! I love you family and miss you! See you all soon!

Maddie Whitney