What to say? So much has happened since my last post it is overwhelming. (I am averaging 15 journal pages a day…) Some quick highlights were: designing the mural for our school and seeing it carried out better than I imagined (we painted the entire wall plus our faces and got a lot of crazy looks from every Indian person who saw us), going on an adventurous night hike with Phebe "the Phebes" Young (who prefers hiking in the pitch black--I must say I agree), having bonding time with the best room-mates EVER (shout out to Ruby & Brooke), hiking in the rain and seeing a funeral (cremation) ceremony from my balcony. Running down the mountainside like mountain goats. Getting henna painted up my arm by our wonderful translators and sharing cultural dances around the fire. I love the culture I have experienced here! (I probably seem like a real creeper when I watch our translators talk in Hindi. But I think it is a beautiful language.) Late night talks and early morning talks, colorful paint, fun music, fun people, laughter, the splatter of rain on the roof--this is India. But what I mostly want to talk about is what I have enjoyed the most and what has affected me so deeply--the children in my school. With each day they get more and more excited to see us and are less and less shy. I have made a special effort to make each child feel loved and have had a lot of special moments as a result. I literally feel like my heart is bigger here. Swollen with more love, clarity of thought, and so many laughs and smiles. I know that no matter where I am, 26 Indian children will always be tugging at my heartstrings from miles away. I like to think that's what my friendship bracelets represent--each woven with heartstrings and given with so much love. That's what my time with the kids is all about: hand in hand, heart to heart. My experiences here are made up of so many tiny gestures of love: Paran Chand-- one of the most shy children--sitting himself down in front of me, wrapping my arm around him and holding my hand. Naresh and Mahender sharing my lap, Purshotam bear-hugging me and wanting to rock back and forth. Naresh interlocking his fingers with mine and kissing my hand over and over. Kaushyla and Lalita interrogating me on then names of my sisters. Me: "Elizabeth, Sarah, Hannah… " Them (smiling): "Your sisters: Elizabeth, Sarah, Hannah, Kaushyla, and Lalita." Bhupender asking for "bones" (fist bump). Ghohali giving me his bead necklace. Dancing for 45 minutes with Chetna and Situ in my arms and Sunita on my shoulders--and unsuccessfully trying to put them down when they squeeze you as tight as they can. Sitting next to a child I don't know as well and helping them open up and feel loved--and having a new friend and extra shadow for the rest of the week. Me staring into Rinku's sparkly eyes for at least 5 minutes and making different faces for him to copy. Dancing to "Happy" and spinning the kids around and around. Fact: there is no such thing as simply holding ONE child's hand. The longer your arm is, the more hands that can hold on and lead you about. Plus you can hold at least two kids in your arms and one can be on your back and one can be on your shoulders, and some more can hang off your neck, so… minimal single-trip Indian child tote is probably about 1o. :) More memories: Digvije hiking up with us and picking us bright red flowers--and him putting one in my hair. Purshotam kissing my palm and Kaushyla doing my hair. But by far the best moment of all is that moment when a child's face splits into a bright smile because of us--because of me. These children don't know how to be fake. Happiness is happiness and the fact that I can be a part of their lives is just so special to me. I am really grateful to be here in Jibhi.