Moments.... Michele Williams

The moments to be remembered are many. Whether it is the look in a child’s eyes or the touch of a hand to mine, the number of times that my heart skips a beat each day are too numerous to count. I am constantly filled with emotion as I am embraced by my surroundings. We have been welcomed with heart and ceremony by the women of Nishtha. We have fallen head over heels in love with our village children. Our hearts have been swept up by the girls at the day boarding school and we have become one as a group of teens and leaders all in love with the same thing – India. The culture is mystifying, the people are warm and inviting, and we feel welcome around every corner and in every home. The food – interesting, the colors vibrant, and the sights and sounds full of energy and interest. Each day is magical as I watch the teens interact, teach and learn. I am inspired by their desire to make a difference and their ability to adjust and embrace their surroundings. From the moment they began the drive down the pathway to the Day Boarding School they have been hooked. As they walked into the school for the first time they were overcome with emotion and their hearts were most certainly filled as they felt the warm embrace of the girls. There is NEVER a moment when one of their hands is available for anything other than a young girls hand in theirs. Often times several girls are wrapped around bodies because there are just not enough hands for all to hold. The smiles are never ending as hearts are shared.

On our second day in India we arrived at our village schools with are small teams and as we approached the school the voices of young children could be heard full of enthusiasm and excitement. Abbey, Becca, Morgan, Natalie, Sarah, Jace and Alek (officially known as the purple team) entered the school bursting with energy ready to meet “their kids” and begin teaching. It was as if a huge explosion had taken place as the young children erupted from their floor mats and tugged at our hearts as they embraced us. Then the magic began as I watched the kids teach and the village children learn. Big brown eyes looking up with desire to please and to be taught. Don’t be fooled, it is not easy for 7 teens to keep nearly 100 rambunctious children in line but they do an amazing job. There is a lot of love and laughter shared as well as children being taught the meaning of the time out mat. Some days several time out mats are needed but our teens are loving, patient and consistent with their strategy, which is most certainly paying off.

Midday brings forth one of the days highlights with village tours. As we meander through the mud homes and meager villages we are welcomed with pomp and circumstance and embraced with love and intrigue as we learn about their way of life. The teens are truly amazing and I am filled as I watch them in their respectful peaceful way as loving hearts desire to learn and take in each and every moment. They’ve “tried” the food offered – coconut milk, palm, water fruit etc. and a truly unrecognizable item which we could not place into any of the food groups. They meandered in a wooden canoe as they learned the snake in the distance was a cobra. They step over cows and chickens, strange bugs and spiders and settle in on

mud porches where carefully laid mats are placed for their comfort and then it is their turn to learn. We listen, we watch and we even sing all the while connecting in a common language of the heart.

The purple team never ceases to amaze and I am crazy about every single one of them.

Abbey is full of questions and desire to understand it all. Always embraced by an entourage of children, it is often difficult to break her away. She can always be found at the back of the pack present in the moment and just not ready to move to the next.

Becca is full of smiles, laughter and love. She certainly has the most infectious laugh in the group and the children love being around her. They particularly like saying her name, which they do often always followed by a smile to her face.

Morgan is our leader and my right hand. I would be lost without her. She is loving and kind. A peacemaker among the group and can often be found smiling as she holds a small infant in her arms.

Natalie exudes happiness. It is absolutely impossible to be around her without feeling it. Her questions are many as well and her way with the children beautiful, kind and patient.

Sarah’s desire to make a difference apparent as she works hard and shares her heart and compassion. Her smile sneaking out around every turn and lighting up the room as she plays and teaches the children.

Alek is our go pro king and is doing an amazing job at documenting our journey. He has a heart of gold and is a peacemaker full of compassion. He has also been nominated as one of our two “take one for the team” members and does it with honor as he shares that golden smile.

Jace is our other “take one for the team” member. We would be lost without him. He is our quiet giant and a favorite with the children. He also has a heart of gold and is always willing to help where needed.

As a group, they are truly amazing. They have figured out how to do it together and it is magical to watch them in action as they teach, share and love.  I am honored to be their team leader and to learn and love along side them. They make a difference in my life.

For myself, there are many moments that will forever be embedded in my heart. My fondest is most certainly the first morning in the village school as I scanned the crowd of children and my eyes met Sundeev’s. As I quietly sat in front of him and told him who I was he repeated the words “Adams’ mom”. The embrace that followed and the tears that flowed will never be forgotten.

I felt the same heartstrings being tugged as Purnima sobbed in my arms and said “Adam is my best friend”. Whether it is Sundari or Rhaki or others, the feeling is always the same.

I am grateful in my life for many, many things. The gift of traveling to India with YMAD is certainly one of them. I am honored to be an adult leader and to serve with these wonderful teens. I am grateful for parents who love and support me unconditionally and I am grateful for two amazing boys who light up life.  You must know that I love you beyond measure. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

I can’t wait to embrace the days and moments ahead. I believe that Isaac said it best when Jeff asked him “did you have a good day?” His answer… “best day of my life”.