Hello America! How are you enjoying your cheeseburgers and climate control?
India has been, in a word, totally unbelievably amazing. That's not one word you say? Well sorry, I'm too distracted by the screeching of monkeys and the smell of awesome incense to care.
The children call us Didi, which means big sister (if you have a son, adjust accordingly). They are very smart and very loving, and they are so huggable I almost forget that they're probably giving me lice. The language barrier has been hard to deal with, but they work their hardest to understand us, and we've picked up some Hindi on the way too.
It hasn't all been the sort of fun and games that a major language barrier is though. Mom, if you're wondering what to get me for christmas, just stick me in the same pants for 50 hours on a steady diet of airplane food that is just shy of that 60% real meat we Americans crave, and then drop off a duffel bag filled with snacks and sweatpants. It feels like a miracle.
All parents, your children are all safe and sound, very happy and very grateful for everything they have, and very very tired. As I type the boys are off buying traditional Indian outfits (we girls got our Saris picked out and fitted yesterday), and the rest of us are preparing our lesson plans for tomorrow and fighting over a bucket shower.
There has been a bit of sickness, but nothing that can't be attributed to the airplane food. (The food we've had here has been amazing. As a connoisseur of Indian cuisine - having had it before this trip as many as one times - I can tell you that the food here is incredible. All sorts of spices and rice, and chicken that you know has been alive in the past 24 hours. It's incredible). The constipation sensation has been sweeping the nation, but luckily our brilliant doctors have sorted that one out. We are as happy and healthy as we probably would have been at home, possible more, as our diet has forced us into a sort of chemical preservative body flush. We're eating the real deal here people.
I have to give a little blurb about our surroundings. As I type I am sitting in an open concrete building (our bedrooms are enclosed, don't worry), and listening to the sounds of all sorts of wildlife crawling around the beautiful mountains. I couldn't begin to describe how breathtaking almost every turn in the road is, so I won't. I'll leave it to your kids and the thousands of pictures they've been taking. Our drivers, who take us across the previously mentioned breathtaking mountains and equally breathtaking valleys to our unbelievably breathtaking schoolchildren, have been very nice and shown impressive driving skills. One of ours - who spoke limited english which he used to point out sheep and roadside temples and other things that weren't the road - was particularly impressive. We are making hairpin turns on small dirt roads, but I've never felt safer.
The people are friendly, the views are breathtaking, and we are already feeling the difference we are making in the lives of these children. Parents, I can tell you that your kids love these children with their whole hearts already, and I could not be more impressed. Everyone here believes in what we are doing, and we have come closer and worked harder than ever before in those 9 months - which is saying something.
I won't ask for a summary from your kids, because they're very busy right now, so parents of Sandon, Jamison, Dylan, Kristen, Angela, and Lauren… this one's for you:
Sandon has been great. He's been responsible and loving, and the kids are always excited to see him (and pronounce his name wrong).
Jamison has shown his great personality and his awesome smile. The kids look up to him, quite literally, but he's always ready to get on their level. He's been great at teaching and adapting. He's been a leader.
Dylan has been tons of fun for everyone. The kids respect him and definitely love him, and he's just been awesome to hang around these past few days. He works hard to include everyone, and he couldn't be doing better.
Kristen has been smiling all the time (as she does). She's been great at getting the attention from all the age groups, and both the students and the orphans love to play games with her.
Angela… the kids call her Angie. She has been so sweet and loving, and the little ones especially love to hug her to death and hold her hand.
Lauren has been a leader. I couldn't put it any other way. She holds the hands of all the kids, but she will get their attention and teach them a new game at the same time.
All of your kids have been great, and Brooke - our leader - has done such a great job of looking after and guiding us. We all love her. I promise, we're in great hands.
This paragraph may not be interesting to the rest of you readers, but mom and dad, I miss you but I'm doing great. I've enjoyed my time here so much, and I keep looking forward to every new second. I love you guys. Sam, I miss you and I'm SURE you've missed me. I hope you've written every day in your Best Buddies Booklet. Peter and Thomas: hope my favorite buddies are doing well. I'm looking forward beating you guys at Mario when I get back. Pulsipher family: you guys have the weirdest personalities, and I've really missed them. Sloans: I can't believe I've missed thanksgiving. I hope you're doing well. Friends, I'll be surprised if you actually read this, but if you do I've really missed you and your ridiculous senses of humor. But not THAT much, sheesh, keep it together (I love you guys).
KEEP READING HERE: To summarize, your kids have been doing really well, they're changing lives, and they're making a difference. They're happy and healthy, and they miss you of course. Look forward to being swamped with pictures when we return.
LOVE YOU ALL, and I love India. Namaste.
P.S. I won't say who (James) but someone (James) just bought an actual Indian sword (James). India, man…