We begin each morning hiking through the Himalayas. Our school, seemingly on top of the world, is nestled protectively against the mountain side. We can hear our children before we see them. Then we spy them through the tall trees.
They stand in line reciting their morning prayers. The drums begin to beat and the children march down the mountainside to greet us with bright smiles and "good morning" as they reach down and touch our feet in respect. Occasionally they sneak in a hug or two and my heart melts.
A small girl cuddles up in my lap and kisses me gently on the cheek as we repeat the words of the lesson in English. If learned, these lessons will bring about a brighter future for this young child.
Emily holds a sleeping Indian boy in her lap as she effortlessly teaches the other children who look up at her, hanging on every word. She is amazing! Her preparation and natural ability to work with children make her an excellent teacher.
Andrea's laugh rings through the school. The children call out "Cookie, Cookie, Cookie" with delight as they see she will be their next teacher. Her infectious smile and bubbly personality make her an instant favorite.
Tanner informs me that he has fallen in love with a sigh and a huge smile. The boys cling to him and the girls have captured his heart. He doesn't know how he will ever be able to tell them goodbye when the time comes.
The little girls gather around Brooke like bees to honey. They call her sister and exclaim how beautiful she is. Her kind and loving nature make them feel safe and loved in her presence.
Steven is a human jungle gym. Several boys jump on his back, arms, legs, anything they can grab, including his heart - and hold tight as he tries to navigate the steep trails up the mountain side. He laughs in delight! Who needs exercise when you have Indian boys to play with.
I watch as children who bounced about in excitement now sit quietly at Jordyn's feet as she teaches them the lesson of the day. She is an excellent teacher and the children love being with her. The girls hold her hands and snuggle up in her lap. She brings a degree of peace and assurance to the children and our group that is immeasurable. I am so grateful she is a part of my team.
Each of these teens has stepped up to become the leaders I knew they could be. They are making a difference in this small part of the world. I know that none of us will ever be the same because of this experience.
Thank you YMAD, our leaders, Chad, and my wonderful family and friends back home. I wouldn't be here without you.
I love you!