Now accepting applications for the Fall 2022 teen expedition. Applications are due March 6, 2022.

Harder Goodbyes Than I Could’ve Imagined: Kennedy Mcdonald

November 29, 2016 - 2016 Operation: Ashabadi

Harder Goodbyes Than I Could’ve Imagined


I knew saying goodbye would be hard, but no one and nothing could have prepared me for today’s goodbyes. These kids have completely won me over. We had short lessons today so we could play longer, which we were very happy about. I tried to take in every second because I know I will miss it so much. We played all of the kids favorite games: Little Sally Walker, Hokey Pokey, Baby Shark, Princess Pat, Mother Gooneybird, See Bananas, and especially Ride That Pony. Then, we gave them our gifts. We brought two desks and a huge vinyl mat. We left most of our lesson supplies and activities as well. Then, we gave each child a new backpack filled with a hygiene kit, school supplies, a hat, and gloves, and put a necklace and bracelet on each kid. The teachers at our school were so cute and bought each of us a Chamba hat.

As our time with the kids dwindled down, we cuddled up with them and sang “One Day” and “Home.” I played the first chord of the first song and burst into tears. I barely could even sing I was so sad. I finally pulled myself together and glanced up from my ukulele and the first person I saw was Neha. She has the cutest missing-tooth smile, big gorgeous eyes, and the sweetest, most innocent, kind heart ever. I have told my team many times that if I could adopt her, I legitimately would (Mom, let’s make that happen). She called me “didi” today which means sister in Hindi, and I wish she could be my real sister. But she will always be my baby Indian sister. Before we sang, we all gave our name badge to a child, so of course I gave mine to Neha. She immediately took her nametag off and put it around my neck. I have a feeling I’ll have it on for a while even after I get back. Anyway, needless to say that when I looked at her as we sang, I lost it again and never really recovered. As we sang “Home,” it really hit me and set in that I will always have two homes: Salt Lake City and Chamba, specifically the Kuther School. After the songs, it was time to say goodbye. All six of us on the blue team were in tears along with a few of the kids. They gave us the best hugs ever and said, “I miss you! I love you!” over and over.

Tears were flowing the whole time until we got to the YMAD house. We composed ourselves and got ready for more goodbyes. Since I was sick, I only got to spend three days with the YMAD girls so I didn’t get super close to them, but I did still form a fairly strong bond with Pooja. She was always the first and last to give me a hug each day and loved to walk around with me arm in arm. She gave me two beautiful hennas and the sweetest note. I will miss her and the other girls so much. We also said goodbye to Isha (our translator) and Rinku (our driver) who were both so sweet and fun. Tomorrow, we leave Chamba and head to Dharmsala to begin our journey home. It has flown by so fast. I’m sad to leave Chamba and know that a huge piece of my heart will be here forever.


Last blog! See you all soon!!



p.s. Mom, if you haven’t already, please make sure my transcript sent to BYU. Thank you, love you!

p.p.s. Hi Watty, here’s your shoutout <3

3 Responses to “Harder Goodbyes Than I Could’ve Imagined: Kennedy Mcdonald”

  1. This makes me so sad and my heart literally hurts for you. I can’t even imagine having to tell all of those sweet faces goodbye. I know you have made a huge difference and have helped each one of the children learn life skills which will last their lifetime. Can’t wait for you to get home and hear more about your experiences.
    I love you 💕
    PS I’m totally game to have Neha join our family. I’d take her in a second! (If only it were that easy)

    PSS I’ve got your BYU transcripts under control, second set is in the mail

  2. Your mom and I were just talking about u and your trip. I’m so proud of you and I’ve never even met you. Safe travels home……your other home!

  3. Bring Neha home!! She’s so cute!!

Leave a Comment

Say Hello

Questions? Want to help us? Drop us an email!