Title: 2 hour long Indiana Jones Disneyland ride By: Kate Rutter

November 27, 2023 - 2023 Operation Moksha

I am blogging again because we are switching up the schedule, so I don’t have too much content to cover! Last time I blogged was Friday, and since then we have had one school day and two fun adventure days! On Saturday, we went to school as usual but this time we brought gifts! We brought them a giant new Carrom board (finally figured out the spelling), new badminton and other fun games, a new sign for their school, and their new shoes were delivered. It was a hectic day of teaching and there was lots of adaptation to the lesson for the little kids, but the older kids got to make these cute flower tissue paper crafts. At lunch, the teachers and headmasters of the school had a celebration in honor of us and gave us special hats and scarves to say thank you. All of the kids were going crazy and cheering and clapping for each of us when we went up, it was so cute. At the end of the day, their shoes were delivered and it was the most fun to watch. Each of us would go up one by one to gift each of them their shoes and they touched our feet and bowed to us and it made me so happy but emotional! I love them all so much and seeing them so excited to get a new pair of shoes was amazing. After school, we got started on the mural we are painting for our school and it has turned out adorable! It’s a little mountain scene that will have finger paintings from the kids of flowers and bugs, I can’t wait to see it when it’s all finished.

On Sunday, we got up early to go on a hike to a temple on the top of a mountain. The drive up there was INSANE. It was almost 2 hours of (I am not exaggerating) what felt like the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. We are driven around in these jeep cars that we are all squished into and we feel every bump! It was hilarious to me how crazy the ride was, I’m glad I don’t get motion sickness. The hike was only about a mile but the views were so incredible. I’m sure I will include some pictures in this blog, but it is impossible to capture the beauty of the scenery here. We also got to go inside the temple at the top of the mountain where we were given the red dot between our eyebrows and the “sacrament” which are these sugary puffed rice things, which I’ve actually grown quite fond of. The spirituality here is something that has been pleasantly surprising and I love that we get to be a part of it.

Sunday night we had our “circle of truth”! We all went around and talked about what and who we have been grateful for on this trip, and it got emotional. It was really nice to see everyone get more vulnerable and share what they are getting out of the trip so far. Everyone talked about how grateful we are to all of our adult leaders and how amazing they have been, but it’s impossible to ever thank them enough for all they do. Having us all here is a huge undertaking and that has become more and more evident to me while we’ve been here. I talked about how grateful I am for the future that I have ahead of me and the choices I have in my career and such. The kids here have only a few careers that are realistic, and will likely end up living in the same place with the same people. Having the freedom to choose what you do with your life is something that is not a part of their lives here, and I am so grateful for the life I have back home.

After sharing our thoughts, the leaders brought out the letters from our families. I lost it immediately! It hit me all at once how much I miss home and how much I miss my family and friends. For those of you reading this who wrote me a letter, your words were encouraging and strengthening to me, and I love you all so much!

Today has been loads of fun! Our group had to go finish our mural, so we left earlier than the rest. Some of the kids just hang out at the school even though today is a no school day. It seems like maybe their parents have work so they just send them to play and they spend the day here. It seems to be a common theme that the school is somewhat of a sanctuary or refuge for a lot of the kids and it’s where they go in their free time. Really different from the states. We got picked up from our school to go do yoga up the mountain on a cliffside which was just amazing. I might be taking up some more yoga when I get home! Being up in the mountains looking out over the valley and the village was so stunning and made it very easy to be zen. Mom, this would have been your favorite thing ever, I am trying to keep my memory fresh so I can come home and tell you all about it.

After yoga, we went in the temple right by where we had our mats out and did a ceremony similar to the one on Sunday, but this time we got a bracelet and a blessing for safe travels. It was really cool.

Next up was zip lining!!!! We went on another 30 minute Indiana Jones drive up the mountain to what is the “highest and one of the longest zip lines in India”. I am choosing to believe them and not fact check. It was apparently two 500 meter lines that we did, so pretty long I guess. It was such a beautiful view over the canyon!!! After zip lining we got another pseudo-American meal, which is always pretty refreshing. I got a chicken burger (cows are holy here, so beef isn’t really a thing) that was surprisingly yummy! The chocolate milkshake was a little underwhelming, I’m not sure they know what milkshakes are here.

This is going to be my last blog for the trip, so I want to do some reminiscing about my experience this far. Everything about this place has been so humbling for me. These people live such simple lives and still find joy in the small and important things in life. It has put into perspective what I should be prioritizing in my life back home. Just being around the people you love and doing the things you love is all that matters! Not having my phone has been such a great experience. Our group is already so great, but the fact that all of us are kind of forced to be constantly engaged in conversation has helped us get so close and I love everyone so much. I feel so surrounded by love and friendship and I think an environment without phones is what has made that possible. Our girl group is so much fun and I feel like we’ve all connected in a really great way. I have felt so happy and fulfilled by the work we have been doing and I am so sad we have to say goodbye to the kids tomorrow, it will be a really hard day for all of us. Then Wednesday we pack up and go to Manali, which is a more touristy area. I’m sure Ashley and Allison have fun stuff planned for Wednesday and Thursday with lots of shopping at the market which I have heard is really fun. Then we head back Friday night! Crazy how quick this trip has gone by.

Next time I talk to you all I will be back in Salt Lake! It sounds so far away but I know time will fly by the next few days, so I am trying to soak it all in. Talk soon! Xoxo


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