Last weekend, AT and I got the opportunity to plan a day of our own with the boys as way to start the end of the year festivities. Most of the graduation and farewell activities are very serious, dress-up occasions. So, we decided it would be best to have a day of fun centered on them. Our work started right after church when we set to work filling water balloons. It took over two hours, but we managed to fill about 600 balloons.
Then we met the students at the soccer field. It was one of those really hot days where even just sitting on the bleachers made me sweat like I'd been running a marathon. It took a while for the boys to show up. Then we realized that one of the counselors was showing a movie in the workout room. I was really upset because everyone knew we had worked hard to plan this day.Once the boys finally started trickling over, they were whiney and had bad attitudes. All the emotions that I have been bottling up about leaving them came pouring out and before I knew it tears were rolling down my face. My little guilt trip must have worked because soon after we had a field full of happy and eager players. We played a new, but simple variation on the normal soccer game. Instead of just two teams targeting two goals, we had four teams and four goals. It was a little hard to keep score, but the boys loved it. As we neared the end of the game, PK drove over the 4-wheeler with buckets of the water balloons. When the game ended, we set the buckets in the middle of the field, evenly spaced apart. Then, on the count of tres, it was every man for himself as the boys were set loose to cool themselves off. They absolutely loved this part of the day and all 600 balloons were gone in a matter of three minutes!
We expected to have about an hour break to clean up for dinner, but the boys wanted more and asked PK to set up the volleyball net for a game. While they played, I took a shower and cleaned up for the main event. For dinner, we hosted the boys in the conference center. Andy made pizza and we put the fancy table cloths on the tables. Gaby helped by making cute centerpieces made of marshmallows on skewers. Marshmallows are a favorite candy treat in Honduras. When we rang the bell for dinner, the boys filed in and we welcomed them with a video of photos taken from this year. I set the video to two of their favorite songs and it blared loudly through the conference center.
When the video was over and the applause finished. We announced that we had a gift for each student. We presented them with the yearbooks that had been donated by Lifetouch. I spent several months working to prepare the book for them and I was anxious to see how they would react. The parents of these kids never had the luxury of having a camera pinned to their faces for every momentous occasion in their child's life. I could not have predicted their euphoria. They eagerly paged through their books laughing a cheering loudly at their favorite photos. Before long they were passing around pens and autographing eachother's books. I felt like a rock star. I couldn't finish signing one book before another one was thrust in front of me! I am so happy that they loved this little momento so much. I hope that they will treasure the books and look back on this year fondly. I know I will!
Finally, after all the boys began to disperse, we rang the bell again for our final event. AT's mother had brought down a few glow sticks from the States. It took a little time, but we managed to divide them into two teams with Omar and Cristian acting as team captains. Then we somehow managed to explain the fairly complicated rules of Capture the Flag. We thought this little exercise would last about ten minutes, but we had no idea they would take it so very seriously. "This is not a school. It's a warzone!" Cristian screamed across the darkness.
During the game I had a chance to talk a little to Jorge, who had to sit out with a sore knee. We talked about how sad we both were to have to say goodbye and how hard it is going to be to keep in contact. It was sweet to see how much he cared. Then, I spent some time encouraging him and reminded him that God has big plans for his life...and I have some pretty high expectations too! I am so blessed to have gotten to spend this year with these kids!
At one point during the game, I had to take a break and head back to the house. It suddenly hit me that I had not taken the time to eat the entire day and I was starting to feel a bit dizzy. A few crackers and I was back on the field just in time to watch a family of skunks form an unexpected hazard as they wandered into the playing field and disappeared into the darkness. Jorge and I laughed and decided not to tell the players about their silent stalkers. Luckily for everyone, they were scared off by all the noise and didn't hang around long enough to cause much trouble. Finally, an hour and a half after it started, the game deteriorated into yelling when an accusation of cheating was made. We called the game and sent everyone to cool off for a few minutes. But it wasn't long until the boys started gathering again. Cristian decided that we could stay up late and play a soccer game on the lighted field. This is a real luxury since we've been on rationed electricity lately! I treated the boys who didn't want to play to a movie in the conference center and PK opened the tienda for the late-night snackers.
This was one of the best days I've had here. It was full of fun with some of my favorite people and it reminded me of what I love about El Sembrador. Even though I am trying not to think of saying goodbye, it gets harder and harder every day. It's especially hard because I know the boys are looking so forward to being out of school for their breaks while I am dreading it and hanging on to every moment. I just hope that we have made even a little impact on their lives. They have certainly impacted ours!