Aug. 6, 2011
Still "Winging It"
It was quite a long day. Our alarms rang at 5:30 a.m., we ate breakfast and hopped in some jeeps. The drive thru the mountains was beautiful, and took about two hours. When we reached a checkpoint, one of the jeeps overheated, so we were down to four of them. We finally reached the coastline and needed to use the restroom, so we each paid 25 cents to use the facility. The boats weren't huge and were made out of wood. We split up the group to two boats, one that had two motors and one that had just one motor. The two-motor boat took four hours, the one-motor boat took eight! That's just slightly more than the four hours we were told haha. The ride was gorgeous though, and the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. The Ailigandi people were so welcoming and happy to have us. The traditional women wear these decorative clothes that are very colorful and wear this long bracelet that covers their entire forearms. They wear the same kind of bracelet on their legs, from knee to ankle. We ate dinner, and afterwards, some of us played volleyball with the kids on their court that was recently built. Right next to the court is the school. Elementary kids go in the morning, junior high in the afternoon and high school/university in the evenings. There is also a hospital that is used by all of the nearly 400 islands from here to Colombia. That night, the teenagers practiced their dance for the festival on Friday. The girls danced and the boys played their flutes. Then, the pastor invited us to join in their worship service, where we sang in their language and english too. Afterwards we were all so tired, so we got ready for bed. Some of us got to shower, but there are only two showers, so some of us just went to bed. We have brand new hammocks to sleep in and one hut holds eight women. The pastor offered up his house, which had enough room for the men and the other six women. We were told to be ready for roosters waking us up very early and a drummer boy who would follow. I guess we will see!
They were right about the roosters!!!! 3:00 a.m. Not kidding. The drummer boy was quick to follow a few minutes later. At one point we thought a rooster was loose in our room, but it was just outside the door, phew! We got up at about 7 a.m., which is sleeping in late for them, and ate pancakes and eggs for breakfast. At 8, the Independence Day parade started and we got to be part of it! It started and ended at the basketball court, which seems to be their community gathering area. After doing some traditional dancing around to traditional music, we were invited to a huge hut that we soon realized was their "congress" meeting. None of us understood what was taking place or what they were saying, but we still felt honored to be invited and allowed to attend. We then went back to the pastor's hut and aired up soccer, basketball and volleyballs that we brought and began to play with the children. Volleyball and soccer were a huge hit! Afterwards, some of us explored the island with the children, who were eager to show us everything! After a lunch of hot dogs, we played with basketballs and tennis balls, the kids are so full of energy and life! We then brought them back to the mission to watch Veggie Tales, color and make bracelets. The adults are quiet and reserved, but seem to really enjoy having us here. The kids stick to us like glue and follow us everywhere. They try to practice their English, while we are trying to learn their language of Kuna, which is a form of spanish. One of the most heartwarming stories is a little boy who has down syndrome and only has one year left to live. We girls have become so attached to him! We let him speak into a microphone and dance on stage. We are currently and will continue to find ways to extend his life further... He is so happy! He can't speak well, but he laughs and laughs. After playing and dancing in the rain, we were muddy, and needed showers. Dinner was fried chicken, and after we went to the festival where they had soccer and basketball tournaments, although I think their favorite game is tag. Every second we get to spend with the children have made this an unforgettable experience. Every time we take a picture they want to see it immediately, they have never seen anything like it. We have to ask the elders for their permission, but most of them say yes and seem to enjoy it. We are hoping and praying that we are making some kind of difference and impact in their lives. While nothing has gone to plan, we were kind of expecting that, and we know that God is in control and guiding us. Being in this place has humbled us back to our simplest form, God's children! More to come and loving every second!
With love from Ailigandi,