"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Thursday, November 28, 2013

the root of all gratitude is happiness

We are celebrating a family reunion over our Thanksgiving holiday. 

Before we left, we wrapped up half of the refrigerator post-its to send to my sister for her own project. Then realized I'd not grabbed a full picture of our Happiness Project.

But, I could not help getting a closer look at what was left. 

Throughout this month I have spent many a day that felt just too cold, too long or too full ... basking in the warmth of each and every one.

I don't want to take them down.

Some of them warmed my heart.

Some of them made me laugh.

Some were laughingly reproachful ;)

And some of them were just wishful thinking.

But each and every one filled me with happiness and gratitude to be able to share this time together and experience so many simple pleasures throughout this life. 

Happy Thanksgiving. May it be full of happiness!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

rising star academy and a thanksgiving reminder

A very special thank you to our friends Lilly and Dale, who invited us to help at Rising Star Academy, a school that has been created for the children of those effected by leprosy. We are eternally grateful for that experience.

They are doing amazing things there.

This school is working hard to educate these children of lesser opportunity, help them achieve higher education and instill a desire to return that help so that schools like these will be completely self-reliant and indigenous. For India run by those of Indian culture.

I loved the beauty in that plan. 

"How did you get so tall??" chanted these children to my boy.

"I eat my porri and roti!" he said  .. and then you should have seen those kids clean their plates at mealtimes ;)

They kept asking to go play at Boopa's house with his children. 

These cute boys were so ecstatic over a piece of bubble wrap they found on the ground. I told them my kids felt the same way :)

I think this one makes me laugh the most. Newel negotiating football scoring with these boys. Some things will never change.

They have a program where dancers from a professional company in New York come for a few months and teach dance as a physical education. 

Be still my heart.

We had also done a little dance with those in the colony (pictures of which I did not post so as to save embarrassment ;) and it was amazing to see dance lifting the spirits.

But these kids ... they were good!

I didn't get a picture of Peter and Kellyn but they were kindred spirits who made me want to rewind the clock and squeeze one more thing into those dancing college years of mine.

Celia had an instant fan club.

The older girls were more than happy to show her how to do henna.

These beautiful ladies know how to feed a crowd.

After dinner, Newel had a fan club too. I loved watching him talk to each and every one.

Bath in a bucket, anyone?

Coldest night of our lives because sharing a room, Newel tried to over compensate the heat of the day by cranking the air conditioning luxury available in our guest room.

Still, I could get used to conversations in the dark before bed as a family.

Another amazing day of school where fourth graders were learning physics, chemistry and advanced math and kindergartners are gaining computer skills even though those generators kept blitzing.

We got to practice English reading and comprehension. Funny to realize the limited understanding of some books due to cultural and religious barriers.

And then right before we left, we got to spend some time with our own lovely young lady. 

These educational opportunities take funding and we were pleased to help. These children are real. Their futures are real. And if you are interested and able, you can make your own difference here.

However ...

There was a time when I longed to make a difference in the world around me. A day and time where coupons were cut and pennies scrapped off the top of grocery bills for little rare pleasures like paper towels because my mother was coming for a visit or squares of cheap fabric to sew for little girls to have a new dress.

I wanted to help but felt that every organization around me had such a need for funding. Funding I was under equipped to supply.

Recently, a friend approached me after our return and expressed how much she wished for this sort of adventure to learn and serve to be available to her family and children.

Our adventure was amazing!

But  ... and this is bolded and italicized ... one does not have to go halfway around the entire globe to find ways to make a difference in our world.

And most of them cost very little more than time.

There are nursing homes with those who rarely see visitors. There are classes for women needing babysitting so they can learn job finding skills. There are roads to be tidied. There are meals to be served. Shelves to be stocked. Collections to be made.

They all need you.

And all you need is time.

Headed into the holiday season, the best way to show gratitude is to give of your own time and not much further than your own back door.

Happy Thanksgiving and as you give of your time, I hope you find peace, happiness and joy in the journey of the amazing adventures of your very own.