Malaysia: Orphanage Weekend

It strikes me that I have neglected sharing the rest of my experiences on Malaysia. Shame on me! Especially as the next event that happened on the trip was such a powerful and amazing experience. On the weekend that bisected my two week trip, I went with my team to a Tamil (north Indian) orphanage. There, we taught about Christmas, did crafts and games, and simply played with the children.

I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I saw the hearts of these beautiful children begin to be healed through play. These children own two changes of clothing, which they are often required to share and trade around, have typically been abandoned by their parents, are often malnourished and are stunted as a result, and never receive the one-on-one attention that all kids need to truly grow and flourish. So for 10 crazy white chicks of all ages to randomly show up simply to play with them -- I think it blew their minds. And, to tell you the truth, they blew my mind with their sweetness, grace, and honest smiles. I have never jumped so much rope in my life. And I loved every second. Here are some photographic highlights of our first day at the orphanage.

Playing Duck, Duck, Goose. In front of the concrete building in the background you can see squat cylindrical tubs. Those are their bathtubs, where they line up at the end of every day and hop in and out without changing the water in between.

One of the many amazing vegetarian meals we were served while at the orphanage. Even if these kids were malnourished in the past, they eat well now. Notice the lack of utensils -- all of this meal is intended to be eaten solely with the fingers. They did provide spoons and forks for us westerners, but I had a good try at eating the rice without them. Tricky and messy, but I can also see how it works!

Sharing our Christmas program with the kids. Christmas is exotic and intriguing to these children, having grown up with as much of an understanding of Jesus as we do for Buddha.

The kids could not get enough of looking at the individual photo albums we each brought from home. They loved picking out my husband in each picture and asking, "You husband?" They soon learned his name, and were tickled by that. And the photos of the snow also intrigued them.

We brought enough Christmas-themed crafts to entertain an army. From ornaments to snowflakes to paper chains to coffee filter butterflies (okay, that last one is not so Christmas-y), we showered the kids with fun arts and crafts. They enjoyed it, and these boys particularly loved making bugs, glasses, and silly hats from the pipe cleaners we brought to make the butterfly antennae.

These boys rocked. They always had the brightest grins on their faces.

My digital camera was a great tool for overcoming the significant language barrier. Although the children could understand a bunch of what I said, they had great difficulty communicating back in English. They could, though, read English quite well. Regardless, they adored having their picture taken, then running to me to see the result, grinning and giggling.

Like I mentioned before, I have never jumped so much rope in my life! It was fun, though, although I wasn't so great at it. One of the children took this photo, and a bunch of others that I found on my camera later, waiting like surprising, glimmering gems. Those kids had some photographic talent!

We played played hard that first day at the orphanage, and it was wonderful. We certainly slept well that night!

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