When you put me with hundreds of children - and in a classroom - you have created Paradise for me. Seriously. Crazily enough, I love children - hundreds and hundreds of them - and I love being in school. This mission trip is Nirvana for me - I can't imagine a trip being better as far as the project that we have.
Today, we performed our "bratty" skit in front of the children of Corozal - and this time, I got a round of applause! :) It may have been when I mentioned we were giving them gifts - and not so much for my acting skills - but hey, appreciation is appreciation, and applause is music for the soul for any actor!
After our skit in Assembly, it was time to work...but today, my work was in the classroom. I got put into a pre-school classroom of 33 children (yikes!) and I did Kindergarten screenings all morning with the children. I set up a little table outside (bliss!) and brought the students out, 1 by 1, and went through the series of questions and activities with them.
Sometimes, it was difficult due to the language - although English is the primary language in Belize, we are so close to the Mexican border that some of the children speak Spanish primarily. One of the questions I had to ask was, "What is this table made of?" One child answered, "Mesa." I said, "I know it's a "mesa" - but what is the "mesa" made of?" And she rattled off a Spanish word I have never heard of - I had no idea what she said....hmmmm.....does she get credit or not??!
Another activity involved drawing a person - and the child needed to draw 5 identifiable parts to get credit. One little boy drew the stick figure (which is what most kids drew - very basic) and he added the eyes, nose, arms - but then only one leg. He sat his crayon down - and he was done - and I couldn't help but notice that his figure only had one leg. This was interesting - of course, I had to delve further....
"Who is this a picture of?" I asked.
"My father", the child replied.
I hesitated for a moment, and then plunged right in...."Does your father only have one leg?" I asked.
He looked at me like I was crazy, and said, "No."
Oh. Okay. Maybe he's an Impressionist artist or perhaps he's a future Dali or Picasso???!! I just thought it was funny.
At lunch time, I was on the front porch of the pastor's house, eating some delicious barbecue, when a Belize Red Cross van went whizzing by....
"Oh my God!" I screamed.... "I SO wish I could have taken a picture of that van to show my American Red Cross friends!"
But it was too late - it was long gone....
Later, during recess, I was playing with some girls when a little boy came running up to me, and said, breathless, "Sherri!!!! The Red Cross truck is back!!! Don't you want a picture of it??!!!"
Wow - I couldn't believe that little boy had remembered that I had said that at lunch - and had then made the effort to run and find me so I could get my photo...that's why I love these children!
I got my necessary photo and then had an opportunity to talk with fellow volunteers - which was pretty amazing.
Now, we've all determined that the best word at school in the English is "recess" - followed by "lunch", perhaps...but there are two other WONDERFUL words that I always loved to hear when I was at school, and those words are:
Yes, dear readers - my pre-school class had an afternoon field trip planned and the teacher graciously invited me along. We boarded up the school bus with 2 pre-school classes and dozens of parents and two teachers - and then went about 10 minutes down the road to the Santa Rita Mayan Ruins.
The children spent about 10 minutes looking at the ruins and then another 35 minutes running around a nearby park - isn't that the way it always is??!!!
A great day spent with the children - and an evening with devotional messages from fellow team members - and then a long, pleasant stroll through the streets of the village - with perfect weather and a faithful dog named "John" following us the entire way.
Again - life doesn't get much better....