Tuesday was my first day back with the older boys center after being gone for a week. I got there chatted with the lady who cooks and helped her a bit in the kitchen, as per usual. Ate lunch, then had the program with the boys. They’re still working on the wire stuff, and getting darn good at it too! I’m really stoaked with what they’re coming up with.
Anyway, the director of the center was there and seemed to be a bit hurried. So I asked him if he wanted me to end early–if there was another program for the boys in the evening. He said “No, no,” and told me to go another half hour. Then he told me the boys had a gift for me. I was pretty surprised, and sometimes things are lost in translation, so I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant. Then ten minutes later he looked at my watch to see if it had been half an hour and was smiling. Then he told the boys to stop and clean up.
They cleaned up much more quickly than they ever do, mostly because the director was telling them to. When they finished he picked a boy and told him to go into their dorm and get the gift. Apparently they had been waiting and anxious to give it to me since I got there, hours before in the afternoon.
While he was retreiving the gift, he explained that some of the boys of their own volition approached him and wanted to get me a gift to say thank you. So a few of them went to the market one day and picked out a present for me.
He came out with a nice sized gift. It was even wrapped with a bow! I was really impressed, and a little embarrased for them getting me anything at all. Then an earlier-appointed three boys got up and spoke. I didn’t catch 100% of everything they said, but basically thanked me for teaching them the things that I have. They said they were thankful to God for sending me to the desert and that I have worked very hard and that they appreciate all of the new things I have taught them.
It was absolutely unexpected and really just the sweetest thing. I took the gift and thanked them. Said how happy I was to be in the desert with them and that they were all a blessing to me. Teenage boys…who knew they could be so thoughtful?
Culturally, you don’t open presents in front of the person giving them generally. So I brought it home and opened it here. They picked out a curiously shaped vase, and also a little ceramic basket with two sheep holding it. Not things I would have picked for myself really, but just the thought of them wanting to get me anything at all is more than a gift. (Plus, they could have done much worse!) 🙂
I’m still smiling about it. It’s hard to tell how people are taking you sometimes, especially cross-culturally. There were days I felt like the boys could really take or leave me being there. So I find this to be a gigantic encouragement. Not just that they like me (which is great! haha), but that they are really enjoying and getting value from the things I’m doing with them. So I’m thanking the Lord–he sure does know how to fill our souls! …And I’m making these boys brownies next week!