But I love Sundays. I love the lingering time with the boys. The center doesn’t hold school on Sundays, unlike most local schools which go from Sunday-Thursday. Usually I get there and chat with Mama Shama and the teachers for a bit while the boys do their washing or lazing about. We eat fatuur, then I start the program. We’re doing wire stuff again so basically I get the stuff and the boys who want to get to work. I chat, help, make some things. Some of the boys sit and hang out. Some go in the dorm to do whatever. It’s pretty laid back on Sundays, which I like. I stay for 4 or 5 hours with the stuff out. Some of the boys keep working all the way through. Most come and go. We have fun. Sometimes they’re whiny. Some of them never want to do anything. This is ok.
When I walked in yesterday I greeted the boys who were sitting around. One of them told me that my name for the day was haboba. Which means grandmother. Thaaaaanks. I went into the kitchen and chatted with Shama for a bit. She told me how two days ago two of the boys had gotten in a fight. One hit the other on the back of the neck with a stick and he passed out on the ground. In the hubbub of trying to get him to the hospital one of the teachers and other boys went on a motorbike, got hit by a rickshaw, and ended up at the hospital too. Everyone is ok. The teacher is still at home recovering. Shama was really disappointed in the boys and was saying that the group they have now is a lot worse than groups in the past. I know I’m still a new kid on the block, but in a group of emotionally damaged teenage boys I’m surprised this stuff doesn’t happen more often quite honestly. I’m glad everyone is ok. Crazy, crazy.
I ended up doing a bit of an impromptu English test for a few of the boys. They all have their first big exams of the year next week. Some of the oldest ones are learning to read English well. They’re too nervous to try to speak with me, but they bust it out sometimes and surprise me. Yesterday one of the boys was looking through my Arabic notebook and saw where I had written “silly” and the Arabic word beside it. He asks me how to pronounce silly, then said the Arabic word also means “ridiculous.” I was like “Where did you learn the word ridiculous? That’s amazing!” These boys are clever. Later on he also found in the back of my notebook where I’d written down some of the limericks/lines of poetry that I scribble down in Arabic. To occupy my mind on the bus sometimes I try to think of words that rhyme in Arabic and I make silly little limericks out of them. I was working with another boy and I knew that he was reading through my notes. But when he gave me a thumbs-up and said “Bess, you are becoming so learned in Arabic! 100%,” I saw what he was looking at and I think I just said “Oh no.” I know they’re probably pitiful. I was a little embarrassed. He corrected some of my spelling and seemed impressed. Later told a couple of the other boys how I was becoming good in Arabic and writing poems. I’m sure they’re at the level of a 6 year old…but they didn’t laugh at me so I guess that’s a good sign.
Sometimes Always one or more of the boys end up doodling on whatever paper I have there for my own purposes. One of the boys doodled the words “I, Mustafa, love the program” three times. Oh, it made my heart smile!
Yeah, I may have cut it out and taped it in my journal.
Another thing I like about Sundays is that the two teachers that are there leave a little earlier than usual (traffic is bonkers on Sundays) and there is no evening teacher there for awhile. The last hour or two feel a little more laid back. I like that. I brought my mp3 player and a little travel speaker and we listened to music. The boys really like some American music and some of them are more up on what’s new and hip than I am. So I bring music sometimes and we listen, sing along, as we work and chat. I only bring it every now and then. Sometimes the boys dance a little. It’s fun. The boys favorites are Chris Brown, Justin Beiber, Usher. The likes of those. I, myself, enjoy a bit of hip hop and pop, but I try to expand the boys horizons too. They usually don’t take this well. Have gotten them to enjoy Lecrae and Grits at least. Still the same sound, but cleaned up. Anyway, I happen to have one Selena Gomez song. It’s not something I’m proud of. It’s kind of peppy…I dunno. Don’t judge me! Much to my surprise some of the boys are familiar with that song. They never really know what the artists are singing of course. So when two of them started ‘singing’ along with Selena “I’m no beauty queen, I’m just beautiful me” I had a hard time keeping it together. Oh you tough 16-year-old boys! If only you knew what you were singing! I do selectively translate lyrics sometimes, but I wasn’t going to break it to them that this was a song to help young girls have better self esteem. Won’t ruin that for them. It was a funny moment.
I also learned something new yesterday. I cut my finger on a some wire. It wasn’t deep or bad or anything, just wouldn’t stop bleeding. The boys told me to put salt on it. I’m like, “What? That sounds crazy.” I was hesitant, but I took their advice. It didn’t sting all that bad. When I rinsed it a few minutes later it had sealed the cut right up. It was amazing. I guess a little salt in a wound is a good thing sometimes.
Before I left for the evening I ended up chatting with a couple of the boys for awhile. About differences between the US and their country. Age. Personal independence. Jobs. It was a really nice chat. Sometimes after I sit and chat for awhile with the older boys one of them will thank me for my time. It’s nice I suppose. But it almost makes me feel a little bad. Because it is a joy to me. There is no better way to spend my time here than to sit and chat with them.
As I was finally on my way home I was thanking God for the pretty clouds in the sky. Then I smiled because I realized that I’d done it in Arabic without even thinking about it.
As if I didn’t already have enough reasons to smile to myself as I made my way home, as I was still a street or two away from the house two little girls that I don’t remember ever seeing before ran up to greet me. One of them kissed my hand. It was so sweet. I think they were Ethiopian. Their Mom was sitting nearby and I waved and greeted her and the little girls joyfully bounded back to their smiling Mom, blowing kisses as I walked away. The Lord is so good at nourishing our souls. He does it so much better than we know how to ourselves.
Yes indeedy, a lovely day.