Since coming back from our trip, we have been enjoying spending our last week at the center. We are coming home a bit early because of a scheduling issue but we are still so thankful for the time we have been able to spend with the boys at the center.cWe have continued to help decorate the counseling room, which prior to our arrival was a storage room with plain white walls. The room it is covered with arts and crafts work made by the boys and it looks great. We still have a little more to do before the room is completely done but it is really coming along nicely.
On Saturday, Mary and I attended the inaugural mass at the Dominican priory in Nagpur. The mass was held to celebrate the beginning of the school year for the brothers. The mass was in English, which was awesome for us and overall it was a really great ceremony. The only think that was different was the music. They played most of the music on an electric piano and sang half the songs in Hindi and the other half in English. They also take their shoes off before they go into the Church. Afterwards tea, coffee, and some pastries were served and we had the chance to talk to some of the priests and brothers. Everyone was so friendly and eager to know us. I really enjoyed talking to one of the fathers who recently got back from Germany. He told us about how he is fluent in German and has also had the opportunity to study in Rome, Switzerland, and America. His sister currently lives in Washington D.C. and he lived in California for a few years. After the mass, we went to the tailor to pick up our finished saris, which we tried on when we got back to the center. Once we put on our saris we were encouraged to practice our dance in them. The dance is already tough enough for me and Mary so doing it in our saris was almost impossible. The staff at the center loved taking pictures of us in them and kept telling us how beautiful we were, which was so nice.
On Sunday, two of the girls who were staying at the center until they started school (which was yesterday) knocked on our door at 6:30 to help us get ready for mass. They helped us put on our saris, did our hair, and gave us some jewelry. It was like we were playing dress up. We went to 7:30 mass at a local church and the mass was spoken in Hindi. Even though I could not understand what Fr. Herald was saying, I was able to follow bits and pieces of what was going on. After the mass, all the sisters kept telling us they loved the saris and looked beautiful. They were so kind even though we were complete strangers. After mass we ate at the convent where the mass was held. Sunday is a slower day at the center so we mostly hung out and watched t.v. with the boys. We watched the Indian version of So You Think You Can Dance and some Bollywood films, which Mary and I cant get enough of. Most of the movies the boys watch are action films but they always include a little bit of romance. Sunday night, Fr. George and Fr. Lesley took us to the priory for dinner. Prior to dinner we said prayers for about a half an hour. One of the priests was nice enough to share his prayer book with us so we could follow along. The morning prayers at the priory are said in Hindi and the evening prayers are said in English so we got pretty lucky. After we went to a meal prepared by the brothers and priests. They do not have a cook on Sunday so they cook their own meals. The food was great and the conversation was also. Like on Saturday, all the priests and brothers were interested to hear about our trip so far and about America. We also learned a lot about them, which was great. We met one priest from Ireland who had been in Nagpur for the past 45 years. We also learned that a lot of priests from India are sent abroad to study and work because there is a shortage of priests in countries such as Germany and Switzerland. They also told us a little bit about the floods that are going on in the North.
Yesterday Fr. George took us, along with three students and another Friar, Fr. Albert, to Gandhi’s ashram, which was about an hour and a half away from the center. We had an absolutely wonderful time and it was so cool being able to see where Gandhi lived. Everything was so simple and most of it was in its original state. We then went to the museum across the street to learn more about Gandhi. Fr. George was the ultimate tourist (even though this wasn’t the first time he had been) and took pictures in front of everything. He was such a riot and we couldn’t stop laughing at his antics the entire time. After we visited the ashram, we went to lunch at the students’ house. Their mother and grandmother prepared us a delicious meal and were so happy to have us join them. The boy was a wonderful singer and guitar player and after many requests he sang and played us a song in Hindi. Afterwards the two girls showed us a video of them dancing at a Christmas recital. The family was so welcoming and we really had a wonderful time. Check out Mary’s blog to see some of the photos we took!
On Saturday two new boys came to the center. It has been really interesting seeing them adjust to the new environment. I will never forget the sadness on the youngest boy, Adity’s, face the first day he was here. We were taking pictures of each boy to hang in the counseling room and when I told him to smile he couldn’t force one. You can see the sadness in his eyes in the picture we took. Today I was watching him spend time with the boys and he was laughing. The boys here are each others best friends and family. There are about five older boys who act as the boys caretakers and they are their older brothers. They care so much about the younger boys and do everything to make them happy. Even though they are constantly wrestling or fighting over a book, their love for one another is evident. The boys have really welcomed Mary and I into their family. Every morning they greet us with a “Good morning Didi! How are you?” They hold our hands and whenever we are leaving the center to go somewhere they chase our car down the driveway yelling “Bye Didi!” I do not know what most of these boys went through before they got to the center but I know that they have gone through more hardships than I can even imagine. Despite whatever they have experienced, they are such loving, caring, and wonderful boys and most of that is because of YuvaJyothi. The other day Fr. Herald was hanging out with the boys and when he left one of the boys Saket said “Didi that’s my father!” YuvaJyothi is so much more than a place for them to live. It is truly their home. When I saw Adity today, I knew that he was going to be okay and that living here will bring him happiness like it has for all the other boys.
I have to go because there is a Michael Jackson special on VH1. The boys think that Michael Jackson was the greatest man ever so they are insisting on us to come and watch. Check out a video I took of the boys! And yes they are that energetic all the time.