Day 13: Shalom

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March 26th 2012
Published: March 27th 2012
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Shalom: peace (used as a word of greeting or farewell).

This has got to be the hardest post to write. The team, tired, weary, recovering, and anticipating home has had to say goodbye to over 1300 students and teachers in the last 48 hours. I'm writing this post while we await our last flight home in the Seoul International Airport. There was no way that any of us were in any state of mind to write during the last few days. Let me take you back.

On Sunday we returned from the girls school. It was a short stay and it was a heartwrenching goodbye. It's amazing that when you are willing to give it all to someone how close you can get in such a short time. After only 3-days the girls were calling all the kids on the team brother and sister. For some reason, Pam, Anne, Amy, and I got the nickname Aunty and Uncle - must be age discrimination! Nonetheless we found ourselves trying to get to each student to say a personal goodbye before we left early the next morning. However, the girls at the school woke up at 3:30am the day of departure to continue their goodbyes. It really pulls on the heart-strings to see these young girls crying and saying, "No leave".

The grewling 12 hours that lay ahead would find each of us toughing out another train ride to Nagpur. It weighed on all our minds that we would have to see all the boys one more time. And there they were, as we entered the compound all the boys were waiting and yelling and screaming at the vehicles - they were so excited to see us.

The team decided that we were due for some much needed "Western Cuisine" so we made a quick pit-stop on the way home for some Dominoes Pizza. For most, it sat really well, then there were some that are still poping Imodium - its going to be a tough road getting back into the rich western food.

We only had just under a day to see the boys and get in any last minute hang-out time - we took full advantage of it! UNO games going on by the guest house. Guitar lessons on the baptismal tank. Climbing the water tower with 'The German'. And finally get the last minute photos. After a long day of travelling and emotion we were ready for a good nights sleep.

8am Monday morning and we had to be at the airport for 3pm. After breaky we had a very emotional last devotions as a team. We took a few minutes to look back at the last 2 weeks and tell of our favourite memories. The consensus - we fell in love with the kids. Every memory that was shared had something to do with the kids. Their energy, enthusiasm, and zest for life despite their desperate circumstances is contagious!

Shortly after the team decided they would head into the heart of Nagpur for some last minute shopping - gotta spend those rupees! When the team returned we had a quick last bite of Chipates, Lentils, Mixed Vegetables, and rice. Shortly after lunch, Errol said he needed to show us something. We were anticipating the arrival of the new playground equipment but minutes later found ourselves in the main dining hall with 725 boys - it was the final farewell!

Clapping and singing at our entrance, as always, they sang a few upbeat worship songs for us and then presented us each with a gift. On the wall was a massive banner titled, "Thank You Pastor Michael and his team". Bapu gave a speech of thanksgiving for all we had done for them. There was a lot given to the school thanks to all the support from back home - but his thank you although appreciate wasn't merited. We should be the ones thanking them. Thanking each student, each teacher, each driver, each security guard. They were the ones that made this trip possible. They were the ones that carried us through. They were the ones that showed the selfless, unconditional love of Christ.

So we wait for the last flight home. It is a grewling, long 33-hour trip back - the novelty of flying and waiting has certainly worn off. But we are returning home. The mantra for the trip was "Let Light Shine". Maybe we were ignorant when we thought we would be the torch bearers because the light was already shining in India and the spark in our hearts has been turned into a flame. Shine On!

See ya'll at 12:15pm.

Flight No. KE 071

India Team 2012 signing off.



27th March 2012

('nuff said)

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