today was by far the hardest day at the orphanage. We started the day off on our usually routine but instead of leaving at 830, we lest at 9 so we were just a little behind. we set out to the orphanage but planned to make a short stop to get a splint for a little boy who most likely broke his arm. instead of just a short journey, we were wondering around for about an hour until we found a place that had them! by this point I was really anxious because it felt like we would never make it to the orphanage. I was thinking to myself that this would make leaving easier because we would have less time, but this was not true. We arrive at the orphanage around 1115 (like an hour later than usual) and we are all prepared to say our goodbyes and we were all expecting to shed a few tears. once I got off of the bus, my little buddy Jackie immediately grabbed my hand and starting pulling me (she is 5 by the way). she wanted me to see her bed, but the room ended up being locked so we just decided to sit on the steps and talk ( or more like listen because she did not speak much English) but I enjoyed every minute of listening to here because she laughed for most of the time. I then showed her a bracelet I made her and her eyes lit up and she her smile grew even larger. as I was tying it on her wrist, she was talking and smiling. even though I could not understand what she was saying, I could tell that the little bracelet made her very happy. I also had in my hand a picture that Caitlin had drawn for me to give to one of the children. it was nemo and as I gave it to her she looked at me and said “a fish” and it was absolutely precious the way she said it. as we were talking, my mom and sweet esther (who is also 5) walked up. I got one of the older girls to ask her if she wanted a bracelet and she looks at me with her sweet smile and just shook her head yes. after I had tied it on, she was turning her wrist looking at it and admiring it. by this time, it was time to head to the prayer garden to have a worship service. jackie, shamirah (13), marion (3) and I headed to the garden. I was holding marion and jackie and shamirah each had one of my hands. once we sat down we began to sing. my favorite song to sing with them is “Love the Lord Your God” because the get real into the hand motions and love it when we “grrr” when we say strength. when we finished singing, mike got up to read a passage while simon peter translated for him. by the end, I had given away all six of my animal bracelets I was wearing. the kids absolutely loved them. we started our way to the shelter where we had set up a birthday party for the children. we explained to them that in America we sing at our parties and give presents and that is exactly what we were going to do here. we sung happy birthday to them and lined them up to each pick up a good bag we had given them and man were they excited about these bags. each bag contained a beanie baby, hard candy, toothbrush and tooth paste, animal band, pillow and a mirror. each kid grabbed their bag with a big smile and were smiling while they went through them. jackie was eating her sucker (which was blue) and it had turned her tongue blue. I pulled out the mirror to show her and she just held it with her tongue sticking out looking at it for a few minutes. she was mesmerized. the team was then called up to receive a gift that they wanted to give us. they were home made change purse. then someone came up to speak and I went to sit down to listen and I was immediately joined by jackie and ester (my other little buddy). while he was talking, esther and jackie kept talking to me. Jackie was playing with her dog animal band and was showing me how they barked (which was absolutely adorable). Esther was looking at me and singing with me. She never stopped singing/talking and smiling. by the time he had finished, they called us to stand around while the children sang to us. this is when I lost it. I was holding esther (who was patting my back because she saw I was crying) and listening to them. it was a beautiful, emotional experience. When then headed to lunch where we were presented with another gift, homemade mates. Afterwards, we took a picture and it was time to go. I walked with jackie around and looked at her and said “I love you” and she repeated it back to me which was amazing because she didn’t speak much English. I did the same to esther and she repeated it back as well. I then walked away with jackie holding my hand. Shamirah came up to me and said “please remember us” and she was crying. I told her they would never be forgotten. I then gave jackie one last hug, got on the bus and blew everyone kisses and just prayed I could make it without crying (which I did). This experience was truly life changing and these kids will always have a place in my heart.