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Battye Family’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 15 Mar 2014

Location: Singaraja, Indonesia

MapFrom Pemuteran, we pulled into Narayan Seva Children’s Home the day after John’s birthday. The children ran to the gate and the sight that met our eyes was a sea of smiling faces. They herded us into the outdoor kitchen and immediately brought out a gorgeous little cake, blazing with candles. “Happy Bird-day to you… Happy bird-day to you…” It was like coming home, halfway around the world.

Sunday is the only day of the week with no school so the kids were free. We taught songs and played games and practiced English until the sound of the frogs signaled time for bed. As the days passed, we settled into the routine. Meals of rice and noodles with vegetables, classes with each grade level, field trips walking kids the two miles to the local beach in the late afternoon, showers twice a day to cool off, and board games every night for hours after dinner.

In a week of highs, perhaps day three goes down in history as a low point; we call it a three roach day. We knew they were in our room after an early spotting. The size of healthy plum tomatoes and with a disarming habit of hissing, they were large enough to consider as pets. Just before turning in, John spotted two mating on the bed between Jenny and Emily and a third hiding inside a pair of shorts. John bravely gathered them up, amidst much hand waving and screeching from his cheerleaders, carried them out to the street, and hucked them as far as his arm would allow. We prayed they would become disoriented and wander off in the opposite direction.

As the end of our time drew near, we decided to host a pizza party as a special treat. It is the children’s favorite food. We went all over the place finding the ingredients – vegetables at the night market, vegetarian sausage and flour for dough in Singaraja, tomato ketchup for sauce, mozzarella cheese from the only store in a town of 1.3 million people stocking the stuff. The children’s home has one oven that is rolled into the outdoor kitchen and hooked up to the propane tank when it’s needed. Only a couple of pies can cook at a time so it took seven hours to make pizza for 84 children. They ate mounds and mounds of it and saved the rest to eat the next day for breakfast. By 10:30, we’d played every game at least five times and the children needed sleep. It was hard to say goodbye to them. We hugged and hugged and promised to return. Even now, in the departure lounge at the airport, it’s as if they’re here. Six year old Madu trying to sneak by me with the Jenga pieces hidden under his shirt, Asa asking to “play game, sister?”, Mahadev with his hands held in the prayer position over his heart and a nod of greeting.

Each time we go to an orphanage, people ask if we are tempted to take any of the children home. In this case, the answer is no. These children are so happy and so healthy and so a part of a big happy family with 83 brothers and sisters. In their environment, they are encouraged and reinforced for making the important things important - being helpful, focusing on learning, using their gifts for good.
Looking at their faces, the future is bright indeed.