Our friends took off to Europe for the Christmas holiday and kindly let us stay on for another week. We had to walk their two dogs every morning and night, which was great practice for the boys, since they are very keen to get a dog of their own.
We decided that it would be nice to give to others over the Christmas season, so I found a local orphanage that would let us come and play with the children. We did some “Christmas shopping” for the kids and would visit each day and bring them some games to play with. (You can read more in Connor’s blog.) There were 26 children in one very small house, ages 5 – 21. They had been hit hard by the flooding and had lost everything on the bottom floor of the house. You could see the line where the water had come up to. One of the local churches had collected clothes so the children had something to wear. One woman and her family ran the orphanage. We appreciated that she was willing to let us come in and visit with the children. I’m sure it must have seemed kind of unusual – these strangers showing up out of nowhere wanting to come in and just spend time with them. The children seemed delighted to have company. They were shy at first but quickly warmed up once we started playing games with them. They spoke a few words of English and the older ones would help the younger ones. We just had to sit on the floor in the one room – as that was the only space they had. It was a bit crowded once all 26 of them came in, the room being only about 10 feet by 10 feet but we managed. The electricity would come on for a few minutes and then go out again so we tried to open the curtains wide enough to let in light so we could see.
The second day the children ran out to greet us. Clay brought his guitar so we could sing some songs with them as well. They knew a few Christmas carols in English (and Feliz Navidad!) and then they sang us some songs in Tamil. They seemed delighted with our gifts of games although it looked like they were going to be very well used very quickly! I think sharing among 26 children would be a challenge.
I was really pleased to see our two boys willing to ‘give’ at Christmas, rather than receiving. I know they still secretly hoped that they might get a little something (and yes, Santa did manage to leave a few tiny trinkets in their stockings in Chennai) but they could see how important it was to think of others. Clearly these children had very, very little and the boys were happy to go shopping for them and put their own “wants” aside.