How can it be Tuesday, our last Tuesday here? We are on the homeward slope now, and the days are crashing together. Much as we long to be home with you all, most of us are not quite ready to be thinking of leaving this wretched, broken, captivating country.
More painting today, and I will not say one word about the colour. You would be disgusted to see us - we are so sweaty, filthy, paint-stained, and dust-covered. My hair looks horrifying during the day - I mean really really bad, hanging in damp straight globs. Paint all over me. Red dust from head to toe (not helped by the fact that I swept two floors, swept the dust ( half a bucket full) into a useless awkward excuse for a dust pan, lost my balance, and knocked the dust pan upside down, covering myself in all the red dust. Adorable.
It's nine p.m. That is really late for us. It is not the early rising (0530 hrs.) because that is common for many of us even at home- it is the total exhaustion we feel. The last time I felt so utterly tired I was in....hmm, Cambodia, on the first trip.
The village remains complex. Many people do not understand our attempts at their language because we're not very good, but mostly they do not understand because they are not Kmai themselves, they are Vietnamese. Each day both the Cambodian people and the Vietnamese people who are helping in the building are warmer and friendlier to us. They are a hired construction crew - but when the crew comes, that includes men, women, kids. They stand on terrifying scaffolding, they do electronic work, the women paint, standing on said scaffolding. My heart nearly stops when I look at it -a couple of planks balnced on somewobbly poles, but the people are so lithe and nimble and sure-footed...They cook their lunch on the main floor, and they sack out for a well-deserved nap after lunch, on the cement floor. They have been very grateful for the face masks we have been able to share. A number of us brought N-95 masks, and considering the work some of these people are doing, they really can use these masks.
One woman brought me her child the other day. The little one, already tiny and frail , had a serious fever. When I pulled up her shirt I gasped at the bruising all over her chest, and worse on her back. And suddenly, from years back, came to mind an article I read long ago, about the Vietnamese habit of 'spooning' their sick children, hitting them with spoons (maybe tapping with gusto is a better term) on the back and chest to make a fever go away. The reason for the article was that the Boat People in the US were taking their kids to hospitals and then getting in serious trouble with the law for 'child abuse', when it was not intended as such. The marks on this little girl were really horrible, red and painful looking. I asked the mom,"Did you do this?" and she nodded. The next day she brought her child to me again - fever down, marks were gone. I was so pleased to actually have seen an example of this interesting cultural activity.
And so it goes.... every day gives us so much. We think of you all with love and incredible appreciation for your love, support and prayers.
The team members are all great - but you can be proud of Grant and Mary and Pablo - they are incredible.
Time to go. I have doled out the medications to those needing them, and I am off to bed.
Thanks and love,