Friday, August 22, 2014

Monday, Our First Complete Day

After talking with Pastor Mervin Masakeyash on our first evening in Mish, we decided to take our first full day, Monday, as a day to get to know the people in the community and let them know we'd be running a children's program all week. It was the Civic Holiday, and people would be at the community centre for activities.

So most of us headed down the 4.2 km sandy road to the community centre, taking some activities for children, just in case they came.

Sandy Road really is well named. It winds down, around several curves,  to the community. At the top stands the dramatic and distinctive profile of the school and water treatment facility, and then the teachers' residences and the nurses residences. The road is dotted along the way with houses spread out on either side, with a lake on the right hand side. Outside the houses, there were usually several children playing. Some would watch us curiously or wave as we passed.

Driving the road can only be done slowly, and causes billowing clouds of yellow sand to rise in the air and settle into the crevices and curves of the vehicles. The fine stones rattled against the doors as we carefully drove along the road. We learned not to get over confident and speed up unless we wanted to risk ending up in the ditch!

That first day, some women were waiting at the community centre hoping that we would have brought the donated clothing that had come up with us on the truck, but Mervin had suggested that we bring it on Thursday, as the men of the surrounding communities were gathering for a two day conference on Wednesday and Thursday and the end of that would be a good time to put out the clothing. We valued his input so agreed to wait. Paul and Mervin instead drove the truck to the homes of some needy families in the community and delivered 50 lb bags of potatoes, and other food donated by the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto.

A.J. hung out with the kids in the gym at the community centre and Susan, Christy, Eliana, Rebecca, Sharon, Jamie and Tori connected with a crowd of kids that gathered outside, thrilled to join in the fun.

Paul had seen a 7 day old baby in a "bundle" while delivering food, and when he told me, I had to get a photograph, so he took me back to ask the mom. Joyce, who was an obstetrics nurse before she retired, came with us! The beautiful baby looked snug and secure. I kissed his  head and whispered a blessing.

Christy's cotton candy machine was a big hit! None of the children had ever tasted cotton candy before and they loved it. They willingly lined up over and over for a taste!

 Children everywhere love making daisy crowns.
 The dogs were ever hopeful of dropped crumbs or better. If we weren't careful they'd swipe food out of the children's hands. But they too, had a hungry belly to fill.

Christy had activities for all ages, and even though we hadn't planned to run the program that first day, we went with the flow, and the children who came had something to do.

Paul needed to go to nearby Pickle Lake and I went too, never having seen it before. I was shocked at the price of food and we were grateful that we had brought as much of what we needed, with us. I don't know how people manage to buy food at the prices we saw. A bunch of bananas, for instance, was $8.00! Of course it is expensive to transport food so far north.

Those working with the children had not had any lunch, so we quickly made tuna salad sandwiches at the school and drove back down the road to deliver them.

We were all exhausted by evening. It had been a day packed with new experiences. We had not communicated well with one another and some felt unsupported. We had ridden madly off in all directions. Some of us felt inwardly chastened by our reactions, spoken or not, under the pressure of that first day. But we had only just begun, and were only 11 tired very human beings after all. :)

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