Last night I didn’t sleep very well. I was a little bit anxious about today. The kids had a holiday today, for some reason. So they were here all day, as well as Mommy. She took leave for the 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th. Daddy left in the morning to do some office work, getting ready for the board meeting on the 29th. Around 8:00 Danny brought the beef and another thing, his sister. Apparently she came without telling anyone except Danny. She came in last night and called Danny an hour before arriving in Yavatmal and said, “I’ll be home in an hour. Don’t tell Mommy or Daddy.” This morning Mommy wanted to check the kids’ school bags and had the wardens toss lockers. Ishwar kept wanting me to go into the guesthouse and check on the score from the second test. I happily reported that my Kiwis had pounded the Indians, scoring an impressive 619 in the first inning. Once they were finished with their school bags and lockers, Mommy let the kids watch TV. The big boys are the only ones who know how to work the TV and the remote, so they turned it to cricket. The girls kept telling me to change it to some other channel. I figured the kids could watch something better than cricket. So I went to my room and found Mommy in the guesthouse. I asked her if she wanted the kids to be watching cricket. She said it was okay and I told her that I meant that I had something better to show the kids. I still had those movies I bought a while back, the three Shriek movies and the two Ice Age movies. She said that I could show them that and when I walked back into the big hall with the DVD, all the girls cheered and clapped like I had just saved them from some terrible dilemma. I showed them “Shriek 1”, which was in English with Chinese subtitles. The kids all enjoyed it and were laughing when I would sing along with the songs from the movie. When it finished I walked up to turn it off but the kids told me to wait. They sensed something was about to happen. I didn’t know that the second movie would start right after that, but it did. So “Shriek 2” started, which was in Hindi. Right when it started Mommy walked in and I asked her if it was okay if they watched the second one now, because it had just started. She said it was fine. Around 12:45 Mommy came back in and asked if the kids wanted to eat, they told her no. But she told them the schedule for the day and that they could watch again later, but now was lunchtime, followed by study time.
I sat with the kids during lunchtime and then while they were studying I ate my lunch in the guesthouse. After study time the kids, and I, all took rest. By this time Danny and Daddy had come back. So we all rested for a little bit and then about 15:30 I peered out my window and saw some kids working by the kitchen. I got my shoes and headed to the kitchen. There I found some of the older girls getting dinner started. I gave all the girls trouble, and Mommy. Later I went to see if Danny was awake yet because we still had to go get the ice cream and pop. He wasn’t awake just yet so I watched the big boys play cricket. At 17:00 Danny finally emerged from the guesthouse and then I got my things and we left for the city around 17:15. We first bought the pop, then the cups and spoons, and last ice cream. The evening was set. We finished at 18:15 and headed back to the city. While we were driving back I asked Danny, “What do you think Mommy’s reaction would be if I was in the drivers seat when we pulled into the Home? Do you think she would be happy?” He said yeah, so I said let’s do it. I told him that we should stop just a little bit down the road from the Home and then switch places. He obliged and we switched farther from the Home than I had told him to. I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t driven a car since November, but it was very strange to be driving. The shifting with my left hand wasn’t difficult, it was driving on the other side that freaked me out. I looked over at Danny and he had both hands on the dashboard and I asked him, “How scared are you right now?” He just laughed and said, “Yeah.” Danny told me not to be afraid to use my horn, so I honked at everybody, sometimes even when no one was around. It was also difficult driving without power steering and I almost hit the gate pulling into the Home. But I made it and I laid on the horn the whole way down the driveway. The looks on the kids’ faces were priceless, Mommy was just laughing. When we got out the kids came up and did the usual shaking of my hand and saying, “Praise the Lord.” I said, “Really praise the Lord.”
Well we had just a few things to get ready before the program started. I took a quick shower and then put on my kurta and the shoes I bought for my uncle, as well as all the bracelets the girls made me. The boys told me I looked “so dashing.” I got all set up in the big hall and the kids came in and the program started at 19:00, Ishwar was the emcee. All my girls were looking so beautiful and the boys were looking so dashing. The program started out with a slide show I had put together, with the help of my mom scanning and e-mailing me the pictures of my childhood. I had all the photos set up in chronological order. Before I started I told the kids I was going to show them pictures from my childhood, but if I heard even one laugh, I was going to turn it off. If I would have stuck to that threat the show would have only lasted for one picture, as they all laughed at chubby, little Kyle Dada being lowered into a pool by my grandma. We had some good laughs and it was great to be able to show the kids my photos. After the show I told them that I had some pictures for them. So I called them up one by one to get their two pictures I had for them. After that I was presented with a gift from the Home, a bouquet of flowers and a sherwani. “wani” means look like, so sherwani means “Look like tiger.” It’s like a kurta, but it’s a little bit different. Danny couldn’t tell me what the differences are, though. After that I got dozens of cards from the kids. All the cards had beautiful drawings on them and most had Bible verses written inside. After that the kids were able to come and share stories about me and/or thank me. The ones who came up and shared did both, they started out with a story about me and then thanked me for coming to the Home and playing with them, eating with them, encouraging them, teaching them, worshiping with them and just being like their brother. Mommy shared a little bit about me as well as Daddy, and they both cried. Then it was my turn. I wasn’t as emotional as I thought I was going to be, until I started talking. I started out fine talking about the great experience I’ve had and then I went back and started from the beginning, and that’s where I lost it. I got extremely choked up when I talked about my first meeting with Mommy and Daddy at church way back last July. I told the kids how Mommy had taken my mom’s hand, looked her in the eye, and said, “I will take care of him like my son.” After a little bit I was able to regain my composure and continue my speech. I reminded the kids of all the things they taught me, and all the wrong things they’ve taught me. We had a good laugh when I reminded them of those. I told them how easy it was for me to adapt to their culture and how much I enjoyed playing with them. I told them the best part of my day was sitting next to them at dinner. I told them how much it meant to have had the opportunity to see some of their villages and meet their families. I told them that I have enough photos and videos to last me a lifetime, but that I didn’t need any of them to remind me of my time here. All those were already in my mind and heart. I said that I didn’t know when I would come back, but that I would come back. I said that when I did come back we would pick up right were we left off. I would play cricket with the boys, and give trouble to the girls in the kitchen. I closed by telling them that being an American does not make me more blessed than them. It does not make me better than them. And in many ways, they’ve made me better than I was. I told them that “I would sleep in America. But I would forever live at Ankoor Children’s Home.”
After my speech it was time for laughter. The kids were able to come up and imitate me. They had some good ones, but then it was my turn. I showed them no mercy in my imitations. Even Auntie was not immune to being imitated. So after all that laughing, it was time for dinner. Dinner started at 21:30, and all the kids were so hungry, you could hear a pin drop. Plus they were all hurrying up to finish because they knew what was coming after dinner. So they all got cleaned up and then came back in. They all sat down and the older kids started preparing the orange floats. No one had ever had these before, or even knew what they were, but they all loved them. Unfortunately we ran out of pop, but pretty much everybody got one. Only a few big boys and Mommy didn’t get one. I told them they would get one soon. The whole program lasted until just after 22:00, a little more than three hours. It was a very nice evening and after the program I went right back to harassing the kids. I look forward to making the most out of these last few days I have left."