One of the most common questions I get asked is, “So, what does a normal day look like for you?”
And I generally laugh.
First of all, I don’t even know what normal is. Second, I have learned that anything can happen on any given day.
So if you would like, step into my world for a moment and I’ll share a recent day with you.
As usual, the American staff meets at 8:00 to discuss current projects, groups and events. Immediately after, I had to meet up with the group that I was hosting that week and help get them started on their work project.
Hm, let’s see, rakes, shovels, hoes…check. Work gloves…work gloves? Where are they when you need them?! I personally think they end up in the Land of Lost Socks. Find the work gloves and bring the tools and the workers up to the upper campground to do some landscaping. Back down to the middle campground to check on the women from the group who are prepping a craft project for later that afternoon.
Walkie talkie goes off and someone needs more shovels. Find the keys to the tool shed…got it. No keys to any orphanage vehicle. Hm, I guess I’ll have to walk back up again with the shovels. Oh well, exercise is good for me, right?
Hike back down to watch another group trimming trees and a third building fences. Oh, a drop-by visitor just brought some donations. Wonderful! We can always use diapers, food, and soap! I have a little while before I need to help with lunch prep, so I may as well bring everything to the supply room.
Ick. A bottle of shampoo leaked. All over the shelves….Clean it up and organize while I’m at it. That reminds me, we have a lot of people on site today, I should check the visitor’s bathroom to make sure there is toilet paper . Trek through the kitchen and realize the group is ready to start making lunch for our kids.
Uh, hang on just a second; let me bring this toilet paper and soap to the bathroom and I’ll be right back to help get you guys started.
Ew. The wastebasket is overflowing. (remember, no flushing toilet paper in Mexico!) There’s a massive pile around the bucket and all over the floor. And the sink is grimy. Kind of embarrassing to have for visitors. Okay, I’ll clean that up after lunch prep gets under way.
Knives are here, cutting boards here. Pots, pans, trays, silverware and plates. Be right back to answer any more questions…
Okay, rubber gloves, Comet, sponge, toilet bowl cleaner….ready. Back through the kitchen to the bathroom…
Stopped by 4 kids with something in their hands. “Here, Melody this is for you. It’s a baby bird! We found it on the ground. It fell out of the nest. You can keep it in your house!”
“Um. No, I can’t do that because I don’t have any food that a baby bird would eat.”
“That’s okay…we can just feed it…soup! And tortillas!”
“Guys, it’ll be okay. We just need to put it outside in a tree and its mom will find it.”
“No! We can’t because they’re cutting down ALL of our trees! And it doesn’t know how to fly yet.”
Immediately following this statement the bird flutters out of their hands and starts half flying, half flopping around the kitchen. Amid shrieks and shouts, the terrified critter is finally recaptured and released on the edge of the property. With much reassurance that it will be fine and its mom will find it and the cats won’t eat it (sorry, Lord, I don’t know if that is true or not!), I herd the children back to the playground.
Back to the kitchen to grab the supplies I left. “Melody, how many plates are we making and how do we serve it?”….seating chart and numbers explained…Be right back, still need to clean the bathroom.
Trash emptied; give the sink, floor, and toilet a once over – done.
Uh oh, we’re out of water? Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll get that taken care of soon. Wait, now there’s no electricity for half the property?
Now the flood is plated and on tables, lunch bell rung, and normal children noise fill the dining hall. Dishes and kitchen clean up completed.
Next it’s time to give a tour of the orphanage to the group who fixed lunch. It’s always fun to watch the faces of visitors as we show them the fun colors and unique touches to each house.
Walkie talkie goes off – help! Due to the road construction, a tour bus can’t get in and deliver another group of people who are staying for the weekend. Various people drive trucks and vans out to the end of the road and return piled high with luggage and people.
Okay, now let’s set up for the craft projects they want to do with the kids. Wait, two groups want to do crafts at the same time? Okay, some can do it outside with the children, and others can come in the dining hall. (after all, we have more than enough kids to go around!) Organized chaos is a good goal to shoot for. Here’s your paper plate with your paint. No, don’t use your fingers, use the brushes. Don’t wipe it on your shirt! Oh, you want me to draw the design on your rock first? And so do you? And you? Hang on and wait just a minute, I’ll help you. Wait, your rock is still wet, don’t set it on the table; keep it on the plastic. Um, okay, that’s enough paint, no more mixing!
Walkie talkie – “Is anyone available to open the gift shop?”
A bit of space now with not too much going on. This weekend the town founder’s day is happening. After supper let’s take some of the little girls up to see the traditional dancing. Big crowd there…uh, do a head count – do we have everybody? Anybody want buñuelos? (traditional Mexican treat that is basically fried dough or tortillas covered in cinnamon and sugar or piloncillo syrup) The vendor wants to know how many we want. Hm, how about the entire stack? Sticky fingered little girls, colorful skirts, stomping of boots, mariachi music….
Hurry back in time for movie night in the dining hall. Pajama clad children, blankets on the floor, and attempts to keep the popcorn spillage to a minimum. Who knew “Mary Poppins” was so interminably long?! Sleepy children off to bed, kitchen swept and locked….
It’s 9:30 at night…are we finally done?
Whew…..the first time I’ve sat down all day…
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No, I did not exaggerate or make any of this up. In fact, I probably forgot a few things that happened! Often thrown into the mix are things like cake baking, campground cleaning, errands, multiple tours, lizard or sheep wrangling, doctor or dentist visits, homework help, etc. Keep in mind that this was just a sample of my day – at the same time as all of this was happening, the rest of our amazing staff were also busy working and doing similar things. We each have a part we play, and not one of us could do it without the others.
So in answer to the question, “What does a normal day look like for you?”….Well, you just never know!