The day had to come. Our last full day with the children. We hosted a swim party at the Mom Da Chim Lazi Beach Resort where we were staying, followed by a huge feast in their dining room: a (fresh) seafood hot pot, scallops casino (still in the shell), cauliflower & veggies with shrimp, potato salad, and my favorite, this yummy thing called chicken salad–nothing like the one we make back home. Cellophane noodles with chicken in a hot sour sauce. Ohh la la!! We got more endearing cards from the children. The younger kids spent the whole time swimming. Most of the older children hung out, reading romance novels, talking with one another, swinging, walking on the beach. We loved that this year, the hotel provided life vests and safety tubes for the kids–they don’t know how to swim, except the few here and there who have made a concentrated effort to learn. They really took advantage of their time with us to take swimming lessons! Interesting to do it with the language barrier. At the end of the night, they not only sang some songs with us, but over half of the younger children sang solos. I can’t post videos here, so check out the Big Big World Facebook page. Hien, the 10 year old found on the streets this year, sang a song about dreaming about having a mom. It says all this heart-warming things about what moms do, and ends with, but I woke up, it was all a dream. He sang it with all his heart, and when he was done, his eyes were wet. It was such a bittersweet moment. Mr. Chuc, the orphanage director, said some really wonderful things. Bonnie was eloquent as usual and talked to them about the cycle of poverty, and how they could break that cycle, not only for them, but for the children and their children’s children. I think it was our best dinner ever. They got the message.
We went out onto the beach and formed a circle. Bonnie and I taught them the chant “We are strong, we are wise, we are filled with love.” Then we did the hokey pokey–the kids had so much fun with that! We played this King game they taught us, then it started raining, so we went under the hut and had ice cream.
The goodbyes were already getting emotional, even though we were visiting them the next morning. We were also amazed that they piled themselves into one van! Not an empty lap. Lots of tearful goodbyes.
Then we went back to our rooms for an all-nighter putting together the photo albums for each kid. We didn’t go to sleep until 1:30 am, and woke up at 6 am the next day. Long, exhausting day!