As always, throughout the night and early morning, I rose: it was too cold; it was too hot; I have to go to the bathroom; that dream was weird; what is that sound; is that a bug on my face; oh, my, the dawn is coming; is that the imam singing the adhan; i am so tired; why am I even up; just a few more minutes; why did I set that alarm so early; why did I set the second alarm so close to the first; why do I even set alarms when I wake up at 5am anyway …
Today was different. I am leaving today. As I finished the last writing about yesterday, I consoled myself with the idea that this trip is just the beginning. I will come back. There is no reason to feel sad.
At breakfast, I was fine until I looked at the clock and realized that I should have been at school at that time. Then, Brother Selvidas said something about not teaching. The tears came. For Liz, it was saying goodbye to Brother Nelson. Brother Selvidas also gave both of us these beautiful batik skirts. They are gorgeous! So lovely a gift.
In a few moments, we will leave Mannar. I am sad. I am very sad about that.
I was talking with Liz that there should be two interconnected programs: one for a a Come and See experience and one for alumni of the Vandu Paaru experience to return to Sri Lanka for 2 months to teach, perhaps June and July, at one school so that there would be a longer, consistent presence. This is something that Brother Johan expressed as a need, trained teachers who could stay longer, 2-3 months at a time. At 2-3 months, I would think that one should be able to bring family at one’s own expense and that children would have to be over the age of 5. They could attend the English Medium school nearby for a small fee so that they could continue their studies and learn about the Tamil culture from children. I just think that babies, it would be too hard to care for them while one is teaching without a partner. I also think that 2-3 months is too long to be away from one’s children. Up to one month is possible, but more than that makes it an experience that I doubt most women or men with young children would take on. The Vandu Paaru alumni group is also very small in the first place. If one eliminates family attendance, I don’t think a Returning Scholar program would fly. Perhaps this is something that I can pitch to the San Francisco District.
6pm July 10 Update
We arrived just a little bit ago. The trip was long with stops along the way to have the tires re-aligned on the van and then for lunch. I slept much of the way. I have realized that I don’t respond well to motion that I am not controlling at all. Either I can sleep or, if I can’t, I get nauseous. It was sad to say goodbye to the Brothers Selvidas and Johan after they dropped us off, on their way to other errands.
Liz and I chose the same rooms as those we had when we arrived. I set out my bags and then got online, the first online access that I had had in days. I tried to update my blog, but my iPad cannot seem to get onto the wireless. Of course, that is where I wrote the blog entries. My entry for today will be on time, though, since as soon as I finish this update on yesterday, I will write it.
At 7:30, Liz and I joined the Brothers in communal prayer. It was a restful time, a time for reflection. After that, there was a brief social when all the Brothers gathered together to welcome us and four visiting Brothers, including Selvidas and Johan, to the community. There were chicken sausages, a dish made with pork (not for me), French fries, and plenty of arrack, the local coconut liquor. I definitely had my share of the arrack. Happily, it’s a liquor that does not treat one harshly in the morning. Dinner was rice and curry for me with a dessert of the curd and treacle. Yum! I do love the food in Sri Lanka.
After dinner and chats with such dynamic folk, I went down to the van to find my camera. I had dropped it somewhere. Luckily, a quick prayer to St. Anthony smoothed the way to easily finding it. That was when we really said goodbye to Brother Johan and Selvidas. That was when I cried.