Awakened by the sound of a generator at sunrise, we woke to a new day and a new addition to The Epiphanie School of Loranette. We now have a new gate that will swing open to welcome guests and students to this ever-blossoming school and church. I quickly got dressed to find there were a few men outside of our classroom already hand-mixing concrete using a shovel, water, dirt and cement powder to continue building the retaining walls for the school. I know from watching them over the last three days that, even though it is Saturday, they will work through the extreme heat and sweat to help get done today as much as they can so that we can be a step closer to completion.
After breakfast, a local woman escorted us around the village. She took us to several houses, a public church and public school that were both situated in an open field.
As we approached the first house we were greeted by one woman who lives in her brother-in-law’s house along with her four children. She told us of her hardships since the passing of her husband and of not having any work to earn money to support her family. She thanked us for coming and for the school being built that will now teach her four children and hopefully give them new opportunities.
After seeing another couple of houses and meeting their occupants we heard singing coming from the local church. The translator stuck his head inside the door to ask if we could join them. It turned out to be a meeting of the youth group. We were quickly welcomed with open arms by their leader.
Father Mark asked what they were studying and then requested that they share it with us. They sang beautiful harmonies, danced, cheered and had nothing but smiles for us the entire time we visited. They even learned a new song from Father Mark. Their singing must have been infectious because we all started to join in and sing along with their beautiful uplifting voices.
Shortly after our return to the school, the principal took us all on a hike to show us their local drinking water source. Walking down the cactus-lined trails, we could feel the heat on our necks as the light breeze came through and whirled around our excited group. We approached the well and saw a few of the local kids playing with each other as they waited to fill their orange gasoline-style containers. They would soon haul them back to their families by mule.
I have been taken aback by the strong people of Loranette. They have been nothing but welcoming and so friendly to us our entire time visiting. Just being here has been a truly eye-opening and life-changing opportunity because it has made me realize how the little things can be taken for granted and how life is a gift.