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    Westerners returning from long trips to India don’t ever describe their trips as beautiful, majestic, or breathtaking. They describe the trips as “life-changing” and “overwhelming,” I’ve found.

    It’s only in hind sight that I’m a.) noticing this trend and b.) finding myself fitting in with all those who went before me. I’d love to tell you that India was all sunshine and roses, but you know that wasn’t the case already.

    There was trash. There was dirt. There was heat. There was humidity. There were more stray animals on the streets than you’ll find at your local SPCA, times four, on an average walk from the guesthouse to the SEAMS orphanage in Chennai.

    The entirety of the trip was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting.

    And yet.  And yet those orphan hugging instincts that led me 10.5 time zones across the world were dead-on.

    Every minute I spent with those kids was like giving water to a parched flower.  (For them, and for me!)

    I hugged every kid I could get my hands on.

    I laughed belly laughs and taught them, of all things, The Chicken Dance. They can’t get enough.

    I used Ezekiel as a weight and lifted him, bicep curl style, every day.

    I played Ring Around the Rosie with the girls and London Bridge with the younger kids.

    I helped Anish write about his daily life. (Hint: it involves waking at 5:00 a.m. and more chores than you can shake a stick at.)

    I tickled Joyce between rounds of English flash card games.

    I answered cries of “Sister, Sister!” to any kid who called.

    I flipped, spun, tickled, whirled, and giggled with the kids, who can wear a person unaccustomed to the heat and humidity out in just a few minutes. (I kept going, leaving each night in a full-blown, all-out sweat.)

    I yelled, “Peace out!” to the older boys upon leaving each evening. And they replied with “Peace out, America!”

    I did not allow myself the luxury of tears. There was too much practical work to be done: braids braided, floors swept, chores done, hugs hugged, games played.

    It’s only after hot showers, caffeine, and plenty of sleep that I’m allowing myself the tears – and the humbling acknowledgement that there are problems money and time and even sheer love cannot fix. I’m working on the ways I can/Haunani can/we can/you can provide for those dear orphans at SEAMS who have stolen my heart.

    Until my ‘real’ images are back from the lab, it’s iPhone 8mm app videos for you!

    Ezekiel + a saw:

    Powsiya’s smile (most missed thing from all of India, I’ll admit):

    Anandkumar spells his name and fields tough questions:

    As always, thank you for reading, and for your support. It means the world to me — and to these kiddos, of course!

    Oh, and if you ignored the blog while I was gone, go here and sign up for this fun financial goodness with one Karie Hill.  It’s gonna be fantastic.

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