Tabitha was full of stories - everything from candy to concrete to contrary kids. She enjoyed the kids, and quickly explained, "These kids have a sixth sense for candy - they KNOW when you have it in your pockets, and they really like you when you give them candy. But hey, I didn't have candy - so any friends I made this week were genuine."
Genuine is good. How about the kids?
Not always so good...
"Some of those little kids were SOOOoooooo cute!" Tabitha continued. "But the cute ones could get away with almost anything. Some of my team had been to this orphanage before, and when one of us newbies declared one particular little boy the 'cutest thing ever' she was quickly told, 'Perhaps - but last time we were here, we were debating whether he might be the very spawn of Satan himself!'"
"Then there was this one little adorable girl who looked just like Boo, from Monsters, Inc. She'd seen the movie, too...because she'd walk up to us and say 'Boo!' And one little boy who liked to beat up on one of the guys on our team had this PERFECT evil villain laugh...'Mmmuaahahahaha'...it was so funny!"
Ok, so when you weren't playing with the 100 orphans, what did you do?
"We did some concrete work." Tabitha said...and then paused.
"So, I kind of gained some respect for my lifting and shovel skills," she tried to explain without too much bragging. "This group of girls would go fill buckets with sand for mixing up the concrete, then expect a guy to come carry it for them. I was like, 'Hey, I got this, girls - we don't need a guy.' And they'd all be like, 'Wait - you can carry that???' and I'd be like, 'Sure - I got this!'"
"And then I became the one to carry the heavy buckets of water, also," she continued. "After awhile, someone said, 'How come you're so good at all this hard work stuff?'"
"It's all because of my dad," was her simple reply. Even in the darkness, I could see Nate beaming from the driver's seat. He loves it when he receives even the tiniest of accolades for always expecting his kids to do difficult tasks and work hard, whether or not they're females. He's certainly received his fair share of grief and complaints about it through the years - just last week he heard some griping from our 13-year-old who didn't really want to help with a roofing project. Thus, these glimpses of victory are worth basking in for a few moments.
"By the end of the day - the Mexican guy who was in charge of the concrete work requested that our team help him again the next day. They said that never happens, because he's very picky and is rarely happy with his volunteer helpers."
More basking from the driver's seat.
Lots more stories and laughter ensued throughout the trip home. (An advantage of living over two hours away from the nearest airport.) Some random Spanish sprinkled in now and then for good effect. Stories of digging trenches and guys getting to prove their manliness by eradicating 300 LB rocks from the trench. Climbing mountains for quiet time. Shopping in the market. More kid stories.
All in all, a great experience - not only for the girl who went, but also for the parents who love to welcome home their world travelers.