The more sleep I lose, the better this trip gets.
Well, maybe that's just the way it seems. I've been getting less and less sleep each night, especially because I'm used to getting eight hours of sleep every night. My inhibitions melt little by little every day, and I can start to be all of myself around everyone. I was fortunate enough to take an (ice cold) shower last night, so I didn't have a lot of getting ready to do. I slept in til 7:30. If that's even considered "sleeping in."
We left for the service project at 8:30, with the skies yelling "rain storm!" at every turn. An enthusiastic lady named Lousa showed us around the children's clinic that we would be helping out today after walking about a half mile up a long path too small for a bus. It looked like a pretty run down street out in the back of Charleston. The lady told us we would be picking out shards of glass from the children's playground that had accumulated over the years, along with cleaning up the debris from a recently torn down trailer across the street. Oh, and 14 Notre Dame students were also there to help us!
But almost like clockwork, it began to rain as soon as we arrived. She brought the group of around 60 inside a small school of two main rooms and a hallway. Immediately, we began to move cabinets and rearrange, then the cleaning ensued. We bleached the tables, chairs, doors, windows and everything else in direct vision of our sponges. I talked to a lot of great people while I worked and solidified some awesome friendships. Eventually the rain tapered off and most of the volunteers went outside to complete the job we came to do, but Lousa appreciated the help we had inside, so that's where we stayed. I buzzed around that place like it was my job, and the music in the back room was enough to make it a wonderful experience.
We came to find out that the trailer that was recently torn down used to host an extremely popular met lab. The children that attend this organization used to play in the yard of the man who owned the property, fully aware of the danger hovering over. It was a blessing to see it down and, for the most part, cleaned up by the time we left. The smiles on everyone's faces and the cheers on the bus told us that this was the best service project yet.
We ate lunch back at the Methodist Church, then got right back on the road again. This time we were headed for...
My mind is still blown by all these amazing cities and awesome views. The trip was about five hours long, in which I chatted, took a small nap, juggled apples for everyone, and watched most of The Help while bawling my eyes out in front of the tv. I'm such a sap :')
Our first stop was about 20 minutes out of Richmond at the biggest, sweetest outdoor mall I have ever been to. Alright, alright...its the ONLY outdoor mall I've been to. But it was still awesome. We got some grub at the food court, then checked out a few shops for some shoes before ultimately giving up and heading back to the bus. I went to shops like H&M, Macy's, and Urban Outfitters for the first time. Crazy, I know!
The bus took us to First Presbyterian Church, our hosting for the night. The group was told a little bit of history of the place, moved our bags into the giant basement, and messed around a little bit until night activities. Not as deep as last night, but the activity tonight was just as moving and eye-opening as the last.
Tonight, everyone stood in a circle facing the outside with their eyes closed. If a leader came and tapped you on the shoulder, you were able to come to the middle and open yours eyes. You were asked a series of questions, such as: Who makes you laugh? Who do you believe in? Who would you want to get coffee with? Who do you want to keep in touch with? And various others. If the question applied to anyone you saw, you went and tapped them on the shoulder. The taps were unlimited; you could tap everyone or no one. Ultimately, it helped us to think about not only our internal struggles, but the people we've connected with. Our new relationships and these things we take for granted now were reflected upon tonight, and I really appreciated this activity.
After that, I taught The Interlude to some of the group, and I plan to teach the rest with music tomorrow, along with the fight song later in the week. We told our most embarrassing stories tonight and just stories of our lives in general, and played a few games recently learned and loved.
Today, I came completely out of my box. I'm sharing things on the bus microphone, telling stories to the whole group, and even juggling for a free Honey Bun. But when it all comes down to it, I just know that...
We're all trying to make a difference, one city at a time.