This week was a really great week. We have had a really good balance of work and cultural experiences that made the week go by really smoothly. It seems like this week also went by really quickly. I guess I am getting more into the hang of things and have my own schedule of doing things that has made time pass by quickly.
We are so dirty. All the time. It dawned on me today as I was sitting in the shower scrubbing the mud off of my feet. We smell too. I think we're all so accustomed to the facilities of our lives here in India that it hardly phases us.
So, like I said before, this week was a great week. I think I am thinking in particular of one really amazing experience we had on Thursday that made it, to me, a fantastic week. I have already written pretty deeply about it in my journal, so I figured to save me the effort of trying to recall every detail of Thursday, I'll just copy what I wrote in my journal.
"July 1, 2010-Thursday
Today was the best day of the trip so far. This morning, after waking up, the monks asked if we wanted to go hike up to the village that is above the Ananda Community. Everyone wanted to go, except Mat. His leg has been hurting him, so he couldn't go.
The hike was gorgeous. We basically hiked straight up the mountain that is behind the community. I sat in awe as I looked over the lush, green valley with all its magnificent beauty. Towards the south, there was the beginning of another valley, with a lake on the inside. As my eyes panned accross teh larger valley in front of me, I could see several smaller villages, but other than that and rice paddies, there was little sign of any human life. Seeing the horizon connect with the earth is a sight that no matter where I am will always bring gazes of astonishment. The horizon in the distance was smoggy, but the mountains cut up into the sky. It seemed as though the scene I was looking at was not real, but was a painting. It's frustrating to me, because no matter how hard I try to describe this scene, it will never come alive to the person reading this. You'll never be able to experience it like I did. I believe this is why film intrigues me so much. Sure, I'll never be able to exactly recreate the experience, the emotion felt. However, you can get millimeters closer with photography. I snapped some photos with my digital point-and-shoot camera. They're good photos and as time passes by, they'll be important to me in helping recall the memories. Nevertheless, it saddens me that I'll never experience it just like that again. First time gazing over as I feel the wind in my face and hair; the sensational tingly felling in my legs after hiking straight up the mountain. The hot sun combined with humidity causing me to sweat heavily. And most importantly, sharing it all with good people. Feeling all this come together fills my heart with a peace that can't be explained or repeated. As tragic as that is, I am so grateful to God to have had the opportunity to feel it.
As I gazed over this beautiful sight, I thought a lot about the creation of the Earth. In Alma 30:44, Alma teaches that "all things denote there is a God". The scene I was witnessing strengthened my faith in this principal. I even said to Tom, "How can anyone question the existence of God with such a beautiful sight in front of them?!" It's true -- How could someone see that wonderful of a scene and believe it was all some random fortunate circumstance?? It doesn't make sense to me.
We continued our hike until we reached a Hindu temple, where we stopped to eat apples and other snacks. The temple was quaint, but nice. It was built by local villagers as a place for worship. Around this time, 2 kids from the village were intrigued by us and started following us around. We played soccer and threw around a frisbee with them. I raced on of the kids in a foot race to a nearby tree and back. He beat me, but I let him win. Still, he was a fast little guy. We then meditated for a while at the temple. After meditating for a few minutes, we continued hiking for about 10 minutes until we reached the village.
The scene of a village is also a scene that is impossible to describe because I can't share the emotion of seeing it all. Words can't explain how I felt as I walked into the village. It's frustrating to write because you will only understand a small percentage of what it's like.
The two little boys we were playing with led us into the village. We first went to a house near the edge of the village and several children came out to meet us. Scared to approach the strange foreigners, the children huddled close together; the younger ones hid behind the older ones. For some of these younger children, this may have been one of their first times ever seeing a white person. We are tall, big, and loud, and probably scarier than a lot of monsters they have imagined. However, we were able to have some fun with the kidsas we shared candy and played soccer with them. One kid grew super attached to the soccer ball and by the time we left, Tom gave it to him so that he could keep kicking it around. The children started really opening up to myself and everyone else in the group as I started taking pictures of them. We would take a picture together. Then, I would show them what it looked like. I don't know if any of them had ever seen a camera before. I let them take their own pictures of me and whatever else they wanted to. We took a lot of cool pictures in their homes. This place was made with brick and clay. the roof was made of straw and the ground was brick, rock, and dirt. The ceiling was only about 5 feet off the ground, so I walked mostly on my hands and knees. In this house, we sat with the children, and I was touched by the relationship of love between the father and his children. There were 6 children in the home, but not all were the father's children. His little girl, however, was a toddler of about 10 months or so, and she made my heart melt. She wasn't wearing anything except a pink shirt. No diaper or anything. She was the cutest little girl I have ever laid eyes on. Her big brown eyes made me want to spend all my time with only her. We took several pictures together. As I was about to leave the house, the kids continued wanting to take pictures, and I wanted them to, too. I could've stayed there all day taking pictures with those beautiful children, watching them smile, laugh, and take joy in the simple things in life like strawberry fruit candies and pictures on a digital camera. I had several moments where I felt so peaceful and full of joy. The kind of feeling that some people strive their entire lives to feel. The best part about it all is that I didn't experience it alone. There are several amazing people I here with me that helped make good moments great and great moments perfect.
The village was amazing. The children are unforgettable. They each left their imprints on my life, and I assume, the lives of those I am with, for the only thing any of us could say following our experience was that we wanted to return to help the village. As I was walking down, I was able to discover why it is I came to India. I realized that seeing what I saw today, from the beautiful Indian mountains to the village to those wonderful kids, made it all worth it. It made the hard work we've done seem so worth it just to be able to taste what I have tasted. Today was one of the greatest days of my life, and I thank God so much for allowing me to be so fortunate to have experienced it all."
So I know it's pretty long and everything, so I'm sorry to keep you. I have so much more to write about. But, as a good breaking point, I'll end here. I'll write more about this week later on tonight, perhaps. Also, about the ridiculously rad massage we got today. Stay tuned. Namaste.