Today was our first day seeing and working with the kids. We were assigned to work with the kindergarteners through fourth graders, but of course, the whole school came to school. HOPE feeds each child that goes to the school a breakfast and a lunch, which may be the only two meals many of the students have in a day. For this reason, almost every child showed up today, even though they are out of school for the summer. As we were having breakfast we looked out our windows in the dining room and waved to the many students in uniforms, too many students. As different people on our team went out to greet the children, the students quizzed team members on their names and ages, but also asked for Sara and Emily (two of our teenagers who had also been to Dessie last year). As Sara and Emily walked down the steps from the guesthouse, they were suddenly swarmed by new and familiar faces. After this reunion, the students went off to get their breakfast of sweet tea (overly sweet for me) and a warm roll of bread as our team regrouped. After breakfast the children came out to play a little more and meet the foreigners.

After some time had passed the loud whistle that could be heard throughout the campus was blown. The children lined up by grade as Pastor Mattewos taught from Proverbs, had them pray, introduced our team and explained what we would be doing during the week. Then, we were off and our day had officially begun. After the school broke from their lines the children were back to play. They tugged and they pulled and finally I gave into running around in a circle to an Amharic song. The kids were then sent off to the bible story where they learned about Joseph and how he trusted God; they also got to see their puppet friends for the first time. Then, the kindergarteners through fourth graders went (well actually, they ran) to the classrooms to start their crafts. Today the craft was decorating Joseph’s coat with fabric, glitter, stickers, markers, and even some glue. As the rooms broke into chaos, two things were obvious – it was our team’s first day here and we were going insane and the kids were having a blast.

As the children finished their craft they were sent up to the schoolyard to play some sports before lunch. As lunch came for the kids, so did ours and we walked up to the guest house past the cafeteria where the children ate and smelled the ingera. We got up to the house and were greeted by a spicy, but amazing lunch.

After lunch some of the students left because they had eaten their two meals, but about 150 children stayed to play. As our team came out of the guesthouse with bags of bubbles and balls we were suddenly overwhelmed with kids. As we showed them how the bubbles worked, the children had great fun! Finally the passing out of bubbles was done and it was time to play sports. Our team did an assortment of games from racing across the black top (running out of breath instantly because of the altitude), to playing football (which is soccer to us) and basketball (with a volleyball). I ended up racing the little kids and then playing a basketball game named PIG with one of my friends (and pen pals) from my visit last year. Our day ended with the kids leaving in the rain and our team returning to the guesthouse, eager to see their faces again.