After lunch every day at the orphanage, we did a work project. The girls had the task of repainting the walls surrounding the orphanage entrance and the boys went to do repairs and maintenance.
Repainting. Doesn’t sound too difficult.
The kids had never painted a wall before. The balance had to be drawn between making this a teaching experience, but also getting a good result. We started by scraping and sanding off the layers and layers of peeling paint off the walls. We taught them how to manipulate the scrapers to their full potential. Dust got everywhere.
It was a learning experience for us girls too. We had Indonesian partners to work with and we had to get past the language barrier without a translator. One (somewhat amusing) difficulty that came about though, was that Ken would come over and give instructions to the group, but only in Indonesian. However, the girls from the team had no idea what he said, and we were supposed to lead! This happened a few times, and then one girl finally mentioned something and we began to receive instructions also in English. It helped a ton, not surprisingly.
Then the paint buckets rolled out.
Right around the same time, we got some additional help. The boys had more people than the work needed, so the younger ones came back to help the girls.
Let’s just say, painting is a lot more fun than scraping. However, painting requires a lot more precision than scraping. Everyone wanted to paint, and paint was getting everywhere. It was dripping on the ground, going outside of lines, we couldn’t manage it. Linda had a hard time saying “Uhm, sorry, but no, you really can’t paint right now.” It was an impossible task, to both include everybody and make sure the walls looked good. We’d hide the painting supplies, but they’d be brought back out. Poor Linda; she was in charge of overseeing the project and she had to do a lot of communicating, but her Indonesian isn’t fluent as much as if used to be. Finally a system was developed where only a few people would paint, and the rest would go scrape or wash and prep the other walls.
The kids could see that the team was starting to wear out a little after the first day of work. Not that we were physically weak in general or anything, but working in the heat still trying to adjust to the time zone and such quickly tired us out. The kids wanted to help with that, so they decided to get up extra early the next morning to prep the walls. Then we would come and not have to worry about the prepping and just start painting.
Well, normal rise and shine time for them is 4:30 AM for morning prayer. Bedtime is around 11 PM when evening chores are complete.
So what’s getting up early?
Some woke up an hour early, but several just didn’t go to bed that night. WOW. It was so sweet, how they wanted to fill our needs. It really helped a ton though, because we didn’t have to spend hours on the tedious prep work. It sped up the process wonderfully.
Along with prepping and painting, another job that came with the painting project was cleaning. One day, Haidang and I volunteered to wash all the paint trays, rollers, and brushes. That was so much fun! We trucked all the messy paint dripping things down around back to a faucet spigot, turned the water on, and started rinsing and washing. Haidang and I are both theatre people, and also very fond of musicals, so we decided to pass some of the time by singing our favorite songs from musicals and Disney.
For all of you Les Miserables fans, singing “One Day More” with two people is not an impossible feat. We divvied up the 7 roles and sang the whole song out (maybe not perfectly, but it was sure fun).
We belted out Tangled, the Little Mermaid, and Phantom of the Opera. Some of the younger boys were playing soccer nearby and they saw us frolicking in Disney while washing the paint trays. They asked, “Is your hobby singing?” “Uhm, yyyyessssss?????? I guess you could call it that.”
Over the course of the project, one thing several team members were convicted on was on the topic of music. After the first couple days, the kids would bring their little music players out and listen to songs while they painted. They listened to the mainstream songs we listen to in the States (Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and Justin Bieber anyone?) But we would get a little wary when a borderline song came on. Or even a “clean” song. It felt so weird, being on a mission trip and listening to and singing along to mainstream music. We’re like “HEY! We’re serving Jesus here!” but then the realization set in. Shouldn’t we be serving Jesus all the time? Shouldn’t our choices reflect that, not just while we’re on a mission trip, but 24/7? Realizing at the same time that not all mainstream music is bad, many of us decided to watch what we listen to and how that’s affecting our testimony.
Painting was just another way we were able to develop relationships with the kids at the orphanage. By doing work with our hands and not being afraid to get dirty, we were able to break down cultural barriers fairly quickly. It was a pathway to becoming family; ONE group, not Americans over here and Indonesians over there.
And the walls look pretttty nice now 🙂