Wake up, ready and fed by 07:30, only to wait until about 09:00 for a ride to the project. More rocks, sand and children await us. Micel and her group of friends await us as well as Exel and Gasper. As is always the case with little ones, they are eager to help and make a game out of our work. Gasper is a ball of energy, he seems to be everywhere. A funny gate to his step, most likely from an equilibrium imbalance and a mouth too big for his face, Gasper is the most recognizable out of the 48 boys. Exel is not far away, running around in his Batman or US Army t-shirt and a persistent smile of crooked white teeth. Both boys make a game of running the empty wheel barrows back to the rock pile until Exel flips his on a ditch and travels over with it. At that point soccer, uno, or some other form of mischief seems more appealing. Micel however is in it to win it, sticking with the females of our group all morning, she helps run buckets of sand to and from. Micel can best be described as a cutie-pa-tutie with a golden smile. She is only shy when asked to speak English. One of the biggest differences between American children and Balinese children is their ability to show affection immediately. Within the first few minutes of our arrival, Micel and others grab one of our hands as we walk and work. At first, it is a strange feeling to hold the hand of a child we just met and at the same time it is the most wonderful and comforting thing in the world. By the end of the day, it is not long before almost every child has hugged, tugged, and crawled all over us. We can’t help but return to our own childhood years of being a kid when running around with all of these munchkins.
Today the building starts to get its foundation. There is a collection of people that have been hired to help us with this project. They are men from the local area who are happy to have the work before them. We are still unsure who is helping who, and at times it seems we are keeping up with the children’s roll of largely being in the way. Nonetheless, they entertain our enthusiasm with all sorts of tasks that we can manage. The sand pile we have been slowly adding to has been hallowed out leaving a crater in the middle. Water is added along with cement mix; after some mixing by hand you are left with a pile of wet concrete spread out before you. The rocks, large and small, are being arranged into the stem wall around the perimeter while cement is added between the rocks to hold them together. This job has moved all of us out of the shade and into the sun. The heat is intense, many breaks are needed, and all of us can honestly say that the wall is constructed out of our own sweat. There are many animals on the property, mostly raised and sold for operating funds. The heat and animal sounds make our work here seem like a 5 hour Bikram Yoga session to the soundtrack of Charlotte’s Web.
Finally it's time for lunch, and boy are we ready for the break. Lunch was normal until our group prayer at the end. What started as a prayer from one of the younger boys turned into a long diatribe from Wyan. It was difficult to tell when the prayer ended, but eventually all of us came to the staggered realization that the children were getting into trouble. We never did get the full story, but word on the street was that some of the boys were teasing some of the girls beyond that of the normal day to day banter. The fallout of their misbehavior was an afternoon of chores and the postponing of our Valentines day activity until Wednesday. Being flattened by our mornings work, and with the children out of the picture, we chose to do then next best thing, which was back to the hotel for more pool Bingtang and relaxation.