Last week Arleigh asked if I would mind letting Hanan go on the youth group function. Unlike Tennessee, middle school here starts in 7th grade. There was a pretty strict 7th-12th rule implied when we got here. Arleigh went from being in a youth group to not being old enough to not really feeling like she fit in. I became that parent. I pulled the youth leader aside and asked if Hanan could go since one of her sixth grade friends had been attending. He was happy to have us join the group. 

So it works like this, after our monthly pot yuck pot luck (I’m kidding the food here is delicious every month) the youth change clothes, participate in an activity and go on a service project. Way back in the stone age, Ray and I led our church’s youth group. Yesterday, there was an incident. I saw the look in the youth leader’s eye. I remembered exactly why I stepped away from that ministry. I proceeded to load 6 young girls in my van and drove them over the mountain to a nursing home. 

The building was old but the view was pretty. Mountains were on one side and I think you might have been able to see water from the back. Boonie chickens were roaming and a rooster was fussing for attention. A man was sitting outside in a wheel chair, his aloha shirt completely open and his cigarette pack was fully stocked. As we walked inside, I decided this would be the nursing home Pa pa would pick. Between the views sat a large screen television showing the Olympics. Just to the right was a slot machine. We were told we couldn’t play Bingo like we expected because a Black Jack game had already been scheduled for 6 p.m. right after supper. Well okay then. 

The girls and I took some beads that I dropped repeatedly on the floor to a table where a bunch of ladies were brought over whether they wanted to be there or not. We made bracelets, passed out Valentine’s and pre made crafts. The girls even rubbed lotion on their hands. They told us about their lives on the island. We got a good laugh out of one lady. The number of kids she had grew exponentially with each person who asked her about them. 

We had our fair share of incidents. One little lady with spiked white hair and hipster glasses was handing out bottle cap jewelry that she made. I asked if she would like to make a bead bracelet. “Uh. No!” was her reply. Arleigh got a kick out of that. After the afternoon wore on another lady kept tapping Hanan. Hanan smiles that big smile and asks what she can do. The lady repeatedly whispered, “Get me outta here!” Hanan would grin and say, “I’m sorry. I can’t but I can make you a bracelet.” The aide finally came and wheeled her to a different table as tears rolled down her cheek. I found out later that she has sundown syndrome and gets extremely sad in the afternoons. 

I didn’t take pictures even though I wanted to show off my kids. It felt a little like I would somehow be exploiting the people who live there. They pegged me as a mainlander as we walked through the door anyway. It was a nice afternoon spent with the girls. They served with happy hearts and I hope we get do it again soon. I won’t be taking the youth group over though. Boy howdy! Those kids have their hands full!