Day 9 - CHILDREN
Throughout this Mission Trip we have been blessed by meeting so many children in Salvation Army run kindergartens, schools and children's homes from one side of Central Sulawesi to the other. Every time we have been greeted by delightful smiles and enthusiastic waves from kids who been as interested in their foreign visitors as we have been in them. In some places initial shyness has given way to curiosity and excitement to near hysteria in the short time we have visited each centre. Today was no exception.
Bek and Adam felt a lot better about their schooling in Australia when they discovered that kids in Palu go to school six days a week and only get four weeks holidays a year. So it seemed a little strange for them to start out early on a Saturday morning to visit six schools around the outskirts of Palu. Starting at Jonooge, we made whirlwind visits to Watubula, Maranatha, Petimbelagi, Tanapobunti and Kalawara Schools with our apprentice interpreter Captain Suni Timonuli, while Major Nyoman Timonuli was having a much needed rest.
It was at the Watabula School where we received an incredible reception that took us by surprise. After initial greetings by the principal and some teachers in the school grounds, we were ushered into a meeting hall where the entire school had gathered to treat us to a special welcome assembly. We were given VIP treatment in a beautifully decorated room with a number of singing performances by the children, all dressed in their Salvation Army school uniforms. We were each deeply moved by the smiles and sincerity of these beautiful kids. Like many of the other children we have met, one very special greeting of respect and honour that touches our hearts every time, is when the children take your hand and touch it to their forehead. It is something you really need to witness or experience to appreciate the deep respect these kids have for their elders or those in authority.