Sunday, July 17, 2011

The 18 Hour Day

Morning comes early here—the sun rises at 4 am, and with no window shades, you know it! The infernal heat begins to crank up. There is another hour or two of fitful tossing and turning, dozing on and off again, or rising for an early swim in the river. Early morning workers begin—trying to beat the heat. The sound of weed whacking and kitchen pots and pans clanging begins with the church bells at dawn. And Melissa, our littlest team member weighs in, testing her new many new voices!

We’re sharing our floor with a Hungarian girls’ basketball team—a bawdy bunch of tall young girls who scare some of us, keep us up late, but it all equals out as we wake early, and our showers, conversations and babies rouse them.

Breakfast begins at 8, followed by devotions at 9, in the camping area behind us along the river. Then we head over to the King Arthur School to teach. That facility is soon full of drums beating, guitars cranking, piano practice, and the quieter art classes. The swarm of kids in and out add to the decibel level high, and in the kitchen, a constant stream of coffee, tea, fresh fruit from the market, and fresh baked goodies is served up.

Home for lunch at 12:30, back to the school at 1:45 or two…Hungarian time is fluid. Another class, another snack, maybe a quick trip to the supermarket or ice cream shop, and home again for dinner.

In the evening, we debrief the day’s activities back in “The Cellar”—which deserves a post of its own soon. Arnold is our emcee, and a more visionary character you could not meet. He calls kids up one by one, when he knows there’s a story. The Artslink team has missed many of these evenings, as we persevere in designing our graffiti wall, measuring, designing, sketching. But we hear the stories the next morning; this one received Christ; there was reconciliation between these two. One person got healed. The DanceLink leader did a dance that brought the place to tears. We’re missing it all, and hate missing connection with the kids (except the ones in our class), but the stencils are the priority.

This is our new routine. Temps have soared over 100, and we sweat from pores we didn’t know we had, and jump in the river when we can, or take a cold shower. Almost all of us have succumbed in one way or the other over the past few days: heat exhaustion, fatigue, dehydration, headaches, nausea. We cover for the ones who wilt, and bear one another’s burdens, praying for rain and cooler temps. We have not yet begun to cut the stencils, derailed by the heat.

This is nuts, I think. We can’t quite nail down the visuals, we don’t have the supplies, we’re not sure how we’re going to execute it, none of us are graffiti artists, and we have no time for a dress rehearsal.
But we do have a word. After some quick research among the Hungarians, we have found the word that describes our concept. That will become the centerpiece of our graffiti wall. We continue to brainstorm elements that would support the word, and be easy to execute. The clock is ticking.

Bedtime comes somewhere around midnight, after the debrief, the walk home, the conversations in the hallway, the email catch up in the hotel foyer (best place for wifi), and washing up. And waiting for the Hungarian basketball girls to calm down. Through the night we might be startled awake by the random stray cat, mosquito, or window banging shut or open in the wind. Four hours later, the sun is up.

We begin again.

No comments:

Post a Comment