Our last two rotations at Rising Star were done in the school helping to tutor the kids individually (more on that back here). During these two days Max was able to present the kids with the books he had gathered for his Eagle Project. It was one of my favorite parts of being at Rising Star. Max had gathered a whole bunch of books to bring as well as money to buy whatever additional books they needed (for more about that click here). The week before we left for India we learned from Celina, the main American teacher at the school (who is going on her third year serving as a co-principal there, and who most likely has a special place set aside for her in Heaven for how amazing she is with those kids) that there were two classes dying for multiple copies of books they wanted to read as a class. One class wanted to read “Pippi Longstocking,” and the other class had just finished “Little House in the Big Woods,” (sharing two copies between all twenty of them) and would love to have the second book in that series to read together. We found out that it’s rough to get multiple copies of the same book in India, so Amazon came to the rescue and we brought an extra suitcase full of those books with the money Max had gathered. Celina (who the kids affectionately call “Ma’am”) had Max come present those two classes with their special books. It was cute because the kids knew they were coming. They had asked us about them each day with pure excitement in their eyes. It was so sweet to see kids so darn excited about BOOKS. Here’s Max before passing the books out telling about how he gathered the money to buy the books: there are so many people who care about them even though they have never met them. I loved watching them sit down and be able to all go over the table of contents together at the same time since they all had a book to follow. They were so delighted about that little book. I helped one of the girls turn herself into Pippi like we do sometimes for crazy hair day back in the states in honor of the occasion.(That little girl, in case you are wondering, is an albino Indian…that’s why her skin is so light. She is such a little sweetheart.) After lunch, Max presented the next class with their “Little House” books. The only edition of these ones available on Amazon was a hard-cover full-color one so of course the kids were over the moon about that little fact. They cradled those things like little prized possessions. …and Max was a rockstar as far as they were concerned for bringing them those little jewels. The next day they all gave Max the sweetest, well-thought-out thank you notes.Our neighbor’s son Taylor did his Eagle project totally parallel to Max’s…he collected money for books (and donated different ones) as well as making school kits for the kids at Rising Star. Both boys had enough money collected that the school got to buy quite a lot of extra books for their library in addition to all those actual books donated from people in our area back home. What a gift it is to be able to give. They got to give the kids all the books (from the States and bought there) in a ceremony before school began the last day we were there:I have a whole new-found appreciation for the fact that I can click a button on Amazon and have a book arrive at my doorstep…or even go to the bookstore. I’m so grateful for books. …and that these kids now have a whole bunch of them. Thank you so very much to everyone who helped make that possible. Those smiles stretched across those beautiful Indian faces are in part because of YOU. Next, Max distributed the flashcards he orchestrated the making of before we left home (back here). He got to give them to the pre-school/kindergarten class of adorableness: They were kind of excited:Thanks so much to everyone who helped with those as well. What a blessing it was to be part of that Eagle project. Max is a changed boy forever because of that experience. Then it was on to say goodbye to our adventure at Rising Star. …and to these sweet kids we could hardly bear to leave. Before we left, we helped paint our volunteer session wall: (Each volunteer group that comes paints a section of the wall…see these ones from the past groups?) Here’s how ours looked when we left (we had to leave before it was done). The kids also couldn’t leave without getting “henna” done. In lieu of having one of the Indian kids do it for them (they made it off-limits for them because they were getting to riled up before bedtime trying to tatoo all the volunteers arms and feet), our kids had one of the volunteers do theirs. As you can see, she’s pretty talented.Elle hoped with all her might to have it stay on ‘til school starts but alas, it rubbed off in the ocean a couple days ago. Fun while it lasted. Although our driver had a deadline to get us back to Chennai for our flight to Northern India we couldn’t help but drag our feet like crazy (poor guy). Our kids were dying to go say their goodbyes to their new kindred friends. And Dave and I couldn’t have been happier that they were so attached. Maybe in the back of our minds we hope that the more in love they are with these kids, the more likely they may go back someday to give a little more of themselves. …And to gain more than they could ever give in return. As we flew out onto our next adventure up in Northern India I think we all realized that we left some big chunks of our hearts at Rising Star.