The bus arrived promptly a 1:30 under cloudy skies and slight drizzle. The children, family members and friends poured out of the bus smiling and animated. Jose ran to be first to greet me feigning exhaustion as he claimed he had run the whole way beside the bus. He needs no antics to impress me. He’s already stolen my heart. I was delighted to see Aaron’s father present knowing that he would be so pleased with his sons remarkable new abilities.

We had opted for no lessons today but rather to give the children the first opportunity to present their stories thus far to an audience. I had been forewarned that shyness might cause them to be reluctant to do so. Everyone streamed into the dining hall where tables and chairs were arranged for them. Adam, Shyra, David and Roxanna were on hand. We sorely missed Geovany but knew he was with us in spirit.

Benito and Katerine passed out the XO’s and Jose the mice and the children booted up each with a small posse of onlookers pressed over their shoulders. We announced the plan to have the children read and display their stories and Aaron unhesitatingly stepped up to the plate. XO in hand his face alive with pride he took his place in the center of the group and began. David helped by repeating the text in a louder voice as the rain on the roof, the whirr of the fans and the poor acoustics of the room overwhelmed Aaron’s ability to project over. I was equally overwhelmed with respect and admiration as I watched this small boy present his work with unabashed confidence and delight. There was a hearty round of applause as he turned to go back to his seat where his father and small sister engulfed him in hugs.

Watching their classmate perform so easily stirred a new willingness in the others and one by one five other children came forward and did the same. The other children chose a particular page or pages to display as their classmates and guests made the rounds at the tables stopping to see an erupting volcano, a dancing monkey, or a traveling star. It was a tremendous accomplishment.

A dual highlight of the afternoon is credited to Bill. This morning I received a short video that he had spent the night putting together for us highlighting the previous event here at the camp with the children, their families and the XO’s. Titled “Waves of Change” complete with a beautiful Nicaraguan music track it weaves a tapestry of the lively and joyous communication engendered through the children’s engagement and interaction with the XO. Seeing themselves the children were absolutely mesmerized, in disbelief, enchanted. Thank you Bill for this extraordinary effort.

The drizzle was still misting the air as we broke for snacks and small groups loaded up with plantain chips and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches huddled on the porches with their XO’s and our junior mentors instructed their friends and family in the finer aspects of the OX. And then the sun appeared.

The rest of the afternoon was spent frolicking in the lake, playing football and exploring the XO’s. I had the opportunity to converse, through David’s able translation skills, with many of the parents and grandparents that were present. They spoke warmly and appreciatively of their gratitude and amazement of their children’s growth and commitment to this project. All were anxious to see their children be able to continue.

At four thirty the bus driver made his appearance notifying everyone that it was time to get moving. The XO’s were shut down and odds and ends gathered. I was the recipient of multiple hugs, handshakes, smiles and illustrated messages as the children and others boarded the bus. As it pulled out and made its way across the grass to the road the windows splayed with waving arms and voices bellowed until the bus was finally out of sight. All Adam, Shyra and myself could do was grin and sigh deeply too moved for words.

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