...International Women's Day fell on March 8, the same day as Holi. Therefore, on Tuesday, the sisters hosted a celebration of their own. Three of the "best" moms from every class at the Carmel Convent School attended the event as well as the mothers of nearly all of our students. Instructed to wear red sarees and "look beautiful," the moms of our students looked particularly spectacular. --Students resting after their performance--

--Gudiya (Kashak and Versha's mother) and Ranju (Ajeet's mother)--

Everyone gathered in front of the stage where I spoke a few weeks ago. Prayers were read, songs were sung, and dances were performed. Much to my satisfaction, I have now fully realized that the sisters do not pursue anything with mediocrity. The schedule of events, temporary structures, performances, and food were all perfect, as usual.

--Lighting the ceremonial candles--

These boys were hilarious. Their confidence and energy were sky high as they danced to a popular Bollywood soundtrack called Desi Boys and pretended to be real ladies' men.

Fortunately, our musically talented volunteer Natalie Wills had recently bought a guitar. She sang a beautiful song that she herself had written.

Madhu even came with her mother, Rita, and youngest brother.

--Volunteers Natalie Wills and Heather Barnes with Madhu and staff from the Carmel Convent School--

After the celebration, everyone was welcomed to a massive buffet-style feast. I watched with huge smiles as Madhu and our moms enjoyed what was likely one of the best meals they have ever eaten.

--Sisters Pushpa and Sweta cooking me lunch on Sunday--

I would be remiss if I did not mention the sisters on International Women's Day. Since they discovered what I came for, they have treated me like family. They have said themselves that they consider me as a son. After church on Sunday, they had me stay for breakfast...and then lunch.

They weren't just any meals, either. Since they know I have not had eggs or pasta in months, they cooked both specially for me. Both were, perhaps even literally, ambrosia.

When my plane landed in India three and half months ago, one of the last things I would have expected is is to be taken in by an entire convent. I will be forever grateful for their generosity and care, but especially for the opportunities they are creating for "our children."

However, no amount of motherly affection will ever be able to top the care and love with which my own mother has raised me. I will never forget where home is Mom. It's where you are. Without the compassion and love that you have shown and taught me, I would not be here now doing what I am doing. Nothing can replace great parenting. Luckily for me, you and Dad are the best.

I often look back at these two photos. They were taken on my birthday, the day I left home. They don't just remind me that I am lucky, they remind me that I am one of the luckiest people on the planet. Thank you Mom and Dad. I love you and I'll be home in six weeks.

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