We got up and went down to the pool area and had our breakfast. It was already getting warm, but there was a slight breeze. Today is the big day, Jamille’s graduation. We are supposed to be ready by 5:00 so that presented no problem. We took our time with breakfast .Originally we planned to go for a swim, but we decided to forgo that and have an appetizer earlier in the afternoon as we are unsure about eating at the graduation. We had a chicken appetizer, but it was strange, cut up in small pieces with the bones in and cooked in oil with some type of seed which was not tasty. We decided not to get that again.
We went to get ready for the graduation. Our translator picked us up at 5:00 and we went by taxi to the event. Marina called it the “Boofay” and Anna and I thought this was just a mispronunciation and that she was probably saying buffet, but I think we were wrong.
We were the first to arrive at the venue. They unlocked the gate and let us in. The first thing we saw was a huge bouquet of roses in various colors and a big poster of all 20 Compassion graduates. We went around the wall into a large area covered by a canopy. There were lots of round tables and chairs and each table had a beautiful rose bouquet or single rose. There were chairs for the graduates and a table and chairs for the speaker and the Compassion leaders.
The graduates wore long black gowns with a bright blue satin cummerbund type of sash that must have closed with snaps because there was no bow. The sleeves were long too, but now flowing like ours in the US. The big difference was a white laced edge like a bib which came from the neck to the middle of the gown. On their heads they wore a type of graduation hat that was similar to our “mortar boards” but was open in the back. You could not tell this from the front.
The people in the program wore an exact replica of the graduates’ gowns, but their sash was a bright kelly green. There were two men, a woman and a man from the United Kingdom who was the speaker. Since he spoke in English, we heard him and then it was translated into Portuguese.
The graduates all sang a song. Some of the students sang and played guitars and same a special number. The UK guy gave a speech based around I Peter and the other two men were responsible for handing out the diplomas which were quite large.
Before they called the graduates’ names they introduced the sponsors. Our translator barely got the words out in English before they called my name and then Anna’s. There were four other couples there. I had no idea how many there would be.
As each graduate’s name was called they posed with her/him for pictures. I could see this as Jamille was not first so when her name was called I got up and went to where I could take some good pictures of her. They smiled and smiled and were not the least bit hesitant about letting me get several pictures.
After the last student was awarded their diploma they gathered the students in the courtyard for a group picture and I was able to photograph that too. They they took the students to the staircase they originally came down and had them line up facing up (their backs were to us). They took photographs of them there. I could not get to where they did this so I only saw their backs.
After this we were able to see Jamille. Again she came to me and enveloped me a huge hug and kept repeating again and again how blessed she was how her life was changed. It was a very emotional time. She and I both had tears. Then she introduced me to her mother who also hugged me and told me I had changed her daughter’s life. Then she took us to meet her husband John, her brother and her pastor and his wife. I was able to take photographs of all of them. Her husband graduated last year.
After this people began to go inside and line up for the meal which was served. They had roast beef and gravy, two kinds of rice (plain and a type of fried rice it appeared), chicken, a green salad, some mixed vegetables. Later there was a pudding type of dessert both vanilla and chocolate. They served a wide variety of beverages, but we did not have any.
After we ate and visited a bit, we left with our translator in a taxi. We went back to Jamille and her family and exchanged hugs again before we left and made plans for the following day.
We went back to the hotel and then waited with Marina for her parents to pick her up.
Then we went upstairs to get ready for bed.
It was a very eventful day. It was overwhelming to see what a difference the Compassion program made in the lives of these students. They grew up in the prject in Fortaleza and would never have had the opportunity to go to school without Compassion. Truly their lives were changed by their sponsors. It was a very humbling experience.
I could definitely tell how happy and thankful Jamille and her family were.
I was extremely thankful too and blessed to be a part of her life.