The Grand Opening

Almost two weeks ago something big happened in the lives of us Manna Ecuadorians: the day-long music festival celebrating the unveiling of our library. Perhaps because there was no pause before our 4th spring break group came, or because I've had writer's block, or maybe because it's taken me this long to process how big of a day it actually was, I haven't written about March 14 yet. Regardless of the reason, thank you for waiting patiently and letting me get away with just posting pictures in the meantime.

I think a lot of the delay has to do with the millions of details I had at my feet, each peering up at me with big doe eyes just begging to be written about here. Do I write about how Seth Harlan's radio interviews advertising the concert have made him a b-level Ecuadorian celebrity? Or what about the 20 minute interview Dunc gave about the whole process to a hand-held video camera who's operator struggled a little with knowing proper boundaries of personal space? Of course I couldn't leave out the part where 26 children under the age of 7, stuffed in the kid's corner and spilling out into the main space, set to work dismantling every puzzle we own. And then there was the dancing, have I even mentioned the dancing? With musical acts ranging from traditional Ecuadorian Folk to hard-core rap, to say the dancing styles shifted dramatically multiple times throughout the day might be understating it.

All that said, during the past week I've been ruminating on beginnings. Because of the library space we've met new neighbors, seen an encouraging increase in interest in all of our programs, and begun to have a real presence in the community we've worked so hard to connect with.

I can remember back in October, when Mark asked me to proofread a program proposal he'd just written up. It was for a lending library, a first in the Valley, and a dream we all witnessed come to fruition on March 14. Combine Mark's bold vision, Seth's passion for a teen center and uncanny ability to make friends with every Ecuadorian he comes into contact with, Dunc's persistence in tracking down every last library and book store in Ecuador (and getting them to give us huge discounts), and Manna's organizational dedication to connecting communities, and you end up with one unbelievable grand opening.

And I even get an art studio thrown in the mix. I mean, come on. How'd they pull that one off?


Photographs from the Grand Opening!

Click here to see the 'before' pictures.

(Our desk table served as the "put everything here until we figure out what to do with it" place)

(Beginning to categorize the books)

(Testing out the teen center, making sure it, uh, works...)

(Seth and Tim put on the first of many coats of blue paint in the teen center)

(Dedicated painters)

(Eliah organizes new book donations)

(I love painting barefoot)

(My beautiful art studio, location of future art classes, with windows on 3 sides!)

(The kids' corner was packed 10 minutes after the official opening)

(It's all about being comfortable while you read)

(The beautiful mural in the teen center, on the back of the bookcases in our office)

(Jocelyn with one of our favorite families)

(Dancing in the street and rockin' our Manna tee's)

(All smiles during the concert!)