Top 10 lessons learned so far:
1. Must have a mandatory quiet time of at least an hour a day in the home
2. Everything will break!
3. Rainy season is hard, mud will be everywhere.
4. Little girls scream all the time.
5. Learning that there are trash cans for your garbage is difficult.
6. You can't have enough activities to do.
7. Remove all permanent markers from the home and from within a mile radius.
8. Go over the house rules about twenty times a day.
9. Don't bring anything nice into the home for about a month.
10. You can't have enough cleaning supplies.
Well it has been a few days since we last posted and we apologize for the delay. We aren't going to lie, moving these kids in has been harder than we ever imagined. Our staff is tired, and working through so many changes but we all know it is worth it.
Adjusting to the house is hard for the kids. They are coming around and everyday it is a bit easier. We have a ways to go but we are confident they will be well adjusted within a month or so. But until then it is pretty entertaining and exhausting!
We have broken countless door knobs, a shower knob, a chair, a window, and other things in the home. We are working with kids who don't know how to use door handles, sit in a chair properly, take a shower with running water and much more. Now the window breaking was totally the US Embassy's fault and the Marines. They showed up a few days ago with presents and gave use a set of golf clubs! It took a total of 20 minutes for a golf ball to go shooting through the window. And Andrew Mumba (who did it) had a look of horror on his face only to find us all laughing uncontrollably. This is all a part of life, and as much as I want this house looking perfect for our team coming in a week I know that it won't and that's ok.
Please pray for our electricity situation. Our meter is running too fast which is draining our electricity rapidly and causing us major money. We have contacted the electric company literally twenty times a day and they don't come to fix it. We are having to turn off our electricity for the majority of the day.
The kids are OK. There is quite a bit to learn and it isn't easy. We have had many discussions about the rules of the home and what is accepted and not. Most of them have never had to obey rules so this is hard and new. They are learning how to clean up after themselves which is difficult. They don't understand the most simple concepts that if you have lived in a home your entire life come naturally to you. This will take time.
They also are learning to love and handle conflict without fighting. Some of these kids have been beaten and seen violent acts that cause them to use their fists to handle a problem. We are working really hard with Brian about this and helping him understand there are other ways to deal with issues that come up. His first reaction is to hit and be a bully. He is slowly understanding though.
Peter (oldest boy) is an absolute rockstar and doing so well. He is a definite leader and helping everyone around the house. He loves learning new things and helped put together fans and other things we have purchased for the home. He loved church on Sunday and had his Bible ready to do that his sponsors had given him.
Hope (oldest of the girls) is doing well too. She is struggling with all the rules and respect but she is also a 12 year old girl! She loves her bed and is excited about their new school. She knows english well and helps us translate.
Andrew is a completely different child in our home. Andrew always kept to himself, never smiled, and held his head low at the other places he lived in. For the first time ever Andrew holds his head proud, laughs, explores books in the library and of course has the soccer ball very close by. He is thriving in this home! We are concerned at his lack of growth and since he is HIV positive and we are taking to some expert doctors in the next few weeks to get some answers. I am hoping with the right diet and the meals he is receiving that he might start to put some pounds on himself. He is also getting really good gummy vitamins everyday.
Dorothy is another case of just the sweetest child who is picking up on life in the house quickly. She acts like she doesn't know English but she knows alot more than she lets on to. Dorothy loves her chest of drawers and having her OWN things. She also is loving to color in the library.
Brian is loving the meals in the home. He always gets seconds and is eating alot of food. It is very clear that all of these kids have never eaten to be full. Although Brian can be a bully we do see the sweet side of him and are confident we can break him of this. It is very clear that Brian has not been treated well in the past or ever loved. There are signs of previous physical abuse. We have taken him to the doctor twice for his skin infection on his head and will continue to do so until it is cleared up. This guy needs alot of love.
Nelly is a complete mess and a funny kid! She is loud, full of energy, into everything, and laughs all day long. She loves the library and is pretty good at math. I worked on addition with her the other day with bottle caps and she loved it. She has some issues with her mouth and we are guessing either a partial cleft pallete or a hole in the roof of her mouth. We will be consulting the special hospital here for these issues at some point. But it isn't hurting her and she can talk ok. We are taking baby steps in all of these adjustments so we won't push this for now.
Armond is also doing fantastic. He is a quiet guy and learning his place with all the other kids. He has had some issues with hoarding food (all the kids have) but is learning that food will ALWAYS be there and he doesn't have to worry. He loves to eat Mangos. I was on a walk the other day with the kids trying to show them their school (I ended up getting us lost and walking through a bad compound while there was a soccer game wich meant lots of drunk people yelling at the white girl and all these kids!) and he came up next to me and reached to hold my hand. It is those sweet moments that remind you why we are doing this!
Alliness is she cutest most shy kiddo in the house. When she answers a question she hides her mouth with her hands but you always see the smile creep out on the sides. She is constantly tired at the fast paced life in our home and loves the afternoon rest time. Poor kid she is just trying to keep up!
Today we celebrated Christmas and had a great time. We spent the morning opening a few small presents. They kids had never received presents on Christmas day or seen wrapping paper. Each child received a new backpack for school. The boys got new watches and some soccer shin guards and socks. They also got PEZ candies. The girls received a hair kit with a fancy brush and also some nail-polish kits. We have learned a few things this past week and quickly picked up the nail-polish and explained the girls can come to the house moms when they want to paint their nails! They also got some skittles.
Dorothy and Alliness
Armond, Brian, and Peter
After gift opening we worked with the kids to make peanut butter cookies. They decorated bags for the cookies to go in. We wanted the kids to understand the importance of giving back and we thought it would be a good idea to jump in the cars and go around the city handing out the cookies.
This bag in particular was one of our favorites:
After our little excursion the kids played in the yard for a bit and Andrew got to try out the new goalie gloves I got the boys:
Hint: Anything soccer related is a big hit!
So that was our day!
We thank EVERYONE that purchased backpacks for us to give the kids today. We thank all of our sponsors for the home who make this possible. We might sound tired and we are, but to see these kids laughing, learning, and changing makes this job very rewarding!
Have a Merry Christmas!