A few weeks ago I got a call from Africa and I heard that the boys in the Arise Home were being difficult. We discussed discipline options and how to handle the situation. After some time of talking to our staff in Africa we had a plan. I was surprised to find out that our oldest boy, Peter was one of the big issues. Peter is the sweetest and most obedient kid we have most of the time! He also is our oldest in the home and a great leader for the other kids. When he is good. When he is bad he has 7 other children right behind him wanting to do and act like he did which causes the Arise home to go into meltdown. You gotta keep the natives in order and it starts with Peter and Hope, the oldest.
I told our staff to send me a text when they got finished talking to the boys and I wanted to speak to Peter myself. It is great to be able to talk to both Peter and Hope on the phone. They understand English well and are really fun to chat with and hear about school and everything else going on. And to occasionally discipline, when the need arises. For some reason getting a call from America kinda makes them scared. :)
A few hours later I got a text saying that I could call Peter. I called Lucy who was on duty at the time and asked her to put Peter on her phone. This was right after the boys had just received a pretty stern lecture by our staff. I heard Lucy walk through the home and find Peter and tell him Auntie Alissa was on the phone and wanted to talk to him. And I heard Peter say "Oh no." It made me laugh really hard. Peter NEVER gets in trouble so this was new ground for the guy!
Peter got on the phone and I was pretty nice but went through the rules of the home and how much we love him but need him to do his part. He was very quiet but continued to say ok and that he understood. We talked about school and the privileges he has and how much we want to help him and the other kids. We talked about fun things we could do in June when I came over if he behaved well. Peter said he really wanted to have a water balloon fight and I promised him to bring some water balloons over if I got a good report from the house moms.
I went on for a while lecturing Peter and talking really fast and telling him how much I believed in him but needed him to behave. At the end of our conversation I asked him to give the phone back to Lucy. I could tell he kept wanting to say something
and he finally asked, "Auntie Alissa can I tell you one thing before I give the phone to Auntie Lucy?"
"Sure Peter you can say anything." I replied
"Auntie Alissa I am sorry and I WILL be better and I thank you for all you have given me." - said Peter
And with that I started crying on the phone which really scared Peter! I was so overwhelmed to hear him apologize, it was a glimmer of hope for all the effort our staff has put into these kids and helping them learn to be good people. I explained to him that was all I needed to hear and that we of course forgave him. We went on to talk for a long time about apologizing and I told him I had to apologize to friends, and family and others all the time for things I messed up on and that was OK. (I am sure if my family is reading this they would say I never apologize:) We talked about how Biblically we are called to apologize and that it makes your relationships stronger when you can admit you messed up and then you get to move on.
And with that we ended our conversation.
As hard as we have been working in the Arise Home those moments make it worth it. We need those times that you see the kids understanding how to love and be loved and how to respect others. It is affirming and shows you how loving kids and giving them a home to live in with the basic needs of life truly does change them and their hearts. God has blessed Arise Africa with GREAT staff and house moms and a home that is beyond nice and accommodating for these kids. We are making a difference in their lives, one small step at a time.
Not only have I packed water balloons for my trip in a few weeks but also have purchased two water balloon launchers that look like this one down below. Peter is going get his water balloon fight!