Well it's been a week here so far and I feel better than I did the other day. I think as time goes on the more I will feel a deeper relationship with the kids. So much has happened that it really feels like we have been living here for quite some time now. I really think I do owe you all a synopsis of the people here though.. this might take awhile so here goes nothing:
First there is little Jeffrie. He is between the ages of 2 and 4. He was left at the orphanage step and is a bundle of really everything. Jeff can be sweet and sour, shy and obnoxious. His favorite phrase is "scuse me" followed by whatever he wants you to hear. "Scuse me I go poop. Scuse me I go outside. Scuse me I eat eggs." He's got this gut-renching squeal that you can hear down at the dock (maybe a 10 minute walk from the house), but he's learning very quickly that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
Next comes little Shenice. She's 7 soon to be 8 next month. Shenice is a really sweet child who for the most part obeys, but I really feel she grows the most from individual attention. She freaks over unicorns and bedtime stories, but don't let that fool you. This little one can roll with the boys. She's extremely competitive and not easily pushed down. She's got the tough shell of the coconuts she devours but is really sweet and lovable on the inside. If I could adopt any of the children I think Shenice would be in the top two. I crawled up in her bunk and read her 3 bedtime stories tonight. I can't wait to do it more often. I loved when my dad would read with me and I feel I'm giving back in a way. (DD I can't remember the "Now I lay me down to sleep.." prayer exactly. I tried to tell it to her but I got jambled and gave up.) She had a horrendous fit the other day though after she returned home from a sleepover at some lady from the church's house. She told me she doesn't want to live here anymore which is one of the reasons I really feel she needs that one-on-one relationship.
After Shenice is Ale. Ale isn't actually one of the kids at the orphanage, but his father, Beto, is the grounds keeper so he is with us basically all the time. Game time, beach time, birthday's and stuff.. Ale is there. He is 8 and is soooo darn sweet. I love Ale's whole family in general but out of Beto's 6 or 7 kids, Ale is definitely my favorite. He's just a really loving goofy kid. Kind of quiet.. but he instantly glows when you toss him a smile or a silly face. I really feel that just because Ale's family does so much manual labor doesn't mean we should treat them any different from any of the other people here. We went to the beach the other day and we have to cross a busy street to get there. We make all of the kids wait for us to cross there and back. When we were leaving, Ale was way behind us.. and they said is was ok not to wait for him to cross... but I wanted to wait. He needs supervision just like any of the other kids. He is just a tad bit older than Shenice and equally as old as Gabriel and is no different. I went to a Spanish speaking church last night with Ale and his family. Out of all of them combined.. Ale and his older brothers Orlean, Isaiah, and Hidalgo probably speak the most spanish. Luden, their older sister speaks a little but not much. Anyways, Ale looked up at Luden while waiting for the bus to church and said "my sister" and then under his breath said something in Spanish. Luden looked over at me and said "You too." He is just that sweet.
Next comes the birthday boy, Gabriel. He turned 8 today. Gabe is the ruffian of the group. He is always getting into some sort of mischief. Gabriel and Jeffrie are really the only true orphans. Gabriel was found last summer in a sort of child jail after caught stealing and never picked up by his parents. He is our little street kid. When Gabriel was found he spoke only Spanish and would stay awake at night, possibly in fear of spending so many nights of being out on the streets. It's a miracle how far the boy has come though. He really is sweet, but like I said, that ruffian never really shook out of his system. Gabriel is a very touchy feely boy and we feel he suffered a lot of abuse from Brad, the previous director that was forced to leave the orphanage for allegations of money laundering and harassment. He loves mango's and simply just hanging out and being a kid.
After Gabe is Kerry. Kerry is 8 as well. He is one of the children we home school. There are 3 total excluding Jeffrie. Kerry is pretty willing to excel in school and catches on quickly but has a huge lack of attention. He, like Gabriel, is also very touchy feely. Kerry has a kind heart and for the most part is willing to do what he's told, but sometimes gets egged on by the other boys to sway the wrong way. I'm hoping we can keep a tighter grip on him than they can. I'm learning so much about discipline through these children and trying to use one child's dynamic to influence another. Kerry seems to care what people think about him. He seems like a people pleaser in that some days he will slightly side with Gabriel to feel acceptance by the other boys. But other days he will side with us because a big part of him still clings to that goodness installed in every human. I do feel if we are not careful though we could lose that kind heart to the sinful nature.
Nolan is next in line. He is Shenice's older brother, but at 9 years old, Nolan is struggling to overcome severe learning disabilities and fight to read and write. With him, his attitude changes more like hourly vs. daily. We all feel Nolan has dyslexia and possibly some autism. He is another of the home schooled children and gets extremely frustrated when he can't figure things out in school and takes it out on the volunteers. His catch phrase is "You gettin me mad" when asked a question he can't figure out in class. I really think when he says it, though, subconsciously he's talking to himself. I really feel for him and of all of the home schooled children think that he should be in a real school the most. (The grammar is probably wrong in this sentence, I don't feel like fixing it.) Nolan also has a one track mind. If he's focused on something and you ask him to do something else.. he mentally blocks out his surroundings and will only reply with a "Yea yea sure." I think this also plays a big part in his problem with school. He focus's so much on the fact that he thinks he cannot understand the problem that he forgets the problem in it's entirety and becomes angry with himself. I really feel for him so much. From what I hear, his mother is the same way. I want so much to be able to help him understand and sort stuff out.. but I don't think I have that capacity to sit with him one on one and piece together the puzzle in the way he needs it done. He needs a special qualified teacher that can diagnose and work with him. Going back to Nolan kind of switching from hour to hour is catching glimpses of his super sweet side. Today at Sunday school Nolan said probably the sweetest prayer a 9 year old can say. It went along the lines of thanking God for us and asking God to help him in school and understand and with his homework. He prayed that God help him not get in trouble as much as he does and that he really wants to be a good kid. We all feel Nolan can be a rags to riches story. He told us he wants to be a preacher.
After Nolan comes Sarah. She is Kerry's big sister and just turned 12 last week. She is our 3rd home schooled kid. Sarah is at that tender age where just like her brother she seems to care what people think about her. She will side with us at times, but I'm told, will sometimes become "buddy buddy" with the older girl Gardenia (15), and complete ignore and be bratty to EVERYONE. Sarah too has a kind heart and told us that she would like to be a missionary someday. She's got a funny way about her in that she's into telling made up stories in attempts to chit chat and form some what of a bond. But I'm told Sarah also tries to make a them vs. us side with the volunteers, although her attempts are clearly revealed in that she takes sides with both teams. I've still got a lot of figuring out to with her. One thing's for sure though, we all love and try to imitate her "island talk." It's a very Jamaican-esque dialect that formulates by adding "bra" or "amen sista fren" to the ends of sentences. She also likes to play cupid. Currently she is trying to hook Lucia up with the charmer of the group, David.
David is next. Like I said, he is totally the charmer of the bunch. David is 12 and has totally captured all of our hearts. He's as sweet as can be and obeys pretty much on command. He's got his signature "money maker face," which cracks us up every time. We all think he's pretty sensitive, though, and he seems to fall for a volunteer in every group that comes. This is displayed but anonymous love letters and little funny comments here and there. The thing that worries me about him is his quest to find love could possibly be destroyed by a shattered heart. He has not really received that necessary parental love and it seems he tries so hard to grasp that feeling. He seems very fragile to us all. He is also very driven. David does well in school and tells us that he plans on becoming either a doctor or a business man in order to support his family. I have no doubt he will be anything less.
After David come the Boden family. They are really the toughest to describe in my opinion. Ricky is 13 and keeps to himself for the most part. Gardenia is 15, and out of all of the kids, she will be the hardest to get to know. She has a fierce grimace and is the stereotypical tough girl. I'm really hoping I can get through to her and her older sister Teresa through our shared love of hip hop which will hopefully blossom into a dance class I would love to teach. Teresa is extremely shy and like Ricky and Teresa she keeps to herself. She on the other hand will say hello back once greeted by any one of us. We would all love to crack the Boden sisters and get to know them, but as for now this task seems almost impossible.
All in all it seems the kids can be somewhat bitter and sweet, but we were all surprised by their lack of hesitancy to get to know and love on us. And yet if you look at each child individually, for the most part, his or her actions can be justified in relations to their past. It seems a few kids might be grateful that we're here, but most saw the previous directors as parents, no matter how harshly they treated the kids. This is simply because they were there. And that alone, has taught me a big part about human nature. It is such an important thing just to be there. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not giving all this credit to the previous directors.. anyone really could have just been there for as long as they were for the kids. But if you relate it on a God spectrum.. he is there for us all the time and I find it difficult to imagine what my life would be like if I didn't recognize that. Like a child without parents, I think I would struggle deeply with a need to fill my desires and long for love in the most outrageous ways. That void in our lives only God can fill is so great that I believe I would do almost anything and everything to attempt and complete myself. With that said, it's easier to understand why the world is so screwed up.. they go to outrageous attempts to seek and find that pure and unfaltering love that they don't even realize is surrounding every step they make. It is a said picture, but I long for the days where every person can rejoice and proclaim the love they have found within our omnipresent king.
I think that's enough for now.. there is really so much I would love to share in detail about the week.. but my writing tangent has worn off. Thanks for listening.. I don't blame you if you gave up and stopped reading after the 3rd or 4th kid.