Wow, it’s late. In fact, it’s so late that it’s early (1:30 a.m. at home)! So, tonight’s blog is going to be another combined effort. I (Rachael) will start with our morning, and then Nate will take over and describe our afternoon.
After yesterday’s craziness, we needed today to be a bit more low-key. Thankfully, we were able to spend the morning recuperating and relaxing. We went straight to the babies’ home where the big kids were up for whatever we could dish out. We brought along a bunch of pictures from previous trips and the art supplies necessary for making foam picture frames. As we were getting ready for this trip, I kept trying to envision how this activity would go. Would it engage the kids? Would I bring enough supplies? Would the project be too easy? Too difficult? Would there be such a mess that the nannies would wish we’d never come back?
Thankfully, the kids were engaged enough that we were able to let them do their thing without much intervention or input from us. The niños spent two and a half hours sprawled out on the “grass” cutting foam, squeezing glitter glue, arranging stickers, drawing pictures, and pasting on ribbons and string. Two and a half hours! My attention span isn’t that long! Once they finished making picture frames for each of their photos, they moved on to making Spiderman masks, rocket ships and abstract art.
Really, what could be better than sitting up against the wall and watching as a half dozen sweet children set to work making art and being creative?
I am thankful for our relaxing morning, because it helped us be more prepared physically, mentally, and emotionally for our more rambunctious afternoon at Eliza Martinez.
Eliza Martinez by Nate
As we were getting ready to head to Eliza Martinez, we got word that there were actually 73 boys at EM. This meant we needed to get 3 more watches to take care of all the boys. But it turns out that we couldn’t find any place nearby that would sell us watches for less than $15 a piece. Our translator convinced us that some of the special needs boys would be just as happy with some nice bracelets.
Once again, William, our wonderful driver, joined us inside the orphanage. He and his cousin (who is driving for us tomorrow) came inside and helped with name tags and corralling the rambunctious kiddos. We arrived at a great time since the “normal” kids needed to eat lunch and we wanted to split up the “special” ones and take care of them first. The staff helped provide structure and keep the kids quiet while we gave them name tags and art supplies. As soon as we got the paper in the boys’ hands, the rain clouds rolled over the top of the mountain and we scurried inside as the first big drops began to pelt the last kids.
I have to say I was surprised again at how grateful the kids were to receive the watches! The Buckner interns went to San Gabriel today and told us that the kids were all wearing them, showing them off, and telling them about their gifts. When we announced to the special boys at Eliza Martinez that they were all getting watches because a boy in a wheelchair named Jorge had mentioned them, a seemingly scripted cheer erupted! I felt relieved of my normal gift-giving-insecurity when I realized that these dollar store watches meant more to the boys than the monetary value attached to them.
A couple individual highlights from our trip:
– Rafael, the Longyear’s amigo, wanted to thank them personally and gave them one of his drawings from his personal art notebook. His face lit up when we first saw him. He took the initiative to come to me and start up a conversation. For the rest of the boys, this wouldn’t have been notable, but because Rafael was previously only a bystander when we would visit, this is a major indicator to me that hard-hearted boys can be won over with love and consistency!
– Alexis, a seemingly possessed special needs child, had a few minutes where his eyes rolled back into his head and he became rather belligerent. But after being guided to his chair and sitting a bit, I was able to connect with him through making faces that he would imitate. Then it turned into tapping rhythms on the table and eventually 4 other boys joined us. Alexis seemed genuinely touched by this experience. I pray that his hangups would be ironed out by God in a way that honors the way God created him.
– A boy named Jeferson was so excited about his letter from our friends JT and Suzy Spears that he wanted to read it to all of his friends.
– A lot of the boys remembered us. They don’t know our names, but when they see us, their faces light up in recognition. They ask us if we remember them. They long to be recognized, known, and remembered. It’s exciting to be able to tell them that not only do we remember them, but also we have friends at home with their pictures on their refrigerators who pray for them by name and think of them often.
– We told Jonathan that Rachael’s parents had specifically picked out that watch for him and saw his face light up!
– A director at the home said he would send us his script for a play that the boys could perform. Last time we visited he was just starting it, but now it is almost complete!
– At our translator’s suggestion we gave the extra watches to the male helpers at the home and they all looked genuinely appreciative. Maybe no one has ever given them a gift from another country in their lifetime?
We had a fantastic day and everything went rather smoothly, all things considered!
To finish out the day, we were invited to go along with the interns as they celebrated one of their member’s birthdays. We ate at a restaurant that surprised the birthday boy with a shark hat and a song and then went bowling. What a night!
It’s past our bedtime and we need to get some sleep in order to be ready for our day with the Ramseiers and our trip to the zoo.