This will be a quick update from both of us... this first one is again, from David:
Today was day Three. We left our little bungalow a bit apprehensive this morning knowing we had a challenging day ahead. We knew we would be taking the kids off the property for the first time today and this would be a bigger test than anything we've had thus far, because today we would see how they would respond to our authority when away from the orphanage. To add to the mix, each of the five kids would be allowed to bring one friend.
Not only would this be a parenting / group supervision challenge for us, but also its the the first time I had driven a larger than usual full size van full of loud kids in a country of narrow pothole ridden streets. Buckle your seat-belts race fans... Oh that's right, we don't have any!
When we arrived at the children home, the first challenge was that quite a number of other children also had their bags packed and we're literally begging us and our fab five to let them come too! But we stuck to our guns - each child could only bring one friend! There were literally a dozen kids standing around the van as we shut the door and slowly back through the small throng. Our hearts broke again as this poignant moment played itself out.
Miraculously we made it to the "water park" safely and without incident, well except having to dodge that cow was crossing the road, er the cow path, at one point. Just jumped out of nowhere! Thankfully I have a lot of experience dodging deer in upstate NY so I swerved and missed that side of beef like a pro!
When we arrived at our destination, our daughter Z (12 years old) took my arm as we walked across the parking lot and we then held hands all the way to park entrance. She never said a word.
The park was basically a large swimming pool with a little water slide that swirled out of a little 15' hill, but the kids simply loved it of course! They played till they were starving, so we ordered lunch from the pool-side restaurant. After taking almost an hour to arrive (nothing happens fast in Belize), the children dug in with a vengance. They all seemed to have the same pattern of eating... save your favorite food for last... and don't leave a crumb behind. Some of the children literally licked their plates clean... and licked the catchup cups dry too!
Believe it or not there is another five-child sibling group at this orphanage also, and three of those children were among the ten we had out today. And they are just as beautiful as our fab five. The little 7 year old boy from that sibling group spent much of the afternoon sitting on my lap and soaking up love for hours!
Our hearts just break for the roughly 35 other kids here who have no families yet. They are sincerely sad and it is hard to watch them see us interact with our five children. Many of them hang on us and ask us to take them too. It is very hard to see that.
The day turned out a success as we got to know our kids better and learn about them more as we see them interact with us out "in public." It was interesting to see the reactions of the basically white tourists at the water park and we troop in with ten black kids in tow... who by the way all called us mom and dad.
We are physically and emotionally spent! Between navigating travel, food, and basically life in a third world country while simultaneously trying to give to some of the most emotionally hungry kids we have ever encountered... well it's a drain to say the least.
Tomorrow we will spend some time in the mid morning in their kitchen so Regina can be learning to cook what they are used to eating... And then it's off to the Directors home for a later afternoon meal with her family and our kids. The point of that time will be to have some time with the kids off the property to explain to them some "reality" stuff about our family and our life in America... Like the fact that we are not wealthy as they seem to think we are, and basically to help them really understand what life is really like where they are going.
More soon. Thanks for your prayers!
Now a more emotional, maternal viewpoint:
The day went great in some way and not great in others. The youngers, S and T who have been polite but ignoring me in for the much higher favor of having a Dad, today decided they might just like me as well and I had a wonderful time mothering them, especially T the 7-1/2 y/o who looks about 5, maybe 6. He and his brother S are really tiny! Gotta admit, it’s really easy to love these boys and today T let me hold him and love up on him and he really enjoyed it. S, the 9 y/o decided he might want a piece of that action since T seemed so happy and plopped himself on my lap several times today and by the end of the day he was insisting I hold him whenever he wanted to sit...which is not very often. THIS boy is a hurricane!
R, the 11 y/o is a quiet and sweet soul who seems more like an old man in a boy’s body. While all the other children were swimming and playing he sat with us and asked the most thoughtful questions…and gosh does he have a good memory!! He is like a sponge for details; it’s really amazing! He is a year ahead of his older sister in school and he loves to learn.
Then we have the girls... B may out-do Sarah as my most strongest-willed child. She practically exudes her power in the way she takes command of any situation she is in, and how she tries to make them come out the way she wants to. If she is thwarted, she pouts and I guess that must work for her as she does it all the time hoping for a response she considers more favorable,. However, it has the opposite affect on us, so she is a bit miffed at times that we have not fallen under her spell. She would be my biggest concern if not for the fact that this child is STARVING for a Mom and a Dad and even if she has to bend her will a bit to get it (and this seems to be almost an anathema to her) but she is willing to at least consider it as a trade-off.
Then there is Z, the oldest and the matriarch of the bunch. In many ways, she IS their mother and is wise and caring beyond her years…and in many other ways she is VERY immature for her age (and size!). Weird to see a grown-looking girl squealing about Hannah Montana, right? She also is very moody and emotional, but unlike B who is in your face with her objections, you never know what it was that set her off. For the first 2 days she was like Velcro with me, happy and smiling and answering me with thoughtfulness. Today? Who knows what it was, but she was VERY distant and silent with me and every time I tried to engage her, she barely responded. Today, she was Daddy’s girl and wouldn’t give me a second look. Oye Vay!
Okay I have so much more... I fell, head-over-heels in love with one of the little girls that was brought along today. WOW she is such a beautiful inside/out little girl and I wanted to take her and her little brother home with me. Definitely gotta find a family for this treasure for some lucky family.