I wish there were a time when I could write a blog that starts with ‘Wow, life has been so calm lately…’ But I suppose if my life were calm and tranquil, it would run the risk of getting boring. Today was eventful. My sweet little Eitel came looking for me before preschool class to give me an invitation to his birthday party. He is one of the babies of the program, about to turn 4. Sometimes he still cries when he can’t see his mom nearby, but slowly, he is becoming OK with just knowing I am there and sitting in my lap to sing songs and do the program. Anyways, Allison came with him to pass out the invitations. Eitel handed it to me and I accepted it and said thanks. Then he took it back and said “es mio!” I guess that’s why Allison went with him, to convince him that he was actually supposed to give the invitations to people after he tried to take them back. The party is this Sunday which is the same day as Bingo in Larry’s Village. I love Bingo and it’s going to be especially hard for me to decide between the two. I am hoping to fit them both in.
While I was cleaning the classroom before preschool class today, Jafeth came up to me to ask where Andrew was. I wasn’t really sure and asked what he needed. While he is telling me what’s happening, he’s holding a huge knife in his hand. Never having heard the words he was using, I kind of thought he was saying we were about to go cut cake and have some special dessert. He proceeds to tell me that they need to search everyone on campus because it appears that someone stole a cell phone. You say frisk, I say cut cake… same difference. In any event, now the huge knife in his hand seemed quite extreme to me and as we walked outside together, I asked what in the world he needed that for. At that time, Maga and Yajaira overheard me ask him that. I’ll admit, this could be a prime example of how my Spanish and the confused look on my face made things way funnier than they’d normally be. Everyone burst out laughing. Fortunately for everyone involved, the knife was for cutting down the basketball net to replace it… and the cell phone was found just after the gate was closed but before we got everyone in line to be searched. It’s always interesting here!
At the end of the day, Andrew and I wanted Stephanie to clearly explain to our new sponsor child that he’s ours now. A few days ago, we made the decision to sponsor Hierguth and wanted to make sure he knew it. We called him into the office and I think he initially thought he was in trouble. But Stephanie explained that there are kids here who have sponsors and now he is one of them. The moment she told him Andrew and I were his sponsors, his little face lit up. She went on to explain that if he ever needed anything for school or otherwise, he just needed to come talk to us. Also, when he writes letters to his sponsors from now on with everyone else, he will know they are coming to us. When we were about to leave, Andrew said “make sure he knows that we chose him.” Man, I should have brought my camera for such a thing. Stephanie told him that we chose to sponsor him specifically and he got an even bigger smile than before. It was truly priceless. As we walked out of the office, Andrew gave him a hug and then Hierguth came over to give me a hug. And in typical Hierguth fashion, he lifts his hands to accentuate his question and asks “vamos a jugar?” as if to say “are we going to go play or what?”
We have been especially blessed in the last few weeks to have a few volunteers who speak a significant amount of Spanish. I appreciate anyone who is going to come and love the children each day alongside us, but I have to be practical in saying it is an enormous bonus to have them be able to work through the programs and effectively communicate with the kids. I’ve enjoyed having a volunteer last week and one this week to help in preschool. When it’s just me and fifteen little ones, I don’t get to give them very much individual attention and help the ones that really need it. But the last two weeks have been good in that sense. We’re also doing a bit of restructuring to try and ease the rush hour of kids coming to do programs and homework all at once. That feels like an impossible task. Ideally, we’d have half a dozen staff and volunteers to devote to the first classroom of elementary aged kids between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. We currently have 2, maybe 3 on a good day with volunteers. I think the summer will bring more volunteers, which is wonderful. Summer will also bring more teams through here, which makes for a crazy but wonderful time.
I’ve had a new wave of assistance come my way recently. I’m apparently now the go to person for all 8-12 year old girls who want to be helpers in some way. I practically need an agenda to keep up with who I have scheduled and when. As you know, when kids start getting involved in “helping,” that can go two different directions. It could end up being way more hassle than it’s worth to let them do a task and potentially have to redo it yourself later. Or they could end up legitimately helping you with whatever you’re doing. Either way, it’s good to encourage their desire to serve others.
I think the mission has acquired a cat recently. I figure it’s worth throwing in the blog. Everyone says they have no idea whose it is. Someone is clearly lying as I have said countless times that the cat would not continue coming here if it weren’t being fed. For now, it’s our own little mystery here at the mission. As to why that creature decides to tempt fate and enter the gates with dozens of kids each day is beyond me. I’m convinced it is scared of absolutely nothing since we have construction going on with all kinds of loud noises, and kids like Yohan picking it up and carrying around.
And lastly, I’ll leave you with an entertaining English lesson with Oscar. For youth recreation tonight, I was in the office working on some of the accounting. Andrew was in the main room with them of course, but I kept the blinds open of the big office window to keep an eye on them anyways. It always helps if they know there are multiple eyes watching them so they don’t start climbing the rafters, after all, we’re talking twenty to thirty teenagers between 12 and 18 years old and mostly boys. So Oscar comes into the office to chat with me. I asked him how his English presentation on McDonald’s went that day, the one we had been practicing for over the weekend. He said it went really well and his teacher was impressed. That is a miracle because while we were practicing for it, I legitimately thought we were running the risk of him failing. It was awful when he ran through it the first time. But we “enhanced” it for him, what with our extensive knowledge of McDonald’s and all. Anywho, Andrew walked in the office and farted in typical Andrew fashion. It was the most awful smell. Andrew left the room to leave Oscar and I in his stench. Then Oscar asked me how to say “Que cochino!” in English. I told him it was “how nasty!” He then runs out the door and says “Andrew! You are most, very, or more nasty! You are the best nasty!” He definitely got the point across with such a variety of adverbs!