I was just looking back through old posts and I can’t believe the last time I wrote a blog was in March. I plan to write more, but Ashley is such a good writer and she enjoys doing the blogs, so I just let her do it. However, there’s been several occurrences with Hierguth recently that I wanted to write down, so I’m writing a blog solely dedicated to him. I have written about Hierguth previously, but for those who don’t know, he is a feisty 7 year old who we have become extremely close to. Several months ago, we noticed that Hierguth was in the book of children that needed a sponsor. It was a no-brainer… we decided to sponsor him. Hierguth is old enough to understand what that means, so since the day that we told him we were his sponsors our relationship has been a little different.
For starters, he always knew that Ashley was my wife, but never really talked to her other than to ask where I was. Now, he will run and give her a hug and enjoys spending time with her. Before we sponsored him, he would yell my name whenever he happened to see me, run towards me and jump on me. Then he would get down and lead me somewhere to play. Now, he searches for me, yells my name and runs to jump on me, but he doesn’t let go. He hugs me, calls me “lindo” which is like calling me nice, and just wants me to carry him around. He knows without a shadow of a doubt that he is my sponsor child and that he is loved by me. I can also use that against him when he is being bad. If he is doing something he shouldn’t, or angry with me because I made him do something he didn’t want to do, I just tell him “Hierguth, I’m your sponsor.” I don’t say anything but that… no “I’m your sponsor so you have to listen to me” or “I’m your sponsor, so don’t disrespect me.” He just understands that I say that to mean “I love you.” His attitude will instantly change when I say that, and will sheepishly come to me and want me to pick him up.
Something interesting happened about 3 weeks ago when the Chapin team was here. I want to preface this story by telling another story (yea I know I get off on tangents, get used to it). Hierguth has recently been coming up to Jafeth and myself, usually with one of his friends, complaining about a headache, stomach ache, or both. It’s usually a little odd because we always see him playing normally right before he does that. We assume most times that he is faking it because he wants attention, as well as a little jello snack that we usually give kids who need a band-aid or tylenol. We have told him before, “Ok, if you feel that bad you need to go home” and he just smiles and says he feels better, and then runs off. I told Jafeth it reminds me of the little boy who cried wolf, and one day he was really going to be sick and we weren’t going to believe him. Now back to 3 weeks ago. Hierguth came in the morning complaining about a bad sore throat. I thought at first he was faking, but after watching him mope around even when he didn’t think we were watching him, as well as crying with one of our teachers after telling her his throat hurt really bad, I believed that he was actually sick. Jafeth gave him some children’s tylenol, and about an hour passed. The Chapin team had brought all the kids inside to do a skit for them and then feed them lunch, and I saw Hierguth sitting by himself on the floor. I went to go sit next to him, and he sat in my lap. He told me he didn’t feel good, and I asked if he felt nauseous. He said no, that his throat hurt. The team did the skit, and then as one of the men and Maiko were talking to the kids about the moral of the story, Hierguth started to get up out of my lap. For a split-second I wondered why he was getting up, and was about to tell him to sit back down, when I saw a puddle of liquid in front of him. I then realized what happened and thought “Holy crap he just threw up.” Most of you probably don’t know this, but vomit is one of my biggest fears and things that gross me out. I absolutely hate getting sick and will do anything I can to prevent it or prolong it, and I get physically afraid (like fast heartbeat and an adrenaline rush) if I think someone is about to get sick. I’ve been known to run out of a room if someone looks like they’re about to throw up. I did run out the room this time, but carrying Hierguth with me, albeit at full arms length. I put him down outside on the edge of the sidewalk where he could finish his business in the bushes. I sat there with my hand on his back as he heaved several more times. I was shocked how much liquid that boy could hold in his stomach. Once Jafeth realized what was happening, he ran outside and sat with Hierguth as I went back inside to clean up the vomit. I didn’t really notice until later and the situation had a chance to sink it, but the whole vomit thing didn’t bother me one bit as it was happening. I always used to ask my mom “How did you handle all the poop and throw up when Liz and I were young kids?” She just responded, “When it’s your kid, you love them so much that you just do what you have to do and that stuff doesn’t bother you.” I’m beginning to understand that now, and I feel like I’m one step closer to being ready for fatherhood.
I’m going to leave you with this story that happened about a week and a half ago. The Friday before last, we were having our midyear celebration and awards party for the education program. Only the kids up to about 12 years old could come, and they had to be invited to be able to attend. We had a morning and afternoon party, with crafts, bounce houses, face-painting, balloon animals, and finished it off with the awards and lunch. Hierguth came to the afternoon party, and spent most of his time playing in the bounce house and with his balloon animal. When it came time for the awards, he sat in my lap on the floor as we listened to Jenny start to announce the winners. Both parties had three awards each, two for the older children and only one for the younger kids who are just learning to read and write. As Jenny began to talk about the younger kids award, she said “This child comes a lot to do program” and Hierguth blurts out “I come a lot!” and everyone laughs. Then as she continues to describe the winner with things like “has been doing a great job reading, and has improved a lot on writing letters”, he turns to me and whispers “Soy yo” (It’s me) with a smile on his face. I thought “Oh no, he thinks it’s him now and when she calls someone else’s name he’s going to be so disappointed.” But wouldn’t you know it, she finally calls the name and it’s Hierguth. Everyone claps and whistles as he gets up to claim his prize, undoubtedly no one louder than me. Then he came back to sit down with his prize bag in his hand, which consisted of a bag of marbles (which most of the kids, including him, are crazy for right now) and a slingshot. Maybe not the best combination of gifts, but he was so excited. One of the other winners of that afternoon party was a girl named Brittany, who was sitting in Jafeth’s lap during the ceremony. He has grown attached to her and always plays with her, so he came up to me after the party and said “I’m so happy” in a fake-crying voice. I laughed and then told him “Yea, and Hierguth won too. You know he’s my sponsor child, right?” Jafeth then sincerely responds “Wow, you must be so proud.” He hit the nail on the head there. In fact, I was so proud that I snuck another present in his bag later so that no one would see it. He had seen an Optimus Prime toy that was in a pile of things for Christmas, and I had told him he couldn’t have it. Well obviously I’m a bit of a pushover. I guess we know who Ashley and my future kids are going to come to when they really want something. Hierguth had so much stuff with him that I offered to walk him to his house to help him carry everything. He was really excited, and we hurried off to his house down in the Bajo. He ran inside and then yelled for his mom to come and see who was in their house. I greeted her as well as someone who I assumed was his grandmother. Hierguth told his mom he won the award and showed her his prizes, then ran to the front porch with a friend to play with the marbles. I got a chance to talk with his mom, which was actually only the third time I had seen her, and she told me how well he was doing in 1st grade. I then told her he was a really good boy. I hope she realizes how true that is and is proud of him. I’m not going to pretend that I know the intricacies of their relationship and I don’t know what happens behind closed doors, but in the little that I’ve seen her interact with him, it just seems like she’s a little disinterested. It’s hard to blame her when she’s a young mother with 3 children living in poverty with a mess of problems; she has enough to worry about in regards to herself without having to deal with another human life. It just scares me to think that Ashley and I are leaving in 5 months and we have to leave Hierguth behind. Sure, we’ll be back to visit and will send him letters, but we won’t be here like his mom will be as he’s growing up in this awful environment to encourage him and show him love. I hope and pray that she treats him how he deserves to be treated. Whatever the case may be, he’ll always know how proud he makes us and how much we love him.