Friday, May 20, 2011

A special birthday

He came to live here at the orphanage in April 2008 after a pastor in his village became aware of his situation. His mother had passed away the previous year, and his aging grandma was attempting to care for him and his younger sister. Grandma, however, was unable to deal with an angry, confused boy and his baby sister. The pastor's first encounter with this boy was during church services: the boy would run through the church aisles, kicking the parishioners in the shins during worship. The pastor had heard of this orphanage, and recommended to the grandmother that both children come to us. When it was time to pick them up, it was difficult, because the boy had climbed a tree and would not come down.

At the orphanage, he would run away from his new mama. He would pick fights, and when disciplined, he would kick, scream, and bite. Often, he would do the exact opposite of what was asked of him. He threw things and broke items. He was a handful, for sure. But it soon became apparent that he craved consistency. He needed order, firmness, and love. He needed to know that the boundaries were the same everyday, and that he was not in control. He needed to learn that he was a little boy who could depend on the adults in his life. He was also extremely bright, and he needed to be challenged intellectually, also.

This wild little boy just turned seven years old. For those of us who have watched this angry fella' get to this point in his life, it is a wonder and a joy! Putting the alphabet and phonics together into learning to read was a turning point for him. He reveled in sounding out words for himself, and enjoyed the challenge of mastering sentences. This all made sense to him, and opened up a much bigger world. He is now a happy little boy.

He has come into his own. He is one of the best readers in his class. Often during reading time during school, he has two books open: the one the class is following and the book he has checked out from the library. The reader that the class is reading is not challenging enough for him, so he has another book he is reading simultaneously, careful not to lose his place in the school reader. After class, he tutors a newer classmate, and he reads to his brothers at home.
He is taking piano lessons, too, and is one of the better piano players. He practices diligently everyday. He also loves to play soccer and he is good! He is incredibly fast and makes a great goalie. He hates for a ball to get past him! We keep this guy busy and engaged, as that is when he is happiest. From kicking worshippers to kicking field goals, he has made good progress!
He is a smart boy who has been chosen by God for great things. His constant frown of past years has been replaced by a smile of contentment and confidence. We praise God for bringing him to this place.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Restoration of Hope


Hard to describe this place...a swamp, a landfill, low cost housing. This is where our hunt for two children led us. We had heard about a boy and his little sister whose parents were killed in February. The parents were doing business in the Ivory Coast, and got caught in a village that experienced fighting between the rebels and the army. War is usually hardest on the young and the old, and here, too, both were affected. An aged grandma now had total responsibility for her two young grandchildren. She could not afford to care for them. This was the swamp where Grandma lived. The pictures say it all. There is no money for clothing, food, and school. There is a whole community out here, living in tin and thatch shacks on stilts. Amazing!




So we met the children: a boy five years old and a girl, three years old. They were sweet kids; polite and thin and hungry. Taking them for medical exams, we fed them. Bananas, eggs, and crackers disappeared quickly. Neither child had ever been to school, and the prospects of them attending school while living with Grandma were slim to none.
They came to the orphanage the week before Easter. The boy knew immediately that this place was better than the swamp. His sister was not so sure. But when she was bathed and dressed in a pretty dress and she received shoes and new underwear, things began looking better! She played with brightly colored blocks her first afternoon while her brother joined an impromptu soccer game. That first night, she snuggled in her clean bed with her own new baby doll. Yes, this might be O.K. after all!

Now, a week later, the boy is attending school. He is learning the alphabet and how to print letters. He is learning the words to songs and finger plays. His sister is learning that there will be food again in a few hours, so she does not need to scarf everything on her plate in two minutes flat! They both have energy to run, a sparkle in their eyes, and a joy in their faces that was missing that first time we met them.

These children now have hope for a future.

We think it is fitting that they arrived Easter week, as that is the time we celebrate the restoration of hope that has been made available to us also. We have been reminded that we were picked up out of our personal "swamp" of hopelessness and separation from the Father, and brought to a safe place of joy and security with a restored eternal relationship. Easter is officially over for another year, but we do wish you the peace and hope that Easter symbolizes every day.

Blessings to you all!
Dave & Babs