Sometimes there is so much to say that I have no idea where to begin. I have a journal next to my bed that I had planned to write in every day. I was going to use it to help process all my thoughts and emotions and record this time. We have been here less than a week and I mostly just scrawl a page right before I fall asleep. The next morning I can’t even make out some words. Which is fine. Turns out I’m mostly writing about what we ate.
We all are thinking a lot about food. Joey, Guy and Elena could probably write a whole blog post on their thoughts about it but I’ll save that for later. Our days are finally getting into a pattern and I think we’re all appreciating feeling a routine. Every morning we wake just before or about 6am and eat breakfast together. At 7 Joe leaves for the workshop and I go to the Little Girls house. The Little Girls house has little girls ages 5-10. My kids play with three matchbox cars on the cement while I help get breakfast ready. I’ll let you know what it is, but I don’t know what it’s called. Rice? No. Corn? No. Some sort of grain and some hot milk in a bowl. Then thirty girls come out of the rooms and line up and my kids come over and we all sit down and eat. Meals are mostly in silence. Which I thought sounded mean, now I realize it’s brilliant. There is so much chatter during the day, silent meals gives everyone a chance to have a bit of quiet time. Then we line up and go to the park.
The park is a big yard with a playground, a cement area with overhang for shade, and some benches. The Orphanage with 550 children, splits up by age group and gender. This is the long break for their students, so school is not in session for three months. Each house (babies, toddlers, Power Tots-boys, Little Girls, Medium Girls, Big Girls, Little Boys, Medium Boys, Big Boys) has a staff member (full time, long term volunteer) that is oversees it. However, staff members have numerous responsibilities so the day to day running of the houses is left up to the older orphans. So, in the Little Girl house there are 6 Big Girls (16 years old-18 years old) who are in charge of the little girls. Each house has their own sleeping/eating quarters and ‘park’ that they are assigned at different times of the day. Anyway, we go to the park. The children are assigned here from 8am-12. I’m in charge of organizing ‘activities’ for them. Surprise! So far, my ‘activities’ have included coloring, playing tag, trying to get them to put Elena down and braiding hair. I’m looking forward being more on top of my game these upcoming weeks.
At 11.30, I walk back to the Little Girls house and my kids play with the matchbox cars and I help serve up the lunch. I’d let you know what it is, but I don’t know what it’s called. It varies on the day. Sometimes it’s leftover breakfast with broth and vegetables. Sometimes it’s spaghetti with broth and olives. Normally something with beans. The kids line up and then we sit down and all eat. Everyone eats everything every meal. It’s good food and bellies are hungry. From 1-3 I bring my kids back to our apartment where Ellie crashes into a nap from exhaustion and Joey and Guy homeschool. At 3 Joe comes back from the workshop and takes the kiddos, and I go by myself up to the Little Girls house. All the little girls squeeze into one shower at the same time (THRITY girls!!) It’s a big shower. Then I’m in charge of lining them up and brushing out each head of hair for lice. I have my comb and no one has towels and I comb and check and take out lice and kiss their cute little wet faces. Then everyone gets on a nightgown and we do a bible story and songs. Then we line up for dinner. It’something in a bowl. It’s only about 3.30 or 4 so Joe brings the kids back and we all eat with the children and then eat something at our house later about 6. After dinner I hang out with the girls (big and little) and braid hair and learn Spanish and am back at my apartment at 5! Except for the past few days we have stayed much longer just to play soccer and learn names. It gets dark at 6 and the night guards come at this time, so everyone should be in their spaces shortly thereafter.
30 Little Girls. 6 Big Girls. I’ve got about 15 names down pat. My goal is to know them all very soon.
So that’s the schedule Mon- Sat! On Sun we have off and we attend the Orphanage’s Church and then have family day. This past Sunday Family Day included three hours with Jésus. We took him out to eat and to a playground. See, I meant to write about that. Also I meant to write about my feelings. I wanted to write about how wonderful it was to see Jésus, and also about these very special little girls. I wanted to process how challenging it is to try to be with both my children and many other children…There is so much to say and I mostly gave you the schedule and told you about food.
I’m headed to bed and if I was journaling my writing would start to fade out. So here are some pictures. I know- only two. Because our internet is way sketchier than we had originally anticipated. We can only be on for about seven minutes at a time. But here they are! Captions? Joy.