Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Hi Family and Friends,

Weeks are flying by here and it feels as though time is going by so fast, although every day is basically the same in routine. We wake up and try to be eating breakfast by 6:40. We cook in a communal kitchen in the building that we are staying in. It’s called El Hotel and is made up of three bedrooms connected by an outdoor porch and then a kitchen. Whoever is passing through (normally short term visitors) are placed in the hotel with us, so we have met a wonderful variety people.

I homeschool Joey, Guy and Elena from 7-9am and Joe goes to work. At 9ish the kids and I head out to the toddler house which is about ½ mile or so away. We are assigned this house this year, it has about 30 or so tots and 10 or so moms plus 8 teenage helpers.

When we get there we first go into this large caged area called the Chosa.  It is a large room with a bathroom that is built off the ground and caged in. We sit there with thirty or so toddlers and I promise someone is crying all. The. Time. Joey and Guy give piggy back rides and Elena plays with blocks and I normally have one kiddo on my lap and one on my neck and one on my back and one trying to take off my watch and one looking for lice in my hair and one taking off my shoes and one crying on my leg. Welcome to the toddler house. All kiddos are between the ages of 2 and 4 and they are exactly like every other 2 or 4 year old that I have ever met. Except that they have needs that are BIG and a limited number of big people to help meet their needs. So they are even stronger and louder and more aggressive and simultaneously very selfish, yet very protective of their friends. They are sweet and kind. They are manipulative and then honest and cry and laugh. It’s all I can do to keep some steady emotions for myself while we help change their diapers, pull them off of each other, rock them when they cry and chase them down when they are throwing toys.

Part of toddler playground. Chosa in the background

Inside the Chosa

Although we are surprised to be in this house this year (last year we were with the little girls) it turns out that this is a wonderful place for us to be. This house is full of energy and Joey and Guy are old enough that they can actually help! And so they do. They hold hands and engage the kids and race around playgrounds and generally have a fun time. And when a kid throws a block at their head they are big enough to go over and tell them to STOP with a menacing look and the young tots actually listen. So that’s good. Elena is old enough this year to make some friends with other four year olds. She has her own spirited streak and that has served her quite well as she is quick to run and take back a toy and join in a game and voice her own needs.

After being in this large caged area for about an hour and when every toddler has hit each other at least once, we either go on a long walk to the farm or out on the toddler playground. Opening the door is like releasing bumblebees. The swarm dissipates into the play area and I am reminded everyday why children NEED the great outdoors.

At about 11:30ish we walk about ½ mile to the comedor and here the toddlers (and Joey Guy and Elena) join 400 other children for lunch. I spend this time picking the slowest eaters of the day and helping them finish the food in their bowls. This is a time consuming task and one of my most precious in the day. I convince many to open their mouths and eat just one more bite (or twelve more bites). They sometimes refuse. Or crawl under the table. Or open up their mouth that is already filled and won’t swallow. Sometimes they just want to take their time and look around. Some are sleepy. I refocus and refill and remind them to chew and swallow and I pray that each one will be filled in their spirit too. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. I pray they will know Jesus as one who satisfies. But then, someone throws up, and Jesus cares about this too. We know this because we know he cares for the whole being of all these little beings. All these little lives that shuffle back out of the comedor at 11:50 and head down for a nap.

From 12-2:00 I have Joey, Guy, Elena and Jesá˝»s. We spend this time together as a family and finish up any leftover school projects or play on the playground or clean our house and the kitchen. This time in the heat of the day for us has been a nice break for us. At 2:00 ish we head back down the toddler house where they are just waking up and we play and wrestle and monitor and listen and learn.
3:30 is back up to the comedor for dinner. And we repeat all that was just done. (Story of parenthood.) We then go back to the house for showertime/bedtime. Joe takes our kids back home and I had on down to the toddlers.

Here I am assigned to the big boys room of four year old boys and I shower and brush the teeth of Noe, Yefry, Christian and Jesus. Sometimes Jefferson and Jose are there too, but they both have moms at the orphanage and so they arrive later in the evening. This is my favorite time and the sweetest time.  Four boys in the shower is quite the sight and there is lots of screaming and laughing and wrestling of course. We wrangle them into towels and then I wrap them up like babies and swing them around the room. Even the toughest love this game and they close their eyes and beg for more. "Soy bebe!" they yell and laugh. Then I kiss each sweet little wet face and help with jammies.
Jesus, Noe and Christian

Sometimes we read, sometimes we color, sometimes we just sit and I talk with Anna, a young woman who grew up here who now is in charge of this room. Or Suyappa, who is the mother of Christian. We laugh at my Spanish and I lay down on the floor while the boys jump and climb on me. I am mostly out of energy at this point. But of course, the boys have endless and I praise God that they are healthy and strong and well. When my back starts to hurt or 5:00 , whichever comes first, I kiss each on the head and then walk the way back to my family.


I love this walk. It is dusty and finally a bit cooler and the mountains are gorgeous and it is quiet. Elena greets me running where Joey and Guy and herself are normally playing outside in the ant covered ‘grass’. I shower kiddos and Joe makes dinner and we eat and play uno and then collapse them into bed around 7. Joey sometimes reads but Guy and Elena are asleep the second their head hits the pillow. Joe studies Spanish for a bit and I lay around thinking about studying Spanish… but most nights don’t.  We read and talk then set the alarms and listen to the wild dogs and noises of town before we go to sleep.

And that is how our days go! 

Much love to you and we hope you are staying warm and having fun in all that SNOW!


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hola amigos and familia!

Estamos en Honduras! We have been here at Orphanage Emmanuel for about two weeks now and finally have a somewhat stable internet connection, as long as we use it before six a.m. We are so very happy to say that our travel went well and that we are all healthy and settling in to our new routines. Yes, we are all in one room. It is… cozy. We are learning a lot about personal space. Joey announced the other day that his ears needed a break. Yes Joey, I know.

But we are quite thankful for our beds and blankets and hot and clean water. My favorite item that we brought was an electric kettle. And at night I don’t even have to walk to the kitchen, but instead just heat up water for some tea and it feels luxurious. Electricity! We are thankful for electricity. Except on Thursday because the government shuts it off Thursday evenings. But I guess it makes us that much more thankful on Fridays.

I am officially at work in the toddler house and am learning how to navigate the very confusing waters. The house has about 30 some tots, but also 16 teenage moms who are living here with their children. It has been quite the process trying to figure out who is related to whom and who is responsible for which child and when I should (or should not!) help redirect children. There are many familiar faces in this house and so I smile a lot and spend a lot of time spoon feeding little ones and saying phrases “abre su boca” to instruct a little one to open their mouth. (for food, or for a toothbrush or to fish out a toy or stick or bead or whatever else they happen to have in there). Luckily, the toddler years are not that far behind me and I am learning that toddlers have a basic universal rule of insane cuteness mixed with mischievousness.  However, I remind myself during bath time or bedtime or mealtime, that these young ones have suffered deep aches, and immense loss. And the anger and intensity of emotions reveal their raw hearts, which have aged too fast. 

I have been so proud of Joey Guy and Elena. 15 days ago they were in the states celebrating Christmas and today they are sitting in a comedor with 500 other children, all talking in Spanish, and having to eat whatever is in their bowl. They are learning a lot too and fall SOUND asleep every day by 7:30 or 8, but are ready to go by 6:30am. I can see Joey’s brain processing on a deeper level than last year and already we have had lots of conversations about the moms that are here, the moms that aren’t here, the town we drove through. He doesn’t ask why questions, but just observes more. Right now this is fine with me. Because it is what it is, and honestly I don’t have many good answers for why.

We are loving the weather and loving the people and are very thankful to be here.

Thank you for your emails! I love having a few to read sometimes at 4am! 

And thank you for your prayers.  It is 6:05 here and I can hear all the children waking up. There is shouting and yelling in Spanish, laughing too and sounds of splashing water and many chickens. It is time for the day!

Much love,