I think when you travel abroad you lose yourself and find yourself again and again. Right now I’m glad to say that I’m in “the finding” period. And more and more, I’m finding God in the home. I see him in every face, when a girl cracks my knuckles for me or braids my hair, or offers me candy or tells me to be careful on my walk home. These girls are in my blood, are a part of me. So I want to share some of them, on a more personal level with you.
Carla is around 5 years old. I know this may come as a shock…..but I’m not what you’d call overly maternal, and never pictured working with kids full time. So when I first came here, I naturally first became close with the girls in my classes. I kept a safe distance from the little ones. I was/am still working on my Spanish and these girls are still learning colors and letters and such. I have really been working on the mid to older range of girls. As the days go on here, different faces start standing out and one day Carla’s face went POP! How could I have missed this girl? I don’t know, her smile would bring you to your knees. And now our ritual is as follows: when I hear the sweet chime of “Miss Emily” my duty is to run to her as she runs to me and then I swing up and down and all around with her squealing. And every now and then, there is some homework. My favorite is when she’s memorized some little English poem for class and has to repeat it to me. I swear, if you don’t believe in God, you will after you meet this girl.
Mauda is 9. And CRAZY! Mauda goes to the school I teach at and is in 2nd grade. She causes quite a raucous when she puts her mind to it and is a natural leader. I’ve been spending more time at the home at night and have been discovering it’s a whole different game when the girls are getting ready for bed. Mauda’s new favorite game is to yell “MISS EMILY!” And then I come running to see what’s going on and then she jumps from behind a bed or cabinet or something completely naked and screams at me. I, of course, jump back in my uptight, sensitive American self, while she collapses on the floor laughing at the look on my face.
Abby is 18. Abby is…..boy, where to start. Abby pulls a lot weight in the home, which I didn’t realize about her for a long time. The girls listen to her. She doesn’t just have her own interest at heart. I see her as a bubbly happy ball of pink and blue light that will put you in your place if you step out of line. She makes sure the girls don’t play with my computer if I leave it lying around, tells them to give me my keys back, makes sure a Tia unlocks the door to let me out when I want to go and makes sure the girls are respectful. Tonight when I was at the home, she showed my grades of one of the girls who was asked to leave the Holy Family School (where I work) to go to a public school because of her behavior. Her grades were great! I took this as hint from Abby that Nicole needed some encouragement. So I went over and told her what a great job she was doing and that I was proud of her. And then I looked back at Abby, amazed at the young woman standing before me, not seeking out praise for her accomplishments, but making sure that her ward was receiving admiration.
Darmaris is 10. As in many of my relationships here, this one was a long time coming. She came to OLR when she was 8. She was rescued from the street, a daughter of two blind parents. She is small and precious and full of fire and a fierce futbol player. One time when we were about to start a new game, they chose me as a team captain to chose teams and before I could protest, the other captain picked a player. So I jumped in and just started shouting names. And then there were two girls left. I looked into Darmaris big brown eyes….and she was scared and all of a sudden I felt this desperate need to grab her and hold her and just run away with her. But instead of doing that I just screamed her name, channeled that emotion into a desperate wail! How could I have missed her! And all the girls looked at me like I was crazy, but her face just beamed and she jumped into my arms. As so many of the girls do, she kept her distance from me. And as I’ve said, I don’t blame them for this but I feel such relief when I see her warm and determined face and that desire wells up to carry her away in my arms.
This is just a taste. I’ve got tons more where this came from. And just a gentle reminder, if you would like to contribute to my current fundraising please check out my previous blog entry for more information. I’m halfway there! Thank you so much this support! I would love to be able to leave something for the home above what I’m asking for myself, so if you feel moved please donate!
Also. You should definitely watch the video my mom made of the home while she was here.