I arrived safely and am getting settled. There were only a couple of new children here since I was last here in July, so it didn't take long to learn new names and get reconnected with everyone. I spent the first couple of days getting moved in and settled, as well as reconnecting with people and showing my parents around. After my parents left to return to the States, I started to better learn my way around town, including where the kids go to school, how to get to church, where to buy groceries, and such. I even got to do some substitute teaching in some college English classes, which I greatly enjoyed (I've now subbed for 7 in the last month)! That first week, we had three new kids for only a couple of days before they went back home with family. We now have 3 new girls (unrelated) that have separately come in the last week or two.
My next two weeks here, the kids were on two weeks of spring break, so learning my "normal" role also took a bit of a break. But we enjoyed hosting some groups from Ohio and Alabama (I get to help with lots of translating when we host groups), and we got to enjoy some special days like going to swim in the river at a friend's ranch about 45 minutes from the orphanage. [Side note: The weather here has been fluctuating between 70s and 90s, with lots of humidity, some sun, some clouds, and some rain. Basically spring just a bit warmer than Ohio!] We had lots of time to play and hang out! The kids also enjoyed things like going to a pizza arcade, an Easter egg hunt (and cheating to see where they were hiding the eggs for the egg hunt!), and lots of play time.
I'm currently working on getting a library area and quiet study area set up for the kids to use. Great thanks to Loretta, who was visiting last week, for helping me clean and get much of the furniture and books moved and set up!! Nate, the other Ohio missionary serving here, and I are hopeful in the next week or so to get a positive behavior reward system put into play and that the children will respond well to good behavior earning rewards. Weekday afternoons I help kids for a couple of hours with their homework and studies, and I have my work cut out for me (covering multiple grades and all subjects, and with many kids who struggle with school!). I'm still in the process of getting my Mexican background check, drug testing, etc. approved so that I can be officially listed as an orphanage volunteer and start driving the kids in the van (so far I've only been allowed to drive the kids who are 18 and older). Right now English lessons are on hold for a bit, until we can make some more progress with some of the kids in their regular classes in Spanish. But I hope to start evening devotionals two nights a week with the kids this week (and hopefully Nate will help; he seemed excited and willing!). In this pic can you tell which windows in the library area were just cleaned and which weren't? There is dust everywhere here; you dust, and later that day it seems to be back.
Some other things I've learned and done in the last month:
-Whether you want to or not, you can go mudding in a mini-van after it rains here. The paved roads have no drainage and easily have standing water. The unpaved road to the orphanage takes days for the mud puddles/pot holes to dry out. My van somewhat regularly looks like this... And I despise having to go out when it's pouring, for fear of getting stuck in the mud.
-I'm still in a semi-rural area just outside the city... Aside from my cats (who are adjusting pretty well, aside from mainly staying in my bedroom and one still has a bald spot on his back) and the cute puppy who lives on our front patio, there are plenty of animals. Sometimes I come home to see a heard of goats grazing near the orphanage. One of our neighbors has wild turkeys, chickens, and horses. To my chagrin, I've also seen bats, small snakes, lizards, and other critters. I, thank God, have yet to see tarantulas, live scorpions (yes dead ones!), or rattle snakes, but I dread the day I do!
-I've learned that, when needed, I can get a kid to the ER to get stitches in his face, even if I don't know the kid's last name, age, if he's vaccinated, etc. because the woman who went with me left me alone in the ER with him because she can't handle the sight of blood. And the "more expensive" hospital costs about $75-$100 for a visit for 6 stitches to the nose of a six year old.
-I enjoy learning to help with wood-working (just sanding for now, not actually cutting yet).
-22 kids make a lot of laundry in just a few days!! The two washers and dryers are almost constantly at work between clothes, towels, bedding, and so forth! Sorting it afterward is also quite a little production!
Hail is quite the ordeal here! We took a homework break for the kids to run to the door to watch and stick their hands out to try and catch it!
Some Prayer Requests:
-For our leadership, who has been facing some very trying challenges lately.
-For all of the children, especially for their hearts to be changed to accept and give love, and for hitting to not be their first response to conflict.
-For me for wisdom and discernment in dealing with kids, especially in being able to best help them with their studies.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I need to save some for next time, so I'll sign off now. I'll try to report back more frequently, as I'm able to fine and get on Wi-Fi. Be blessed!