Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Terrific Tuesday and Wonderful Wednesday

We have enjoyed two very busy, very productive days here in Colima, Mexico.  It's hard to believe we only have one full work day remaining!  Half of me wants to go home and sleep after all of this hard work, and the other half doesn't ever want to leave these kids.  We truly have had an amazing trip.

Here's a quick survey of our activities over the past couple of days:

We prepped and painted all of the beds in both rooms of the Seniorita house (the home for the older teenage girls).

We discovered that even after Octavio's awesome cleaning of the battery terminals with limes and baking soda (what a great trip!) our van battery was definitely definitely dead.  Hooray for wonderful sponsors that helped us buy a new battery for the orphanage's van!

We did lots of little plumbing jobs like fixing toilets that wouldn't flush and faucets that wouldn't run (or wouldn't stop running).

And don't forget activity time!  We led songs, games, sports, and crafts with gusto and lots of energy (from us and from the kids!).

I think it's easy to wonder why we bother with craft and sports time since those times are unlikely to make a lasting impression on the kids.  The reason is this - in a group home, even a great group home like Grupo Amor, no kid ever gets enough attention.

A child-to-adult ratio of 10:1 or 15:1 means that an adult seldom has time to sit down with a kid and help them with a craft or complement them on their chalk drawing.  And for this week, we have the chance to extend a little more of Christ's unique and individual love to these kiddos and also let them do some activities that they generally wouldn't have the opportunity to enjoy.

Additionally, if we are taking care of the kids for an hour or two, that's an hour or two when constantly busy caregivers can take a well-deserved break.  We often see the caregivers sitting on benches just watching the kids as we entertain them for a few precious hours.  These caregivers clearly have great love for the kids and it's an honor to serve them just a little by making their day a little bit easier.

So, it's our hope and prayer that in our short stay we can bless the kids and the caregivers of Hogar de Amor by taking care of their physical environment (plumbing, painting, sewing, cleaning) and also bless the kids and caregivers by lavishing extra time and TLC on some really precious kids.

The hat craft was a giant hit, and we were pleased to see lots of kids wearing their hats around all day and even the next day.  They were so proud of their creations!

Another highlight was giving out over 60 stuffed animals donated by a very generous family.  It was a blast seeing the kids cuddle, feed, play with, and show off their new treasures.

In Casa Leonel (the sibling home), Perler Beads have taken over as the latest sensation.  Even the adults got in on the action!  In fact, we didn't bring them on Wednesday because we thought we'd try a different activity and although they enjoyed the new games, several of the kids asked where the beads were!  We'll have to bring them again Thursday for sure.

We are proud to report that after 2 1/2 days of solid work, new curtains are up in both rooms of Casa Leonel.  The curtains look great and several of the kids thanked us and gave us big hugs for the new curtains.  It felt pretty dang good.

We had so many kind donations for the trip, including tons of toothpaste and toothbrushes.  The kids were thrilled - you've never seen a kid get so excited about a new toothbrush before!

The soccer jerseys, balls, and socks were also a huge hit, but the biggest bang in the sportswear department were the sweatbands - the kids were so excited about them!  It was hilarious and so sweet.

Everybody at Hogar de Amor has cleaning chores every day, and we are very glad to be able to pitch in and lighten the load.

Many hands make for light work!

We discovered several games that are hits with the kids.  Bingo is fun for everybody and helps us learn our Spanish numbers while the kids practice their English ones.  Using candy for board markers definitely increases the game's popularity.

Everybody loves a good parachute game!

The facepaint mustaches were very popular, and very amusing.  Watching tens of 7-9 year-old boys walking around with curly-q mustaches is quite the sight!

We loved seeing the kids' creativity in their sock puppet creations.  2 eyes or 20, with hair or 3 mouths, it didn't matter - the kids were really proud of their sock puppets and with good reason!  You have to watch out, though, those puppets like to attack...

"Guess the animal" games went over pretty well - those kiddos could identify a plastic giraffe every time, blindfolded or not!

Here's our sidewalk chalk distribution point (it helps to have a tall, strong one - chalk is an unexpectedly hot commodity).  Like with most of our other activities, we were so impressed with the kids' creativity and pride in their work.  They loved being photographed with their artwork and always insisted on seeing the photos.  Thank goodness for digital cameras!

We have been working (really) hard, but we've also had a lot of fun here in Colima.  The food has been marvelous, and we've eaten in restaurants, on sidewalks, and even at tables set on the street.  Regardless of the location, the tacos are always delicioso.

Several of the sugar-a-holics in our group take every available opportunity to cajole their parents into buying a Coke.

Admittedly, several of us were a little nervous about the tongue tacos.  Yep, they're exactly what they sound like!  We all agreed that they were very tasty, but it was challenging to get over the mental hurdle of the meal.

Tonight after dinner we sampled some local candy.  Many were... um... unpopular...

But we all agreed that several were delicious!

It's so hard to believe that we only have one full work day remaining.  Tomorrow we plan on finishing up some shelving projects, repairing the main water tank at Casa Matriz (the biggest home here at Hogar de Amor), sewing zippers into some school uniforms for next year, and doing whatever else is helpful to the homes.  And in the evening we get to treat the whole compound to a tamale party - hooray!

Here are some prayer requests for the remainder of our time in Colima:

  • That our health and energy would hold up - we have been working really hard in some hot, hot conditions and are so grateful that our bodies are staying healthy and strong.  Please pray that this would continue!
  • That our final full day of work would be productive and a blessing to the kids and caregivers here in Hogar de Amor
  • That the tamale party would be a ton of fun for everybody and one more way for us to express our love for the amazing folks who live here
  • That God would give us each unique and personal ways to tuck the lessons we've learned here in Colima inside our hearts and that we would be forever changed because of this experience   

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