Sunday, May 23, 2010

Getting ready for Children's Day

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"Mana Laura!" he whispered on the way to church this morning.  "Yes, honey?"  I replied to my little newly seven year old sweet pea.  "Is it Um de Junho yet???" he whispered again.  "No, honey, another week."  "Okay!" he practically shouted and skipped off to church! 

Um de Junho is the First of June and it is Children's Day!  We celebrate it here much like Christmas day, a new outfit in the morning, a gift bag full of pressies and a big chicken meal for lunch.  The kids love it and start asking about it at least a month ahead of time. 

The photo above I took today while I was arranging the new outfits for Room two, the biggest boys.  The other two rooms will have the exact matching outfit (which are in the bags on the floor) but for Room Two, I had accumulated several mis-matched new shirts that I want to use.  So their shirts won't match but their cord trousers will. 

At the time I stopped to take this photo, I also paused to thank God for his amazing provision for me and for my boys.  His heart is SO big and he has shared that heart with the amazing people who help make it possible for my boys to be so blessed.   Thank you!

Stay tuned for a report on the actual day when you'll see little people wearing those cute clothes!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Newbies!

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Four precious little pumpkins have joined us this week - whew!  Wait just a second while I go try and take a nap to regain my strength . . .

Ok, I'm back!

The poor little things look a little shell-shocked don't they?  They came from another children's center that is over crowded and they are all said to be six although they don't look it and none of them have been to school.  We have no official documents so it's hard to say for sure.

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After an initial honeymoon period of, oh, about 28 minutes, we've discovered that these four might be a handful!  I don't think the other center has quite as much structure as we do.  Perhaps at that center, they allow the boys to throw their new sandals down the latrine???  But we don't so we'll have to work on that!  Or perhaps at that other center, they are allowed to ask for a toy and when they don't get it, cross their arms across their chest, declare "I am mad at you" and turn their whole little 2 1/2 feet of themselves around so their back is to you in a huff?

But they are sweet and love hugs and kisses like the rest of my boys.  And we will endeavor to find out as much as we possibly can about them and perhaps even one day be able to find family to reunite them with.  

In the meantime, we will love them like our own and thank God for the joy of serving "the least of these." 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Day at the Movies - I mean, A Day IN the Movies!

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It all started with some simple photos! Well, about 80 simple photos, of our kids ages 7-14, by my new buddy Dino, above. That's Dionisio he's taking a photo of, who, incidentally was one of the first chosen. Can you blame them, with that smile?

But I'm a bit ahead of myself. There is a film being shot here in Maputo, our capital city, and they need a ton of kids to be in it because it's called "Children's Republic." That's the working title anyway. And besides eighty or so of our little darlings, guess who else is going to be in it??? DANNY GLOVER

Yes, I said, DANNY GLOVER - this man right here:

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That's Danny Glover folks, kicking it on the streets of Maputo watching our kids do their scene:

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Over and over and over. Watching them do their scene over and over and over I mean. Have you ever heard an actor say acting isn't exciting, it can be quite boring and lots of sitting around? Well, believe them when they say it!

I found the whole process completely fascinating and quite boring, both at the same time. It is amazing how many times they will shoot the same ten seconds of scene. It was a lot of fun though and basically our kids got to play all day. Oh, and eat a yummy lunch.

Here's some of our stars in the making:

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Pedrito and Moises thought they were supposed to FIGHT over the tricycle for their part in the movie, that took a lot of sorting out. In fact, I still don't think they're clear on it. But they are cute, huh?

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Silly boys, trying to be entertained during long breaks!

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Rui the traffic cop! He had a big role directing all those bicycles and fish sellers walk around!

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Hey, how'd that white lady get in there? I just wanted a shot with the real action going on behind me! They were filming right that minute!

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The yummy lunch we had with chicken, chips, rice and salad, yum! And the man eating lunch with us . . .

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That's right folks, Danny Glover, just in case you forgot! So, keep your eye out for The Children's Republic!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Have I told you about Ralph?

 Birthdays 031-1 Well, if you're thinking Ralph is a strange name for a Mozambican boy, you'd be right.  But he's not a boy, he's a tortoise!!!

And I am inordinately fond of him.  It's ridiculous really, how fond I am of Ralph. 

When I walk in his garden, my delighted shout of "Ralphie!!!"  can be heard across the center.

Ralph lives in the house "across the street" which is really just across the sand.  Many residents of that house have came and went but Ralph remains constant.  In fact, for a time, during the missionary business meeting, we referred to it as "Ralph's House" since no one could keep track of who was living there when.

But occasionally I am blessed to be able to housesit there and that's when me and Ralph get to hang out.  I absolutely love it when he comes toddling in the door and up the middle of the living room floor.

Now I know that after the following confession, you will have proof that I am nuts!  But I'll tell you anyway.  One time, I brought Ralph up onto my lap to try and snuggle!!!  Have you ever tried to snuggle with a 25 pound tortoise?  Whose arms and legs are just flailing away but gripping nothing but air?  Oh, let me tell you, it's hilarious!  As is my ridiculousness!

So even though I didn't get a good snuggle, I got a good laugh and a great memory!

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Ralphie!!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Superman!

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Also known as . . . Feliciano!  He is such a good sport, up for anything!  So when we were given this costume in donations, I knew the perfect boy to model it for us.

He loved it!  And the whole dorm thought it was hilarious too!

It's so easy here to have a good time with the boys and bring some fun and pleasure into their lives.  I love that.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tia Laura has a heart of gold

January 2009 009I have the privilege of working with some amazing women here in my dorm.  They are the Mozambican ladies, whom we call Tias (see explanation below) whose job it is to look after our little lovelies.

While it's true that sometimes they can be a source of frustration to me (see this post), they can also be amazing!

 

 

 

May 2009 010 Tia Laura is one of my favorites.  She is so special to me.  This woman has been thru an amazing amount of difficulties in her life yet remains constant in her faith and joy.  Once, when I was going home to the States, she gave me a gift of a capulana (a traditional piece of cloth woman use for skirts and other uses, one sign of womens wealth) to give to my mom.  I was so touched! 

Tia Laura has a lot of wisdom, love and compassion for our boys.  She loves them like her own.  One boy in particular she takes home with her during holidays and breaks.  He has no known family so she has become his mom.  Sadly, on one visit, he stole her son's cell phone (which they quickly recovered).  I thought that would be the end of the visits home with her.  But she said, "No, Mana Laura, he is my son.  I don't just get rid of him when he does something wrong.  I teach him and love him and pray for him."  I loved her even more!

September 2009 118Recently, this Tia has had more than her share of trials.  In addition to frequent, severe asthma attacks and challenges at home, she has suffered a horrific tragedy in her family.  Her cousin was married with three children and his wife was expecting their fourth.  A neighbor suspected the wife of stealing her cell phone.  She accused the wife but the wife denied it.  So the neighbor went to the local witch doctor who consulted the spirits, who told her that indeed, this pregnant woman, wife of my Tia's cousin, had stolen the phone.  So the neighbor, in retribution for a cell phone, chained the door to their reed house in the middle of the night and set it on fire.  The husband, wife, unborn baby and three children were all burned to death in their home.  They were spirits all right - evil spirits. 

I don't know how Tia Laura has coped with that as gracefully as she has.

But the story I wanted to share about her today is a lovely story!

While precious Naftal was in the hospital, he shared a room with two other young patients.  One was little guy, only about two years old.  The father was with him because the mother had gotten malaria and had to return home which was quite far away and travel back and forth was expensive.  They had no family or friends here in Maputo since they weren't from here.

Upon the babies release, a few weeks after Naftal's death, the father had no means to pay for getting back home, which would cost about $10.  He remembered Tia Laura and her kindness while in the hospital.  Out of desperation, he called her and asked for her help.  To make a long story short, she took him and the baby into her home that night, then gave him the money to make it back home.  When they arrived, the mother called Tia Laura and thru her tears, thanked her over and over again for her kindness to her family.

Last week, the baby had a checkup so they had to come all the way back to Maputo.  The mother insisted on coming with the father, even though this meant more money, because she wanted to meet Tia Laura in person to thank her.  So once again, she brought them into her home to spend the night, brought the mother and baby into her bed with her while the father slept on the floor with her son.  At first, the mother refused saying the baby will "make xi-xi" (which means pee) in the bed.  Tia Laura simply replied, "then we will wash the sheets in the morning."

Are you struck by what I am struck by?  This woman has a house with one small room for cooking and sitting and at night her son uses it to sleep on the floor.  She has one more small room with one bed where she sleeps.  Yet she offers hospitality to virtual strangers, not only to share her humble home but even her bed. 

Now I realize that might freak some Western readers out, it is a different culture where sharing a bed wouldn't be as uncommon as it would be for Americans.  But even in this culture, it is extraordinary.

And I, who have everything and more than I could ever want or need, am often so stingy and think "hey, I'm not rich, I don't have the money to help that person."  How much more than a one-room cement block house, a bed and a mat do we need in order to help someone??]

I am humbled by this woman, my friend, Tia Laura.  I am her namesake, her shara,  although it certainly wasn't planned.  And although she's only a few years older than me, I want to be like her when I grow up!

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Most of you may know that "Tia" means "Auntie" in Spanish and Portuguese as well.  It's also a term of politeness, or that's not exactly it, but respect for both strangers and people we know.  So, if we are driving and stop to ask for directions, we usually start our question with "Tia, onde esta . . .?"  (I'll just mention here that "Tio" means "Uncle" as well!) 

Our Mozambican staff who work with the kids in the dorms are usually referred to as Tia or Tio.  They are also referred to as Mana or Mano, another terms of respect.  I am called by Mana Laura. 

So in my posts, you often hear me saying, "my Tia did this" or something like that.  I'm not actually talking about MY aunt (whom I call Auntie by the way) but about the ladies who work with me in the dorm.

Whew, that felt like a BIG explanation for a LITTLE idea!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Soup Weather has arrived - almost!

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I enjoy soup all year round and my boys? Well, let's face it - they love eating anything all year round!

May 2010 048So this week, for the Afternoon Program, we made soup! Bless Rebecca, she took that on on her own Tuesday as I had a visit to make in the community. But Wednesday and Thursday I was able to be there too.

In theory, I use one week a month of the Afternoon program for us to make something to eat but I seem to be a bit off on my structures lately. So we haven't made anything for quite awhile.

May 2010 052So they were excited to pitch in and help cook! They are very proud of their culinary skills!

Even though they're a little nervous about the flame! That's healthy.

I just like watching how excited they get over even something as small pouring a cup of water in the pot! And then how much they love to eat it! Are they not the cutest little bunch of peanuts you've ever seen???

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Birthday Boys!

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Who doesn't love a party??? My boys sure do! Normally, we celebrate once a month but either, A. there weren't enough in a particular month to make a party very fun or, B. I wasn't organized enough to make it happen or, C. both!

Whatever the reason, on Friday, seven of my little darlings were beside themselves with excitement as they went to school, knowing that when they came home afterward, we were going to "festajar!" Our birthday parties are always lunchtime affairs with spaghetti, salad, soda and cake! (Well, it was really a muffin but shhh, they don't now that! They've never heard of a muffin!).May 2010 066

What was the part of the party the kids like the best you ask? The food, the games, the presents? Well, they like it all but I think this time, the hit of the party was . . . a Whoopie Cushion!!! A good old fashioned whoopie cushion! My word, they laughed so hard when I sat down on that cushion! They couldn't get enough of it - until it broke! Bummer! After about 30 minutes of fart noises and squeals of laughter, one of the boys inflated it too much and it popped when he sat on it. Well, it was cheap and light. May 2010 099

I never ceased to be amazed at how little it takes to make these boys happy. A packet of biscuits, a toy car, a balloon even and they are so happy! I can learn so much from them about contentment in the small things!

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Happy birthday Feliciano, Lito, Elidio, Sam, Antonion, Pedrito and Rafael!

I pray that as you grow another year, you grow in the knowledge and joy of the Lord's love for you and plans for your life!!!

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

What a wonderful promise for these precious boys!