Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Party for the Kids

Yesterday we had a Christmas party for the sponsored kids. We wanted it to be special for them. We planned lots of games with prizes, we had treats to share and then, Christmas stockings for each child.  I  could not describe their responses any better than by sharing these photos. A picture truly does say a thousand words.

For our first game (suggested by Debi Cowan) we had them roll one die; if they rolled a 4, they got to don the elf hat, scarf and huge gloves and then try to open the extremely well wrapped gift. Meanwhile, the others kept rolling the die.

      Carlos has successfully completed his wardrobe and Victor is passing the gift to him.

But then, Julissa rolled a 4. She reached out, grabbed that scarf and nearly snatched his head right off his shoulders! We were rolling on the floor laughing!!

                               Jessie's turn. She was so tickled that she could hardly move!!

Leidy's turn. She has such a big smile. The kids continued to roll the die, hoping to get a 4.

Nelson wearing the elf hat in his own unique way. This also caused us to laugh ourselves silly. He was very serious about ripping that gift open and on a later turn succeeded, despite the layers of wrapping paper, duct tape and thick gloves. His teeth were very useful.

We weren't sure how they would react to musical chairs. American children would have considered this too babyish, but even the soon-to-be 8th graders enjoyed the game. They are so competitive, but in a good, fun way.

Next game: place on book on your head. Now put a piece of paper on top of the book. Take a crayon and draw whatever Rachel tells you to draw: a Christmas tree, a star on the tree, 2 gifts under the tree, Santa beside the tree and you next to Santa - all without looking. This brought on lots of giggles.

Then we had everyone show their pictures. We three judges selected the best 3 and then had the kids vote for their favorite. They chose Julissa's picture. She did have an excellent Christmas tree.

                                                                   Jessie's picture.

We had them divide into two teams for a relay game. They attempted to toss their playing card into a basket set several feet away.

                                     Jessie jumped for joy when her card went in the basket!

                                                   The winning team finally got 6 cards in.

Oscar was thrilled with the dinosaur book in his stocking. He said "I love dinosaurs!" I had been a bit worried that the older kids would think these books too babyish. Not so.

         Jessie's face was radiant with joy as she examined the treasures in her stocking.

                                                 Julissa's dimples were out in force.
You may be wondering about the leis. Rachel's team had these leftover from a work event and her team mate insisted that she bring them along. The kids liked them, so thanks, John!

Showing off their stockings and their big, big smiles!!

Christmas Is Over But The Giving Is Not

Even though Christmas has come and gone, the need for food has not. Fortunately, Nidia had put aside   about 100 bags of food for some very needy families who live in the huge colonia near our church. 
 Nidia put out the call for volunteers to help distribute the food bags to two small sections of this colonia.  Don and I were eager to help. A lot of people from our church live in this colonia.

We only took 3 vehicles and 6 people this time, but we still created quite a stir as we drove up one of the dirt roads. People began pouring out of their houses and down the road.

This was the first time for a food distribution in this area, so Nidia is explaining where the food came from, how they were chosen to be recipients and what will happen.

I had the awesome job of being the cookie lady, so I made many small friends today. This pretty little girl took a special liking to me and kept coming back to give me another hug. All because of a few cookies. We had run out of toys and candy bags, which made us sad. We so wished we had had another box of toys to give these kids.

                                                         Lots of babies today.

                                                         Another of my new friends.

                                                        Aren't they just the cutest!!

We always run out of food bags before we run out of people needing them. It is heartbreaking to see their faces when we tell them "no mas". Nidia did add their names to her list so next time we come, they'll be sure to get a bag.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Because We Care food drive for Roatan

Another amazing experience, helping with the island food drive this year. We helped bag food Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Friday we began the island-wide food and toy distribution.  It was so much fun having Rachel with us this year and having her be a part of this ministry.  She enjoyed meeting all our friends and working along side them and then meeting all the families that we were privileged to bless with food and gifts. The children really touched her heart.

The Friday distribution gang. We loaded about 10 vehicles with food, toys, candy and workers.

   First stop was Mud Hole. These ladies were lined up, waiting to receive their food bags.

Greg hugs a little boy at one of our stops. Greg is the premier hugger of our group. He said he is so blessed by all the hugs he gives out. I know he blessed many people - young and old!

One of the starkest stops we made. These men all live near the dump and spend their lives in the dump sorting through garbage to retrieve plastic and aluminum to recycle. That is how they earn a living. When we pulled up here, they came running from the dump. They were very polite and so appreciative.

            This little guy was so happy to see Santa. This photo just makes me smile. So sweet. Most of the kids were quick to hug us and thank us.

A toy in one hand and a bag of treats in the other. 

Happy children. They get so excited when they see Santa pull up in his pickup truck. Santa was such a trooper, wearing the full Santa outfit all day. It was a bit cooler, thanks to some cloud cover, but still probably around 80 degrees. He would crank up the air-conditioning in the truck in between stops, trying to get cool.

Shy little boys showing off their new trucks. They were much happier than they appear. Honest!

                                        The little girls loved these princess castles.

A very serious baby girl and her grandmother.

I loved this group of Seniors at the Church of God in Flowers Bay. They were so colorful!

  Santa had lots of good helpers...and he needed them with all those kids waiting for toys!!

      Santa's helpers laughing while Santa has a photo-op with one of the sweet little kids.

This was such an enjoyable day, bringing some Christmas cheer to needy families and a lot of joy to the children. We feel every bit as blessed as they do by this outreach effort. A humbling and gratifying experience for sure. So happy to have been able to share this with Rachel.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sunday with Rachel

 We are so happy to have Rachel here this week. The kids have been so excited to meet her, and Sunday morning they finally got to do so. It was a time of much hugging and lots of big smiles.  Karla (above with Rachel and I) is just the best hugger, and the happier she is, the tighter she hugs. We both got bone-crushing squeezes from her.

 Rachel is Karla's sponsor for school and helps us sponsor Julissa (on the right above).  Look at those beautiful smiles!! They are so grateful for her help.

Everyone at church was delighted to either see Rachel again (it's been a couple of years since her last visit) or to meet her for the first time. It made no difference which it was; she got hugged and kissed by everyone!! And all the woman (and some of the boys) told me how beautiful Rachel was.

After church (and a bit of extra visiting), we picked up Debi, stopped by the house to change clothes and grab our snorkel gear, and headed to West Bay. After a delightful lunch at Mangiamo's deli, we visited with Santa before venturing down on the beach. It was a lovely, sunny day.

Debi and Rachel getting ready to don their snorkel masks. The water was surprisingly murky. Must have been a storm out to sea. Rachel enjoyed seeing all her favorite fish again.

Afterwards, we wandered down the beach to Bananarama for the Band Fest...another fund raiser for Because We Care. That's the wonderful group we worked with last year, distributing food baskets and toys to the poorest families. They'll be starting this year's Christmas gifting at the end of this week while Rachel is still here, and we'll be helping.

                           Don going out to join Debi and Rachel for a swim and snorkel.

            Debi took this shot of the three of us as we were leaving shortly before sunset.

         We got home in time to watch this beautiful sunset. A lovely ending to a lovely day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Just for Julissa

Yesterday was make-up day for Julissa. We all felt so sorry that she had missed out on the girls' day last week, so this day was just for her.

Don had been tutoring Nick up at church (and another missionary child who needed to be certain that she was correctly understanding algebra - she was) and he didn't return until almost 11. Long tutoring sessions - 8 a.m. - 11 a.m. - and Nick enjoys all of it. Or maybe he just enjoys Don. Anyway, I missed Ladies' Bible class. I arrived just in time to pick up Julissa and bring her home with me.

I was a bit uncertain what to do with her because we would only have a couple of hours before we needed to be back at church for the English tutoring. Also, her conversational English (and my Spanish) are limited, so without the other girls to help interpret, I was concerned that any talking would be stilted at best. I had prayed about this, wanting to make the short time special, and it was.

I had bought two decks of Uno cards the other day while shopping with Susan. These are for the classroom. I got a deck out, opened it up and proceeded to teach Julissa how to play. It helped that the instructions were in Spanish as well as English. She caught on very quickly. Don joined the game and she loved picking on him, giving him all the "draw 2" and "draw 4" cards. He would groan and she would giggle. So cute. She was very good, winning game after game.  She just really enjoys Don's attention. She lives with her dad, step-mom and 3 step-siblings, but I don't think she gets much attention from her dad.

I left them playing and slipped inside to prepare lunch. I made Ensalada Grande con Pollo - a big salad with chicken, chock full of all kinds of vegetables as well as the chicken. She ate every bite and was too full for her ice cream! She doesn't care for onions, mushrooms or broccoli, but ate everything else. Fresh vegetables are a luxury item at her house. So is chicken.

We played a few more games after lunch, then she and I returned to church. The other kids were already there with Susan, some working on Rosetta Stone, others playing Battleship. Julissa brought in the cards and Hilda's eyes lit up. "Oh! Can we play?" she asked. She said they had that game at her house. So Julissa, Hilda and her little sister Hacey, drug chairs over to a table and began playing.  I taught the game to Jessie, Carlos, Karla and Leidy. Leidy is kind of shy at times and reluctant to try new things. She didn't think she wanted to play, but once she began, she loved it. She didn't exactly understand that she wasn't supposed to hang onto those wild cards and would giggle when she got caught with lots of points at the end of the game. Oh well. She had fun and that's the main thing.
As the kids rotated on the computers, finishing their turns at Rosetta Stone, they would come to the table and learn the game. So much fun! Little Oscar was also a whiz at the game, and he and I battled it out! No one wanted to quit when Susan said it was time to go home. I promised them that we would play again Thursday.

So blessed to have these kids in my life.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

First Week of December

 We had the girls come over again this week. Don was tutoring Nick at church and finished just in time to give the girls a ride to our house. Only two girls were Julissa. Don waited awhile and then drove up into the colonia as far as we ever drive (terrible rutted dirt roads), but no Julissa. She doesn't have a phone and lives very high up in the colonia so he couldn't just run up to check on her. Leidy and Karla said she was not in kids' church the night before. That was a bit worrisome. There was nothing to do but just go without her.

The girls wanted to watch another movie - The Little Mermaid this time. They certainly love sitting in our recliners while watching the movie. Afterwards we had lunch which they always enjoy. When they had finished eating, they took their plates and glasses to the sink and Karla immediately began washing the dishes. Leidy grabbed the dish towel and began drying. Karla said "I love washing dishes at your house!" Oh my. She loves our kitchen...we have a sink and running water, even HOT water!!
If you look closely, you can see the plaque that Karla made and painted for us, hanging above the kitchen window. She was very proud that we hung it up there.

Karla played a video game on Don's laptop that he said reminded him of the old Space Invaders game that we had on our first Atari. Karla played it several times. I asked Leidy if she wanted to play and she shook her head "no." She seemed a bit subdued. When I asked about it, she said she was just tired.

Since Julissa didn't come, I had extra food left, so I packed up the leftovers for the girls to take home. Leidy always likes to take a little something home to her mom. So sweet.

Friday afternoon Bob and Debi came over to play a spirited game of 500. We had to pause to take some sunset photos. I love how this palm tree frames the sunset. The palms along our deck are getting very tall and may have to be thinned out or we risk losing our fabulous view. After awhile we got hungry, so we moved our card game to the Pizza Inn and played while we waited on our pizza and then played some more when we had finished eating. A fun way to end the week!

Yesterday morning I spotted these sailboats enjoying an early morning outing. It was a lovely day but got pretty warm. A perfect day for Christmas shopping! Susan picked me up and we drove up to French Harbor to do some shopping for Julissa's family. A couple in Canada gave Susan money to buy some food and gifts for Julissa's family for Christmas. They had read one of Susan's postings about how poor Julissa's family is and how they struggle, and this couple felt moved to help make their Christmas a little brighter. We had such a good time picking out gifts for each of the kids. We also bought (with our money) some extra gifts for the other sponsored kids. They'll be so surprised!!!

Today, at church, I saw Julissa and learned that she did not know that she was invited to our house last Thursday. I felt so bad for her (but not half as bad as she was feeling!) and apologized for not telling her myself. I had instead asked the girls to relay the message to her and when they didn't see her, it didn't happen. So I told her we would make it up by having a special day for just her. So this Tuesday, after the Ladies Bible class, I'll bring her home with me. Not sure what we will do yet, but it will be fun!

Leidy surprised me this morning with a lovely bracelet she made for me! She's learned to macrame, worked 3 little pearls into the design, and did quite a nice job. I was just very touched by her thoughtfulness.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Back Out

The week started out good, helping Susan and the kids with English lessons, and making preparations for another girls' lunch and game day. Then my back went out.

There's just nothing like having your back lock up (while reaching for a towel!), not being able to straighten up or move without severe pain to make you appreciate painfree mobility. And I had just finished my aerobic walking video before the shower. We take so much for granted, don't we...until a disruption like this stops us cold. Then we're suddenly reminded of how much we appreciate all those little movements we can normally do.

So, my week did not go as planned. I had to cancel the girls' day, to their great disappointment. We'll try again this week, if all goes well. I was very thankful for Suyapa who came and cleaned the house thoroughly and for Don who grocery shopped, did laundry and dishes and even bravely tried to do a correction technique on my back.

Suyapa told me that Karla thinks of me as a second mom! She said "Karla has a lot of love for you in her heart." So sweet!! Love that girl - all three of those girls!

On the plus side, I had more time to read and do some genealogy. Our daughter is coming in two weeks, and she and I have been planning a surprise Christmas party and gifts for the eleven sponsored kids. That will be so much fun! She'll be bringing a suitcase full of goodies with her! Can't wait.

I was able to get out and go to church today. Can't say I enjoyed the car ride or the hard seat at church, but it was nice to be there. Today is a sunny day, a good beach day, but I had to pass on that. The road to West Bay is very rough now due to all the rain; I'd never tolerate it. Hopefully, my back will be completely healed in another day or two, and life will be back to normal.