Saturday, March 31, 2012

Broken.

I think sometimes I forget how broken this world is, how broken I am. I get going about my day, smiles here, hugs there. And I guess I just forget. Forget that even though I'm here loving and serving and we are all desperately trying to pour into these kids lives, I can't fix them. Nothing on this earth is going to fix it. We're all just broken and desperately need Jesus.

I was confronted full force by this reality last Sunday. It was the end of visiting day at the orphanage. The day where moms and dads come to visit their kids and spend a few hours together. Every child handles their parent's departure differently. Some just calmly walk away, some run smiling to catch up with friends, oddly enough, they usually don't cry. I think it's this fact that lulls me into thinking that this is somehow "ok" that somehow it isn't affecting them. Everything I know about child psychology tells me differently but sometimes, it's just too hard to remember how much pain is experienced by these kids I love so much. Well on this Sunday, I was watching the goodbye between a mom and two little girls and I was hit full force by the weight of their pain, the brokenness of the situation. I watched as they clung to her, not baring to let go. They cried and screamed as she tried to walk away. Finally some other girls distracted them and their mom took of running. With this the older of the two girls threw herself on the concrete in front of the dining hall and just sobbed. Big screaming, heaving cries for her mommy.

Like I said, I had been watching this all go down. So I walked over, scooped her up and carried her in for dinner. But I had no words. All I could think was, this is so messed up. What was I supposed to even say to calm her down? Nothing seemed enough. So we just sat there until she calmed down enough to eat some dinner and then I left. For me, it was a full force reminder of just how broken and messed up this whole thing is.

   “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Going to School!!

I posted awhile ago on facebook about a very sweet eight year old's first day of school... but I thought I'd share a little bit more of the story.

He arrived at the children's home in late October with hopes that it would be just a short two month stay... but the circumstances have changed and well... it looks like he'll be with us for quite a while longer.

We don't have any of his official paperwork such as a birth certificate. As kids come and go and bounce from place to place, this is veerrry often lost in the shuffle. This was going to make it almost impossible to get him into school. Additionally, he has never been to school before, therefore this was going to make getting him into school even more difficult. And since, at first, it was only going to be a two month stay, the children's home made the decision not really push the subject. For his first three months, he just didn't go to school. And as you can guess, this really didn't sit well with the teacher in me... so Caroline and I made him homework. We got a backpack, a folder, some photo copies of the standard book they use to teach reading here and set him to work. Anytime one of the boys asked if he went to school he'd say "Yes, I go to The School of Sammy and Caroline". I worked with him one on one maybe 5 or 6 different times and then suddenly... it was January when he picked up the book "Go Dog Go" and just read it. 

We were shocked... there he sat in a chair ... reading. Nothing short of a miracle.

I was really struck with how big a miracle this was when after a few weeks of being able to read he said to me "Hey, can I do that thing that you do with the stories??" "Read???" I asked a little confused. "Yeah that thing! How do you say it? Reeead?". He didn't even know the word for to read! In spanish by the way. He didn't even know the word for what he was doing! But he was doing it!

This is just one of the many many many ways God has shown up in this little guy's life... I hope to share more of his story later because it literally brings me to tears just thinking about the way the Lord's hand has been on his life.

Anyways... back to his school story. So in January he started reading and already knew all his numbers and could do addition and subtraction... it was time to get this little guy in school.  I was so frustrated with the way he had to just sit and watch as the other kids came and went... he wanted to go to school SO badly.

But we still didn't have his papers... and then God intervened again.

The week of February 20th a new director came to the kids school. This was our chance! It was my job to get his dorm of boys up that morning. I woke him up and said put on a uniform... we're sending you to school. He immediately starting screaming and jumping up and down. I had to gently remind him that we weren't sure it was going to work... but we were alllll going to pray. So we prayed...  and do you know what the school said??? They said YES! even without papers!

And because he could already read... they put him in SECOND GRADE!

He came running home from school that day yelling "I WENT TO SCHOOL! AND I GET TO GO BACK TOMORROW!!!"

And now we do homework together everyday... and he still loves it.

God is moving and shaking in this little man's life... I can't WAIT to see what he does next. 


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The reading bug...

 Like I said in my last post, the reading bug seems to have bit some of the girls too.There is one girl in particular who has been reading pretty much non-stop since December 1st... I think she's on something like her 11th book (knowing that the average mexican reads less than 1 book a year... this is incredible). We had a little problem at first with knowing how to treat and take care of books that have been loaned to you, however now we are on a 1 for 1 exchange system and it seems to be working well. There are some days where I feel like I'm dealing books out of the back of my car. It's awesome to see the way they can't wait to get their hands on them.

 "It's the longest book I've ever read!" Daniela said through a huge smile as she made her first exchange.
"Please, please, please find more in this series!!" Bety begged when she finished.

There was is one book in particular that the girls have been begging for... and that of course is anything and everything about Justin Bieber. Well, this past weekend while on a trip to Texas, I found one. Yesterday I showed it to the girls amidst shrieks and screams of "Let me read it first!!". I ended up giving it to their caregiver to use as a prize for those who were behaving well that day. Can you believe it? A book... a prize. Never would have thought I'd be saying that about Casa Hogar Douglas, but God is good... and God is faithful... and God is moving.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Reading Party!

I am so incredibly proud of these two boys... 

I posted a while back about Miguel and the miracle that occurred when he read the first book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series in just a matter of days (click here to check out that post). Well ... within a total of about 6 weeks, both Miguel, 10 and Jonathan, 11 read the ALL 5 books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series. They did it without a bribe or even the promise of a reward. However, when they finished, we knew we had to have a party. Well about a month ago, we finally had our party.

Caroline and I picked up the boys at 3:30 and headed straight to the grocery store, we gave them each some money and let them pick out whatever pizza, snacks, popcorn and ice cream they wanted. It took us at least an hour at HEB to pick out all of our treats. We then went to Caroline's house to cook our pizzas play some game cube and finally watch the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie. Throughout the movie they told us how it was the same and how it was different than the book, which parts it left out, and which parts they liked better in the movie. It was SUCH a fun night.

At the end of the night as we took them back to the children's home I said, "Thanks for spending the night with us!" and I was blessed to hear "No thank YOU!"  in return.

The goal of the night was to make it a really really BIG deal for them, because it is a big deal! They have each read at least 5 chapter books this year... the average person in Mexico reads less that 1 book per year! They are 500% above the average! I could go into teacher mode and write a list a mile long of all the benefits of reading, but instead I'll just highlight a few statistics....

Did you know?
  • Less than 4% of the Mexican population has access to a public library.
  • Less than 8% of Mexican adults have a college degree.
  • There is a direct link between reading proficiency and crime and that, two-thirds of American students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.
  • Over 70% of inmates in America's prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.
There is such a strong and direct link between a child's reading level and where they will end up in life. One of the biggest steps up and out of poverty that we can give them, is education, but without literacy, they will fail. Reading is going to change their lives.



I am so incredibly blessed and blown away by the fact that I get to be here in the year that reading is taking over the children's home. It seems like in everything we do this year, God is pushing education and specifically reading to the forefront of everyone's minds. The older girls have even caught the reading bug... but I'll save that story for another day :)