Joyce, the kids, & myself spent the entire day fitting, searching for, and buying uniforms, shoes, & books for all the kids. We have most of the stuff, but still have a few items to go...it is a chore when you try to do that many at one time...and it seemed like all of San Pedro Sula was doing the same thing, on the same day, at the same time!
They look cute and they're very excited to get back in school, now let's hope that translates in to good work habits.
Tomorrow was to be the last day for the last of our "tutors", Miss Anna. However, a few minutes ago she presented Joyce with a paper from some Honduran government agency that said we owed her 10,000 limpera as her 'worker's rights'! This is a young woman who was hired to work 9-4 with a one hour lunch 5 days a week. From the very beginning she and her co-worker took everything they could get away with and ended up taking 1-1/2 lunches everyday and leaving early everyday. I permitted it because I wanted this to be something and somewhere they wanted to be so the children would get their best efforts. I was extremely naive!
At Christmas time they came to me with the demand that they were entitled to two weeks vacation at the end of the year, so we gave it to them without and begrudging. But this was more than I could take...this was theft in my eyes regardless of what the government regulations said. She knew she never worked a full day, she knew she lied to get days off, she knew she lied about the work that was not getting done when I wasn't here, and now she felt "entitled" to 10,000 limps!
I paid her, but I did tell her she was setting herself up for a large disappointment...I told her she knew, we knew, and certainly God knows that she has not come close to fulfilling the job description she agreed to in the beginning and at some point she would be paying a very large penalty for taking 10,000 limps from this family for work not performed.
This is spiritual warfare at its' best...Satan using others to get inside our minds to make us focus on things that will do us no good and leave us distracted from focusing on God, his goal is to agitate us to the point that we 'choose' to dwell on negatives rather than the promises of God...and sometimes, he's very, very effective. I admit that this has gotten under my skin pretty deeply. I don't take lightly the fact that we just 'threw away' $500 (10,000 limps) and unfortunately my red neck doesn't quickly enough get over being taken to the cleaners by someone too lazy to work for their living. I should mention this couple live with his parents and he hasn't worked in over two years...I tried to hire him to help drill, but he couldn't get out of bed on time and after three tries I gave up on him.
My prayer is that after this rambling "vomit" that I'm writing I'll be able to erase this from my memory and move on. I'm sorry you all had to catch my regurgitation, but that's what Aarons & Hurs are for!
Joyce got all the girls signed up for their new year's dance lessons:
Karen & Rosa have ballet twice a week on Monday & Wednesday from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Fabiola goes on Monday & Wednesday from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. for a different ballet class
Fabiola will also start Jazz classes on Saturday mornings from 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
All the girls are excited and put on their leotards tonight to show just how ballerina-like they look!
Joyce made it through her first day back with only a few extra grey hairs...I was afraid she'd get soft in the states, but she's still pretty tough! You don't have to believe me, you can ask the kids who didn't listen!
Joyce made it home safely today and along with all the kids I was delighted to see her walk thru security at the airport. I already feel like a new man....but don't tell her, I don't want her to get a big head!
It really was touching to see all the kids race to see who could hug her first and then next, and next, and next... It gave me the opportunity to see how much of an impact she's made in their lives and it's nice to see them have a display of love and affection which prior to this was alien to them.
Tomorrow we're off to buy uniforms for everybody and then two pairs of shoes for everyone for the new school term beginning in two weeks. The kids are excited about getting back into society and we think they're ready for it...we're sure there will be rough spots, but we really believe we will see big growth now.
Tomorrow is J - Day! Joyce is returning and we ALL are happy about that! The cook e-mailed today about noon and said she wouldn't be coming today because she had a tooth pulled...so, you know who cooked dinner again.
Tonight's piece 'd' resistance was sauteed chicken in butter & soy, with pan fried potatoes and corn...and the kids loved it! They told me, "It's even better than Christy's(the cook)"
Thank you all for your prayers, we made it...almost! 2:45 p.m. tomorrow!
Gershon, Mauricio, & Fabiola are becoming the soccer stars of Campisa...the other kids keep coming by asking them to come play on their team. You know they're getting cocky!
Took the kids swimming today...we went to a river at the foot of the mountain behind San Pedro Sula. It was great, a fast moving stream with many huge boulders and a sand floor. The water was cold, ice cold and everyone had purple lips and most had quivering chins; but they had a blast! It was another first for them, something they had never done before and it was neat to watch them slowly, step by step, make their way into the water and then burst out in giggles.
We're all counting the days until Joyce returns and actually feel like we'll make it now.
Today I made an executive decision (don't anyone tell Joyce) and enrolled all the children in schools to begin the first week of Feb. Our hope was to have at least some of them ready to go to bi-lingual school but our tutors just didn't get the job done so we will have to go to plan b.
Plan B is:
Angel, Jesus, & Pedro continue in Christian bi-lingual school
Gershon will attend IHER a school designed to make up two years of schooling in one(Gershon will be 16 on Sunday and has just finished 3rd Grade)
Antonio will attend ISEE, a school for special needs children that has class sizes of 10 or less
Rosa, Karen, Cesar, Mauricio, & Fabiola will attend Sinai, a private evangelical school that also has smaller class sizes
They will all need your prayers because they are woefully behind in their education. Looking back on these past 6 months we now see that our 'tutors' did very little for the children and we almost wasted that time...except that it kept them near us and allowed us to all assimilate to each other.
Some of these schools are on opposite ends of the city from one another and all start at the same time, so it remains to be seen how we will pull this off; but for now it seems to be the best option.
Today has been pretty calm especially in light of yesterday. Three of the kids, Rosa, Antonio, & Cesar went to Teleton this morning (classes for special needs), three more, Angel, Jesus, & Pedro were in their normal school leaving me only Gershon, Fabiola, Mauricio, & Karen...a piece of cake!
A friend, Kevin, stopped by this afternoon and actually has most of the kids at the tree house now, so there's moment of peace. It's nice to get a few minutes to just reflect...it's needed and it helps.
My reflections today are steeped in the obvious, but often hidden by the pressures of our new household. When time permits I can see that the real challenge here is to find the balance between my demands and their wishes...sounds simple enough, but in the 'heat of the kitchen' that logic often times does not get the opportunity to surface. It's easy to see that I expect too much, too soon, and that they aren't willing to give enough, quickly enough. So, how do we get past that...only through the power of prayer...ours & yours!
The kids are making progress even when I don't see or trap myself into dwelling on the negatives. For instance, we still don't have a toilet downstairs that's working leaving us with one bathroom for 10 kids....but, we're getting through it and the days are getting shorter until Joyce returns and we get back to our 'normal grind'.
Thank you...you mean more to us than you may ever know!
Everybody has tests in their lives, but sometimes they seem to be nearly insurmountable! After today I kind of feel like I know how David must've felt when he was hunkered down in a cave with a band misfits and the king was looking to kill him.
This morning started out with the discovery that one of our boys (big boys) had a little 'hissy' last night and decided to kick or throw out one of the glass panes in the jalousie window in the bedroom...I found it broken outside their window. Of course, no one had any idea how it might've happened.
Next our Social Worker's husband arrived at 8:45 so we could go to interview a school for Antonio that deals with special needs children. We were to leave at 9:00 when our private teacher showed up so someone would be here with the children. She didn't show, didn't call, didn't have her phone on, didn't have her husband's phone on! At 9:30 she called and told me she didn't come because she was sick...oh, by the way...she got a new job yesterday that pays more and starts Feb.3...probably just a coincidence. There would only be the older three, Gershon 16, Fabiola 12, & Mauricio 10 who could watch Rosa 9, Karen 9, Antonio 10, & Cesar 6. I sent Fabi to get minutes for her phone(she has Joyce's phone and used all the minutes) and told them what to do and to call if they had any problems. We did make it to the school and ordered the replacement glass on the way back.
I got back in time to make lunch, serve it, & clean it up before doing 6 loads of laundry! That took up the rest of the afternoon and now it was time to go back and pick up the glass for the window. Got back just in time to hear the 'gang' tell me way too many times how hungry they were.
Got dinner served and cleaned up and thought, "Wow, a tough day but now it's all downhill." Then I heard Karen cry, "Bob, water!" She pointed to bathroom on the first floor and water was coming out of the toilet faster than it was going in! I got the water shut off and started to mop when someone told me to look in the boy's room...there was 2" of water everywhere! It took what seemed like forever to get it out of the house, but thank God for tile floors.
And finally...the three little boys decided it wasn't necessary for them to listen to anybody or obey any rules or directions. They're in bed now, but I'm betting there are some spots they don't want to sleep on.
The good news is tomorrow the sun will be up and it will be a brand new day, and we can all try to do better. Maybe tomorrow the window won't be broken, the teacher will show up, the toilet won't leak, and the boys will all listen...maybe!
Now, you have to know that I don't cook...I normally don't even say the word, that's how bad it is. However, "...with God all things are possible..." and tonight for dinner I cooked, with Fabiola's help, 3 canned hams, 1 10lb. bag of potatoes (boiled, then sliced and fried), 4 cans of corn, and an apple pie (purchased, not baked)! And every kernel was eaten!
Now if that will just hold them over for 9 more days until Joyce returns, I'm in like Flynn!
Please pray for Antonio and for me...again this morning Antonio wet the bed. That may not sound like much, but Antonio is nearly 10 years of age and on top of that we have pampers for him. Every night we tell him go to the bathroom, put on your pamper, and ask God to help you not pee in the bed. And nearly every morning he's peed in the bed and sometimes he lies and tells us he hasn't peed and then sticks the wet pamper in his clean clothes drawer. Other times, like this morning, he has lied the night before and doesn't put his pamper on and then pees in the bed, soaking everything.
Please pray for the two of us: for Antonio to find a way to stop bed wetting, and for me to find a way to control my anger over his bed wetting. Sometimes I get so angry I can hardly breathe...like this morning. I don't have the training or the understanding to know how to deal with him. I'm tired of asking God to forgive me for my actions and emotions toward him.
Well, we're halfway home...Joyce has been gone for 9 days now and in 9 more she'll be home again. I'm absolutely positive she will be welcomed home unlike any other reunion. The kids keep asking, "Why Joyce not home?"
We made it up, got breakfast, dressed, had our Bible Study, and made it to church on time...pretty good for 10 kids and one slow old man. At one point in our church services we always have a praise time for people to take the mike and give the Lord praise for something that's occurred in their lives. This morning, to my surprise, Fabiola took the mike and thanked the Hoffs for loaning us their van and the Gilens for bringing pizza one night. Everyone was shocked at her English and her composure. Pretty cool!
Tonight we had our Sunday night staple, spaghetti. Two pounds of spaghetti and every noodle gets eaten! I have no idea what I'll make for tomorrow night, but I have a long time to think about it...for now the dishes are done, baths have been given/taken and all are in bed but me and the three oldest. And as soon as this posts we'll be there as well.
Took the kids to a park at the foot of the mountain that is the West border of San Pedro Sula. It's a great park for kids with lots of slides and climbing 'things'...and it's free!
Then this afternoon a neighbor invited them to a cookout at her house. This woman lives beside the soccer field where the kids spend a lot of time and she has grown to like them, so she had a cookout today and they stayed there and played for about two hours.
They're home now and the sound of 10 children trying to talk over each other at the same time is echoing off the tile floors and concrete walls! The Lord giveth & the Lord taketh away!
We almost have one week down w/0 Joyce and we're doing okay...not great, but okay. Some friends from church are coming over tonight w/food to make a meal for the kids and allowing me to escape for 2 hours, can you say, "Whew!"?
Got the last of the 'brood' shorn today(haircuts) so at least we look better. It finally warmed up here today, but the paper says another cold front coming on Sunday. Fabi baked a cake 2 days ago and it turned out pretty good...it will be all gone tonight!
Praise the Lord our church, and specifically Bill & Margy Hoff, have stepped forward and are loaning us a van until our truck is repaired! What a great answer to prayer since we couldn't afford the rental and the repair! It is amazing how God brings just the people we need, when we need them across our paths.
Thank you for your steadfast prayers!
The kids and I are still speaking to each other and we're on day 6 with no Joyce....pretty wild, huh?
Just when I thought everything was going better than I could've hoped for in Joyce's absence, this morning I had an accident with the truck that left it inoperable. I came over the crest of a bridge in the rain to see a truck stopped waiting to turn left. I braked but the pavement was greasy and I slammed into the rear of the truck. I had three children with me but fortunately I was traveling slow enough that no one was injured in any way. Thank you Jesus!
The truck will be out of commission for anywhere between one to two weeks which leaves us with no transportation. The first, on the spot, best guess is between $2000- $3000 to make the repairs. Pray for wisdom and God's provision.
Other than that 'minor' setback all is going well. The kids are co-operating for the most part and we are somehow making our way through each day. I'm beginning to believe Joyce set me up so I would better appreciate all that she does...if that was her goal, I give up!
As if there's not enough to do with Joyce in the states, we had to have another earthquake also! Yesterday at 5:30 p.m. we experienced a 5.3 'terromoto', although I didn't personally feel because I was on my way to soccer practice to pick up the boys. When I got back the kids who stayed behind told me about the earthquake, but I wasn't sure I believed them until I saw the paper this morning and heard neighbors talking about 'feeling' it.
AND, on the way home from soccer practice I pulled into the neighborhood just in time to see Antonio get attacked by a dog. The dog jumped him and knocked him down and broke the skin in three places on his stomach, although not severe enough to even bleed.
We got through dinner last night okay...I made 2 lbs. of spaghetti and there wasn't a noodle left for me, so I guess it wasn't too bad. These kids are hoggers!
Day 3 without Joyce and happy to report our 'boat' has not sprung any leaks....yet! It's 2:00 p.m. and the kids are all fed, dishes done, three little ones plus Fabi in bed (she was supposed to be up early to help me w/the little kids getting ready for school this morning, but she slept in...must be having a guilt attack now), the middle four in school here w/their tutor, & Gershon and Mauricio are at the tree house and then will return to get ready for soccer practice.
No food poisoning or broken bones to report so, we're pretty happy with things but we all agree we're counting the days until Joyce returns!
Well, we made it through another day...actually I think your prayers are working wonders...the kids were pretty good all day. Only the usual skirmishes. We all got ready in time to make it to church and they behaved great in church and now all are in bed except the oldest three and if I can work it they will be in bed soon.
Joyce is off for the United States for 18 days of visiting, speaking, and traveling that's supposed to be rest! Well, actually she's not off quite yet....because of snow in Atlanta her flight is delayed for 3-1/2 hours, so as I write she is stuck in the San Pedro Sula airport. That means it's me and 10 mildly dysfunctional children! I don't know if I should ask you to pray for them or me; perhaps both! We've made through the airport, a trip to La Sabana, and one meal so far, and there are no injuries to report!
It's such a joy to return to La Sabana...after waiting so long for their well they are just overjoyed at the gift the Lord has given them....and they KNOW it is His gift to them! Very cool!
Fabiola leads us in prayer as we thank God for finally allowing us to complete the well in La Sabana. It has been nearly 8 months and 4 different teams that worked on this well, a well that Satan fought hard to stop. But by your prayers the Lord has delivered the Living Water of Jesus Christ to this small, poor village. The people could not be happier nor appreciate anything anymore, because they labored with us, doubted with us, prayed with us, & now they celebrate with us! Thank you, Jesus!!!
The truck is in the garage, Joyce is at the hairdresser, and then to the massage parlor(a gift from church), the youngest three are in school, the teacher is here for the middle three, so the oldest three and I went for a walk and................the old guy played them out!
Why is it Joyce wants to go get beautiful when she's leaving me? Isn't that just wrong????
Today is my "dry run" for the next two weeks...better pray for the kids meals...."cook" and my name shouldn't be in the same sentence.
Today after lunch Fabiola pulled me aside and motioned with her hand for me to lean my ear down to her. When I did she whispered, "Why am I the only one who ever thinks about William?". William is her two year old brother who was allegedly beaten to death on the concrete floor of Alzira, their previous home.
I took her outside and told her I didn't know, but when I asked Mauricio (another brother) if he felt sad when he had to talk about William he just shook his head and said, "no". I told her perhaps she was just closer to William than the others because much of his care fell to her. When she began to cry I told her she didn't need to cry for William because he was in heaven with Jesus & God and right now was probably running, jumping, and laughing with more strength than he'd ever had before. She stood to hug me with tears still in her eyes, but now there was also a smile on her face! It was a smile of recognition that William truly was in good hands now and that he was happy and waiting on her arrival. She would one day be reunited with William.
Then I told her if she could hear William he would probably be looking down on us and telling Fabi not to cry for him...he would say, "Wait until you get here, you are going to love this place!"
I think Fabi's heart and compassion for her deceased brother is a measure of the love Christ has placed within her for those who are less fortunate than she. When you get the opportunity to see her sharing with children who seem to have no hope in their eyes, you see someone who has a love for others that can't be taught...it can only be caught! We believe she is contagious with Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God!
The tree is down, school starts tomorrow for the three little guys, and I'm trying to get the oldest three up to grade level in mathematics. We hope to have everyone in school when the terms pick back up in Feb. Gershon is enrolled in a special school that claims to make up two years in one (which he desperately needs) and we are trying to make decisions about schools for the rest of the children.
Pedro's walking continues to get a little better day by day, although he's lazy and if you don't watch him he reverts back to dragging his foot. I'm pretty sure he knows how to milk the whole thing to his advantage!
The boys should resume soccer this week and the girls will resume dance next week, so we are pretty much set to take on the next set of challenges.
The kids have been traveling to La Sabana with me when I work on the well and they are just about a part of that community now. It's fun to watch them interact with the children there.