As aforementioned, I’ve never been away 10 weeks (never even away from my home, wherever that may be, for 10 weeks), and it’s been wonderful to study every baby and child and see how they’ve changed and matured since October. First off, the most dramatic change is that FIVE one year olds are now walking and 2 year old B (moderate CP) can stand alone!!! No one wanted to be left behind. And that’s just in the Baby Home! Elsewhere, two others are walking. Most of those are from the flood of newborns of July—October last year, so it’s easy to get all sentimental remembering them at 5 or 6 pounds and seeing them toddling around now with toothy grins! They are so proud of themselves too. One after one they show off for us, savoring the applause!
Then the faces of some of the older kids, particularly the boys, seem to have changed. Several 3, 4, and 5 year olds have improved much in their speech. Since I left a speech therapist has started making visits to the Baby Home, so we can now afford to have more children take classes. Others have shot up in height. Some are just all grins and so incredibly happy.
I guess that being able to actually note so many changes at once helps ease the sadness of what I missed while gone.
There are other changes around the homes, like a surprise the tías had for me at the Baby Home: an industrial oven donated a couple weeks ago by World Vision! Wow!
I am so grateful for how everyone kept things running very smoothly. I truly have a wonderful staff who has “caught the vision” of caring for these kids with excellence and making every decision based on their wellbeing. Of course, loving them so much really helps, too! And how they love us… Five year old S. started to cry tonight just remembering when I left. It was hard getting that train turned around! Hopefully letting her and her brother A. fall asleep on me, one hugging my neck and the other touching my feet, helped a bit. (I'm so grateful to Savannah for bringing S and Baby F, pictured above, to the airport to get me!!! While I held my two girls, she and David struggled out with the suitcases, wheelchair, my killer heavy backpack, and the other carry-on which was a well-stuffed diaper bag.)
It’s a little nuts coming in so close to Christmas! I can't believe how close it is, and tomorrow a volunteer arrives too. Talking about making a list and checking it twice! Rosa, Maria, and David have really worked hard on the staff gifts and end-of-year paperwork, and making sure that each child is covered at Christmas, but somehow I have my own heap of things to prepare. Today we finalized what time we’ll have Christmas (meal and gifts) at each house and now it’s time for detail work.
Of course, just unpacking, sorting through things, and catching up will take days. During an all-morning-meeting I pretty much got the lowdown on paperwork, health, and any family member situations of the 42 kids (quite a feat!), and tomorrow will hear about each staff member from the administrator. I also have this huge stack of papers to read through…10 weeks of psychological reports, October and November staff/volunteer reports (that would mean over 40), school report cards, important papers in kids’ files, memos from the court and social services, notes from staff and volunteers….which actually makes me REALLY happy after so long with so little paperwork. Just hope to read it all before next year, ha!
I’m also having fun remembering how one drives in Bolivia! Guess I drove in the states more than I thought. In some ways it seems easier there because you assume that everyone will follow the rules. It's so predictable you could fall asleep. Here you'll be killed if don't locate your horn and drive
I didn’t even mind all the speed bumps and pothole mud puddles as I just savored being HOME.
Oh and today Wilson received his wheelchair!! AND since some kiddos were giving me no peace until I took them out in my beloved car...which has been having troubles I hear but behaved perfectly for me today...tonight Savannah and I loaded up 7 ages 2-5 to drive through downtown and see Christmas lights. It was fun to watch Savannah and the 5 oldest decorate Christmas cookies earlier in the day. (Read all about it here.)
So surprise, surprise, my first full day back was a gloriously packed day! More later, after I make some lists...