Current Child Count

  • HOGAR DE AMOR I: 11 babies
  • HOGAR DE AMOR II: 6 boys
  • HOGAR DE AMOR III: 8 girls

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


A few nights ago, I was happily bouncing a smiling, filthy dirty baby in my lap when I was told that her mother is HIV+. Both live in the street. My heart sunk as I quickly connected the dots and realized that her baby must be positive as well.

Apart from our little girl at CDA and an occasional meeting, I have never been in daily contact with so many with HIV until now. And I can feel so helpless beyond just being there for them and being their friend. But watching the video in this post, "Dying and Rejected by the Church", reminded me that sometimes that's all we can do.

And it is considered significant by those surviving even though rejected by "normal" society. Every day, every night, when I offer a listening ear and a word of encouragement or share a laugh, I see a light come back in their eyes. Could it be hope?

Words cannot describe how privileged I feel to be able to live here, surrounded by need, spending myself on behalf of the weak as we walk side by side. Since last week, that includes keeping track of 3 medications, multiple tests and doctor/lab appointments, and seven days of 9pm injections for one of my friends from the bridge. And that's just ONE of my friends... It's exhausting, but I cannot imagine doing anything else.

As I type, I hear little voices float up to the office. It is snack time, and the prayer included a blessing for the street children. So young, and yet already ministering.

Watch the video and think of who you can love today.

Ten years ago today, my family had the court hearing in Russia that made Emma "ours"! Today, a Bolivian couple has their court hearing to become the parents of our 20 month old boy F. Exciting!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Personality Plus

The church crew, just back from their Sunday morning out.

Gotta say, this room could barely hold the amount of cuteness!!

How was it for the poor souls wonderful friends who did a church service with them?!

Knowing that I had to stop by the bridge before and after, I kept my church outing simple: one triplet!

The fabulously adorable NATALY!

How did I choose? Well, there were two in their room when I went in so I went with the one that was awake.

The other two when we got back, hanging out with tias during naptime:

They are getting sooo cute! Developmentally they're at a 4-5 month old level which is one of my favorite stages. They LOVE to laugh, giggle, squeal, be tickled, and...KISSES!!

I still marvel: how is it that WE were sent the triplets?! Some days I still can't believe they are HERE with US! Blessed indeed.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 25

Life here in Bolivia, at least for me, has always been unpredictable and fast-paced. I can’t say I’ve always liked that, as my life in Texas was much more regimented. Let’s just say I could plan what I’d be doing all week and have things go according to “my” plan! I laugh to remember that now. Here I can’t tell you with certainty what will happen within the next hour. Even as I write this, I wonder if our newest child will arrive before I’m done…or if she’s coming another day.

Yesterday was a good example of how on many days, street work, Casa de Amor, and church responsibilities are woven together.

August 25...

If a new day starts at the stroke of midnight, then on August 25 I was still on the street. Actually I was just arriving back to the hospital with 5 or 6 kids to check on our friend. She had been on an IV since 9 something. I went in to check on her and she was glad to see me again, and that the IV drip was almost done. By 1am we had gotten her medications from my favorite pharmacy, always open (I’ve been there around midnight or later more times than I care to count the past couple of weeks!), and then I took everyone back to the bridge.

8:45am—A “buenos dias” to the staff and kiddos in the dining room

9—Arrive back to the bridge to give the next set of pills and pick up a 19 year old. While I waited for him and his girlfriend to get ready, I went back up top to where a few were starting their day of window washing. I was curious who the two visitors were, since they’ve so rarely had visits from anyone lately. I didn’t really recognize them but they have met me, when I was visiting another street group. The one they were inviting to participate in an activity told me later that he won’t go. He said “YOU can invite me to an activity, but THEY cannot. Were they here when I was sick the other night? No, you were. Do they come when we need help? No, YOU do.” Well okay then. Relationship is key!

10—Picking up the 19 year old’s mom to talk about some decisions he needs to make and also to take her to Hospitals of Hope for an eye exam. I hope that they have a more economical solution for an ongoing eye problem she has had! She noticed the constant phone calls I was getting and how quickly I was setting up appointments so she offered to wait and see the doctor alone, and I had to take her up on it. On the drive back, I had what turned out to be my breakfast and lunch when the kids I was with offered me a banana and an orange.

11:15—Dropped them off at bridge and a couple of the little guys got in and asked where I was heading. I told them and they said they would get off as I passed the stadium.

11:35—Screeching in just on time, I pick up little girl A (uses hearing aids) from her twice-weekly speech/auditory therapy class. She is always so happy after her classes!

11:50—Pulling up to the Baby Home I see we have visitors, from the nutrition center hospital. I go right into a meeting between our social worker, psychologist, physical therapist, and the other party: a father, his little daughter, the social worker of the hospital, and a therapist from the hospital. This week we agreed to take in a 2 year old girl who is blind. Yes, this will be a first for us! I took a few pictures as the meeting came to a close.

12:40pm—I had a decision to make, because the unexpected meeting took up the time when I was supposed to be at boy A’s birthday at Casa de Amor II. I decided to try to catch the end of that later and go straight to the street (a community near the bridge) where I had promised to take another out for his birthday lunch. I already had to cancel with him the day before because of going to meet the little girl at the hospital.

12:45—Picked up C, his girlfriend and her cousin, and we go to their favorite place for birthday meals. C, turning 16, also realizes my phone is ringing incessantly and I’m having trouble not double booking myself, so he suggests we get the food to go. It took such a long time restaurant staff was feeling sorry for us, but the wait gave me a chance to catch up with him. He wants to get out his ID card and we decided to go speak with his grandparents (his parents have died) about it on Sunday.

1:40—Picked up another 19 year old and his 1 year old son (formerly from my bridge but currently doing well renting a room, way on the other side from where I live). They will be visiting his mother and family for the afternoon. This lands me near Casa de Amor II, so I spend nearly an hour checking on staff and the kids. One of our little girls asks me when she will have new parents, her weekly question for years now. One of the caregivers asks me about our plans for September 5, Pedestrian Day (no transportation) in Bolivia. How is it already the end of August?! We need to start coordinating with all the staff and volunteers to see how we deal with that this year.

3:30—Back at bridge with orders from the bridge boss to take his sister-in-law (the one who is sick) to a center downtown and get her seen by another doctor. I parked my car by the river wall yet again. Two girls and I changed her clothes and two guys helped her out and into the car.

4—I met with several people at the center, while talking to others by phone, reporting back to those from the bridge each time. (As an aside, there was a tense moment when the priest in charge mentioned the diagnosis of our friend right in front of everyone. Very few knew…until now.) In the end she decided to not stay. She was worried they might not help her in the multi-level building, but that at the bridge everyone helps her by bringing her food and drink and meds, helping her go to the bathroom, and just watching out for her. I didn’t know whether to be proud how everyone rallies around like family at our bridge, or be sorry that it’s so “nice” she won’t move to the center!! The two doctors asked me to come back with them as they examine my friend. I like how thorough they are and all the questions they asked to try to get to the root of things.

5:15—I drop everyone back off at the bridge and race to the office. I really didn’t mean to disappear the entire afternoon! As I arrive, 3 or 4 Hospitals of Hope volunteers are leaving. One girl came up to me and gave me a sincere hand shake, saying that she went to Sojourn Church in Texas the same time my family did. What a small world! Then office work: meet with my office staff, sign papers, tend to emails.

7:15—Drag myself away from the office to go to a church leadership meeting. I take my guitar to drop off for someone who needs it for a rehearsal and also a CD of Spanish songs that someone else asked of me.

7:30—Even though only two of us have showed up, we begin the meeting regarding our newly formatted webpage. I am miserably tired by this point but try my best to stay attentive. It helps to have several cell phone calls.

8:30—Talk to my Mom on my cell while buying a vegetarian burrito from a street stand and heading to the bridge

9—Give my friend at the bridge her next pills. Then I realize I’m almost alone (a rarity) with a young street couple who has accused me of something completely false the past couple of weeks and now they are willing to talk. We had a good long conversation and completely cleared up the air as they apologized through tears for how they’ve treated me. I’ve been getting calls from others telling me where they are, so we go pick them up from downtown and spend the next few hours going to the pharmacy, gassing up my car, talking to friends, playing with a 2 year old visiting his (street) mother, watching a few from the bridge play soccer with the neighboring street community, and taking friends to and from where they need to be.

All interspersed are moments of giving advice, encouragement, checking up on relational issues or problems that needed to be resolved, and answering questions from the few who now know our friend’s diagnosis as they process that. The guy I had taken to visit his mother jumped back in my car at one point. We talked about an argument he and his wife had the other night but how he took my advice and was able to resolve it without creating a big scene or one of them returning to the street. I was so proud of him and told him so! We found his wife a little later, 4 months pregnant with their second, and since they are known for drinking binges and big fights, I told them about the blind girl we are about to get and how her mother drank every day—and to let it be a lesson to them!! They listen attentively and she promises me she’s not drinking anything besides soda these days. May it be so!

12:20am—Arrive home completely exhausted and a fever (??) even though it was a relatively quiet night on the street (no bad fights, no police trouble, no medical emergencies). I still need to get the glue out of a large section of my hair before it completely hardens - a first for me but not surprising, seeing as street peoples' hands are often coated in it. Meditate on my "verses of the week". Briefly check emails.

12:35—Crash into bed!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Playroom Models

It's been way too long since I've taken my camera in with me to the playroom! The other night the kids were CRACKING US UP. And the older set was across the hall.

(Only prob with taking pictures at night in the playroom: lighting is terrible. Which is to be expected from one little hanging light bulb. Forgive that and enjoy the pics!)

I love seeing the triplets mixing with everyone after so many months of isolation

Of course, as long as they're not clobbered by older hermanos overly anxious to show love...

They thought it was great fun to sit down and pose. As we watched the room quiet down so quickly, I told the tias they need to have a camera to whip out to get everyone in order, ha!

I didn't ask the twins to do anything, honestly, but we've obviously told them to hug or kiss so much for pictures, they just went for it!

L's cheesy smile was hysterical! I couldn't help but chuckle every time I looked at her.

C looked like the little Dutch girl between her hair do and outfit. She was actually smiling a lot this evening, but never at the exact millisecond of the picture, of course....

Of course you can't have 100% happiness. We weren't sure what offended B, but sure was something...

As we talked about how similar in size F and the triplets are right now, their mother mentioned that the other day she walked into the room and had a scare that they had turned into quadruplets :)

So for fun, we lined the four up!

Never a dull moment in Casa de Amor's playroom!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

6 month check up

This week we took the triplets in for their six month check up with the city's best pediatrician. I can't even describe the full feeling...the joy...knowing that ALL of the hard work has been worth watch him thoroughly examine each one and be continually amazed at how well they are doing and how huge they are (7 kilos and up!), and how many of their measurements continue to be exactly the same ("trillizas de verdad" he always says). And the whole time, the triplets didn't make a peep other than a sweet giggle or sound, just being perfectly charming. It was like the perfect doctor visit.

(Our little Alison does need to use eye patches though for her strabismus. Will make it easier to tell them apart, ha!)

Maybe some of my gratitude stemmed from the news I was processing and grieving. When we walked in, Dr. Monroy just sat at his desk with his arms crossed and very seriously said "I had a VERY BIG scare with you guys recently". We said what did we do?! He arrived to the hospital to the news that a trilliza (triplet, feminine) had died, and he wondered what had happened since ours were doing so well. Turns out it was one of the triplets that was born just a few weeks after ours. They filled the same bassinet at the hospital the day after we took ours home - two boys and a girl, from far out in the countryside, born to an already large (and poor) family. I well remember how twice the newspaper published an update on ours, adding a note to please donate to the other set of triplets. People were not responding as well as with ours, probably since there were parents in the picture, but I couldn't help but feeling that everyone able to give had already given to our triplets. [And we haven't even seen all of those donations because child social services figured out excuses to get those things into THEIR storage closets rather than ours.]

Since we have already walked through the experience of losing a multiple, it was sobering news, and it's not like we didn't have scares at the beginning when we nearly lost Alison (Victoria). Thank you Lord, for mercifully sparing our babies!!!

Nicole, Nataly, Alison - sacked out after the doctor's appointment

Nataly charming her godmother Nataly on a recent visit (the babies' mother currently lives with Nataly & family)

And since it had somehow escaped me to ever make a picture of F with her babies, here she is! I love how she immediately knew how she wanted to do it, plopping the baby she was holding into the swing and taking the two I had and going behind the swing to stand. She is coming around to motherhood (times three!) slowly but surely.

By the way, in the course of conversations this week with the triplet's mother, godmother's family, government officials, and amongst our team, we have decided how much longer we will help. In January next year, F needs to contract a lawyer to start the paperwork to regain custody. On February 16 the babies turn 1! Within the next few months after that, the papers will be done and they can go back to F. So we will see a lot of fun milestones {minus teeth cutting...ugh} through the trip's first year!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

to explain...

I found some good pictures of the triplets hair in volunteer Hannah's albums and thought I would clarify about the crazy hair!

It's really really cute when done up:

Suits adorable baby F just fine, too :)

(according to Hannah's caption here, in case we can't tell, this was actually naptime not play time, ha!)

But then some angelic looking child, such as Baby F in this case....

comes along and helps with the styling...

....and we get the crazy punk rocker look!

x 3.... :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Happy (half) Birthday!

Happy Happy Happy (Half) Birthday to our famous trio!

March 16, 1 month!

April 16, 2 months!
first park outing

May 16, 3 months!
obviously getting the hang of feeding time!

June 16, 4 months!
after some special spa treatment from Tia Savannah

July 4, (almost) 5 months!
I took pictures on July 16 but separately, remember?

August 16, 6 months!
so their hair was really cute till 3 year old B got ahold of it...