Friday, January 22, 2010

Alzira from the Orphanage gets Married!

Rodrigo and Alzira.

Alzira is our first kid from the orphanage to now get married!!! She and her brother, Zaqueio, came to us after their mother could no longer take care of them. At that time Zaqueio was around age 14 and ended up in the streets where he was fending for himself and under the influence of people who were practicing witchcraft and doing other bad things. Alzira was about 17 and her mom gave her away to a much older man to be married. On the day the forced marriage was to take place, one of Alzira’s uncles rescued her and brought her to the house of another relative. Alzira was also mistreated at that house, so the family asked if she and Zaqueio could go to the orphanage, as they are related to Victor’s mom.

As soon as Alzira arrived at the orphanage everyone could see what an amazing hard worker she was. We gave her a position as a staff intern and she worked tirelessly behind the scenes without ever seeking praise or recognition. She excelled in school and tutored all the younger children in reading and writing. She worked in the kitchen, took sick children to the hospital, and led devotions. She was an amazing role model to the other kids and stayed patient and positive as she finished her education, even walking 5 km to school, each direction, at night. After 11th grade she was accepted into the teachers training college, which she graduated from less than two years later. A little under a year ago Alzira became a teacher in an elementary school in a village about two hours by chapa from the orphanage. She has been earning a living there ever since.

Alzira and Rodrigo first met each other when they were children growing up in the village of Murrupula. They found each other again at the teachers training college and stayed in contact even when they were placed in schools in different districts. As they began to fall in love their families met and gave them a blessing to get engaged and then married. Everyone is SO happy that Alzira was able to choose her own husband and marry for love.

This is our first orphanage wedding. We are so so pleased to see one of our girls complete her education, begin a profession, find a good Christian man, get blessings from family and church, and then get married. This is everything that we hope and dream for all our kids and hope this wedding will inspire the rest of them to follow in Alzira’s footsteps.

Victor performed Alzira and Rodgrigo’s wedding at the mother church. It is the first wedding that Victor has performed and he loved doing it!

The feast! At weddings here the bride and groom sit alone at a table full of every dish they could ever want! Here they are eating grilled chicken, rice, the-best-ever bean soup, french fries, and all the good refrescos. (The reception was back at the orphanage.)

About to cut the wedding cake.

Carmina (Victor’s sister) and her fiancé Lucas. They are planning to marry this April and everyone in the family is very happy about it!

Rodrigo, Alzira, and Zaqueio (Alzira’s wonderful brother who is still in the orphanage).

With the kids: Gizela, Rodrigo, Alzira, Graça, Leonora, Minoca, Ronilda, Cocas, and friend.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A New Year Brings A New Child

By Victor.

On the day when we went to buy beans for the month I saw a small boy in a large trash heap carrying trash in his hands. I see tons of street kids every time I go out but this child struck my heart in a different way. It was so sad that I could not leave him there - the conditions of that place were as if it were for pigs. The boy was removing the most disgusting trash with his hands - no gloves, shoes or boots to protect him from the diseases he could get.

I called the boy over and asked him a few questions. He said his name is Riquito, his father died when he was little and he lives with his mother and stepfather. I went back to the orphanage and returned with my camera and two older boys (Jeremias and Lazaro) - just so they could follow up the story with me. We asked Riquito more questions and why he was carrying trash around and he said he was looking for money and food to not be hungry. We asked him to take us to his home and when we arrived at his house we found horrible conditions.

When we got to Riquito’s house - as soon as his mom saw him - she immediately started taking out all her frustrations on him. The mom told us that she has two more kids, one who is from the man living with her now who works as a night guard, receiving about $19 a month. She also has a 13-year-old daughter who she could not take care of so she gave the girl away to a lady to work in her house and watch her kids. She said that Riquito had run away because the stepfather was trying to find a family for him to work for as well. She said that Riquito should be working as a servant by now.

The mom also told an unbelievable story about how Riquito got the scars covering his torso. When he was a baby she once left him alone, lying on the dirt ground outside. A little while later some neighbors heard strange noises and went over to see what was going on. They found a wild pig trying to eat the baby, having already bitten him in the side and where his ribs are many times. The neighbors rushed over and saved his life but he still has all the scars left today.

I told Riquito’s mom about the orphanage and asked if she would be interested in letting her son go there instead of being a servant to another family. I asked Riquito if he would like to live in a place with other kids and eat three meals a day. He smiled so big but his mom said no. She thought this must be a trick and that he would instead be sold to people with evil intentions.

I began imagining what life would be like for Riquito if he became a servant in someone else’s house or continued his days in the trash pile. I imagined what his life would be like if he came to the orphanage, got three meals a day, learned to read and write in school, went to church to sing praises and learn about God – and what could be better than that?

I asked the mom if she had any male relatives and if she could call them (this is the appropriate thing to do in our culture). She said that she has a brother who is a carpenter and we went and found him. We told him about the orphanage but the mom told him that she was scared that we were tricking her and would sell Riquito to bad people. So we brought all of them to the orphanage and they saw everything that goes on here – how the kids are living and playing, what they are eating, and where they sleep. The mom could not believe that all the kids were orphans and that many had once been in a situation similar to her child. After seeing the orphanage she decided to let her son come here.

So now we have this new child. I wish I could tell you Riquito’s exact age but no one knows. I am guessing he could be 12. Riquito is no longer spending his days in the trash heap looking for money and food to take back to his family. He seems like he’s adjusting to the orphanage well and he seems very happy. He has never been registered so we are trying to work with his uncle to get him documents so that he will be able to start school. We arranged to do this with the uncle last week but he has still not shown up. We are praying that the uncle will come soon so that Riquito will be eligible to begin school this year. Otherwise he will have to wait another whole year before beginning because the new school calendar begins this month.

Please pray for Riquito, our newest child in the orphanage, and please pray for his family as well.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

9 Things I Learned in 2009

1. Those little water melons I kept mocking for their small size are actually gigantic cucumbers. I’m sure this somehow symbolizes tons of things that I completely misunderstand before I find out what they really are.

Me and the biggest cucumber I've ever seen.

They are even too big for eye treatments.

2. Taking kids from an orphanage to an all-you-can-eat buffet is the funnest thing ever, and it was dumb of me to imagine that there were a whole bunch of reasons why this would be a bad thing to do. It was a great idea! (Victor’s idea of course - the whole orphanage competed in a writing contest and then we took those who wrote the top ten best stories to special meals in the city. The kids had a blast!)

Victor showing Manuel, Samito, Carlitos, and Jeremias how he "handles" buffets.

3. I had NO IDEA how fun Jenga could be. I know it’s not the most practical thing to carry around, but if you want to make lots of people laugh their heads off with very little effort, take it with you everywhere you go in Mozambique. (Another way to make people laugh their heads off is to play jump-rope with my brother-in-law, Mike.)

Jordão, Atija, VoVo, Ronilda, and Merecido.

Ann and Ronilda turning the rope while Mike jumps.

4. Vaccines don’t always work. I’m still too traumatized by this event to even say what I am talking about but you can click here to read about the worst way you could ever lose a pet.

6. Getting your hair braided is not a piece of cake. I have always admired the beautiful braids I see on hundreds of women and girls every day. Then Claudia braided my hair “for real” with meixa (fake hair) and all. She did over 300 braids, it took about 40 hours (no, I am not exaggerating), at least 15 girls helped, and it hurt for several days afterwards. Now that I know how much work really goes into this, I appreciate the braids I see even more!

7. There’s more than one way to ride in two vehicles at the same time. Besides two cars driving side by side while a person has half their body in each one (like in the movies) I learned that you can also put one of your cars inside the other one.

We "got" to ride several hours like this.

8. Rats lives aren’t boring at all and they’re not scared of humans either. This past year I got to know rats a little too well. I got to see them raining down from the roof, embracing, wrestling, dancing, chasing, and squeaking (in two different provinces).


Reaction to rats. (More specifically - Peter comforting Sunny after she was traumatized by a rat chase that ended in two rats embracing, falling from the rafters onto the humans and then continuing the chase in her direction.)

9. The child I was most afraid of became my most endearing little friend. I have to admit the day little Jose arrived I was secretly wondering what we were getting ourselves into and not excited about finding out. His first week here he was biting other kids, kicking puppies in the face, wandering around the property grunting at 3am, and not really communicating in any language. Now he is like my dearest little companion. Every day when the other kids go to school he comes into my kitchen for tea. He places the teacup back in the saucer so gently after every sip and uses delicate little nods and gestures to ask if it’s okay to sip from a spoon when it’s too hot. Even on days when I am too sick to see anyone else I still feel like sitting on the porch with Jose for a few minutes. And it made me cry when Victor told me how he was drawing all the other kids in the dirt and when they told him to draw “Mana Christina” his whole demeanor changed and he tried to draw me as carefully and respectfully as possible. His little smile is like nothing else – just ask anyone who has visited us since this past June. I am so grateful for little Jose and can not believe what I would be missing if he were not at the orphanage.

Victor and Jose the first time Jose ever saw an airplane.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Feliz Novo Ano!

Happy New Year! Graça, Minoca, Virginia, Anabela, and Little Ofeita

The kids enjoyed a great New Year’s celebration at the orfanato!

On New Year’s Eve there was dancing all night long
Canito, Jose, Isac Pequeno, Mena and Jordão on the new dorm steps.

while the band played for hours.
Gabriel, Felix, Silas, and Gil

There was sound system adjusting,

more dancing,
Ofeita, Dorcas, and Leonora

card playing,
Estela and Little Victor

Pilonte, Guard Mutilima, and Dionisio

and more dancing (which never ended)!

Some people finally fell asleep right in the middle of it all on the ground outside

But others never went to bed.

On New Years morning all were up early for even more guitar playing and singing. (It’s hard to sleep in when the sun is bright and shining at 4:30am.)
Belson, VoVo, Dionisio, Leonora, Canito, Gil (w/guitar), and Merecido

The chicken cooked,
By the way – this is how chicken is grilled over the fire here.

the food was dished out,
Jeremias, Helder, and Marta

and everyone happily consumed the New Years feast!
Marino, Ofeita, Minoca, Mena, Anabela, Canito, Jose, and Virginia.