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.