Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Beach day!

My favorite day of the vacation was when we crammed 8 people into our little SUV and drove 2 hours to Kaliko beach, beyond Cabaret. When Barnabas visited HFC last year, he got to know the kids, so he begged us to take along his three best friends among the boys: Alex, Jacques, and Bernadin. It didn't take a lot of begging to convince us to accept!

We played a game of soccer in which yours truly scored 2 goals (don't give me any credit - Bernadin did a masterful job of setting me up) and when our feet were burning from the hot sand and we were dripping with sweat, we headed for the water. The ocean was fun, but it's salty and the bottom is very rocky. Plus, the boys don't know how to swim very well, so it's scarier for them than the pool. The clincher, however, was when my brother and then my sister got stabbed by sea urchins. Time to go pool!

I took out some baby carrots that my dad had brought from the US. "Eew, gross!", the boys exclaimed. "She's eating raw carrots!" I managed to convince them that baby carrots don't taste bitter like Haitian carrots do and I made the boys try them. Immediately, the "Eew"s turned to "Wow"s! They ate every carrot in the bag.

Bernadin got to make a phone call to the States to talk with his adoptive family as well as Bryn. That boy's grin just could not get any bigger.

We ate lunch at the hotel buffet. The boys piled Mount Everests of rice, macaroni, chicken, fish, plaintains, vegetables, bread, and bean sauce onto their plates. And then they went back for seconds, sodas, and slices of cake!

Just in case you've been wondering, Haitians can get sunburned. Every time the boys saw me reapplying sunscreen, they smeared it all over themselves too.

We played water polo, keep away, 500, chicken fight, Save the Drowning Wasps, and Push Keziah into the Pool Whenever Possible. It was awesome.

All in all, a super fun day and a very special treat for my brother's three buddies.

Christmas at the Ravine

My family walked the Ravine with me on Friday morning. Lisette couldn't come with us and Mary is in Canada on vacation, so I did all the consultation by myself as well as all the record keeping. It was the most stressful Ravine walk I have ever taken. We saw over 35 children instead of the usual 15 or 20, and I was exhausted by the time we got back to Sherrie's.

My aunt in Maine worked with my cousin's 4th grade class to coordinate a donation of gifts and Christmas cards for the Gonaives orphans. Each child received a small gift bag with crayons, markers, candy, blocks, hair clips for the girls and toy cars and plastic bugs for the boys. Each girl got a mermaid doll; each boy got a notebook for coloring or writing letters, as well as some balls for all of them to share. My siblings blew up balloons for them, taught them to play football, and tried to explain what snow was. In addition, my aunt had sent underpants for each child, coloring books, beads, and extra art supplies. I gave those to the orphanage director with instructions to give them to the kids on New Year's Eve, just to spread out the celebration a little longer. The Gonaives kids really have nothing, so watching the excitement as they received their gifts was very moving for my family.

Thank you so much, Amy, Lily, Bea, and all your friends! You made Christmas very special for those 25 kids!

Christmas day

I spent the majority of Christmas day at the airport, picking up my family and renting a car. I got to participate in a little of the morning decorating at HFC, and we got back to HFC in the afternoon in time to eat the big Christmas lunch with the kids. An adoptive family had sent money for each child to pick out his or her own Christmas gift, so at the end of the party, wrapped shoes and jeans were handed out. We had to leave relatively early to get back to the guesthouse before dark, but we promised the kids to come back and spend more time with them later in the week.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

It hurts too much

One of my orphan boys, Bernadin, has been acting oddly with me for the past few months. Every time I visit HFC for a few days, he initially seems very glad to see me again, but then he will ignore me for 2 or 3 days for no apparent reason. Suddenly, he'll snap out of it and become Bernadin, the goofy, loving, talkative teen that won my heart 2 years ago, but the next day, he may become Oscar the Grouch again.

It's confusing and very discouraging. You pour love and attention into someone, and they respond by avoiding you and refusing to talk to you for 80% of the time that you are staying with them. I would go through possible explanations in my mind: "He's upset with me for something I said or did. He's just being a moody teenager. He's testing me to see how far he can push me away and still have me love him. He's finally realized that I'm not nearly as cool as he always thought I was." Or the kicker: "He's an abandoned child who has been hurt his whole life. Maybe he cannot love consistently."

Yesterday, Bernadin was being Bernadin, so I sat him down and asked him. He shook his head seriously and said, "You know why." I offered a few of my explanations but he waved them away. Finally, he said very quietly, "My adoption is going to be finished and I'm going to leave. I don't want to keep loving you because I don't think I can handle being that sad when I leave you."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My favorite wedding

Debbie and Nounoun have been preparing for a wedding since August. They have been sewing dresses, writing invitations, choosing songs, arranging music, and cooking. The happy couple? Miss Thalia Dorval and Mr. Jackson Charles, their favorite dolls.

Early yesterday morning, the girls were bathing the bride, groom, and the wedding party. They did their hair and started the long process of dressing them. We had to call in a little professional aid to fix Mr. Jackson's tie.

At 2:30pm, the photographer and distinguished guests gathered in the chapel, also known as the 11th grade classroom. One of our favorite Garou songs blared on the CD player as the wedding march started.

Jessica was the voice of the doll who did the opening reading from 1 Corinthians 13.

Martine was the legs of the god-mother and I was her voice as she sang the opening song, "Aimer", from the show Romeo and Juliette.

Kattia gave words to the doll preacher as she gave the message from Genesis 2 about the first marriage.

The vows.

The first dance.

At the reception, each guest received a baggie of pate, candy, cookies, and Cheese puffs. Yum!

Cutting the cake.

Of all the weddings that I have been to, this one definitely wins. It was way more fun and way more laughter-filled than real people weddings are. If anyone is looking for the services of a good wedding planner, I have several available!