Friday, May 18, 2012

Face Painting

Nana and Pops gave Liam face paint for his birthday. Of course, Liam thought painting his face would be too messy but the other kids loved it. Brian had the honors of painting everyones faces. Liam preferred the pirate dress-up toys Meredith and Drake gave him, that required no mess. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Meredith, Lindie, Kamohelo, Drake and possibly other kids worked diligently at making Liam many birthday cakes and treats out of mud. They all loved playing in the mud and being creative with their creations. The job was messy but they got it done. {And the mothers had a bit of laundry}

Friday, May 11, 2012

Liam's 4th Birthday!

I can't believe our little Liam turned 4 on Tuesday. Four years have gone by so quickly, but we have made some great memories with him. I also can't believe how quickly he learns new things. He is and has always been a very neat and clean little guy. He prefers not to get his hands messy {will not finger paint}, eats very cleanly with a fork and spoon & picks up his toys very nicely. He is just a funny little guy. His sister on the other hand is a different story.

Because our daily life is unpredictable and we never know when our phone might ring for someone needing help, we started his birthday celebration off early in the morning. Also because our house is never calm, we take advantage of the time when The Village is nearly empty of the children while they are at school. It can be difficult to fit in special family time and we want our kids to understand and know that they are very special to us. This year Liam opened his birthday gifts before 7AM and had great fun with new toys in his PJs.

 We then went out to Wimpy's for a birthday breakfast as the family.  Liam was also given some birthday money from his aunt and uncle, so he picked out a couple of books for his birthday at the Mall. We rarely go to the shops and look at toys and books, so picking something out was extra fun. He had a hard time making his decision but he ended up with a Stunt Airplane book and Numbers Tracing book.

After our breakfast outing, daddy went to work at The Village and I went to work on his cake. A few weeks back he decided he wanted a tractor birthday cake, so that was my goal. I have to say the internet is fantastic for figuring out how to make cakes. It only took me 3 hours to design and frost his cake and the extra cake. We have to have lots of cake because when you invite your immediate family that you live with {everyone at The Village} plus a few other special people in our lives we end up with 24 people and that is a lot of cake.

Liam was very pleased with his Tractor cake. Overall we had a fantastic day celebrating Liam's day. We are so thankful that God blessed us with him. He's a true treasure to us.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rosie's House

Rosie joined Restoring Hope Village in February and has been a wonderful addition to the group. She is 12 years old and is in grade 7 at school. Rosie's mother passed away sometime ago, leaving Rosie to live with her granny and older sister. Her granny can no longer care for her because of her poor health. Her older sister is 18 years old and still lives with their granny.

Rosie had the privilege of going to one of the better schools in town before coming to The Village. She is the first child we've ever received that is in her correct academic grade for her age and she speaks perfect English. Rosie is full of personality, quick thinking and talks a lot. Another unique experience happened when she came to live at The Village. The day she arrived with her social worker and walked into her new house it was like a family reunion just happened. Her new housemother, Mama Selina, used to work in a cresh that Rosie attended when she was 5 and 6 years old. Our Lord is faithful in His surprise blessings!

This past weekend, Rosie came to Uncle Brian and asked for some help with a school project. She needed to build something for school and she wanted to build a house. Of course she picked the perfect person to help her build a house. Brian had her sit down and draw a picture of what she wanted the house to look like and then they went to work. Brian thoroughly enjoys these kinds of projects.

With a little bit of measuring, cutting, nailing, glueing, sanding and painting Rosie got a bigger and better house then she was anticipating. It might look like Brian did all the work but she was right there and helped with the project.

They had extra time so Uncle Brian added on a patio and made a table, bed with duvet cover and toilet for inside.

And might I add, these are the fun things we get to do that make up for any bad days we might have.

Living and Loving our Life in South Africa

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Lost 9 Year Old Girl

I'm  not even sure where to begin as I sit down to write this post.  All of us at The Village, our family, O'Tools, our 3 houseparents and 11 other children have had a terrible experience the past 10 days that we never want to deal with again.  I know that sounds so harsh, but we live in the harsh reality of a sinful world.

I don't often write about the 'bad' days here, but sometime we feel the need to share about those 'bad' days to help us vent. Brian and I moved to Welkom 6 years ago this month. We boldly said "Yes we will go to South Africa, help start a home for orphaned and abandoned children". Our desire was to see the next generations of South African children have HOPE in the Lord.  To have a changed life - physically and spiritually. Wow, we were young and naive, but naive was a benefit to us. If we would of known what we know now, our "Yes" wouldn't have been bold or possibly even been changed into a "No".

When you think briefly about the idea of starting a children's home, it has a nice sound. Nice thoughts run through your mind including giving children a warm home, nice clothes, playing ball, and assuming that every young child would desire a life of those niceties.  The images that DON'T come to your mind are children that would rather live a life of freedom, no matter what that means forfeiting. The chance to have 3 meals a day, an education, clothes, a bed to sleep in and houseparents who care for you. But along with that comes rules and obedience. And that is where the struggle happens for some of these kids. Some kids have been left to fend for themselves causing them to steal food.  And one thing leads to another and before long they are sniffing glue, smoking weed, and having sex, all before they turn 10 years old. These are children trapped in a child's body who have been trained to think and act like an adult.

Last week, all of us, Louis, Amber, Brian, myself, our 3 houseparents and 11 Village children all struggled with a child that fits the description above. Twelve days ago, we had a 9 year old girl and her 13 year old brother join us because there mother is in jail for shop lifting. The Lord really tested our patiences, our perseverance and helped us love the unlovely. The boy was actually a nice kid when he wanted to be. He even tried to be good for a few days and we really thought he wanted to change. The 9 year old girl never tried, never wanted to be here and never gave us a chance. The days were long for all of us adults and even the children here. We all had to be on our toes to make sure she didn't run away (our electric fence ran 24/7 to keep her in), she punched and pushed the kids here, she cussed and was most likely experiencing withdraw from her glue to sniffing and Daka to smoking. Louie couldn't even paint without her sniffing around. I could go on and on with the behaviors but you get the idea.

On Friday evening both her and the brother left. I feel for the social worker because she appears to have no resources for them and she seems to be a social worker that actually cares. At the same time, we could no longer care for these 2 children here because we were in fear for the other children they were staying with. But it is so unsettling to see children leave in such a terrible manner and to think that at the age of 9 she is beyond lost.

Recently I have ran across this truth from the Bible both in reading and from a friend. We are responsible for the obedience but God is responsible for the outcome.  It's not our burden to carry.  We said YES.  We went when and where He said to go, the outcome of it all is up to Him. He doesn't need me to do fulfill His plan, but He chose to use me for His plan. The Lord commanded us to "care for orphans in distress". This week we 'cared' for her and that was our responsibility.  Now our turn is up and we pray for her as she goes down yet another rough path in her life and take comfort in knowing that she rests in the Lord's hands.