Sunday, April 21, 2013

26- Processing...

Finally- time to write something a little more interesting for you all... there'll be a few this week, as we're hitting some landmark dates in my life... you'll see what I'm talking about when it rolls on in:)

For now, I really want to update on my visit to Lazare's yesterday...

We went to Lazare's nice and early... well for Saturday 9 is early in my opinion... though I never wake up later than 8ish these days:) I was in my usual 'get out of bed quuick and rush around' mode...  I don't know why I do that when I prefer to get up and take my time, but I do it every time:) Then we were off. Lazare's was fun, but a little tough... lately it's been getting tougher as I know I'm leaving these sweet ones in a few short weeks. This is the closest and most involved I've gotten with a ministry in any country I've served in, so this is a toughie.
Musa is very picky about who he likes... thankfully he loves me now:)
Dorcas and Tata enjoying water play!

I got to stay at Lazare's a few weeks ago an while I was there, I stayed with an amazing girl named Hannah, who lived on site in a little apartment above the center. We had a blast together, but, sadly, she left last week. This has left a few of the kids in a shell-shocked state. They had gotten used to the unconditonal love, affection, and attention they'd gotten from this awesome girl. But now, nobody really looks out for them. Their smiles were few and far between and they all clung to me. There are 3 girls in particular that really loved Hannah, and throughout the visit yesterday, each of those sweet girls ran to me and couldn't be consoled unless I was with them. Breaks my heart and makes me cringe.
Great way to get a Massage:)

Hannah and Rachid

Our Smiley Rachid:)

Lisa with Dorcas
My turn!!! I have Hawa, Rachid and Dorcas on my back ! 

Lisa celebrating with Dorcas after Dorcas walked successfully with her walker quite a ways. She has Cerebral Palsy  and Lisa and her family have been insturmental in getting Dorcas sitting up, walking, and being more verbal!

My little man Jean... or Jean Jean as I call him:)
What'll it be like when I leave? What'll it be like when Mercy Ships leaves. There are about 9 of us who go on this particular team every single week with about 10 who are random crew members who sometimes come twice, but rarely come more than once. Out of the 9, there is 1 family that is EXTREMELY close with about 4 kids, the other is really close with probably 3, and I'm super duper close with probably about 15 of the kids... about 1/2.. merely from my weekend visit over Easter. I have no idea how I"m going to leave these kids behind. I thought about how I could get one home to be with me, but am constantly reminded I'm in no place to adopt, and only 4/30 kids are even adoptable there anyway...
Esther and Doracs during Water Play
Esther at Snacktime
Esther during Water Play
Esther, Rachid and Brenna at water play!!

I love Esther's new look!!!

As I held my sweet Hannah(the baby, not the older friend;)), who clearly just needed attention- a baby who nearly died in our first weeks visiting the care center, but held on- she's a fighter, I nearly burst into tears. I'm haunted by images of her when she was just skin and bones, strapped to my fellow crew mate, and good friend Lisa's back. Lisa's heart was so full and wanting to protect this small one when we first got there- she had hope for this child who all others had lost hope in. Over the last few months, sweet Hannah has gained SO much weight. She's not this sweet chubby little marshmallow who I just want to eat up all of the time. She's hard to hold for too long because she's quite heavy, but I rejoice every time my arms ache from holding her. Her eyes used to be so empty and void of emotion, but now they are full... yesterday they were full of pain and sadness, not her usual joy. Again... my heart ached and ached for her.
At the Easter Egg Hunt
She LOVES snack... peanut butter EVERYWHERE!!!
What a sweet girl, my Hannah is:)

 Then there's my sweet Jojo. His name is Joseph, but we've grown to love his nickname:) When we first arrived at the care center, he was confined to a baby seat. We assumed something was wrong, so we didn't touch him. As the weeks went on, I decided I didn't care if he was sick or something, this baby needed love. I grabbed him and was surprised at how light this little guy was... he was covered in strange bumps, his skin pale, hair missing in patches, his thumb cut up from sucking on it.... that's when I noticed his teeth. He has a full mouth.... So, I asked my friend Lisa, who happens to be a Dental Hygenist if she'd tell me how old he is. She said she could give an estimate, but nothing concrete. It wasn't until Hannah(big Hannah) came that I learned Jojo is over 2 years old... he had the physical ability of a 4 month old when I met him- he couldn't hold his head up, he couldn't sit up, he stared blankly, made no sound... so really the capacity of a newborn. Over the last few months, we decided to take action. We began stimulating him, one of the team members brought him to the ship to be checked out and what the orphanage though was Scoliosis, just turned out to be under-development of this sweet boy. He had the complete capability of learning to sit up, to walk, to function, but he was outcast in the very place that brought him in off the streets.

Me and Jojo LAUGHING!!!:)
Me and Jojo snuggling.

Now, Jojo is making tons of sounds, his smile is the most amazing smile in existance, he has the sweetest laugh, he can sit up and crawl a little bit. He has permanant developmental affects of his neglect, however. He is severerly underdeveloped not only physically, but mentally. If I had to guess, he has the mental age of a 5 or 6 month old. When he is over-stimulated, he shuts down, when he is under-stimulated, he has a system of stimulating himself, which involves sucking his thumb and controlling the light around him by putting his hand over his eyes and  quickly removing it. This boy had my heart... I wish I could sweep him away and give him the attention he needs to overcome these obstacles. I would guess he is on the Autism Spectrum, and probably at the very low-functioning end. He is semi-verbal, but has yet to form words or make sounds that resemble words...
So handsome!!!
Suckin' that thumb:)

Then comes the part that wrecks my heart and shreds it up into a billion pieces. Over 1/2 of the kids at this care center have HIV. Probably 1/2 are contracted from the mother and the other 1/2(especially the older kids) contracted it from abuse of some sort. My little Jojo has no chance of being adopted. HIV Positive children are not adoptable- domestically or Internationally. They are adoptable in the US Domestically, but Guinea will not adopt a child who is HIV positive. I understand SOME of the logic, however, I really just don't get it at the end of the day. They are preventing these children from potentially getting into families who will look after their disease, who can provide them with the attention and medication they need, who will support them and look after them- especially in those final days when their body begins attacking itself. HIV is not an accepted disease here in Africa. People are often shunned from their tribes and families if it is known they have it, so they either hide the people, or hide the disease, neither of which will help the situation in the least.

Sweet girl. Lived with Hannah while she was here due to a broken leg... nobody knows how she broke her femur in 1/2... 
Times like these make me ask God, 'Why?... Why do you allow these children to get sick, why do you allow tragic things to happen to their families, why are they shunned from their families, why are they abandoned, abused, neglected?' But then I'm reminded, God says that he will provide for those who trust in him. it makes me step back and look at the bigger picture. At the end of the day, this place is their refuge- it's WAY better than the places they would've ended up had Lazare not brought them in. Then we come to Lazare. He has a heart of gold. His intentions are pure and he has a heart after God. It's hard because the caregivers aren't all this way, many just needed a job and truly do not care about the children. And for whatever reason, Lazare cannot fire them by law, but maybe God is using each of these people in this place for a reason. Maybe he has something bigger to show each caregiver and he'll bring them up to be amazing caregivers? I truly do not know and I won't know, but I am thankful that at least the place has a solid family who runs it and while they cannot control all of the situations, cannot fulfill all of the children's needs, they are following God's plan for them and are doing the best they can with what they have... I'm thankful these kids had a 2nd chance... so many were on the verge of death when they came to Lazare's, and now they are full of life.
My older boys!!! Abu, Mohammed, Sekouba and Naby
David is being adopted NEXT MONTH!!:) 

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