[Installment number four. Here's links for one, two, and three.]
April 1, 7:00 AM
It may be April Fool's Day, but our kid is no fool! Louis just said "Taty" for the first time. It comes out sounding more like "Ahhhhhtee," but oh my goodness, how adorable!
(Sorry there's no picture with this video!)
Louis said "Taty" in our bedroom about 20 times. Now that we are outside with everyone, do you think he would say it once?!
Chance is leaving for another day of teaching pastors and other church members in Briggitte. He's leading a study based on the book, "They Smell Like Sheep" and is teaching on the qualities of leadership.
The boys and I are hanging out around the house today.
(Louis, teaching Paula a thing or two about the iPad.)
(Clean water in Africa is sold in bags. Now, if you are holding a Ziplock in the right way, my baby comes crawling over to suck on the corner of it...)
Got the kids down for early naps because we plan to go to the beach this afternoon.
Grace and Jane are heading to "Sports Day". This is a once-a-year day of competitions within the village. The citizens get together and organize races and other challenges. Rick and Paula told Grace that she could decide between attending sports day or going to the beach with us. Grace debated, but finally said that since sports day only happens once a year, she would do that. This was a big deal in the Miller house because it was her first time doing something independently with Jane, without her parents! World, our little Gracie is growing up!
Chance and Rick stopped by the Sports Day on their way home from the conference. The kids were divided into two teams - blue and yellow. They looked so cute!
Ahhhh... The beach.
I've been reflecting on the somewhat negative reception of Nasko and his special needs:
When I was here previously, many villages had not seen many white people. They treated us like we were celebrities. Now, three years later, white people are not quite as rare. They still aren't common in the villages, but more and more white people have at least come to visit.
The thing that seems to attract attention this trip is Louis. Even if white people come visit, they typically don't bring their 10 month old baby with them! Many of the Africans have never seen a white baby.
Nasko is slightly confusing to them too. His skin doesn't match ours, so that's perplexing. We had one man ask who was in our family. We introduced the boys and he then turned to our translator and asked again. He wasn't sure he was understanding properly!
On top of looking a little out of place, Nasko is... well... Nasko.
He is overly friendly and is very hard for Krio-speaking individuals to understand. (Although, the child has learned how to say "chicken" very, very clearly this trip!)
We've encountered a few people who have been less-than-understanding about Nasko's differences.
One man, who is close to Rick and Paula, waited for a moment when he thought I wasn't around to confront Nasko on his behavior. I watched this man grab Nasko's arm, give him a quick shake, and lecture him harshly on the need for being a good little boy before I was able to intervene. If only that chat could fix everything, man... I later told Paula about this incident, and she took the opportunity to teach the man about orphanages and about special needs.
One other instance involved a woman at the beach. This woman has been Rick and Paula's waitress on many occasions. She's become a familiar face to them. On our second trip to the beach, she stood and stared at Nasko for a long moment. He was probably tic-ing like a madman (caused by wrong timezone, heat, lack of sleep, anticipating playing in the ocean, etc). When he saw her staring at him, he took a sudden interest in her. With disgust in her voice, she said, "What is your problem?" When he didn't answer, she returned to taking our drink orders, but her words still hurt me.
I'm sure the people in the United States who encounter Nasko think similar things or feel the same way about his disobedience, but there's a different level of tact there. The feelings and questions of onlookers are typically not just blurted out.
Faith, Chance and I bid Rick and Paula farewell as they had booked a room at the hotel on the beach in order to celebrate their anniversary. They have not had a getaway for the past seven years, so Chance and I were thrilled to be able to minister to them by watching their children for two nights!
April 2, 7:50 AM
Moses is here! Moses is a Sierra Leone native who now pastors in Liberia. He serves as an advisor and support member to Rick and Lifegate. He's also been used as a translator and body guard (he fought in the war - no one messes with Moses). Everyone who meets Moses loves the man, as he has so much biblical wisdom. We really wanted to be able to see Moses while we were here, and he travelled all day and night to ensure that we would be able to! Grace and Faith were equally as delighted to see Moses walk through the door!
I'm at home with four littles, so we are spending the morning getting cleaned up, playing, and reading books.
Jane has been sent to market for a few staples (mangos, pineapple, bread, popcorn). I also asked her to cook our lunch. I'm trying to decide if I can bring Jane home with me...
Jane made rice and greens with dried fish for lunch. Chance and I could probably eat African everyday. Sooo yummy. Nasko and the girls could have skipped the greens though...
With Moses' help, we got a car and headed to the orphanage. I have no idea how one even gets a car here, so I'm glad that wasn't my job.
(Victoria, the female caregiver and the orphanage cook.)
(This is James.)
(I taught Faith how to take a "selfie." There are just some things that must not go untaught from the American culture...)
(Aminata with Deborah.)
Letty (the newly hired nurse for CROH) arrived to administer medicine and do the twice-weekly physical exam. Poor little Davey has malaria and James had to get a shot because of problems with his ears.
Both boys cried and cried and reminded me that these children are still truly orphans.
The kids at CROH are intelligent, well-adjusted, and polite, but they still have no one to sit and hold them as they cry because they don't feel well. They also don't have anyone who will comfort them and buy them an ice cream cone after they endure necessary shots.
The caregivers at CROH are wonderful people who love on the kids everyday and night, but they in no way are a replacement for parents. Please pray that Sierra Leone will someday open their doors to international adoption so that these children can receive the love and care that was designed for children.
(And so that they can all come live with the Newinghams...)
I finished painting the fingernails of the girls who were in the orphanage this afternoon. (The big girls were still in school while we were there.) This was a great way to spend one-on-one time in the girls' intimate space. I enjoyed this bonding time with each of them. And since Nasko picked out the polish colors, they all have neon nails now!
We also took this time to pass out some of the sponsor gifts. A few people asked us to deliver care packages for their specific kiddos, so we did! Those kids felt extra special!
(Victoria's daughter, Nay-nay, was showing off the bracelet she received.)
(Hasanatu with neon nails and bracelets to match!)
(Joseph and his care package.)
(Raymond with his goodies.)
On the way home from the orphanage, we made a quick stop at the market for a few things. This time, we parked in "the pit" where all the taxis sit and wait for their passengers. As we hopped out and I wrapped Louis onto my back, we created quite the stir! Moses translated some of their comments for us, and they couldn't believe what I was doing. Then, many from the group began following us through the market. At one stop, I turned around and saw 30-40 people gawking at us!
While Jane was cooking lunch, the gas from the stove completely ran out. She was able to finish cooking outside on her coal pot (similar to the idea of a charcoal grill). The lack of gas slightly altered our supper plans, but Jane came to the rescue again with the coal pot. Chef Chance took a skillet outside and fried up some hot dogs. I prepared some fresh pineapple and mango and served a leftover cold chicken salad. We've got this! (Thank goodness for Jane!)
[Stay tuned for more!]