Tuesday, July 30, 2013

In Which We Bring Home Two New Babies~

Going home with TWO more babies!
 With the departure of Abby, Katerine, and Alison our house has been WAY too quiet, so with the permission of Jennifer, we picked up two more children from Casa One! Almost exactly a week ago, S. and A. his baby sister, came to live with us. They had been selected because it seemed that S. especially needed some extra attention. S. is 17 months old and came to live at Casa de Amor when he was two days old because his mother had tried to kill him. A.(4mo) was taken away from her mother at birth, because her mother was known to be mentally unstable. Because S. was living at CDA the authorities contacted Jennifer to take her, so that the siblings could be together. CORRECTION: August 1, Jennifer just sent me an e-mail with the children's sponsorship package information. In it is the TRUE story about how the babies came to live at CDA. I am going to paste it below for ya'll to read.
                                     S. and A.'s Story
 We actually said we were too full when asked to take in this newborn,
but then realized she was the new sister of a baby boy we already had!
On February 15, 2012, we were called by the main pediatric hospital’s
social worker and informed of a situation in the maternity wards. A
mother had tried to suffocate her brand new baby to death, and upon
exam was found to be suffering from postpartum psychosis (the most
unusual but extreme form of postpartum depression). Thus baby
Samuel arrived to Casa de Amor’s Baby Home at 3 days of age.
Fast forward to April 1, 2013, and Casa de Amor’s social worker was
in the office of the same social worker of the same hospital. We were
asked to take in an abandoned newborn but we said we were too full,
with two newborns already. Then a doctor just “happened” to walk into
the office and mention the name of the abandoned baby’s mother. Our
social worker immediately recognized the name and called the director
back with this new bit of news… And the rest is history!! Beautiful
baby Adriana was brought to us at 5 days old and seems a perfect little
baby so far.
After many visits to the birth family (5 older siblings, a mother with multiple mental illnesses, and a physically ill father), it was obvious that they could not and did not want to care for Samuel. His papers are already pretty far advanced, meaning he could’ve be assigned an adoptive family soon, but now we will have to start in court over presenting his new sister. Pray that somehow the case is expedited so that BOTH can receive a forever family without too much more delay!

  They both have already stolen our hearts and have once again filled our house with noise and life! Samuel loves to be outside puttering around. He likes to watch our pet bunny and try to catch it. He also gets along really well with Leo, who he shares a room with.
(S. in the above picture is how he looked most of the first day. Check out the pictures below to see the change in his disposition!)

Leo checking out the newcomer!
 A. is too sweet for words and has been like a real live doll for the little girls to play with!
Clara with her new live "baby doll"
 Our boys have enjoyed having another "man" in the house. S. seems to really enjoy his new big brothers on loan.
Clancy, S., and Myles
  By far Samuel's favorite person is Tio Rudi. From day one no one could get as many smiles and laughs as Tio could. I think he has missed out on a father figure in his life and now he is soaking it up! Look at his grin in the next picture... too cute!
Time with Tio Rudi 

Hanging out with Emily and Paula
 Baby A. has settled into our family nicely as well. She wakes once or twice each night to eat and we are working on fattening her up like Leo...hmm...don't know if we will be able to do that! When she is awake she is bright eyed and alert. She loves to coo and give us smiles. It does seem that she is behind on nutrition, so we are looking into ways to bump up her weight and her fragile system! If love is what she needs, she is getting plenty of that!:)
~Precious Baby A.~
Psalm 68:5-6a "A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families:" What a blessing that God has put these children in our care. It is awesome to have our house full to the brim again. We are privileged to be here serving together as a family.

Another Buddy!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Adios, Abby

Abby and her NEW Parents!
 We have great news for you... our sweet Abby, who we have cared for since the end of February, has been ADOPTED by a wonderful Bolivian couple! They met for the first time about a month ago and she went home with them this past week. They came to visit her and get acquainted a lot of afternoons before they took her home. She had definitely bonded with them by the time their paperwork was finished. We are so happy for Abby and her parents!
Love at First Sight!

 When Abby came to us she had lived in a hospital crib for the first ten months of her life. She was so easy going and non-demanding that Jennifer thought she might slip through the cracks at the larger baby home Casa de Amor has. Abby could barely sit up and could not crawl or scoot. Last week I left her in the living room and a few moments later when I came into the kitchen (very far away from the living room!) she was there with the fridge open! If we left a door open she very quickly crawled outside!
First Picture of Abby at our House!
 She and Leo have always shared a room and schedule. They were like the second set of twins! They got along famously, unless they wanted the same toy!
Amigos, Abby and Leo

Love Those Eyes

Learning how to clap with Clancy!

 Abby was a great eater and would eat ANYTHING as long as it was pureed. When she came she had two teeth on the bottom and two teeth barely through on the top. When she left she had all eight of her front teeth and four molars. She rarely complained about the pain, but would soak her clothes with drool and we would have to change her shirt very often!
Chow time with Tio Rudi
Ruth, Paula, Abby and Leo!
 On cold mornings we would put the babies on the bean bag to keep them up off the ground. There is no heat in Bolivian houses, so in the kitchen next to the stove is as good as it gets!
Best Buddies, Ruth and Abby
 Every morning it is hair combing time. Clara loved to do Abby's hair, even though she wiggled like crazy!
The Hair Combing Train!
Bedtime Bottles

Chillin' with her favorite Tia Carla!
Our Original Four Casa Babies

Only Abby's mother could come to pick her up, because her father was working. Abby had a grand time showing off for all of us watching! She threw her toy keys on the ground over and over and then would look real teasey and laugh! I love these pictures I took of her being dressed and playing with her new mommy!
I must mention that when we asked what they would be naming Abby, her mother said "CARLA Anilla".
What a great name!!!

"Carla" and her Mommy!
We have enjoyed every minute with Abby and know that her new parents will also! We are thankful that God spared her life and are confident that He has very good things in store for her! When I think of her I think of this verse: "For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." Psalm 139:13-14 From being found in a trash can to now being in a loving forever home... Truly, marvellous are God's works and that my soul knoweth right well!!!! Farewell, Abby, you will forever have a place in our hearts!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Our Trip to the Jungle (Part 2)

After our many adventures, we hit the trail in our loaded truffi for a little town in the middle of no where. This is where Gladys'(Tia's niece) family lives. After bumping along on dirt roads for three hours in the dark, with the last half hour being the worst, we decided that the Dealys (our friends in Oregon) did not live at the "ends of the earth", because we were in Bolivia at the "ends of the earth"...truly! One fun thing was that we discovered was that this part of the Bolivian jungle has fireflies! It was fun to spot their sparkly lights from the truffi as we drove past. The least fun part was going over the MANY log bridges that we entered VERY slowly so that we did not slip off...eeks! The guys especially would laugh at the noises I would make as we went over them!

When we arrived at the Pueblito it was profoundly dark, as each house only had one very dim light that was powered by solar. The stars are amazing when it is sooo dark! Gladys' mother welcomed all of us to her house with a meal of fried fish, and yucca. It was super yummy and we all sat around on the bare wood floor and ate with our hands! It was like stepping back in time.

The house was approx 30X20, made of wood, and all one room. It is built up off the ground so that you enter by a wooden ladder. There are no doors or windows, just bare wood walls! There are no tables, chairs, or any "creature comforts" that we are used to! The only bed that belonged to them they very generously gave to Rudi and I to use! It was slightly softer than the floor... I think!! Emily slept with me on it one night and said that the sleeping bag on the floor was softer the next night! It still was super hospitable of them to let us use it. That was basically the way they were with all of their things. What they had was ours to use!

After our meal we set up tents and mosquito nets to sleep in and under. There were five individual sleeping areas by the time we were done. We took over 3/4 of the house with our things. There was just room left for the cooking area and a small area to sit!
Our Tent home!

Clara, Ruth, and Paula, on Tia's "bedroom"!

Below is the only picture we got of the outside of the house. To the left of the boys is the ladder that you go into the house with! To the right is the well where all of the water comes from! You pull the water up with a skinny bucket thing.
Preparing food below the house!
I have to pause here and show you what awakened us a 1 a.m. the first night. Not the critters, as they were already dead, but Gladys' Dad had gone out and shot them and brought them home for us to eat! It would be the equivalent to killing the fatted calf for us! I always forget what they are called but they are kinda a cross between a rabbit and a pig... I know that sounds strange, but they were actually quite tasty! They only eat banana and yucca.
Rudi got up to take pictures at Javier's urging. He also got his picture taken with them! In the picture below Rudi, our host and hostess are skinning out the critters by flashlight!
Rudi modeling our dinner!
Middle of the Night Preparations!

In the morning Tia Techy, Rosi, and Gladys' mother (with the hat) spent about two hours cutting them up for our lunch. They were delicious! This picture is also taken inside the house in the "sitting area"!
Tia Techy, Rosi, Glady's Mom, and Reilmar Gladys' brother 

Gladys and her cousin washed up all of the lettuce that Techy had brought from her house. We had a nice big salad with our little critters, and of course, the ever present, Yucca! Check out Gladys's shoes. Rudi and I really got a laugh over how fancy they were in all of that mud and in the middle of nowhere! I guess you can tell a girls heart by her shoes! Oh dear, what does that say about me!!
 The guys all helped out by peeling the yucca for lunch. Yucca is a root that grows like crazy in the jungle. They seemed to eat it with every meal. It is a bit like potato only drier and even more bland. Not on my favorite food list, but with a lot of water is edible! We all like it fried the best because it tastes similar to french fries!
They saved the skin to eat for dinner... Rudi and I missed out because we had gone to bed...bummer!

After lunch was time for the "Jungle Mud Trudge". I was going to put Paula to bed for a nap and wait at home, but Javier talked me into going with all of them to go fishing. I did not know that we would walk about four miles round trip in PURE mud or I think I would have stayed home for the nap. It ended up being a great adventure. Rudi had to remind me a few times about what a great blog this would make!
A decent stretch of the road!

Resting after the long haul!
After walking about a mile and a half in the mud, we headed deep into the flora and fauna of the jungle off the beaten track. It was spectacularly beautiful. We walked past lots of papaya trees, bananas, and pineapple patches!
Edwin, Rudi and Paula with Papayas
Exotic Jungle Flower

Me, Modeling a Banana tree
At the river they were well into catching fish when we arrived. Unfortunately, it had rained a lot the night before,(hence the mud everywhere) and the river was too high to yield many fish.
Fishing with nets.
They fished with nets and also with just a roll of fishing twine and a hook. Reels and poles were not used at all. I am told on a good day you can catch 60 or more fish using these methods. Our catch was only five! They cooked them up that night and I was told they were delicious. I don't know the name of the fish in either Spanish or English. Sorry, fishing buffs!
Fishing from shore.

Our Five Fish
Well, about the time we got there we realized that we were going to need to head back pretty soon, as the sun was going to go down and we did not want to be caught in the jungle after dark. All of the women and girls headed back together. It was my favorite part of the day visiting and laughing with the ladies, as we slipped and slid home. I told Emily that some people pay money to run in the mud and all they get is a t-shirt and a hot shower afterwards! We decided we would have t-shirts made that said "I survived the Bolivian Jungle Mud Trudge!" I will have to post a picture of them when we do!

A really nice bridge!
The picture below is blurry, but it shows all of us trudging along! I carried Paula all the way back and a couple of times nearly fell. I asked Emily to take a picture of our shoes and legs. I was surprised at how clean they looked. For some reason it sure FELT a lot dirtier!

Happy Trails!

The Shoes!
We all washed up in some various little creeks as best we could. After we sat waiting for awhile in the truffi I suggested that I drive the truffi to the little town close by so that we could buy something to drink and some snacks. Gladys was shocked that I could drive and I instantly become something of a celebrity for her. (Not many women drive here.) Emily and Gladys had to coach me over one of the log bridges and I must say it was the scariest thing I have ever driven over. We got our snacks and headed back to pick up the guys. They were happy to see us, but Ishmael, our chofer was not too happy with me for driving his car. I apologized and he forgave me. I WAS sorry, but it sure was fun too!

Ruth washing off her shoes in a little creek
Because it was so muddy and really no place to wash up, and the fish weren't biting, we all voted to head home early. We were planning to stay two more nights and just stayed one more before heading out.

 But before we leave our tranquil spot I wanted to show you our bathroom. You see there are no bathrooms at the Ends of the Earth, so they dug one for us! Between the banana trees below is our beautiful bathroom. It was in full view of the house, so you just had to swallow your pride and go for it! We all bonded a bit more than I wanted to, but what can I say it was a jungle out there!!!
"Al Fresco BaƱo"
Our Craftsmen wave that it is all done! (Keep in mind that these guys are as tall as I am)
Our last morning in the jungle Javier drove us to a place where we could rent a boat and go on a mini-boat cruise on the River Beni. This river will take you very far and deep into the jungle regions of Bolivia. On our short excursion we passed many little villages only accessed by river. I have never experienced anything like that before. We passed many a boat taking supplies up river for the various villages.
Our Captain and His Boat
Javier and Techy's Family 

Edwin and Rosi's Family

A Village Reached Only by Water
"Chofer Ishmael" and Javier

Jungle Riverboat
Rudi and Carla's Family
After our boating tour we began the long trek home back over the mountains. It had been a grand time! I must say that no shower ever felt so good as the one that night. No bed ever felt so SOFT and clean!
It was also great to see our "Casa Babies" who had stayed behind with Tia Carmen, who had taken the best of care of them. We are looking forward to the next time we get to go and experience the jungle. It is definitely not a place for the faint hearted!