As of 18 Sept 2016:
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed teaching Simon how to operate a motorcycle. I had him ride behind me while I explained the procedure. Then we traded places and he took turns alternating between the extremes of clutch out / throttle open action, killing it before moving two inches or almost popping wheelies and tossing me off the back. The way he beams when he is able to start moving out of first gear and work up to third you’d think this was a dream come true for him. The first thing he says to me when I return from my battles in the Ministries is whether we can please “do a lesson”. He has learned well so far, and will be as good as any of us in no time. There’s a fun memory to hang on to. His willingness to go to a new school with people he doesn’t know, and his concern for the quality of his education, is admirable. The possiblity that he could actually learn trig in that school with no lights with teachers he can barely understand has given him enough hope to try. And by tring he will succeed.
Every time I see Ruby I want to remember what I’m looking at. She is constantly engaged in something great. Playing with the little Tokpahs, getting lessons in Coloqua pidgin English, reading a great book to herself or a different great book to friends, making bread or beating cassava leaf, or eating whatever dish has been served, regardless of its content. She seems to always be smiling. Read her blog posts and you’ll know why. This girl is on fire! It is all in her attitude. She has released that part of her that loves adventure and learning new things, which is obvious to everyone around her and which attracts everyone to her. But my favorite thing is that when I dropped her forgotten water bottle off to her at school on day two, she secretly showed me her charm collection which she had brought with her that day – her mojo of momentos from friends, because “I was scared to come to school today so I brought this…” and explained quietly what each charm meant to her. The beautiful thing about this memory is that it reveals something very insightful about Ruby. He thriving is because she has made the choice to be here in every way. It cannot be taken for granted that for some it seems easy, as if no personal effort or sacrifice were involved in being happy or successful in a new or difficult situation. She has chosen the better part: Through her choice to be positive and loving that part of her that loves adventure and learning new things remained open, which is obvious to everyone around her and which attracts everyone to her.
Fire ants seem like the mean stepcousins to those I was introduced to in southeast Texas. You can’t feel them on you until they’re biting and injecting venom. These little wounds itch terribly, and when you doing as DeContee says, “Enjoying it too much”, for even a few seconds of scratching, you must definitely pay the price of open sores that itch more the more you scratch. Charlie boy apparently was enjoying himself a little too much as he connected the fire ant bites with an open sore trench that became angrily infected with mad swelling and icky discharge. I have played doctor on his foot the last three nights, using parts of the medical kits donated by a couple of sweet American grade school girls earlier this year, which has gratefully eliminated the infection and enabled healing to begin. In order to avoid contamination of the wound and to make sure he was included with the rest of the family, I bandaged him up well and carried him (10 years old and 65 pounds) about 4 miles to the beach this last Saturday, where he enjoyed his time scavenging among the ocean trash from Monrovia that has washed onto the shore, yielding him three pairs of mismatched sandals and slides. Another fun memory to hang on to. Charlie has not complained once throughout the process.
Ivy has had heat rash on and off since the first day. She is often uncomfortably itchy but I have never heard her complain. She is choosing to take it all in stride and to find ways to cope that work for her. She takes time alone when she needs it. She asks for help when she needs it. She finds happiness where she can, and that is enough. At District Conference today she was being laid on by Faith who was a little sleeping heater box, while laying on Small Princess who was wearing a fleece coat in 85 degree weather. I can imagine how suffocating that could have felt to her. But she loves her playmates and stuck with it for over three hours, never mentioning a negative feeling. She just wanted me to gently tickle her hand as I sat behind her, and that was enough to recharge her battery for the moment. Really, I am amazed and deeply grateful for her response to the Spirit, leading her toward humility and openness, love and learning, and inner peace. This one seems to have found her “zen”. I give her a ten.