The boys would wake me up at 5:30 am. Once awakened, I would go into Mom's room to go back to sleep. I crawled onto the big pile on mattresses that was in Mom's room. I would sleep there for another hour or so before waking up. The mattresses were there because they had been donated to the home just before we got there, I believe. They were stored in Mom's room. Once we left, they would be distributed to the children.
Mom, Pastor Lucius, Davika and Boyo went to Georgetown for the day. I stayed at the home and played with the kids. We played Uno for hours. I played Uno, in fact, with the kids almost everyday for hours. Sometimes we played Uno in the dining room, and sometimes we played it on the boys' veranda outside. Almost all the children played Uno with me throughout my visit. It was so much fun. We rotated children playing the games. We sat out on the boy's veranda and played games for a lot of the day. Later in the morning, some people were putting up a tent for a special event that was going to take place on Wednesday. I took video of them putting up the tent. It was a huge tent and took a lot of people working together to get it ready.
I took videos of all the boys and some of the female employees helping put up the tent for an event scheduled for the following day. An organization was coming to give the children in New Amsterdam book bags and Bibles. While I was taking a video of them erecting the tent, Latchmi, Andrew and Parbattie joined me on the boys' veranda to watch the tent. After video taping the tent going up, a few of the children and I sat and played Uno on the boys' veranda.
When Mom returned, she wanted to sort out the items we brought for the children. Tawana took the primary lead in helping Mom sort out the clothes, shoes, and other gifts for the children. Mom kept commenting how impressed she was at the whole process. Tawana knew the sizes of each child for both clothes and shoes. They made a pile for each child. Some children got more clothes than others because of the amount of clothes donated. In one case, one of the girls had only a little undershirt while Tawana had two shirts. Looking over the distribution of clothes, Tawana took one of her shirts and put it on the pile for the other girl. She did so without even being asked. When asked why she did that, her response was I have two, she doesn't have any. Her selflessness brought tears to my mother's eyes.
Mom Sorting Out the Clothes With the Kids
After all the clothes, shoes and toys were sorted into piles, the children were called in one at a time to try on the clothes and shoes. Once it was confirmed that the designated items fit, Tawana and Mom wrote the children's names on each child's belongings, even socks. Mom then photographed each child with their new gifts. They were so grateful. Not one child asked if there was more nor did one complain. It was quite humbling to see. Mom was completely flabbergasted at how well Tawana knew each child's sizes. She also knew their taste in items.
The little girls and boys loved the dolls and stuffed animals. They walked around hugging them tightly. We brought jewelry for the little girls and some for the older girls. We were surprised at how even the older girls liked the little girls' jewelry. They got all dressed up in their new clothes with the jewelry and head bands in their hair. The children have such beautiful smiles. Their smiles were genuine. The happiness in their eyes was amazing. The children were so proud of their new gifts. They took great care of taking them to Auntie Beverley. She is the lady who is responsible for all the children's clothes. They folded them and took them to her to be put away.
Check out the children showing off their new clothes in our gallery.
After dinner, Tawana, Elizabeth and Andrew helped with the video interviews. Once we had finished interviewing the majority of the children, Tawana, Elizabeth, Swarsattie and Teresa looked at Mom's list of questions. We compiled a list from several Adoption and Foster Care websites. They took the list and said things like, "Why didn't you ask me this question?" Mom asked if they would answer the questions on camera or off. They wanted to answer the questions off camera. It was a great opportunity to watch how the older kids opened up. Mom said that she got closer to the children. It was great watching them open up to Mom. Both Mom and the children really had a fun time. While Mom was conducting the interviews, I was outside of Pastor Lucius' office working on obtaining updated biographies of the children.
It was very funny, while Mom was inside Pastor Lucius' office behind closed doors working on the video interviews on each child, almost every child in the home was waiting his/her turn outside the door. It's unclear if the children knew what was going on exactly in Pastor Lucius' office or if they just wanted to be involved because they were thrilled that somebody was paying that much individual attention to them. When the children got loud outside the office, Tawana, Elizabeth and Andrew went outside to quiet them. We also relied on them to determine the order the children came in to be interviewed. They were careful to instruct the children not to disclose the questions they were asked to the other children. That was pretty smart on their part. Mom tried to vary the questions and make sure they were age appropriate for each child.
Mom gave Mark a package from his sponsor. A group of boys helped Mark read his card while he opened his package. One of the items was a package of Twizzlers. It was amazing because he, without even a second thought, opened the package and shared it with the rest of the children in the home. That was an amazing act of selflessness. He could have easily kept the candy for himself but he just so generously shared it with everyone. That amazed Mom and me.
After the interviews were done, we gave the girls the nail polish. Mom and the girls went to the girls' veranda and painted their nails. They looked like they were having so much fun. The older girls did the little girls' nails first. Once done, they moved on to do their own nails. Elizabeth ran downstairs to do Auntie Joyce's toe nails before she did her own. The kids show their elders so much respect. Everyone had so much fun. Tawana painted Mom's finger and toe nails in a bright blue. It was very pretty.
Mom and the Girls Painting Their Nails
Mom asked some of the girls to come and get me so that I could video tape them. I was hesitant to come over. When asked why I wouldn't come, I responded by saying that I could not come over to the girls' wing. They laughed and pulled me by the hand and told me to come because Mom wanted me. I went over and video taped them. We all had such a good time.
Earlier in the night, I was playing Uno again with some of the older children. I should have been concentrating more on the game but I was too busy focusing on all the bugs flying around our area. The kids soon began taking notice of me rather than the game. Well, that is all it took. They asked me if I was afraid of bugs. When I said yes, (big mistake), they teased me by chasing me with the bugs. Both the girls and boys got a great laugh out of my apprehension toward the bugs. Mom too was afraid of the bugs. They just laughed at us and chased us. To them, the bugs were harmless and they thought it was funny. They stopped after a couple of teasing episodes. Mom and I learned our lesson. No more divulging our fears. By this time, most of the kids had started calling me "Uncle Ethan" as a sign of respect and Mom became Aunt Larissa. Although most of the kids called me "Uncle Ethan", some still called me Ethan. However, Richard Bruyning, one of the older boys, corrected all the kids who called me "Ethan" and said "No, it's Uncle Ethan!". It was funny. He was concerned that they addressed me respectfully
Me and the Kids Playing UNO
In addition to the bugs, there were mosquitos, somehow they deserve their own unique classification. The younger boys saw me scratching my mosquito bites once and told me to stop. I had so many mosquito bites that it was nearly impossible to stop. I continued to scratch while they continued to tell me to stop. It was funny.
We hung out and just visited with the girls in the girls' wing. Pretty soon, the boys attempted to join in. The girls quickly sent them off. Mom, the girls and I just hung out and talked. Time got the better of us all. When we looked down, we were shocked at how late it was. We graciously thanked our hosts and went off to bed.