Loving on my Canaries (Fall 2013)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Week one in Guatemala...

Hey everybody! So, I've been in Guatemala for a whole week now!! I have so very much enjoyed loving on the kids and getting to know them all. I now know the names of all of the Canaries, Dolphins, and Bunnies and most of the names of the Chicks, Ducks, and Squirrels. (I haven't spent as much time with those groups so I don't have them all down yet.)

Sadly, I do not have much to post about the children as both Cierra and I have been sick and unable to be with the children for a few days. Don't worry, we are not extremely ill and we have been well taken care of by everyone here. Mr. Art and Mrs. Ilvie (the wonderful couple who voluntarily live at the center for long periods of time to cook all of the meals for the interns and teams) have been very attentive to us. The nurses are all very sweet and will make sure we get any medicines we need, not that there is anything we are lacking in our medicine cabinet in the dorms. And, should we need him, the doctor is always available to check on us (and he speaks English, making it much easier to tell him our symptoms).

And then there is Odilia (the assistant director of the center) who is like our Guatemalan mother. She checks on us constantly and has had a few home remedies for us which have helped tremendously. The very first "medicine" she made for us on the first evening we were sick consisted of alka seltzer, sparkling mineral water, lime juice, and salt. It was absolutely disgusting and she sat in our room until we finished it all, as any mother would do when giving her child medicine. BUT, once we were able to choke the concoction down, we were both feeling much, much better. Later that evening, Odilia again came in to give us another drink. This time we were pleasantly surprised by the delicious taste of the beverage. It was Manzanilla tea, which is made with chamomile tea, honey, sugar, and, in true Guatemalan fashion, lime should you have a sore throat. The next day both of our tummies were feeling much better, thanks to Odilia's treatment.

We have been able to see the children a little, but not very much because when we think we are better and then exert ourselves too much we begin to feel sick again, resulting in us being confined to our beds for another day. Today we have decided that we will remain in our dorms in hopes of being fully recovered by tomorrow, or maybe Tuesday.

One good thing about being stuck in bed, I have had ample time to read! I finished Sense and Sensibility in 2 days and am now halfway through Pride and Prejudice (can you tell I love Jane Austen?). Also, Mrs. Ilve has been giving us crocheting lessons!! Yesterday, Cierra made an adorable hat and today we will work on scarves!

Although we haven't seen much of the children in the last few days, here are a few pictures from earlier in the week that are sure to make you smile:

We visited the market square in San Juan on Monday

Beautiful fresh veggies, fruits, and flowers!

Piñata day!!

Sweet Andres sharing his candy with Cierra

Even some of the Dolphins got to join in on the fun!

Sleepy Marvin...

Happy Lesly!

Sweet Yessica :)

Happy, happy Irma :)

Enjoying some play time with my sweet Irma!

Thank you all so much for your prayers, love, and support. Cierra and I are trusting that God will take care of us and we will be able to return to our sweet babies soon.

Love Always,

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Day One...

So, I've been in Guatemala for about 34 hours now...and every one of them has been awesome (with the exception of the time spent riding in the van...not so awesome). I've been reunited with some friends and some of the children (Maria Elena even remembered me!!) and I've met MANY new kids here at the center! I'm still working on all of their names...but I'll have them down soon! My goal is to learn all of the Canaries' and Dolphins' names by Wednesday and all of the rest of the kids' names by the end of the week! I know many of them already, so I think I can do it.

When we arrived at the center yesterday we spent a little time with the Ducks and Squirrels before they had dinner, just introducing ourselves and playing with them for a few minutes. Today was family visitation day so we got to see many children spending time with their parents/siblings/grandparents/etc. It is always such a sweet thing to see the kids with their families! While the parents were visiting, we spent time with some of the Bunnies and Chicks whose parents weren't able to visit today. I played with the Bunnies for a few minutes before spending quite a while with the Chicks.

Four of the kids who were in the Chicks with me today had been Canaries when I was an intern last summer...Mayra, Adalin, Ovidio, and Santos (there are a few others in the Bunnies and Chicks that I know from the Canaries, but they were with their parents this morning). It was so great to spend a little time with them and see how much they've grown! They are all so big now and so smart! Adalin loves to read and would tell me what color everything in the book was. Mayra is still as sweet as ever and constantly gave me hugs and kisses! Santos was enjoying riding around on the little tricycle and racing as fast as he could across the play area. And Ovidio was repeating everything I said and is, of course, still such a ham! I am going to miss having them in the Canaries with me, but I am so glad they are all doing so well! Here are a few pictures...





Tomorrow starts our first full day of working in our "rooms" so I will be spending the entire day with my precious Canaries and Dolphins! I can't wait to get to know them all!! More pictures to come soon.

Love Always,

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The moment I have been waiting for...

Finally, the time has come! Today is the day I will be reunited with my kids. It has been 9 months since I was last at the malnutrition center and I am so glad to finally return to my heart's home! There will be some familiar faces and many new faces and I can't wait to get to know each and every one of them!

I can't even express how much I have missed this country: the atmosphere, the people, my friends, the malnutrition center, the nannies, the kids, just everything about it! The past 9 months have been so long without seeing those kids every day and I cannot wait to be back!!!

I'm at the airport having breakfast with Cierra and Howie! Our 2 ½ hour flight will arrive in Guatemala at 11:55 AM (1:55 PM in Florida). When we arrive we'll go through customs, have lunch at Pollo Campero, and make a stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things...then we'll be on our way to the center! In just a few hours I will finally be in the place my heart has been longing for since I was last there...and time can't go by fast enough!!

Thank you all so much for your love, prayers, and support! I'll post another update later on!
Love Always,

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

sólo once días...

This past weekend I got to go home one last time before I leave for Guatemala and I had a great time! I celebrated a friend's birthday, went to my own church once more, and took care of my mom who got the flu (okay, that part wasn't so fun). But, my most favorite part of the weekend was getting to see Noah, the little boy I nanny, one last time before he turns 2 (I can't believe it's only a month away!!) and meet his 2 week old baby sister, Presley! She is so precious; I can't wait to spend more time with her! And Noah was adorable, as always. When I walked in he said "Is it Rachel?" and would not stop smiling and laughing for about 10 minutes. He gave me hugs and kisses and brought me lots of toys to play with. He is getting so smart (counting and naming colors!) and his vocabulary is getting so big (what toddler can say "orange" without a problem?!). I am so glad I got to see him again (first time in 2 months) before I leave! I am so excited to head to Guatemala, but I am going to miss him a lot!

Aren't they the cutest?!

Just 11 days from today I will be in Guatemala!! I am so excited to return to the center and love on all the kids there! There are currently 86 children at the Malnutrition Center including 21 Canarios (Canaries/bed babies), 7 Delfines (Dolphins/ICU), 16 Conejitos (Bunnies/toddlers), 14 Pollitos (Chicks/toddlers), 16 Patos (Ducks/older boys), and 12 Ardillas (Squirrels/older girls). I will be working primarily with the Canarios and the Delfines, but I will definitely be spending time with all the other age groups as well :)

In the past 2 weeks, 22 children have gone home to their families. When I heard the names of those children that have left the center, my heart broke. I have known many of them since their days as little Canarios and I have loved watching them move through the Conejitos and Pollitos, and even into the Patos and Ardillas. I deeply love each and every one of those that left, but there are a few of them that I have been especially close to and it is so hard to know that when I return to the center they will not be there. I am happy that they have been reunited with their families, but I will miss them so much! I want to be there to protect them and make sure they get everything they need and just to give them hugs and kisses all the time. I want to read them stories and sing songs with them and let them play with my hair and climb all over me. I was talking about this with a fellow intern who is particularly close to one of the boys that left. This little boy has been at the center for over 4 years and it is so hard to see him leave; he is so special to so many people. But my friend reminded me that we are not the ones who make the difference in the lives of these kids, GOD IS and He will be there to protect them and watch over them even when we aren't. Don't get me wrong, we (interns/team members/nannies/translators/etc) are important; we are the ones who show God's love to these kids and we do make an impact. But GOD is the one who gets them healthy. GOD is the one who watches over them day and night. GOD is the whole reason that these precious children are even able to return home to be with their families who love them. Selfishly, I want them all to stay at the center so that I can spend time with them and play with them and love on them, but that is not what the center is intended to be. It is intended to be a place where sick children come to be made well again so that they may return to their families, the ones who love them enough to know that for a while the center is where they need to be, even though it breaks their hearts to let them go. Now it is our turn to love them enough to let them go and return to those loving families and to trust that God will protect them and keep them healthy so that they never have to be separated from their families again. Even though it breaks my heart to know that these kids that I so dearly love won't be at the center when I return and I may never see them again, I am so glad that God has healed them.

Please join me in praying for the children. For those that have gone home, pray that they remain healthy so that they never have to return to the center. And for those that remain at the center, pray that they will become healthy enough to be one of the children that we will miss. It's hard to let them go, but it is so amazing to know that they are finally healthy and happy and able to return home.

Also, I'd like to ask a special prayer request for Socelyn, one of the Pollitos. She is very sick and is in the hospital. Please pray for God to bring her back to health so that she may return to the center, and eventually return home.

If you want to keep up with what's going on in Guatemala (as well as the other ministries of Orphan's Heart) visit the Orphan's Heart Blog. It is a great way to remain connected to the center even when you can't be there in person.

Thank you guys for all your prayers and support!!
Love Always,