Today is a new day. Something rather ordinary yet extraordinary happened at our house; however before I get too far ahead of myself I will update on the newest goings-on at Ranchito Windiana.
Almost 2 weeks ago the director of our La Paloma (Families for Children) of which we are a part, came to me with a problem. One of the girls they had living in their home, who had been there about four years, needed a new placement. Unfortunately, the only other option within DIF (Social services in mexico) was a home far away that has, well to put it mildly, a very bad reputation. So he was wondering, would I consider taking her into my home?
Now this girl is not just any girl, this girl is 13 year old Veronica, Gumaro's biological sister. These two have always gotten along about like oil and water, so my first reaction / thought was, ARE YOU INSANE? His timing was particularly bad also, because Gumaro was not having a good week at that point. Steve asked me to think about it, and I told him "Well, I think I'll pray about it, because if I think about it I will definitely say no." We both laughed nervously and off I went.
The children from this family are well known within the foster system in the baja; all have very strong personalities, have very high attention needs and have a very keen sense of justice (especially when it comes to getting their own way). They are intelligent, bright, wonderful helpers and their biggest struggle is finding their place in this world - desperately seeking specific roles in a family, in their classrooms, with their peers, etc.
So I went home, trying to imagine what it would be like to have two of these siblings living under one roof. Then I stopped doing that and talked to God about it.
I realized very soon that the choice really wasn't one, as I obviously could not let this little girl go off to who knows where into who knows what kind of situation without at least giving her a chance; so I went and cleaned up the other bedroom upstairs. As I did this, I started to actually look forward to her coming, because I could start to see a lot of the positives that she could bring to our household. For example, Gumaro is often off doing his own thing with the neighbour kids, or playing soccer or whatever, which leaves Alex alone at home. Veronica loves Alex (as most 13 year old girls love small children) and I thought this could be beneficial for him and her, as it would give her a role in the house that she so craves. What strikes me about this now is realizing that I could begin to see the possibilities as I started to put the plan into action (cleaning out her room). This is how God works, I believe, even if something seems insane and we can't see how or why God would do something, when we step forward in faith he starts to show us His vision.
So, to make a long story longer, Vero moved in with us on Monday, May 3rd. She was not terribly excited about it, however I feel like she is adjusting very well. I expected a lot of outbursts, however she has been fairly calm and respectful. Her relationship with Gumaro remains rather, shall we say, strained, however they are siblings and I believe it is really good for the both of them to learn to live with each other. Since their personalities are so similar, they are able to see the things in each other's behaviour that they don't like, that they actually do themselves and ideally will be able to change and adapt. It has been really nice for me to have her here, she is really a sweet girl, she likes to cook and help in the kitchen, and she has really taken to helping Alex like I had hoped. It is also a nice change for me to hear the kids upstairs, laughing and talking, and even fighting, because the boys were normally always right at my side (especially when i was preparing food). They are able to distract themselves, now that there is someone else older there, someone different to play with and organize games. That all being said, there is still a long way to go for Veronica, as I can only imagine how difficult it would be to be uprooted yet again from a place where she had been so long a part of the family.
This brings me to the rather ordinary yet great occurrence of today. Yesterday some of the neighbourhood kids came over because Gumaro had told them that Vero was now living with us, and they wanted to meet her. She was very shy at first, very unsure of herself, however I was eventually able to convince her to come downstairs and meet them. They ended up going for a walk, and said they would come back today.
Which they did; two girls, exactly Veronica's age, and their two younger brothers. Besides them another boy who lives close by was also visiting. So for most of the afternoon my house and yard was full of the sounds of giggling teenage girls and laughing, yelling, rough housing boys. All afternoon I worked on feeding them, cleaning up the house, and regular chores listening to this delightful noise. Then later on in the day I was out watering the garden and one of the neighbour ladies walked by, and we chatted over the fence for awhile.
The idea, or vision I had for this place, was to create a home and an atmosphere that people would want to be a part of, that kids and teenagers and whoever would feel comfortable coming to. A place where my kids would play happily and safely, socializing with other kids while I still knew where they were and what they were doing. A place where someone could see and sense something different, where they could see Jesus in everyday life. Being new in a community, especially being an 'extranjera' (stranger/outsider) has made it difficult to really get to know a lot of people, but today I could really see the beginning of the realization of the vision, and it filled my heart with joy.
Vero and Alex at the River
The kids climbing on the World's Largest Rock
(at least, according to my neighbour Chino)