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Beginnings at Popesti Orphanage

Starting last Thursday we began group time with the children and youth at the State run institution for orphans in the small town of Popesti.   This place also serves as a boarding school for children who come from extremely impoverished families.  So, a handful of the kids there occasionally go home on weekends as well as on school holidays.

Groups will run each Wednesday (smaller children) and Thursday (youth) afternoons.  We were meant to begin last Wednesday but I was caught up in Oradea with a few setbacks in regards to applying for residency.  Because it costs quite a bit in petrol to drive to Oradea, and a solid few hours to get there and back, you always hope that what you need to have done CAN get done in 1 trip (to save $) and in time to get back for whatever the afternoon holds!  For me, this meant getting back to Marghita in time to head to Popesti last Wednesday.  Unfortunately we ran into some road blocks, I should be used to this by now I guess, at the immigration police and were unable to make it back in time.  Arrrggghhh!

So, yesterday we began with the younger children for the first time.  This afternoon, Thursday, we will have the 2nd meeting with the youth.  The first group times for all the children were massive birthday celebrations counting back to JUNE!  That’s right, June!  The kids haven’t had their birthday celebrations yet or received their gifts.  I went to work baking up a storm in my apartment and have made enough cakes over last week and this week to fill my cake making quota for the year, I think : )  We brought the cakes just baked and appropriate whipped cream and candies for each birthday boy/girl to decorate their cake to their liking!  I was especially moved by the young men during their birthday-group time last Thursday.  (We split the group times for the youth into girls, first, and then boys, second.)  They really aren’t “youth” per say.  Well, some of them are.  About half of the boy group are sitting in their early 20’s but are functioning at a level of about a 5th-6th grader.  On the other hand, their anger/rage goes way beyond their years.  The other youth boys are your typical teenage boys; they put up hard exteriors but when they smile you see how desperate they are for love and healing.  Anyhow, the boys celebrating their birthdays last week…whew…they were so overwhelmed with the cake, decorating it, the candles, us singing to them and the gifts they received.  One of them repeatedly commented “I never expected this.  Oh my!  I never ever expected something like this in my life!” 

Can you imagine? 

Yesterday, as I mentioned before, was the first meeting with the young children.  Those of you who I have spoken with, in anticipation for their group beginning, know that I have repeatedly said that working with them will definitely be more difficult than with the Casa Alba children.  The behavioral issues, the same.  The emotional issues, the same.  What I knew would probably be different would be the way in which their anger is expressed…much, much rougher.  This turned out to be true yesterday.  How they express their anger and hurt is much rougher and hurtful and had I not already had 5 years experience with disrespect in all shapes and sizes at Casa Alba orphanage I probably wouldn’t want to return to the group next week.  But, in God’s awesomeness, He has been using the past 5 years as an incredible schooling for what I was introduced to yesterday.  So, I left thinking “Hey, that wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been!  I can’t wait for next week!”  That’s the honest truth!  The words they use (oh MY WORD) is like garbage coming out of their mouths and they use these words for any type of frustration that confronts them.  I’m not even going to go into what they said – I’m sure you can imagine.  Hitting, pushing and threatening to “beat you up later!” (and they really mean that) was seen just as often as our motions to the worship songs yesterday.  Kind of funny if you think about it.

Throughout the 5 years at Casa Alba orphanage we also went through a TON of training on reactive attachment disorder syndrome, as well as, Love and Logic parenting.  Understanding why the kids act the way they do, how their brain functions and doesn’t function like a “normal” child, and how to effectively love and raise them to grow through this into healing has been a part of my weekly life at CA as much as changing diapers!  Yesterday I really pulled out every bit of what I’ve learned on these kids.  It took a lot of work and patience along with this prayer…(which I think I prayed about every other second yesterday) “Lord, pour Your peace into this child’s heart right now.”  BUT, it WORKED!  Dang it!  IT WORKED!  Not every single time but especially with one of the most explosive and rough boys in the group IT WORKED.  Thank you Nancy Thomas!  Thank you Love and Logic!  He spent most of the group time trying to manipulate me with his anger and harsh words.  But the thing is, I knew it was a game!  I didn’t let it bother me and instead God continually filled my brain with ideas from both of the links above that I’ve used with the CA kids over the years.  I am so thankful that God knows this children inside and out.  I mean, hello, He created them.  Whew, I definitely need to be seeking Him more and more so that I can be a good vessel of His love to these kids.

I was thinking this morning how some of the older boys in our foundation now, who are doing quite well, used to be the “hardest” boys at Popesti when they were younger.  It gave me so much hope for the boys who fought us so much in their actions and words yesterday! 

God is Jehovah Rafa … He is the Healer.  I found an interesting post right now speaking about this.  Check it out HERE if you have 5 minutes to read!

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