I haven’t written in over two weeks. Nothing was really new and I didn’t have much to say. After I got back from spring break I had about 2 weeks left until I would be home. I thought once I got there time would just fly by. But it didn’t. I feel like time slowed down. I became more and more anxious to get home and two weeks felt like a year.
Last Tuesday I moved out of my house and into a new house with 9 little boys. Oh my word. Complete opposite of the house I used to live in. They have so much energy. Constantly. From 5am-8pm there’s constant screaming and laughter. But mostly so much love. Those are the sweetest boys that will do anything for you. Every morning rodrigo would go ask if he could go pick me a grapefruit so we could eat one together. Sameer and limber would always cuddle with me and ask if they could go home with me. Last night was probably one of my best nights. We had a special dinner for our boys as a surprise after study hall. We made rice with eggs and a salad with tomatos and cucumber. When I brought the boys back home and uncovered the rice for them to see there was so much screaming. I’ve never seen anyone get so excited for rice (considering we eat it everyday here). They ate all the rice and even asked for more salad. It was so much fun and just a special time for us to spend our last evening together. Before our special dinner all the students thought it would be fun to throw Lindsay, hannah and I in the river since we were leaving the next day. Normally that would be fine, but yesterday was the coldest day we’ve had here. I wore pants, a hoodie, and socks and Chacos the whole day (did I every mention that I literally had no sense of what looks good and what doesn’t here. I’m even wearing socks and chacos now on the plane). So at 8pm I got attacked by a bunch of boys and they carried me and threw me in the river. The freezing river. Everyone thought it was hilarious. And it was, until I took a shower after. The coldest shower I’ve taken in my life.
The closer time got to leaving the kids started to ask when I was coming back. That was a hard question to answer. I told them I would take them all back to the United States with me if I could. And I would. I really really would.
This morning I said my goodbyes to everyone. I didn’t start crying until I walked up to the big house and rodrigo came running towards with open arms and the biggest smile. He told me that now he gets to say he knows me and he can tell everyone that comes to familia Feliz that he knows Jessica. Hugging everyone knowing I probably won’t see them again hurt my heart so much. I don’t have words to describe how much I love my kids at familia Feliz.
Thank you so much to everyone who’s written me, sent me packages, prayer, and just given me words of encouragement. Feeling so far away gets really lonely sometimes, and you guys made it easier. So much easier. My time here has been really challenging with so many ups and downs. But I know I’ve grown so much and I saw God in so many ways here. There’s no way I could’ve done this without your support.
This week it’s spring break, or semana Santa. A lot of the kids have left. There’s probably 20 still here. Half of the staff got off the first half of the week and the rest get the second half of the week off. I’ve been here with the kids for the first part. It’s been so nice. We sleep until 8 and we just hang out the rest of the day. I get more time to spend with the other kids that I don’t normally see.
Last night I had a dream that I went shopping. It was such a good dream. I went to all my favorite stores and bought all new clothes for my trip to Hawaii (only 3 more weeks!!!!). I got way way too excited about the thought of shopping. Sad isn’t it?
On Monday Addy left. She got taken back to social services along with her siblings because we never got the right paperwork. I miss her so much already. I miss her laugh. I miss the sound of her little feet as she runs around our house. I miss how excited she gets when she eats food. I miss the conversations she has that no one can understand. I’m praying that wherever she is, who ever she’s with, she’s loved and she’s safe. That girl has stolen more of my heart than I thought I would be able to give here. I would trade all the tantrums and situations with poop (on Sunday morning I woke up to poop all over the hall, her room, and her) just for a little more time with her. When she left it’s almost like she knew. Angelica and I put her in the truck and gave her our last hugs and kisses and said goodbye
and I think she knew. She got really quiet and sad and just stared at her feet. She wouldn’t smile anymore. Sometimes I’ll see a little kid in the distance or hear a noice and think it’s her. I just wish I could hug her again…
Sabbath I did the thing that I’ve been the most scared to do. I preached. I’d been pretty much dreading that moment for a month. Long story short, I think it went well. And I don’t think really anyone payed attention. I saw a few little kids asleep. But that’s okay.
That afternoon my girls came into my room pretty much screaming. Addy had gotten into the trash can with dirty diapers. She opened them up, and went on to put the poop all over her, the house, and inside her mouth. Yes. She ate it. She ate her own poop… I told her she wasn’t going to get any more kisses from me after that. That lasted only a few hours.
Addys gotten a lot more stubborn. Now, when we’re walking or getting ready to leave, she just sits down and refuses to walk. But I just realized she only does this with Angelica and I. Words cannot describe how aggrivating that is. It is so annoying that sometimes she will listen to anyone except us. Probably because we’re the bad guys. We change her diaper, we punish her, we put her to sleep, all the unfun things that she seems to hold a grudge about. I’ve also started laying in bed with her until she falls asleep. It really reducing the screaming. By a lot. I guess it’s pay back for all the years I made my parents sleep on my bedroom floor until I fell asleep.
Next week is spring break. I have 4 days off. A group of SM’s here are just going to town to get a hotel and hang out in town. We’re also going on a pampas tour on sabbath. We get to see monkeys and turtles and crocodiles while riding on a boat. And then we even get to swim with dolphins. The ugliest dolphins I’ve ever seen (look up dolphins in Bolivia). It would be nice to go somewhere else other than Rurre. But 4 days is just not enough. Especially since it literally takes a day to leave this place. I’m so exciting though! It’ll be so fun and really nice to just spend time with everyone else before I leave.
Sabbath the volunteers decided we wanted hay stacks. Every sabbath we have rice and beans, so we made salsa, cut up lettuce, added taco seasoning and tortilla chips. It tasted like home again. I miss hay stacks…
So last Thursday we threw a party for lindsay. All day we planned, decorated, and then Lindsay and I made cookies. Thinking nothing about it, I took the cookies back to my house and left them in my kitchen. When everyone came over for the party, half the cookies were gone. Literally such a disappointment. We all knew it was my girls that took them. They weren’t smart about it. I mean really. If you want to take some cookies, just take a few. I would have never noticed if even 5 were gone. But 12? Really? We all confronted them when they came back. Finally 2 people admitted to taking it. Their punishment was cutting wood, cleaning our floor, and giving us massages. Of course we had to get something out of it.
Yesterday I had Audrey check my hair again for lice. I like to just get periodic checks. I thought I had nothing. Until I heard her expression. My hair was full of eggs. Big, healthy, ready to open eggs. And living ones. Real, running around, living lice. I think I cried a little big. I’m so grossed out with myself. I don’t know how anyone wants to be around me now. I don’t even want to be around my hair. I want to just shave it off. Honestly if you saw the lice you would want to as well. She picked out all the eggs and I started treating my hair, so hopefully in a few days I’ll be piojo free again.
We found out we never got the paperwork for Addy. So we have until the 7th now to get it. I’m not ready for her to go. I knew I would have to leave her soon. But I at least knew that she would still be with people that love and care about her. So if you think about her at all this week, please keep her in your prayers.
Last Friday was St. Patrick’s day. It was also half way through march. A month here where nothing special was happening. We decided a month ago we needed something to look forward to this month. So we all put down in our calendars St. Patty Cinnies. Lindsay had all the ingredients she needed to make her grandmas cinnamon rolls. So on Friday night we all got together at my house to make cinnamon rolls. They were sooooo good. Honestly anything close to cinnamon rolls would be good here. Next week we’re having BYOR night. Bring your own ramen. We now have a hot water heater thanks to Angelica’s grandma. We find the weirdest and most basic things to look forward to and celebrate.
On Monday I basically had Christmas here. I got 8 packages. 8!!!! Opening them and reading the cards was so much fun!! Thank you so much to everyone that sent something. It meant so much! I got so much good food (that I won’t be sharing with my girls) and food like macaroni and veggie meat that I can use to make a special dinner for my girls. I also got muffin, cake, and brownie mixes that we can also use for our dinner! I also got stickers, bubbles, play dough, and a jump rope that I know my girls will love so much. It turned my already good day into such a great day!
For the past month there has been a doctor volunteering here at familia Feliz. He started a first aid course with practical things like sutures, ingrown toe nails, and giving medications. On Tuesday night he showed us how to clean and numb a toe to remove an ingrown toe nail. It was so nasty. I hate feet. We watched him remove one on one of the kids here. The next day we came back and he wanted us to write down the whole process. He then read over them and decided I would be removing the infected skin out of Bismars toe that night. Why? Because I put so much detail he thought I should do it. I would like to thank Dr. Nelson, Dr. Thorton, and Dr. Scott for giving me so much fear about missing a single detail. Ever. That I even had that fear here. So basically it’s their fault that I had to touch the dirtiest feet I’ve ever seen in my life. I wanted to throw up at first. Not really. But it was really gross. And there was so much infected skin. In the end I was able to remove it all, and thankfully Bismar didn’t hate me. He acted like it at first. But then I told him I loved him, and he gave me the biggest smile he’s ever given me.
This week has had lots of ups and downs. My house has had a lot of tension. The girls just stopped listening. They got a lot of new attitude. We now have one girl cutting 3 trees this week as punishment and 2 girls spending their friday afternoon with the machete. On Thursday morning no one got breakfast because they refused to do their chores. They all hated me that day. There were lots of tears. I felt bad. I really did. But I was so tired of all their sass. I just decided I would be a bad mom that day. And I was okay with that.
On Thursday Angelica’s mom and grandma came to surprise her. Her mom hid in Angelica’s bed and we told Angelica that Kim was sick in her bed. They both cried. And so did everyone else in the room. Especially me. She brought so many snacks and new clothes for the kids. Its made me miss my parents so much. I can’t wait to just go back and hang out with them.
Addys gotten so attached to Angelica’s grandma so fast. It makes sense because she’s very motherly, and apparently I’m not so much. Already, Angelica’s grandma has made her toys, taught her how to eat properly, and taught her how to use the bathroom. Obviously I’m not cut out for this job… I guess real moms Just have something special about them. I clearly don’t have that.
Sunday night there was a birthday party for Janeth.
She turned 10. It was a princess themed party. All the girls dressed up in the closest thing they had to a princess dress. It was adorable. Angelica and I decided we want to throw a birthday party for Addy. Even though her birthday isn’t until September, we decided it was fine because 1) we won’t be here then and 2) she probably didn’t have a proper birthday last year.
On Tuesday I got stung while I was working in the garden. I don’t know if it was a bee or a wasp or what. But it hurt. So bad. I screamed. In my 21 years of life I’ve never been stung by anything. Well thats over now. It stung me basically in my armpit. Of all the places. And all the muscles in the right side of my torso started tightening up. I thought I was going to die.
On Monday Addys mom and grandma showed up randomly. I’m still in shock about the whole situation. Addys mom is, well, like Addy. You can tell she has some severe disabilities. Addy looked at her a couple times. She seemed confused. And then she came to sit on my lap and had no interest in what was going on. I have so many questions about that family. And even a little bit of anger. And maybe it’s not my place to be angry. But if you saw the scars on her body that give you a little look into the life she used to live, you would feel the same way.
As I sat there with Addy snuggled up in my lap and her family just a couple feet away, I realized just how much I love this girl. I started to cry a little bit thinking about how in 6 weeks I’ll have to leave her here. I’ll probably never see her again. Her sassy attitude, her infectious smile and her hilarious laugh. I squeezed Addy even harder knowing I really need to cherish my moments with her now. I want to take her home with me. I already know that. I’m already dreading the last time I hug her. I know I’ll be a mess with so much ugly crying.
Sabbaths are the hardest days in my opinion. We have a lot of down time. A lot of the time I wonder what my family and friends are doing and what I would be doing if I was home with them. I lost all my music on my phone a couple days ago. I was so upset. I was able to get some Christian music from other people. One of the artists I got was Fernando Ortega. I could only listen to a few songs. I knew many more would put me in actual tears. When I was little Fernando Ortega would always wake us up on sabbath mornings, and it just reminds me of home.
This week has been hard in general. I came back from my day off feeling discouraged and lonely. Normally I come back ready to start a new week, but not this week. Then, later that night I realized I didn’t have my debit card and I left it in town somewhere. Long story short, after freaking out, praying a lot, and spending hours in town trying to figure everything out, I was able to get my card back from the bank. (I had left it in the ATM after I took out money. Of course that’s something I would do…)
I got my first letters in the mail last week. It took exactly a month to get them. It was so exciting to have something from home.
I just found out that Addy and 4 other kids might get taken away. If we don’t get the correct paper work by Monday from social services then we can’t legally keep them and the state might take them away. I don’t know where they will go. It might be to another facility or even back home… the thought of her leaving makes me sick. She needs stability. She needs someone to love her and take care of her. We’ve made so much progress with her, and to think she might just have to go back…
the other day Angelica and I did room searches in our house. Right away we found a glass bottle with something disgusting looking in it (I didn’t think to much about it, the kids here are not clean at all). Then we opened it… It smelled like alcohol. I thought the girls had started making alcohol somehow and were just keeping it in their room. Before we could really decide what to do we called in Miguel and handed him the bottle and asked him to tell us what he thought it was. To which he responds “oh it’s a science experiment. They have to ferment something”. I felt kind of like an idiot, but I was also relieved to find out I was wrong.
In closing for today, I’d thank each and every one of you for your prayers of support. and also those who have supported me in others ways. I am forever changed by those i touch every day, and i believe they are as well. Thank YOU.
So I’m currently sitting in music class. A music class I’m supposed to be teaching, but I handed it over to Kevin. Friday’s have become my least favorite day. I literally sing hymns for 4 hours straight in the morning. 8-12. The most exhausting thing. And of course the hymns are in Spanish. I’m trying to get more creative on what to do in class. I’m probably going to just make them color and be quiet while listening to classical music next week.
Yesterday I got to help in the dental clinic. I learned how to clean teeth. It was the grossest thing I’ve ever done. There was so much plaque and calculus and blood. I cleaned two people’s teeth before I just had to leave and take a shower. Sorry dad. I will never be a dentist. Teeth are gross.
This morning I ate some apple bread that hannah bought for me at the bakery on her day off. After I finished it I looked in the bag and saw so many ants. So I probably ate a ton and didn’t even know. They were also all in my peanut butter when I opened it at breakfast. So unfortunely I had to throw away my new
jar of peanut butter.
The group of kids from Weimar left this week. The couples that were staying in our house left a lot of stuff for us. Lice shampoo, soap, wet wipes, toothpaste. So much more. It was like Christmas. I was so excited. Way more excited than I should have been.
I’ve started doing insanity here. I only have 2 months left until I go to Hawaii, so it’s time for me to try to work off that straight month of rice, beans, pasta, and bread. I exerise in the living room. At first the girls would just sit and
watch me and laugh at me. But now some of them are even starting to do it with me.
Not much new has been happening with Addy. She still has her ups and downs. The more time I spend with her the more I think she may be autistic. I know my 3 years of psychology classes give me no right to say that… but I still have a feeling that may be it. We’re trying to raise funds to send her to la Paz to get tested. At first she was supposed to get tested for hearing, but I think her parents just said she was deaf because it was an easy answer to give without actually having to care about her. It will be about $1000 to send her to get tested (if anyone wants to help in any way it would be greatly appreciated. I really want to help addy in any way possible and give her anything she needs. But we obviously can’t do that alone).
One of my girls ran away. At 5 in the morning Angela woke me up to tell me she was gone and left a note on her bed. Pablo went out to find her later that morning. The hour until he came back felt like days. Apparently she left in the middle of the night and walked 15 km home. A place she shouldn’t be right now. She’s not coming back. I can’t help but feel responsible. I know it’s not my fault. But I can’t help but wonder what else I could’ve done. Did I spend too much time focused on addy? Did I not tell her I love her enough? If I had spent more time with her the day before she left would she have stayed? It’s hard because I know she’s safe here. But we can’t say the same when she’s at home. I prayed for her before she left. But now, I pray for her in a way I never have.
So a few people have been asking me what to send me. So I’ll just put it all here 🙂 (id love to get packages or letters 😉)
Dried mango or dried apricot
Granola bars like cliff bars (I like the mint ones or chocolate ones) or Lara bars
Drink mixes like propel or lemonade
Socks (as much as I hate to say this, the mid calf ones for my work boots)
Mild salsa (we eat too much rice and beans without anything to put on it)
Kraft mac and cheese (I’ve reached a low point in the food here)
Poptarts (cinnamon or strawberry)
Boxes of cookie or muffin mix (so I can bake for my girls)
Don’t forget it takes at least a month for anything to get here. So I would say send before half way through march and not after that. My address is still:
Carretera a Yucumo Km. 13
Rurrenabaque – Beni
Bolivia – South America
UPDATE: I’m told that USPS (regular post office) is the cheapest way to do this… Bolivia has apparently placed a restriction on incoming mail, so it must be under 4 lbs. USPS has shipping envelopes and boxes that are about right for 4 lb stuff. 🙂
So I’ve been here almost a month. Next Sunday it will be exactly one month. It’s crazy to think in 2 months my time here will be done, and I’m going home.
Not much has happened here. I’ve been pretty sick this week. I think it’s something that’s going around here. But I’m pretty much a hypochondriac, so I was convinced a few times I was dying. Especially when I couldn’t text my dad to get reassurance that I don’t have some sort of disease from this disease infested country. I’m still not feeling 100%, so hopefully I can get over this in the next couple of days.
The other day I was sitting with Audrey and asked her to just check my head for lice really quick. Well. Tengo piojos. They were just eggs when she found it, so I covered my head in lice ice and had crusty hair for a day in hopes they wouldn’t hatch. So far I don’t think they have, so I’ve been using lots of tea tree oil hoping that doesn’t happen again. One too many snuggles with Addy, but I don’t regret it.
We’ve made a lot of progress with addy. She doesn’t cry during the day anymore. Now she’s happy and smiles and laughs. I dont think she’s deaf. I’m actually like 99% sure she’s not deaf considering she looks at me anytime I say her name. We still have some sleepless nights, and she probably cries at least once a night.
Angelica and I took her to vbs the other night. She loves the singing. She claps and jumps around. The other day she called me momma. My heart exploded a little bit. Okay, a lot. And then I came to the realization that for her entire time at familia Feliz she will have a new mom every year. Nothing will ever be constant in her life, not even the person she gets to call Momma.
I’ve only had addy for 2 weeks now. But I know at the end of these next two months, leaving her will be one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.