Well as promised I'm going to try and give you all some of my stories but there are 30 kids and I could probably tell you a story or at least something sweet about each one of them so I'll try to be brief.
Adonai - Adonai is my latest project. He is 9-years-old, adorable, and has a very strong speech impediment. When Adonai talks he sounds like a toddler who is just learning to speak. He has an extensive vocabulary he is just unable to pronounce about half of the sounds that we take for granted. Adonai asks me every day numerous times when we are going to practice "reading" (which he is unable to do). Adonai and I have become fast friends and though his frustration is often evident he always ends with a smile. When I push Adonai to practice a word that he has trouble with he looks at me with his great big eyes and then ducks his head and says "Awh Tia No" then sits up straight and sounds it out until he gets it. It's precious. Our sessions are full of laughing and hugs and in the short time that we've been working together I think he's beginning to make a little progress and hopefully with some more work we can get him to a point where every sentence isn't a struggle both to him and his listeners.
The Babies - We have 7 kids that we call "the babies". There are 4 3-year-olds, a 4-year-old and 2 5-year-olds and they are precious. I had only been there two days when we left with the older kids and left the "babies" at home. When we pulled back up all 7 of the babies came running out of the house screaming "Mommy Amber, Mommy Amber" and giving me great big hugs. Let me tell you that was a struggle not to cry and I think it just might have been the moment when my whole heart was taken by Jovenes en Camino.
Jesus - Jesus is 9-years-old and is one of the few boys at the home whose mother is actively involved in visitation. (I must explain something here - there is a policy at Jovenes that no child will be forced to stay, if they truly desire to leave they can, which means they end up back at the government run IHNFA which is less that desirable). One day Jesus came up to me after dinner and as we were playing around he told me he was leaving tomorrow. I asked Jesus if he was serious and he said yes so then we went off by ourselves to talk. Jesus's mother is pressuring him to leave the home and come to stay with her and Jesus is really struggling with this decision. It breaks my heart to see these little kids having to make such adult decisions. I ended up sitting with Jesus for over an hour and at one point we both had tears in our eyes. He is happy at Jovenes and doesn't want to leave but feels like he needs to do what his mother wants him to. I talked to Jesus about making the decision for himself and not for his family and after and lot of hugs and several tears Jesus decided to stay. I've since had a similar conversation with another boy and I struggle to understand the pain that these boys deal with every day.
Most of the boys can't read and another of my projects right now is practicing reading with the older boys. Several of the boys can't even sound out letters let alone read. I treasure my one on one time with the boys as I struggle to learn to teach and they struggle to learn. They brighten up my days and thoughts of them are constantly on my mind. It is truly a possibility that this will become my life's work. Here is a website that has some pictures of my boys and I hope to add some pictures to my site soon. http://www.jec.faithsite.com