My life now…

I lay with an eight-year-old boy sleeping against my back, a 10-year-old snoring in his bunk bed above, a six-year-old conked out with her legs thrown across mine and a 13-year-old chatting away outside the room. I looked above and laughed, “God, you have an interesting way of giving fulfillment, and also I feel like you’re laughing right now.”

I had just finished reading Thomas the Tank Engine…for maybe the 10th time this week. After a supposed ghost sighting, I promised the boys Dayana and I would stay in their room until they fell asleep. Within 10 minutes they all drifted away. But I stayed awake thinking how much our lives had changed.

Arol, the oldest boy, and I at his school festival

Our Breaking Chains team made a tough decision six weeks ago. After acts of violence to a few teenagers, her children and Amber, one of our residents Belkis had to be removed from our mission house. This single mom never learned how to handle anger or how to be a mother from years of living on the streets, prostitution and abuse from a variety of friends and family.

We saw Belkis become violent to other residents but particular to her children, and we knew it had to stop. We positioned for custody of Pamela, Arol, Jonatan, Dayana and Rosie. The three older kids told our social worker they wanted to live with us and continue to go to school. Dayana struggled to know what to do as a confused six-year-old girl, while Rosie of course wants to be with her mom, Amber. The social worker gave us temporary custody until a judge can hear our case and makes a ruling.

So, we wait for a phone call and attempt to give these kids stability among instability. Rosie lives with Amber at the building like she has for months, and the other four live with me at our house in Las Uvas. Courtney has stayed for a month now and has helped immeasurably with the four.

Jonatan, the youngest brother, and I on the front porch

Dayana and Arol are in counseling to work on behavioral issues and anger management (for lack of a better term). Jonatan will likely start next week, but we’re still looking for funding to start Pamela in counseling. The kids have experienced trauma we don’t understand. We’re hoping counseling will help them through some of this and give us some relief with behavioral issues.

We are trying to stay in contact with Belkis. The kids had a supervised visit with her last Sunday, and we’re hoping to make this a regular occurrence.

We don’t know what the future looks like exactly, but the lack of urgency from the judge gives us a reason to believe the kids will end up in our custody. From there we will decide what’s best for the kids and what they all want.

The three older kids said they would rather live in a children’s home than with their mother. But we’re exploring other options as well. For now we’re waiting for an answer from the judge before we make any commitments or decisions.

Pamela, the oldest, at our 2011 Amapala Christmas trip

I’m the primary caregiver for Pamela, Jonatan, Arol and Dayana. Amber has given me relief with Dayana and Pamela, and Corey watches the boys when he can. Courtney has been wonderful during her visit, more than I can express. Darwin is always willing to lend a hand, watching the kids sometimes after school or in the evenings. This is a team effort, for sure.

Our ministry is taking on the added financial responsibilities of these kids – the biggest cost being food for four growing kids. If you can we would appreciate any donations in this area. We’re taking on a major cost for which we weren’t prepared for.

Most importantly, please pray for these five sweet hearts and for us over the coming months. Many decisions are coming. And pray for Belkis as we search for the best way to help her too.

God has blessed the kids and us with loads of people, many they barely know at all, who love them and want to show them the purest love around. These kids have escaped a physically and verbally abusive environment. Although they still act out and they miss their mom, they see God’s unconditional love in all of us. As a result they’re where they want to be, slowly but surely improving.

I’m fairly certain God’s laughing at us as we stumble through this new, bizarre land. But I know he’s walking alongside us, holding our hands through a variety of incredible people. God is pretty amazing, indeed.

Dayana, the littlest of the four, and me

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