May 12, 2008 (Monday)
My day started off well this morning – I finally got to talk to my mom which was a surprise - there have been many issues with calling cards. I only had time to chat with her for about 15 minutes, because I was getting ready to go to the orphanage but it was nice to hear the voice of someone familiar. I quickly briefed her on the experiences I’ve had so far. Yesterday was kind of a rough day for me, but today was much better. The hospital was such an eerie place, but I loved talking to the children and holding the sick babies.
Today was our first full day in the orphanage. When I first entered Mickey Mouse room #1 a little toddler named Andrei ran to me and put his hands up like he wanted me to hold him. Andrei is normal except for the fact that he is deaf. I’m guessing he is barely two years old. He was absolutely adorable, but boy does he cling to you. He wouldn’t let me put him down once I started holding him. I think that’s why the workers sometimes don’t let you hold them. After I held him for a while we took some of the little ones outside to play. It’s so funny here – they bundle their kids up when it’s not even that cold outside. The caretaker put on a jacket and snow hat with ear muffs on Andrei to go outside when it was probably about 75 degrees outside. They are really paranoid about the kids getting sick.
Outside Whitny Scott and I pushed the children on the swings. Andrei excitedly led me to the swing set. The swing set we went to was surrounded by thick tall weeds like someone had let their grass grow for months and months. The weeds were about as tall as him – poor Andrei had to lift his legs so high to simply walk. It was so cute. Then I took a dandelion and blew on it and all the seeds flew everywhere in the wind. Andrei was fascinated. I showed him how to blow on the flower and he would try but he just ended up spitting on it instead. It was pretty funny and adorable. Every once in a while he would blow on it correctly and the seeds would fly everywhere, and he would get so excited. We probably blew on flowers for about half an hour. It’s amazing what amuses children.
There was also another little baby named Kristen who you could tell was everyone’s favorite, because he is so adorable. He is probably 8 months old and he has cerebral palsy – so essentially there is nothing wrong with his mind, and he knows what is going on, but his body doesn’t work. He was seriously beautiful, and he had the longest eyelashes ever. You would just touch his face and he would smile so big…but the poor thing would just sit in his chair. They wouldn’t let us take him out until later in the morning – I don’t know what makes them decide when it’s okay for us to take them out. Some of the other toddlers had to stay in their crib – we asked if we could take one of them out and she said not until the afternoon and we weren’t going to be there then. It’s sad when they do that…
The rest of the children in that room are pretty low functioning. Some of them are in wheelchairs and some of them just lay on the mat. There is a wide range of ability in every room in the orphanage. However, I’m having a hard time figuring out how they put which children in which room – the majority of the children in the Mickey Mouse room are older babies or toddlers, but then there are some older lower functioning older children as well.
The caretakers there were more loving than I thought so that was nice. Some of them obviously seemed nicer than others, but they did seem to care about the children. However, I have noticed that the cuter children get played with more – I feel bad for the ones that aren’t as attractive. If you are in an orphanage as a child and you aren’t attractive you aren’t paid much attention to. I tried to play with the ones that didn’t get as much attention as well…
Whitney and I went to go to the other Mickey Mouse room, but the children were all napping. Tomorrow we will go to their room first and then while they are napping we will play with the children in the other room. After playing with them for a few hours we all took a break for lunch and then Mary and I headed for the apartment on floor 7. I talked with MacKenzie and she said they let them hold the smaller babies for part of the time – so that was really good to hear. I guess they have lightened up a little about letting the girls hold the babies.
After we took our lunch break some girls went to the hospital and Mary and I went to the apartments that have the orphans. We all alternate going to the apartments and hospitals each day. Each apartment had 4 children and they are all so adorable. The kids just light up when we walk into the room, because they know we are going to play with them. I’m so excited to get to learn and understand their personalities.
On the way to the apartments Mary and I had a good talk with Elisa. Elisa (our facilitator) was talking about how if you don’t leave Romania changed with all the experiences you go through then you did something wrong. I agree…it’s amazing how insignificant things are when they are put into perspective. It’s so funny how people – my self included – can worry about material things like having a new car, wearing the most fashionable outfit or having the nicest house when there are kids like Marius. Marius has been in a hospital for over 6 months because of severe burns all over his body, his hands and nose are burned off, his face is distorted, his parents and brother were killed in a fire that nearly killed him, and in the hospital he still manages to joke and smile. How could that be? How could he still be happy after all of that? I was amazed…but then again what right do any of us have to walk around being unhappy – especially when we have so much. He doesn’t even have the gospel to rely on…but if he can be happy then I sure as heck better be…He’s my inspiration. I need to be better, and I want to do better.
After we left the apartments we ran home and went to Family Home Evening at the church. FHE primarily consisted of the BYU girls, but that’s okay. We had fun. It was a nice relaxer. Then my mom and Ariane called…I wasn’t able to talk to them too long, but it was so good to hear their voice. I miss all my family!