Sunday, August 10, 2008

Part 1 of GOODBYES...

August 8, 2008 (Friday)
The Lord’s Hand in my Life: A good, last full day with my orphans…

My stomach felt nauseous today because I woke up knowing it was my last full day with my kids. I had been feeling okay until today. I prayed that I would have a peaceful last day, and that I would be able to spend quality time with all my kids. That would have been horrible if Andrei or one of the other kids were stuck in their crib all morning. Thankfully the Lord answered my prayers.

When I got to the orphanage Whitney S. and Elyse were blowing up big workout balls. We bought them with money that was donated and gave a couple to each room as gifts. They ended up liking them. Ana tried using the kids as bowling pins with the ball so we quickly had to put it away in the other room. Oh Ana our little angel. Then Whitney S. and I gave gifts to our workers. We bought them each a scarf. They seemed like they appreciated them. They gave us a couple of chocolate bars in return…the chocolate here is so great. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I have to go back to waxy chocolate in America…hmm…

For the first hour and a half Whitney S. and I went and played with our kids in Mickey Mouse Room #1. Costy was sooo happy. I danced, held him, and swung him around. He just laughed and laughed. Then he did his usual cooing at me. For some reason as I was holding him I started feeling really emotional. I didn’t cry, but my eyes did tear up for a second. I looked over at Whitney S. and started laughing and fanning myself – I didn’t want to cry – after all I was coming back Monday to say my final goodbye. I’m just glad I’ll have Whitney S. to talk to if I’m missing my kids when I go home because she will understand. What’s even better is that she lives about a 10 second walk away from me.

After Costy I held and tickled Irina. She had that wide eyed look that I love. She was also really happy and giggly. I loved it! Sadly she did have a lot of gas though. Every time I tickled her she shot some bunnies. Whitney S. and I were cracking up.

After I held them I went outside, and Andrei was outside sitting on a bench eating a banana. He instantly smiled at me and reached his arms out for me to hold him. I’m going to miss him excruciatingly, and I think he will miss me too …Please pray for both of us…we are going to need it. Thankfully the day with him was pretty perfect. We just did the things that we normally do. I pushed him in his swing and chased him around the playground. Ana was mean to him though. When I took two steps away from the swing he was sitting in Ana jumped off the swing she was on, stopped Andrei’s swing and pinched his cheek as hard as she could. That girl…I wish they would put her with the older kids so they can at least defend themselves. I don’t really understand why they stuck them in the Mickey Mouse Room. Oh well…I guess they have a good reason. As I pushed him in the swing I kept thinking to myself how he has no idea or understanding that this was the last time I’d ever swing or play with him. I was going to be gone – and probably forever. It’s interesting how when you know you don’t have much time with someone you value every second and minute you have with them. My question is why don’t we always value every second and minute we have with our loved ones around us? We should love even the bad days, because at least we are spending them with people we care about…I guess we’re just human…dang…

Outside I also played with Valentina. I pushed her in the swing next to Andrei’s for a while. Then I let her get down and walk around. She’s so funny…she walks with her upper body ahead of her lower body and after a few steps she almost always falls. It’s hilarious. Then she just laughs. I also played with Iulia as I sat and pushed Andrei in his swing. Iulia started crying so I just grabbed a piece of plastic for her to play with, and she was perfectly content. I love that she loves the feel and sound of random plastic bags, wrappers, etc. So random, but it is what makes Iulia unique!

I also cuddled Vali. While we were outside Vali started freaking out and crying uncontrollably. He had his arms reached up, and he was pulling on my shirt so I held and calmed him down. He just wanted to be held…Sometimes I wonder if he randomly thinks back to a bad experience. He will be fine one minute and then start sobbing all of a sudden.

After we played outside for a while we went inside and I played with Maria. Maria scooted around the floor wherever I went as usual. Then I cuddled her and she kicked and flailed her legs uncontrollably like she always does. I love that girl!

As we left I kept thanking the Lord for a good, last full day. I needed that in order to feel closure. Even Ana and Daniela didn’t bother us too much…just a little. I got to play with all my kids and do the normal things I do with them ever day. Some how there is just comfort in being able to spend my last full day with them doing the normal simple things. I also made sure I told every single one of them that I loved them. On Monday Whitney S. and I are going to go and stay for about half an hour to an hour and simply say goodbye…I have a feeling I will be balling. Thinking about saying goodbye for the last time makes me tear up as I write this. What am I going to do when it’s the real thing?

In between the orphanage and apartments Kenz ran with me to a little shop that sells painted eggs, and I bought some. Painted eggs are classic Romania. They take so much talent, precision, detail and patience to make. I’m excited to bring them home. They are beautiful.

In the afternoon Kenz, Mary, Elyse and I headed to the apartments. We planned to have a dance party with 3rd and 7th floor for our last visit. It ended up being a blast – I couldn’t think of any better way to say goodbye! We put together a play list before we went and danced our hearts out with our kids. We were all drenched in sweat. At the third floor we danced our last song to I Hope You Dance By Lee Ann Womack and each picked a partner. My partner was Cosmina. She is such a cutie….Then we said goodbye…forever.

At 7th floor apartments the kids are all older and knew how to dance so it was even more fun. The second I walked in Mirel instantly ran to me and did his arm flapping thing. Then when we turned the music on Laura and Catalina went crazy. It was hilarious. They were shimmying and doing all kinds of crazy dance moves. So adorable. We didn’t end up getting to dance to our slow song because the worker decided to have dinner early, but at least we got to dance for a little while. Then we said goodbye…forever. I really hate goodbyes – I need to go with Whitney’s motto. She always says “It’s not goodbye it’s a see you later.”

As we left I thanked Heavenly Father for a good ending day with the kids at the apartments. The workers even let us take pictures with them which made me happy. At least I will have something to remember them by. We aren’t really supposed to take pics, but they said we could so we didn’t question it.

Immediately after we got home we had to get ready to meet Mario for dinner – we wanted to take her out to eat and giver her a gift we got her in order to let her know how much we appreciate her for everything she has done. As we were getting ready Mindy informed me that the kids at the hospital asked where I was – apparently they missed my dance moves. She told them I would be ready to dance Monday for them (our last day at the hospital). Then since I wasn’t there today because I went to the apartments she said she had all the children gather around and watch the video of me dancing the other day. According to Mindy they were still quite amused…thanks Mindy – thanks!

As we got on the tram to go to the restaurant somehow Mary and Annie didn’t get on the tram with the rest of us. Luckily they ended up finding us – they were about 45 minutes late though. I guess they got lost. They both arrived at dinner and were like “Well we’ve memorized all of Iasi.” That’s awesome considering we are leaving in four days. Haha…we just laughed at them.

Dinner was nice and relaxing – we went to the restaurant that Nicu (member of the bishopric at church) sings at. We just sat outside and enjoyed sitting down and breathing. All of us girls were exhausted from the day. There was a lot of physical, emotional and mental stress we had been through today.

During dinner I asked Mario if one girl out of the group were to marry a Romanian who she thought it would be. (I was hoping that she would pick anyone besides me because I’m paranoid since Ionut said that he cursed me to marry a Romanian. I don’t really believe him, but I was looking for some type of alternative opinion.) Of course Mario ended up picking me. In my mind I was like “dang!” When I asked her why she said “There is something about you – you are sticky.” I looked at her with a confused look, and she said that people are drawn to me – especially boys - and that I have a big smile. I guess that was a compliment…I don’t know if I agreed with it, but I just laughed and said “oh..”

During dinner I was chosen to present Mario’s gift – we bought her a beautiful, silver, cross necklace for her (she is Greek Orthodox). She loved it! She just kept saying “Guys you weren’t supposed to do that! I know that you are broke!” Then we continued with “We don’t care. We appreciate everything you have done for us!” She also gave me a good suggestion for a gift for Andrei which I appreciated. She said that if I buy a photo album and put pictures in it of me that she will personally make sure the workers keep it for him. That way she said when other girls come that fall in love with him they too can put a picture of themselves so he knows that he was loved and cared about by so many. Along with the pictures I’m going to write a note to him about how much he has meant to me. Hopefully someday he’ll get it…

Before Mario left she gave us the cutest little speech. In her most sincere voice she told us how we had been eight angels for three and a half months to the children we worked with and how she didn’t think we needed to go on a mission for our church because this mission we had been on was enough. Then she kept saying “You guys are so good and natural with the kids. I just don’t know where it comes from.” I laughed because she wouldn’t state that the reason we are so good with the kids is because of the Lord’s help and guidance, but she did look up in the sky as she kept saying that over and over. She mentioned to us that she has seen the medical students in the hospital and noticed the contrast in how we deal with the kids and how they do. She said they barely touch the kids and treat them like a subject. She said we touch, love, cuddle and care for them no matter what disabilities they have or whether or not they have scabies (we laughed about that one). She said we had done good work and that we should be proud of ourselves. She’s right. We have done good, and we have improved the quality of life for the kids we’ve worked with. That was what we came here to do, and we’ve done it! It feels so good!

By the time we got back home from dinner it was late, and we were all exhausted. However we had planned for the other apartment to come over for a sleepover so they did. We didn’t really do much except write in our journals, but we always enjoy each other’s company. No complaints here.

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