Yesterday, I looked over at Jennifer, chilled out in a chair, relaxed and smiling, a stalk of sugar cane in her hand, a picture she was in the middle of drawing on her lap. I was momentarily overwhelmed at how ordinary she looked. This time, we are visiting a family that works. A director-father that I'm told is "a real leader," who has put an end to any drama and seems to have an endless well of patient wisdom for the kids. He guides, supports, creates structure. This is the first trip where we've had no crises, where we completely trust our Director and Social worker to solve problems, to plan and talk about budgets with us.
We brought the big kids -- 27 of them! -- to the hotel for lunch today. School end, celebration, a tradition now that we've done it twice, one that the younger secondary school kids are so excited to have graduated to. We ask them to go around the table and say what they're most proud of. Saphra was elected head girl of her school. Baptiste's football team came first in their intra-school tournament. Someone was elected class monitor, jethro team captain, innocent first in his class. A long list, something from everyone. Young adults, grateful and opened up. Seeking. Nodding earnestly when we talk to them about how the people who fund us want to believe in them, and that they have a commitment in return. They get it.
Yesterday, we sat in the sun, the children presenting songs and poems that they had prepared for us. The "Oh Canadians" song where everyone took turns going into the circle, showing off some body part -- "this is my arm, this is my arm, and this is what I do!" Alex showed the missing milk teeth -- this my gum, this my gum and this is what I do, moving his mouth like a fish. On the ground, howling.
Internet has been very wobbly this trip, the power frequently out, so I can't say this out loud. But... this is the most important thing I will ever do. The children are amazingly well, relaxed, happy, safe. Joel told me tonight he trusts us. We have conversations about the mundane, goofy things. The kids throw themselves fully into playing, all reserve gone. They feel parented. They feel loved. This matters.