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Jesus said, "I have come so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of." (John 10:10)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Still learning in Rwanda

Each day we learn more about our new children, and each day we realize how much we just don't know. We know many of you are praying for our family during this time and checking the blog for updates, and we know the updates have been slow in coming. Honestly, each night when we make it to bedtime we are so exhausted that we can't post an update. Today I'm writing at 2:15 PM because Shelly has Samuel out for a walk, and Savanna has finally drifted off to sleep for her 1st nap with us (after 30 minutes of crying, etc.).

Samuel (or, as his sister says, "Sa-moo-elle") is doing pretty well over all, and we think most of his issues are related to language barrier and/or just getting used to us. He's already picking up English words and seems to enjoy learning to say things in our language. He will occasionally get a distant, despondent look on his face, but for the most part he is a happy kid who seems to be enjoying his new family. At times he does not like being told no and will moan and pull away from us, but he usually recovers pretty quickly. Today we went to a local park and he jumped on a trampoline for what we think was his 1st time...he loved it. He is usually the 1st to wake in the morning (by 6AM) but thankfully he stays very quiet and in bed, occasionally propping himself up to see if anyone else is awake yet. He is basically potty trained...only the one accident on Day 1 since we've been here. We've quickly learned to recognize his look when he has to go to the potty...his eyes get huge and his face has a "we need to take care of this immediately look". And, as we've said previously, he loves to wash his hands.

Savanna (we're still thinking that's what we'll name her, but we're actually considering other options now) has begun to come out of her shell, although what we see from her is much less consistent than what we see from Samuel...there are times we can make her laugh, and other times we do the same things and we get a stone-faced look. Her given name is Imelda, and Samuel calls her "E-mell-E-dah" or "Mellie"....we like the sound of both. Today we learned her last name (Umuhoza) means "the one who will wipe away your tears"...since we've seen lots of her tears, hopefully that applies to herself as well. Each day we see more from her...her smiles the past few days have remained rare but become relatively more frequent, and only today were we actually able to capture one on camera (Silas helped produce it and she didn't know the camera was around). She has also begun to try some English words, and calls us "Mama" and "Daddy" or "Papa". She is both physically strong and strong-willed, and although bigger than Samuel or Josiah, it's certainly easy to believe her estimated age of 3 years old is probably close based on her behavior. She has generally felt more comfortable with me than Shelly, although I've also upset her on occasion. Yesterday we saw her passport picture taken 2 weeks ago, and she had lots of hair...however, she has very little now. Our POA explained that the other children in the orphanage were jealous of her hairdo and getting a family, so they pulled much of it out...in fact, today we shaved her head (per our POA's recommendation) so her hair growth can start over.

Each day we learn more but also realize there's so much we do not know. How much is due to what they've experienced in their brief lives? How much will change once we get them home and in a routine (living in a hotel room with 5 people is not easy)? Both Shelly and I are struggling with choosing the right issues to address and keeping up with them, and how to parent these children in the best way possible...suffice to say, there haven't been times when we've said "Oh, remember when Silas (or Josiah) did that, and this is what we did that worked"...it's been a totally different challenge, and obviously, having 2 instead of 1 has made it more challenging. We're consistently praying for wisdom, patience, and discernment.

Our paperwork here in Kigali is basically done, and the rest of this week will involve doing some fun things and continuing to get to know our new children. Tomorrow Silas, Samuel, and I will travel to Gitarama to meet Manzi, our Compassion child. Shelly and Savanna will shop in the morning, then our POA will babysit Savanna and other kids while the adults go to a genocide memorial here in Kigali (hopefully I'll return from Gitarama in time to attend). Sunday we travel to Nairobi and do all we can to get our visas next week so we can return home at the end of the week.

We miss Josiah and are eager to return home so our family can be together. Thanks for your prayerful support!


  1. great to hear your update. continuing to pray for health, safety, and much wisdom for you all. love, the stricklands

  2. Thank you for the update Art! It helps to know how to pray. I know these early days must be so hard, but "He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." (1 Thess. 5:24) Praying for ALL of you! And so eager for your return home!

  3. I just want to let you know that for some reason, Savannah/Imelda's story has touched me so deeply. I've been thinking of her and praying for her--and for all of you--today. Enjoy the rest of your time in Rwanda and give my love to all the families.