Not a lot has changed since last we visited. One young lady has joined us, four young ladies have returned to their homes. Other than that, the Miriam Home looks pretty much the same. So I guess you can jump to the next letter. NO!!! though the names and places remain the same, that doesn’t mean that big things aren’t happening!
Let’s start with the highlight of last month – Easter! The Miriam Home received a lot of chocolates for our kiddos, but for every treat given out we had new opportunities to remind our children that Easter is not all about sneaky rabbits who litter our yards nor massive stomachaches from too much candy! From our nightly story time, to little skits, we found a lot of ways to bring the Easter message home. As a matter of fact, the children learned a very catchy tune called “A Bunny didn’t die on the Cross for me, it was my Jesus who came to set me free”. The children loved the song! On Maundy Thursday they joined the Bible School students in chapel to present the song for them. On Easter Sunday morning, during Sunday School two of our older boys talked the leader into letting their combined classes sing the song during the closing. What blessed my heart the most was that the two boys who most wanted to share this song were Leonardo and Daniel. For those of you who have been following their stories, you know these are two of our most rambunctious (and often violent) children, but day by day we have seen a softening in their hearts and attitudes. And what better time to minister
God’s healing power than at Easter! Praise the Lord! Please continue to pray for healing in these young hearts.
Another recent change has been Mariana (17 years old) emerging from under her bed! Well, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but the first weeks she was with us we could barely get this young lady out of her room.
Mariana is an unusual young lady – she likes all things organized and neat, she dislikes random noise (for those of who haven’t visited, the Miriam Home is FULL of random noise), but she feels fully justified to hit the younger children if they make a mess and to scream at them if they are too loud. No, she doesn’t see the irony there). She loves makeup, but refuses to have her picture taken, and she can’t simply accept a compliment. In the beginning anything positive that was said to her was rejected as an attempt at manipulation, any sign of affection was shrugged away from. In just the last ten days she has begun giving hugs to a few of the staff, but she still won’t receive them when offered. She reminds me very much of a barn cat – it takes great time and patience to conquer their trust.
My biggest concern with Mariana isn’t the lack of spontaneity, it is the deep sadness you see in this precious girl’s heart. She has no faith – not in God, not us, not in herself. While most teen-agers who come to the Miriam Home are anxious to go to church, often not from spiritual hunger, but from a desire to go anywhere. Mariana is perfectly content to hide away in her room or lounge in the living room. During our devotional times she watches, but only from the doorway, not close enough to look involved or interested.
There is a trend in Brazil right now of social media games that involve filming yourself doing self-destructive activities – everything from self-cutting to making a tattoo to burning, to actual attempts at suicide. It is heart-breaking to see amazing, gifted young people so devoid of hope that they would try to find some sense by participating in these games. When I look into Mariana’s eyes I see that kind of hopelessness. Please pray that this precious child would find true hope during her time with us!!!
When our kiddos leave us there is often a mixed bag of emotions. I mentioned that we had four young ladies the left us just last week and we were both glad and heart broken to see them go. Fernanda, Fabricia , Lorena and Francini had only been with us a few weeks, but these sweet girls stole our hearts. All four are super affectionate and, in general, obedient. We noticed that the language and attitudes of the older two, when they were playing “alone” with the other children, showed far too much knowledge of corrupted things. At the same time, we saw a loving concern not only for their two little sisters but for all the younger children in the house. You could easily see that they were the caregivers in their home!
The girls were with us because of a whole series of bad decisions made by their mother (Francielle) culminating in an attempt to bring a “care package” of drugs to her boyfriend in jail. She was arrested but released to serve her sentence at home, so she could care for her daughters.
But there is hope for a blessing coming out of this sad situation – for the first time Francielle seems to understand that she could actually lose her daughters. Her concern over this was greater than her worry about being in jail. Her repentance and sorrow appear sincere, and we are hoping to see more fruit of repentance as we follow up with the family. Please keep praying that these sweet little girls will hold on to the good things they learned while they were with us.
As we said good-bye to the four sweet sisters, we had the chance to say hello to a new girl on the block. Although this is Claudia‘s (16 years old) first time with us, it surely felt like a return when she walked in the door. That is because Claudia is the half-sister of Lucas, Helen and Milena, who were with us for all of 2015. Though the children were not raised together (Claudia grew up with her father), it is easy to see common family traits. She looks very much like her sister, and she has a lot of Lucas’ personality. Like being very focused on goals and investing in school (her first question, when she arrived, was how long would it be before she got to go back to school!). We are glad to be able to encourage this precious young woman, for as long as she is with us!
And the Cherry on Top!
I know that you know, it isn’t just kiddos who come and go in the Miriam Home. We have been blessed for a month now by Danielle Thompson, a Short Term Assistant from Hope Lutheran, who will be with us until the end of June. I don’t have words to tell you how much this servant-hearted young woman has already blessed us so I will just have to show you.
STAs give their time, love, sweat, and yes, sometimes tears. It is amazing to see the loving ways they find to communicate a thousand truths when they often know just a dozen words. Danielle has not only won the hearts of our kiddos, but has been a true blessing to our house moms as she dives into life in the Miriam Home. Please pray for God to strengthen and bless Danielle during her time with us!