Hope, Help and God With Us
Christmas is right around the corner. That means a lot of different things to different people. For the kiddos in the Miriam Home the first word that comes to mind is “presents”, without a doubt! The second might be “panetoni” (Brazilian, borrowed from Italy, Christmas bread that is similar to Julekake). For me, the first word that comes to mind is hope! In a world of darkness, god came down, took on flesh and brought us HOPE. And it is the hope of Christmas that we want to share with our kids, along with the presents and the goodies (because, after all, who wants to be a Grinch?)
Hope is a powerful word. For some of our kiddos, it is a concept their minds can’t grasp yet, but their hearts do. Like Maria Eduarda. This five year old princess came to us the end of May and a visitor, observing her then and now, might think that she is two different children. I have never seen such an anxious child as Maria when she arrived. She had nervous habits like constantly licking her fingers and then rubbing them on her face. Even though she had rubbed sores on to her face she couldn’t stop. She also had to touch everything on a table or desk and, if possible, pick up each thing and smell it (she is pretty fast, so got to smell a lot of stuff!). As you can imagine, the other children didn’t want to play with Maria a lot, because everything (and everyone!) she touched came back wet. And though she liked touching things, she did not want to be touched by anyone!
With time Maria has decided she trusts us. I know that, in part, because she started accepting affection. To begin with she accepted that we take her hand (yes, her still moist hand), then she would give a quick hug and now she actually sits in our laps for a cuddle. Her finger licking has passed and her friendships with the other children has grown. We don’t know where Maria’s fears came from (though she has not interest in any adult member of her family – when her aunt came to visit she refused to be alone with her, and told her aunt when it was time to go, “I won’t ever live with you. This is my home.”), but we do know that she has grown in peace and joy wonderfully over the last 7 months.
Our two little brothers, Alisson and Reinaldo are also showing signs of hope and healing! It isn’t often that we are glad when our kids get up to mischief, but recently it has been fun to see the boys laughing, joking and joining in hijinks with the other children. They aren’t being naughty, but they are much more confidant than they were, and we see the change the most in Reinaldo. the first weeks they were here we thought he had a limitation, that kept him from speaking. We have since discovered that he can talk, he just didn’t trust us enough to do so. Today, the first thing I hear when I enter the door is “TIA! TIA!” and seconds later Reinaldo is hugging my knees. What joy!
Our older children need peace too! Last month I told you that Fabiana was doing well and seemed to be bonding with and aunt and her grand-mother. Sadly, just two weeks later Fabiana ran away from the Miriam Home, going back to her father. This sweet girl had a regular cycle – she lives with her dad, and at some point decides that it is unbearable there, so she runs away and goes to her mom’s house, and is perfectly content until one day it is unbearable and she runs away, and comes to us. And here she does very well, gets on with the older girls, helps with the younger ones, and seems to be content. Up until she runs away because being here is “unbearable”.
Though she is back with her father now, we have continued talking about why she always feels that she needs to be “some other place”. The problem isn’t where her feet are, but where her heart is. She is looking for peace and hope in a place, when it can only be found in a person! I am grateful that we are still able to visit. Please pray that God would give me just the words that will reach Fabiana’s heart!
Crislaine’s story isn’t very different. She is with us now for the fourth time in two years. She is fourteen and lives with her mom. When they have any kind of conflict, she runs away from home and goes to social services, saying that her mother is mistreating her and that she wants to come to the Miriam Home. She arrives so happy to be here, but within a few weeks she becomes frustrated because she can’t leave when she wants to, watch a favorite program on t.v. (we monitor pretty closely what programs are being watched) or has to go to school EVERY day. And she runs away, back to her mom, because she is being mistreated in the Miriam Home. Crislaine is good at manipulating the people in her life, to get what she wants, but she can’t yet see that what she wants is exactly what is hurting her. Please pray for God’s protection over her until she comes to understand her need for healing and new life in Jesus!
A Short Visit
Though we receive children of all ages, for a lot of different lengths of stays, every once in a while we really have a different case. Last week Marcia (not even close to a child – she is nearing 30), arrived with Jully (6), Vinicio (4) and Karina (2 months old). They only stayed with us three days, just long enough for us to get bus tickets for them to Sao Paulo.
Maria is a battered wife and took shelter here asking for help to take her children to their extended family, far away, where they won’t be found by her husband. As sad as their story is, it was a blessing for our older girls to hear. They need to understand that wolves don’t always show their fangs at the beginning.
Please pray for this family, that they will find peace and safety in Sao Paulo, and that they will hear and receive the Word of God!
Just Around the Corner
Believe it or not, it is time for me to get a new visa, which means that I will soon be in a church near you! Well, I hope to be, anyway. In January and February I will be Amtraking across the northern states (leaving the icy roads in the hands of professionals). In March and April I will be in the Midwest and would love to hear from you if you would like a visit! Make checks payable to AFLC World Missions and enclose a note that it is for the support of Jonni Sliver, send to the above address. Or give online at http://www.aflcworldmissions.org/about-us/contributing/online-giving/