Dear family and friends,
I hope that you are all doing well. I think of you all often; wondering what things are keeping you busy. Someone told me that it is getting chilly in Wisconsin. Here, when it is seventy degrees I start to hear that it is cold. Of course, I just laugh.
Today was a terrific day for me in the Nutrition Center. Unfortunately, because of the colds going around and the rain, only slightly more than half of my class was present. But nonetheless, the day went very well.
Breakfast was fairly easy, as most of the kids who need to be persuaded to eat were absent. Today they ate sandwiches, which are popular with the kids. After the the sandwiches, the kids had hot chocolate. I rarely have problems with the children not drinking that.
Afterwards we learned the alphabet using the names of the children. It was fun, and they remember more easily when they can connect a letter to a person. We did the homework for the day: coloring numbers, and started to practice the Christmas play.
I love watching them try to practice this play. It is the Nativity Story, but it begins with the Angel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary, includes Elizabeth, Herod, shepherds and the three Magi. It is a very ambitious production for a rambunctious class of four year olds.
It is precious to see our Mary make a comical face somewhere between horror and wonder when she ¨sees¨ the Angel at first. And he flaps his arms as his wings when he declares that she shouldn´t be afraid. It is pretty much word for word from the Bible. Kids forget their lines, or have thumbs in their mouths, which pretty much has the same overall effect.
When the teachers read the script aloud, the kids all get to know the story, so even when it isn´t their turn to speak, quite frequently the majority of the class with say the lines of St. Joseph, even when he has forgotten them! We are only about a week into learning it, but at this point they all know who the main characters are and can prompt each other. I can´t wait to see what it looks like in early December.
We had our daily decade of the Rosary. I started out sitting on the floor next to one teacher, between two rows of children. Pretty soon I had two of the boys on top of me, but they were chosen to help lead, so they left. However, then the class in front of me, the three year olds, slowly inched their way towards me so as not to attract too much attention. They turned around and looked at me with big dark eyes and shy grins. By the third prayer or so, I had two children on each leg, and one hugging me from the side. It was to the point of not being able to move, but I enjoyed it. Lest you doubt, while these things occur I do actually pray the Rosary, it is just that I am a human sofa at the same time.
After the Rosary, the kids played with gear toys, kind of like k´nex, while I read to some. I´m not sure how well I read aloud in Spanish, but they were picture books, so I think the girls got the general idea at least. Oh yes, and of course there were the usual shenanigans in the boys bathroom. Thirteen little boys, two sinks, one shower, and one toilet. Half of the time is spent trying to get the boys to sit still and wait their turn to shower or brush their teeth.
Usually I feed the girls during meals at one table while at another table all the boys eat. But because we had so many children absent, we all squeezed around one table, more or less. It was tight, but it worked. So for the first time in a long time I fed the boys instead of the girls. In my opinion, it was ten times easier. Either they are hungrier, or something, because it isn´t that they listen to me more. I had to keep pulling the shirt of one boy back onto his body. Somehow it kept getting wrapped around his head and mouth, but only when a spoon was in the vicinity of his mouth. But still, the task was much easier than it is with the girls.
After the kids have mostly left, we have about half an hour when the teachers prep for the next day, or do other things. For the past week, they have been trying to learn some English. There were some children´s english picture dictionaries donated, and so we go through them very slowly. I say the word in English while the ladies write the pronunciation as it sounds in Spanish in the book, and then the Spanish word beside it so that I can learn too. It´s enjoyable for all of us, although sometimes difficult when they can´t pronounce the word, or I can´t pronounce the Spanish one. At any rate, we get our daily allowance of laughter!
But my favorite, favorite part of today was unexpected. I was cleaning up the bowls from lunch when I heard crying. That is not an unusual sound because of the number of babies that are in the Center. What caught my attention was that it sounded like a very young baby. Newborns have a distinctive wail, and I hadn´t seen any in the Center before. So as soon as I could, I looked around a bit, and sure enough, there was a little boy clad in only a diaper. The teacher had just changed it, and so he was upset.
I asked to hold him, and she gave him to me right away. His hair was dark, baby wispy and slightly curly, matched with his dark chocolate brown skin. He was not a newborn, but he looked very small. His wrist couldn´t have been bigger than a quarter in diameter. As always, I asked how old he was. I couldn´t believe my ears. He was one year old. This child looked about two months old! Besides being small, he had some strange growth by one eye, and was cold to the touch. We put socks on him, and they reached past his knees. He didn´t have any teeth yet, and there is absolutely no way that this child could take steps, sit up, or even crawl. Even his little hands were weak.
But he was such a cute sweet little baby! After I started automatically shifting back and forth, and humming, he stopped crying. In a few minutes, he was asleep in my arms. I held him until he had to leave, walking around and singing lullabies in English. I don´t know the Spanish ones. He didn´t seem to care, as he stayed peacefully slumbering. The ladies told me that tomorrow I could have him again. By the grins on their faces, they knew that I was in a baby induced trance. Irresistable. I remembered holding my brothers when they were that small.
He was brand new to the Center, no one that I asked knew his name, only a very common nickname. I am sure that in a year he will be much better, but it is scary that he is so behind in growth and development. At least he is now on the road to getting better.
The question has been asked: If I want to make a monetary donation to the Schoenstatt Sisters´ Nutritional Center how do I do so? You can write a check to the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary and then on the memo part note that it is for the Nutrition Center or Penny Power, which is a group that collects donations for the Nutrition Center.
Then please mail the check to:
Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary
W284 N404 Cherry Lane
Waukesha, WI 53188
If you feel called to do so, I can tell you that the money will be put to good use.
Tomorrow should be another interesting day. I plan to watch a Spanish movie with the children, (hopefully not Pinocchio again), write homework, hold the baby, and work on my Spanish. And I have to do laundry because it was raining for the entirety of my laundry day this week. Again. I am beginning to wonder if I should permanently switch my laundry day.
Please continue to keep me, the children, the teachers, and the Schoenstatt Sisters in your prayers. God bless you!