We've had quite a few really sweet things happen around here in these almost four months that the new kids have been with us, but I'll tell ya, what happened last week at Vacation Bible School is right up there with the best of the best. So I'll start this post with this Kaleb story.
You know that our kids didn't come to us with anything but the clothes on their backs, and those weren't really "theirs" - they were worn by every other kid their size (or close) in the orphanage - they were worn out, and too small, and went straight to GoodWill when they got here, so to own something of their own has been a pretty big deal. And to have MONEY, well, that's just icing on the cake - and they likey! Kaleb especially likes money. Others can walk right past a dime lying on the floor or a quarter on top of the clothes dryer, but Kaleb stops, picks it up and asks if he can have it - every time! At first, he just put his money in his sock drawer, but then decided he needed a better banking system, so he got a little plastic medical bag from a Build-a-Bear Bear and made that his bank bag -- pretty darn adorable. He got money from the tooth fairy twice (and promptly counted up all the teeth he lost in Ethiopia and gave me the count in case I could get word to the TF of his "failure to pay" - LOL), he got money in his Easter basket and he has scoured the house and found a good amount of loose change. Then a couple weeks ago he was the pool cabana boy and rubbed suntan lotion on Gatlin, her friend, Jessie, and me, and it was so sweet that I paid him $1.00 and Gatlin and Jessie paid him $3.00 (which they took from ME). So, at that point he had a grand total of $17. He said he was saving for a remote-controlled car.
Cut to the beginning of last week and the start of VBS. During the first session, Ms. Amy told the kids about Malawi, Africa, and how the kids at VBS could bring in money every day and it would go to build a library there. It was also a fun contest between the girls and the boys, which is always exciting for the kids. (; So, at the end of the day as we were riding home, Kaleb told me he wanted to give money to the kids in Africa. I told him I thought that was great and that I would give him a dollar to take the next day, but he said, "NO, I want to give all my money!" Ok, you know this totally tore me up. That sweet boy has been saving that money for over three months - it has been VERY important to him - and he is ready to give it all away, just like that. So, I made sure he understood - I said, "Kaleb, you've been saving that money to buy a car and if you give it away, you won't be able to buy a car." He said, "I don't care about the car, I just want to give them my money." And the next day, that precious boy carried his little medical bag, filled with his $17, into the church and dumped it into the big trash can on the boys side. (: And the tears streamed down this proud mamma's face.
Now, his birthday is coming up on the 23rd and you know I had every intention of buying him a remote-controlled car! (: BUT, then something amazing happened. On Wednesday, I told the story of Kaleb giving his money away to my 5th grade VBS class, and on Friday, three of the kids came to me and told me that they had a present for Kaleb. Their mom then told me that they had asked their parents if they could use their own money to go buy a car for Kaleb since he gave his money away to the African kids. Hello!!! And there it was, this HUGE gift bag for Kaleb - wow!! So, I brought Kaleb into our class and let the kids give him that gift - and it was the coolest green car -- it's awesome. Kaleb didn't know what to do or say, it was just so sweet. I have it on video - precious!
A simple Bible verse that we learned on Wednesday of VBS week was, "We love because He first loved us". These kids demonstrated love in a BIG way and I was so proud of all of them. And by the way, at the end of the week, the VBS kids gave over $8000 to the Malawi Library project. Can you believe that!! AMAZING! That's good stuff, people.
On a side note, Kaleb also won the Crazy Hair contest - which is such a funny story since he wasn't really supposed to be in the final four, but he heard Ms. Amy say, "I love Kaleb's hair" and so he thought he was supposed to stay on the stage. Then when the kids did the "applause/scream" vote, they went nuts for Kaleb. It was hysterical. And, of course, I cried, cause I'm sitting there thinking of this little boy in an orphanage four months ago and now, there he was, standing up in front of 600 or so kids and he's getting screamed for -- and I mean SCREAMED FOR -- and winning a contest. Oh my. It's just too much sometimes.
The weekend before VBS my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and nephew came to visit. It's the first time anyone on Brian's side of the family has met the kids so it was a really special weekend. Aunt Lora brought lots of goodies and we have enough books to read for a year. LOL But really, I LOVE how much thought she put into the kids and bringing special things for them. Then, one day, she and Gatlin spent four hours - yes, FOUR HOURS - at Michael's shopping for artsy crafty stuff. They came home with a plethora of fun things - the kids were in heaven. We had such a great weekend and it was filled to the brim. It was hard to say goodbye and on Tuesday morning when the kids woke up and their Aunt, Uncle and cousin were gone, there were tears. ):
This week, Gatlin is at basketball camp. It's just up the road in Nashville, but I miss her. She wasn't feeling great last night or this morning so I went up to see her on her lunch break. We ended up lying in her bed for a short power nap and she read her journal entry from last night to me, and she read me a Bible verse that she'd written down. These are special moments that I treasure!! She is having to be brave right now and I'm proud of her for hanging in there. She's going to a new school next year so doesn't know any of the girls well yet, and she's playing basketball for the first time really (she played for the YMCA when she was little, but I'm pretty sure Cooper would say it didn't count - ha!). She's out of her element and is being tested. It's good for her, but it's hard for the Momma to know that she's struggling a little. But, as we all know too well, life is full of struggles and you have to learn how to get through them.
On the way to camp, she and I took turns saying Bible verses that we have memorized. I pray that God will bring those verses to her mind, not only these few days that she's at camp, but for the rest of her life. One in particular that I have asked her to memorize and meditate on is, "For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind". This verse is a "must memorize" verse. Life is hard and fear can be debilitating, but through Christ, we can do all things. Amen and amen!!
PS. Can you lift up a prayer for my sweet Mom who is in the middle of chemo treatments. She's had a hard week and isn't feeling great - not all because of the chemo but more because of a stinkin' tooth infection which ended in a root canal, which is gonna end next week when they just pull the tooth out. Not fun, especially when you're already dealing with chemo -- ugh. So, prayers for her are much appreciated! Thanks, friends!