Casa Trip Day 4: Oh thank heaven for little girls

Posted on January 19, 2011

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Today I almost finished my work on the storage shed from an episode of Hoarders, but in 20 years, that’s not what I’ll remember about today. What I will remember is how the girls at Casa started to warm up to me, and the countless hugs I received from possibly the cutest little girl that I have ever seen in my life: Anahi. Here are some pictures of her:

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You’ve heard the cliché about a smile lighting up a room, but Anahi’s smile is different. Her smile could light up the world if given the chance, and a Smiling Neck Hug (it’s a proper noun, I’ve decided) from her feels so good that you’d think that your heart had been operating at 50% capacity for your entire life before The Hug. You can see in the video that she’s a little bit camera shy, but off camera she was giving me Smiling Neck Hugs like it was her job. I was so, so thankful that she was willing to share her Hugs with me, and I hope that the hugs I gave her in return made her feel just as special.

For lunch today, we had…wait for it…KFC. Not because we’re Americans that can’t hack a week without our American gut-busting food, but because the kids love it. The only time a year that they get fried chicken (or pizza or a BBQ cookout) is the two times a year that our group comes down to visit. We ordered nine boxes of chicken the day before, but when Emily and some others from our group went to pick up the food, KFC had prepared NINETEEN boxes of chicken instead of nine, and expected us to pay for all of it. This couldn’t have been a misunderstanding because John and Gil had seen a KFC employee write out our order on a napkin the night before, so they were probably just playing us for more money. Long story short, we paid them and had enough chicken for lunch AND dinner, with some still left over in the fridge.

Enough about the pollo. Back to the kids. Today, each kid decorated a piece of paper that also had their picture on it. We put each page into a scrapbook for our church back at home so everyone can see the precious faces of these kids we are supporting. The kids really enjoyed this project, and while I was going around helping, some of the girls started talking to me without me initiating it, none of them resisted a hug from me, and some of them even initiated their own hugs with me. Progress. Too bad we’re leaving on Saturday. We need to stay longer than four days. For their sake and for ours.

I was really excited that Hector- one of the older boys- specifically requested that I sit by him during our devotional/worship time. He was even being a little physically clingy with me, which was new. The older boys are definitely “hard,” meaning that they have a pretty thick armor around their world-hardened hearts, but it was nice to see that that armor could be cracked over the course of a week with a little love.  Hector and I had a good time singing together (He’s a GREAT singer. Seriously.) and hanging out before “eating mor chikin” for dinner.

Anahi asked me to sit with her at dinner again by slapping the bench she was sitting on and saying “Aqui! Aqui!” (Here! Here!), but I knew I needed to stick with the older boys. I told Anahi that I was going to go sit with the boys and that I would see her later, and being the angel that she is, she was fine with that. We played bingo and watched a movie after dinner, and the Casa girls really started to relax around me. These girls are beyond precious in my eyes and in the eyes of their God, and I could not be more thankful for the opportunity to serve them this week.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the boys too, but ever since student teaching I’ve absolutely been a sucker for little girls. I still remember the first 2nd grade girl that stole my heart during the elementary level portion of my student teaching, I remember the first girl that I felt a true spark with at my first teaching job, and now I will always remember the connections that began to form with the Casa girls today- especially with Anahi.

Tomorrow will be a difficult day. Finding the balance between loving on the kids and having fun while not making our inevitable departure too much harder on them than it’s already going to be will not be easy. I don’t mind crying, and I’m fairly certain I will do just that (hopefully in the car and not in front of them), but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to leave. I’ll say it again: four days is simply not enough. Too much work to be done, too many kids to love, too many Neck Hugs to receive.

Tomorrow: Opening Christmas gifts, playing games, and Anahi’s wish that might someday change my life forever.

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Posted in: Casa Trip, Faith, Life