For those of you who have been reading either my or Dick’s blog, you will remember Samuel de Jesus. Sam was one of the main reasons I returned to Guatemala, because he tugged at my heart strings with his untapped potential. Before I moved down, Sam was moved to an institution in Guatemala City, and I have wanted to see him ever since. A few months ago Estuardo, another “mobile” child with autism, was also moved to the same facility, and in July Dick, Laura and I went to visit them, accompanied by Heidi, one of the nurses from Hermano Pedro. We found them healthy, happy, and with more freedom and stimulation that they had at Hermano Pedro. While still an institution and far from perfect, we came back feeling that this had been a good move for both boys.
Sonia recently had her 17th birthday which we celebrated with fried chicken at a party in the Bethel classroom. Sonia continues to attend school at a “colegio” (private school) here in Antigua and is earning great grades.
Moises is also attending the colegio with Sonia. Though not an avid student, he is making good progress. His strong will is being put to good use in “forcing” himself to do his distasteful homework. He’s been somewhat withdrawn lately, but recently has begun teasing me again when he sees me.
Bayron continues to work with Nineth, the Bethel teacher, and his speech is greatly improving. He tools around the orphanage in his power wheelchair and is a favorite of visitors at the orphanage. He is anxiously awaiting the arrival of a laptop computer which has been donated to the classroom for his use.
Elmer is one of the kids in whom I have seen the most growth since I’ve been here. While he will still sometimes go into a pout when he doesn’t get his own way, he seldom tantrums as he did in the past. I am working with him and Nineth to help him get ready to start school.
Jessica has adjusted well to living at Hermano Pedro, and loves attention and trips out to Camperos. While we are still working on getting her to perform tasks when requested, she is making great progress. Her living here continues to be a struggle for her mom, who visits her regularly.
Leonel is becoming progressively weaker and more frail. He is now refusing to eat and is being fed through an nasal-gastric tube. His smiles come less frequently, and even his dad’s visit didn’t seem to cheer him up. Please keep him in your prayers, as we fear he is losing any will to live.
Alfonso seems to be adjusting to life at Hermano Pedro. His aggressive acts have greatly diminished, and he no longer “clears the table” at Pollo Campero’s. He’s actually become quite the gentleman when we take him out to eat. He greets me each day with his version of “hey!” and two thumbs up—imitating his name-sake, Fonzi from Happy Days.
Veronica is a sweet fourteen year old who is trying to figure out just what she wants in life. She has been studying in the Bethel classroom, but is beginning to think she would rather stay in the ward and help fold laundry. She is having a hard time envisioning more than an institutional future. Please keep her in your prayers and she adjusts to being a teenager.
These days Ervin is seldom called by his former nickname of “Monster.” He calls “Maaa” whenever he sees me walk into the ward. While he can be quite a handful, requiring careful supervision, he has definitely captured my heart to the extent that the nurses call him my “hijo” (son). After I had been away for a while, when I returned to Hermano Pedro he called me over, took my face in his hands, and planted a big, juicy kiss right smack dab on my mouth!
Jose Antonio has returned to the Malnutrition Project at Hermano Pedro after only a few months at home. He has some type of a digestive disorder which limits the foods he can eat, and his mother has had a difficult time caring for him. While only weighing in at 14lbs, this soon-to-be five year old has more energy than the nurses know what to do with. Seeing this tiny little guy walking around the unit and talking his head off is more than surprising. While he’s pretty selective about his friends, he has begun to warm up to me—except of course when Dick, his favorite, is around.
Jessica Vanessa continues to grow both in size and strength. While a few months ago she was arching backwards so strongly she was hard to hold, she now is sitting up with limited support, and can “hang” over a tube while kneeling on her knees. It is a treat whenever I work with her.