|Roberto with David Dean, a good friend of our ministry|
He has adjusted well to living with us, and I am astonished at how well his bedsores are healing now that he is receiving proper care and nutrition. The swelling in his legs is decreasing, and we can tell by lifting him he is gaining weight. His face is filling out nicely, and we have discovered that he has a delightful smile which we see more frequently each day.
|Roberto the day he came to us|
|Roberto the other night at supper|
What a difference a month can make
Roberto is increasingly becoming part of the family, though it's taken him some time to understand how we interact. He was very concerned that when we would joke around we were either angry or disrespectful of each other, and not teasing each other out of friendship.
At times he would misunderstand conversations and think we were not all happy to have him here. This has taken quite a bit of counseling on my part to help him interpret our interactions correctly. I didn't realize how very wounded he has been by his experiences. He has not lived in a normal family environment since long before his accident. He was sent to work in the rubber plantations at the coast when he was only 8 years old, and lived with an uncle who it sounds was not too welcoming.
His recent experiences have only compounded his woundedness. If he were at Hermano Pedro with 42 other young men in the same ward, I don't know what he would be thinking.
He is learning to make decisions, and take the consequences of them. If he sits in his chair too long and begins to ache, he is realizing it was his choice to do so. Some of the companion-caregivers have struggled with this, but I firmly believe he is a young adult and needs to learn to take responsibility for himself as much as he is able to.
Don't get me wrong. We are not going to allow him to do things that will injure him or put him in danger. I believe, though, that small uncomfortable consequences are the only way we learn to make better choices, and he is no exception. It's hard, though, at times to know what really is best. I am trying to concentrate on the majors, and relax on the minors. The trouble is, the minors are things that would be so much easier to change.
He seems to be feeling more at home here. It has taken him a while to get used to asking for things he needs, or, if he is able to, just getting them himself. Fidel and Osmi had a long talk with him that it is okay just to take and eat the fruit or snacks we have on the counter. He said he was uncomfortable doing that since they weren't his. They guys did a really good job of convincing him that he was welcome to all the food we have here, and he is beginning to believe them.
|First taste of pizza|
|Thinking about it. . .|
|I think I like it|
|Yep, it's a winner!|
He still does not go out of the house very much--the cobble stone streets and uneven sidewalks are very hard on him. The only place he insists on going, though, is to church with us on Sunday. While he doesn't have much Biblical or theological knowledge, he has a deep faith, which is what I think has sustained him these past four years. He is so grateful to God for all he has, when he could be so very angry at him for all he has suffered. I think this is where he is most inspiring and challenging to the rest of us here.
|Pushing himself down the street to church|
I have been surprised at how affectionate he is, especially with me. If I am sitting next to him watching TV, he'll reach over and take my hand and hold it for as long as I am there. He asks for a kiss on the cheek before I go to bed at night, and continues to call me "Mamita." I am a bit concerned about how he will do when I go to the States, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Claudia, one of the teachers from Hermano Pedro, has volunteered to come twice a week after her workday to teach Roberto to read and do basic math. I love watching them work together. She is so kind and gentle with him, and he just beams at the attention he receives.
The extensive care Roberto needs has placed extra demands on all our companion-caregivers, but especially Tony. It's been tough for him at times; he's not a nurse and I know few young men his age who would be willing to change colostomy bags or help with bedsore treatments. He has not complained even once, and I so appreciate him.
|Juan Carlos with our guys in the part after church on Sunday|