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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Cherished Little Ones

Every morning during the three weeks I ministered at the Bible college, I spent with the children in the creché. The creché is the on-campus "daycare" for the children who are too old to stay with their mothers in class, but are too young to go to school (or supervise themselves.) I had fourteen children mostly between 18 months and four years.

We blew bubbles, colored Bible story pictures, and ran lots and lots. I taught them 'Red Light Green Light' and 'Follow the Leader' and they taught me their own version of 'Duck Duck Goose'. Sometimes we ate dirt, peed on each other's feet, threw rocks, and cried, but the rest of the morning was filled with laughter and smiles.

I want you to meet each one. I know pictures are worth a thousand words, but these children could only truly be captured by touching and hearing and smelling. Each one had their own personality, and they were a joy to know and love. I miss them very very much.


Tatenda is a sweet little girl with beautiful eyes and a beautiful smile; she can also move her hips like I have never seen another little girl do. She is the oldest in the creché and thinks she can run the place, but she was usually kind. She loved bubbles, and everyday she would ask to wear my watch.


Grace is as beautiful as her sister Tatenda, and her hair is as soft as her bum. She loves to laugh and she loves to wrinkle paper! Grace always came to the creché with her mother, who would come shortly before I left. I never once heard her cry or fuss.


João is a sneaky little boy with a big personality. He is one of the oldest in the creché and is a leader; the other little boys always wanted to do what João was doing. He has a scratchy little voice that always got deeper when he was angry or being a copy-cat. He has big lips, long eye-lashes. He loved to carry my bag to the creché, and he loved to kiss me on the cheek. For an entire week he called me "Blanco" (White,) until finally he learned my Portuguese name, Joya. I always arrived when he was eating breakfast and he would run up to me, "Joya! Joya! Joya!"


Gabriel is my sweet little cuddle-bug who was always very upset when I gave the others attention. He adored me, and I adored him. He is bigger than most of the other children, but he found his home on my lap, head against my chest, one hand in mine, and the other around my neck. His belly, neck, and armpits are very ticklish, and he also enjoyed piggyback rides as I chased the other little boys. Gabriel followed me every afternoon while I did chores with the students.


Timoteo is "the baby tank." He is big, and he is solid. It took Timoteo two days to warm up to me, but like his brother Gabriele, he was attached to me. When my team was there in May, Timoteo wasn't shy, but he was stoic - showing no emotion, and content to only sit and watch. I was estatic the first day Timoteo ran waddled to me with his arms up, wanting to be held; he then smiled and laughed when I tickled his belly. He isn't quite 2-years and isn't vocal, but he attempts to sing and copy-cat when you speak at his level. He often smelled sour, but it didn't stop me from carrying him close.


Japheth (Jah-fet) is my little querida (sweetheart). He is quiet and content to play alone, but he is very sweet and very sensitive. He loved to sit on my lap and kiss me on both cheeks, then turn his face to be kissed by me. Japheth always sat next to me at lunch, and gave me the biggest hello and goodbye bear hugs.


Snotty-nosed Mo was my favorite from almost day one. He smiled big, sung loud, and cried a lot. Like his sister Maria, he is a cry baby and was bullied a lot by João and the others because the kids knew Mo would react in a big way. He loved bubbles and would ask me every morning if I had any. He loved having his picture taken, and had the biggest giggle.


Maria, Mo's little sister, is a beautiful little girl. She was quite sick from malaria during my time there, but was in the creché my last full week. She would cry when her mama left, but only until I picked her up. She was usually the first to see me coming every morning and would run away to tell the others, "Blanco Joya! Blanco Joya!"


Dito was the youngest regular in the creché, and I would often find him eating dirt. He rarely smiled and he rarely cried. On my last day I brought handfuls of heart stickers and Dito looked adorable with 6 or 7 on his forehead. The poor little boy had asthma and a big wheeze, but it didn't keep him from playing.


Calamesa was a sweet girl who too wise to be influenced by Tatenda to do wrong. She was also one of the oldest and the only one that I would trust to hold the bottle of bubbles. When any of the younger children cried, Calamesa would either bring them in hand to me or would run to get me. She loved to be picked up and spun around.


Elena was a beautiful little girl with a precious laugh. It took her over a week to warm up to me, and it wasn't until my last week that she wouldn't cry when her sister, Calamesa, left her. One day we made bead bracelets, and everyday she would show me her bracelets on each arm.


Simeon was a very cute two-year old boy that always smelled wonderful. He loved to talk with me and grab my hand to show me something. He was a wonderful dancer and clapper. Almost everyday, he snuck into the afternoon class I was auditing and would play in my lap until he eventually fell asleep.


Jonah is the boy on the left, next to the grumpy João. He was a polite boy with a precious little smile. He was the only child to greet me with "Bom dia" (good morning,) and would respond with "Esto bem" (I am good) when I asked. He always came to the creché wearing a coat, and when he decided that he was warm enough, he would take it off and put it on his little brother Markito. Jonah loved the big beach balls I brought, and he loved to kick the other kids when they got in his way.


Marcus Matussee Jr. is the cutest baby I saw in Africa. He is also the happiest. He would only let me hold him for a few minutes before he squirmed away to chase the others. Even when he was pushed over, he would quickly get up and keep running.

1 comment:

Tonja said...

That beautiful chocolate colored skin and those gorgeous big brown eyes! They are indeed marvelous! It is easy to get attached and fall in love with these little ones!