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Jonalyn’s Legacy Lives on

So it’s been almost a month since our little friend J left our home from hosting to head back to PH to rejoin her orphanage, school, her life.

I wrote often about the joy it was to see her grow, change, get healthier, get new, usable, non-painful teeth.  I wrote here how even more than that, we saw changes within ourselves, saw changes in our kids that could only have come from this specific hosting experience.  Like, forever and ever, needed and powerful changes.

They haven’t stopped.

We still see and experience them, often. On the daily.

A few months ago, Maria had to give a presentation while on a field trip that Andrew was chaperoning.  ‘Petrified’ wouldn’t do it justice.  She barely spoke above a whisper, as fast as possible, fear evident in her entire body.  Even at home, she sometimes would get so nervous speaking, she could barely do it.

Once Ms. Confident sashayed into our home for winter hosting, she declare our families past time as singing and performing, a total Filipino thing.  KARAOKE!  I took videos of their performances, J seriously, seriously looking like she was on American Idol, Finley hopping around and singing, Maria looked pained as she fidgeted with whatever she could–hair, shirt sleeves, eyes wide, legs straight, singing words barely above a hum.  I would show the videos back to them, J and Finley delighted, wanting to watch over and over.

Over time, J and Maria started picking out props, picking different sections to sing, planning and performing.  On J’s last night with us, they gave a performance, as Maria, confidently looked at the camera, singing loud, arms waving up, down and around, not yanking on her hair or pulling at her zipper.  With a grand finale of two, happy, confident girls bowing after a job well done.

We clapped long, at more than just the performance.

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Maria’s first week back to school, they had to dress up for a return to the boat field trip.  When she got in the car after school, she told she had to give  a speech.

“How did it go?”

“Good!” she said, starting to tell us about something else.

“Wait–what?”

“What?”

“You loved giving your speech?”

“Yeah, you want to hear what I said?”

“Yeesssss….” we said slowly.  Was she offering to give us a speech on her own free will?

And she proceeded to.  Not only was it completely normal voice level and understandable, but her voice was even–confident, the material interesting, educational.  Andrew and I looked at each other, like, whaaaaaat is happening?  Is this real life?

It’s funny to be in front row seats of children going through deep and forever transformations.   It is profoundly purposeful and exciting.  The time that passes is meaningful, thrilling, a gift to be a part of, even if the child is totally unaware how much they are changing, we see it in every small way, an experience like none other.

“Great job, Maria.  You sound so professional!”

She smiled and kept talking about other things.

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Maria is totally into toys now…not only that, but also can play them by herself.  Sometimes she will set them all up, and ask me to play, which I do, and recently, she will set them up in her room, and just play them.

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That may seem like no big deal, but you know what she used to do previously.  Sit.  And do nothing.  That’s what she was used to.  I would ask,”Maria, would you like to play, or read right now?”

“Um…I don’t know?” she would say.

“Do you want me to pick?”

“Yes…”

“Ok, why don’t you read,” which she would.  Since J came, this is the first I have seen her actively, on her own become imaginative.

Since J, we incorporate more music in Maria’s life.  We set up an iHome in her room, downloaded some cute songs on some old iPod and she sings along–as she plays.  It’s the cutest thing ever.  Or she finger knits, or does all sorts of cute things she knows how to do now.  (She learned from an author at Barnes and Noble recently)

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There was something about J that brought Finley and Maria together closer.  I think they appreciate each other more, she was the perfect mix of fun and goofy, keeping them on their toes that made them feel like a team.photo_3

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It’s all thanks to J we’re doing gymnastics.  Everyone’s highlight of their week. All of Elijah’s therapists are so excited he’s in it.

Almost as excited as he is…photo

Oooooo yeah!  Talk about core strength, crucial in body awareness!  Each week he can hold on longer and longer.  Some of the boy’s best friends have joined us and it’s so fun for all the kids and us mamas.

Meanwhile, Maria is thriving.  Her arms feel stronger.  She had better posture, stronger legs.  Confidence is like, yes.

And check out this day she had last week…I mean…talk about American girl now…

First, she was at gymnastics

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where, she met a Disney Star who was there for a fundraiser.  We had no idea who she was, then she started signing autographs… She was so cute, and we looked her up later and saw her videos. Maria thought it was so cool.

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Then, we had a gift card, so she got starbucks.  Talk about American life with Disney stars and cool drinks.  This is definitely not orphanage life, and what a sweetie who just loves it all.photo_1

 

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Maria and J fought over some dumb Frozen chapter book while she was here–which only made Maria want to read it more. She finished it, “Mama, there were WAY more details in this than in the movie.”  When she told them to me, I realized they were the same, but the movie must have spoken to fast, while in the book she was able to pick them up.

It was the first chapter book she has ever finished in English, which is difficult because there are no pictures for reference.  She is now reading Charlotte’s web.  She loves it.  She’s a chapter book kinda girl these days.

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J is being adopted by an aunt in her own country.  We are so excited for her, and will be forever grateful for her time here.  I am so glad we hosted instead of doing anything else in that time.  I think that’s just the way it goes right?  God wants us to be invest in others, to take those first, hard steps of, “yes, we say yes,” only for him to allow healing for everyone involved.

I am so sold out on this lifestyle, cause I have lived both, and I can tell you, a life serving others is far better, even when you think it won’t be.  We’re still in the process of learning, evident in that we are still so shocked at how well things turn out when we follow God…Screen shot 2014-02-06 at 3.02.27 PM

Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind
finds life itself—glorious life! //proverb 21:21

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we love you, you sweet little superstar-girl!photo

And just before you think these blessings were just for us, I will be sharing more stories of lots of friends who hosted in the next week or two 😉

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New Horizons for Children has their initial hosting photo listing up for summer right now.

There are $11,000 in scholarships available already!  (All our friends who hosted got fully funded pretty quickly after they committed, even the ones who thought they wouldn’t 😉  It’s a really great thing for lots of people to be a part of.

“Sign up to see our photo listing. We are adding new kids every few hours, and days, as our team is still interviewing. This is an amazing way to change someone’s life, FOREVER!” -NH

For one boy, it is his third time being listed, and he won’t be listed again because he can’t stand the thought of not being selected again  Consider hosting.

Pray about this, take to your spouse, your kids, your family, they may surprise you! Pray God will lead you to a child that might be particularly blessed by your time with them. (But who wouldn’t be  )
The life of a child is an incredible investment. Plus, hosting is fun.

Other orphan hosting groups to look into:

Please share this info with people you know, your church, anyone!  It is truly, forever life changing and the need is great!

THANK YOU!

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