Our resort only had WiFi at the main reception area and the restaurant, and it did not allow me to get onto the internet, so I was not be able to post while we were away. So, I apologize for a long post, but this is a journal from our past week. So, get a latte, a cup of tea or your favorite beverage and sit down for this episode of War and Peace, though I will share mostly the “peace” parts. If you don’t want to read it all, just scroll down and enjoy the pictures.
Tuesday, March 14
Today, was a day of firsts for the children and a lesson for us. Our flight to the Roatan was an afternoon flight, and we began packing on Monday evening. When the children woke up this morning, they were ready to go. We were planning to leave Kjell and Marcy’s at 2pm and the time could not go any slower. Finally, around 1:30, we decided to begin our journey to the airport. It was good that we started early, because even though we had made a number of contacts and thought that we had all of the documents that we would need to take the children on the plane, when we arrived at the airport, we were told that we could not travel without their original birth certificates. As time oriented Americans, we began to panic a bit. I had to tell myself not to be angry, since we had paid for transportation to meet with our lawyer to have everything that we needed. We called our lawyer from the airport, and she didn’t answer, Marcy tried from her phone, we texted her, and then we called Carlos. Finally, Carlos got an answer, told her our dilemma and she said she would bring what we needed to the airport. Our flight was a 4pm flight, and our lawyer said she would be there at 3:20. Realizing that we needed to check in, pay an exit tax, go through security and find our gate…all of our American task oriented-ness screamed “IT WILL NOT BE OK”, when they kept saying at the desk that it would be OK with a smile. Our lawyer arrived around 3:25, and gave us the original birth certificates, which we have to give back when we return next Tuesday, and we began the check-in process. The lady at the desk took care of the exit tax, so we did not have to stand in a different line. We proceeded to security, and somehow, Alia had slipped her new pair of scissors into her carry-on, so she was stopped and they went through her backpack. She lost her new pair of scissors, but that was the least of our worries at that point. We exited security and looked at the clock knowing it was encroaching 4pm…we expected to walk through the entire airport for our gate, but there it was immediately around the corner from security. We walked into the gate area and they were getting ready to board, and then I realized that the lady that had told me it would be OK with a smile, was the same lady that was overseeing our boarding onto the plane. It is a different world down here. Once our hearts started beating normal again and we approached the tiny plane on the tarmac, it was awesome to see the wonder in the children’s eyes. This was going to be their first time on an airplane to go for their first time to the beach. We climbed on the plane, buckled in, and then re-buckled (car seats will be a struggle for Alia), and sat back ready for the pre-flight instructions. This plane only held 17 passengers…there was no pre-flight instructions. You get in, sit down, buckle up, and take off. I made sure to get some pictures of the children’s faces as we took off…they were all smiles and wonder. After the initial shock of flying wore off, I gave them their tablet and phone for entertainment, and at one point they both were taking videos out the window of the propeller. Then, they sat for the next ten minutes or so looking through their pictures and watching the video of the propeller. They saw mountains, clouds, the ocean and islands from the plane…God’s handiwork on display. Then as we were approaching our landing, there was a cruise ship in port, and Ashton was in awe of the size of the ship. On the van ride to the resort, Alia fell asleep on Alicia’s lap, and continued to sleep even when the road was incredibly bumpy…just like her older sister Alexa who fell asleep on the rough safari ride at Disney World. We arrived at our resort, found our cabana, and then went to dinner. After eating, Alicia said we should find the beach, since the children have never been on the beach. I had a maintenance issue with the safe in our room on my mind and being task oriented wanted to go back to the room. Alicia convinced me that it could wait, so we found the beach and introduced the children to sand, and waves. At first, they had to be convinced to put their feet in the water…but before long they were playing in the sand, and when Ashton realized that there were small fish coming up close to the beach with the waves, he was laying out and getting completely soaked trying to catch a fish. Both the kids got soaked in about a foot of water. It is great to see the wonder in their eyes as they experience new things for the first time. We have had our moments, and the other night, both children went to bed mad with us, because we had to say no and hold our ground. It was at that moment that the dream of Mami and Papi being like Disneyland hit reality. All in all, I continue to thank the Lord for His love and the blessing of my children. Some people have said to me how blessed these children are to get a family. Honestly, their lives will change, yet God had placed them in an orphanage with a great Christian couple who loved on these children and taught them about life and about the Lord. God has been at work in their lives preparing them to be part of our family. I praise God and thank Him for my four children. Each one is different and has their struggles and trials, but I am the one who is truly blessed.
I love their expressions at take-off
1st time experiencing the beach - totally into it!
Wednesday, March 15
This morning was filled with playing in the pool and in the ocean. As we entered the pool, there was a couple at the side of the pool, and we struck up a conversation. They told us that one member of their party said that there must be a story about this family. We began to tell our story and enjoyed a good conversation. Later, at the ocean, two of the workers sat and talked with Alicia because they were wondering about our story, as well. We continued to play all morning. Ashton is connected to my hip in the water and in the midst of our playing in the water, he continues to teach me Spanish and I am teaching him English. He is a very intelligent boy, though he doesn’t think he is. Alia is still a bit shy toward the water, so she stays toward the shore with Alicia. The surf here is very mild, with almost no undertow, and the water is very clear. I have been trying to explain the Jersey shore to Ashton without disappointing him. After a late lunch, we went to the cabana to rest. After a small tantrum, I hugged Alia to assure her of my love for her…and she wouldn’t let go. I went out to the hammock and laid down. Usually, since Papi is for play, when I would sit down, she would squirm away. Today, she continued to hold on and snuggle in. Before long, we were both taking a nap in the hammock. Before dinner, we went to a small, secluded beach area and the children were collecting rocks and other items from the sea. Ashton found a large living snail, and some other marine life. I also taught him a necessary skill for every boy – how to skip a stone across the water. The children are both asleep and we are catching our breath before we retire for the night in preparation for another high energy day.
Thursday, March 16
Today was much the same as yesterday. Breakfast followed by playing in the pool and at the beach. A late lunch followed by some down time at the room. Dinner and bedtime. Mix in a tantrum or two with play time and mood swings and you have most of our day. This afternoon, I had to put Alia on a time-out, which sounds simple but she fights every bit of it. The hard part was watching how it affected Ashton. He has been her protector for all of these years, and it is becoming so clear that he carries a heavy burden for his sister and hates to see her struggle. His sister being disciplined actually brought him to tears, and she was over it and ready to go for an afternoon snack but he still had to process everything for another 30 minutes or so. He has such a tender heart. The other event of the day was a Kayak excursion for Ashton and me. The resort has them for us to use for free, so Ashton and I went to take one out. The only one left was a one-seater, but we went anyway. I had him in close and was paddling in front of him. After a bit, as I went to make a turn, we lost our balance, and before long, we tipped over. I had a hold of him the whole time, and quickly showed him to grab onto the kayak. Once I knew he was secure, we turned the kayak over, and I hefted him into the boat. I climbed back in and we started again. I asked him if he had been scared, and he said that he was. I told him that it was OK to be scared, but that he could trust me…this was not my first time tipping over a canoe or kayak. I taught him how to paddle a kayak, and once we finally returned to shore, I asked if he wanted to go another time this week, and his face lit up as he replied with a big ‘yes’. I guess it wasn’t too traumatic.
Friday, March 17
Today was much the same schedule as the past few days, except for an afternoon of kayaking and a morning lesson for Ashton. As we left our cabana this morning, we found it necessary to talk with Ashton about running off without us. A simple word of rebuke brought on a full sulking response. It became an issue of authority, so I told him it was either time in the bed or we could go to breakfast. He spent the next hour in the bed because he wouldn’t come to me and say he was ready to go to breakfast. He learned that I was willing to give up a meal if he was going to be stubborn. He missed the fact that I was giving him the amount of time left for breakfast. Eventually, he came to me and said he was sorry and ready to go to breakfast, but breakfast was already over. I had to tell him that he had to wait until snack at 11am. His behavior was much better the rest of the day. We enjoyed a lot of time at the pool and the beach. After lunch, I convinced Ashton to go on another Kayak ride. He told me he was a bit scared. I guess tipping over yesterday was a bit much for him. This time there was a two-person kayak available and he had his own paddle. We had a great time, and he had so much fun that Alia wanted to go with me. At first, only I had a paddle, but we made our way back in so she could get a paddle. Both the kids did great. Also, Ashton has been getting more confident in the pool, even attempting to swim a bit on his own, and we bought a “floaty” for Alia and she was willing to go into the ocean with Alicia, even to the point where she couldn’t touch the bottom. These are two huge steps for the kids. We are continuing to learn more about them and how they respond to various things, and they are learning how to live with us as parents. This is going to be a long journey, please continue to pray for us to have wisdom and patience.
Saturday, March 18
Today was much the same as the past few days, except because it was a bit colder today, we spent the afternoon at the room. We played games and watched some TV. Alia enjoyed a card game that we got before coming to Honduras called Blitz! She did not play according to the rules, in fact, the only rules were that she was going to win. She would deal herself a few cards, then deal Mami or Papi half of the deck. The idea is to match colors, shapes, or the count of the objects on the card to the one on the top of the pile. She did great with matching things, so even though in her mind the object was to win at all costs, she didn’t know we were working on her colors and shapes and counting. Alicia and I would have fun at the end of each hand, which would make her laugh hysterically. Ashton enjoys the Legos that we brought him. We gave him three sets with three designs in each box. He has created at least six of the designs. The other thing that has made us laugh at almost every meal is a joke from our second day here in the Roatan. At one of the meals, Alia had a chicken wing on her plate. She decided she didn’t want it, so she put it on my plate and said, “no mi gusta ala”, which means “I don’t like the wing”. I picked it up and started picking through the skin to get the meat, and when she saw that, she took it back and pretty much sucked the bones clean. Then, I joked and said, “no mi gusta ala” and acted like I was chowing down on something. This has now become the family joke at mealtime. These two love to laugh, but when they are upset, the swing in moods could not be more pronounced. Tomorrow will be an excursion to an animal park on the island, so the kids are in bed getting rest for tomorrow.
Sunday, March 19
Today was the tale of two cities. One city is the one with big smiles, laughing and playing in the ocean, and enjoying a good laugh as we went to an animal park on the island. The other city is the one that is testing authority, trust, and the extent of our love, commitment and patience. It is interesting as we walk this journey to think about the fact that in the Bible, God says that those who trust in Jesus Christ as their savior are adopted as His children. How often do I test His love, patience and commitment to me? How often do I want to throw off His authority and assert myself? In so many ways over the past month, the Lord has been stretching me and showing me ways that I have taken Him (My Heavenly Father) for granted, and in so many ways I have stubbornly told my loving Heavenly Father, “NO”.
One special thing we did today was take the kids on an excursion to Gumbalimba Park. It was billed as a park with a lot of animals that we could touch and hold, specifically monkeys. We were expecting more than we actually got, but it was a great experience nonetheless. They had birds (toucans, macaws, a Honduran wild turkey)…and we had the chance to hold some macaws. The kids did not want anything to do with these large birds, but we got a family picture, anyway. The park also had monkeys, and we were able to hold the monkeys…well, they were able to climb on us, and we could pet them. Ashton enjoyed having one on his shoulder, and Alia had an opportunity to feed one during our family picture. Other than the dead insects in the insectarium, that was the extent of the animals in the park. It was a fun time, and an experience that we will remember.
Monday, March 20
Today was our last full day in the Roatan. Tomorrow afternoon, we will get aboard the little plane and fly back to Tegucigalpa, and return to our “home” there. It has been a great time to be away and bond as a family. Today was a really good day. It seems that in this process so far every day has been either two steps forward and one step backward, or one step forward and two steps backward. Today was a few steps forward without the backward step. At the pool, Alia finally put full trust in me to catch her as she jumped into the pool. She did this a few times, and then we played for a few hours in the pool and at the beach and her trust in us was demonstrated over and over. Ashton responded well today to my authority and to Alicia. They both were confident enough in us and our love and commitment to them that they were able to play independently for a while. Long enough that Alicia and I were able to play a few hands of UNO by ourselves. The moment that really got me today was at bedtime. I have made it a point to say to each of the kids that I love them and that they are my child forever. Ashton would always say a quick “no”…tonight, with a big smile on his face, he shook his head yes. I know we have some steps backwards ahead of us, but today was a good day.
Tuesday, March 21
Today, we travel to our "home" in Tegucigalpa. Things went relatively smoothly for our trip and all of us and our luggage all made it. I consider that a success. Our adoption is still in process of being registered here in Tegucigalpa, and then our lawyer will travel to La Ceiba. Please pray that this can be done very soon.
It is getting late, and I am having difficulty uploading pictures, so I hope to post more Roatan pictures tomorrow.