Tag Archives: Ready Bodies Learning Minds

Loving, Joyful Youth Under the Headship of Loving, Joyful God

Recently we organized an all-day event of various old-fashioned  yard games for our students and neighbors. We very intentionally incorporated games that involve teamwork, healthy physical touch, riotous laughter, coordination, and sensory development as many of the youth the Lord has placed in our lives come from very broken places and are in the beginning stages of being restored and renewed by God’s love under our care.

The majority of our young friends are very immature for their age due to not having received vital components in their early childhood (such as adequate parental attention, Biblical guidance, loving discipline, etc), thus they lack healthy self-esteem, an accurate understanding of who God created them to be and the basic tools necessary to confront reality in a godly way. Knowing that these ‘lacks’ in a child or teen’s life propel many toward a life of crime, depression and/or sexual deviancy, we understand that spending a day full of godly friendship, intense laughter and team-building activities goes a long way towards restoring and forming healthy individuals who respond to God’s love and interact with others in a loving way.

In our corner of the globe here in Latin America (as around the world), there is much competition, violence and physical intimidation/abuse among peers and families, so learning to use one’s physical strength to bless others, carry a teammate, etc, is a very important aspect of learning to receive and then be instruments of God’s love in daily life. Patting someone on the back in encouragement, receiving a hug from a trustworthy adult, learning how to give (or receive) a piggy-back ride, etc, are really big steps toward their recovery into loving, joyful beings under the headship of the loving, joyful God.

Furthermore, many of our kiddos have very poor motor skills/physical coordination due to malnutrition and under-stimulation in their early childhood, so all the activities we do with them are geared toward stimulating them toward integral health, growth and abundance according to God’s perfect will for their lives.

So, one of the first games on our agenda was a crazy partner activity. I stood among the many teams of two and shouted out “Backpack!” and the teens had to grab their partner and fling them on their back. Then “Baby!,” which they then scrambled to cradle their friend’s weight in their arms as if they were a precious (oversized) newborn. And so the game went, me shouting out one wild command after another until everyone was panting and heaving, either from laughter or exhaustion…

‘Backpack’, everybody! Get up there!

What a beautiful baby! Don’t let him fall!

One of the next games on the day’s agenda was a fan-favorite that I introduced to them last year: Chinese freeze-tag! My husband Darwin and one of our 50-year-old local teachers (Reina) got in the mix as everyone was running wildly around our yard!

Watch out, Jackeline! Your teacher is gaining on you! Run, Reina, run! (She was such a good sport — she came out on one of her days off in order to participate in all the games with the kids without having any idea what would be in store!)

Look at Darwin go! Our eldest daughter Dayana was hot on his heals, and he was determined not to get caught!

The next game was an old classic: the water balloon toss! Every time you throw it, you’ve gotta take a step back!

Then: hide-and-seek!

I hid in an outdoor trashcan (with the lid on!) and no one found me until one of the teen boys casually walked by, took the lid off, and went to throw some trash on my head! My legs are so long that I had quite the hard time uncurling my body to get out from the tight space once the game was over!

Hey! Who’s hiding out on the school building’s roof?

Next up: a new game I read about on the internet! Everybody has to hop on one leg and use the other one (no hands allowed!) to try to push their partner over! It’s like standing-up leg wrestling. Let’s see who’s got the best balance and endurance!

When Darwin and Brayan went head-to-head (below), neither one wanted to lose! Thank God that we have two very strong, godly men in our household!

Then it was my turn to go up against tough-as-nails Paola! After a pretty intense go of it I finally beat her as I ended up hopping on one leg after her all around the yard!

The grand finale! Teenagers Cristian and Derbin went at it for several minutes while the spectators looked on!

Who likes watermelon?! Did I mention that you can’t use your hands? Eat up, boys!

One of the last games was one I invented right on the spot, and it turned out to be a riot! I warned the kids that they would be participating in the world debut of a new game…They had to crawl on all fours with a spoon in their mouth before reaching bowls of shortening (like Crisco) and flour on the ground. They then had to fill the spoon with one of the ingredients before crawling to their teammate at the other end of the yard to start spreading the delicious ingredients all over their face. The object of the game? Who knows, but it was really funny to watch!

Watch out, kids! Here comes Darwin with a huge spoonful of flour! Run and hide!

Hey! I told them to just put the Crisco on their victims’ — er, I mean teammates’  — face! Poor Josue was covered from head to toe! (And poor Darwin and I who had to bathe him and Gaby afterwards! The real prize awaited me the next day when I went to wash his clothes — and we don’t have a washing machine!)

Now it’s Reina’s turn! You go, girl!

Yup! We successfully finished the game! How do I know? Because all the Crisco and flour were emptied from the bowls and applied successfully to the kids (and Darwin, far left)! This is a game everybody can win, right?

Our 16-year-old daughter Dayana (middle, red shirt) was not too happy with me because it took her lightyears to pick all the Crisco and flour — which turned into a dreadlock-like substance — from her very thick, curly hair! Needless to say, I don’t think she’ll be requesting the game at her next birthday party!

And, last but not least, at the end of the day-long event, our 8-year-old special-needs son Josue followed me into the kitchen where I snapped this priceless shot of him. It is my new favorite picture: every mother’s worst nightmare! He looks like a naughty little guy who’ll get into anything when momma’s not looking (which is actually quite true)!

Now that’s a face only a mother could love!

Amen! Glory to God!

Shrieking with Delight and Persevering Through Fatigue: Rowdy Tutoring with Miss Isis

Last Friday Miss Isis, our young primary teacher who began living alongside of us at the Living Waters Ranch earlier this month as a way of deepening her walk with Christ, has begun giving tutoring classes to Gaby and Josue (our special needs ‘twins’ who are both 8 years old but are developmentally about 3 or 4 years old after having suffered severe abuse and neglect with their biological families).

Our little ones’ fine motor skills are abysmal (although astronomically better than they were 12-18 months ago when they arrived in our family!) as they struggle through basic daily activities such as washing a dish, holding a pencil, opening a door, operating a zipper, etc, and they live in the midst of speech impediments, lack of focus, diaper-wearing and untold difficulties that distance them from their peers. Thus, Miss Isis decided to focus much of the tutoring on physical movement, mimicking, strength and coordination (along with teamwork and general levels of fun!), all of which are basic building blocks on top of which finer, more focused motor skills will be added in the future as they learn to assimilate more and more into functioning society.

Last Friday was their first class together, and much to everyone’s surprise (and utter delight!) Miss Isis — who is typically very poised and quiet and has zero experience with organized sports  or any kind of physical training — brought her “A” game with our quirky little ones, thrusting aside any general societal norms of ‘accepted adult behavior’ or any notion of not wanting to ‘look weird.’

After having spent the morning in the ‘academic wilderness’ with her small group of second-fifth grade primary students (who also suffer many developmental delays, severe behavioral problems, and generally low intellectual capabilities), she suited up (as in, took off her sandals) for what promised to be a high-energy time with two very special little people.

After organizing several wind-sprints across our large front lawn (and participating), doing many frog-jumps and other rapid movement activities, Miss Isis began panting, collapsed on a nearby bench and informed the kids through heavy breaths, “Okay, great! You’re doing an excellent job. Now I’m gonna give you a little break to catch your breath before we continue onward…”

I laughed (because Isis needed the break, not the kids!), and I ran to get my camera for what was quickly becoming one of the best, most high-energy tutoring classes I’ve ever seen anyone give our little ones (and which is exactly what they need).

So here, captured behind the lens, is our beloved sister in Christ, Isis, giving her all alongside of our two goofy, precious, broken little ones. 16-year-old Sandra, who in no way was obligated to join in the tutoring class, even participated because it all looked like so much fun! Go, Sandra, go!

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Good job, Josue! Just follow my lead — keep those legs and arms in constant motion! Pedal ’em like a bicycle! Let’s go, kids!

 

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Legs up and down, up and down! You got it!

 

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Pump it! Don’t give up, kids!

 

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Get those arms and legs movin’! Up and down! (I think Gaby got the ‘down’ motion, but not the ‘up’!)

 

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Now everybody pull your knees to your chest! Pull ’em tight!

 

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Let’s get that bicycle action goin’ again! Don’t give up!

 

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Okay! Legs! Bring those legs up and down, up and down! Feel the burn! (Gotta love this photo of Gaby!)

 

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Whew! That was exhausting…

 

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Now it’s time for some stretching! Circle up! Touch your toes to your neighbors’ and try to grab their fingers!

 

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Now reach as far as you can towards the center!

 

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One hand on your head and the other one extended to touch your toes! You got it, Gaby and Josue!

 

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Okay! Grab your neighbor again! Stretch!

 

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Now try to put your head to the ground!

 

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Now reach behind you! Extend your arms!

 

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Okay, kids! Get showered up because now we’re heading in to art class!

 

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Gaby’s ‘silly (dragon) face’!

 

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What a beautiful drawing, Josue!

 

Amen! Glory to God!