Today 5 kids came to the door: Haley, Daisy, Riley, Lukacy Jr. (I call him Jr.) and Jeremiah, all grade 6 students (word gets around). At first I was apprehensive, especially since I've noticed that older boys here in general are very rough and they fight a lot. I decided to focus on the kids and spend time with them to make sure nothing got out of hand (instead of getting dinner ready). To my surprise they were very well behaved. The boys played really well together - no fighting and great sharing. The girls, Isaac and I coloured in colouring books (a favourite childhood pass-time) and we were joined by Riley and later, Jeremiah. They are sweet. They are looking for something to do. If the kids grow in number and my home gets too small, I might approach the church about starting an after school program there. I probably couldn't do it every day but maybe 2-3 times per week. We'll see. Right now it's quite manageable and it's fun.
I can't help but feel for those living in this community. They live in an impoverished community and yet they are well aware of what's out there and in other ways they don't have a clue. The girls often hear me talk about different foods and their nutritional value as well as other healthy lifestyle tips since when they come over often while I'm making dinner. The other day they ate red pepper and tasted lemon for the first time. They sell them at the Co-op store yet at 11 years of age they had never tried them. Haley asked me "why is it that when my dad gets money he only ever buys junk food?" What do I say to that? There is lots I COULD say but I really need to be careful so I ask her "well, have you ever asked him to buy fruits and vegetables? Maybe he doesn't know that you want to eat those foods". There is a misconception that people here only WANT to eat junk. Not entirely true. They are uneducated and poor. Tamika tells me that when she gets a bit of money she buys a kiwi at the Co-op. They cost 1$. They are her favourite. Tonight the kids polished a bowl of baby-cut carrots.
Tonight I also chatted with the kids about school and mentioned how important it was to go to school and learn. To give a bit of background, attendance is an issue here. The first Friday of every month the teachers give away Attendance Awards as incentive. Tonight, Haley asked me why school was important. Wow. Some people here make it. They get an education and find a job and do well. I don't know what the different factors are between the ones that make it and the ones that don't.
People are bored here. Brian and I (Brian more than me) have met people that have plainly said "when I'm bored I get into trouble" "or I have nothing to do so I smoke pot". I know this is EVERYWHERE. The difference here is that there really isn't anything to do! No jobs, it's cold, dark, no nothing. Thank goodness I have my kids because I'd take up smoking pot too! I've met a few men that have a "past" with the law and they are trying so hard to be good. I kept myself up thinking last night about what people (or these guys) could do and 2 things came to mind
1) Brian could start a Bible study with them and teach them about the hope we have in Jesus and
2) Sometimes we need to take the focus off ourselves. Maybe these guys could have purpose in helping others... It won't pay much but it might take care of the boredom part. Now there's something to pray about.
For me personally the desire to help others is deeply intense right now. My Selkirk family did so much for us in the past four year, and especially in preparation for this big move. Three weeks worth of meals, free childcare (did I mention somewhere that I have 3 boys?!?), errands, gifts, prayers, hugs... So my want to pay-it-forward is bursting at the seams. Today I dropped off some soup and biscuits at Leonie's place for her to give to a man suffering with cancer. I had told Leonie I loved to cook and bake and that by making extra and giving to those in need is one of the few things I CAN do right now. Giving to and helping others makes us take the focus off ourselves and our not-so-perfect circumstances. It's a happy pill up there with exercise and vitamin D. If you are feeling bitter these days, jealous, sad or selfish give of yourself and you won't regret it. It felt so good today to do something for someone else instead of feeling like a "helpsucker" to those around me (it was hard for me to take take take from people before we moved).