Tyler is blogging again, but don´t get too excited. I want to relay a bunch of information, and I don´t have much time to pick a creative gambit.
Good news and bad news…
The good news is we got to worship with other believers for the first time in over a month!
The bad news is, our kids decided we would revisit week one all over again and make everything a battle.
We got up, ate breakfast, brushed teeth, and put on our Sunday best (Out of our wardrobe of three outfits) and left for United Church, recommended by our missionary friends, Stan and Debra. They are the kind people that welcomed our crazy family over to their apartment for swimming in week two.
It was our first church service that we have attended as a family. It was quite an experience. On the one hand, Beth and I have been thirsty for worship with other believers, and even in another language, it was so nice to to be in God´s presence with fellow Christians. On the other hand, given our lectures that morning about how we are there for God, we need to be respectful, and we need to be good boys and girls the whole time, our children were as ¨squirrelly¨as they could be. God bless our friend Stan (unfortunately his wife was unable to attend as she just had surgery – another prayer request). He sat right behind us (we took up a whole row), and our oldest boy was constantly turning around and messing with him. My older daughter also joined in a bit too. This man, instead of getting impatient or upset for the constant disturbance as he tried to worship, kindly gave them each a bookmark, talked to them far more effectively than I about church and why we were here, and kept them from disturbing other guests. That was really good because I was flying solo as Beth had to take our youngest son and daughter out about 15 minutes into service because they could not sit still… this was before we learned that this church had a place for younger kids to play upstairs.
After about 30 minutes of service, Stan politely tapped me on the shoulder and tells me that this is the time that all the kids go upstairs for children´s church. THANK YOU GOD! We were coming unravelled during the music, and I had no clue how we were going to keep it together during the sermon. The three oldest and I walked upstairs to a room full of about 25 kids and three adults. This group was the perfect size as it was big enough to be intimidating without being lost in the crowd, and my children got very shy and sober very fast. It was the best the behaved all day. I decided it would be best if I sat in the back as added security for them. The other children were a little wild (FYI – That made me feel a little better… if “normal” kids are having trouble sitting still and listening, maybe we´re not so bad after all). All of that to say it was a bit much for the three ladies that were leading it. I think a normal person would have reached their boiling point and yelled at these kids, but they were very patient. Slowly, with lots of interuptions, they muddled though their lesson about God´s creation in Genesis 1. Fast forward to tonight… even though we are in the New Testament in our Bible readings, I decided to reinforce the lesson they got by rereading Genesis 1.
Meanwhile, Beth is dealing with the youngest two in the play area. She said our youngest boy did OK, but Darth was a bully. I know a lot of parents say “I can´t believe my sweet angel would do such a thing”, but I promise you that I would believe anything you might say my “sweet angels” did. Beth said she was ugly to the other children, and kept them from playing in the little playhouse in the corner of the room. Beth had to correct her a number of times and lots of “lo sientos” were said to the other children.
After church, we decided we would do what we would do in the US, and go to out to each after church. We went to our favorite resturante, Blancos y Negros (“Whites and Blacks”… don´t worry, it´s not a racist thing. They have a picture of a black pig and white bread under the sign, and they have an amazing hotdog!). Our thinking was, our children know how to behave in a resturante…, right? No.
Darth threw multiple fits during the meal, one of which forced Beth to take her across the street to the park so we wouldn´t disturb the other guests. Our oldest boy was already mad at us for something silly like not letting him wear his other shoes to the resturante, he had a pretty major protest about the food that we got him. That has been his calling card. He doesn´t live a very compartmentalized life, so, if he decides he is upset about something, he doesn´t just take his punishment and move on. He has a bad attitude for a while and does other things that get him into more trouble. The other three didn´t do anything noteworthy at the resturante, but they were constantly testing boundaries and required lots of correction.
After the restaurante, we came back to the house and did our usual routine of watching a movie with the oldest four while the baby went down for a nap. The baby didn´t want to go down for a nap. The four oldest didn´t want to watch a movie. They wanted to run around, talk to each other, and break most every rule we have for movie time. The movie was cancelled and replaced with sitting on the couch in time out. Again, our oldest made some poor choices during time out, and he came with me into the kitchen. I talked to him about how we love him and all his brothers and sisters, but he needs to follow instructions and do what we tell him. I told him that he knew how to behave as he was very good yesterday when we went to the mall for a movie.
We then went to the park for an hour, and that went OK. The kids behaved as they would on most typical days. We had fun playing with the chalk on the sidewalk, we made paper airplanes, and I let them crawl all over me.
After coming home, eating dinner, and doing our normal evening routine before bed, Darth decides she wants to do anything but sleep. An hour after bedtime, after countless corrections as I peak into her room, she is finally asleep.
Now that the kids are in bed, we can get to work. On what you ask? Cleaning/repairing the apartment. A few days ago, the landlord called and asked what time we thought we might leave. I told him it looked like we would be leaving in a week or two. He then informs me that because we are getting close to leaving, he will be bringing a carpenter to the apartment to check everything and determine what needs to be repaired and replaced on Tuesday and how much we owe him. While I understand why he is doing this, I´m a little worried that we are going to be stuck with a bill to repair a bunch of things that we didn´t break. For example, the hot water is only reliable in one bathroom… something that has been that way from day 1. I promise this place is better than we found it as I have fixed the toilet twice and repaired a piece of molding already without any of my tools handy. Also I called a locksmith to fix another issue with a stickly door that somehow got locked in the closed position. Tonight we are addressing the issues that he has commented on during his visits like cleaning the white cushions on the chairs at the dinner table and stuff like that. I am praying that it goes well. I want to be a person of integrity and fix anything that might have been damaged by my family while we are here, but I don´t want to be taken advantage of either. I´m thankful this is the one and only time I have rented in my life.
I don´t know if it was devine revelation or just intuition on my own part, but a few months ago, I came to a realization. I am a little high-strung and over-react to things. I try to hide it, but I still get spooled-up pretty easily over stuff. Because of this, I started reminding myself that “things are never as bad as they seem or as good as they seem.” After the struggles with the kids today, it is easy to get discouraged and question everything we are doing. I then reminded myself of this. It helped me feel a little better. They are not bad kids. We just had a bad day… a statistical outlier if you will. Also, our Peruvian missionary friend, Lauren, who came the first week to help us translate, also wrote about us on her blog. It was refreshing to here her perspective on a day like today.
Feel free to check it out too: http://laurenservinginperu.blogspot.com/2012/09/bogota-columbia-nichols-family.html
Let me change gears a little bit…
Last Friday when I visited the courts here in Bogota with my two lawyer friends, Lorena and Lucy, I asked lots of questions since I didn´t understand how things worked with their judicial system. I think I have a better understanding of how things work, and thought I would share since so many people have asked… I may be missing a few details, but this is basically what is going on.
An adoption case is randomly assigned to a court. Each court has its own judge, and a team of workers to assist. When a case goes before a judge, the judge reads everything and makes sure there are no issues. If there are issues the lawyer generally has to provide more information and clairfy any concerns that the judge may have. If the judge is OK with everything, the judge will “accept” the case. Once the case is accepted, the family defender reviews the case. From my understanding, the family defender is sort of the “double-checker”. They also look over everything and can raise additional concerns or questions, even if the judge is OK with everything. If so, the lawyer for the case also has to address those concerns as well. If the family defender is OK with everything, they will sign off on the case, and it will return back to the judge for final approval. Since the cases have a hefty amount of paperwork associated with them, reviewing them can take a very long time.
Having said that, I am super grateful for how well reviewed a case is before they give a child to someone. It makes me feel good to know that Colombia works really hard to work in the best interest of the children so there are no mistakes. Tomorrow I am going back to the court with my lawyer friends to see how far along everything is. Hopefully our little case is a little further through the process since Friday morning.
Even after a day like today, we are really excited to be official parents soon even though we have had a month-long try-out. We covet your prayers and hope to get word soon. It would be really great to be worshipping in our own church in the great country of Texas soon! Oh how we miss you all!
At the dinnermesa,