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2 Girls, 2 Boys and a whole lot of noise.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Making a difference

So I am having an amazing - "I sent you here for a reason" - week. I just got called into Young Womens last week. (Youth Group, basically.) The first item of business was to figure out how to get one of our Young Women back into school. She is 13 and really wants to go but she fell through the cracks in the system when trying to transfer schools 4 years ago.
First of all, Her father gave her to her Aunt when her parents were splitting up. She was 3 months old. She has never met her mother or father. There are no legal papers to verify this. She got into school somehow when she started kindergarten but when her family moved and she tried to transfer schools they told her that she couldn't be admitted until her shot records were current.
Well, you can't get shots until a legal guardian signs off on it. You guessed it, no legal guardians to be found. They tried to explain that to the school and they were ignored. (Part of the problem is that the Chuukese people aren't assertive and they don't know where to go for help. Her Aunt is not a US Citizen and I feel like they are scared to seek help when they need it for fear that they will get deported, or something like that. In this case, there was no persistence and therefore this child has not been to school since the beginning of 3rd grade. She should be in 7th.)

That, as you can imagine, is not acceptable to me and to the Young Womens Presidency so we started praying about how to help her. I asked her about it on Sunday. She said that they had tried to get guardianship before but there is no legal guardian to turn over their rights. She has been sitting at home for 4 years while her cousins and neighbors go to school.
Unfortunately, Monday was a holiday but first thing Tuesday morning I felt like we should start with the school. Once I found her house, (which was not as simple as I thought it would be) we headed to the school that she should be in. (Her Aunt, my young woman, and me).

Amazingly, the Truancy Officer for this area was there. When we explained the situation, she was appalled. (She is a lot like me in personality - WHAT!?! No! We are going to fix this RIGHT NOW!) She said her job was specifically to prevent this and she was so sad that she had slipped through the cracks. She was even trying to figure out who would have dropped the ball back in 2009.

So right away she established a case for her. She explained that the courts will take over and that they will track her parents down and summon them to court for her. She said that she will get her own lawyer to represent my young woman's best interest as they place her with the best suited guardian. (Which will likely be her Aunt and Uncle who have taken care of her her whole life). She told us that she will start school right away. They may need to provide a tutor for her. She went and spoke to the principal about how to bypass all their paperwork and to get her started. She made arrangements for the tests that she needed and told me where to take her for the things she needed to do. She also lectured her Aunt for not seeking the help that she needed, which was a little aggressive for the Aunt's soft-spoken personality and I felt kind of bad but I love this Truancy Officer lady. She is a spitfire.

So after that stroke of the Lord's hand, we have spent the last 2 days running around getting all the things that she needed for her to start school this week. We bought uniforms and a backpack and some supplies, I met the Mayor today as we had to get papers from him, which seems silly but I can say that I met the Mayor.

Side note...I was the only white person in there and unfortunately, the local people pay attention to the White people because we are assertive and they presume that we are educated. In going to the school, the clinic that I took her to, and the Mayors office, I was treated with kid gloves compared to the other Chamorro people that were sitting there. I hate that it is this way, however, today it was for one of their own and it was a good cause so I gratefully accepted the help I received.

Back to the story...Today we got everything lined up, tonight she gets a blessing from the Priesthood Brothers, and tomorrow we go back to school, she will take her placement tests and see where they will put her, and Friday we go at 8AM and she will get her schedule.

I am so excited and it brings me to tears to know that this girl has been waiting for so long to have such a simple desire come true. I can't even imagine what her future would have held for her with no better than a 2nd grade education so today I am grateful to be on Guam and to help someone have a better future because I was able to help.
Here she is, backpack and uniforms ready to go. (And Wendy's. I was hungry.)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Post Christmas

We basically had the 12 days before Christmas and the 12 days after Christmas. (If you are wondering why, see my previous post about the Post Office. On the other hand, the lady who works there knows my face and knows my box number without me telling her.)
Christmas consisted of skyping with Jeremy and my family. We also talked to Jeremy's family. Cody and I got sick and have remained that way for the last 2 weeks so we have spent a lot of time at home. It has been good for us but kind of boring.
Anyway, we made a New Year's Day Gingerbread House. My kids begged me almost all December to make this thing. I knew the energy it would take and I never had the required amount. New Years Day I was able to make it happen.
Disaster of a kitchen and dining room - Check.
2 happy kids - check. (one does not look happy but she specifically asked if she could not smile in the picture.)
On the 12th day after Christmas we got gifts from Grammie and Melenna. I figured that by the time we sent a real Thank you card, they would have forgotten what they gave us so here are the Thank yous.

 Love the jammies. It is hot outside and cold inside so it is just easier to wear Jammies a lot. They are so versatile.

My friend, Aspen, had a birthday party and we had an amazing cake, which she is displaying here. She looks a little crazy but I think that is just happiness because that cake was delicious. For her birthday we also went to a Karaoke bar. She requested this. Me and all the friends that went with us had never done this either but we wound up lost (Guam has no street signs and most directions involve "Go past the Kmart and on your right is a strip mall with...whatever". Basically, we couldn't find the one we were looking for but we found one that had a few guys playing pool in it so we took over the bar and sang corny songs. It was obvious on some of the songs that someone input the words themself. "Eye of the Tiger" lyrics were so wrong. It was a good thing us Haolies" knew what we were doing. (That is what the locals call the white people.) 

 This was our dessert one night. This is the Godiva store. The guy there always gives me free samples but I bought these for my friends. My sister was a Godiva store groupie - which I thought was crazy (because those chocolates are expensive) - until now. Yes, here is my Credit Card. Oh, you don't need my ID anymore? I'm okay with that.
And we went to the Chammorro Village where they sell local merchandise and local food. This is the parking lot of the village. We were waiting for our friends so we checked out the ocean. Looks blue...as always.

All our friends and family in Idaho are having a Snow Day. We are also having record lows...74 degrees. :)