Tuesday, March 29, 2011

little people update

{This blog is an easy place for me to journal our family's journey. Sometimes, like today, that results in a boring post. Sorry about that.}

Riley: Riley is hanging in there. She has a group of friends at school now that she seems to love. I wish I could say that brought the old Riley back, but we still only see glimpses of her now and then. Overall, we can sense that Riley has a cloud over her. She gets upset easily, lets her brothers get to her more than she ever has before, and is asking us a lot of tough questions. Questions like, "Why does God want His people to be unhappy?" and "Why can't God take care of poor people instead of us?" Legitimate questions, but also questions not many 9 year olds are asking. Blake and I both have a deep seeded fear that we have severely damaged Riley's view of God with this move. She greatly misses her school, her friends, her cousin, and her church. Again, all legitimate things to miss, but it is hard to watch your daughter who was once a bright light full of joy wither a little bit right before your eyes.

{Riley got letters from her old class in California. It made her week.}

Riley choose fútbol as her additional activity at school. At the first practice, she realized that she was the only girl. Apparently, girls here don't play fútbol. The boys laughed at her enough that first day that she came home crying. (Don't get me started on why the coach would allow that.) Blake and I asked her if she wanted to change activities and she started crying again saying that she loved soccer and didn't want to give it up. Before the second practice she once again cried because she was so nervous. Riley said one of the boys said, "slow down for the white girl" while running. All of the boys ignored her out on the field until one of the boys wised up and passed her the ball. Riley came home grinning that day because she scored a goal. Riley's English teacher also told me that now all the girls in her class want to play fútbol.


Riley is having a difficult time with the Spanish portion of her class. Obviously, at the 4th grade level, Spanish class is very advanced. Riley essentially entered 4th grade illiterate. We talked to the school about this and they assured us that it wouldn't be a problem and that Riley would be allowed the time to catch up. We have a tutor for her three days a week solely to teach her Spanish. Unfortunately, Riley is very discouraged by her Spanish teacher. Riley's perception (which is her reality) is that the teacher is always frustrated with her and annoyed that she has to take extra time to help her. If it doesn't get better I will have to meet with the teacher.

Ford: Surprisingly, Ford is doing the best out of all our kids. I know. It is a huge shock to all of us. He loves his friends at school and has already had a play date! We heard through the grapevine that the girls all think that Ford is Justin Bieber (we have not told him this because he would die of embarrassment). He has been caught in the middle of a group of girls making them all laugh. Ford is definitely reaping the benefits of being the only white kid in his class. All of the stress he was experiencing before we moved is gone. Completely gone. While Riley seems to be carrying a huge burden, Ford was released from his burden. I am so thankful to see a carefree and happy Ford. I am so thankful that he can go to bed at night without anxiety overtaking him.


The only thing that Ford is struggling with is how hard school is here. It is not the actual content of school that is harder, but the fact that the entire school day seems to revolve around rote learning. Ford is at school for seven hours and spends most of that time at a desk copying board work or practicing cursive. After coming from a school that valued all ways of learning and where he never sat at a desk for long periods of time, it has been a hard transition. Then, after long days at school Ford also goes to tutoring three times a week and has homework. Today his homework was to copy a poem. It took him almost an hour and definitely evoked tears.


We definitely feel like this is too much for a seven year old. We just don't know what else to do right now. Ford needs to learn Spanish so that the rest of his time here in Peru will be easier. We need to push him to learn Spanish and he needs to do his schoolwork, but at what cost? Riley and Ford never once said they didn't want to go to school when we were in the States. Now it is a daily compliant, often accompanied by tears. I'm not going to break my son's spirit over cursive.

Brady: Brady is struggling with school as well. He is adjusting from the transition of three days a week of preschool to five days a week of kindergarten. His kindergarten day here is two hours longer than Riley and Ford's was in the States. I can tell that it wears him out, but he does enjoy what his is doing while he is there. With it being kindergarten, none of the students in his class speak English (they learn more and more English each school year). It frustrates him a lot to not be able to speak to anyone. When I told him that the transition to kindergarten would have been hard for him even in the States, he replied, "But at least they speak English there." There was also a boy in his class who was picking on him. That was really hard for me to handle. I just kept picturing my little boy sitting in a situation that he has clearly communicated to us is rough for him with the added hardship of a bully on him all day long. Thankfully, Blake talked to the administration, they were great about wanting to stop the bullying, and we hope that the situation is resolved.


We knew that this transition would be difficult, mainly because our kids don't know Spanish. We were also warned about how the Peruvian school system works and how they value rote learning so we also knew what we were getting into there. It was obviously our decision to send our kids to Peruvian bilingual schools and we do not regret that. It is of extremely high value to us that our kids learn Spanish. We are not in Peru short-term and in order to make this country our home we all need to speak Spanish. We know our kids are where they are supposed to be and that this method of schooling is the best fit for our family (out of our possible choices here).

That being said, it is miserable watching my kids struggle. I just want to rescue them and take them back to the States. I am starting to get anxiety on Sunday nights knowing that we have a full week ahead of us where will have to make our kids go to school. Of course there are times we question what we are doing to them. It weighs on us that we made the decision to do this to our kids. They did not ask for this life. Will Riley be able to reconcile that a loving God would want her to live in a foreign country away from everyone she loves? Will Ford always dislike school when that is obviously what he has to endure for many more years to come? Will Brady ever feel less lost in his classroom?

Our kids are amazing. They are troopers. We are clinging to our calling and trusting in the knowledge that God loves our kids and wants the best for them. There is so much that we can't "see" right now, but that only increases our faith. Every day in Peru, especially concerning our kids, has been an opportunity to surrender ourselves and let God provide what we, and they, need. Always praying for peace to rule in all of our hearts.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, sarah, for your update, your honesty and your vulnerability. Not boring at all! My heart has been heavy for the little ones...my heart hurts that school is not a joy, that the language is a challenge and that joy has turned to anxiety, tears and fear. Know that God is still in control and that you are being prayed for and thought of OFTEN. Give the kids a hug and kiss from Aunt Kristen!!!! I love and miss you!

Erika said...

i am so sorry you are struggling so much. take this with a HUGE grain of salt...what about taking the kids out of school and paying for a home teacher - that way you would not have to homeschool them- but they could still learn at home, at their pace, and could also learn spanish. less rote memorization, no bullying. they could make friends in the community through church, futbol clubs, etc. and have playdates and get-togethers that way.

then, once they have a stronger grasp of spanish and are more accustomed to living in peru, they could transition to a bilingual school.

i can imagine how hard this is for you. i know there are no easy answers. i am so sorry. ((((hugs)))

Anonymous said...

Ok, I love that Riley started a trend among the girls at her school!
I pray for you all to start to really grasp the language and the new (old school) learning style.
It is good that Riley is asking some tough questions...God will show her the answers and empower her. He has some wonderful plans for that girl; He has already given her such a huge heart. Continued prayers for your physical refreshment and wisdom and peace!

Dorothy Spornak said...

I read your blog for your honesty, know that people all over the world care about the things you are doing and that at some point all the struggle will be worth it.
New Brunswick Canada

The Wood Family said...


It is so difficult as parents (especially those of us who struggle with anxiety issues) to see our children battle with the same emotions/feelings/pressures.

Practically, I'd say it's perfectly normal for your children (and you) to experience EVERYTHING you're going through. Fun? No. Normal? Yes.

Whenever I have my own anxiety or worry over my children or any other circumstances that feel out of my control, I simply say (outloud), "Lord, I trust you."

My new life verse for my own worries concerning my kids has become the following:

"I prayed for this child,
and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.
So now I give him (and her) to the Lord.
For his (and her) whole life he (and she) will be given over to the Lord."
{I Samuel 1: 27-28}

I don't have to agonize over how my every decision for my children and all of the unknown variables of their lives will work out. He already knows. He loves them more than I do.

Thank you for your encouragement and honesty about your struggles. You are not alone.

Claire (TN)

Katrina said...

I've been following you on your journey for only a few months. I think that you guys are very brave to jump in to a whole new world. I was an army BRAT growing up and moved around often. (I have never lived anywhere for more than 3 years.) I think that the experience has made me a more well-rounded person and I can now get along with all kinds of people. The skills your children are learning now will help them to succeed at whatever they choose to do in life. Keep your heads up. I'll be praying for you.

Christie Elkins said...

Our family and church have been continuing to pray for "the Goodfellow family"; servants that we have yet to meet but are doing a great work for the Lord. Your children will be culturally sensitive and be able to show love to others in a way that very few children here have the opportunity to do. Praying for rest and contentment for your family!

greenstace said...

nothing about that post was boring! It was very honest and special! Thank you for sharing the small details about your kids.

Jamye said...

Not a boring post at all, Sarah! I pray for your sweet kids and their transition so I love reading updates about them. Give your kids hugs for us. Love you.

Erin said...

Reading this post brought tears to my eyes. I can't imagine how hard it must be to watch your children struggle like this, but know that God is with you every step of the way! It will get easier!

Anonymous said...

Totally not a boring post.
How it must feel to watch your little ones struggle so! I can't imagine how hard it must be for everyone.
Praying for you always.

Rachel said...

I've been following your blog for a few months after hearing about it on Rage Against the Minivan and am absolutely inspired by your family's story. I hope to one day live overseas as well and really dwell among the people of another country, so this is an excellent glimpse into the practicalities of doing so.
When reading about Riley's question, I thought about how Jesus came to the poorest of us. I'm sure that God could have thought of some other, less intimately involved way of saving us, but he chose to send Jesus. Jesus being with us in the flesh gave use the opportunity to know God in a way that we never could have had someone just sent us an email or a care package from heaven. I would venture to say that you in the flesh in Peru are doing the same thing.
Thanks again for all that you're doing; I'll be praying for your family and ministry and can't wait to see what God does through all of you :).

k8ej83 said...

Not a boring post at all. After reading this earlier today, I was at church tonight and we were talking about Mark 10:29- "Truly I tell you," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much." ... It made me think of you guys. What a sacrifice your family has made for Jesus! I admire you all so much! Praying for your family :-)
-Katie, Rochester NY

Roy said...

i think this video will cheer you up: http://www.youtube.com/embed/3NbN7yl2_fM

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

Oh, my heart is heavy for your kids, my friend.

Eli said...

I love reading about your journey, and all of the little things that are happening along the way.

Be patient with the language thing...It will come in time.

Be aware that culturally, in South America, it is very rare for parents to intervene in their children's educations.

Trust that your kids will eventually love Peru so much that they will have a hard time leaving.

Liz said...

sarah, if riley has a question about her spanish homework, let her know she can skype and ask me about it or email me at lizsmith.wa@gmail.com. she may not want any more help than she already has with school and a tutor, but i thought it also might be helpful to have someone explain it to her really clearly in english.

take care.

liz smith

Jen T. said...

Found your blog and know of your family from WS YL circles. This post, especially, reminded me how much I want my own children to see us living out the gospel . You are taking Him to the nations? I am enjoying reading your stories!

Anonymous said...

Not sure if this is helpful at all.. but, have you thought of them going to:http://www.amersol.edu.pe/fdr/index.asp

it's the american school in Lima. It was a great transitional school for kids coming who moved to Peru - they learned Spanish fluently, but, did not leave English behind. Both my siblings graduated from their and went to American Universities.

Sarah said...

Well, I'm thankful that so many people didn't find this post boring. :) I'm constantly overwhelmed by all the love for our kiddos. I have held on to much of the encouragement you guys give me over the past few weeks.

Rachel- I love your analogy. It really put things back into perspective for me and gave us a great way to talk to Riley about her questions.

Cristina said...

I don't know you personally, I found your blog through the Livesay's blog. But after reading your post about your kids I just wanted to say that as a kid who grew up as an MK I can identify with your struggles. Hang in there! Things WILL get better! Your kids will learn Spanish sooner than you could ever dream of, they will make friends, and this new place will become their home. It will change them forever, they will never want easy answers and struggle to fit in, but what they gain will be so much more. It will make you closer as a family, they will see things differently than the rest of the world and will understand so much more about life. It will be hard, but some day they will be able to look back without regrets.
Tienen una familia muy linda! Les deseo todo lo mejor con su trabajo en Peru. Bendiciones.