Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

 

Joyful

“I will give you thanks with all my heart…” Psalm 138:1

KihleyForearms covered in calamine lotion, eight-year-old Kihley grips a gallon Ziploc full of random Happy Meal toys, her teeth clenched in a forced smile against the itch of a newly bloomed poison ivy rash.

“I just went to the doctor,” she volunteers, eager to get started. It’s craft day at Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, and Kihley is eager to join her friends. “This boy said to me, ‘Hey, Kihley, I dare you to rub this leaf on your arms,’ so I did.” Big eyes bright, she adds with a giggle, “I won’t do THAT again!”

Kihley starts to fidget. Using her feet for leverage, she spins her chair from side to side. “My sisters and I came here about a year ago,” she begins. “Ms. McClure helped me take a shower. There was a tick on my head, so she got it off. Then she sorted my clothes and had me try them on.”

Inspecting her rash, Kihley continues, “I liked it here, but I was kind of disappointed because I thought there was going to be a lot of horses. I want to be a horse trainer when I grow up, so I was hoping, but when I got here, all I saw was one dog, Harley. I liked Harley, though, so I guess it was okay.”

Quickly bored with her rash, Kihley brings her chair to a stop. “…AND, we have this whole entire space to roam around in!” she exclaims, flinging slight arms wide for emphasis. “I get to ride my scooter and ride my bike and play with Ben. It’s great!” 

“Sometimes,” Kihley prattles on happily, “we get to go places like the movies. Once we got to go to an olden days place, and I got to see some puppies, Slinky and Doughboy. Then, last year we got to go on a vacation to Dallas, Texas, where we stayed at a church and went to a garage sale and an arcade and played putt putt golf. Even though I had my tennis shoes on, Mr. and Mrs. Williams let me put my feet in the little pond there.” Kihley scrunches her shoulders at the happy memory and smiles.

Clearly taken with her houseparents, Jeff and Amy Williams, Kihley begins to sing their praises.

“The Williamses are VERY patient,” Kihley says with a nod. “They are good parents. They take us out everywhere when they don’t even have to. Sometimes they even use their personal money for things for us. Mrs. Williams used hers on me today. She got me a Hershey’s. It was SO good! They let us play on tablets and stuff and play with their little son, Ben, and we ALWAYS have dessert. ALWAYS.” Kihley pauses, her expression daring me to doubt this unlikely truth.

“And even though she’s pregnant,” Kihley continues, “Mrs. Williams will still go back there to the prayer room and talk as long as you need and pray with you. She NEVER gets mad. NEVER.” Another stare dare. “If I ever get to be a housemom, I want to be like her, nice, not ever mean.”
 
Leaning over my laptop to watch me type, Kihley continues. “Say that they teach us about the Bible and God and how we should worship God because we can and some people in other lands don’t get to. Say they teach us to listen to them and respect adults. Like, I can’t just come up to Mr. Marple and say, ‘Hi, Bob!’ because I’m a kid and he’s not. I tried that one time.” Kihley giggles. Unruly curls have escaped from her thick French braid and now form a halo around her delicate face.

“Tell people that they give good advice,” she offers, sitting back to think, “like to ignore people who are mean because they just want the attention. Tell that they help us be a better person and love and care and share and stuff like that….and JOYFUL! They tell us to be joyful…like Mrs. Williams.” Kihley nods, finally satisfied with her answer.

Kihley’s immediate goals include outgrowing her car seat and “getting more than 4’3” tall” because she’s already eight. Although she hasn’t given much thought to the future, she knows it’ll be “a good one” because of “those donors.”

“Those people—who we don’t even KNOW—give us all the stuff we need and even some stuff we don’t need, like toys,” Kihley says. “I’m really glad they do, and I would say thank you if I saw them.”

September 2017



For privacy and safety reasons, some residents' names and/or photos have been changed.

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