Saturday, July 17, 2010

Aaron's First (English) Word!

Lots to write about and be thankful for today.

Yesterday, Aunt Julia told me about a toy dump truck she had purchased at the village market. Her hope had been that Aaron would take fondly to it, and today her wish came true. Her exact words were, "Oh my goodness, this child fell in love." Within seconds, he had figured out how to keep pressure on the truck with one foot and tilt the bed with the other. During their morning visit, he was constantly looking for sitting places from which he could best maneuver his special present.

It was raining in the afternoon, so much of their second visit was limited to the infirmary. Aaron was not eager to join them there, but he forgot his anxiety after being introduced to the Nalles' computer. He saw pictures of himself and of his new parents and brothers, and Julia said he was very quick to make the connection between camera and computer. There was a demo version of a Bob the Builder game on the computer, which Aaron loved. Again, he swiftly figured out the cause-and-effect relationship between clicking the button on the laptop and the corresponding in-game action. 

At one point during his time with the game, Aaron used a crane to put cargo into the bed of a truck. As the vehicle drove away, he said, "Truck!" His first word! Rob and Julia had been calling his new toy "truck" all that morning, and he picked it up just like that. Amazing!

Aaron continues to practice using his arms, though it is a struggle for him to do anything at all. He helped turn some more pages today (book reading has been a staple of these visits) and clicked the laptop button with his hand to make the computer game work. It began to hail after everyone had made it back inside. Julia ventured out to pick up a few of the frozen raindrops and showed them to Aaron, but he didn't like the cold feeling and instructed her to throw them back outside!

He has warmed up to Julia now, just as he had with Rob. They get two ninety minute visits with him every day: one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. Julia says, "He had GREAT focus this morning." Praise God. Nearly all of her comments were positive; he continues to fall and is still unaccustomed to the comfort he now receives each time it happens, but apart from that both visits went spectacularly well. The mornings are brutally hot and walking to and from the institute can be exhausting, but I imagine that is a small price to pay considering the rewards they reap upon their arrival.

A few details about the institute itself, now:

There are 35 kids in Aaron's group, all of them boys; their ages range from four to sixteen or eighteen. Julia has not seen any of the bedridden children yet. Some kids don't walk, but they're brought outside in wheelchairs. You see children with every kind of disability while you're there. Among them are two down syndrome boys who could be anywhere from four to six or even eight, but they appear to be just twelve or eighteen months old. Their caretaker brings them outside together, holding each of their hands. Julia's heart breaks for these two in particular.

Many of the children are curious about these strange new adults and approach them, wanting to talk or play with them, but they're called back by their caretakers. Just to be safe, though, Aaron sends them away if they get too close! His possessiveness is definitely humorous, but it's also a cause for celebration. There is a bond slowly forming between this boy and his future mom and dad. We pray that progress continues to be made in this area.

I have learned the name of the 80 year old woman with whom Rob, Julia and Elijah are staying. She is called Valla, and this afternoon she made borscht (a soup containing cabbage and red beets) for her guests. Julia said it didn't look very appetizing, but that it tasted fine. Elijah had a hard time swallowing the stuff, so Valla, thinking that perhaps it was too cold, whisked his plate away and put its contents on a skillet. Poor Elijah! Eventually, she offered him chicken and Rob ate Elijah's portion. Her grandson (who speaks a little English) joined them for a short time yesterday and brought along an English-to-Russian/Russian-to-English dictionary! YES! The Lord provides.

The meals that Valla has made for this family have been the only real sustenance they've found thus far. Julia hopes that when they next visit the open air market, they will be able to navigate their way to meat and fresh fruit. The locals are not always friendly, so it's likely that they'll be relying on their wits and what little Russian they have learned.

Your comments will appear with more frequency now that Traci is calling and reading them off to Julia (thanks, Traci!). I'll pop in every few hours and publish your thoughts to the blog so they can get to the Nalles ASAP.

Please remain in prayer for this family and the wonderful work they are doing.


  1. Julie I wanted to try to set up skype and call you yesterday. I have purchased the magic jack and have that all set up and wonder if there is any way to call you through that? Or with my own cell phone? Not having such success with the skype account since I have not had enough time to sit down and read it all...anyhow lets move past my technical difficulties and say WOW this is fabulous!! I know that your adventure was filled with so many unknowns but each day it is being colored in with such beauty! Oh I was nearly bawling as I realize that Aaron is already wanting to learn about you and your family and is such a smart kid too. I am sorry to say that I do not know what Aarons disability actually is. I have always seen him as "Molly's Aaron from RR" and do not know what has set him into this environment. Maybe if you get the chance you can include the medical terminology in your next post.
    On a side note I can't remember if I have written you to let you know or not in this blog but we will be submitted on Thursday this next week. Yes finally! Will keep you posted on the process as it blooms. Well I will refrain from using all of SOMEONE"S skype minutes who has to read this to you, but please know I think about you and your family all the time through out the day and hope all is well and good with your soul. I see absolutely no evidence it is anything else, and I am soo totally happy for you all. Much love from the south, Cathy

  2. I am so happy for you all! Happy that you all are with Aaron & that he is becoming possessive over his parents and realizing you all are there for him :) It makes me sad to hear about all the other children & the 2 precious ones with down syndrome. Glad to hear that the institution is nice and much better than could be. Sad to hear Aaron doesn't have any use of his hands to catch himself when he falls but so glad to hear that he has learned to do so much with his feet! We are praying for you all!! Praise the Lord for your faithfulness in going into a foreign country, foreign language and living with someone you don't even know for this little blessing! Joyful!

  3. Hello there. :)
    Someone on Facebook referred me to your blog, thinking that my story might encourage you in your adoption process and parenting a child with AMC. I have neither adopted nor parented a disabled child, but I hope my experience can be a resource for you.

    I am 26, married, have a 1 year old son, and I have AMC just like Aaron. I do most things with my feet (i.e. drive, type, change diapers, play the trumpet), and have adjusted to my disability very well.

    I was even on the front page of the CNN website in April! Here is the link:

    I am not saying all this to toot my own horn... I just thought it would be a comfort to you to see someone with the exact same disability living a very normal, very happy, very independent life.

    My website is if you'd like to read more.

    God bless you and your wonderful family!

  4. Rob, Julia and Elijah,

    We get an email update every time a new blog entry is posted, so we are caught up. We are praying for you and we hope things go smoothly with the judge when you finally make it to court!

    Gran and Grandpop

  5. Aunt Julia,

    Ben and I are very sorry we didn't call you today. We got up and began preparing for church at 7:15, departed Gran and Grandpop's at 8:00, and got home just half an hour ago (it's 3:32 PM as I'm typing this, which means you're probably asleep). We had breakfast and lunch with them, and in a few hours we'll be back over there for supper.

    We will call you tomorrow morning and you can give me two posts' worth of info. That should be my last entry, provided you can connect to the internet on Tuesday. Let's hope!


  6. I have not had time to check in for a while - so am just THRILLED to find out you are with your boy! Alleluia!

  7. Up and praying for you - 1:11 AM our time so 8:11 AM yours. God owns the fields of the fatherless and does not take kindly to those trying to interrupt his plans to rescue children and place them in families. Praying for your entire family's protection as you are his hands and feet on the frontlines.

  8. Hi, Dear Ones!

    We're headed out for a week's vacation this morning, so I wanted to make sure to send my love beforehand. Not sure if we'll have internet access or not, but if so, I'll be checking for updates. So delighted to hear about Aaron's "thaw" toward you guys, and praying for more, more, more affection to take root in all the hearts concerned.



Loving words from kind people make our hearts glad!