• Jess

Visit with Civeli, Yarenzi and Sahori

Updated: Oct 20, 2018

Paula, Sahori, Yarenzi and Civeli

My last day of Mexico visits was with Civeli, Yarenzi and Sahori. Officially, Ward and I only sponsor Civeli and Sahori (whose first name is Britany), but that’s really just a technicality. (Seriously – I never root for a kid to lose a sponsor, but if all of you could help me out and start hoping for Yarenzi’s sponsor to get bored and give her up, I’d really appreciate it so that I can add her to our family. Her sponsor doesn't write letters or send extra gifts, and we already treat her like one of ours, but the INSTANT that little girl becomes available, I guarantee we’ll make it official.)

For those who don’t know the origins of how we came to be sponsoring siblings in this family, when I went to Mexico last year, we were only sponsoring Civeli. Over the course of the visit, it came out that Yarenzi was already being sponsored by someone else, but Sahori had never been sponsored. Well, I dare you to take one look at that little face and tell me you would have shrugged and walked away…… I believe it took about 48 hours between the end of the visit and starting the process of having Sahori added to our account.

My visit with the girls started at the community center. They were running a little late getting there because of traffic, which was pretty bad that morning. When they arrived, we went to the library to open gifts. They each got their own Build-a-Bear, each with a message that Ward and I had recorded for them in Spanish. Then there was an absolute frenzy over the outfits for the stuffed animals – at one point I thought there was going to be a full-on war over one of the pairs of shoes! (Sisters are the same no matter where you are…) Civeli was also really excited about the Crayola million-piece art set that I brought. As the oldest of the three girls, she immediately declared that it was hers and the other two weren’t allowed to touch it. They were instead relegated standing back and watching while she colored a picture for me. (I’m an oldest child, too, and unfortunately I can remember doing similar things to my sisters – sorry, guys!) Yes, my sweet Civeli is officially morphing into a hormonal, prepubescent tween. It was bound to happen at some point… The best parts of the day were definitely the parts where she forgot to be sullen and opted for silly and happy instead.

Sahori, looking at a collage of pictures from last year's visit

Yarenzi, who was happy just to watch as Civeli worked on her drawing

Civeli, hard at work on her picture

The finished product, now in my office at home

We decided to hang out at the community center for a little while longer to let the worst of the traffic pass, so I finally pulled out the deck of cards I had in my purse and delivered on the card trick I had been promising Paula, the interpreter, all week. I don’t think I can explain it here, but suffice it to say it’s pretty cool. My aunt taught it to me when I was a kid, I have no idea why it works, and I’ve never seen anyone else do it. If you want to know more than that, you’ll have to ask me to show you in person some time. I did it a few times – once just for show, again then to teach it to Civeli, and a third and final time to guide her through doing it herself, giving her the cards when we were through.

After the card trick, we did our FaceTime call with Ward and then headed out. Originally we were planning to go to the amusement park, but since we had done that the day before with the other kids, we made a change and went to the arcade in one of the local shopping malls instead. The girls had tons of fun with everything from skee-ball to air hockey to the an updated version of whack-a-mole. Civeli also had a lot of fun with an arm wrestling game. They had won over 600 tickets by the time we were done, which seemed like a ton until we got up to the prize counter. It turned out the only thing we could afford with our tickets were yellow rubber balls with various emojis on them. So we ended up with five of those. And they weren’t small – Civeli made a fairly frightening pregnant belly under her t-shirt out of one of them at one point. (Please, please no more pregnant sponsored kids for a while, okay?)

Sahori and Yarenzi


When we were done at the arcade, we went over to the food court for lunch. We ended up making two stops – one for pizza and one for chicken. As we were starting to wrap up, I looked at the girls and said, “You guys, I have to ask you a really serious question.” I could see that Paula was watching me really intently, wondering where I was going with this, and the girls' faces got really serious when she relayed that part to them. I continued, “I noticed that in this food court, there is a lot of…. ice cream. Do you think we should eat some of it?” Their faces lit up and they all started nodding very enthusiastically. What I didn’t realize was just how quickly ice cream would turn them all stark raving mad – I kid you not, twenty minutes later Paula and I were trying to coax them off the bathroom counters and back out to their mother, while they giggled like insane little creatures and scrambled around using paper towels to mop up the water from the sinks. At one point Paula tried to wave and say bye and start to pretend she was going to walk out the door, and Sahori responded by cheerfully yelling “Byeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!” and waving back while making no move at all to follow. On the bright side, once I gave Civeli a caffeinated sugar bomb, she was WAY more chipper for the remainder of the afternoon. :-p

Oscar, Yarenzi, Sahori, Civeli and Paula, with ice cream

Once we finally convinced everyone to come back to the tables so we could gather our collection of emoji balls and head to the van, it was time to take the family home. On the way there, Civeli took her mom’s cell phone and showed me a bunch of family pictures, including some of her parents’ wedding pictures. Civeli has typically been really shy with me on both of our previous visits, so this was a really big breakthrough. (Note to self: Give her caffeine earlier in the day next time.) After we ran out of pictures to look at, I started goofing around and dancing a little, which Civeli REALLY didn’t think was cool (to be fair, it most definitely was NOT cool, but cool wasn’t my goal), and then starting turning around to make silly faces at the younger girls behind me, which Sahori in particular thought was absolutely hilarious. At one point I made the infamous Ward ‘ah-ha’ face - she really latched onto that one. I explained that he makes that face in lots of pictures, and it was quickly agreed that we would have to take a picture with everyone making that face before the visit ended.

All too soon, we were back at the family’s house. I said hello to the family pets, and then we got into position for final pictures. Before we did, though, Civeli disappeared for a minute, and then came back out with… the sock monkeys from last year! It was so funny to see them again. For those who don’t know, these sock monkeys were a VERY last-minute addition to last year’s trip. My sister and I won them at the Lake County fair last year playing one of the squirt gun racing games. It was the day before I was leaving on my trip and we ended up with three of these toys, in three different colors. At a loss for what to do with them, I suddenly thought, I’ll take them to Mexico and give them to Civeli and her sisters! Little did I know they would absolutely love them. They even named them, although I’ll have to dig back through some of my old letters to find the names (I think two of them are both named bananita, but I don’t remember the third one’s name).

This is such a wonderful family, and it was so great to spend the day with them again. I look forward to seeing them again next time, hopefully next year, and with any luck I’ll be officially sponsoring all three girls by then!

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