Sweet Tea slept and slept and slept. When she came out of her room, she tip toed to the bathroom, quiet as a mouse, and then right back to bed. I kept sticking food in her room in case she got hungry: nuts, granola bars, cheese sticks, apples, bananas and oranges.

We finally caught her awake. Are you hungry? No. Do you want pizza? No. I had a sneaking suspicion that she had to be hungry so I went to the kitchen and fixed a plate of pizza and apples and took it back to her. She smiled and proceeded to eat every bite. From then on I asked “Do you like?” instead of “Do you want?”. It is so much easier to say no and not be a bother than to risk saying yes and be disappointed…

We were told that the kids often arrive with nothing, just the clothes on their backs. Sweet Tea brought a suitcase with clothes, toiletries, a towel, etc. I knew I needed to wash all of her clothes. Several of the kids she traveled with on the plane had lice so I needed to make sure. But here I was, a stranger, taking all of her clothes away. I promised to bring them all back, washed and folded. She nodded so I rushed to get those clothes washed, dried, neatly folded and back to her as fast as possible. It was close to midnight when I finished but so worth it to build trust. When I say I will bring back your clothes, I really will.

The morning of day three we told Sweet Tea that we would take her shopping. That got her out of bed! Previous host families recommended that we take Sweet Tea to a store or two but not a huge mall or store after store because these kids are easily overwhelmed and aren’t used to so many choices. So, we thought that a trip to H&M would be a good start, as it’s European and easy to navigate.

Sweet Tea and Lauren wandered around the store, looking and looking. No. No. No. No. She wasn’t being difficult; it was just so hard to decide. The one opportunity to buy whatever you would like. So much pressure. She finally found jeans and I prayed like crazy that they were the right size! Sure enough, they fit her perfectly. After the jeans success, she gained confidence and chose some t-shirts.

Next up, shoes.

After trying on many pairs of shoes at several stores, Sweet Tea found a pair that she liked.

We were all still tip-toeing around each other, unsure how to respond, to react. Except Hope. She grabbed Sweet Tea’s hand and didn’t let go.