As my trip to China very quickly approaches, I am going to do my best to fill everyone in on the passion in my heart and the reason why I am so called to this place. When I returned home from Louyang last summer, someone told me about this song. I think it puts my thoughts and feelings into words better than I ever could.
T-Shirts for Sale!!! May 11, 2010
I am selling t shirts in order to financially assist me in my travels to China and to support that FABULOUS cause of Show Hope. Show Hope is the Christian ministry that promotes adoption that I will be volunteering for in China this summer. Let me know if you are interested in a shirt! I am working to get a pay pal account set up to make this easier!
My Theo Story… May 10, 2010
I can remember the exact place that I was on Interstate 24 when I very clearly heard the words “Go to China” in my heart. I was really confused by this because China was never really a place that I had intended to go or desired to see. I just know that I was in a place in my life where I was frustrated. I was a college graduate, beginning my career as a teacher. I was not married and had no children. I knew that I would have summers off from work and did not want to spend them laying by the pool or hitting up the honky tonks in downtown Nashville. I wanted to do something more than that. I had prayed and asked God to show me what to do with the time off, as I was in a place in life where I could just pick up and go. And that’s when I heard “Go to China”.
My first mission to China was in Hong Kong. I went there for a couple weeks in the summer of 2008 to do Vacation Bible School with some of the local kids. Hong Kong was an incredible city with amazing people. I instantly fell in love with Asia and knew that I wanted to go back to the region if I was given the opportunity.
In May 2008, Maria Chapman, daughter of Steven Curtis Chapman, was tragically killed in a car accident in the driveway of their home. She was a beautiful little five-year-old girl, adopted from China. Steven and his wife, Mary Beth, through the organization Show Hope (www.showhope.org) began their dream of building a special needs orphanage in Luoyang, China to honor their little girl’s memory.
I was invited to go to Maria’s Big House of Hope in the summer of 2009. I had no idea how my life would be impacted by this trip. It was a 2 weeklong adventure from Beijing to Lang fang to Luoyang. Our team spent time at an orphanage for cleft pallet babies…at a home for osteogenisis imperfecta (brittle bones)…and each of these places seemed to be filled with faces that were unforgettable. However, the place that I hold so dear to my heart and where I know that I have left my heart is at Maria’s House. It is a 6-floor building that towers into the sky. By a mix up in translation, it was painted bright blue with clouds. Hand painted Daisies are sprinkled along the front of the building, a memory of the flower that Maria had drawn the day she was taken to heaven.
The thing about Maria’s House is that it is filled with precious children and I have always loved children. I had never really been around special needs children, however, and that is a whole new experience. I was drawn to a room on the third floor because there was an adorable little girl up there named Jenny. Her only special need was that she was born small. She was capable of much more than many of the children there. She could laugh and play and interact on a ‘normal’ level. But there was this one little boy in there that could not do any of that. He was in a chair in the corner that he kind of had to be strapped into due to his deformities. His legs were limp and twisted and crooked. His head was abnormally large and you could see the shunt in it that was used to aid his hydrocephalus. He was pitiful. My prayer was that I would be able to bring myself to pick him up by the end of the week. I was playing on the couch with Jenny and rested my arm on the armrest when I felt these tiny fingers wrap themselves around my pinky. I looked down and the pitiful little boy was smiling at me. I picked him up and did not put him down for the next 5 days. I cried thousands of tears and stood over his crib at night and prayed for Theo. That’s his name, Theo. A name that I have uttered a thousand times since that day through stories that I tell and through prayers that I send up to God. People ask me all the time ‘Why don’t you just bring that child home?!’. Well, in China you have to be married and 30 to adopt. I am neither of these things. So until I am, I must pray for what’s best for Theo. That there will be a family somewhere who wants to take him in and give him the medical care that he needs…that there will be a doctor somewhere who wants to do an unknown surgery to heal his legs. Saying goodbye to Theo at the end of that week was excruciating. I wept over him and promised him that I would come back.
On March 17 of this year, I came back. But he had heard from me since then. I had sent him clothes and pictures of the two of us together that his nannies hung in his crib. His nannies refer to me as his mama. And I really feel that in some strange way, I am. I thought of what it would be like to see him and hold him after 8 months had gone by. There is not one moment that I doubt he knew who I was. He looked at me as if I must be a dream. I spent every day with him that I was there. Every free second that I had, he was in my arms. He was not the same boy that he was when I had left him in July. He is now expressive and healthy looking and he can blow kisses and play peek-a-boo. When I would tell him that I loved him in Chinese, he would answer back with the word ‘yes’. I love you is really the only phrase that I know in Chinese. Theo can’t understand my English…and I can’t understand his Mandarin babbling. But we both understand that we love each other deeply. How incredible is it that God created love and it is one thing that is universally understood?? Just as I had suspected, our time together was too short. 3 days flies by so quickly and then I had to say good-bye again. This time was harder than the last. There was much crying and weeping. But I was not alone. His nannies cried with me. They don’t understand me and I don’t understand them but they know how much I love this little boy and it broke their hearts too.
On June 22nd, I’m going back to China. Back to the big blue wonderful house of Hope! Every day I struggle with my calling there. Why am I so drawn to a place that is so difficult to get to? 14 hours in a plane…10 hours on an overnight train. But so worth it once I’m inside. I will be spending my summer there, doing whatever they need me to do. I look forward to serving them in any way possible. Of course, I look forward to spending time with my little boy as well. Sometimes I sit and think about my experiences, about the faces of the children who have been abandoned, about the floor of palliative care babies who may not make it through the night…and I become so overwhelmed. There are so many! I can’t help them all! But I can hold one tightly and I can love one like the mother he may never have. My challenge to anyone who reads this is: Love one. It doesn’t have to be a child on the other side of the world. It can be a child on your street, at your school, in your home. Love one. And that love will grow and spread to others…and your story will reach the hearts of people you may never meet and inspire them to love outside their comfort zone. I thank God for the opportunities that He has given me, the heart that He has blessed me with and the little boy that I love and that has chosen to love me back.
This is my very first attempt at blogging. I have never really thought that my daily life would be interesting enough for anyone to subscribe to the details of. However, as I will be spending 5 weeks in China this summer and be otherwise detached from my American life, I thought that blogging would be a good way to keep everyone updated and to raise awareness about why I’m there. I will be writing on this periodically over the next few weeks as I prepare for departure on June 22nd. I will be filling you in on how the fundraising process is going, how I am getting ready for my adventure and how you can pray for me. Right now, I need my friends to pray for 2 things: That I can raise enough funding to pay for my ticket and that my silly passport will get here this week so that I can get my visa to enter China. Stay tuned b/c I will also be selling show hope t shirts through this blog to help raise money for my trip!
Looking forward to this great adventure…