seriously…is that not the most precious smile you have ever seen??? You should hear him laugh! Its even better. He learned the word ‘nose’ today…maybe tomorrow we’ll try for ‘ears’. He is so funny and smart. Ok, now my computer is really dying…
Over the course of the past year, many different groups have gotten to travel to Maria’s big house. You cannot enter these doors without falling in love with the children, often times one specific child. You cannot exit these doors without leaving a piece of your heart. I have had the privilege of traveling with 2 of the groups and had people that I love get to travel with some of the others. Today, I’m going to put up some pictures of the sweethearts that my friends have fallen in love with. (ok and maybe one or 2 of Theo). Enjoy!ok so i didn’t get to upload them all. We are having a terrible thunderstorm and there is absolutely no power in all of Luoyang (don’t know how I have internet???) My computer is dying so I will have to upload the rest later. It is really cool to watch but no airconditioning is making it miserable…and its only been 30 minutes.
Check out this link from the showhope blog to see the details about the surgeries that have been going on here this week. Truly amazing! http://blog.showhope.org/2010/06/29/a-dream-come-true/
Sorry so short today…
Today has been the best day in China so far. I have loved every second of this day.
Love from China!
Going beyond easy June 29, 2010
I need to preface this by saying that I have the most incredible group of people in my life. I seriously cannot believe the kind of love, support and encouragement that has been shown to me in the past week that I have been in China and the days leading up to my trip. I have gotten letters, skypes, facebook comments and emails and messages from people that i don’t even know who are following my journey and praying for me along the way. But, I have to say that the most creative way that I have been shown love was from my dear friend, Ryan. In forensics (competitive speech and acting, which is what i do at school), competitors will perform literature from a small black notebook. As I was unpacking yesterday I found a small black notebook tucked in between my clothes. I thought it had gotten in there by mistake until I opened it and realized that it was filled with letters from people who are closest to me in life. I have never felt so loved by people outside my family. It was just what I needed. Ryan had gotten all of this together. I had very heartfelt messages, funny sayings and some hilarious poetry by the talented Davis Denney. However, as I was reading through this, laughing and crying, there was a phrase in one of the letters that has echoed through my head for the past 48 hours. “BE WILLING TO GO BEYOND EASY” I can’t really think of anything that sums up where I currently am in life any better. Many of you know that the past several weeks of my life have been anything but easy. In fact, they have been terribly painful. I am constantly asking God why life has to have such difficult seasons. And while I have gotten no difinitive answer, I do understand that those seasons make us who we are and show us what we are truly made of. That understanding doesn’t make it any easier or give it more reason or take the pain away. But I have come to a place where I am willing to go beyond easy if that is part of the plan for my life. It isn’t hard for me to become so frustrated at the fact that the plan for my life is still such a mystery. 10 years ago if anyone had asked me what I would be doing right now, my best bet probably would have been that I would be married and have at least 1 kid at this point. The last thing I probably would have guessed is that I would be sitting at an orphanage in China. (however from what I hear, sitting at an orphanage in China might be the easiest option of those 2) All that to say, I have been pushed out of my comfort zone, taken away from everything that is familiar to me, and suffered losses that I hoped I would never have to endure. My daily prayer is that I continue to be willing. No matter how much it hurts or where it takes me or what I have to leave behind. That is such a scary and uncertain thing to pray. But I can’t help but feel that I am a part of something so much bigger than myself. And I have to believe that a God who would put me in the middle of that, would make the burdens that go along with it so much lighter. I still don’t know what that bigger thing is or how it fits into the big picture. But I know in my heart that this is what I was Created for. I know that loving these children in an orphanage in Louyang, China is where I am absolutely supposed to be right now. And although my heart is in a very different place right now than it was 9 months ago when I signed up for this, it is exactly where it is supposed to be as well. So, as you pray for me, pray that I will fearlessly go beyond easy…but that the things that go along with that, might get a little easier.
When in China… June 28, 2010
Today is going to be short b/c I am so completely exhausted. I am not really sure if the jet lag is catching up with me or if I’m tired from playing so much. I rocked Theo to sleep for nap time and at night for bed time. I really have to stop doing that because I don’t want his life to be interrupted when I leave in 5 weeks…but its really hard not to when I think about the fact that he has been deprived of that his entire life. But I think I am spoiling him. He likes the sound of my voice. When I’m rocking him, I have to constantly talk or sing and if I stop, he starts to wimper. So I just keep talking til he’s out. I was doing some work in the office today on some of the kid’s computer charts and of course, I read anything I can about him. From everything I can tell, he’s completely normal mentally. And I believe it. He seems to be so smart and alert and full of personality. That has been a huge relief over the past couple days b/c I hadn’t been totally sure of that before. Ok I have written way more than I intended to. All I really wanted to leave you with were a few observations made today as I went about my Chinese business.
When in China:
…don’t ever go for a run at 3 o clock in the afternoon in June.
…if you do go for a run, expect people to stop their cars and look at you and for men on motorcycles to stop and offer you a ride. They do not understand why people would choose to run in this kind of heat.
…it is completely acceptable for your child to have diarrhea on the sidewalk and for you to just simply wipe it up.
…if you are an American and you go to the store, anticipate that little children will follow you around saying ‘hello’ 5 million times.
…the most expensive bottle of wine at the store was 2 American dollars. I bought it.
…there is no diet coke.
…Pizza does not taste like pizza.
…Children can ride on motorcycles. Without helmets. Infants included.
…showers are always cold.
…when men get hot, they roll their shirts up and expose their stomachs. No matter where they are.
…naked children are ok in public under the age of five.
…lanes on the road are just suggestions. They do not need to be followed.
Love from China!
Blog titles are the hardest part June 27, 2010
I have absolutely no problem coming up with things to say about the events of my day, but I always find myself sitting here for like 15 minutes trying to come up with a title…so please excuse the fact that this one is lacking.
I slept 12 hours last night. Finally a good night’s sleep. My room has no windows so that is very helpful in ignoring the fact that the sun comes up at 4am. I got up and went downstairs to spend some time with Theo. Yesterday, I taught him the word ‘belly’. He thought it was very funny when I would poke him in the stomach and say belly. So he started doing it. When I went in this morning I said ‘where’s your belly?’ He poked himself in the stomach and said belly. So cute. I also taught him how to give a high five today. When I put my hand up, he smacks it and says ‘five’. He loves to copy anything that I do. As you can see in the picture, whenever I’m laying on my stomach and rest my chin on my hand, he does the same. I think its the cutest thing in the world. I just went in to say goodnight and he was throwing some sort of fit to his nanny. She handed him to me and he stopped crying. I rocked him in the chair and sang to him and told him how famous he was in the US. I talked to him about what his life would be like there. Its difficult for me not to hope for that even though I know its truly an impossibility. As I watched him fade off to sleep, I can’t imagine that I could ever feel any more like a mother.
The other pictures today are of Lebron and Jim(the one with me in it). Lebron is a sweet downs syndrome baby that some of you know from our trip here last year. He has grown so much and is walking now. He is happy all the time and really enjoys watching Chinese Looney Tunes. Jim has a skin disease which causes blisters and scabbing when there is any kind of trauma to the skin. By trauma I mean, rubbing his skin on his clothes or sheets even. Needless to say, there are blisters and scabs all over his body. But that doesn’t stop him from being on of the most active kids here at Maria’s House. He loves people. When I come into the room, he tells me exactly where to sit and then hangs all over me until I leave. Today, he played with my hair for a solid hour. It was very beautiful when I left haha. He’s an incredible kid.
I got to see some of the most incredible things today at Maria’s House. True miracles. Too bad I can’t blog about them 🙂
Tomorrow I will be taking a list of children around and observing them to see which ones should be in kindergarten classes together. After that, I will be dividing the kids into groups of twos and threes and beginning two sessions of kindergarten per day starting on Tuesday. I’m really excited about that. It should be interesting and entertaining. I can’t wait to see how 3 year old Chinese kids compare with the 9th graders I have back home 🙂
We ate at a dumpling restaurant tonight and I’m fairly certain that what we ate was not pork. Ive eaten a lot of rice. That’s always a safe bet.
It was so good to skype with my family and friends this morning. I hope to see some more of you all soon!
Love from China!
He calls me ‘mama’ June 26, 2010
I think I’m too OCD to write out of chronological order…
First of all, I have GOT TO LEARN SOME CHINESE! Secondly, I will NEVER bring two 50 pound bags to a train station ever again. The driver from New Hope took me to the train station (a 20 mile drive that took about 2 hours to accomplish. Chinese traffic is something that I will talk about on a less eventful day) and then he helped me get into the train station. People were laughing at the amount of luggage that I had, and some even took pictures. Thank God that I was given a China cell phone and thank God that Mikey (a bilingual American friend) answers his phone every time I call. I was so confused when I walked in and I had to keep calling Mikey and then handing the phone to a random Chinese person so that the 2 of them could figure out what I was supposed to be doing. Luckily, Mikey talked me through the process of getting into the preboarding area which allowed me to board the train before everyone else for 50 cents. Well worth it. I got on, found my bed and then realized that my suitcases were not going to fit in the designated storage area. So, I just had to leave them in the aisle. The Chinese men that I was sharing a room with came in and looked at my bags and then looked at me like I was crazy. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to say I’m sorry in Chinese. I settled into my bed just in time to see the man across from me peel back his socks to reveal the nastiest feet I have ever seen in my life. Gangly, knarly toenails and crusted feet that made the entire cabin smell of sour milk. And then he started smoking. Awesome. I was exhausted from this experience so I put my headphones in and fell asleep before the train left the station. 4 am. I wake up because my lovely roomie snores louder than anyone I Have ever heard. I mean, my headphones were turned all the way up and I could still hear it. Upon waking up, I realized that I had to pee so badly. I laid there for about 45 minutes trying to convince myself that I didn’t, but ultimately I had to succumb to the squatty potty. I won’t give you any details about the state of the facilities on the train. I finally arrived in Louyang at about 7:30 and got some friendly Chinese men to carry my bags up 3 flights of stairs and made my way to meet the driver.
Pulling up to Maria’s house always brings tears to my eyes. Today I felt like I was coming home. This is the only place in the world, other than my parents house, that makes me feel completely safe, peaceful, and loved unconditionally. When I got off the elevator to the 3rd floor, Theo’s nanny met me in the hall with him. I love it that they knew I was coming. They were all yelling ‘mama’ as I came down the hall. There was a moment where he looked at me like ‘I can’t believe you’re here’ and then He started clapping and laughing and reaching out to me. I would go through a thousand train stations for the feeling that I have when he is in my arms. He calls me ‘mama’. Every time I walk in the room. He cries when I leave. He laughs when I’m there. He belongs in my life. I need him more than he needs me.
I cant believe how much he has grown since I was here in March. The deformities in his legs aren’t as noticable now that he is so chunky. I did realize today that he cannot feel anything below his waist. I can tickle his feet and pinch his legs and there is no reaction whatsoever. This is the first time that has been clear to me. This is also the first time that I have seen him get around. He has never been strong enough to pull his weight before but now he can. He uses his arms to sort of army-crawl across the floor with his limp legs dragging behind. Gosh, I cried when I saw this. Because I know what that means for him here in China. There is no place for that here. In America, we have wheelchairs and handicapped access and things that make life livable for people in need of that. It broke my heart to see that. Then I started to think about what Theo’s life was like this time last year and I began to look at this differently. If he wasn’t here, at Maria’s House, he may not even be alive. This time last year, I would have been so thrilled to see him display the kind of strength that he did today. So I realized that Theo has small victories every day. And I am thankful for those. I am so thankful to all the people that make this possible for him, his nannies, the nurses, the doctors, everyone at showhope. I just have to keep it in perspective, or I won’t make it here for 6 weeks. Its really just too much to take in.
I just went downstairs and kissed him goodnight and I’m getting ready to head to bed myself. Tomorrow is a huge day at Maria’s House. I’m not allowed to blog about it, but please keep the medical team here in your prayers.
I love going to bed knowing that I’m surrounded by angels!
Choo Choo June 25, 2010
…so for any of you all who are reading this and know me at all, you know that the one thing about traveling to Maria’s house that I hate is the train. Nothing is more grotesque than the floor of the Beijing train station. The smell is something like a mix of a port-a-potty after a nascar race and the elephant exhibit at the zoo. There is no way to avoid the squatty toilets. And there are absolutely no Americans…so for a young, light skinned, blonde headed female to be there is quite strange. And there is a lot of staring and picture taking. The previous times that I have experienced this, I have been with a group. Tonight, I will be on my own. I will go in, try to figure out which train to get on and then sleep in a bunk with 5 Chinese people that I do not know. I cannot wait to fill you in on my experience tomorrow. Pray that I survive. Or that I will meet a nice English/Chinese speaking person to help me.
Last night we went to eat at an Irish Pub. I got to eat a hamburger, french fries and enjoy a glass of red wine. It was like heaven. Other than that, all I have had is rice. Its been fun getting to know the other summer workers here in Beijing. There is another American here named Kylie from Indiana and then a guy named Chris from London/Hong Kong. His accent is very enjoyable to listen to. He has asked me a lot of questions about life in the south and wanted to know what a ‘hankering’ was.
We had preschool today with the kids here and I taught them to draw triangles, squares and smiley faces. Ben is five. He is the older one in the picture that I posted yesterday. He has picked up on a lot of English from the volunteers that have been in and out of here his whole life. Ben and I skyped with my parents and he sang the ABCs and twinkle twinkle to them. He’s a really special kid and I hate having to leave him this evening.
Next time you hear from me, I will have survived the train and seen my baby.I can’t wait for that moment. There will be many tears of happiness I’m sure. I look forward to sharing it with you all next time. I appreciate your prayers and your messages!!
Love from China!