It is truly remarkable to me how loss can be suffered one day and life celebrated the next.
It was a joyous day at Maria’s as we had a huge birthday party for everyone! Obviously, it is impossible to have a party for each birthday so it was awesome to have the opportunity to give these kids a party. The group of donors here from Texas had brought brand new clothes and toys to give as gifts (I made sure that Theo got a stuffed pug 🙂 ). The aiys were lined up outside the door of the common room with their babies in tow. They were even more excited than the kids were. It was so fun to watch them pick out new clothes for the boys and girls. Theo and I got to blow out the candles on the cake. Watching the kids eat the cake was priceless. It was all over their sweet little faces. I felt sorry for the ayis having to deal with the sugar high…but it is a rarity. There was face painting and balloons and puppets. It was like going to Disney world for these little ones.
As much fun as it was to take all this in, it was a little bittersweet as well. As I held Theo and looked at him and his wide eyed expression, I couldn’t help but think about the parties that I would love to throw for him. And for all the parents longing to bring their children home to a forever family who will celebrate their birthdays full force on the day every year. It is a fine line between joy and heartache on a daily basis here. The amazing miracles and beautiful grace in this place are undeniable. But if you let your mind wander just a little bit, you are bound to feel a heavy burden.
After sending the children back to their room, cake covered, faces painted and completely hyper, I took the girls from the donor group to get their nails done. (pure torture :)) I have to admit, being in China has given me a terribly strong sense of independence. I will take just a second to brag on myself by saying that I have successfully been able to hail a cab, tell them where to take me, know where to go once I get out, cross the street without getting plowed down (for those of you who have been to china, you know how difficult that is), order a hamburger with no mayonaise and figure out how to decipher a Chinese atm. I will also say that today I was impressed with the Chinese that I have picked up on and that I responded when asked some questions at the nail shop without even thinking about it. Granted, these are not complex sentences that I am using but I am fully capable of telling the lady not to use cuticle cutting tools on my feet.
We went to a Western Buffet for dinner tonight. I had steak, mashed potatos, steamed vegetables and Hagan Daaz ice cream. That was all a very good thing. I even got to go hang out in a hotel and watch some American TV. I hadn’t seen that in about a month. And now, thanks to the Discovery Channel, I know how ice skates are made.
The donor group leaves in the morning and life here will return to normal for a few days before the next group comes. I can’t believe how fast my time here is passing. I get a pit in my stomach already when I think about leaving. The certainty that I felt several days ago when I declared that I would definitely come home is sometimes transforming into doubt (dont worry mom, I’m sure I’ll be back :)) But in all seriousness, this has been the most incredible experience of my life and I thank God for every second that I get to be here. And I thank you all for sharing it with me.
So, in the spirit of today, Happy Birthday!
Love from China!!