Monday, April 19, 2010

Our final 2 days in China

Thursday morning, we were meeting in the hotel lobby in Beijing to head to the Great Wall of China. This was kind of funny - there were no clocks in the rooms but Marsha had brought a little alarm clock. Well we're up and getting ready and taking our time and there's a knock at the door - our clock says it's 8:15. But Bella is standing there and inquiring if we're ok since no one has seen us yet that morning. We're confused, they're confused. And I said "what do you mean? It's 8:15. I thought we were meeting at 9". To which she replies "It's 9:05 right now". I ask if she's joking and wala - she's not. Apparently the clock got changed somewhere in transition from Chifeng to Beijing and it was much later than we thought. Not a good feeling considering I was still in my pj's - hadn't even started to get ready. But, I can be fast cause I'm kind of used to pushing snooze till the last possible minute at home. So I threw on my cloths, put my hair in a pony tail and headed down to eat. Frank said we could have time to eat which I was very happy about - cause after a week in Chifeng with a rather interesting breakfast buffet - I was super excited about a more Americanized buffet at this hotel. Marsha and I were ready in about 10 minutes, ate in about 5 and we hit the road by 9:30. And we had ourselves a good laugh about the whole thing. I guess if it was going to happen - we picked the best day cause we had all day for sightseeing so we weren't in any huge hurry.

Traffic was still pretty bad even at that time in the morning. I think it took us a little over an hour to get there - we went to a less touristy part of the Great Wall. I honestly had little idea of what it'd be like - it was beautiful!!! I loved it. Much moreso than the Temple of Heaven or Forbidden City (we went there on Thursday). The mountains were gorgeous. We decided to climb the section to the left of the parking lot which Lily later told us was far more steep and difficult than the section to the right. We hiked up some seriously tall steps - many of which were up to our knees. It was a workout. But quite envigorating. Me, Kara, Sammye and Bella decided if we came all this way - we were going to the top. So we trekked on quite a bit past the rest of the team. Lily ended up heading up too - I think she was worried about us. At one point I said "do you think we're crazy?" and without hesitation she says "yes, I think you're crazy." We all laughed. Lily is the best - she has such a sweet spirit - so energetic, so positive and you can tell she loves her job. She was taking pictures with just as much excitement as the rest of us on this trip. She was great with the kids. And she took excellent care of us - the hotels were great, the food she ordered for us was awesome and she would even try it first to make sure. The common phrase we'd hear after she'd try a bite was "very nice, not too spicey". So that became our response everytime someone said "very nice" - we'd all say "not to spicey". So if you see us commenting that on each others blogs or facebook - now you'll know the inside story on that:)

Took lots of pictures at the Great Wall and when we made it to the top - the 4 of us were by ourselves up there and we decided the fitting thing to do was to sing a worship song. How can you not when you're in the midst of the beauty of the mountains God has created! The view was amazing. We sang two verses of Amazing Grace and a little bit of Mighty To Save - with very limited singing voices because we were so winded from the climb. Very cool experience.

After we left there, we had lunch nearby - it was very nice, not too spicey:) We then headed back to our hotel in Beijing where Jenny, our correspondent from America World and Mr. Shi from China Swan - our in-country travel agency met with me to discuss future trips. That was really awesome to be able to put a face to their names and to be able to chat with them in person. I was sure to let them know how wonderful we think Lily is and how great our trip has been. I also shared with them how impressed we were with the orphanage in Chifeng. They are so loving with the kids and take such great care of them - it was wonderful to see. It was hard to leave but it really helped knowing that the kids would be well taken care of. It was really nice orphanage. We were all really impressed. And they were so welcoming to us and so appreciative of us coming and of the gifts we were able to get them. The directors just truly genuinely care for the kids. It's like a family there and that made us all happy to see. I cannot say enough good things about it. I hope I get to go back again to see the kids and all those that work there. It was an amazing trip.

After my meeting with Jenny and Mr. Shi - the rest of the team met up downstairs and we went out for Peking Duck dinner. I was thinking that was the meal - Peking Duck and some rice but no... it was almost as much food as every other night and THEN they brought out the Peking Duck. We were so stuffed. And it was yummy. Great meal!

We were pretty tired after that. We walked back to the hotel, stopped at a grocery store on the way to get some candy and chocolate and then crashed pretty much the moment we got to our hotel.

Thursday was our last day - our flight didn't leave until 9pm so we had the morning and part of the afternoon to sight see. So we went to the Forbidden City - it was neat to see but definitely wasn't as much of a highlight as the Great Wall was. We then went to lunch and after that, decided to go shopping at another one of those markets where you can bargain. We had about an hour there. I got a Chinese silk robe for only 100 yen - talked her down from 800 - she didn't want to go that low but that was all I had left - she eventually took it and I was so excited. Next time we have mission Sunday at church - I can wear it over top of jeans and a tshirt. Fun! Everyone else got their last minute items and gifts for those back home and after we were done - we headed to the airport. Lily got us Pizza Hut to eat in the van on the way there - not bad but not as much like home as we hoped. One had shrimp, crab, squid and stuff on it. Toppings were a bit unusual but we ate it and were satisfied. We checked in 3 hours early like you're supposed to with international flights and Lily stayed with us until security check. Then we had to say goodbye to her. We were all sad to say goodbye and she looked sad too - I think she started to cry. We love Lily - we will definitely be keeping in touch. Now I know why all of our past teams that have had her request her the next time. She's so great.

Our flight to LAX left about 9pm China time - it is a 12 hour flight. We arrived in LA at 6pm their time. Most of us started getting a sore throat that day so that made for a bit uncomfortable time but nothing too bad. Most of us were able to sleep almost the whole way. I think I slept on and off for about 11 of the 12 hours. Once we got to LA, we had a 5 hour layover. We had to go through customs and security, get our bags and then go to a different terminal to recheck them in for our flights home. We were able to get our baggage free since we were connecting internationally - so that was a blessing. 4 of us were flying to Atlanta and 3 to Detroit and then on to our individual cities. We ate California Pizza Cafe in LA - so yummy. And so excited to be able to pray for our food in public! We said goodbye to the 3 Indy girls when we boarded our flight to Atlanta and myself, Frank, Bella and Sammye got on. They all got to sit together - I was separate but sat next to a really nice guy who had a heart for adoption too. I told him about the VO website:) It was almost midnight in LA when we left - we got to Atlanta at 6:30 am Eastern Time. I left for Nashville at 7:30 am ET and got to Nashville at 7:30 am Central Time. So many different time zones. I was so wiped out, as I'm sure was the rest of the team, by the time we got home. I think it was like 24 or 26 hours travel time total with layovers and stuff. But totally worth it!

It was a great trip - the whole team was so fun to travel with and so great with the kids. I just loved our time together there. And I loved the kids so much. I hope I get to go again next year.

If you're interested in going - we still have several more China teams this summer and fall with space available. Check out

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saying goodbye

Tuesday was our final day in Chifeng. We got up and went to the orphanage to pick up the director to take him shopping with the orphanage donation money some of the team members had collected. Sammye was not feeling well at all so she stayed behind to rest. We had to fly back to Beijing Tuesday evening so we were praying she'd feel better by then. She stayed at the hotel and went back to sleep, the rest of us went shopping. We first stopped at a store and were told to stay in the van - Lily said they were going in cause the director wanted to get something for us. We totally didn't want them to buy us anything but knew it'd offend them not to let them. As it turned out, they bought a CD that has songs from the night before about "the Grasslands" on it. Lily made us each a copy of a few of the songs before we left - neat! That'll be fun to listen to and reminisce. That was a perfect gift. Then we went to a department store with multiple stories. We had just over 5000 yen left - we were able to get them 3 washing machines (see photo of us poising by one) and 4 microwaves. The store even threw in 4 microwave dishes for free. The director was so appreciative and excited. We were excited that the money went that far. And that we were able to not only pay for the kids at the park, at KFC, take several kids out to Chinese dinner the next night and also get them such useful items for the orphanage. Totally awesome!
After shopping, we dropped the director and microwaves off at the orphanage and went to lunch. We then loaded up our luggage in the van, our driver took it to the orphanage, unloaded it and then came back to get us. We then went to the orphanage to see the kids one last time and say our goodbyes. We started in the baby room - we got to spend about 45 minutes in there. As soon as we walked in, they were running to the door to greet us and were all pointed at the wall with excitement. We had taken some of the best photos of the trip of us with them and printed them out at a local photo shop. Lily and the director made a great collage for each room of these photos and hung them up. The kids were totally excited to show it to us. They loved it. Jordan was sitting at the table in her usual spot with her mouth stuffed full of cheese puffs. All the kids had a mouth full when we came in. I greeted all the kids and gave them hugs. They put Jordan in the walker - this was the first time I had seen her in there. I was interested to see if she might be able to walk or not - it was hard to tell when she was sitting - it looked like her toes were curled under and since with her arms - her elbows don't really bend - I didn't know if her knees did. But they seem to and she was getting around pretty good in that walker. Shortly before we were needing to go - I went up to her and put my arms out to see if she wanted me to pick her up. She just looked at me so I put my arms down and waited a second. Then I did it again and she put her arms up toward me which totally melted my heart. YAY - she let me pick her up again. I got to hold her for about 20 minutes. Then they came to tell us it was time to say goodbye and move on to the next room. I so didn't want to say goodbye but knew I had to. I spoke quietly to Jordan and prayed blessing over her again and then handed her to one of the older girls who helps out there. I kissed her head and say goodbye. And I went around and said goodbye to all the kids. And I kept waiving to Jordan as I walked out. And as soon as that door closed, the water works came. I needed a moment so I stepped aside and waiting a few minutes before moving on to the next room - sometimes you just need to cry. It was hard to walk out of that room and say goodbye. The others had a hard time too. We each had a certain kid or a few kids that we fell in love with specifically and had a hard time leaving. One of the little guys that Sammye fell in love with was so cute - he was just snuggling right up to her - the picture of them face to face is one of my favorites. And the other picture of him holding on to her legs - he didn't want her to go and was holding on to her legs as she tried to go out. He even tried coming out the door after her. So cute and so sad. I know she wanted to bring him home.
After we sort of collected ourselves, we went into the special needs room to say goodbye to those kids. There were lots of hugs and smiles. We had a short amount of time with them and I don't think they understood that our goodbye was any more than it had been the previous days where they'd just see us again the next day. Which may be better. Goodbyes are hard. Got a great picture of Christine hugging a few of the girls. So precious.
We then went downstairs to try and catch the school kids as they got home from school. We had to head to the airport shortly after. We decided we were too full from lunch and didn't need to go out to eat so that gave us a little more time. The kids got there around 5 and we had a group photo in the entryway and gave them all hugs and said our goodbyes. The directors wanted to see us off to the airport so they came with us. We had all our luggage in the back of the van so there were less seats so we also had to take a cab for the rest of us. We got to the airport way early - hardly anyone was in there. We couldn't even check in - there wasn't anyone at the ticket counter. But better earlly than late and we were the first ones to check in once the ticket person got there. We gathered in a circle with our team, Lily and the two directors and Lily translated as we thanked them for welcoming us in and told them how much we appreciated how loving they are to the kids, how we know they are being so well taken care of and that makes it easier to go home knowing they are in good hands. They thanked us for coming such a long way to love on their kids and for being so loving with each one of them. And for the gifts. It was really sweet. They gave us hugs and left. And we headed through security to our terminal. Our flight out was thankfully much smoother than the one on the way there - which was good for all of us. Sammye was feeling better - not great but better. And she did ok on the flight. We got to Beijing and ate a late meal at McDonald's. I don't even like McDonald's back home but I tell ya what - it hit the spot after so much chinese food. I got a burger and man, those pickles tasted good. I also got fries with ketchup and a strawberry sunday. Yummy!!!! Then we all went to recheck into that hotel we stayed at the first 2 nights and we crashed. It was a long day filled with lots of emotions and activities. It was hard to say goodbye to those kiddos - I miss them already. And am praying my photos can be recovered off my laptop cause there are so many great ones that were on there. Thankfully I had saved a lot of my favorites onto a memory card and all the other team members took pictures too - so either way - I will still have some great shots.

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Our last full day at the orphanage

Monday was our last full day at the orphanage with the kids. It was a great day. We spent the morning in the room with the babies and younger kids - a majority of whom are still sick with various colds. I immediately went in and started trying to interact with Jordan. She was sitting on the floor with another little baby in the attached room where the cribs are. I picked out a white bear with wings from our beanie babies stash and gave it to her. And then I handed out beanie babies to the other kids too. Jordan seemed to like hers - she was holding on to it as best she could. They changed her diaper and then brought her out into the other room and put her in the chair at the kiddie table - there are two chairs with arms on them - and these work well for the babies - cause they can't fall out. So I went over to her and started trying to interact with her. She had a little bottle in her hand that looked like a pill bottle - empty of course - and she was having fun rolling it back and forth with me. Even saw her smile a few times while doing this. The team started bringing out the crayons so I grabbed a few and a piece of paper - wasn't sure if she'd be able to color or knew how. But she lit right up - she did a page full of dots and loved holding the crayons. She kept adjusting them and then they'd drop on the floor and she'd look at me with a "please help" look and I'd get under the table and pick it up and give it back to her and she'd give me a huge smile. It was so adorable. We did this for over an hour. One of the little girls who is probably about 4 kept coming over and trying to steal Jordan's beanie baby - of course, I was protecting it for her. I have a feeling it got stolen as soon as I left the room though. I decided to try and see if she'd let me pick her up - and to my joy - she did. She didn't cry at all. I was so happy. But I also had a wet leg - cause I sat her on my leg. She had a wet diaper. One of the girls in there changed her for me and handed her back to me and I walked around with her for a bit sort of rocking her back and forth and talking to her. She was loving her beanie baby - I think she might be teething cause she kept wanting to chew on it. I sat down with her and she started to sort of snuggle up with me - I kept talking to her - obviously in English so I'm sure she didn't understand any of it. But I wanted to speak blessing over her so I would tell her she was beautiful and God loved her and she was a daughter of the King and I also did a lot of praying for healing for her. She was coughing a lot with that nasty cold all the kids seem to have. So I just kept praying over her for healing. I snapped this picture right before they came in the room to tell us we had to go to lunch - I so didn't want to put her down. Frank finally came over to me and said "put the baby down Autumn" and we both laughed.
We went to lunch at a local restaurant and then came back in the afternoon to play with the special needs kids. We gave them beanie babies and played with balloons and so many of them were opening up so much more than usual with us - this lady in the picture with me is one example - she is a 40 year old lady with down syndrome whose family pays the orphanage to care for her because they can't. She kind of keeps to herself but this day when we went in there she totally opened up and was even giving us hugs. Christine snapped this picture of her hugging me. It was so neat to see so many of them open up. There is one kid who gets pretty aggressive - he hits and kicks. He came up behind me and kicked me pretty hard. I was a bit uncomfortable in there with him - I just always felt like I had to have eyes in the back of my head. And we were all keeping an eye on him cause he kept hitting the other kids. I think it was over-stimulation for him and some of the other kids with all of us in there, and balloons being tossed and so much interacting happening. I think he does better one on one and in a calmer environment. We were in there for about 2 hours and it just seemed like it might be good to head out - looked like the teachers wanted to give them a snack and get things calmed down. We decided to say goodbye for the day and head back to the baby room for a bit.
We had about 45 minutes in the baby room and we brought the crayons back out. The kids loved coloring. This time, Jordan was eyeing all the crayons at the other end of the table and kept wanting more. So I just gave her a whole box to herself and she was thrilled - she loved taking them out of the box and picking each one up.
We didn't have long in there with them and we said goodbye. We knew we'd be back the next day for one last goodbye so we were already getting sad thinking about it. But glad that we did get to see them one more time.
We headed to dinner and found out that the directors wanted to take us to a Mongolian restaurant. Lily was a bit nervous and called the head of the travel company Mr. Shi to make sure that would be ok and he said it would be fine. Lily did order for us so we were thankful for that because the food was quite different from the Chinese restaurants we had been going to. And our first course was a traditional tea - only it was like a milky color and had beef and cheese chunks in it. We didn't want to offend so we took some sips of the liquid but I don't think any of us were into trying the chunks. Not our favorite but Lily loved it and had 6 bowls. The food wasn't bad - not our favorite meal there by any means but not bad. We got to try several things. My favorite was some sort of ribs with this yummy seasoning on it. There wasn't much meat on the bones but the flavor was really delicious. They had ordered some mushrooms which I don't eat anyway but apparently they had sand in them - so they sent them back and negotiated that instead of a new dish, the in-house performers come in and sing for us. That was a real treat. It was a guy and a girl singer, a guy playing a 2 stringed instrument and a dude playing synth on the keyboard. He was not dressed in traditional garb like the other 3 - they were all decked out. They were pretty good but we had our own little room and they had the sound up way too high on their little portable show. We about went deaf. The songs were all in Chinese - Lily would summarize afterwards and we got to laughing later cause 4 out of the 5 were about the Grasslands. Welcome to the Grasslands, The Grasslands in your Home, Please come back to the Grasslands, etc. The Grasslands is a beautiful grassy area near Chifeng that apparently people love to go to in summer. Lily said next time we need to plan a trip there in July or August and we will go see the Grasslands. I guess all the people who live there live in tents. Sounds neat. Anyway, the performers really got into it and it was good but also funny - I tried really hard not to laugh - the guy in the photo was using his arms and really getting into it. It was very funny. But they were really great singers and the dude playing the 2 stringed instrument was amazing. Lily was really getting into it - she kept picking songs. I think they were supposed to play 2 songs but ended up playing 4.
We were wiped out when we got back to the hotel and crashed. It was a good day.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

We are safe

Hey y'all - just a quick note to let everyone know we are all fine and where we are at in China is nowhere near the earthquake. I don't have much access since my computer died but our team leader let me use his computer for a minute so I just wanted to make sure everyone knows we are safe. We leave here tomorrow night at 9pm (that's 9am Eastern time) and we get back on Friday morning to our individual cities. 
Will post more about our last few days when I get home. 
Thanks for your prayers. 

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

technical difficulties

Hello all! Well, I was planning to do some more blogging but my access has been severely hindered by the fact that my mac laptop locked up last night for no apparent reason and will not restart. I am praying that all of my hundreds and hundreds of photos can be recovered since I had put them on the computer each day and deleted them off the camera to make room for more. Would love prayers that they could be recovered. I don't know what happened to the computer. 
Keep praying for everyone's health too - Sammie didn't go shopping with us this morning to buy orphanage gifts because she wasn't feeling very good. She hasn't thrown up but is feeling nauseous and has a headache. We have to leave this hotel in 30 minutes, go say goodbye to the kids and head to the airport. The flight to Beijing was a rough one on the way here - several of us felt sick. So we are praying it is better on the way there and Sammie is ok to fly. Please keep her in prayer. 
One thing I was going to put in my blog last night had I been able to get on - was that the little girl I named Jordan, I found out her real name - sounds like Jun Tien Luen so Jordan is not that far of a stretch - I got to play with her a ton yesterday and then she let me hold her. I was so happy!!! I have a sweet picture of her snuggling up to me - she is so precious. I am not looking forward to saying goodbye today. Our hearts will all be breaking for sure. This is the hard part. The kids have really opened up to us over the past 5 days - yesterday, we saw several who had not been interacting much with us just totally open up and come to life. It was so neat. This has been an amazing trip. We have all fallen in love with these kids. 
Today we were able to take the director shopping - with the orphanage donation money that some of the team raised - we were able to buy 3 washing machines and 4 microwaves. Totally awesome! This will be so beneficial to them. Praise God!
I'm gonna log off here - may not blog much until I get home. And hopefully will be able to get all my photos off my laptop to upload. 

Thanks for all the prayers. We get back to the states Friday so lots of traveling between now and then. 

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

A winter wonderland

Woke up about 30 minutes ago. Bella just knocked on our outside door and I opened the shades to get the door and to my surprise - it is a winter wonderland out there. It snowed during the night and is a pretty thick covering. It's so pretty. I do not think we will be going outside today. Today is our last full day with the kids - the other kids are back in school so we will spend the day with the babies and special needs kids. I'm hoping we get to see the school kids today or tomorrow morning before we go. I'm not sure if we will though. Tomorrow night we fly back to Beijing. In the morning, I think we are using the leftover money from orphanage donations to take the director shopping to get a microwave and washing machine. I can't believe today is our last day with the kids already. It went by so fast. 

We are back in Beijing Tuesday night and then we go see the Great Wall of China on Wednesday. Thursday morning we see the Forbidden City and then we fly out Thursday night. We do an all night flight again which is the best way to go - sleeping most of the way - it goes by so much faster. We fly to LAX and then we part ways to go to our homes. I fly to Atlanta and then to Nashville - arriving in Nashville around 7:30 am. I am quite sure I'll be ready to crash in my own bed at that point. The beds here are pretty much box springs - not soft at all. So my pillowtop mattress at home is sounding really great right now. 

Gotta run and get ready for another fabulous day with these precious little ones. TTYS

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A fabulous day!

Today was so much fun. We got to spend the day with the school age kids we spent yesterday with. We went to the orphanage at 10 am and went in to the room where they all do homework - they were in there waiting for us. We pulled out the arts & crafts - foam airplanes, bracelets and beads, and face paint. The face paint was hilarious - I was trying to get them to pick out a photo in the book of what I could paint on their face - they kept shaking their heads no and pointing to me. They wanted to paint me! So we never did get to paint their faces - they had no interest in that. But they had a blast painting all of us - mostly our hands and arms. The pictures tell the story best - these photos are of Kara and Bella totally painted up by the kids. The kids loved it! And we loved how we had gone in expecting one thing and the plan totally changed. These kids are so creative and amazing! We tossed balloons back and forth, bounced balls, did art and lots of laughing. Some of the kids spoke a little bit of English so we got to learn some Chinese and teach them some words in English. One very smart young boy had us use the foam letters to put our names on a piece of paper. Very great idea! The youngest boy in there is 6 - he is the one I mentioned yesterday who has two digits on his feet and small legs but gets around great and is the happiest little guy I've ever seen. He is a total ham - he is the center of attention and so joyful. I just adore him. I got to play with him so much today. In the art room - we tossed a balloon and then he had me help him make a necklace. I took tons of photos - will have to add them all on facebook when I get home - I can only pick a few for the blog. When it was lunchtime, the kids went down to the eating room to have lunch and we left for a few hours so they could rest. We went out to lunch at a place we went to a few nights ago that we all liked the best so far. It was yummy. Sammie was feeling a bit better this morning but stayed behind to rest. And Frank was much better and able to join us all day. After our lunch break, Sammie was feeling so much better - she was able to join us for the afternoon activities with the kids. Thank you all for your prayers - they are working! Praise God! 
So after lunch, our driver picked some of the kids up and brought them here to a park across from our hotel. It was very cold today but we still had fun - we got in a circle and kicked a soccer ball back and forth. And we played with the bouncy balls there too. It was mostly just the older kids that came in the afternoon. But they also brought the 6 year old boy I mentioned earlier whose name is Su-un (not sure how you spell it but it's much easier to say than most of the names so far). I'm so glad they brought him to the park. He and I had so much fun - he kept grabbing my hand and arm and wanting me to walk with him. You'll see in the attached picture how he was holding on to me - melted my heart! And I let him take pictures with my camera and he was so happy to be doing that. Needless to say, I have a lot of pictures of my forehead, the ground and other random items. But he was having fun so that's all that mattered. I'm attaching a picture that he took of me and him - I showed him how I do that and he picked it right up and did it too. Most of the time, our heads were not fully in the picture but this one was pretty good. Isn't he so adorable? My goodness, I want to bring him home. He is a joy! Unfortunately, I found out today that single women cannot adopt at all from China. That is so sad. There are 20 million orphans here and they have all these strict rules on adoption. Lily said even a new rule about body mass - so basically you can't adopt if you are over a certain weight. I'm gonna be praying that China changes some of their policies to make it easier for kids to be adopted here. Lily asked me at dinner if I could adopt Su-un and I told her I would love to but I'm single. She said "you get married and then you adopt from China!" Sounds like a plan to me:) We'll have to wait and see what God's plan is though. All in His timing. In the meantime, I get to go around the world and love on His precious little ones. What a joy and honor. It's also hard because everywhere I go - I fall in love with the children and leave part of my heart there when I leave and go home. I love all the children here but there are 2 in particular that I have fallen in love with and would love to bring home and be a mother to - Su-un and Jordan. Jordan is the toddler I've been talking about a lot - she had the IV put in and her head shaved the other day. I haven't gotten to see her for 2 days - I am looking forward to checking in on her tomorrow. And we are going to bring the beanie babies - I am going to pick out one for her. Maybe she'll warm up to me tomorrow and actually let me hold her. We'll see. 

My favorite part of today was this next part - about 4:30, we were really cold and ready to take the kids indoors. So... we took them across the street to the place we had lunch - it was awesome. Way better than KFC - and so much more like a family meal. There were about 7 kids with us, us 7 plus Lily, one lady from the orphanage and our bus driver and we got a room with a round table and had a delicious meal together. We had SOOO much food - eggplant, green beans with pork, breaded chicken, beef with green peppers, beef on a bone with potatoes (kind of like pot roast), a mushroom dish with cabbage, sweet and sour pork, tofu with seaweed, salad (which we didn't eat to be safe) and pepsi! The kids ate a ton - we could not believe how much they were able to eat. Come to find out - they had never been out to a restaurant like that before. They were so happy and so enjoying the food. Su-un sat next to me and he ate quite a bit for a little guy too. And the best part was that every time he would take a drink of his pepsi - he would cheers glasses with me. There is a photo here of us doing that - it was so much fun. I loved it! He is a little talker - he is always saying something. The nice thing about the round table was that we could talk to the kids during the meal and Lily could translate what they were saying and what we wanted to say to them. Su-un said "thanking you very much" in English and the way he pronounced it was so cute. I got a great video of that which I will post on facebook when I get home. Too cute! The kids told Lily to tell us thank you and that they were so happy we came to see them and took them for such a great meal. We had her tell them that we were glad they could come with us. At one point, we were asking the kids how to say some words in chinese and one of the girls said "if we tell them how to say it in Chinese, they will forget when they get home". We all laughed. I told her to tell them - we may forget the Chinese words but we will not forget them. They all said "thank you" in English and smiled really big. They said they hope we come back every year. Su-un gave me a kiss on my cheek - I think Lily told him too - but nevertheless - it was so cute. Yup, he has my heart. 

After dinner, was sat at the table for quite a while talking with the kids. A few of the girls were eating and eating and eating. We were afraid they were going to get sick. Lily said they said they were loving the meat - they don't get meat like that very often - so they were really enjoying it and not wanting to waste any. We told them not to worry, we would take the leftovers back for the other kids. In fact, Su-un told Lily after he tried the beef and potatoes - that he wanted to take it home and share with the other kids. So sweet that he was thinking of them and wanting to share. They really all look out for each other there. It was a delicious meal. And so neat to see their joy in us spending time with them and doing that with them. I truly feel that we have made them feel special this week - that they truly matter. And that is exactly why we came. They are precious, beautiful children. 

When we got back to the hotel, we hopped online and looked at the photos on from the last team who came here two years ago. All of the kids in the pictures were the same kids there now, except for 2 or 3 we didn't recognize. The kids and staff speak often of that former team - they really made an impact - I will make sure to contact them when I get home to let them know that. They have not been forgotten. In fact, today - Lily took about 80 of our best pictures that I put on a disc for her to get printed to give to the kids. And she had some saved from the last team and printed those out for them too. I know they will love that. I think we can give them to them tomorrow. I tried to pick pictures out so that every single kids was in at least one. I hope that we didn't miss anyone. If we did - we will take more to get developed to make sure. 

I am already thinking how hard it will be to say goodbye. Part of my heart was left in Costa Rica in March and part of it is definitely being left here this week. I hope to return next year to see these kids again. And we do see that they are being well cared for and loved here by the amazing orphanage staff. They are very loving and this orphanage feels very much like a big family. That really makes me glad to know - it's even harder to leave a place when you do not feel like the kids are being cared for. But here, thankfully, that is not the case so I know they are in good hands. But I also know I would love to see a lot of them adopted into loving families because I know so many of these kids long for that. And that is most definitely the way God originally intended for it to be. 

I long for the day when I can adopt. Every time I go to visit orphans, the deeper that desire gets. I know the Lord is working on me, continuing to prepare me for the day when that desire will become a reality. And I know that in His perfect timing, that will happen because I know it was Him who put that desire in my heart. It is a fallen world - and sadly, there are many, many orphans who have been abandoned and rejected by their parents. But the Lord has not forgotten them - He uses hearts like mine and yours - who are willing to be opened up to these precious children and who will go and care for them and who will be willing to open up their hearts and their homes to adopt them in to our families. What a perfect picture of the father heart of God. 

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

A day full of surprises

Today was full of surprises - not all of them were good. Our team leader Frank was sick with some sort of stomach bug so he stayed behind. That was definitely bad. Kara wasn't feeling too hot either - she has a cold of some sort. We did some serious praying after breakfast for physical health, protection and healing for Frank and Kara. After an amazing day out with the school kids from the orphanage - this evening, Sammie got sick with a stomach bug. Please keep the team in your prayers - there is definitely a spiritual battle going on. Pray for health and healing for Frank, Sammie and Kara and that none of the rest of us will get sick in any way. So appreciate you prayer warriors backing home keeping us and the kids in prayer. 

Kara was able to join us for the day with the kids and ended up feeing pretty good most of the day so that was a blessing. We checked on Frank this evening and he said he is feeling better and fully expects to join us tomorrow. I pray that he and Sammie will be 100% by morning! 

The sun was shining today and we were able to take the kids on an outing to a local park - we had so much fun. The kids loved it. It was quite a bit of a hike to walk there - the younger kids took the van but the older kids walked with us. It was an adventure to say the least. We walked through what Lily called Old Chifeng - it was hopping. Traffic was crazy and a bit scary to try and cross the roads - pedestrians DO NOT have the right away here. I took a video of this road crossing adventure. I will put it on facebook when I get back - it'll be very amusing. 

There were 17 kids who went with us today - these are the kids who have been in school the other days we've been there so it was our first day with them. They were so precious! The park turned out to be a lot more like a zoo - with monkeys and big birds and stuff. We saw a few animals and then the kids got distracted by a street vendor who had these art things where it has a black outline and the kids sit down at little tables and fill in the spaces with colors from a tube of paint - once they are done, they take it to a guy who sticks it basically in a toaster oven and heats it up - it dries like a rubber and will peel off to stick on a window. Pretty neat. I'm attaching a photo of one of the kids holding his up - they were so careful and detailed doing these - they were adorable to watch. We played some games after this in the park - and we got them these spinny wind mill things that they loved. After the park, we took all the kids to KFC - they loved that! It was so awesome to see them treated like they are important - cause they are! We bought their lunch with the donation money and KFC found out they were orphans and gave them all the bday gift bag for parties and put crowns (sort of like Burger King back home) on all their heads. I couldn't help but think about how they are all princes and princesses - daughters and sons of the most high King. KFC is more expensive than the places we have been going that give you WAY more food - total opposite of home where fast food is cheap. Here it is not. So it was a big deal for the kids to get to go there - they do not get to do that much. They were so happy and fun to watch. There was this one little boy who is 6 who is absolutely adorable. He is very small and we found out only has two digits on each foot - but he is able to walk pretty well and he is just full of life and joy. Adorable. He is the one in the picture holding the wind mill and in the photo sitting across the table from me at KFC. It was a fabulous day with the kids. They loved it. We loved it. It went so well and I truly believe they felt special and loved! Praise the Lord!

We did not get to see the little ones or special needs kids today. The little girl who had the IV put in her head yesterday - I do not know her name so I decided for now to call her Jordan since it is a name I've always had in mind for a daughter. The last photo attached is a photo of her from yesterday after having her head shaved (she's the one on the left) - thanks to Marsha I was able to get my pictures to load. Isn't she so beautiful? I so want to bring her home. 

Tomorrow, depending on weather - we may have another outing with the kids. Either way, we will get to spend the day with them - they are such a joy! I'm hoping also to see Jordan tomorrow. I may have to peak my head in there even if we don't get to go in there and play. 

Thank you for praying for our team and these precious, beautiful children. 

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Prayer needed

We are about to head to the orphanage but I wanted to put a blog on and ask y'all to pray. Our team leader, Frank, has been sick since about 3 am - he thinks probably something he ate. He is not able to go with us this morning so I will take over as leader for the time being. Please be praying for healing in his body- that whatever made him throw up would be out of his body asap and he would be able to join us soon - possibly even this afternoon. Also, Kara is having major sinus issues - coughing and runny nose and not feeling well - so please also pray for her. And just for health for all of us. 
Thanks so much!

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Snow in China

Good morning! Well, I know it's Friday evening for you but it's Saturday morning for us here in China - 7:15 am - I woke up again at 6 am. I like that I'm waking up before my alarm and ready to go. 

It started snowing last night when we were at the orphanage. I just peaked outside our hotel room glass door and took this photo - a little bit of snow still on the ground. It's really sunny out there right now so I'm hoping and praying for weather that allows us to take the kids out of the orphanage. 

Dinner last night was crazy - they brought us so much food, it was ridiculous. It was all pretty spicey compared to what we are all used to but good. There was fish - you had to be careful, lots of bones in it. There was pork, duck, veggies, beef on a bone (sort of like ribs), a dessert made out of eggs and cocoa powder (interesting) and chicken. I took pictures but again, that's the memory card that doesn't seem to be working. I'm glad to see the other one is working so far today. We had so much leftovers, it looked like we hadn't touched anything - but we were all very happy when Lily boxed it up to take to the orphanage for the kids. That is a great idea - I am sure they will love it. 

I am excited for today - we get to meet all the school children who have been in school the other days and we hopefully get to take them someplace fun. I am sure it'll be a fabulous day. I will be sure to add a detailed blog later on. 

Thank you for all the prayers from back home. We so appreciate it!

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Day 2 at the orphanage

It is 9pm now and I am about to go to sleep. We had a great day today. I woke up at 6am again, got ready and we all had breakfast at 8am. I was very happy because there was bacon at breakfast today and actual cold creamer on our table for the coffee so I didn't have to use hot milk. And there were these little chicken thingy's that tasted like chicken nuggets - those were yummy. I tried a biscuit yesterday with meat in it but didn't like it much. Lily informed us this morning that the meat is donkey - very interesting. I'm kind of glad now that I didn't eat a lot of it although several folks on the team did and didn't seem to be deterred from eating more even after finding out what it was. We got to the orphanage about 9:45 am and went upstairs to play with the little kids that we spent the morning with yesterday. Some of the girls brought these foam visors and foam stickers to decorate them and those were a hit. The kids were hilarious - they had their visors so covered in stickers, there was hardly any room left. I took a ton of pictures but to my frustration, when I tried to load them onto the computer tonight, it is saying it's a bad file format. They show up on my camera playback though so I don't get it. I put in a new memory card and hope to retrieve the pics from today later. I'm adding a few more good ones from yesterday for now and hope tomorrow the other memory card works and I can add ones from the day. 

So we went in to the room with mostly smaller kids and pretty much all the kids in there are sick with colds and stuff. They have this vinegar solution going in a crock pot in there and sure enough - it clears out your sinuses when you go in there. And the kids - so many of them had major runny noses. We were on nose patrol a lot in there. Luckily, we had lots of kleenex with us. Side note about the kleenex - most bathrooms here do not have toilet paper so you have to bring your own. Many of the bathrooms also don't have a toilet - it's more like a hole in the floor that you have to hover over. Bella calls them squatty potties which cracks me up. We have to use them at the orphanage but we try to avoid it as much as possible. Anyway, so back to my story - so we go in the "sick room" and the little girl I was telling you about yesterday was screaming. The workers were shaving her head - poor little thing - she was screaming the entire time. I asked Lily why they were doing that and she said so that they could put an IV in her head. We were in there about 45 minutes and in that time - her head got fully shaved, they gave her a bath and then they put an IV in her head. She screamed the whole time. I was watching them do all this and trying to make sure she was ok and wishing I could do something - it really breaks my heart when kids cry like that. I knew they weren't actually hurting her but still - what kid would want their head shaved and IV put in? I was about to burst into tears with her several times. It broke my heart. Everyone else was working on the visors with the other kids - helping them put the stickers on and stuff. I decided to make her a visor. I put hearts and stars and shapes on it and wrote "I am loved" on there. I know they don't speak English and the letters were in English but nevertheless I wanted to speak that over her. After the IV was in her head, she finally stopped crying but her whole body was doing that thing it does after sobbing so long where it still shakes and it's hard to get your breathing back to normal. Everything in me wanted to go in there and just hold her. Not that she'd want me to though cause she probably wouldn't. I peaked in on her through the window to the side room she was in and handed the nurse/caregiver the visors and told her it was for her. They handed it to her and she held it in her hand and looked at it. I took a few pictures of her holding it - it was so cute. She still looks just as beautiful without any hair - she definitely looks more like a baby with no hair. I'm not so sure that she is 2 - she's pretty small to be that young. Not sure. I need to find out her name. It's harder to find out names here because Chinese doesn't use letters of the alphabet so even if we had them write them - we would have no idea what we were trying to read. There is one young girl who lives there and also helps out - she is 20 and she knows a tiny bit of English and she has been trying to teach us some names. They are so hard to say and remember. I need to find out that little girl's name. It was interesting to me that she could hold the visor - after playing with her with the ball yesterday, I wasn't sure if she could hold anything. But today, I realized otherwise. We came back later in the afternoon and she had a tomato in her hand. She was trying really hard to eat it but her arms don't seem to bend right to raise up to her mouth - she is very smart though - she has figured out that if she goes up against the wall and props her arms up on the wall - she can then hold them steady to try and eat the tomato that's in her hand. Kids will find a way. It's amazing to see all the physical things these kids are overcoming. I did a lot of silent praying today for them - for healing, protection and for a spirit of peace over this one kid with down syndrome who kept hitting all the other kids. He kicked me in the shin and hit Kara quite a few times too. He has quite the aggressive nature. I was praying against that mean streak in him. He would go from super mean and hitting and scratching kids, even spitting on a few of them - to suddenly happy and jumping up and down. I felt so bad for the other kids in the room - they would put their arms up to shield him or run away form him but he would still manage to catch them off guard at times and hit them. Yesterday, I saw him scratch up one of the girls hands really bad. Not sure what the best thing to do with him would be. I was wanting him away from the other kids to protect them but also realizing he needs love too and obviously has something going on with him. It's a hard place - the workers are clearly trying to do the best for him and the other kids. 
After about 45 minutes in the room with the younger kids, Lily came and got us - the staff was going to teach us how to make dumplings. They had these little round pieces of the dough ready for us, as well as a meat and seasoning mixture and they showed us how to put the meat in and then fold the dumplings closed. It was quite comical - ours looked a mess compared to theirs and several of the staff and older kids were laughing often at ours and a few were taking pictures. Lily and some of the staff showed us a few times how to do it and we finally seemed to get it - although they still weren't near as pretty as theirs. I so wish my camera card would let me upload those pictures. 
After we made the dumplings, we got to sit down and eat with the special needs kids and eat them (cooked at this point of course). They were super yummy but very filling - we were all so stuffed. They also had this beef that looked sort of like roast beef and that was good. And some yummy veggies. 
After lunch, we left to let the kids have their naps. We went back to the hotel and I added me earlier blog about yesterday. That pretty much took the whole break. We were going to head back to the orphanage at 2:30 but we realized that the hotel here doesn't exchange money and we needed money so we can take the kids on an outing tomorrow and Sunday - some of the team were able to collect $1000 in orphanage donations - we get to use a portion of that to take the kids out for an activity which I know they will love and remember for a long time to come. And we also plan to print some photos to give them while we are here - including at least one enlarged photo for them to hang on the wall. They will love that - they are crazy about having their photos taken here. And then hopefully there is enough left over to buy a washing machine. The orphanage director said there is a new building being built next door that will replace this part of the orphanage so she said they didn't need much by way of supplies cause they don't want to collect a bunch of new stuff that they'll only have to move over. But she did say they could us a new washing machine. Anyway, so once we realized the hotel here doesn't exchange money like the one in Beijing did, the team decided to go to a bank. Me and Marsha were on our way down to meet in the lobby and were like 4 minutes late - while they were all waiting, some decided to go on to the bank and just come back and get us right after. Well, right after turned in to a full hour. I guess the bank would only let each person exchange a certain amount and they ran some kind of background check on each of them. Needless to say, we were all kind of bummed that our time with the kids this afternoon would be shortened. But... we were glad to realize before Saturday that the hotel didn't exchange money since the banks are closed on Sat and we definitely want to do an outing with the kids. 
We got back to the orphanage about 4pm and had an hour with the kids. We did the visor art project with the special needs kids and they too loved it. Then we stuck stickers on all of them. Several of the kids had hands completely covered in stickers. And many of them decided to stick a bunch on me too. I'm still finding them on my clothes. We spent that last hour between the two rooms with the younger sick kids and the special needs kids - they are next door to each other - I was back and forth quite a bit. When I saw one of the toddlers in the hall with the caregiver and she was heading back to that room, I wanted to peak in on that little girl who had the IV put in. She was sitting at the kids table and I was happy to see she wasn't crying anymore. She was just sitting there observing. She would stare back at me a lot but I couldn't get much reaction out of her. I went over to her and kneeled down next to her and rubbed her head and shoulder. It didn't seem to upset her but she still looked pretty skeptical. One of the ladies came over at this point and took the tape from the IV off her - she of course started crying again. I picked her up and started trying to console her by patting her back and rocking her back and forth. She kept screaming. Finally one of the caregivers came and grabbed her - she stopped crying immediately which made me realize she still hadn't warmed up to me and she had started crying from the IV tape but most of the crying after that was because I was holding her. It is interesting to me that this trip and the last trip in Costa Rica - I was drawn to two kids around that age who both wanted nothing to do with me picking them up or loving them. I think part of me senses something in both of them that is a fear of me, a skeptical nature, distrusting people in general - and it makes me wonder what they have been through and makes me want to love them even more. I so want to bring that little girl home. I wonder if we have any kind of medical help in the US that could fix her arms and legs being turned the way they are. I really don't know much about it. I just know she is a beautiful precious child that God loves very much. They all are. That little boy I mentioned yesterday that would cry and cry and only stop when Frank held him- same thing happened again today. That little boy is absolutely precious - he is missing both arms and has little parts of an arm on each side but they are not functional. He just loved Frank. Marsha connected with one little boy with a cleft lip who did not want anything to do with anyone else and likes to sit by himself on a chair in the middle of the room. When you try to come near him, he turns away. He was so fascinated by Marsha's glasses though - she was able to connect with him by showing them to him and letting him look through them. I got some really cute pictures of him getting really close to her with his head cocked sideways trying to figure those glasses out. Too cute! So many beautiful children - it is so heartbreaking to see so many of them in physical pain and need. I don't understand why children are born with these problems - I so wish we lived in a world where that was not the case and all children were completely healthy. But for those children who are not - here in China and I'm sure elsewhere - they get abandoned, left in orphanages - all because of things they cannot control and did nothing to deserve. It is truly unfair. I really feel that we as the body of Christ need to do more - I need to do more - to look after the precious little ones who have been rejected and left behind. Their earthly parents may have tossed them away but Jesus hasn't. And neither should we. 
Frank shared a scripture with us at devo this morning and I'll end by sharing it with you:

"... for Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!""  ~Romans 10:13-15

I challenge you to go be the feet of Jesus. Even if you're in a place like China where you can't necessarily preach with words, you can share the good news with your actions. Which reminds me of a saying I've heard recently - "preach the gospel everywhere you go and when necessary, use words". We can be Jesus to a lost and broken world. 

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FW: First day at the orphanage

I meant to get online last night and blog about our day but my internet connection was not working in my room. It is now our 2nd day at the orphanage and we are back at the hotel for 2 hours for a break while the kids nap. So I am going to fill you in on yesterday - our first day at the Chifeng orphanage. 

I took tons of pictures but I've narrowed it down to a few for now - I will add the bulk of them when I get home since I can't actually get on facebook here. 

Yesterday, I woke up at 6 am wide awake and could not get back to sleep. So I decided to stay up. My roommate, Marsha, was awake too so we got up and got ready. We all met down in the hotel lobby area for breakfast at 8 am. Chifeng is not as much a tourist town as Beijing so breakfast here is VERY different. It resembled a dinner and I was 3/4 through the line with an empty plate cause not much was looking appetizing. There were chicken feet and pig skins - so yeah, I didn't try those. They did have cocoa crispies but the milk is hot - so that was interesting. I was happy to discover a guy making omelets and I got some scrambled eggs. I also had coffee, some fruit and I tried the cereal with hot milk. We had morning devotional in our team leaders room at 8:30 and prayed for our day. Frank brought a big bag with these cool bouncy balls that when you bounce them - they light up with flashing colors. We took those to the orphanage. 

The orphanage is not far from the hotel which is really nice. It took about 15 minutes to get there and when we pulled out - we were all really surprised at how big and nice the orphanage is. There was a team who came here 2 years ago and Lily was their guide too. She said there were some new things since last time - I think she said the outdoor playground equipment was new. The orphanage director had come to the hotel to meet us and when we got there, she gave us a tour around the building. It's several story building with classrooms, a large playroom area that has some rehab equipment, a room where they keep the kids sick with a cold and are equipped to put IV's in them with antibiotics. It is a very nice place. I took a few pictures of the rooms where the kids sleep - you can see stuffed animals on the bed - Lily said the last team gave those to them (I will add those pics later). A lot of the kids at this orphanage are in school so we won't get to meet them until Saturday and Sunday. So the ones that we are seeing the first few days are either really young, sick or have special needs.  When we got here - a 15 year old boy came out to greet us and was all smiles. He remembered Lily and told her that he misses her everyday and was so happy to see her again. After getting a tour and peeking in to some of the rooms, we got to go in and play with the sick kids - most of them were younger kids. They were so cute - several babies, and a handful of toddlers. A few of the little girls immediately walked up to us and started handing us cards and toys. She'd go around and hand them to everyone and then come back around and take them back and give them to someone else. It was cute. We got to hold babies and love on kids. A sweet photo here of Marsha with one of the babies - that little one just snuggled right up in her arms. So precious. There is also a great one of Christine with a little one in her arms and they are both laughing. The little girl I was most drawn to was a little girl who I was told is about 2 year old - there's a picture of her here with the ball in front of her. And another shot of Bella holding her (and Sammie holding one of the other kids). When we got there, she was laying on this little bed and I couldn't tell if she was ok or not. Plus the bed had wet spots so I wasn't sure if I should pick her up. A caregiver came over a few minutes later and changed her diaper and then I gestured to her if I could pick her up. She picked her up and handed her to me and she immediately began crying. She wanted nothing to do with me. So I handed her back to the caregiver and she stopped crying. Later, Bella was able to pick her up - she cried at first and then stopped - she still looked skeptical but didn't seem as upset as she was when I tried to hold her. Later on, one of the older girls who lives there and helps out put her in a little kid chair with arms on each side and scooted her up to table. I found a ball and started rolling it back and forth to her and she started to relax a lot more and I even got her to smile and laugh. There are a lot of special needs children at this orphanage with various physical problems ranging from cleft palette to missing limbs to down syndrome . This little girl has something wrong with her hands - she had to use her arms to hit the ball - she couldn't really use her hands. It almost looks like her arms have grown wrong - sort of twisted. But she was doing a great job gripping the ball with her arms and batting it back to me. She'd smile and I'd clap and say "yay". It was so precious. She is a beautiful little girl. I was sad when they came and told us we had to go to lunch and then leave for nap time. Most of the time while we were in that room - there was tons of picture taking happening. A few older girls were in there and they loved having their picture taken. And then they'd want to see it and want to take more. The younger kids loved that too. There was one little boy who was in a walker and he would just cry and cry - tears would just pour out of his little eyes - it would break your heart but when you'd try to pick him up, he would cry more. Until Frank came over - he picked him up and held him and he totally stopped crying. It was the sweetest thing ever. 
Lily came and told us it was time for lunch and we were eating at the orphanage. Originally she had said we'd go eat out somewhere while the kids were napping but that plan changed. I must admit, I was pretty nervous about it as to what the food might be. Of course, you don't want to be rude when you are offered food and it would be unpolite not to eat it. But we were all pleasantly surprised - they made two kind of dumplings - one was with kale in it and the other just plain. I figured it was a safe bet to stick to the plain ones. I'm glad I did cause the others who tried the kale filled ones said it was not their favorite. They also gave us greens and some tofu stuff that was in long strips sort of like noodles. That was pretty good. And my favorite was these soy beans that had like salt and some kind of marinade on them and were baked - they were yummy and crispy. I put some in my plain dumpling and that was good. 
After we ate, we had to leave so the kids could nap. We headed back to the hotel and I checked my email and a few of the girls used my laptop to check theirs. And then I took a short nap. 
We went back around 2:30 and spent the afternoon with the children with special needs. They were a blast - they were so excited to play with us. And Frank brought out the light-up colorful balls that glow and flash light when you bounce them and those were a huge hit. After about 15 minutes of playing in the classroom, the staff suggested we take them down to the big playroom. That was a much better idea. Most of the kids came down with us to the big room. It was really hot in there - like a sunroom. A lot of the kids had sweaters on and after awhile, finally did take them off. I had leggins on under my pants and had to take them off. We had so much fun bouncing balls and playing on all the toys in there. The kids love Lily - she would roll a ball back and forth with this one boy for the longest time through this rainbow tunnel thing. They had so much fun. THere were giant balls in there that bounced. And a little swing thing and these little boats that rocked back and forth like a teeter totter. Time flew by in there - we really had a ton of fun and so did the kids. It was perfect. Later, they brought a few of the kids down who had been in the sick room with us earlier and they got to play with us too. We took tons of photos - it is hard to narrow it down for the blog. I've chosen a few to help illustrate what I'm talking about. These kids are amazing - so full of joy. What a wonderful day we had with them. 
We had to leave at 5pm. We came back to the hotel for 30 minutes and then walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Seems like every meal gets better than the last. We've had great food here - Lily is the master at ordering yummy food for us to try. We had a yummy breaded chicken, beef with veggies, tofu in like a soup type boiling dish, pork and this interesting dessert that was made out of corn and had fruit chunks in it and sugar. And this time, we had Pepsi to drink. Delicious meal! 
We came back to the hotel, met for a debrief as a team - we shared stories and best moments of the day - and then we all headed to our rooms to get some rest. I couldn't get online for some reason so after trying for about 30 minutes, I decided to just go to bed. I got a good rest and woke up bright and early today at 6am. 
All in all - our first day yesterday at the orphanage was amazing. And the best part is that we get to see these kids again for 4 more days. Saturday and Sunday, we are taking all the kids on outings. I guess there is a nearby park that we can take them to. This will be special for them as they do not go out often. I think we are also taking them to either KFC or McDonald's to eat too. Yes, they have those here. Although, I have a feeling it'll be totally different than the ones back home. We'll see. Those outtings will also include the school kids that we haven't met yet. Some of the school happens at the orphanage and we have seen some of the kindergarten kids in the hallways as they walk to their classrooms - they are adorable. We are not sure which ones are the ones who live here as some of the neighborhood kids come there for school and some are the kids who actually live there. We will find out on Saturday when we meet them. 
Please pray for good weather Saturday and Sunday so we can indeed take the kids to the park. Lily said there was supposed to be a bad sand storm here today but it never happened - it is sunny and nice out. Sounds like the favor of the Lord to me:) 

The New Busy think 9 to 5 is a cute idea. Combine multiple calendars with Hotmail. Get busy.

The New Busy think 9 to 5 is a cute idea. Combine multiple calendars with Hotmail. Get busy.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day 2 in China

It is 8pm here on Wednesday night and I'm about to go to bed. Today, we had a yummy breakfast at our hotel in Beijing at 9am which consisted of omelets, pastries, meats, fried noodles (of course), and coffee. After breakfast, we packed up our rooms and then had devo in our team leader Frank's room to prepare and pray for our travels and our days with the kids. Tomorrow we finally get to meet the kids and really start our journey. After our devo, we checked out of the hotel and got on the bus to head to the airport. Traffic was crazy and smog was really bad. I can't imagine living here - the air is so dirty - it cannot be healthy to breath this stuff in. We finally got to the airport around noon and checked our luggage in. Kara had her passport and then she didn't and we were all a little nervous about what happened to it - but she ended up finding it in her front pocket of her purse. So that was a relief. We got our luggage checked and started to head to security and Lily informed us to go on ahead and she had to catch up with us after cause the driver apparently had called her and needed to come back to drop off some documents. So we went on without her and fortunately, the signs were in Chinese and English so it was pretty easy to find where we needed to go. My belt set off the alarm in security and I had to get frisked and wanded - luckily it was a woman. Sammie got stopped because of something in her backpack (see photo attached of her at the security desk) - we're still not totally sure why but they took everything out of her bag, searched and ended up with her tiny bible in hand having a discussion in Chinese. It seemed like the bible was the item in question although we never really knew since we had no translator with us at the time and none of us speak Chinese. After some back and forth and them trying to ask Sammie questions to which of course, she could not answer - they finally decided to let her go and give her the bible back. They did flip through it a bit. Some of us thought maybe they were flipping through to make sure it wasn't in Chinese - it's ok to bring in a personal bible but not ok to hand them out to folks here. So maybe that was why but we aren't totally sure. We're just glad we got through. On our way to our gate, we came across a little store and got some Dove candy bars and some of the girls got ice cream. We got to our gate just as it was about to board and two guys stopped us and asked where we were from cause they heard us talking and recognized the accents. One of the guys was from Miami and the other from London, England. They are here on business and were super nice. The one from Miami had the "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" scripture tattooed on his neck. He asked what we came here for and we told them we were visiting orphans and they asked if we were Christians and they were really excited when we said we were. They said they are too - to which I replied - I thought so since I noticed your scripture tattoo. They asked about the VO website and we wrote it down for them. They were super nice. Just as we decided we had better get on the plane, we saw Lily. She made it. We all got on the plane and headed to Chifeng. I had an empty seat next to me and a Chinese guy near the window next to that. He tried to talk to me in Chinese several times and seemed like he really wanted to tell me something but I had no clue and just had to keep shrugging my shoulders. I wish I knew what he was trying to say. It was a rough plane ride. Not a super small plane but kind of rocky on the takeoff and landing. Not sure if was windy or what the reason was but it was doing that dropping and back and forth thing and I was feeling like I was going to be sick and so was Bella. Not fun. The last 30 minutes was not fun - very nauseous. I was thrilled when we landed and I managed to not throw up. And also very happy when we got in our van and traveled only 20 minutes to the hotel - all flat smooth roads and no traffic. It is mountainous here - Lily said Chifeng means Red Mountain so that makes sense. It is considered a smaller city for China so we were expecting to be in the country - wrong. It is 5 million people who live here - and that's considered a small town. My goodness - I can't believe that!!! It's spread out a bit more than Beijing and though there are tall buildings - there aren't AS many as Beijing. There is one cool building near our hotel that has a mini Eiffel tower on top of it and it lights up different colors at night. See the photo attached. Our hotel is really nice here - I took some pictures of the lobby and our room. Although we ended up switching rooms about 20 minutes later cause that whole side of the building had the sun beating in and was really hot. Lily suggested we all change cause the AC doesn't work here this time of year. Luckily we hadn't unpacked our stuff yet. I had been busy trying to get the internet to work and it wasn't working. Finally got it working now after Frank and some hotel staff tried for over an hour. Thanks to Frank for somehow getting it to work. 
We had such a big breakfast this morning, we decided we didn't even want lunch which was a good choice. We went to dinner at 5 and were just barely starting to get hungry. We walked about 1 mile to a restaurant near the hotel. Lily said a few years ago when the team came and she did this trip with VO, there were no restaurants within walking distance. And now there are at least 10. So we are going to try a different one each night which will be fun. The place we tried tonight was neat - we had our own private room upstairs and it was really cute. The table had a spinning glass lazy susan type thing in the middle - which worked great for sharing food (see photo). Lily ordered a bunch of stuff for us to try again. We each got rice and then tried fried eggplant, pig skin (I didn't try that - no thanks), beef, pork (yay), spicy chicken, some kind of root, and cabbage. And of course, Coca-Cola:) 
After we ate, we walked back to the hotel and like I said - spent the next hour trying to get our internet to work. I will be going to bed soon. We'll have a full day tomorrow. We have breakfast about 8, devo at 8:30 and the orphanage director is coming here to the hotel to meet us and take us to the orphanage at 9am. We get to spend all day with the kids. We will have to leave for lunch so the kids can nap - we'll go eat someplace and come back once nap time is over. I think we stay until about 4:30 or 5 and then head back to the hotel or dinner. 
Oh, I took a picture of my new laptop bag on wheels that I got at the crazy market yesterday - I got to use it for travel today and it worked well. Although, I have to say - the rubber handle on it smells horrible. I'm not kidding - it smells like gasoline. I have wiped it down with baby wipes like 10 times and even wrapped one around it for a few hours and it still reaks. I don't know why it smells so bad but I hope it wears off eventually. When we were in the van - it started to smell up the whole van. It's kind of smelly here so we'll just say it's my little souvenir of the smell of China. ha ha
I have taken a few pictures so far but knowing me, I'll surely take the most of the kids. In Costa Rica, I took 600 pictures. Most were photos of the kids. So I will pick out a few of my favorites each day and upload them with a blog update. 
Thanks everyone who has been reading my blogs/notes and commenting. I can't get on facebook to comment back or update my status but I do get to read your comments in my email inbox so that's been really nice. 
Thanks so much for all your prayers - we feel the favor of the Lord all over this trip! He is good!!! 

The New Busy is not the too busy. Combine all your e-mail accounts with Hotmail. Get busy.