Friday, July 31, 2009

A great time by all at our annual summer campout (minus the one evening of rain and lightning, and a drunk neighbor)!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cash for Clunkers...

That's right, Cash for Clunkers, and boy, did we have a car that fit that description:) Today was the day the government program officially began, and I read where so many car dealers were accessing the website this morning that it crashed! We never set out to help Kellen buy a new car, but when we found out we could get $4,500 dollars for our 1991 Pathfinder (we bought Betsy when I was pregnant with Kellen, and it needs work and new tires), we couldn't pass the deal up. On top of that, we got 0% financing on the remaining balance, which Kellen will be paying monthly. Mind you, the car is the most basic Chevrolet Aveo (remember when you had to roll your windows up???), but it will be perfect for Kellen the gas driving back and forth to classes (40 min. one way), not to mention we don't have to worry about it breaking down. Mike had actually gone down yesterday to work out the kinks with the dealer, so all they had to do today was fill out the government paperwork, then Mike could sign on the dotted line. We were all a bit sad to see Betsy go,

but now we're busy thinking up names for the new car. Hmmmm, I'm thinking the color might have some influence on the name:)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

HengFeng Diaper Change...

We've been home nearly a week now and find ourselves thinking often of the babies back in HengFeng. I also find myself praying for the nannies, that they have enough energy and love to go around to all the children in their care. They work very hard at what they do, but they really have too many babies to give enough attention to. The director told us that they were saving one of the air conditioners that we purchased for an upstairs room, as their goal is to hire another nanny to bring the ratio of nannies to children down (one nanny to six babies under a year is not ideal). However, the only rooms left are upstairs, which means even warmer rooms during these hot months, so a working air conditioner is a must.

Mike took this video of me changing a babies diaper in the same fashion that the nannies do, only I am much, much slower! Also, notice one layer of the diaper is actually a shirt sleeve! I wish my own children would've held as still as this little one did for me:)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Last Day and Finally Home!

Sorry to leave everyone hanging, but when we got to Beijing, we did not have internet service. On arriving back at the Beijing airport, us crazy Americans had fun on the carts at the airport.

After we arrived, most of the team went shopping at the Pearl Market, but Kristen, Mike and I headed off on our own adventure. On our walk to Tiananmen Square we were approached by three friendly art students (6 years studying calligraphy and Chinese style painting) who took us to see their art exhibition....didn't realize they were eyeing us as customers, but we got away without having to make a purchase, and enjoyed the educational sidetrip. A couple minutes later we were walking around the square, buying postcards and "gold" medals from the peddlars. Again it was raining, lightning and thundering, but not nearly as bad as at The Wall. The peddlars tried to sell us umbrellas, obviously not knowing we were in our element, being from the Pacific NW! The real adventure began as we figured out the Subway system so that we could meet up for dinner with the rest of the team. Their system is clean and simple to use, not to mention cheap. No matter where you go, the cost is only two yuan, which is around 30 cents!

Our last meal together was Peking Duck, but most were missing the delicious food we ate and HengFeng, not to mention, ready to head home. The West Coast group had to be up and out very early, so we said our goodbyes that night. A latte and souvenirs from Starbucks helped us get rid of the last of our yuan and pass the time. Not so fun was the crazy landing we had in Tokyo, in 25 mph winds (some of us enjoyed it though!), but shortly afterwards the runway was closed. This made both the LA flight and Seattle flight delayed, so we got a little more time to check out the fancy toilets in the Narita airport....notice all the electronic buttons, with options such as "fake flush," "music," and "powerful deodorant." Too funny! The groups then parted ways, and 10 or so hours later, we landed in Seattle.

The trip was a success on many levels. We know of at least one adoption already taking place from HengFeng, and can't wait to welcome her into the US! Hopefully we are able to hear of many more of the children getting their forever families. For now we will keep them and the nannies in our prayers.

Here are our two beautiful girls that welcomed us home. They are modeling their newest Chinese fashions!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hands of Love....

Hands of Love is the name our team decided to call ourselves, since there is already a "Team HengFeng" that visits this orphanage. The director wanted something he could put on the plaque he had made to hang in honor of our team, and we thought it represented what we did with our time, holding babies and woodwork. We also had a running joke about making hearts with our hands, as that is a symbol the girls in the restaurant made when we answered their questions of why we came to China.

We were pleased to learn this morning that we would not be touring in the afternoon after all, which meant more baby time. The wood crew finished the tables and horses in the am, and the director came up with the great idea of having us all sign our names on each piece. He said that way they would always be reminded of our love, and they would get to tell about us when people asked what all the signatures meant. Also on each piece, one of our girls drew the heart hand symbol and Ying wrote "Hands of Love" in Chinese characters. What I also love about it is that in Chaoyang we painted a vine with our handprints and signature on the wall, so this is in the same tradition. They also hired a professional photographer to take group photos, and by the end, we were all soaked in sweat!

Melanie bought some cakes for a celebration this afternoon. They were beautifully made, and it was nice to serve the staff since they had been so hospitable with us all week. Some of the nannies shared with their little ones, so a lot of the kids had "cake face" this afternoon. They were like little baby birds to their momma, begging for more:)

Leaving is always so tough, and this time was no different. I, personally, am always able to hold it in until I see the nannies crying, and then I lose it. With the help of Ying, I was able to tell the nanny of the room I hung out in a lot that I know how hard she works, and I know how much she loves the children in her room, and I really appreciate it. I may not choose to do it the way the nannies do, but I tell you what, they are pretty amazing ladies. They are on the job all the time, taking care of 6 young babies, doing the laundry, fetching warm water from a building down the way, etc. I can't imagine they get paid much for what they do either. I want to remember to keep them in my prayers, as they have a huge job!

Once again we had local college age kids join us at the orphanage, and they were great help with the woodwork and in the rooms. Also, the staff of the hotel restaurant where we have eaten our last 16 meals wanted a group photo with us. It is always a comedy to watch the poor person who volunteers to take the photo, as they have 10 or so cameras dangling off their arm. What started as a simple photo request ends up quite the production.

Well tomorrow we have to be in the lobby by 5:30, where the director will send us off on our drive back to Nanchang for an 11:45 flight to Beijing. He gave us all copies of the letter he wrote for us, which again, put us all in tears, where along with many other things, he said he would keep us in his prayers. He and all the people of HengFeng have been so sweet and accomodating. I am so thankful for our special, ordained time here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Day Four....

Today started off as any other day, where Mike and I enjoyed our Starbuck's instant coffee (drank out of the beer steins they found us) and Chinese peanut butter! I am so glad we stopped and bought some coffee before we left the states, as they don't serve coffee here, but even more surprisingly tea is not a standard here like it is any many other parts of China. A little taste of home seems to start our day out right:)

Today was another hot and humid one in HengFeng! You would never know it by looking at the children's clothing though, as they are always dressed as if it were the middle of the winter. The children are mostly in long sleeves, some in flannel, and usually in layers. If they are in their crib, they are covered in a blanket. When the nannies aren't in the rooms, sometimes we will go uncover them:) Many of the girls on the team have enjoyed shopping for cooler clothing for the kids, and dressing them when we get to the orphanage.

There are only 3 kids who are above 2 years old, and we brought them coloring books (they had to be shown how to hold the crayons), sidewalk chalk, and some riding toys. The five rooms are set up in a square around a courtyard, so those kids can pretty much wander where they like without getting into trouble or lost, and seem to be free to go in and out of the rooms.

Today the woodworking crew finished 21 chairs, are almost finished with the five tables, and got the wood cutout for two rocking horses. They have been working incredibly hard in a very hot room with no air conditioning. You can taste the sawdust when you walk in the room! They have to be done tomorrow morning, as we are saying goodbye to the children and nannies at noon so that the director can take us on a tour of the area.

Our drive to and from the orphanage may only be 5 minutes from our hotel, but it is never lacking in adventure! Today on the way to their, we got stuck in a big traffic jam as there was a parked bus in our way and the incoming traffic kept coming without letting us past, but then they got stuck due to motorcycles, mopeds, and three-wheeled taxis that kept going around them. It really was quite hysterical, especially since I could reach out and touch the cars next to us. Our driver finally had to get out and tell the people behind us to back up so that he could maneuver around. While we were sitting in all of this, some of the girls were talking to a street vendor through their window, and a passerby bought them a watermelon and passed it through the window. Only in China!

On the way home we asked the busdriver to pull over so that we could take a photo of a roadside stall for a dentist. A dentist had donated a bunch of toothbrushes for the kids and nannies, so one of the girls wanted to take a photo for him. She even got to sit in the chair.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More adventures...

Guess what we did today??? More snuggling with babies and building tables and chairs! A couple of the girls also brought brushes and barrettes, so we went around combing hair and making the girls look like girls. For the most part they really enjoyed the head massage....I even put one girl to sleep standing up!

Here's a photo with the doctor who treated me yesterday. My foot is a wee bit better today, but more importantly, not any worse.

Ying, Mark and I, escorted by the director and assistant director, also shopped for air conditioners for the orphanage. Mark and I stayed in the bus while they negotiated with the shop, so that they would get a better price than if the "rich" Americans were with them!

Tonight after dinner we walked around the streets and took in all the sites (we actually didn't eat the shrimp eyes, but we did learn that the shells are actually quite tasty). Note the spider, which you can't tell from the photos, but it was HUGE. And that was right after we saw the rat in the sewer!

Just four people on this one...I missed the photo op of the moped with five!