Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Love from Across the Ocean

Like that title? That was the headline for the article on us that was in Tuesday’s paper. It was actually a very encouraging article that I hope encourages some of the locals in adopting or fostering children. They snapped many photos when they were visiting, but selected one that included every one of us in it, playing with the kids. Yesterday there were more reporters and a photographer there, and evidently were going to be featured in a larger paper, The China Daily. That one is supposed to be online too, so if I get a link, I will post it here.

In the morning, when we walked in, we were excited to see that the ayis (nannies) had already taken most of the children, from one of the severely disabled rooms, out of their cribs and into the upstairs playroom. In my three years coming here I have never seen them do that, so that was exciting progress. What’s difficult is putting them back in, but I am hopeful that after seeing us interact with the children, this will be a more frequent thing.

At lunch, one of the local gals, we met at the square, Nancy, came and ate lunch with us. She is a very sweet and bubbly girl. She also served as our personal shopping guide as she took Micah, Tracie and I around a shopping mall last night!

Yesterday afternoon Mark, Ying, and I went to a store to buy some more flooring with some of the donation money. We wanted to replace a well-worn red carpet that they use in the main playroom with something that could be easier cleaned and maintained. Since it is in the same room as the playground, we decided to use the same flooring, so we returned to the same store that they had shopped at before. As we were waiting for the owner to return with some items, I walked around the tiny shop, I decided to buy a gift for Mike. When I tried to purchase it, the owner’s wife refused to let me pay for it, and then with a huge smile on her face, pointed to the calendar on the wall behind her. You can see for yourself what she was meaningJ What joy this lady had in her heart!

Today will be our last day, which is always an emotional day. The older children are supposed to be coming back from the boarding school to celebrate in our birthday party. I will try and post tonight, as we have an morning flight tomorrow back to Beijing.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Is Today Tuesday???

It's becoming difficult to remember which day it is, as we are up to the sounds of busy streets early and pack our day with many things. Needless to say we are tired at the end, but wouldn't trade this experience for anything!

Today in the morning we got all of the children in one room that are confined to their cribs, out at the same time. I can't imagine how long it has been since some of them have seen outside the four walls of their room. What joy was on their faces (well all but two enjoyed it) as they were propped up against us or able to lay on their bellies. One sweet child managed took about 15 minutes to scoot across the room, and we all cheered when he finally made it! He burst out into the most beautiful smile you have ever seen.

We broke out the bubbles in the afternoon, and the guys were able to purchase some soft padding for under the playground, which is supposed to be done tomorrow. I can't believe we are down to just two days left with the kids. We continue to visit the mother I posted about, and her son has warmed up to us a bit. When I played with him today, he gave me a picture he colored. Guess I need to make room on my already crowded refrigerator:)

Dinner was at a fantastic Korean BBQ. Can't remember the last time I at this much meat. Not so much the squid though! We watched some street dancers in the evening, then headed back to the square where we ate ice cream, watched some amazing jump roping, hackey-sacking, and hip hop dancing. We also chatted with a lot of the locals about a variety of things. They are interested in my Chinese daughters, talked with Mark about loving Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns, and flirted with Micah!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday in Chaoyang...

If you haven't looked back at the last couple posts yet, make sure you go look at the photos. I have been emailing Mike some pictures and he has been posting them from home. Sorry there is no explanation with each one, but hopefully it is self-explanatory.

The trip to the orphanage has always been an interesting drive, but this year it is much more so due to all the construction taking place near by. The drive used to end with a beautiful tree lined road, but now we have to take a dirt road turnoff before, to get around the pile of rocks and dirt they have used to block the road to traffic (funny thing is that by the end of each day, someone has moved the dirt to make a driveway). This dirt road is full of dips and potholes, and runs right through tiny farm plots and homes. Well today we had an issue with our van bottoming out and having the spare tire that was underneath drag on the ground, so we had to stop and fix it. Since the road was only wide enough for one vehicle, we had quite a few cars lined up, waiting for us to move.

Once we made it to the orphanage we got busy with kids, and bringing in the playground we purchased. We were surprised to see Beauty, a young lady who used to be one of the children, but whom now is employed by the orphanage. We had been told the day before that she worked somewhere else, but I guess that was lost in translation!

Turns out the quality of the playground was not top notch (go figure), along with the fact that the orphanage grounds are still under construction, so we decided to make it an indoor playground! Ever put together furniture from IKEA? Well it was a lot like that, with no directions, few screws, and poor construction. The guys did a good job though, and are almost finished. Now we have to purchase some mats to go underneath, but hopefully the kids will be playing on it before we leave.

We had a good time beading, making puppets, and just hanging out with the children today. We learned some good news about another of the children whom we had not seen, Min Bo. Min Bo was unable to walk, spending all his time in a crib. One of the team members last trip took him out often and spent a lot of time with him. He even insisted they pull out one of the wheelchairs so he could go to the amusement park with us. Turns out he was a candidate for a surgery (I think on his spine?) to help him walk. This was arranged by an American team, and he had the surgery and it was successful! He now lives in a foster home five hours away. This brought tears to my eyes when I heard it.

We had two wonderful meals today, and am especially loving the eggplant! Today we also had deep fried bean curd sandwiches, and they were tasty:) Tonight we went back to the square, which was packed. As expected, we found ourselves at the center of large crowds. There was a college age group of dancers, and Meme and Micah were brave enough to dance with them in front of the crowd of onlookers. They were great sports, made many new friends, and probably now on many camera phones.

As always, I hope my post makes sense, as usually I am writing this while being exhausted, and am not sure of my grammar and typos...

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Today we had the pleasure of being greeted by the older children at Chaoyang, those that are over seven and attending the boarding school. Some we have known for three years now, and they have grown so big! After viewing some photos of them with us in the past, they giggled and quickly warmed up. Our craft for today was painting t-shirts with hand prints. Most are for them, but some of us had the kids put their hand prints on our shirts too:) We even did some foot prints of little ones, and finger prints which will be turned in to lady bugs during tomorrow's craft time. The kids got a bit messy, but it was a lot of fun. We also had lots of snuggle and play time with the smaller kids, learned of more stories behind some of the newer children, and found answers to some of our questions about missing kids. One of the latter is Jing, a three year old we have been wondering about. Turns out she is in the hospital next door, quarantined from Small Pox, but will be back in a couple days. Two of our team members, Ying and Meme, were able to visit her today, and said despite her just getting over being sick, she looks great.

Following a pizza dinner we went to the church that we had attended two years ago. For a Sunday night I thought it was a big crowd, and they were very welcoming. It was a special treat at the end when they served communion...a little peak of heaven when the whole world is worshipping together! We're just not sure what was served in the communion cup!

Mike is going to try and post some photos sometime today. I have some great ones of the kids painting the shirts. Be sure and check out Mallory's blog (see earlier post on the trip), as she is a professional photographer and posted some great shots.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Today we are happier to be in a less humid climate! Our flight to Chaoyang was uneventful, and we were checked in to our hotel by 10:30. We did some quick shopping, ate lunch, and met the orphanage director in the lobby at 1:00. We were surprised when he said we could come to the orphanage for a quick visit, as we weren't scheduled to be there until tomorrow. We were warmly greeted by some familiar faces, and it was a great feeling that so many of the kids remembered us. They have moved into a new building, so we spent time familiarizing ourselves with the new layout and room assignments. Of course, I scooped up a one month old baby to carry around as I said my "hellos" to the kids and nannies. Her cleft/lip palate made me think of Kaia, so I just couldn't resist. I am so disappointed that I haven't figured out how to post photos here, but I am still working on it.

The evening was spent getting tomorrow's craft ready, then walking around the city. It was late, so we missed the big crowd at the pagoda, so we will try again another night. We did hand out glow-in-the dark bracelets, which was a hit with the kids we came across (and some teens too!).

I hate to end the post on a downer again, but I do have a request. There was a dying mother who brought her seven year old to the orphanage, as she has no one to help her. She is staying in a room there, is quite sickly looking, and is in a lot of pain. Please remember her as she comes to your mind today. We told her that we would check on her again tomorrow, and be thinking of her. Not a situation that any mother should have to be in.

Time to rest up for tomorrow's full day, then church in the evening. Oh yeah, go Team USA (not us, but the World Cup game today)!

Friday, June 25, 2010


Just wanted to let everyone know that we made it safely to Beijing, and have had a great first day. Unfortunately I am unable to upload pictures right now, so you will just have to listen to my ramblings. It probably doesn't help that I am extremely jet lagged either.

Our day started off with a trip to Morning Star Family Home, a foster home here ran by Bill and Lynsey Lewis of the US. We played with the babies and helped them do some cleaning up of their new facilities. They are doing amazing work with many orphans here, and even as we were there today, they received a call asking them to take in another little one. I will post fun photos as soon as I am able.

We followed this up by a trip to the Great Wall. One group climbed the West section, but a few of us climbed the East. We were thankful for the gentle breeze, as it was hot and humid. Unfortunately the view was blocked by lots of smog, but it was still an amazing experience.

On the downside, my husband of 22 years (today is our anniversary) just called from the states to let me know my grandma passed away just a bit ago. She was a wonderful lady, whom I got to say goodbye to back in May when Josh and I went to visit her when she suddenly got sick. She is celebrating in heaven right now; I'm just a little somber that I am not able to be with my family at this time....

We have a very early flight to Chaoyang, so hopefully I am able to post pictures from there, as I have in the past. Sunday will be our first day with the kids:)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chaoyang, here we come...

Today will be my last post before we head off for Chaoyang, China! I will try my best to blog everyday, but without my techie sidekick Mike with me this year, it may take me longer to work out any snafus that can happen behind the Great Firewall of China!

Please pray for the team's health (I really want to shake this lingering cold) and safety, and that installing the playground we have purchased goes smoothly. Pray for hearts to be prepared to be loved on (both sides), which also can bring heartache at the end.

A couple other team members will be blogging also, so check out Visiting the Orphans of Chaoyang, China and at Mallory Kreiger Photography if you would like to see more photos and read others perspectives on the trip.

Lastly, thanks to those of you who donated or shopped our garage sale, bought/made lumpia, donated, and/or prayed for our trip. You have helped make this all possible!

Father's Day...

Do you know how tough it is to get four kids to look at the camera and be serious at the same time? I say darn near impossible. This is the best I got from many, many tries...

It's much simpler just to have them intentionally do this...

We had a wonderful time celebrating Dad. He chose to have brunch at Bob's Burger and Brew and then to go shopping at Costco. What's up with that? He must be softening in his wiser years! He decided against the BBQ grill he originally said he wanted, and instead his gift and our anniversary gift (22 years this Saturday, but I'll be in China) will be new flooring in our house, that he gets to install. Not sure how that is a "gift" since he will be doing most of the work, but I think it's a guy thing!

I want to say a special thanks to my husband and all the wonderful hats he wears as Dad. I can think of nothing better than watching him interact with the kids! A huge thank you to him for supporting my return trip to China....say an extra prayer of patience and energy for him:)

And to my great Dad, thanks so much for all your support over the years. I love you!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Kindergarten Tea...

Last Sunday the girls had their Kindergarten Tea, where they pass over the bridge from the kindergarten teacher to the first grade teacher. When asked by the kindergarten teacher what their favorite subjects were, Jaelyn replied "math," which made her father proud, and Kaia surprised us with "art." Both of them have really progressed this year, especially in their reading.

They were all dressed up and clean for a short time, until they quickly had snacks and played on the playground. Can't keep five and six your olds down for too long! They are now so proud to go around telling everyone that they are now first graders!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tooth Fairy Time....

Kaia lost her first tooth today. I thought it would be this weekend, as it was getting to the "barely hanging on " stage. The actual way it fell out was a bit funny though. Seems she and her sister were in a bit of a tiff. It started out with Kaia writing on Jaelyn, who then retaliated with a smack (we didn't witness, only heard the cries) to the mouth. Kaia came to us crying over blood on her lip, but she didn't realize it was actually coming from her tooth. All was smoothed over though when Kaia realized what was going on, and that her sister actually helped her out. They will have a good story to tell when they are older though, that Jaelyn knocked out Kaia's first tooth!