Friday, June 29, 2012
This morning we were in two local papers. I posted a photo of one that had multiple pictures. It was of the morning we spent at the park with the kids, and once again the headline lauded us as "golden haired, blue eyed," which really only describes three of us on the team. Today was also tutu day at the orphanage! As you can see from the photos, we had a lot of fun making/wearing them with the children. Even some nannies got in on it. We also spent a lot of time with the children upstairs, playing, singing, even reading scriptures to some of them. It warms the heart to see them settle down with a song or just begin to relax in our presence. It takes such little effort to make them smile, yet it goes a long way!
Looks like the elevator will not be finished before we leave, which is too bad. Most construction seems to go slowly here for some reason. I am sure that part of the reason is that everything is done the old fashioned way, by hand. The canteen (cafeteria) next door that was halfway finished last year seems to be no further along this year.
Today was our last full day here, so we enjoyed a hot pot meal and went out to the square one last time. We handed out glow sticks and glow balloons, and once again had a following. I think it will be good to get back somewhere where I won't stick out in a crowd so much, but then again, I think we will all miss that part a bit:) Tomorrow morning we will be back to the orphanage for what will most likely be a tearful goodbye. We then head to the airport for a short flight to Beijing. We are hoping it is our first flight to actually be start to finish on time. I am not sure whether or not I will get a chance to blog before our early Sunday morning flight, but I will try to check in.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
I'm not sure, but I think today is Thursday! We spent the morning at the People's Park riding carnival type rides with the children. It was fun seeing the smiles on their faces (unless they had been spinning too much), and we were excited to see that they had brought one child in a wheelchair that we requested, but disappointing to see that not all of children who should be there got to come. Next was lunch with the kids at KFC...boy, some of those little ones sure can put down the french fries, and I think some of them just learned the joys of ketchup!
The afternoon was spent having the ceremony to award the nursing contest prizes. It was decided to hold it at the nursing school instead of the orphanage so it could draw the attention of more nursing students. The ceremony was much more formal and organized than we anticipated. It was attended by many nursing students, officials, and media. It was funny because the front row was reserved with name tags in Chinese, except one English one marked "Toni" that I easily recognized:) None of it was interpreted for us, so we clapped when they did when each speaker spoke. Then it was my turn, and that was interpreted by Ying. I just told him that if I said anything offensive, please change what I said. It must have went okay, because at dinner the director asked what I did for a career, and responded that he could tell I was a teacher because I was simple and precise with what I stated. I think that was a compliment. Anyhow, we each left with a volunteer certificate (Mark and Angela, I have one for each of you), and it was fun to award the prizes to the top volunteers. However, between being very hot inside and a bit nervous, I was eager to get it over with. Following the ceremony we, our group and the nursing students, headed over to the orphanage to hand out with the kids some more. Despite all that has been accomplished, it felt good to get back to the focus of why we are here.
On a side note, please keep Josh in your thoughts. He has some teeth that are going to be pulled when we return to the states, and they are causing him quite a bit of pain right now, with some possible infection. Thanks!
Sorry I am a day behind, but I was so exhausted after a long day yesterday that I didn't have time to write before I crashed! One of the girls we met at the square came with us for the second day, which is always great to see. I know the group did a craft with the children representing "God so loved the world," and did a lot of playing. I don't have any photos from Wednesday morning, because I spent the morning in meetings with government officials to talk about how this past year's nursing contest went (we agreed to fund the awards for a contest last year to get local nursing students involved year round with physical therapy in the orphanage), as well as what to change. I knew very of little of what was being said, so nodded my head a lot in between translations! One thing I have learned over the years over here is that nothing is ever done quickly. With that said, we next ventured to the bank where we exchanged money for the awards and air conditioners that we were going to shop for. Ying and I then decided to walk to the restaurant to meet up with the rest of the group for lunch. Turns out it was way farther than the "couple blocks" we were told it was, so we walked a couple miles carrying backpacks in what was our hottest weather so far. I haven't been so happy to see a bottle of water in awhile. Even though the rest of the team was done eating, there was still plenty of food left.
We headed back to the orphanage for the afternoon, which I was thrilled to spend the time back doing what I love best, hanging with the kids. We left a bit early though so we could take showers before the water was turned off for 24 hours, and head to the local church for Bible study. It was such a joy to sing "Amazing Grace" in English while the rest of the room was singing in Chinese. After the study we were asked to introduce ourselves and sing a song. Most of us knew "Lord I Lift Your Name on High," and our audience was so gracious that it didn't matter how we sounded! The leader requested a group photo afterward, down in the sanctuary, which turned out more to be a photo session. We would finish with one photo, then a church member would grab someone else from the group for another one, then another person would jump in the photo, and so on. Bob was popular because they said he looked like "the man from KFC," and Josh was told by a few that he was "so handsome." Overall it was a wonderful experience.
Angela, if you are reading this, you were asked about so many times at church! You are loved and missed greatly here:)
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
As I am typing this entry I am listening to the song Beautiful by Mercy Me, and the lyrics are bringing tears to my eyes. If you are not familiar with the song, the chorus goes like this:
You're beautiful, you're beautiful. You were made for so much more than all of this. You're beautiful, you're beautiful. You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His. Yes, you are beautiful in His eyes.
Today was a day spent seeing the beauty in each one of these precious children. The teens on our team are especially amazing me, because they do not hesitate to interact and snuggle with what appears to be the "untouchables" of these children. Yes, there were a few tears today, but we feel very privileged to be placed in this position, of sharing God's love!
We began the day by bringing out the shades! We remembered how much the children loved our sunglasses last year, so this trip we remembered to bring them with us, and I'm glad we did, because they were a hit, as you can see. I spent most of the morning learning from the German physical therapist who works with a program called LIGHT. We hope to partner with her in the near future. There are some children that are in need of surgery and some she wants to get into foster care. The most exciting part was that she had an update for me on a child we had lost track of from the second year we were here. He has cerebral palsy, and last we had heard he had surgery to help him walk and that he was now in foster care. Well now we know that Min Bo, otherwise known as Timothy, is doing wonderfully, walks and talks, and in with a wonderful foster family. Not only that, but he and other foster care children have impacted the families and community around them. How amazing how these orphans, the unwanted, are being used by the father!
In the afternoon we took advantage of the unseasonal mild weather and took the children outside. Last year we bought the padding that is the outdoor play area. Hopefully in the near future there will be more toys in the area than just the merry go round, but it is a good start.
The good news at the orphanage was that the water is back on for the bottom floor. The bad news is that the water is going off for 24 hours at our hotel, beginning tonight at 8:00 pm, for some work. We are coming back a bit earlier this afternoon so that we can shower before we head over for Wednesday evening study at the local church. Please keep us in your thoughts. We definitely feel them over here!
Monday, June 25, 2012
Today was our first day at the orphanage and was not a disappointment. For those of us returning there were many familiar faces, three new ones, and sadly a couple missing ones. We were thrilled to meet a German physical therapist who runs a foster home in the capital city of Shenyang, and comes to Chaoyang every couple months to work with children there. She had a young American gal with her who has come alongside since November. It was nice to get a little more insight and opinion on the children.
Toes and fingers were painted, walks were taken (some in wheelchairs), much laughter was made. Unfortunately the pump for the well at the orphanage went out a couple days ago, so there will be no water for a couple more days. This can be a bit challenging at times, but for us it is only temporary. We have to remind ourselves that many people live with this daily!
One extremely exciting bit of news is that the orphanage is installing an elevator! We had come prepared to install a lift for the stairway, so were shocked to learn they were putting in a real one. Evidently they had a shaft all along, but had never installed an elevator. They were rushing to get it complete before we came, but it did not happen. The worker is busy trying to get it complete in the next couple days, so hopefully I can post a photo of one of the non-ambulatory kids being able to come downstairs in a wheelchair, rather than one of us carrying him down the stairs!
Tonight was a wonderful personal experience for me. We hire a young lady named Juan to tutor one of the orphans. She had asked us to bring over a specific supplement to help with her grandfather's illness, which I was honored to do. Well the family insisted that I and Ying (he shopped for the product in China and had it shipped to me) be treated to a home cooked meal at the grandfather's home. That was quite a treat; the food was amazing and the whole experience was quite humbling. Juan even remembered how much I loved eggplant last year, so her grandfather made a huge dish of it, along with many other delicious foods, washed down with almond milk! The rest of the group went out to dinner and headed back to the square with our interpreter. Guess they were quite the stars when they handed out glow sticks and took polaroid photos!
Tomorrow we will work with Sa in planning to award the nursing contract. For now, enjoy the photos, and keep us in your thoughts and prayers.