Friday, July 26, 2013

Theirrrrrr Back!!!

Today we drove to Cedar Springs Camp to pick up Josh and the girls.  Where I did appreciate my downtime this week to recover from my China travels, I must admit the noise in the car on the way home was refreshing to my soul (just maybe not to Mike!).  Jaelyn told me every detail of her week, then exclaimed, "What, we're here already?" as we came onto the island.  They were tired and dingy, but deny both!  Josh had to stay late to clean up, but I'm guessing he is both too.

One of the fun things they got to do this week was rock climb. Here they are, coincidentally wearing the same color, ready to go...
Here they are together at the top. Kaia is a pro, as she has done this several times before and flies up like Spiderman. However, Jaelyn has never made the top before, so she was pumped (that's her on the right, Kaia on the left). Heard that she inspired other girls to not give up. Think I'm going to hear that a lot in her lifetime.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dragging My Feet...

Why is it that I always have a difficult time blogging when I get back from China? Is it exhaustion? Too busy with the family?  Actually I have neither of those to blame this year, as I found the transition back to the Pacific Time Zone fairly easy, especially since the girls and Josh are away at camp, so I've been able to take things at my own pace.  I think the truth is that I just don't know how to put my feelings into words. While in country, I can stick to the facts and know I don't have much time to do it in, so I am succinct. Once home, I have more time to think, which actually makes it more difficult. I don't feel I can freely post everything I feel.  When I am asked "How was China?," how can I put it into one concise sentence.  It was good?  It was hard?  I lost my heart again?  It's not fair? Actually it was all of the aforementioned and more.  But what I can say is that I am blessed and privileged that He chose me to be his hands and feet once again.  I get as much as I give. This is difficult to make others understand unless they experience it themselves.  So how about you, want to experience it with me next summer???

One of my team members wrote a beautiful post about my special girl, Min Yer that is worth the read.  I first met her back in 2007.  You can see her grow in height over the years, as well as in our relationship...2008, 2010 (we were unable to go to Chaoyang in 2009, so went to a different orphanage), 2011,
2012 and now....

 So this is where I am at a loss for words. I am back in my free country, comfy bed, and with my incredible family. But I do not forget the kids. Not

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Last Day at Chaoyang

Today was our final day at the orphanage.  I don't have as many photos from the morning, as I headed off to shop for washers and dryers while the team was blowing bubbles with the children, which is always a hit. And not only can they be blown outside with the children, but the upstairs crib bound children can enjoy them inside too.  While I was gone the team also got a lesson on rolling dumplings and helped prepare our lunch. We loved getting to eat amongst the children for lunch. The huge smiles on their faces as they drank as much soda as they wanted, and loaded their bellies with dumplings, meat, and fresh green beans. It was all so delicious, but we were definitely out ate by the children!
After lunch we painted faces, then prepared for our annual birthday party.  Once again the polaroid camera was a hit with the nannies and the kids.  After yet another long and drawn out photo session, it was all too quickly time to say goodbye. It was heart wrenching to say goodbye to my special friend Min Yur, as she would not look me in the eye, but would not let go of my hand. She understands all too well that I and the team are leaving, yet we leave her hope of our return, and memories of our seven year friendship...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 3 Chaoyang

It was a packed day for us in Chaoyang today. We began the day at the park with the children. They are always so enthusiastic to go on the rides, and it is so good for them to be out and about. They love the rides and bring a lot of attention while we are out. KFC is a big hit with them too. Most of them out eat us!

We are blessed to have a dentist on our team this year. She spent the afternoon doing some training with some of the staff and some members of the medical staff there on the grounds (there is more than just the orphanage at a social welfare institute).  She then spent time going around showing each child to brush their teeth or how to clean the teeth of those crib bound. We are really hoping she had an impact on the care of the children, as some of the kids are suffering from some pretty severe gum disease and infections that will cause serious problems in these medically fragile kids.

Speaking of medically fragile, we were shocked today to learn that the new four year old that came to the orphanage just this week, passed away last night. She was rushed to the hospital with a high fever and didn't make it. Whereas she seemed pretty miserable being at the orphanage, we did not think it was due to a medical issue (she did appear to have cerebral palsy) or that she was suffering from anything immediate. I am thankful she is in a better place now.

One thing that brought me immense joy today was to tell one of the young boys we call Luke that his forever mom and dad will be coming to pick him up soon. He listened intently as Ying read to him the words in the picture book his parents made for him, explaining whom each of them were. He was excited to see himself in some of the photos, as the family has been to the orphanage twice before. He was also very excited about having a dog. Thanks Krosley family for letting me share in this special time.  I got video of it all to share with you later, and one of our team members, a professional photographer, took many shots of the moment that she will be sharing with you.

After dinner tonight we spent time in the city square that has a Buddhist pagoda. Among the many activities, we borrowed fans and scarves to join with local ladies in a folk dance, as posed for many photos with curious onlookers. 

It is hard to believe that tomorrow will be our last day at the orphanage. The traditional party is going to be a memorable time to wrap up this amazing experience thought.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 2 at Orphanage

Today was a super busy day. Some of the children were asking to have their nails painted yesterday, and didn't forget this morning that we had promised to bring some today. We painted rainbows of colors on many kids. Some of the kids whom never seem to be able to sit still amazed us with how they could patiently sit. Then several of us were dragged, I mean led around the grounds by excited children! They were all on their best behavior as we walked around gardens and a pond, ending at some swings.  While we were doing this, many of the group were hanging out with the crib bound children upstairs. Quite a party was going on!

The children enjoyed painting Cherry Blossom pictures using soda bottles, followed by making jelly-fish out of yarn and cups. The walls and windows are decorated with them, thanks to sweet Jing!

Dinner tonight with the vice-mayor did not disappoint. It was held in an amazing hotel with a beautiful view of the river, and of course, full of formalities. We did struggle with the fact that we had just came from the orphanage, but know that our time spent with the people there can be used for good and to further our cause.

Lastly, we went to a small study at church.  Singing Amazing Grace along with them is always one of the highlights of the trip.  I still get goose bumps....

Tomorrow morning will be a trip to the park, so time to get some rest.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Finally we got to the reason we traveled half way around the world...the kids! After two days of canceled flights, we gave up, hired a bus with two drivers, and headed out on a 6+ hour adventure through many tunnels and who knows what else. We arrived at the hotel at 3:30in the morning, so it was dark most of our journey. We were still in a bit of a fog this morning, but it is was wonderful to have the kids recognize our return.   There were a few new faces too. In fact, one unnamed child came last Friday, whom we named Jack.  And yet another just arrived today. She is quite afraid whenever we are near, so we are waiting to name her until we get to know her personality a bit more.  We made tissue butterflies and flowers with both the kids and nannies, and since all of the team but Ying and I are new, we took our time getting to know the kids and routine. 
For now we hope to get some good sleep and be ready for tomorrow.  The vice-mayor of the city invited us to dinner tomorrow evening, after meeting us waiting for the plane this past Sunday.  Should be interesting...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Out of our Control

This post is based on several emails and face time calls between Toni and Mike.  It may not all exact, but you'll get the point.


So it's Sunday and we are to travel to Chaoyang via plane.  There is one flight a day now between beijing and Chaoyang (compared to the Friday only flight a few years ago).  Unfortunately, the flight was cancelled due to smog in Chaoyang! That's right Chaoyang, not Beijing.  On the brighter side,while in the Beijing airport we met the vice-mayor of Chaoyang (not an elected official, but appointed) and he wants to host us to dinner.  He knew the flight was cancelled before the airline told us, and he was very sorry he didn't have room in his car for our team.

Fortunately, our guide Hai Tao (our guide) has secured accommodations for us near the airport.


 Back to the airport, hoping the conditions have improved.

10 AM Beijing time - We get on the plane only to be told the Beijing weather is too bad and we have to exit.

We are told our flight will be at 5 PM

1 PM Beijing time- Entire Beijing airport is closed due to thunderstorms

Time to Execute Plan B -
Rent a bus and two drivers and drive to Chaoyang!!

Tuesday 3:30 AM Beijing Time (all of China has the same time zone) Get to Chaoyang!

Sleep and then get to the orphanage. 

Sorry there aren't any pictures to post at this time.

Made it!

Good morning. I forgot that I am always unable to blog from Beijing, and this year is the same. So my wonderful husband will be doing the posting for me.  He will be challenged by a non-functional home computer and finding the time, but he loves me, so I know I can count on him.
The team merged in Seattle and we made it safely and uneventfully to Beijing. 
This morning those of us who awoke early walked to Tianamen Square.

Later in the day we had a wonderful home cooked meal in a hutong. The whole group took a photo with one of the family members there. 

We will be going to the Great Wall tomorrow, then off to Chaoyang!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Two in a Row...

Wow, I must be inspired or something, as I have completed posts two days in a row! Actually I am under the gun to get my vacation recapped before I head off for China. And speaking of China, I am going to do my best to blog each day. However, mystery firewalls, internet connections (or lack thereof), and pure exhaustion don't always allow that to happen, so please be patient. The past couple of years I have been unable to post photos, so I have emailed those to Mike in the states, and he added them to my journaling. The snafu in that is that with our main computer down, and me taking the laptop, Mike doesn't have easy access. So he will attempt to use Joshua's new laptop we got him for graduation, and see how it goes. Again, patience....

So where did I leave off? Oh yes, we are on to Thursday. We started this day by venturing out on our own to do a little snorkeling in the morning. We found a nice beach with easy shallow snorkeling. It was way better than what we had experienced off the catamaran. So many fish in an assortment of colors (and some without any color) within reach. Mike couldn't get enough of it. And there was entertainment on the beach too, as two endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals made their way onto the beach. Evidently they beach themselves while they digest. Since they are endangered, and the beaches of Kauai are one of the few places they inhabit, the occupied area is immediately roped off from the public.  This happened at two different beaches we visited.

The rest of the day was low key, unless you count the unbelievable helicopter ride we took around the island!!! Now we added perspectives from the air to our list of land and sea views.  We got the chopper with the doors off for even more breath taking views. It is hard to explain, but I don't think I have seen so many waterfalls in my life! We flew through Waimea Canyon, along the Napali Coast, and into the wettest place on earth, Mount Waialeale.  And we thought the rain was bad in Seattle...this place averages 452 inches a year! My favorite view was within the crater, as we were surrounded on three sides by lush green scenery and waterfalls. But wouldn't you know it, the battery of our camera went dead then. Sound familiar? We got a new one for the trip, with two batteries. Mike was shooting so many photos and video from the sky that the first battery died, and the backup was back in the car.  Here are just a few of the beautiful views he did manage to capture...
Open top sea cave we had seen from the water a couple days prior.

Around the bend is the area we hiked the first day.

Four in this photo. I think the two in the middle were called Twin Falls.

I recommend this indulgence to anyone traveling to Kauai.
The next day found us back in the water again, only this time in the form of a river. We kayaked two miles of the Wailua River, then hiked a fairly flat mile back to, you guessed it, another waterfall!  However, don't let the flatness fool you, as you had to watch your step due to roots like this...
kayak parking lot
No, remember, no snakes in Hawaii. Just a really cool vine!
 The waterfall was about a third of the size as the one from the first day, so this one we could swim under.  It served as a beautiful backdrop for our lunch, before we kayaked back (but into the wind this way).

We did some more snorkeling on the way home, then enjoyed the tastiest Hawaiian Shaved Ice ever! Okay, maybe not ever, since this was my first time ever having it. It was shaved so finely it seemed to melt in your mouth, and served over the top of Macademia Nut ice cream! Yes, I ate the whole thing myself...
Not the best shot; taken by iphone, but you just had to see it!
Mike woke early the next morning with a bug....the bug to go snorkeling again! He went for a mile run, stopped at a beach and was the first snorkeler on the water. Once there he nearly ran into a sea turtle, and the two swam together for about 10 minutes.  He said the experience was exhilarating. For lunch we ate at Puka Dog, which for this girl who doesn't eat hot dogs, it was delicious! They only serve two items, and I chose the vegetarian dog. Next you choose which relish you want, so I selected the star fruit relish. Mike had the mango version. The bun is completely wrapped around the dog. Even the Hawaiian mustard was worth mentioning! The place is just a little hole in the wall that we happened to come across, but evidently it is world renown...

For our last full day we chose to do some zip lining. The first three of six zip lines were in the trees, so we weren't able to take in much scenery, and the mosquitoes were making meals of us. Overall I have to say the excitement was a little anti-climatic for us, since we had done more "dangerous" adventures previously. So we challenged ourselves by tandem zip-lining upside down!

Other views from the day....
The sleeping giant, made famous in many movies. See his head on the right, hands folded over his chest.

This is right before the wave washed up and he got all mad at me because he got wet!

It was so hard to select what pictures to post, because there were so many beautiful ones to choose from. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, and look forward to bringing the kids back some time. I will leave you with a few random pics from the trip...
Break between the six zip lines.

No, not us renewing our vows! One of five weddings we walked by on the beach Saturday.

But the best view was this on Sunday....