Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What to do when your wife wants to bring home "extra luggage"

Hi everyone.  This is Trent, Ginny's husband.  She's asked me to write a post about her wanting to bring home a child in her suitcase.

I say yes.

Here are my reasons....

Repairing my wife's heart after such an attachment is much like landing a man on Jupiter tomorrow, using only a paperclip, bedsheet, baking soda, and a script from MacGyver.

We're at the point on our insurance where we pay the same amount no matter how many kids we have: too much.  What's one more?

Children weigh less than the souvenirs she would have brought home.  Translation:  no overage charges on the airline weight limits.

Children need homes.  We have one.  Even if it means my bed becomes the leaky inflatable lounger in the pool - I can tether myself to the shallow end.

One life.  That's all we have.  Every so often, it's good to ride on a van with no A/C and a driver who smokes like wet wood.  Who needs to be comfortable when we have a Kingdom?

He is Moving Here


Well today started out incredible again.  I started the day with what I thought was going to be a brief stop in the newborn nursery just to say hi.   I walked over to the frail heart baby that I told you about the other day and who many of you have been praying for.    Her eyes were bright and she smiled at me.  Friends, she has not been alert before.  Of course I picked her up and sat down with her. She looked at me and responded to my voice.  She was a different baby! Your prayers are being answered!  At the break, the workers in that room said she took an entire bottle for the first time today.  Normally she does not have the energy to eat.   

As I was getting ready to leave the nursery, the nannies asked me to put carriers on them and then giggled as we put babies in them.  They took the babies outside in the carriers and showed them off to the other nannies.  So thank you again for those donations!  One of the baby nannies is eager to learn English so if you come here in the future, please bring her some Chinese/English translation books.   She is the one who is about 4’10.  She is a great nanny and performs daily exercises with the newborns to encourage rolling. 

My plan for the morning was to evaluate the children with physical disabilities who have not been matched yet.  I started in the room for the rollers.  Most of them were outside playing but there was one child there with a skull deformity.  I was able to do a lengthy eval on him and instruct the nannies on how to work with him to maximize his function.  The nanny was very responsive and excited.  

From there they took me to a waiting area and brought children to me that I have not seen in the rooms we have been working in.  They all had heart defects and have paperwork at the province that has not arrived to the agency yet.  Those children were frail and need to get to the States for surgery.  One of them has a condition that can’t even be addressed in China but can only be treated in the States.   Please pray for their paperwork to be processed quickly and forwarded to the agency and for their travel to be expedited.  Again I was able to work with the nannies to teach them how to encourage function in these kids.  Most of them are developmentally delayed because they have spent their entire life sick. 

The rest of the team had many stories at lunch of children laughing, giving kisses, and interacting with them more.  Some also had great interactions with the nannies. After lunch we took the head nanny and a few older children shopping with money that one of the team members brought along.  They purchased toys and shoes from a department store because they wanted things of good quality.  The experience reminded of an Aggie joke like “how many Chinese and American people does it take to pick out a pair of shoes?”  but it turned out that it was good that we were away for such a long time because the orphanage had a surprise official visit from the Province during that time.   I believe the lesson for future trips though is to send one team member, the translator, and an orphanage official to do the shopping.  Oh and those of us waiting around may or may not have started a flash mob.  Sorry there is no video to prove it.

This morning I was moving some files over to an old flash drive when I noticed raw footage from when I brought Ruthie home.  The airport was filled with church members holding balloons and signs.  I drug it to my desktop and didn’t think anything of it.  Then on the bus ride back to the orphanage, I was sitting near the head nanny and was telling her about how loved the adopted children are in America and God reminded me of that video.  I showed it to her and she loved it and thanked me for taking care of an orphan.  It was a super cool, ordained-by-God moment.

Our time in the afternoon was a little shorter because of our shopping trip so we focused on the younger 3 classrooms.  The head nanny and I assembled toys together and then watched as the kids discovered how to use them.  It was really awesome.   I really like the head nanny and hope to get to spend more time with her before I leave.    The rest of the afternoon was spent teaching the nannies in the 6-month to 1-year room how to work with their children with special needs.  I love how eager they are to learn. 

So a few ideas for parents traveling to the region or for future teams - They need more quality toys like duplo legos and things that children can lay under, stand at, crawl through, etc.   A lot of their toys are very small and cheap.  The baby’s cloth diapers are covered with plastic bags.  They need those cool cloth diaper covers that we use in the States.  They wear out baby shoes quickly and could always use more of those too. 

We are all falling deeper in love with the children and it makes me sad to think that our time here is now more than half way over.  Please pray as we try and finish strong.

Okay I wrote this and then went into our evening session together and God just blew me away again.  We had the sweetest time of worship and sharing with our translator.   I won’t go into much detail, but it was amazing and you know what to do.

Thanks!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Details, Waiting Families, Team Families, etc.


For Families, Waiting Parents, our agency, and Those Who Love Details.

So last night I was borrowing WiFi from our translator while I was blogging so I wanted to be fast and give her back her privacy.  She was also in a conversation with our team member, Asia, that I wanted to let happen without me being a distraction.  So now I am going to give more details for the family members of the team, any parents who have been matched with children here,  our agency, and those of you who love to pray about the details. 

OUR TEAM-   I don’t want to jinx this but I think this may be the best mission trip team that I have ever been a part of.  Even though we all have our differences, they have really come together beautifully.  

Toni has been a great leader.  She is very open to suggestions from the group and has a calm about her that is a real tone setter when things go outside of their “plan”.  She really does a great job at setting the mood and helping the rest of us follow along. 

Beth is lucky that I don’t live in her hometown because I think that I would just set up camp in her kitchen.  She is so much fun, so real, and has a maturity about her that also helps guide the rest of us.   She has spent most of her time with the youngest children and is just a natural.  You can see that the nannies trust her.  Her spirit overflows joy when she is with those kids and I have no doubt that she is making a silent impression on that room.

Suzette is all that I love about Texas women.  She has been spent most of her time with the kids around a year old.  There is one child in there who has “chosen” her and keeps walking up and giving her kisses.  I think her husband may need to go ahead and create the adoption fund.  She will be a great resource for some of the waiting families because many of your children are in her room.  She is having a wonderful time and glows when she is with those kids.

Becky has been with the newborns too and spent some time with the older kids.  I believe the newborn room was her favorite place.  She has been here serving before so her experience has been a valuable resource for the rest of us.  She is a nurse and which has come in handy several times when discussing the needs of the kids here.  One thing that I really admire about her is that she is the first to lay down her preferences for the good of the team or orphanage.  She is a truly selfless person.

Andrea is so right where she was meant to be.  She has real energy for the older toddlers and older children.  She is full of ideas for how to involve them in activities and connect with them.  I am sure being an elementary age teacher helps. J   She has really connected with some of the younger nannies using her iphone and discussing things they have in common like Instagram.   You can really pray for her that this will continue and that God will open doors to help form lasting and impressionable relationships. 

Brandon is our team gentleman.  Seriously he is the perfect southern male.  He opens doors for us, unloads our luggage, carries heavy items, and just watches over all of us girls.  The older kids LOVE him.  He is like a human jungle gym.  He appears to have a real heart of the little ones with Down Syndrome and they also flock to him.  Sometimes you don’t know how a young male is going to do with small kids.  Well, he has been AWESOME.  I am so glad that he is on this trip. 

Asia is an 18 year old who was adopted from China as a baby.  You can tell that she has amazing parents and the love she has for her family evident.   She has such a servant’s heart.  I have noticed this on many occasions when I have watched her step up to serve another team member or the orphanage.  Her love for the Lord is seen in everything she does.  She has spent most of her time with the toddlers.  She has also formed a good relationship with our translator and you can pray for her in that.  Asia’s Mom- we tried to call you on my skype phone last night.  We will try again today which will be morning your time.

Faith is the daughter of Toni and I just love her.  She is 18 and is hearing impaired.  Toni signs to her and I make up my own signs when trying to talk to her.  She has the sweetest smile as she tolerates my efforts to communicate with her.   You can pray for her in a couple ways.  First, she has a real heart for the hearing impaired children here but has not been able to have much contact with them.  It would amazing if she could spend some time with the older hearing impaired kids.  Please pray that the team and staff will help make that happen.  I think we have been so busy with all of our own assignments that we might not have advocated for her in this way as much as we should.  I woke up this morning with on my heart so please pray that comes together.  Also, she is staying a few extra days after we leave to visit her orphanage and deaf school.  She does not have permission yet.  Pray the doors open up for that and that she has a really positive experience.

Theresa is the 12 year old adopted daughter of Toni.  I seriously thought she was 16 when I met her.  She has spent most of her time playing with the toddlers.  She is a great kid and has blended in with all of us old folks just beautifully.  I am not sure my kids would be as agreeable in the heat and struggles of traveling.  She too will be visiting her orphanage at the end of the trip so you can pray that doors will open for her as well and that it will be a positive experience. 

Summer is our translator and she is so sweet.  She has bent over backwards to accommodate these crazy Americans.  She has begun asking questions and has joined our evening time as a team.  Please pray for our conversations with her.  She has bonded well with our group and has been a great translator.  She and I spend most of our time together while I am performing physicals on these kids.   I wish I could take her home with me.

For the Waiting Parents- Can I say that not a minute goes by in that orphanage when I don’t think of you.  I so know the ache in your heart to bring your baby home and I know the helplessness you feel when you can’t be here with them.  I also know the hope it gives you to know that we are here so let me fan the flame of hope for you now.  Your babies are loved! They are held and kissed.  They are fed and played with.  They are getting social interaction with each other and are all going outside.  The older children are going to school in a small classroom setting with teachers who love them.  I observed this yesterday when I was evaluating the older kids.  The smile and laugh and many of them love to dance.  The babies waiting with heart conditions all need surgery soon.  I took extra time to pray over them and I am trusting that the Lord will keep them in his arms.  The nannies are good with caring for them.   The cleft babies all look great! They are sent to Beijing for their repairs and several of the team members who have experience in this area commented on how good they look.  I was amazed at how functional the kids with spina bifida are.  They are getting daily therapy here.   While all of these kids have “needs”, their greatest need is for a family.   They need a mom to hold them and love them.  The rest is just details and those are getting taken care of very well here but they cannot make up for a family. 

Okay I have to get ready and be to breakfast in 12 minutes.  I hope the details blessed the parents and gave you specific ways to pray.  I can’t wait to see what today holds. 

Yet Another Great Day

Today was another AMAZING day at the orphanage.  Most of the team spent time in the rooms with the kids while Toni and I tracked down a list of 23 referred children in order to gain more information on them.  It was such a blessing to evaluate those precious kids in order to give more information to their waiting and prospective parents.   I prayed over each child and even got to sing happy birthday to one who I believe was turning 3 today. 

We delivered the hats that many of you made by hand.  The orphanage director was very thankful.  I picked out one tiny pink one and delivered it to my precious heart baby in the newborn nursery.   The more time I spend with these kids, the more I fall in love.  I look at them and ponder how precious they all are and then I fight back the tears when I remember that they are all without a family to call their own.  


There is a 2-hour break every afternoon while the babies nap so today we decided to take that time to go shopping.  It was an adventure for sure.  On the way back, I decided to capture what riding in the front of a bus is like in China.  I hope you can see here that we are splitting the yellow line (which we have referred to as a mere suggestion) and driving head on toward another vehicle.  I can't count the number of times I have squeezed the leg of the person sitting next to me on this trip.  


During the afternoon, Toni and I continued our evaluations while the team played with the older kids.  At the end, the director asked if I would evaluate ALL of the children in order to help them get a placement.  Since there are 300 kids and it took me all day to evaluate 23, I am not sure that will be completely feasible. Please pray that I will discern where to start with that and where my services are best used.  

This evening we were all thrilled to discover a KFC.  Once again I was surprised to find peas and carrots in a place that didn't normally have peas and carrots.  Yes, they were in the middle of my chicken!  Oh China, how I love you.  


We had to switch rooms tonight because the air conditioning broke in the hotel.  The enemy is not going to distract this team though.  We are all geared up and ready to go again tomorrow! Thank you for your prayers.

Monday, July 29, 2013

What a Great Day


Wow today was a really great day.  Before I get to that though I have a few pictures from my friend and team member, Suzette, that I thought you might like.   She has done a much better job at carrying her camera around than I have.  The peace sign in the bottom picture is a joke because the Chinese all make peace signs when they get their picture taken and we wanted to fit in. :)  The signs were more from the Great Wall. 

So now for today.  We arrived at the orphanage around 9:00 and were immediately impressed.  The grounds are very nice, the inside is immaculate, and the rooms are very nice too.  We were given a tour of the facility and I was super impressed with the PT gym.  Seriously, my first thought was, "I want to work here."   Here that, babe?  They have 3 full-time staff who work with the kids in the PT room.  I am not sure about their training or how well they use the resources they have, but they were working hard and were very interested in learning more.  I plan to work with them more tomorrow to try and help out in any way possible.  You can pray that I have a clear vision for the best way to serve them. 


We gave the orphanage some of the donations today.  Specifically we delivered the flip flops and I worked with the nannies in the baby room on how to use the baby carriers.  I believe the highlight of the day was when I gave one nanny a carrier, positioned a baby in there, and then showed her how her hands were still free for other tasks.  She said, "when we get the babies back from surgery, they need to be held  all the time and now we can take care of them and still care for the other children at the same time."  Yes - that is the idea!  They were all so thankful for the donations.  I am planning to deliver the hats tomorrow.  



So on the last important note- the families of the team members should go ahead and be warned that we have all found about 5 babies each that we want to come back for.  Seriously, these children are precious.  Some steal your heart with their personalities and others steal your heart with their great need for a home.  I fell in love with a tiny blessing in the infant room.  She is 3 months old and can't weigh more than 8 lbs.  She has a heart defect and struggles for every breath.   Her breathing is so labored that it is hard for her to even eat.  In the time I was able to care for her, I sang Dennis Jernigan's song, The Blessing, over her and prayed that God would give her the strength she needs to survive.  

When the day was over, we took our driver and translator out for some "American" food.  It was their first time to have pizza and we laughed as they tried to eat it with chopsticks.  I ordered a pineapple and ham pizza which came out with carrots, corn, and peas too.  It was different but still better than some of the mystery dishes we have sampled lately.  


Tomorrow will hold more of the same.  I plan to spend most of my time in the therapy room while the others will play with children and continue to try and figure out how to bring them all home.  Pray that we will discern how to best serve the children and the orphanage.  

Thanks again for your support.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tough Day

All, this is Trent (a.k.a. Ginny's husband).  This is the email I got to post for her today.  Thanks for covering her in your prayers.

Yesterday was rough.  It was full of distractions and things to remind us of our humanness. 

Pray for today that we will form good relationships with the staff. Pray that they will understand my vision for this seminar. 

Pray for good access to the kids. 

Pray for that we can lay down our preferences in exchange for perspective and obedience

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Little Perspective, a Lot of Culture, and a Very Full Day

Oh my goodness yesterday was a full day.  Our agency plans a packed schedule to help you recover from jet lag.  It worked. 


Since I woke up before the roosters, I had a little time to kill in the night/morning before we left.  While checking out the hotel grounds I discovered this- A restaurant named after Texas.  I must say that I thought finding a mexican restaurant in France was funny but this tops it.   I was sure to take a few moments through the remainder of the day to remind my teammates that China did not name a restaurant after their state which proves how great Texas really is.  I am not sure what they serve- probably fried rice. :)


We started out with a trip to Tiannamen Square.  They added some giant screens since the last time I visited.  I found the contrast between the constant hazy skies of Beijing and the pictures on the screen to be amusing.   


I decided to play a little with the panorama function on my iphone since Tiannamen Square and The Forbidden City are the perfect layout for such an experiment.  I think they turned out kinda cool and give you a different perspective on the area. 


Trent reminded me before going to the Forbidden City to stay away from the throne area.  It is this room you can look into that is so overshadowed by the crushing experience of getting there that by the time you leave, you are so glad to be alive that you don't remember what you saw. 


There are many things that I love about Chinese culture.  Most of them make me smile and some occasionally leave my puzzled.  I believe the fashion speaks for itself, but a basketball goal in the middle of The Forbidden City???? Sure- why not.


I think my favorite part of days like this is sometimes just looking out the window while we drive from place to place.  One of the most memorable parts of the day was spending an hour in a traffic jam and getting to observe the Chinese people as they navigated that experience.  Thankfully we survived because it was questionable at times. :)


After our adventures in trafficdom, we finally arrived at The Great Wall.  I love The Great Wall.  I love the beauty of The Great Wall and the area that surrounds it.  I love the history of the Great Wall.  I love all that it symbolizes if you really stop and think about it.  I just love the Great Wall.  Unfortunately, I am not a great climber of the Great Wall.  I swear it's because some of the steps are just a bit shorter than my leg length but that doesn't hold much when I watch these little bitty ones going up and down.  Before I completely gave up, I did take a picture of my foot so the hubs could see how far I did make it. 



Three of our younger members managed to make it much further and even earned metals for their accomplishment.  Those of us 30 and over stayed behind for our own adventures in observing things.  We also had many locals stop and ask to have their picture taken with us.  I am not sure if they were fascinated by us or just wanted a picture with those Americans who were defeated by their wall. 



The rest of the day was about keeping my eyes open so the camera stayed tucked away.  We had dinner at another traditional Chinese restaurant when truthfully all that I could think of was my bed and a bowl of Fruity Pebbles.  


Today we fly out of Beijing and head to our destination.  I am excited for what next week holds and hopeful that it is life changing for all involved.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Perspective


We arrived safely in Beijing yesterday.  The flight was thankfully pretty uneventful and navigating the airport was much easier than I had remembered from past trips to to China. We had dinner last night in traditional Chinese style where we all sit around a table and sample foods from a plethora of dishes.  Multiple times we played the, "I wonder what that is" game and often looked to our token male in the group to sample and report.  He was a good sport.  I figure with 9 women on the team, we better go ahead and break him in quick.  :)

I woke up at 4:00 this morning (oh the joys of jet lag) and was pondering perspective.  I believe that may be one of the themes for me this week.  My hope is to keep my eyes open to see things as they really are and ponder them through an eternal perspective.  

I will give you some examples from our first day so you can see where I am coming from. 
* Two of the women on this trip have more than 8 children at home (most of which are adopted).  They have chosen to spend their rare stint away from being mom to serve more children.  Perspective. 
* Three of the girls are teenagers who were adopted from China and have returned to give back because of all that was done for them before they had forever families.  Perspective. 
* Our translator is precious.  She loves speaking to Americans and hopes to save enough money so that maybe some day she can visit America herself.  Perspective.    
* Our translator was wearing TOMS when she picked us up from the airport.  When I told her that I liked them, she referenced a Chinese website where she can get affordable knock off items that are similar to those made in America.  Perspective. 

Those could all be stories that come and go in our day here but when considered in light of eternity and the gifts we have been given, they give us perspective.  

We will visit Tiannamen Square, The Forbidden City, and The Great Wall today.  I have been to them before, but my hope is to use my lens and try to capture them from a different perspective.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Heading To China - Ways You Can Pray

Tomorrow I will be heading to China to serve in an orphanage there.  There are several ways you can pray for me and my team.

1. Pray for safe and efficient travels.  There are some tight connections so please pray everyone gets where they need to be and on time.

2. Pray for health.  There is a stomach-something in my house today so pray I don't get it and it stays away from my team.

3. Pray for our families at home.  Trent will have 4 kids by himself so I know he could use your prayers for all kinds of things.

4. Please pray for my teaching time with the orphanage workers.  I am going to be teaching them physical therapy techniques specific for their population.  Pray that my translator is able to communicate the material as needed and that the nannies absorb the information and apply it to the children.

5. Pray that we are able to take pictures while at the orphanage.  Several children have been placed for adoption from my Bring Me Hope trip 2 years ago and some of my pictures were used to advocate for them.  Those images could help a family in the states identify and connect with their future child.

6. Pray for energy. We are going to have some long days and will need extra energy to give the kids our all.

7. Pray for connections.  One regret that I have from my previous trip is that I did not allow myself to fully connect with the kids.  I don't want to make that mistake again.

Thank you for praying for me and my team.   I am taking 2 bags full of hats, flip flops, and baby carriers that many of you have donated.  I don't know exactly how the trip is going to go but I do know that many people have already played a role in blessing those kiddos.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Gotcha Day #4

I cannot believe that it has been 4 years since this angel joined our family.




For her special day, we had donuts for breakfast and then went out to celebrate with a mid morning cupcake.  Needless to say, we were a bit sugared out.


5 Things about my Ruthie Mei that you might not have known:
1. She would rather play with trains than dolls any day.
2. She is the best swimmer in the family.
3. She loves shoes.
4. We have to call her dresses, "long shirts", or she won't wear them.
5. She won't eat the cupcake but just likes the icing.

Ni Hao Yall

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Big God, Small Tasks

The hubs said something in church last week that got me thinking (and quickly jotting blog notes).  In a passing point he said that those who serve a small God have big problems and those who serve a big God have small problems.  I am not sure what he said after that because honestly my brain went racing off to other days when I have watched friends and relatives navigate the rough waters before them with great strength and faith.

I also got to thinking how it could be said like this too, "Those who serve a big God have small tasks" - not because their tasks are truly small but because their God is so big, they see the tasks as increasingly possible.  Now before you go arguing with me, I am not disrespecting those who make great sacrifices for the Gospel.  Instead I am saying that what we see as impossible (like selling everything and going to the mission field) may seem huge to us but for them it is doable because their God is that big.  Got it?

So let's continue...

I believe having a big God makes your problems and your tasks small for 3 reasons:

1.  You lay down your plans for His plans.  Think about it, when we are sailing away with our own plans, we have to work really hard to keep them afloat, but when we surrender to His will, the pieces just come together.  Likewise, when we encounter problems that are outside of our motion picture of how we thought things should be, we find peace because our God is big and it is not about us.  We aren't big.  Our plans aren't big.  He is big and He will work it out.

2.  You have an eternal perspective.  When I consider a line that runs from the beginning of time to all eternity, my life marked on that line is not even visible!  What God calls me to and what He allows me to walk through in the here and now is like a single grain of sand in the desert.  It is so small!  I am going to spend eternity with Christ.  So what was I worried about again?

3. You serve a Redeemer.  This is my favorite part perhaps because I mess up a lot.  I chase my own dreams, run hard after my motion pictures of how things should be, and sometimes get a little over dramatic when things don't go my way or on my timetable.   But you know what?  My God is so much bigger than all of those things that He can still redeem it for my good and His purposes.  When things don't go as I thought they should, He still has it under control.  When Satan comes in and throws things off, God still redeems it for His glory.  A small God sends us spiraling into worry, but a big God has it all under control and is a Redeemer.

Lord may our tasks and our worries be small in light of the truth of your plans and your power.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Teaching Me. Teaching Us.

DJ (our foster love) has taught me a lot of lessons about life, but one in particular keeps coming back around.  This child is so happy.  He is ecstatic to be in our home and to call us family.  When I look at him, I can't help but see the scars of the wrongs that have been done to him.  I comfort him as he sobs when we care for his wounds, but he is not sobbing because he is angry.  He is sobbing because it hurts at that moment.  As soon as the pain goes away, he is back to laughing, hugging, and running around.  This child has so much he could be angry about and so much he could fixate on in his past that would truly be justified, but he doesn't.  He chooses to set that aside and embrace the blessings of today.

It doesn't stop there.  Not only does he have a past that could consume him but he also has a very uncertain future.  He has no idea where he will be in 6 months or whom he will call mom.  He doesn't know where his meals will come from or if someone will treat him unkindly.  Strangely enough, he doesn't fret on that either.  Again he chooses to embrace the blessings of today.  He lives for the moment.  Loves without holding back.  He finds joy in the here and now.

I could learn a lot from this kid.