I am a planner. I like to take care of tasks early and anticipate things that might get in my way. So when it came time for back to school pictures, I made adjustments for the 60% chance of rain on the first day of school. On Sunday, I ironed my kids clothes, fed them dinner early, and set out to a field to take pictures of them with their new backpacks and school clothes on the day before school started.
I started with Sam and snapped the 5-10 pictures that I had promised him I would keep it to and then it happened.
The sky opened up and a random cloud unloaded buckets of rain right on top of us!
We were drenched!!! Our new back to school clothes were soaked. My camera was soaked. Their new backpacks were soaked and we were laughing so hard that we didn't care.
It was not at all what I planned for back to school pictures when I was trying to get ahead of the game, but it was memorable nonetheless.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
I try to get regular alone time with my each individual kids where we go on a special date and just talk about them. Last night I took Jack back-to-school shopping and to dinner at his favorite restaurant. Conversations with Jack look a lot more like conversations with a college student than conversations with a 10-year old. He wanted to talk about Edward Snowden and if his actions served our country or jeopardized our security. We talked about racial profiling and then finished with the China One-Child policy.
Then it got personal. I felt prompted to ask him how he was going to change the world as a result of his physical challenges. My little computer nerd told me that he wants to be a surgeon and he wants to help other children with physical needs to be more functional. That warmed this mom's heart. I hate that my little guy can't run or keep up with his friends but I can honestly say that I would rather have a compassionate, God-fearing, spiritually called child who is physically challenged than a selfish, world-loving athletic one.
I explained to Jack that when my mom died, there were several women who stepped in to care for me and make sure that I knew I was loved. That struggle of growing up without a mom and their willingness to step up and take care of me formed in me the heart I have for orphans today. I may not have changed the world, but I have changed Ruthie's world, DJ's world, and the world of any other orphans who come into our home.
Life is hard. It's not fair and no one ever said it would be. We can sit around and feel sorry for ourselves or we can take our experiences, seek the Lord in them, and let Him use them to change the world for someone else.
How will you change the world because of your life experiences?
Saturday, August 3, 2013
I am in hotel heaven right now. After spending a week in a less than stellar place, we have moved onto Xian and arrived at my version of the Ritz. The place we stayed in Baoji was very old, reeked of cigarette smoke, only served Chinese food at breakfast, charged 19 cents a minute for Wifi, and only ran the air conditioning between 5:30 pm and 1:00 am. Our guide said that was the nicest place they could find because Baoji was a small city in China of only 3 million. Okay.
So yes, after a day of touring the Terra Cotta warrior factory and museum, we just arrived to heaven. It's the little things like A/C that make all the difference. :) *Pics Below*
The Terra Cotta warriors were pretty cool. I recommend going at a time other than the summer because it was a bit hot, but still amazing. I will let the pictures speak for themselves and you should google the story behind them. We ate lunch there on the museum property and found it odd that the restaurant was full of white people and no Chinese. Don't ask because I have no idea.
Tonight we are going to the Muslim market so I can spend all of my husband's money. Don't worry babe, I will get you something cute. :)
I still have 300 little faces in my head and our team has already been discussing when we might return. Yes it was that powerful. I think I am going to pull for a nicer hotel next time though or maybe a daily 3 hour commute from this one.
Friday, August 2, 2013
Well today was estrogen Friday. I was a blubbery mess before I even left the hotel and so were several other team members. We warned Brandon ahead of time that it was going to be a rough one with so many women having to say goodbye to children they had fallen in love with.
Today’s mission was to finish strong as we wrapped up all of our tasks. I finished my evaluations and training the nannies. We finished shopping for gifts for the staff. We handed out the last of our donations and even ordered more. When it was all said and done, we provided baby blankets, crafts, candy, baby carriers, countless numbers of flip flops, clothes, hats, tennis shoes for teenagers, large developmental toys, cleft bottles, 100 pairs of baby shoes, 60 pairs of toddler shoes, 4 pediatric rolling walkers, and 4 bumbo seats. Your generosity and the generosity of our team brought the staff to tears on more than one occasion.
We had some fun along the way today too. Chinese names are so hard to remember so we gave many of the kids American and Mexican names. We had Emory, Vivy, Sechuan Chicken (that is what her name sounds like), Juan, Rico, Sophia, Lucy, Ricardo (who became Ricarda when we figured out she was actually a girl), Isabella, Elvis, and many more. It may sound strange, but now I can put a face with a name much easier. J I bet you can picture the Chinese version of baby Elvis in your head already and you would be exactly right.
One thing we also did was go shopping for bracelets for the nannies. Each team member gave matching bracelets to the nannies in the room where they spent the most time. I hope my nannies wear theirs and remember me. I know that I will wear mine often and pray for them when I see it.
Finally, we went to dinner with the orphanage directors and head nanny. This dinner turned out to be such a great time. The female director and I played our own version of “20 questions” where we took turns asking each other about our countries. The male director is a little bit harder to get to know, but as soon as I mentioned the name of my favorite child at the orphanage, we became fast friends and he even broke out his cell phone to show me pictures of her. Apparently she is his favorite too. J I am really hopeful that this dinner allowed us to strengthen our relationships with each other in order to help lay the groundwork for future trips.
I am attaching some extra pictures here that were taken by different members of team this week. Enjoy!
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Yep, it was another amazing day. I love this team, I love this orphanage, and I love the staff. Even our driver has warmed up to us and surprised us with Chinese hamburgers today. I was able to spend more time with the head nanny and even was aloud to give her a Chinese name today. I named her Maggie after my next Chinese daughter and she loved it. I really hope that I get to visit her again some day. Speaking of Maggie, she started crying today when she was told that a team member gave their graduation money to purchase shoes, toys, and supplies for the orphanage. It was such a powerful moment.
I was able to take some pictures of the orphanage that did not include children today. I will share those here so if you have a child from this orphanage, you can see where they lived.
I spent my day evaluating kids and training the nannies. I started training one who was especially receptive yesterday and then the others all grabbed a baby and gathered around. I was also able to work with members of the rehab team. They have less training than I originally thought but they are super-eager to learn. Tomorrow they want me to train them on how to use some of their equipment. There is one boy in PT who is 8 or 9 and has CP. His condition is minor and his beautiful smile makes you forget that he has any disabilities. He does not have paperwork yet, but will make a great match for someone when it is completed.
I have spent most of my time in the 6 month - 1 year old room. There is one child there who has attached herself to me and I certainly haven’t done anything to discourage it. :-) Today the nannies showed me her life book and it was so sweet. These kids are loved and there is no doubt about it. She also wears a silver bracelet that a nanny gave her for her birthday. Did you know that on their first birthday, Chinese parents give their children a pen, an abacus, and a book then watch to see which one they choose as a symbol of what they will prefer- writing, math, or reading? They performed this ritual for her on her birthday.
A few of my team members brought cleft bottles along for the babies with cleft palates. The staff was super excited and quick to point out that you cannot get them in China. The cleft babies need those bottles in order to be healthy enough for surgery someday.
We have decided that staying in the same room each day has worked really well for this team and would be a great strategy for future teams. We have been able to form significant relationships specific nannies and kids and that would not have been possible if we had changed rooms every day.
For dinner we went to get Hot Pot. They bring out all kinds of strange, raw foods and you cook them at your place. It was an authentic Chinese experience.
Just an observation in photography for you - there is a nuclear power plant in the middle of the city. Hmm.
To wrap up this blog of random stories and facts, I thought this picture might help explain why we do this. This was made by the child of an adoptive parent. No more words necessary.