In the Year of the Horse - Jan/Feb 2014

Well, I am back from China.
There is so much to tell!

Wait, why were you in China?
I went to help take care of children at an orphanage during Lunar New Years.  This allowed the full time nannies to be able to go home and see their children.  China has the largest human migration on the planet during this time period.  If you haven't seen the documentary "Last Train Home", you should.  It is available on Netflix and it is a very down-to-earth, informative watch.

Why did you want to go?
When I first heard about this opportunity, I was super excited!  I mean, I love to travel in general - and to be able to finally go to Asia AND be able to help out with kids sounded positively fantastic!  Didn't take much to sell me on this.

How did you find out about this?
My mom's friend from Texas adopted a little girl from this orphanage run by the Morning Star project - which provides a home and medical attention to children that need them in Africa and China.  

So my mom heard that they needed volunteers to help out with the orphanage.  So we booked tickets and were set to go around September 2013.  We got our visas late January (thank goodness we got 'em!), and we flew out February 1st.  I was so stoked!

Ok ok.  Got it.  Now tell me us how it went.

I mean, I am no stranger to working with kids, and although I knew it would be hard work, I had NO IDEA how hard it would be.  There were so many ways in which our team was blessed and protected, and God knew what He was doing the whole time.  Go figure. :)  
He gave us so many people that supported us - I have no idea how we could have done it without them.  I am going to call out a thanks to Jody, Lynsay, and Lisa, who became lifelines for us.

Jody - thank you for sacrificing all the time you did.  For helping us take care of the kids, and for organizing all the food so that we would not have to worry about preparing meals.  We had plenty!   

Lynsay - I admire what you do so much.  To offer up your life and family to helping these kids survive and find homes is nothing short of noble.  Thank you helping take care of the kids for hours on end - we will not forget all you have done!

Lisa - I do not want to imagine what it would have been like if you had not been there.  You knew the schedule, the medicines, the food, the house.  Everything.  Thank you. 

Anyways, so I flew out Feb. 1st from Orange County to San Fran Airport, where I would meet up with my sister, Elsa, and the rest of the team from Texas.  Then we boarded our flight to Beijing.  
We arrived in China pretty exhausted, but still so hyped up to get started!  We arrived and got to Linsay's house by late afternoon.  We were able to go see the children's home and the first shift team that night, and when we noticed this was going to be REALLY hard.

The first shift team did an excellent job of letting us know what we needed to know - Basically, just SURVIVE.
After hearing all their stories, we all went back to Linsay's to catch some shut-eye.  I instantly fell asleep until 3 am, when I could not go back to sleep.  I was thinking about what was coming up.  I knew that we had no idea what was going to happen that day, but we knew it would be hard.  I had a talk with God until everybody else started waking up at around 6 am.  I asked for wisdom, even in our lack of preparation.  I asked for safety and health, and for peace for the children.  Cause, I mean, this must be really hard for the children to deal with all this swapping of caretakers.  The instability would be jarring and scary for them.  I asked that they have fun.
But I was not worried - cause one thought was in the back of my mind the whole time.  "God loves these kids so much more than I ever could.  He's got this."  And He did.  

When everybody woke up, we circled around and prayed, and then talked about how we should split up the kids, and decided on a rough plan of action. I felt like we were planning an infiltration of some kind.  :)

After we had eaten, we marched out to our doom.  :)

The rest honestly passed in a blur.  There were a lot of stinky diapers, sleepless nights, food, spills, messes, cleaning, laundry, bottles, blankets, clothes, crying, baths, medications, and problems.  So, we were always bone-tired.  What was the most stressful part for alot of us was the knowledge that these kids had heart issues.  Some more than others.  Because of that, it was not ideal for them to be stressed out and anxious and crying all the time.  
Even though I remember being exhausted all the time - what I remember the most are the faces of my 2 charges - Jeremiah and Selah.  I love all those kids, and I hope they find loving families that can give them the care and stability they need.  But I have a special place in my heart for Selah and Jeremiah.  They were the cutest, sweetest, smartest, silliest, most precious little things I have ever come in contact with.  I think I left a part of me I didn't even know existed back there with them.  They taught me a lot, and I truly love them.

Although they won't remember me, I will remember them. 

I will remember Selah's giggles and kisses - She was always happy and wanting to help out.  I will remember how she fell and bumped into almost anything.  I will remember how when she and Jeremiah would wake up at all hours of the night, how she would want to comfort Jeremiah by bringing him toys or his blanket.  She would wait contentedly and quietly while I spent most of the night lulling Jeremiah back to sleep.  Then she would grin and waddle behind me when her turn came to be put to bed.  
She hardly ever cried - when she was in pain or unhappy, she would usually just whimper and want you to hold her for a bit.  She truly has one of the sweetest spirits I have ever seen.  I love you Selah - may you quickly find a loving home that you can thrive in.  May you always be gentle at heart.

I will remember Jeremiah's dimpled grin that could melt anybody's heart.  I will remember the way he liked to try to feed himself, and the way his eyes would follow me to make sure I wasn't going anywhere.  I will remember how he'd hold up both hands and scrunch up his face to be held.  I will remember how hard he would laugh when thrown up in the air, or when you'd help him run across the floor with his own two feet.  I will remember the long hours of the night, when it was just me and him, when he would grin more than any other time.  I will remember how he would giggle if I let him on my bed and look out the window when it was dark.  I will remember the long hours when he'd cry and be unhappy.  
I wanted to take you home with me Jeremiah.  I love you.  May you find a family that realizes how precious you are very soon.  May you smile much.

To all the kids, this is my wish for them:

NUMBERS 6:24-26
"The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine up on you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace."

Ok, all the mushy stuff is over now.  :)  I wonder if this is how a mother feels all the time?  ha ha!  

Thanks to all the wonderful ladies that managed to take pictures while overwhelmed with all the other responsibilities,  I have been able to put together this slideshow of our trip.  I am so thankful to have had this experience.
I also got to go to the Great Wall of China. We thought we weren't going to make it, but we ended up being able to get there. I am so thrilled we got to go! I can cross that off my list now. :)