Lily’s Birthday

Oh happy day! Lily is our only birthday in February, which has it’s pro’s and cons. A con is that she’s sort of the last of the string of birthdays in the home (We have six out of eight in October through December), but the pro is that as the lone February b-day, we can go all out. Or at least mostly all out.

Lily requested a heart-shaped pinata. Bringing one back from the USA in our suitcases didn’t seem like a good option, so my dad took charge and he and Elisabeth made one. By scratch.

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Lily did lend a hand for some of the steps. Who doesn’t love ripping up newspapers and dipping them into homemade paste?

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After many hours of drying, using buckets and trash cans and coat hangers and fans to protect our dear heart, it was time to pain! Lily delegated the honors, but eventually took a turn herself.

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Someone else can do it now!

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Mommy stocked up on Valentines day goodies at the supermarket before she left. Bright pink cupcakes with even brighter pink frosting with even brighter sprinkles? A little girl’s dream.

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Lily invited a few of her friends over for the party, including little Shasha and her mother. We started with “Pin the Beak on the Bird.” Lily’s new thing these days is birds. She would love a real one one day.

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Lily and Shasha. Oh, yes, it was a costume party, of course! Lots of princesses and Indians came.

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And a little Superman!

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After pinning beaks, we bobbed for apples. This was hilarious and not quite as gross as it could have been. We had one-on-one races and changed the water in between. thank goodness

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_MG_8997Next up! Breaking the pinata. If I can find the pictures. They seem to be missing…

Today

Today is day one of three. I’m hanging out at the orphanage and boy are we busy! I left home at 6:15 and that’s early…

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Playing and posing and introducing new toys and activities… sometimes it feels like an uphill battle, or a power struggle to change things. But do you know what’s encouraging? We have a staff of nannies who absolutely love these kiddos despite their differences and difficulties. This is beautiful.

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I borrowed a little one for a few hours during naptime. He’s due for a haircut and you can blame the foreigners for keeping his hair so long until now. I think that he’ll be getting a trim tomorrow… which I have mixed feelings about.

I’m praying hard that a domestic family adopts him, will you join me?

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After dinner we had a birthday party for little Chen who is going to be adopted very very soon! Le ans Bo went to town  on the cake… the nannies were in  stitches.

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And now it’s time to step out of the ine little bubble of wifi here, check on the little ones again and turn into my smelly little room in the girls dormitory. Tomorrow will be another busy day!

Dinner with George and Friends

Chinese New Years Eve Eve. It was a Wednesday and Mommy and I had been at the orphanage all day. Naomi came too. During naptime the nannies hand-stitched names onto new outfits for each one of the children. I was struck with the beauty of the situation – a silver shimmer through the ashes sort of beauty. The little ones, alone in an orphanage for the most important holiday of the year, were not alone. They had aunties who were working hard to make this holiday special for them.

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Naomi helped take pictures of the little ones. She’s getting good!

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Lily, Daddy and Elisabeth arrived later to hang out with our little ones for a few hours. Lily was SO helpful and sweet with the kids.

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Next? Off to Melody’s home for dinner! Melody lives in the same city as the orphanage we work in, so we took this opportunity while her whole family (minus a brother-in-law) were home for the holiday to get together, and they invited us over for dinner!

Dandan is the sweetest little girl. She makes the most hilarious faces.

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Dandan with her mama, Wenda.

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Tea was served as dinner was prepared…

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Lily kept an eye on the goings on in the kitchen. Jiaozi making!

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It’s a Northern China CNY tradition to eat Jiaozi (dumplings) for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast. Basically families make way too many and eat them for a week. We started early this year.

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We had dinner family style around the table. Lots of yummy vegetables, vinegar and meat-skin-gelatin-noodles!_MG_9943

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After dinner it was time for some group photos, so that we can remember the fun moments that we have. Aiya. I was the only big-nosed in the whole picture. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

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Whoops, let’s not forget Dandan…

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…ad then they decided to sit on me.

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All of us together. With George. Because George (the monkey… no, ape. No… something else.) is a dear friend of Elisabeth’s and Melody. He’s been keeping Melody company at her school up north, thanks to Elisabeth’s generosity.

Stuffed animals are an important part of this family.

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Unfortunately, George got left at home when Melody went back to school last week (he was still drying off from his bath) so I think that some of us will just have to take a trip to deliver him back to her… Adventures await!

Hope, we must Hope… |Ru’s Story Part 1|

I remember the first time I met Alea everything inside of me screamed “No. I cannot love this one. Please Lord don’t ask me to!” She was too sick. It was too hard. Watching the pain in her yellow eyes was almost too much… holding her swollen body and trying to make her comfortable when I was already so uncomfortable seemed impossible.

Two weeks ago four new children arrived at the orphanage within five days. Four little lives, forever changed. Three tiny babies swaddled in their cribs. One uncomfortable toddler. I stood over the baby’s cribs and grieved for the futures they had just lost, and for the hard journey ahead. And then I saw Ru.

She was fussing and so, naturally, I picked her up. Before I had glanced at her for more than a second I saw what her need was. I saw her sickness and I wanted to set her down and run in the opposite direction. I didn’t want to love dangerously just then. It’s too hard, sometimes. Don’t you understand? Her disease is incurable. Her life is in danger. She won’t survive. There is no hope, only a path of pain and suffering and I cannot be a part of this, God. I can’t love her, fight for her and believe for her because it’s going to hurt. It already hurts. Oh dear Lord I’m standing here holding her and I love her already and it does hurt.

Will she survive? Oh, please make a way.

Will she live to know what a mommy and a daddy are again? Oh, please make a way.

Will she be comfortable? Healthy? Healed? Whole? Oh, please make a way.

And will you give me the courage and the strength to hold her and adore her until then? Oh, please make a way.

The doctor and the medical staff and I huddled and they told me what they knew and my heart sank deeper. Yes, it probably was as I had feared. And they shook their heads and said, “What a pity. She is so beautiful.” A pity, true, but then… courage from Him… we must hope. Please, my friends. We must hope. I told them stories of babies who had survived this horrible disease. I didn’t tell them of the ones who had not. I couldn’t.

Hope, we must hope.

The little gem was in a sling on my chest at that point, sleeping fitfully and I ‘pie-pie’d’ and bounced and she dozed off. We all looked down. Yes. We must – we will – hope.

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I Have News

Pardon me as I dash under the table and hide my face in a napkin. Life just got real, folks! Not that it hasn’t been crazy and exciting and marvelous for many years already… but within the last few weeks I have received much more clarity for the future than I like to have in a single dose.

I had sort of gotten used to living like Col Klink in Hogan’s Hero’s, answering to all of the most important questions, “I know nothing!” But now I do know. And I have to do something about it.

Late January I received an acceptance letter into a competitive accelerated nursing program. It’s in America. I was still waiting to hear back from another school – an even more competitive one, but wouldn’t hear back from them until April, so of course I put down my deposit for the school that had already accepted me. I wouldn’t know what my future was until April, folks, and the first school began in May. Yikes, to put it mildly.

And so I spent the following week or so puddling around, doing big things and little, and arranging for all of my immunizations to be up to date (ouch!). I figured that I would need to live as if I was leaving in May (even more ouch!). But then in February – as in just a few days ago! – I found out that this other school wasn’t going to let me in. It wasn’t that I wasn’t accepted into their nursing program, but that I wasn’t accepted as a transfer student! Odd! Strange! Clarity! Then I knew – now I know! – I’m indeed leaving In May.

While it’s a bummer (an odd bummer) that I can’t go to this school in question, I am extremely grateful for the gift of clarity in February.

Clarity in February… not something I ever really thought of as a blessing or a gift before this last month.

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I’m quaking in my boots. I have absolutely zero delight in leaving China right now, and am going to pack as much as I can in the next few (two!) months. My nursing program is 18 months long and will keep me quite busy. But I have many hopes and dreams that I’ll be able to scrape together enough spare change from weekend babysitting to buy myself some round-trip tickets to this country of my heart during breaks.

Starting in May my new home will be Richmond, Virginia. If anyone has a spare room near the MCV campus, I’d love to chat.

Love to all!

A Prayer for the Hoping

It is in these days after the big holiday that I feel like we see new arrivals… abandonments, fresh little orphans.

I don’t know why. And do you know what?  Sometimes there are questions I do not want to know the answers to.

Today is 初五 (Chu Wu), the fifth day after Chinese New Year. There are festivities still going on, but the excitement has died down and things will slowly get back to normal. Today I am earnestly praying for the families – mama’s and baba’s and grannies and grandpa’s, who must love one another well. Will the love be sacrificial? Will it bring honor to the Creator? Oh Lord, open their hearts to see the beauty and preciousness of your little creations!

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For the worn out mama who has been pushing for hours and is now recovering from a c-section: give her the strength of body to fight for her little one, and the peace of spirit to accept that he is a blessing from God.

For the distracted baba who doesn’t feel ready to be a daddy, and is reeling with the pressures of the unending ladder to elusive success: give him inspiration for the kind of father he can be, and the courage to accept a child who doesn’t look as he imagined. Strengthen his daddy’s heart, give him grace to deal with relatives who disagree, and hope to see past earthly qualifications and on to the glory of what our God does with willing trust.

Father, give them hope. Long hope, tenacious hope; hope that defies reason, and stands up to it as well.