As I step back into life in suburban America as a housewife and mother of 5, I am struggling to wrap my brain around all I saw, heard, felt and learned over the past 15 days in China. So below are just random thoughts in no particular order of importance but yet thoughts I want to share or record for my own recollection:
Jet-lag is killer every time..WOW....kicks my rear end each and every time-even my face was tired last nite! Don't ask.....
I look at my Chinese children and thank God they are here
I am not sure I ever want these 3 to know what their lives would have been like...it is so deeply troubling, maybe one day when they are much older and more deeply rooted in their security
It is hard for me to look at them as the orphans they once were...I can't picture them there at all..isn't that how God pictures us.... Rescued and treasured children?
I miss those dirty little faces in Chenzhou so very much and I wonder what they are doing. Are they looking out the window for us or waiting in the hall like they did each morning?
I have never felt Jesus closer than when I was among these little forgotten people. My heart ached a deep and painful ache but my husband reminded me that Jesus walked this earth and saw the forgotten and felt that ache too. He is so very present in those places of destitute.
What do I do now? How do I help...the needs are so big?
How do I tell people? Words don't do it justice.
I check my email every few minutes to see if there is word of Charlotte and Sarah, the heart babies, being transferred to Beijing for surgery. I wish I could go to Beijing and be their Mommy and sit by their beds and hold them when they are afraid or in pain during their hospital stay. Who will do that for them? A stranger I am sure.
Why am I so blessed? Why do I have so much? Others have so little. I don't like that. It doesn't seem right.
One of the biggest struggles for me while there was getting over the odor of the kids. I am a little embarrassed to say that. It seems so trivial and shallow but it was hard for me. By the end of the day we smelled like they did because we held them and hugged them, got drooled on, peed on, and pooped on. My luke-warm shower each night was a welcomed treat.
Their shoes were pitiful. They were "jelly" sandals in rainbow pastel colors for both sexes. They were all broken and hard to walk in. Our family must have 100-150 pair of shoes between us. That sickens me.
The staff at the orphanage truly loves and cares for those kids. They do the best they can with what little they have. They work very hard at a very hard job.
I had to go to the grocery store and Target when I got home. I love Target. But when I stepped in after arriving home, I almost turned and ran out. All the stuff we think we "need" to buy was staring me in the face. We don't "need" any of it. Yet I will fall back into that trap. God please spare me from this trap!
I missed my creature comforts while in China but now that I am home I can't seem to enjoy them.
A good friend of mine said "You need more prayer AFTER a mission trip than before or during." She is so right.
Did how we loved reflect Him? Did we plant seeds of wonder? Will those seeds take root in hearts and grow into a relationship with the Savior?
We sang the song "You are Holy" during the goodbye party on Friday. Our leader printed the words in Mandarin for them. As I sang and fought back the tears, I looked out among the faces and saw them smiling and trying to follow along. I felt Him there.
As a mom to 5 busy kids, I have so many little details to take care of for school, activities, healthcare, etc. the things of our family life that we put such importance on. I find these things so trivial now. I know they are not, because these things are what make up "us" and they are all important but how do I come back to this life and make soccer carpools important when I know little Angelina, my cleft baby, needs to gain weight but struggles because she doesn't have a cleft bottle and someone to burp her while she eats?
I told Will we need to move there. Then I changed that and said we need to move to Hong Kong, a little more westernized :), and travel to Chenzhou by train weekly to care for and serve them.
I do love China......with all its flaws. When we touched down that rainy night in Beijing and I saw the Chinese characters everywhere and the dirt that is China, and the smells, my heart skipped a beat. I grabbed Julia and said, "We are in China again!" A part of my heart will always remain in that vast land, birth home to 3 of my babies.
I wish I could win the lottery or I had that illusive money tree in the backyard my parents always claimed was NOT there. I have a list, miles long, that I would do with the money.
Travel there is just so long! There is no easy or quick way to get there. It is hard. It is tiring. It is EXPENSIVE!!!
As guilty as I feel about this next statement, it is true....I long to fly there and back Business or First Class. As I pull my carry on through those long narrow aisles of the plane and pass by First or Business Class with their wide, comfy, fully reclining seats and puffy blankets and large pillows, drinks awaiting your arrival I want to stop and plop myself down. Instead, I continue my journey to the way back of the plane with its SMALL, hard, cramped seats meant for people under 4 feet tall, thin blanket, tiny pillow, and 4 inch recline. UGH! I am miserable 5 minutes into it.
I am terrible with chopsticks. How do they do it???
Some of the kids are dropped off at the orphanage or abandoned elsewhere nearby not at birth. How? Don't the neighbors and family members notice that a kid is missing and question? I feel certain my friends and neighbors would ask where my children disappeared to? I realize some are abandoned because they are in need of medical care and the family can't afford it. This is their best chance to get their child the care that is needed. This is so sad to me. Little Charlotte's mom breast fed her and cared for her for months. Her heart condition probably didn't come into play until she started turning blue. Then she left her there. My heart breaks to think she had no choice. What about the 8 year old healthy boy who is so "normal"? He is smart and funny and educated. What happened? Why did they abandon him? Did they die? His grandfather came to get him but returned him to the orphanage because he couldn't care for him. ????? So hard to understand. Please know I ask all this without judgement. I ask with lack of knowledge or understanding. And in deep sadness.
I was so impressed with the young girls that went on this trip. What amazing hearts these girls have at such a young age. I wish I had had a heart like that back then.
I am just so darn tired!
We had really, really good food.
I didn't realize how mountainous China is. In flying over and riding through it by train, we got to see a large portion of the country.
I will always be an adoption advocate, but being there I learned that many of the orphans are not eligible for adoption and many are so severely special needs they will not be adopted. So I will now be an advocate for those children too. How can I help to make their lives better and encourage others to do the same?
I loved sharing this experience with my daughter. I loved seeing her heart and passion for the kids. I loved how she realized what is truly important.
I understand my adopted son and his behaviors better. In him, I see the kids at Chenzhou and their behaviors. I have "known" of course that he lived in an orphanage for 4 years and I have used that as an explanation for his behavior and personality but I guess I didn't truly get it. There is almost an uncivilized quality to them and to him. The "rules of life", you know those unspoken ingrained from birth rules, just are not present in an orphanage. He is still in the process of learning to live by these "rules of life" and now I know why because I have seen it first hand. I pray this gives me more patience with him.
There is a survival of the fittest mentality in an orphanage. There are those who are weak and those who are aggressive. It is so hard to watch. It is so hard to see an aggressive kid take a toy or a food item from a weaker child. When we were there we could help those that were weaker...but what now? Who will defend them?
My son would have been one of the weaker ones. That is heartbreaking. What did he endure? Again, I hope and pray this gives me new perspective to parent him.
I am so thankful for a husband that played Mr. Mom for 15 days while I was gone. He was such an encourager of this trip. It made leaving a little easier. Thank you Will....I love you!
I am grateful to grandparents and friends who helped out as well. You are appreciated and loved!
I am thankful for my 11 going on 35 year old son Sam who was the right-hand man during our absence. You did a great job buddy and I love you so much!
I am so glad I have seen this first hand. I wish everyone could see. I know it is not comfortable. I had such angst about this trip as I knew it was not going to be easy. In fact, He whispered to me it was going to be down right hard! Who wants to pay thousands of dollars and spend 2 weeks of vacation time to go someplace where there are uncomfortable conditions, you smell, get hit or bitten, possibly get sick or have stomach issues and most of all have your heart hurt with a deep and troubling pain? I bet that description on a brochure would sell alot of tickets! But what a better world we would all live in if everybody went and everybody saw. It changes you for the better.
How do I hold onto these lessons I have learned? How do I make the changes in my life now that I am back? It would be so easy to just slip back into this world of upper-middle class America...but I don't want to. I can't. I feel as if I would be betraying my friends at Chenzhou. I can't forget them. I can't fulfill my selfish wants and leave them with real needs. So I pray He doesn't let me forget and I pray He gives me the strength to fight for them and all the other 147million like them in the world. I pray I can have the faith to trust in Him to lead and to guide me on this journey.