WEEK ONE: (I wrote this during/ shortly after the first week that I was in China)
Wow. It has been a crazy ride so far. God is working in many ways in my heart as I am serving the kids from the orphanage and as I am fellowshipping with the college age translators here. The two girls placed in my "family group" for week 1 both have pretty severe disabilities. They are sweet and loving and desperate to be loved back.
One girl, whose Chinese name means magnificent, is the happiest, most joyful and content child I have ever met. I didn’t see her frown from the moment she arrived. She simply loves life. Although we cannot speak the same language and cannot communicate very effectively, her eyes light up when I hug her or tell her I love her in Chinese. She has such a big heart and she is teaching me so much about Jesus through her constant joy. She is showing me what it looks like to be fully content in any and every situation. She is 13 years old and has cerebral palsy, and although she has plenty of her own issues to worry about, she was also finding chances to love others and serve them. I was so encouraged by her attitude every day. Praise the Lord because He has already provided a family for her, and she is actulally being adopted in a couple weeks. She had a picture of her parents in her bag and would show it to me at every chance she got and just smile real big. She would point to them and say mom and dad in Chinese. It was precious. I wrote a letter to her adoptive family and put it in her bag, hoping and praying maybe it will make it to them.
I was so blessed by this beautiful girl in so many ways. Thank you, Lord, for the oppurtunity to serve her and love her. Below is a picture of me with her after she got her face painted.
The other girl's name in Chinese means small snow. She is 15 years old, but looks like she is about 8. I don’t know any specifics about her disability, but her growing must have stopped and she has a huge scar on her chest from a surgery. She doesn't talk very much at all and she mainly just likes to sit down and color or wave her little princess wand that she never lets go of.... I mean never lets go of. (It was adorable) On day 1 and 2, she didn’t seem very happy and her resting face looked like a frown, but every now and then she would start laughing and smiling and no one knew why, but it brought joy to everyone around. Her cry was a very sad, silent sob. It was apparent that she was shy and had a lot of hurt in her tiny little heart. Thinking about her being only one year younger than me was a crazy thought.
My translator and I continued to love on her like crazy and try to make her smile whenever possible. By the end of the week, she was much happier and smiled and laughed a lot more. She laughed at the most unpredictable things, such as if someone had rips in their jean shorts, it made her die laughing. She liked to laugh at mistakes. So, if I fell over (that did happen) or dropped something, she lost it. Her laugh was very mischievous looking, but the most contagious laugh of anyone I know.
I kept thinking about how much hurt she must have endured the past 15 years of her life and how much pain she is going to continue to endure in her life. She has aged out of being able to be adopted, but she would not be able to live on her own. So, what happens to her next? These thoughts were flooding through my mind, especially on the last day. I was in tears having to let her go back to her life here, not knowing what was going to happen to her. I had to stop and realize that I have to trust God with His plans for her life and commit to consistently praying her for. That is how I can love her best, by praying for her consistently. I know that God can protect her, even in her orphanage here. She touched my heart and I absolutely fell in love with her sweet (and sometimes very stubborn) personality. We couldn’t talk to each other but when I called her little sister in Chinese, she would call me big sister back. Having the privilege to love on her and be maybe the only family she has ever had for a week was a huge honor and blessed me more than I can describe.
The above picture shows off her beautiful and joyful smile that came out every now and then. The wand she is holding is what she would not let go of for anything. She found it at camp on the first day and really clung to it as a piece of comfort. She would slowly wave it back and forth with a straight face, and it was absolutely adorable.
The above picture shows me carrying her. (remember, this girl is 15 years old...) She loved that I could put her on my back, and it made her laugh a lot because I struggled to pick her up (she was quite heavy).
This picture a little bit more accurately describes what her face looked like most of the time. I had just been crying quite a lot because this was the last day, and we were about to send them back to the orphanage.
I love this picture because it just feels like we are sisters. I take selfies like this with my little sister, Rosie, at home, so it reminded me of that. I will always feel like she is my sister, no matter if I see her again or not. Thanks be to God for letting me love her for at least a week. She has a special place in my heart for sure.
My translator’s name was Vicky. Upon being paired with her, I was a little disappointed because I knew she spoke the least amount of English of all the translators. Nonetheless, God knew better than me and we were paired together. Communicating with her from the start was extremely difficult, and she had to use her translator app to remember a lot of her words. However, she was also very sweet and selfless from the beginning. As the week went on, she started asking me a lot of questions. She asked me questions about everything: from what’s the difference between an apartment and a home to what is Instagram? But these questions got a little bit more significant when I told her about my family adopting from China twice. This sparked a lot of interest in her and she started asking me why we would come all the way over here, instead of adopting someone in the US. She asked me if abandoning your child in China was illegal. She asked me why there were so many orphans here. She thanked me for caring for the disabled kids because Chinese people do not value them, and she kept telling me I touched her heart. She wondered if America had as many orphans as China. She wanted to know if adoption was expensive and why we would pay that much. The questions started in this realm and then shifted when she suddenly asked me if I had any “beliefs”. I had been eagerly anticipating that the topic of faith would come up somehow and had been praying about it for sure, but nothing could prepare me for the feeling I got when she asked this question. I stopped in my tracks and I could feel my body start shaking. I felt like crying, and I also felt like shouting for joy. I felt unequipped, unprepared, and unworthy to tell her about Jesus. But I also knew that I could not pass up this opportunity. So, I answered her the best I knew how and as she continued to ask questions, I continued to tell her the story of Jesus and the Gospel. I was praying the whole time, and I know the Holy Spirit was totally speaking through me because I had no idea how to answer some of her questions. She told me that she had heard about Jesus before and that she had “ignore it many times in her life” but that now she believes it is true. The next couple days I continued to tell her more and tell her about how much Jesus had completely changed my life and she said she is going to start praying and she ordered a Chinese Bible. She thanked me for telling her about my beliefs because it really impacted her. I told her I will be praying for her for sure.
The above pictures are some selfies of my family group. Vicky, my translator, is in the top left of each picture.
It is crazy to me even just typing this to think about how God was able to use me to share about Him to Vicky. It is crazy because when I signed up for this trip, it was kind of a leap of faith thing, but I knew (or thought I knew) that I was signing up to serve God by loving on orphans. End of story. But God had so much more. Had I known that this trip would involve me telling college age Chinese kids about Jesus, I might have reconsidered, saying that someone more equipped and more theologically sound and older and wiser should fill that position. However, God knew that He could use me because He could speak through me. I didn’t have to rely on my own wisdom because God spoke through me and provided me with the words I needed to say.
I am learning that when we say yes to God’s calling for us in the Bible, He does so much more than we could ever think to ask or imagine. All it takes on our part, is a yes. An “I am willing, take me”. And He takes it from there, He really does.
Now, I don’t want to belittle the fact that these days here are long and hard and tiring. They are not easy by any stretch of the imagination. Days here are very demanding and at times can be frustrating, but I don’t think God called us to easy and comfortable lives. I think He called us to live lives that are full of days like these. Days that are uncomfortable, vulnerable, and scary, but also fulfilling, joyful, and loving. I think those traits go together when we decide to live a life of service to God. I want my everyday life to look more like that, not just the days when I am in China with orphans.
Lord, help me to live a life that reflects my desire to serve you and that would only make sense to someone else who is in love with Jesus. Lord, help me live a life that joyfully says yes to your demands in the Bible and please continue to teach me more about you through this experience.
I pray for Vicky, Lord. I pray that you would reveal yourself to her as she starts reading your word and give her the strength she needs to have faith in you.
I pray for both of my girls that I had the chance to love on this week, Lord. I pray for protection over them and I pray that they would come to know you someday and that you would give them the strength they need to carry on each day. Thank you for the opportunity I have to serve them here this summer. Thank you for calling us to lives of more and not letting us settle for worldly, self-seeking lives. I love you, Lord.