Monthly Archives: 七月 2007

Great Wall Trip

Picture dozens of Chinese children hiking across the Great Wall for the first time in their lives, along with dozens more wide-eyed volunteers. That was us today.

We have been paired up with the “buddies” we will host for the week, and have shown them all over the private school campus where camp is being held, in addition to this morning’s field trip.

Most of the children are outgoing and talkative; a few are more introverted. But they all get excited when we sing and play games. They all have chosen American names, to make it easy for us. My two are named Bill and, ironically, Tom. Bill plays the trumpet and a stringed Chinese instrument he brought with him to camp, and Tom loves to draw.

They are both quiet, but to see them smile means the world to me.

The same goes for all the volunteers here, who are hot and sweaty most of the time, but happy to have finally met the children they’ve been anticipating for months.

Below are a few pictures I took today at the Great Wall and here at camp. The photo at the top was taken inside one of the cable cars that carry tourists to the wall on a ridge about an hour away from Beijing.

New Update

Dozens of volunteers from Southern California arrived over the course of the day at the school in Beijing where Bring Me Hope is holding its summer camps this year. The teams settled into a dormitory on a far corner of the campus after touring a medical clinic for foster children and orphans operated by the Philip Hayden Foundation. That clinic is where former Fallbrook residents and doctors Bill and Anna Moody are working.

Tomorrow we will be oriented for the work we have to do this week, and there will be more updates and photos once the children begin arriving on Monday.

Week 1 Wraps Up

We have received several more updates from Beijing, where Bring Me Hope wrapped up the first of four camps on Friday. It sounds like week 1 went well, based on an e-mail from David, and one from Michelle Rusch. Here is what Michelle wrote:

“Today (Friday) is the last day of camp one. The time has gone by so quickly! The kids are packing and awaiting their last assembly where they will get to see the beach balls drop again and say their last goodbyes.

Last night the volunteers and staff stayed up very late to write goodbye letters and organize photos that will be shown in a video to the kids this morning. They love to see themselves in the videos so we were trying to get at least one shot of all of them in this last video. There was a video that was made for each day of the camp and all them will be burned to a DVD that will go out to everyone at camp. Editor’s note: see subsequent post for instructions on accessing these videos on YouTube.


Yesterday the kids enjoyed more time in the pool, at the water park, and doing crafts. The pool is a big hit because most of the kids have never been inside of one. In addition to these activities we discovered two others: balloon animals and face painting. These were things that were originally not planned, but turned out to be a major hit so they will be added to the schedule in future weeks.
-Michelle”

The two photos in this post were taken by Michelle. In the photo below, the kids are arriving at camp for week one. The photo at the top is of a field trip the team and kids took to the Great Wall.

Lastly, we have a brief update from David, who writes about several “touching moments” that struck him during week 1:

“1. One of the kids kind of adopted me as his big brother. On the last day I wrote him a note that simply said, ‘I love you!’ I didn’t know if he could understand what I wrote, but he quickly grabbed my hand and wrote, ‘I love you too!’ Later that day, when my little buddy left to go home, he held the tears back until the last moment. I can’t describe what it does to your heart to see a friend go back to orphanage care.

2. We had three little kids come from a really poor foster home. Everything was new for them—brushing their teeth, seeing water come out of a faucet. But before they came to camp their foster dad bought them a bottle of juice. One of the translators said that one of the little boys was almost out of juice and went outside to the tap water to fill his juice again so he could enjoy it longer. When he got to camp he kept asking our translator, ‘Are we in America? We are in America right?’

3. One of the things we do at camp is have the kids dress up for a camp glamour picture. We have a large image of Snow White that some of the kids stand in front of when they take their picture. One of the translators asked an orphan if they knew who Snow White was. The orphan replied, ‘Yes, she’s my mom. And she is coming back for me.’
How many children are there in the world that are waiting for Snow White? And for so many it is just a fantasy.

We have just experienced one week of titanic emotional ups and downs but at the same time we love what we do with everything we have. Thank you all for your heart to help children.
-David”

— Tom Pfingsten

Extra! Extra! First Update from China!

We who are still awaiting our turn in Beijing have received our first updates from staff and volunteers in China. The first week of camp began on Monday, and we are fortunate to hear from staff member Kristen Chase with some photos and a few words about what the staff has been doing to prepare for camp, and about what we volunteers can expect once we get there.

“Our staff apartments have been filled with anticipation and excitement for camp. From an aerial view I’m sure we would resemble a busy anthill; everyone is at work making sure their responsibilities are being taken care of.

Bethany, Mary and Jeff have diligently been searching for the perfect food for camp. And today they hit the jackpot when a great catering company impressed us beyond belief. Hours of research and planning has finally paid off, and your stomachs should be rumbling in expectation of some seriously yummy Chinese food!

A handful of the other staff members spent the afternoon preparing the camp’s water park. In just a few hours, over 100 beach balls and a number of pools were blown up, leaving their apartment cramped and their lungs very tired.

Becca has been coordinating and welcoming over 100 Chinese translators, Peter has been making trial runs for potential excursions, and Nate has been capturing hilarious moments and experiences with a video camera. We’ve all been very busy. But we’re all so excited and feel privileged to be serving in these ways. Even now as I look around the room, I’m aware of how the Father is using our individual gifts to serve the greater body.

And we’re so excited for all of you to come and add your own gifts to our team. I’ll attach some photos of the school location so you can get a feel of what awaits you!
We’ll see you soon!
-Kristen Chase (on behalf of all the staff)”

Below are a few of the pictures Kristen sent. To see more, visit her personal blog.

She said this first one was captured during a team-building exercise in progress. I feel sorry for whomever is on the bottom.

Here are two shots that should provide you with a feel for where we will be staying.

Since Kristen wrote her update, we also received word from Michelle Rusch, a volunteer who will be reporting from China this week and next. Here is what she had to say:

“Camp is well under way, and we have 68 orphans this week. Yesterday afternoon we decorated T-shirts for our trip to the Great Wall. In addition, everyone enjoyed the water park and swimming pool. Aquatic activities are a big hit! At the end of the day (last night) we had an opening ceremony where we had a canopy of beach balls fall down on the kids which turned into a big game of throw-the-balls-around. The night was also packed with interactive songs and a movie. It was a blast and the kids really seemed to like it.

Today we went to the Great Wall, and the kids really enjoyed that, too. After we got back, we went straight into crafts and glamour shots. The kids were pretty exhausted from the field trip to the Great Wall, but managed to find a little more energy to play dress up and start memory books. They will work on their memory books throughout the week—including personal drawings and actual photos from the camp—and take them home at the end.

One praise to report is that we originally expected only 51 orphans, but we had 17 unexpected children show up this morning. That means that each American and translator is paired up with 3-4 children. We are calling the smaller groups our ‘little families.’ It is nice and the children are really starting to warm up in their smaller groups. That is, we are seeing more smiles and hugs. Another praise to report is that everyone made it here safely and we have had good health with no major injuries to report so far.
-Michelle”

Check back for more updates from Kristen and Michelle during weeks 1 (this week) and 2.

— Tom Pfingsten

BMH Staff Leaves for China

By the end of this week, almost all of the Bring Me Hope staff will be in Beijing, preparing for the arrival of orphans and volunteers. David informs me that, during the busiest camp week, there will be around 250 people in the complex, including 120 kids, 45 volunteers, 45 translators and 40 staff members. Between now and week 1, which begins July 16, the staff will be preparing the grounds to accommodate that many people.

“We are going to be building a water park, arranging the final details with transportation, testing out the bungee jump and the Great Wall, and getting the pillows fluffed for everyone’s rooms,” David said on Friday, the day before he left for China. “We’ll have a mint under your pillow for you—a Chinese mint that tastes like beans.”

Now that’s something to look forward to.

He said the staff will also be building a stage where our skits will be performed. There are quite a few more people working with Bring Me Hope this year than last, and David said he hopes to maintain the small-group camaraderie that began last year.

“That’s one of my favorite things,” he said. “Last year was amazing because it was a small-group environment and everyone got to know each other really well. The goal is to keep that going this year.”

He said this year’s trip will also be shorter, and he and the rest of the staff will be back in their respective homes on August 14: “It feels like a lot more packed into a smaller amount of time, so … there will be a lot more excitement.”

As the staff (or advance tactical strike team, as I like to call them) prepares for four weeks of summer camps, they will hopefully be able to provide the Bring Me Hope blog with some photos and first-hand accounts of where we will be living, playing and exhausting ourselves later this summer.

— Tom Pfingsten

Bring Me Hope Staff Leave for China

By the end of this week, almost all of the Bring Me Hope staff will be in Beijing, preparing for the arrival of orphans and volunteers. David informs me that, during the busiest camp week, there will be around 250 people in the complex, including 120 kids, 45 volunteers, 45 translators and 40 staff members. Between now and week 1, which begins July 16, the staff will be preparing the grounds to accommodate that many people.

“We are going to be building a water park, arranging the final details with transportation, testing out the bungee jump and the Great Wall, and getting the pillows fluffed for everyone’s rooms,” David said on Friday, the day before he left for China. “We’ll have a mint under your pillow for you—a Chinese mint that tastes like beans.”
Now that’s something to look forward to.

He said the staff will also be building a stage where our skits will be performed. There are quite a few more people working with Bring Me Hope this year than last, and David said he hopes to maintain the small-group camaraderie that began last year.

“That’s one of my favorite things,” he said. “Last year was amazing because it was a small-group environment and everyone got to know each other really well. The goal is to keep that going this year.”

He said this year’s trip will also be shorter, and he and the rest of the staff will be back in their respective homes on August 14: “It feels like a lot more packed into a smaller amount of time, so … there will be a lot more excitement.”

As the staff (or advance tactical strike team, as I like to call them) prepares for four weeks of summer camps, they will hopefully be able to provide the Bring Me Hope blog with some photos and first-hand accounts of where we will be living, playing and exhausting ourselves later this summer.

— Tom Pfingsten