Monthly Archives: August 2010

Hannah’s Story Continues…

“Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His dominion. Bless the Lord o my soul.” Psalm 103:22

“ Then I think, ‘oh how complicated to love a person.’ I did not know this until now.” –Angela

So I have to say that as Angela and I made the four hour bus ride to Hannah’s village I was filled with many emotions. Would she still remember the anger she had towards us at times last summer? Would her joy in seeing us be crushed, as we had to leave two days later? Is she scared for her father? Is she wondering why he is still sick? So many thoughts and emotions rolled around in my mind. But I was so thankful to be going to see her and I was so thankful to have Angela by my side!

The orphanage where Hannah and her family had previously been living shut its doors about a month ago. Hannah’s family was now living at an old folks home a few miles away from where the orphanage was. As we pulled up in the taxi; there were many old folks laying in the shade at the entrance gate, as well as a few children playing amidst them. I saw Hannah right away and joy filled my heart. I rushed up and gave her a big hug. She hugged me back so I was happy. She looked so much older. She grew taller, her hair was long, her face had matured- she was more of a little woman now. Her brother was standing beside her and he too gave me a warm embrace! They (along with half the people in the old folks home) walked us through the gates and to Hannah’s family’s room. It is very primitive there; no running water, select times for electricity use, a well, and a garden that grew many vegetables. They have two adjoining rooms where there are three beds, a table, a rotating fan (which works where there is electricity), a television, and that about sums it up.

We greeted Hannah’s father and talked with him about his health. We were able to explain to him he process of sending his test results and such to different specialist. We also talked with him about their current living situation and finding him someone to care for him while the children are at school (since they go back in September). He allowed me to get the history of his illness and his family history, as well as do a little physical assessment. We were also able to take him back to the hospital and get a physical assessment done in Chinese (this was done because the specialist that is looking at his test results now really needs a clearer picture of the man he is trying to treat from afar). I am in the midst of getting all of this information off to the doctor, as we understand that it has been a year since we started this journey with him and would really love to give him some answers.
I asked Angela if we could take the children back to our hotel for a sleep over, shower, and some shopping. She thought it was a great idea and the father agreed to let them come with us. It was so fun to be with them, to have Hannah grab my hand, want to sit with me, and just to see her smile. While we were shopping for clothes she asked for my help to try on different things and she even wanted me to do her hair- it was like she had a mother for a couple days. It blessed my heart so much. She has really matured a lot. She is still a young girl in many ways, but she did not have any temper tantrums or arguments with us. She willingly allowed us to love her and loved us back. This was probably the greatest blessing.

We were able to get these kids showered (which they had not done in a few weeks. They were sooo dirty!), get some new clothes (the only pair of pants Hannah had were the little pink ones that we had bought for her last summer), stock up on soap and bathroom supplies, get some good food into their tummies, and love on them so much. Angela and I even went to the new school that Hannah and her brother will be attending the fall and talked with the head master. We wanted to tell him that if the kids need anything for school to let us know. Angela left her phone number with them and got theirs in return. I cannot tell you what a blessing it was to have Angela with me. I was just going to try and find a random translator to come, but the Father provided so much more than a translator in Angela. She cares so much for the kids too and is right there with us thinking up ideas and wanting the best for the children. She was sent straight from Above.

I know that some of Angela and my favorite times were the moments where we would just take some time and pray with the family. It was truly a blessing to get to encourage them in their faith. It is so exciting to see how the Father has placed different believers in their lives. I know this will help them as they journey on.

So Hannah’s story is still in progress. We are talking with doctors and trying to find someone to help out Hannah’s dad while the kids are at school. Though the old folks home is primitive, it is such a blessing to have them in a place where people surround them and they are getting as much help as the staff there can provide. We will be keeping up with Hannah’s schooling and any needs that her and her brother might have there.

Saying goodbye to them broke my heart. You never want to leave them when life seemed so much better when you were there with them. But this is where I get to grow more and more, knowing that He cares for them more than I ever could. And though we had to leave, He did not. He is there with them now. I am glad she knows that we love her and I am confident we will see her again soon.


Yantai Camp Update (4) – Dead fish for lunch?

Our final week in Yantai we were blessed to have 38 kids! We had toddlers, teenagers, and for the first time at Yantai we had a nearly even spread of boys and girls, which made many of the ladies happy to finally be paired with girls! We also threw in a few surprises for the finale of camp, including our very own version of a rock show!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. On Monday we had kids from three orphanages arrive and we knew right away this was a rowdy group. We had kids of all shapes and sizes running around and none of them were worried about being shy. Right off the bat we had craft time and then due to a continuing difficulty with the pool we went straight to the waterpark. Unlike weeks past, these kids took to the water like…well, like fish to water, and without any hesitation they took control of the waterslide.

Tuesday was a day of crafts, games and the lasts scavenger hunt, which was finished in record time by Shiloh, Finwake and their volunteer, Willie, not to mention their two boys. After an afternoon of ice cream at KFC we were back to camp for an assembly and discovered that Mary, a girl from the Yantai orphanage, was a very accomplished singer who treated us to a Chinese pop song that finished to a standing ovation!

But that was not the end of the musical talent from this group. On Wednesday we had an impromptu music recital as one little girl brought out a violin and played through Aul Lang Syne, and then was joined by Mary on Piano, and after they were finished one of our rowdier boys, Daniel, took a turn at the mic to sing his little heart out.

We were also finally able to return to the pool and the kids loved it! Most every kid mentioned swimming in their letters to their volunteers and despite the water still having a somewhat green tinge to it, we were all thrilled to be back underwater and out of the hot hot heat! It was also a chance to continue teaching some of the translators to swim, and while none of them are interested in trying out for the Olympics yet, they will be able to get themselves across to the deep end and back again.

Thanks to the return of the sun and all the heat that came with it we were also able to get back to the beach. It was a great day of sun, small surf and rides on the jet skis. It was also great for the kids to catch some of the wildlife swimming through the Chinese beach. It was a highlight moment when one of the kids brought a flat fish up to the sitting area and tried to feed some algae to the little guy, all the while saying “Hungry fish eat” in Chinese. It was even better when the boy searched around for a plastic bag and dumped the fish and some salt water into the bag to bring him home. Luckily we were able to convince him that fish are better off in the ocean.

Thursday night assembly came up and the rock show was on. The Mahoney family returned to camp for the final week and while they once again forgot their instruments, they remembered to rock! They put on a show for the kids, singing and dancing to one of the songs from their album “Do Make Room” and then went on to sing some of the camps songs the kids had learned during the week. The finale of their show was a new song they wrote specifically for camp, “Shout for Joy”, which everyone has been singing since. Then as a prelude to the slumber party we took the kids out and put on our very own fireworks show complete with rockets, spark showers and even a few mortar shells blasting high into the sky!

Friday was goodbye day and we were given a short reprieve with the kids to just hang out, take pictures and talk when a misunderstanding brought one small van to carry eighteen kids and two volunteers. There were long hugs and tearful goodbyes that would continue even after the kids were gone. After the kids were gone, it was time for the translators, volunteers and staff members to go their separate ways. Some are returning home, others are heading to further travels and a few are remaining for the first ever Chinese run camps. It was four weeks of love, friendship, laughter, big smiles and a few sad moments sprinkled in, but from all of us at Yantai we want to thank everyone for their prayers and support, and especially our volunteers and translators for all their hard work!
Other stories from week 4:

Dennis is a former staff member who returned for the last week of camp to translate and he was paired with two boys. During the week his boys looked after two boys from another orphanage, both of whom were developmentally disabled. Despite these boys never meeting before camp and being from completely different orphanages, they formed their own brotherhood and looked out for each other the entire week. One day Dennis’s boys even made sure to keep some food on the table when Bekah and her boys were late to dinner.

During family time on afternoon Lindsay took her boys to the local market to buy some snacks. The boys had never seen an escalator before and took turns riding it up and down, thinking it was a ride instead of a convenient way to travel between floors! The boys, who began the week sitting quietly during assembly, ended the week by jumping up during the assemblies and dancing and singing loudly.

Matthew, a volunteer, speaks no Chinese and his boy spoke no English. Despite the differences in their language Matt’s boy was determined to communicate without a translator, and by the end of the week he had developed a complicated series of gestures and hand signals, his own version of charades, that allowed him and Matt to communicate!

Kaisha was paired with two very difficult girls this week, both whom suffered from severe attachment disorder. After a frustrating week where the girls avoided her, Kaisha did her best to remain close to them without trying to smother them. During an elevator ride Wednesday night one of the girls was having a snack and shared it with the other girl. The girl took the shared snack, looked up at Kaisha and offered to share the snack, and the three of them ate together.

During the week Amy and her little girl Molly were in their room having family time. Molly looked up at Amy and said in practiced English “You are my friend and I love you very much.”

Xian Camp Update (4) – Newly Abandoned Child comes to Camp!

Just a few days after being abandoned, “Sean” found himself at Bring Me Hope’s camp in Xi’an. For an eight year old, Sean was extremely withdrawn and quiet. He didn’t smile, respond to our questions or keep eye-contact with anyone for long.

Though half-way through the week of camp Sean really started to come out of his shell. He began smiling at us, playing along with games, and went down the huge water slide at the pool. We even began having to chase after him because he was so excited to explore and experience things at camp!

At the end of the week we were amazed at the change in Sean’s heart, seeing that he began to trust us and enjoy his week at camp. We see God’s provision for His life that at just the time he was abandoned, he was ushered into his new orphanage family with other children during a fun camp where he was told how loved and special he is.

Our translators all deserve gold stars as well. In tears, one translator read the following letter to his orphan buddy:

“I’m glad I know you in the camp. Although you couldn’t tell me “I love you” like other kids, I know you love me deeply. Because while we’re walking together, you hold my hand tightly. That’s enough!

I hope you can have a heart of love forever. Firstly, you have to learn to love yourself. Next, you must know how to love others. The power of love is limitless.

Maybe it’s above your ability to understand what I’m saying, although I’m sure you will know all one day.”

THANK YOU for praying for us! We know we have a big support system of friends and loved ones back home. Your heart has been with us the whole time.

The Xian Team

Charlie: The Story So Far…

Four years ago Charlie came to a Bring Me Hope camp for the first time and spent a week with a family group. During that week Charlie told his life story and it was one that shocked all who heard it.

When Charlie was around 3 years old, his mother had a love affair and left her family for another man and Charlie was left in the care of his father, who was very poor. Charlie’s father managed to remarry with a woman who treated Charlie alright and she also bore a new baby sister for Charlie. But there was no love in his life. When the stepmother also left, Charlie’s family was destitute.

One night after eating in a restaurant Charlie’s father was unable to afford the bill, so he left Charlie’s infant sister as payment. Charlie didn’t understand until later that night that his father was not playing a joke but had really left behind his sister behind.

Soon after his father was at another hotel with Charlie and once again could not afford to pay his debt and planned to use Charlie as payment. This time the manager of the hotel called the police and Charlie’s father was taken into police custody while Charlie was sent to his orphanage. He was eight years old.

In the years after his abandonment Charlie suffered many disheartening events in his life including being teased because he was put in Kindergarten despite being such an advanced age. He was also mistakenly identified as mentally handicapped due to his mistaken placement in such younger classes.

In 2006 Charlie came to Bring Me Hope after being spotted by one of our workers who was visiting his orphanage. Since then he has become a repeat visitor and this year we were lucky enough to have Charlie visit us here in Yantai for a week. He was placed in a family group with Logan, another boy from his school, Crystal his translator and Marina, a volunteer from Canada.

While Charlie is shy to start, he is also very obviously curious about what is going on around him and there is no concealing the brightness in his eyes. The very first day he was one of the last of the kids to join in on the water-park, but once he got on and began to enjoy himself he was also the last to leave. During our trip to the indoor water-park Charlie was swimming and playing with all the kids and even picked a few different volunteers and translators to take turns riding down the inner tube slide with him.

Tuesday night the family groups were asked to answer a few simple questions: What do you hope for, what do you want to be when you grow up, and what do you worry about. Charlie’s biggest worry is much the same as any child his age: his future and his education. While most kids wonder about how they will succeed once they reach adulthood, Charlie’s worries are more close to his heart due to the fact that he was placed so far back in school and as a result he has fallen so far behind in his studies.

His idea of what he wants to be in the future reinforce the fear of his eventual ascension to manhood: he has no clear idea of what he wants to be, only that he wants to be rich and successfully. He does know that he does NOT want to be a beggar or a cleaner.

Despite these harsh realities that face him, Charlie’s heart is never far from others and that is part of what makes him so astounding. Despite the life he has led and the evil he has witnessed and suffered, he is a boy full of love. When asked about what he hoped for, his answer was simple: For the Bring Me Hope camps to get better and better.” When Marina asked him why, he said “So more kids can come and enjoy the camps and experience love!”

One of Marina’s highlights for the week was the trip to KFC on Thursday. The boys had ice cream and then got to have some chicken sandwiches and while they were eating Marina went shopping for some snacks and goodies for the boys to share. As everyone was leaving the KFC Charlie took Marina’s hand, looked up at her and said “I am very happy.” On the bus ride back to camp the other orphan in his family group, Logan, lost one of his treats and without hesitation Charlie shared his treats with Logan.

Charlie’s story is ongoing, as are the stories of the other hundreds of kids that have come through our camps. Their lives are hard and their needs are great, but hope is out there for them, as it is for everyone. Here is just a sampling of Charlie’s goodbye letter to Marina, a glimpse into the heart of a very strong and joyful young man.

“I know there is a long distance between Canada and China. I am very happy we are in a family.”

“It’s hard for me to say goodbye, I hope time can be frozen.”

“You are like my mother that love and care me. This is the most beautiful memory that I have ever had. What’s more, thank you sharing your story. I was inspired a lot. I believe on day I will be a Christian.”