In 2011 Misha traveled all the way to China to volunteer at a Bring Me Hope camp and spent her time there serving and loving orphans.
Misha brought her love for Chinese orphans all the way home to Texas. In fact, all the way to the Alamo.
Misha didn’t leave her experience behind her in China. In 2012 she participated in Bring Me Hope’s annual Night Walk.
“When I went to China with BMH a few years ago, I fell in love with the people there and the kiddos that came to camp. I want to help, and I’ve found that doing the Night Walk is a way that I can help, right here from home!”
Misha and her friends will be walking for the kids at camp again in just a few weeks. Where will they be this year? The Alamo, of course!
“The Alamo is a very famous place, most people know what happened there and lots of people come see it. Last year people would come up to us wanting to know about what we were doing. We also made some fliers and handed them out as we went.”
You can also walk to support the orphans in China.
Here’s how you can sign up to walk or sponsor a walker: http://bringmehope.cn/night-walk/
“The best part of the Night Walk last year was the time I got to spend with my friends, family, and a few others that I had never even met. It was so encouraging to see their support and want to help these kids.”
Rob Molloy has spent the past two summers volunteering with Bring Me Hope in China. This is the story of the boys he met this past summer in central China.
Xin Zheng, China – My name is Rob and I’m a twenty-year-old student from Dublin, Ireland. I was invited on my first Chinese adventure in summer 2011. I fell completely in love with China and the orphans I worked with, so was excited to come back for a second year, bringing an Irish team to the Xin Zheng camp!
This year at camp I was blessed with an amazing translator and now good friend Kevin, and two incredible orphan buddies. We had fourteen-year-old Qiu and seven-year-old Bei. Qiu was one of the most helpful young men I’ve met. He was a great big brother to all the kids! He would go around helping to push all the buggies and would make sure all the boys were behaving!
Bei on the other hand was a real spark! He had so much personality that just oozed out through his cute smile and contagious laugh! Bei was paralysed from the waist down and due to a shortage of pushchairs we ended up carrying him around the whole time! He was so worth it though!
Everyone fell in love with Bei and thought he was the cutest kid ever (which is true!). Everyone wanted a turn to carry him around and to get hugs. He LOVED all the attention! But after a while he would want to come back to Kevin or me! He was also one of the most crazy, silly and smart boys I’ve known!
Sometimes it’s the smallest things that mean the most to the kids. Not big presents you can bring, or buying them lots of ice cream, but just spending TIME with them! At the end of the week we asked Qiu what his favourite part of the week was, to which he said playing table tennis with me. That was just something we did for a few minutes one of the days, but it was that moment that he remembered most.
Both boys live at an amazing foster home called Eagles Wings (www.eagleswingschina.org). So, as hard as it was to say goodbye after our week together, I knew that they would be taken care of. At Eagles Wings they live in small homes with other kids of similar needs and abilities. They go to a special school, go on day trips, have enough clothes and food, are treated with the dignity and respect that they so deserve and above all else they are LOVED! It was obvious that these kids were a little different; these kids were capable of giving and receiving love in a way that changed ME forever.
Amy Duffy volunteered for one week at a Bring Me Hope camp in Southern China. This is the story of her experience at camp and the special little girl she met there.
Kunming, China – Xia, a small girl from a neighboring village, arrived at camp shy and reserved. At first her smile only flickered across her face occasionally, as if she were afraid of letting herself have too much fun. As I heard pieces of her story, I understood her reluctance better. Living in a volatile, broken family, she was rarely able to let her guard down long enough to enjoy herself. I determine that during this week at camp she wouldn’t have to worry about anything but having fun.
Along with Xia, I was paired with a Chinese university student, Stephanie, who served as a translator, friend and big sister for me. Her fun sense of humor and untouchable dance moves added a light-hearted feeling to our new little family group.
Over the five days of summer camp we went on some crazy adventures together. Besides the structured activities of camp, singing, crafts, swimming, dancing, we had time to spend doing things with just our family.
We discovered a beautiful park that Xia wanted to explore. She was insistent on finding some ducks, so we ran all over searching for them. When we finally spotted them, Xia’s face lit up brighter than I’d ever seen before. That same huge grin stuck around for the rest of the week.
Stephanie and Xia taught me how to say red, blue, green, and yellow in Chinese, during our many games of Uno. Xia giggled as she listening to me stumble through many interesting pronunciations. It turns out the word for donkey and the word for green are very similar!
Every day after lunch we visited a nearby shop to buy ice cream. One day Xia picked out an ice cream with a bright yellow wrapper I’d never seen before. When I asked what kind it was, Stephanie told me it was corn flavored. Although it was not the flavor I would have picked, Xia seemed delighted with her choice and she quickly devoured the vegetable-flavored treat!
Early in the morning on the last day of camp, Xia arrived at my room. She pulled me to breakfast, holding tightly onto my hand. I knew she wanted to spend as much time together as possible before she had to go back home. When the time did come to say good-bye, we both cried and gave each other huge hugs. Stephanie and I held onto each other as we watched the bus drive away. A confusing mix of feelings welted up inside of me, joy that I had gotten to be part of what was probably one of the happiest week of her life, and sadness that it had come to an end so quickly. I hoped with all my heart that the love we shared would comfort her during the hard times ahead.
I went to China not knowing what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect to meet two new sisters. I didn’t expect to have my heart filled with so much love or to have it broken. I didn’t expect to think about going back every day. But I did and it changed my life dramatically. Now I am planning a second trip to camp and I can’t wait to see Xia’s smile when we’re finally together again!
Videos, photos and updates from our summer camps in Kunming, Taiyuan, Nanchang, Xin Zheng, and Yantai.
All of our summer camp met up in Xin Zheng at the beginning of July to prepare for camp. Between out meetings we managed to get some fun in, including a game that ended in people eating snails and chicken feet.
Kunming – Week 1 – Ballet and Waterslides
Week one in Kunming was a success! It was an amazing experience, yet again, to love on these little kiddos. The girls put on a ballet show for us, while the boys enjoyed all of the outdoor activities. What a blessing to have them in our lives for this one short, but awesome, week!
Taiyuan – Week 1 – Camp Kicks Off in Taiyuan!
We jumped right into summer camp in Taiyuan with an amazing group of volunteers from Texas and whole bunch of energetic kids!
Nanchang – Week 1 – Back in Nanchang! Thank you, JMC!
Our one week mini-camp in Nanchang was a huge success! This was the first time since 2008 that Bring Me Hope held a camp there. There were many happy reunions and new friendships made. In Nanchang, we had the added benefit of being near the headquarters of one of our biggest sponsors, JMC, so several JMC employees were able to join in the fun! We are so thankful for all the support JMC has given us over the last seven years. Not only have they been involved with the Nanchang camps, they have covered the entire Bring Me Hope transportation budget! Wow, we appreciate their heart to help orphans so much!
Xin Zheng – Week 1 – Something Beautiful
Wow, what an amazing week He prepared for us in Xinzheng! We cannot even begin to describe everything that took place in the last week, but we are thankful and humbled to be a part of something so beautiful.
Yantai – Week 1 – A Rebuilt Camp!
A great week which happened courtesy of the One who can take a broken camp with no pool, waterslide, swimsuits, bedding, first aid supplies, (or pretty much anything essential to a summer camp) and rebuild it, overcoming the difficulty and giving us all that we asked for!
Kunming – Week 2 – Another Amazing Week
Week two in Kunming was a huge blessing! It was another amazing week to have these kids in our care. Thank you all who participated this week! It couldn’t have happened without you!
Taiyuan – Week 2 – Zoo, Crafts, Songs, and LOVE
With over 100 people at camp this week we had the biggest Bring Me Hope camp of the 2012 summer here in Taiyuan, China. It was an amazing week! So many kids had the opportunity to leave their orphanages and enjoy a week of fun. The kids got to go swimming, go to the zoo, do crafts, sing songs, and experience lots and lots of love.
Xin Zheng – Week 2 – Eagles Wings
We had an amazing week with so many beautiful kids from the Eagles Wings foster home! The rooms were echoing with laugher the whole week! Many of these kids are available for adoption and ALL of them need sponsors. You can find out more information here: www.eagleswingschina.org
Yantai – Week 2 – Blessed
We had some wonderful children from the orphanage join us. What a blessing to spend this week with them!
Kunming – Week 3
Taiyuan – Week 3 – Talent Show
Our third week here in Taiyuan, China. We had 20 kids come, 15 Chinese translators and 14 American volunteers. The kids were so sweet and had such a fun time. They especially liked swimming and even got to go to a water park! On Thursday night we had a talent show and we were amazed at our kids’ singing and dancing skills. We were sad to see the kids go but are so glad that we all got to meet each other.
Xin Zheng – Week 3 – Returning Orphans
This week we had the opportunity to have kids from the Zheng Zhou orphanage come to camp. Some of these children have been coming to camp every year since 2008! There were a lot of hugs and happy reunions when they got off the bus!
Yantai – Week 3 – Rejoicing for Forever Families!
Week three of Yantai camp was full of rejoicing as four returning orphans prepare to join their forever families. The rest were showered with hope and joy as we rode bumper cars, ate a whole lot of ice cream, and visited the ocean to see what love like an ocean is like: high, deep, and wide!
Kunming – Week 4
Taiyuan – Week 4 – An Unforgettable Week
Our final week here in Taiyuan was so memorable. We had 12 of the sweetest orphans. A lot of the children this week had a range of more serious special needs than we expected and also brought us more joy than we could have imagined! Many of the children went swimming for the first time in their lives. They got to eat delicious food, sing and dance every night, and they got to visit a theme park and ride some fun rides. It was a week none of us will forget.
Xin Zheng – Week 4 – Amazing Kids
Our last week of camp at Xin Zheng! All of the children were from a private orphanage and we are amazing by how friendly and well adjusted they were. It was a great testament to how loving care can change lives! We were so thankful to spend the week with them!
Yantai – Week 4 – “I’m going to have a family…”
Week four was a celebration of victory and triumph over pain in orphans’ lives. One orphan’s quote sums up why we do this: “I am going to have a family because of the summer camp. I am very thankful for that.”
Photos and stories from our camps in Xi’an, Xin Zheng, and Yantai
July 2011 – We kicked things off in Beijing at the Staff Summit!
Yantai Camp – Week 1 – A New Family!
The first week of Shine Like Stars summer camp began with the birth of an extra special family group. The first boy who bounded off the bus was Andrew, a little guy with a limp who came to camp last year. Andrew smiled big when he recognized Uncle Mike and laughed as he was on the receiving end of a huge bear hug. He waved to his buddy from last year, and was introduced to his translator and his new American buddy, Adam. Back home in Minnesota, Adam is a good friend of Andrew’s soon-to-be-parents. Andrew smiled wide and immediately loved his buddy just because he knew he would see him soon in America.
Nine more kids filed off the bus. Then, through the bus windows, we could see a familiar repaired-cleft lip smile. One moment she was slowly standing from the two-hour bus ride, the next running down the stairs faster than any of the other orphans.
A year ago Da Mei left camp as an orphan, seen by her big sisters at camp and no one else in the world. Now, the same big sisters ushered her forward as she joined the same family group, knowing that her American buddy, Adam, was her new big brother—her forever big brother.
On Tuesday we had the best waterpark time on record at Yantai! Andrew and Da Mei were leaders, diving right into the fun knowing exactly why they were here. We also brought the kids to KFC for ice cream. When Andrew and Da Mei were here last, our family snapped photos, enraptured with two orphans who sat by themselves and ate ice cream and French fries like they were kings and queens. Now, as they sat together, everyone could see that Andrew and Da Mei were part of a real family.
On goodbye day, everyone was sad, but there wasn’t a hopeless spirit like other years when we say goodbye. We’re only saying goodbye for now. Even for the kids that aren’t coming to America within a year—nine of the orphans are available for adoption, and our volunteers know that the best way for them to know the good news of peace is to know the peace of a family, where, watching and feeling a mother and father’s love day by day, they can know their true Father.
The Mahoney Family, staff at the Yantai camp
Xin Zheng – Week 1 – A Surprise Arrival!
On Thursday night the Sias staff took a train down from Beijing to Zheng Zhou. From there we took a little bread box bus to XinZheng, where Sias University is located. We arrived late and were slightly taken aback by the complete emptiness of the rooms. We were grateful to be staying a new building, however this meant we were responsible to find/buy everything needed to house 88 people in 14 rooms. Friday morning found us back in Zheng Zhou with a shopping list three pages long, including 88 pillows, 88 blankets, 88 mattress pads. We visited seven different stores and haggled for nearly three hours. Finally, success! We headed back to the university with our van piled high! The rest of Friday and Saturday were spent in a whirlwind of similar shopping experiences and other camp preparation.
Sunday morning we woke up to a surprise phone call. “The kids are on their way!”. What? We were not expecting them until Monday afternoon. We were not even close to ready for the kids to come yet. However, we managed to throw together all their rooms in 30 minutes and were all able to come out to welcome 23 excited faces. After many hugs and introductions, some of the staff took the kids for a hike up the mountain, while the rest of us stayed behind to piece together some semblance of a schedule. I had a million things running through my mind that needed to be done, so when our camp director, James, suggested we take time to lift the situation up, I felt a little annoyed. “Doesn’t He want us to have things ready for camp?”. A moment later, the need became clear when James’ wife, Charissa, started joyfully thanking Him because this meant we had more time with the kids! This is what I love about our team here. When some of us loose perspective, there is someone wiser who sees what He is doing! Thank you, Father, for giving more time with Your children!
Lacey Scott, staff at the Xin Zheng camp
Xi’an – Week 1 – Off to a Great Start
We have a great group of not only kids, but translators and volunteers. I love watching them become such close family groups, hearing the kids call them by endearing names like Mama and Papa, or Grandpa and Grandma. One little rambunctious little guy, who has captured the hearts of many here, became so attached so quickly that he snuck out of the room he was sharing with his translator buddy and other children early in the morning and found the room of his foreign buddy. As soon as the door opened, we were told, he ran through and jumped right into the bed.
We used the scarves made by friends back home in the States this week as a camp prize!! Each week, we give the kids awards for something they are good at. “Best eater” “Best Smile” “Best Runner” things like that. So this week, each child got a certificate that had their name and what their family group felt they excelled in, as well as a handmade hug! It was so much fun to see their faces when I placed it around their neck!
Carm Hepworth, staff at the Xi’an camp
Yantai – Week 2
Xin Zheng – Week 2 – Love Acts
[It’s] love that makes every day and every week of Bring Me Hope camp happen. It’s Love that causes people to travel 10,000 miles to be with a kid. Love doesn’t just sit around and do nothing – Love ACTS. Love causes us to play games of basketball in 90 degree weather with 80% humidity. Love leads us to cuddle, sing, and pray for Chinese orphans to sleep when we feel completely exhausted. Love doesn’t just ask you to sit back and watch the world unfold around you. No, Love demands that you run straight to the heart of the world and unfold it yourself. Love may not be glamorous and it may not be easy. It can break your heart. But man, lemme tell ya- it’s life changing.
Jenessa Petersen, Xin Zheng volunteer
Xi’an – Week 2 – A Mom for the First Time
We had a group of kids well known to camp, with all but two kids having been to camp at least once if not twice before. It is so good to be able to keep in touch with these kids from year to year and to watch them change.
At 12 years old, Icey has already had to go through so much and her emotions can often be hard to discern. However, I knew from the look in her eyes that she did in fact remember me. I knew that she would be matched with a mom and her daughter who were only at camp for a week. In her time here, I saw a difference that was unmistakable. In both years before, she had a jie jie (big sister). For the first time ever at camp, she had a mom as well as a sister. I could see how happy she was to be part of a real family, and how much she wanted to make it more than for just a week.
Carm Hepworth, staff at the Xi’an camp
Yantai – Week 3 – An Adventure Story!
Week 3 at Yantai is an adventure story, but one where the Father was the author! The night before the week began, a bus full of folks from Bring Me Hope’s Continue Home, having been kicked out of their apartment, joined our camp. Most of our volunteers, meanwhile, were stranded in the Beijing airport due to a huge rainstorm. When our kids arrived Monday morning, we only had two American volunteers!
It was Tuesday before the volunteers finally came, and Wednesday when our friend Brenda arrived with her son Isaac who was adopted from China. Finally, our camp was full of people—dads, daughters, mothers, and sons! Morgan came to China with her father and had eyes full of delight through all of camp, from the KFC trip to goodbye day. She chased her dad’s buddy Steven around with a smile on her face every day and joined in every activity with the kids. All week we could see the hearts of all the teenage girl volunteers being transformed, because they were here with their families. Every person’s heart was touched by Xiao, who, despite a skin condition, did everything with a smile.
On Thursday, the kids had a victory parade, and the next morning, before we said goodbye, we smeared cake over each other’s faces. There were tears, but there was also happiness—these volunteers knew they were called for such a time as this. The only thing they wished was that they could stay longer.
Not only did we raise 1,000 RMB to take care of Xiao’s condition, but all but one of this week’s orphans are available for adoption. There is hope!
The Mahoney family, staff at the Yantai camp
Xin Zheng – Week 3 – His Children
I’m sitting on the roof of a six-story building, surrounded by freshly washed blankets I’ve just hung out to dry. The city is thick with its normal smog and the air is heavy with humidity. I feel a thunderstorm coming. Hopefully it will hold off for another hour until all this bedding is dry. Inside the building I hear our three and a half faithful washing machines dutifully cleaning 40 children’s bathing suits, swimming caps and towels. I say three and a half washers because one machine is only faithful to wash and not to spin dry. Still it’s better than hand washing!
I’ve come up to the roof not only to keep an eye out for rain clouds, but also to reflect on some of what I’ve been experiencing these past few weeks. Updates are difficult to write, not only because of time constraints, but because of the voice inside my head continually telling me no one will really understand what is happening here. How can I convey how touching a hug from Bao Bao is, when none of you know he is a little boy with Downs Syndrome from an abusive orphanage?
Who can understand why I cried when AnAn left, except someone who saw the bond we developed this week? What can I make you feel the same anger I have when I see Yan and know nobody wants her because she was born with legs that cannot walk?
It’s difficult knowing the things I experience in my “China World” will never translate back into the language of ordinary life. At the same time I know you all understand what it means to love and be loved. Thank you for remembering our team as He teaches us how to best love these children. I am remembering you in your callings. Thank you for being a part of The Body, brothers and sisters.
Lacey Scott, staff at the Xin Zheng camp
Xi’an – Week 3 – And the fun continues…
The kids are here! Another week is starting, and we once again have a bunch of awesome family groups! It has again been raining, so we are finding other things to do besides outdoor things. We are also using the wet to our advantage! There have been relay races, balloon fights, and plenty of dumping water over each others heads!
Pottery continues to be a big hit each week and it’s so much fun to watch the creativity of the kids come out. Some of the kids are just naturals, while others just enjoy being able to get dirty!
Our volunteers are doing such a great job of getting involved! We have even had one graciously accept a leading role in our nighttime assembly play. The purple princess dress looked ever so pretty on him! It was so cute to see the look on the kid’s faces and hear the sound of surprise when he stepped out from behind the curtain! He was such a good sport.
Carm Hepworth, staff at the Xi’an camp
Xin Zheng – Week 4 – Camp Video
Xi’an – Week 4 – Another Heart Changed
We are sitting here as a large group of staff, along with two volunteers that are ‘honorary’ staff members, passing around the memory books to be signed, as if they were year books. In a few short hours, our camp will be over! OVER!
This week it was wonderful to watch the oldest girl at camp. She was very frightened and upset when she first arrived. As the bus pulled away she tried to run after it to go home, and continued to repeat her desire to leave. When we all went in to have our first assembly, she stayed outside the room quietly sniffling and bemoaning her situation. It was not until half way through our fun and games that she wondered into the room and we saw a glimpse of her first smile. As the week wore on, she became more excepting of her surroundings and ventured to try new things and join in on the group activities.
Carm Hepworth, staff at the Xi’an camp
Yantai – Week 4 – Proclaim His Great Works!
“Our Father has done it! We are debriefing after a four-week adventure that rocked our world. We’re exhausted after the most fun we’ve ever had in our lives and all the crazy things that happened we couldn’t have foreseen. Typhoons invaded, motorcycles crashed, idols were removed, cake fights went on, fried bugs were eaten.
It’s time for us to proclaim the wonderful things He has done. This summer:
– A volunteer’s life was changed when he met his new sister for the first time
– All the volunteers plan to come back next year…with their families
– Seven families expressed a new desire to pursue adoption…six of whom want to adopt specific kids from camp
– Twelve people were buried with Him in water and raised with Him through faith.
– One hundred and six Chinese orphans’ lives were changed forever.
We don’t say goodbye to the kids or our Chinese friends, we say “see you soon.” Even though sometimes it feels like leaving a family member behind, we know this is right because He sends us home with a burden to tell people that which we’ve seen, that which we’ve heard, that which we’ve seen with our eyes. And even though it feels like an ending, we know that He has more plans, more beginnings, and even more grace. And we remind each other that the best is yet to come.
Many thanks to everyone who participated in making this summer the miracle it’s been.
Photos and stories from our camp directors in Kunming, Xi’an and Yantai.
July – Off to a great start in Kunming!
Bring Me Hope’s 2010 staff just finished a wonderful week in Kunming, China. We were able to connect, plan, and really bond as a group before heading to our three separate camp locations for the summer. We had a lot of meetings, but even more fun, as you can see in video of this little Aussie game we played!
Now we are all awaiting the arrival of our first campers on Monday! We look forward to seeing all that is in store for this summer!
July – Yantai Camp – Preschoolers and the Hospital
Our first week of camp isn’t even over and yet the adventures have already begun! Our children arrived and we were surprised to find that they were almost all toddlers or preschool age.
We were expecting a few kids around five and ranging up to twelve, but the oldest was about nine and we had more than a couple under four! The kids were mostly excited to jump into the activities of camp, and even the most reluctant children were excited when it came to pool time.
On the second day we had two boys who needed medical attention for pre-existing condition. Zhong, who is about five years old, was suffering from eye inflammation that at first everyone thought was pinkeye. We took him to the hospital to be treated and they found out that the eye was inflamed because his eyelid is inverted and his eyelashes grow upwards into his eye, causing scratches that will eventually blind him. He will need surgery to correct the eyelid, but in the meantime the doctors taped the eyelid down so that the eyelashes would no longer bother his eye. Zhong was so excited by the makeshift eye patch that he dragged his foreign volunteer, Lydia, around by the hand so he could show everyone!
We also had to take another boy, Jing, to the hospital due to a severe cough. The doctors diagnosed him with a form of pneumonia and said he would need daily IV treatments. During the treatment, Jing, who is also missing his right hand, bonded strongly with out staff member Teresa. During the group photo on Wednesday Teresa was showing him how to wave at the camera and Jing stopped her from waving and began to push some of the fingers out and others in. He showed her the sign for “I love you” in Chinese and began to tap each of her fingers, saying “Wo ai Ni” (I love you), over and over.
This week we had many first for the kids and also for Bring Me Hope. We took the kids swimming, which is always a highlight for them and for us. This year we even had an inflatable raft that they took rowing all throughout the swimming pool. We took them to a local amusement park and got to ride bumper cars, spinning dolphins and even a flying elephant ride. We even had a beach day full of sand and surf and all the crabs, clams and tiny little fish the kids could find. Summer camp is never boring, that’s for sure!
July – Kunming Camp – Water-park Thrill!
We are off to an amazing start! It was an awesome, fun-filled, life-changing, blessing beyond words time. The children are always quiet when they first arrive, but in a matter of hours are laughing, playing, and enjoying being loved. When it was time to go, every single child, translator, and volunteer, was crying. We always go away each week blessed by what we (our WHOLE FAMILY) have experienced and witnessed, and wishing we had a huge house with lots of rooms.
Eight-year-old Anna was one who captured us the most this week. She sobbed when she told her volunteer about her mom dying. And she later asked her volunteer if she could kiss her on the cheek. Another highlight was when three of the little boys walked into the water park. First their eyes bugged out, they threw their arms into the air and then they screamed in excitement! What a thrill to witness this!
July – Xi’an Camp – Bringing Cheer All Over Xi’an
Here in Xi’an, our volunteer and staff teams are made up of people from Australia, Ireland, England, America, and China. We’ve had continuing jokes about not being able to understand each other, especially the Americans with the Aussie lingo. But in all seriousness (which is a rare thing for us!), we have loved our joined unity over our common goal of helping the children.
We had two groups of precious orphans with us this past week, most of which were energetic boys. They had a blast visiting Ocean World, running through the Xi’an fountain show, and swimming.
One fifteen-year-old boy named Loren made an impression on us all. He has CP, though that sure doesn’t inhibit his joy. He was constantly laughing at his silly seventy-year-old volunteer, Alan, who sported goofy hats every morning.
Alan and Loren were quite a sight walking around the city of Xi’an together, with huge smiles on their faces, they would greet every (and I mean every) passerby with a big wave and a loud “NI HAO!” which mean “HELLO!” They continued greeting people until they broke into a smile and gave a little wave. The pair brought so much happiness to literally hundreds of city folk in Xi’an this week, and not only them, but also to the rest of our camp and to each other.
July – Yantai Camp – Lots of Teenagers!
This week the Yantai camp went from a preschool to a high school! While we still had a couple younger kids, the majority were teenagers! We were also once again blessed with an abundance of boys, which made things more complicated for our female volunteers and translators. But they stuffed up and loved their boys like the sons, nephews and brothers they might have been.
Since we had so many larger boys, pool time was a much more active endeavor than the previous week, and the small ball games and swimming lessons were overtaken by water fights, splash wars and a game of keep-away that eventually devolved into a full contact game of “tackle the guy with the ball”! We were able to get our waterpark up and running. This lead to flips, slips, jumps, push wards, water hose battles and a few accidental trips down!
A big event for the camp this week was the beach. We tried out a different one and found not only a better spot for swimming, but also a place to take rides on jet skis and powerboats!
The big highlight for everyone was a powerboat tour along the coast of Yantai that included views of cliff sides, cliff top temples and lots of dips and turns along the way.
Bai Bai was the youngest camp this week at about five years old. Desprise being the smallest and youngest, she has the most sass! Her favorite word was “bu”, which means “no”. All week her volunteer, Carm, and her translator told Bai Bei “Women ai ni” (We love you), but didn’t get much response. One the last night of camp Carm went into the say goodnight and gave Bai Bai and hug. When she said “Wo ai ni” yet again, Bai Bai looked up nonchalantly and replied simply “I know!” and smiled.
July – Kunming Camp – “The Happiest Time of My Life…”
We can say “Hurray” for week two- not that it is over (ha!), but that it was very successful and fun. We had another amazing group of children. Everyone connected well with their children and played hard. Our goodbye party, complete with a beautiful cake for eating (not throwing, a typical Chinese tradition) was filled with many heart-felt words of love, affection, and disappointment at having to leave.
Here are a couple quotes from the kids to their foreign volunteers:
“When you said, ‘I love you’ to me, although I didn’t have enough courage to speak out, I did say it in my heart.”
“Hello, beautiful like flowers sister. This week is the happiest time in my life.”
Every day you take me to eat ice cream. That is a happy memory in my life. Every day in the camp, I was so happy.”
July – Xi’an Camp – Adoptive Family Volunteers
Like a refreshing summer rain storm, week two of camp has come and gone in Xi’an. We were yet again blessed with a group of volunteers from all over the world. The Knipe family from Florida were especially excited to spend the week with children from their adopted daughter’s orphanage!
A six year old boy named Wei Wei grabbed all of our hearts. He is blind and very small, but he reminded us that no child is insignificant.
July – Yantai Camp – Lots of Rain!
In Yantai the word for week three was FLEXIBILITY! It seemed like a comedy of errors, as not only did we lose access to the swimming pool for the entire week, it also rained with some lightning and thunder thrown in, enough to throw out any plans we had for outdoor activities and disrupt the schedule of assemblies and meetings. Despite these obstacles to our plans, the staff, volunteers, translators and kids came together to have a blast of a week where we even managed to throw in a few surprises!
Tuesday came in with a roar that would have made any lion proud. Rain, lightning, thunder and the staff at our hotel telling us that we would have to turn off the electric equipment before anything nearby struck us with lightning. While we had to shorten our assembly, we were able to lengthen our family and give an extra night for the kids to contemplate come questions about what they wanted to be in the future and what they thought it meant to be a man or a woman.
By midweek the skies were still dark and stormy so, instead of risking a trip to the beach, we found an indoor water park. It had two slides, one smaller tube and a huge rafting slide, plus a gigantic pool complete with a hidden tunnel. It also had a large fountain to run through and a smaller kiddie area for the younger campers to enjoy. While the tube slides were somewhat troublesome to get through, especially for some of the larger staff members who kept getting stuck halfway down, the large raft slide became a hit both for those of us daring around to ride down in and for the spectators who got to watch.
One of the character lessons we have been teaching this year is the story of Joseph, a young man who is abandoned by his family in a faraway land and there comes to great power and responsibility. At camp we had our very own Joseph this week, a young man named “Steven”. At the age of six, Steven was told to wait on a train while his parents took his sister to the restroom. Hours later and miles away, Steven was still on the train, but his family never returned for him and he ended up in an orphanage. Now Steven is seventeen and has been trained as a design artist. One of our camp sponsors, Terry, a manufacturer who also produces our t-shirts, visited camp. After finding out Steven’s story and hearing what a good man Steven is striving to become, Terry offered Steven a job in one of his factories!
July – Xi’an Camp – Like Family Dinner Time
What happens when you have a group of willing volunteers, helpful translators, agreeable orphans, and a big Father? We found that it leaves you with a pretty seamless week of camp!
The children love making pottery, running through the city fountains, and goingto the pool with the giant water slides. But something our more meaningful camp moments happened when we were simply hanging out together.
The more intimate times of making bracelets for one another, reading bedtime stories together, and watching people perform in the camp talent show are precious moments. Like spending time with family around the dinner table, we don’t need anything fancy to enjoy one another!
July – Kunming Camp – Keep Lifting Us Up!
On a personal level we (the Heddens) have not had the best of weeks. So many lows- Luke’s camera and much of his equipment was stolen. We found out we will not be allowed to adopt our foster daughter, Bryn. Finally, Amy’s mom was moved to a nursing home on Friday. We felt as though we were under severe attack!
We have been amazing though that despite all this, but His grace, camp has gone very successfully. Translators’ lives have been changed in eternal ways, our volunteers are so kind and loving, and the children have been showered with a love they so desperately long for and eat up.
One little boy wrote to his volunteer, “When I get big, I will come and find you!” One little girl who was at our camp last year as well saw Tim walk in, jumped up from her place at the table, grabbed his hand and said, “You come sit with me!”.
We are so blessed to witness and to be part of this whole wonderful process!
August – Yantai Camp – 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 everyone who heard it.
When Charlie was around three years old, his mother had a love affair and left her family for another man. Charlie was left in the care of his father, who was very poor. Charlie’s father married another woman who treated Charlie alright and 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 his sister behind.
Soon after his father was at a hotel with Charlie and once again could not afford to pay his debt. This time he planned to use Charlie as payment. But the manager of the hotel called the police and Charlie’s father was taken into police custody while Charlie was sent to the orphanage. He was eight years old.
In the years after his abandonment Charlie suffered many disheartening events in his life, including being tested because he was put in a kindergarten class, despite being such an advanced age. He was also mistakenly identified as mentally handicapped, due to his low class placement.
In 2006 Charlie came to Bring Me Hope came for the first time. 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, a translator, and Marina, a volunteer from Canada.
While Charlie was shy at first, he was obviously very curious about what was going on around him and there was no concealing the brightness in his eyes. On the first day he was one of the last kids to join in on the water-park. But once he got on and began enjoying 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. He 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 question: 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 how they will succeed once they reach adulthood, Charlie’s worry is much closer to his heart due to the fact that he has been place so far back in school and has fallen so far behind. He doesn’t know what idea he wants to do in the future, but he does know he does NOT want to become a beggar or cleaner.
Despite the life he has lead and the evil he has witnessed and suffered, he is a boy full of love. When asked what he hoped for, his answer was simple: For Bring Me Hope camp to get better and better. When his volunteer, Marina asked him why, he said “So more kids can come and enjoy the camps and experience love!”
Charlie’s story is ongoing, as are the stories of all the other hundreds of kids that have come through our camps. Their lives are hard and their needs are great, but hope is our there for them. Here is a excerpt from Charlie’s good-bye letter to Marina, a glimpse into the heart of a strong, joyful young man.
“I am happy we are family. It is hard for me to say good-bye. I hope time can be frozen. You are like a mother that loves me and cares for me. This is the most beautiful memory that I have ever had.”
August – Xi’an Camp – Newly Abandoned Child Comes to Camp
Just a few days after being abandoned, “Sean” came to our camp in Xi’an. For an eight-year-old, Sean was extremely withdrawn and quiet. At first, he didn’t smile, respond to our questions or keep eye contact with anyone.
Halfway through the week, Sean really started to come out of his shell. He began smiling at us, playing along with games and going 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. We saw the Father’s provision for Sean’s 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 he special he was.
August – Yantai Camp – Dead Fish for lunch?
Our final week in Yantai we were blessed to have thirty-eight kids! We had toddlers, teenagers, and, for the first time at the Yantai camp, an nearly even spread of boys and girls.
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 or shy. Right off the bat we had craft time and then walked straight to the water park. Unlike the past week, these kids took to the water without any hesitation and were soon barreling down the waterslide.
Later in the week, thanks to the return of the sun, we were able to go to the beach. It was a great day of sun, small surf and rides of the jet skis. 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 it, all the while saying “hungry fish, eat, eat”. It was even better when the boy searched around for a plastic bag, dumped the fish and some salt water in and told us he wanted to take it home. Luckily we were able to convince him that fish are better off in the ocean.
During family time one afternoon a volunteer, 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 rather than a convenient way to travel between floors!
Friday was goodbye day and the long hugs and tearful goodbyes continued even after the kids were gone. Eventually it was time for all the translators, volunteers and staff members to go their separate ways. Some were returning home, other were heading off for further travels and a few are remaining for the first ever Chinese run camps. It was four weeks of love, friendship, laugher, and big smiles (with a few sad moments sprinkled in!). From all of us here in Yantai we want to thank everyone for their love and support, especially our volunteers and translators who worked so hard to make camp happen!
September – BMH Volunteers Return to China to Visit Camp Buddies!
My name is Susan. My daughter, Alexis, and I went to one of the BMH summer camps last year. Wow, what a great time we had! Perhaps because they were old and I am a mom, I bonded especially well with my two campers Yan (16) and Qingqing (20). It broke my heart to watch them leave on the last day. Lily, my translator, spent an extra day after camp before we parted ways and we solidified a friendship that had been growing that week.
After camp Lily and I emailed each other a couple times a week. Yan and Qingqing were continually on my heart and I could see that they were on Lily’s heart too. We talked a lot about them and I told Lily that I felt I would be back in a year so that we could all be together again.
As the months went by, the Father provided money for my “China Fund” again and again. Although I was dismayed that the cost of returning to china had more than doubled, still the money was provided for both my daughter and me to go. Lily explained to me that she had told her family so much about the girls and her experience at camp that her father was interested in meeting these orphans and the Americans who cared so much about them. Lily called the orphanage and they agreed to allow us all to visit.
The most important part of our time together was spent at Lily’s home with her family and Yan and Qingqing. I don’t believe her family has ever met a Westerner, but they welcomed us into their lives and treated us as honored guests. My greatest desire was to see the Father bond Yan and Qingqing’s hearts to the hearts of Lily’s family—and that is exactly what he did. Lily’s father announced that the girls must come and spend their future school vacations with the family from now on!
In an email I just received from Lily’s sister, Violin, she wrote, “Your coming has changed my whole family a lot! We were curious and joyful. Now we understand love deeper. Dad and mom often talk about you. There is no different between Chinese and Americans to come degree. We love you all and hope for another wonderful meeting together.”
From Bring Me Hope’s executive director, David Bolt.
The Orphans are Coming!
I just wanted to share a few highlights (or unexpected moments) from China.
First of all, I am just amazing at the doors that have been opened for orphans to come to summer camp. About one month ago we got word that all orphanages were not allowing kids to leave the orphanage in fear that they might get Swine flu from a foreigner.
The developing news looked so dismal that I was getting ready to fly to another country to see if we could set up camp somewhere else. But as I thought about leaving China, it was almost too hard to bear the thought. But then a miracle happened. In last couple weeks some of the orphanages started to be willing to send their kids to camp. Currently all camps are full!
Second… This is kind of an embarrassing story, but those always make the best. Last weekend all of the camp staff flew in to my camp location (Xin Zheng) to connect before camp begins. We heard about a local park that had go-carts, bumper cars, and zip lines. Well, as you can imagine, things aren’t as safe in China. But this park seemed rather harmless. First were the bumper cars. A little faster than usual and maybe a few sore necks but all went fine. Next we went over the zip line. This seemed a little sketchier but the zip line went out over a lake and also had a safety net under the wire.
I waited my turn as most of the team went across the lake. I decided that when it was my turn I would make an effort to push off faster than normal. The Chinese man hooked my harness to the zip line and I pushed off. As I started across the lake I had another idea: bounce! So I started bouncing.
Everything was going well until I looked up to get ready for my landing. I saw the Chinese man waving at me quite urgently to pick up my legs. It was then that I realized that if I didn’t pick up my legs, they wouldn’t clear the dock. So I lifted them high into the air… But the bouncing and my weight timed just wrong and instead of clearing the landing I landed on the landing in sitting posture.
Well apparently, I didn’t hear the backside of my shorts rip off. Maybe I was just too stunned because everyone was watching and I didn’t want to look like I was hurt. So I just calmly waited for the guy to unhook me from the harness. As I was walking down the stairs I realized that all the girls were gone. The guys were laughing, and that is always a sure sign that something is wrong. I went to feel my injury and realized that there was nothing back there. Just air. And on top of that, there were people everywhere and I couldn’t really go anywhere! Eventually I figured out how to use my shirt for covering and decided that I’d be a little more careful on the zip line next time.
So, that started our summer off with the first of many more stories to come in the next month. That’s what I love about China, you never know what might happen next.
First week of camp in Xin Zheng!
Wow, so much to say! We had an incredible first week with the orphans. We had the Biggest Slumber party ever! Bedtime stories, snacks, and late night talking. Hmmm… I wonder what topic the girls talked about? But I do know that the boys got in some good wrestling! Lots of fun!
Reunited For a Week!
Last year we had about 350 orphans come to camp. So much pain, sorrow and tragedy in little hearts. One of those kids was a young boy named Billy. During camp last year Billy asked his American buddy why no one had adopted him. It broke the volunteer to answer him, but Billy followed up the question by telling his volunteer that the Father had adopted him and not to worry. When he got back to the orphanage Billy ran away in hopes of finding us. After he spent a night and a day walking the streets and countryside of China, he arrived at camp. But camp was finished. And the desire he had to be reunited with his friends was met with disappointment. Eventually a student found him and called the orphanage to come pick him up. After waiting one year, Billy came to camp again this week! Here is an update from Sam Vidler, director of the camp that Billy attended: “Billy’s week was a rollercoaster – as many ups and downs, twists and turns, and always going at full speed. He arrived knowing what camp was about, and jumped straight into it. However, there are many aspects of Billy’s life that are tumultuous, and we had the challenge and the privilege to work through some of these. He left camp knowing that he is truly loved, and the darkness he has experienced in parts of his young life, can have a new light shed upon them.”
I Hate My Parents!
I think everyone can understand when an orphan says, “I hate my parents!” One girl told her translator about why she has no feet. When her mom abandoned her, she left her in the snow. By the time someone found her, she had frostbite so badly that the doctor had to amputate both her feet. Because of her mom she has to spend the rest of her life in a wheel chair. So it breaks my heart to hear them say, “I hate my parents”. But how can you tell them that hate and bitterness will poison their life? That they need to forgive and try to move on? I hope in some small way that we encouraged them this week. Also, I felt like this was a challenge for all of us that do have parents. If you bitter at your parents: FORGIVE & APPRECIATE THEM! Most likely they didn’t leave you out in the snow. And there are many orphans that would rather have the parents you have than the employees that take care of them.
Here are our group photos from Xin Zheng, Xi’an and Kunming
Another Full Week
We had another full week with so much to tell you. Here are a few pictures and letters from the kids:
“I think, if I can use the sea water as the ink, use the big tree as my pen. I still can not write all the love between you and me. It’s beyond words… I’ll treasure this memory forever. Jim, I love you! … I very love you! … very very love you. Although I can’t speak English, but I think you can understand these words, these simple words, but, which have deep meanings!”
“You’re my angel. I believe love in the world never fails now. I get warmth and strength from your love. I’ll keep this experience in my deep heart forever. Your angel hands give me one hope that be with me forever.”
Your strength convinces me that love never fails and the greatness of love. Love can exist everywhere. Love can make us become a family. The first person I want to see is you when I am admitted into a university. Aunt Susan, please allow me call you ‘Mother’ here.”
Desperate Love (From Sam Vidler, director of Xi’an Camp)
When Simpson arrived at camp in Xi’an, he was obviously an intelligent, quiet boy. His disabilities are only in the formation of his hands, but his mind is sharp- very sharp. In fact his translator often commented that he is smarter than she is.
He still has a grandmother, but she is unable to care for him, and he has been in an orphanage for years. In this climate, he experiences bullying and theft, and knowing no other way, would repeat this to more vulnerable children.
Within two days of camp, he expressed his desire to leap out of a window on the last camp day, to become injured and not have to return to the orphanage but a hospital instead.
So, it was set to be a challenging week.
He went through the usual emotions that many teenage boys experience in this situation, where they are bathed in love and compassion. There was initial distrust, then a softening and opening up, then as the week was drawing to a close, an anger and defiance, as the prospect of losing this experience grows more real and immediate.
With the wonderful work of Alicia (volunteer) and Jane (translator), he truly got to experience Love, and we know, from this, he will be touched forever.
And he did not try the window. Although sad to leave, a new light shone in a previously dark existence.
What a Week!
We just started our last week of camp here in Xin Zheng. This week is going to be CRAZY! As soon as the kids got off the bus craziness started happening. Without warning, one of the girls had to go to the bathroom really bad and went on the grass. Many of them are incontinent and have diapers. I looked over and my sister was changing a diaper for an older girl who had gone poop.
When we got to lunch the bathroom lady started talking really fast and motioning for me to come in and see the bathroom. I told her I didn’t understand what she was saying but she insisted that I come in. Once inside she told me through hand motions that one of the kids used the trash can to pee in and that it had gotten all over the floor and people would be slipping.
And all that happened within one hour. Right now everyone is at the pool. Later we will have a team meeting and I’m sure there will be many more stories.
But, these kids have CAPTURED the hearts of everyone here. I’ll let you know how it goes next week!
From the Kunming Camp:
Goodbye day is always the hardest point of camp. Especially after loving the kids for a week and seeing them thrive in the love that a parent should be providing. One of the volunteers was explaining to his little boy that he was going home to America. The little boy named David replied:
“I can’t find my home… I can’t find my mom and dad…”
The Miracle of Camp
“Camps in China for orphans are CANCELED! Please try to get a refund from your airline.”
I came very close to sending that out to all of our volunteers. Here’s the story how the Father saved the 2009 summer camp…
Volunteer Update 1, May 23, 2009
I wanted to take a moment to update you on some changes happening in China. Just recently a few orphanages in Xi’an have told us that they are not allowing their kids to attend summer camp because of potential exposure to the Swine Flu.
Volunteer Update 2, May 28, 2009
We were really disappointed to hear that the civil affair administration has told ALL orphanages that the children are not allowed to attend outside activities. Please ask that He would do a miracle on behalf of these kids.
The other bit of news that I wanted to tell you about has to do with some of the plane flights going into China. Our camp director in Kunming said that someone was on a flight with another passenger that had a fever and everyone on the plane was quarantined for 7 days. Sooo…. that is a risk that I want you to be aware of before coming.
Other News- May/June, 2009
– One of our camp locations shut down because of Swine Flu.
– Another summer camp similar to ours canceled because of Swine Flu.
– Swine Flu was declared worldwide pandemic
– Two times I planned on buying an “immediate departure” plane ticket to find another country that might let us run summer camps.
The first half of the story looked very bleak. No orphans, volunteers spending half their trip quarantined in a hospital, and no group facilities available to host a summer camp.
We asked our volunteers to ask for a miracle. We just couldn’t imagine closing camp. Then, just a few weeks before camp was to start, we got news that several orphanages decided that they would send kids to camp. Because other orphanages were not allowed to send orphans to camps, I kind of figured that these orphanages must have missed the memo from the government. Or maybe the mandate got lost somewhere. We felt excited, but we also felt that at any instant the mandate could arrive and camp would be over. We ran camp on a day to day basis in anticipation that a mandate could arrive at any time and camp would be over. But the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into over a month of summer camps.
We also found out shortly before camp started that the “shut down” camp location had decided to host our camp. We had to check temperatures daily for the first 7 days, but other than that, we were free to run camp as normal.
One of our volunteers did get quarantined the first week of camp. We made about 10 phone calls and found him in a small hospital in Beijing. The hospital was running tests on him. After a few hours they found out that he didn’t have a fever and put him on the next plane to his camp location. He didn’t miss even one day.
I hope this encourages you to TRUST the Father with your life. Over 200 orphans came this summer that weren’t supposed to come. And the things that looked so bleak and dismal became a beautiful summer that changed all of us.
An Amazing End to the Summer
REVIVAL of hearts- A little more about the miracle summer of 2009
Not only did He keep our camp open this summer, but He opened MANY hearts. We saw a mini-revival take place when quite a number of people made decisions to believe. In the last 5 years of camp, we have never seen anything like it. We have also never seen such difficulty in keeping the camp open. I’m so glad that we fight on the winning team!
A letter from an orphan
“At night when I lay awake. I will think of you and my tears will drop. Whatever great difficulties, I will never give up. I love you very much and you are important in my heart. My English is not very good. I want to make you help me. Would you like to be my English teacher? I will be your Chinese student and Chinese sister. I miss you–that’s all. Best wishes to you! I love you!” Fiona
One of the things we did last summer at camp was to have the kids dress up for a camp glamour picture. We have a large picture 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 orpan replied, “yes, she is my mom. And she is coming back for me.”
For some, Snow White on TV is the closest they ever get to having a mom. They see what others have in this life and the only way they can get a family is by creating an imaginary world where people love them. But Snow White will never come because imaginary people cannot love. They cannot give them a hug or go down a waterslide. They cannot make a craft or throw a ball with them.
But those things happen at camp. And the best part? Getting to see children light up as they enjoy a week full of love and laughter. We look forward to updating you from China. A huge thank you to all of you who are making this summer possible!
Beijing Pre-Camp Update: Plan B – July, 21, 2008
Hello from Xin Zheng, China! About one week ago we had some news that none of us saw coming. We found out that our Beijing camp would need to move because the government was shutting down the hotel we were staying in. I still don’t’ understand exactly what happened. But everything was CRAZY in Beijing with the Olympics coming. Anyway, we had four days to be out of the hotel. The month of preparation for the Beijing camp were gone in just a few seconds. And we still had over 400 people coming! We began putting the word out and ended up really connecting with an orphanage that has about 600 orphans. We found a university that was stilling to host our camp and within two days we were off to explore. We got the approval from the school and the rest of the team to leave Beijing and take the train to our new camp. When we were unloading the truck with ALL of our random camp items, one of the translators said, “you brought everything but the kitchen sink… but I saw you brought one of those too!”. The kids and volunteers and craziness arrive at the train station tonight. We’ll let you know how the week goes!
Weekend Update – July 27, 2008
This afternoon when we told each other our life stories, we learned so much about the girls’ lives… things that hurt to know. Things like the fact that most of the girls were orphaned because their parents killed each other. When they started telling, it was like a water fountain broke loose… they were almost sobbing so hard they couldn’t talk. How can you comfort an eleven-year-old girl who lost her parents only four years before? We listened and told them that we were so sorry, but that we loved them so much. We held hands. We cried. We’re so thankful that our Father can see their little broken hearts and He cares for them so much more than we ever could.
Difficult Week 2 in China – Aug. 4, 2008
We just finished another week of camp. This week was really hard. We had several kids with severe special needs that we were almost unable to handle. With the added stress on volunteers and staff, it just felt like everything was a downward spiral.
But by mid-week the tide began to change. We got diapers for one of the kids, moved one of the girls into a room with just staff, and overall learned how to care for them. Our volunteers and staff were incredible as they were pushed to new limits. When it came time to say goodbye there were many changed hearts.
One highlight was a boy that we nicknamed Strong. He had Down Syndrome and just kept us smiling the whole week. In a staff meeting we were talking about the verse, “he who is the least will be the greatest”. I (David) was thinking about Strong and how he is a beautiful person, so loving and caring and full of joy although I’m sure he has been frequently treated as the least. Someday I hope to serve under him in heaven.
From the kids:
I am a boy with few words. I lost my parents when I was young. I never feel the warmth of a family at the orphanage. Though the time we stay together is very short, I have felt the love and warmth. I felt very happy. At least, home you have every day.” Tom
“You know that we are from the orphanage and we grow up there. So thus, we have no home actually. To be honest, this is the first time I have the feeling of family.” Qi
More Unknowns – Nanchang Update – Aug. 11, 2008
Wow, another busy week in China with unknowns around every corner. The Olympics started and everything is just CRAZY! At the beginning of the week we heard that we might have to cancel the rest of summer camp. But each day has led to another day full of smiles and hugs and permission to continue. There is just one more week to go at our camp in Xin Zheng. Here are a few highlights from our other camp in Nanchang.
Week 1: Our first week in Nanchang was amazing. Swimming, making memory books, dancing, singing, and eating together were all highlights for the kids. We even had an impromptu water fight out by the hotel lake (with only on small casualty who briefly fell into the water). We also enjoyed a firework show on the last night of camp. Yet simply hanging out and playing during free-time were our favorite times together.
From the kids:
“I do enjoy this camp because it has brought so much happiness to me. There are so many joyful thing that I want to mention them to you. I cannot control myself smiling when I am thinking about there things.” Dream
“Thank you for bringing me happiness. It makes me warm and feel loved. I think I am actually a happy girl.” Haylee
Week 2: Week two of camp was a week of many reunions. It was so fun for the volunteers and staff to see the faces of familiar children from past year of camp get off the buses on Monday morning. Just imagine the feeling of seeing someone you love only once a year! The week was full of laughter, joy and new memories with old friends.
From the kids:
“This week is my most unforgettable time of my life, ever! The happiest! Every time you gave me kisses I always remember them because kisses from you have opened my heart.” Kelly
“The experience I got from this camp makes me feel the love of family. There are so many family groups here, which reminds me what love is.” Sarah
Week 3: Our numbers just about doubled when the third week of camp in Nanchang hit. We were blessed with volunteers to Canada, Australia and the States. It was amazing to see how so many people form so many cultures camp together for a single purpose. The atmosphere felt like our intimate camp family only grew to a huge family. Many new friendships were made and, because of that, saying goodbye at the end of the week was difficult. We know that the whole team will hold this week in their hearts and hopefully reunions will happen next year at camp when we meet again.
From the kids:
“You make me feel like you are my mother, and the I want to call you Mum. I’m sure it is very happy to be your child. This week is the happiest time of my life.” Sam
“Thank you for spending five days with me. I have not been so happy for a long time.” Kip
“When I go home, I will miss you everyday. By the way, how old are you and why are your eyes blue? And your hair on your arms is really funny. They are long very much.” Nicole
“I will study harder in middle school. I am proud to you and you will be proud of me ten years later. You helped me when I was young and I will return to you ten years later.” Shelly
From the volunteers:
“This is Jonny. He’s a little slow, but he remembers one phrase very clearly. And he doesn’t talk a whole lot, but he repeats this phrase several times into my translator’s ear tonight when we asked him if he could remember any about his childhood. It was the last thing his mom ever said to him. ‘Wait here, and I’ll come back for you.’” Tom
“Many things about our time together made me smile. Holding your hands as we walked to places made me feel so food inside. When we dance, my heart danced.” Brian
“I don’t care that he hugs me all the time. I just found out he lost his parents this year.” Chris
From the translators:
“I learned to love anyone you have a chance to love whenever you can.” Rich
“I learned that great kids can come from a background that isn’t so great.” Michelle
Olympic News – Aug. 20, 2008
Some exciting news! This week NBC will be filming our Beijing Olympics Summer Camp. The kids will have a chance to see the games first hand as well as meet some famous Olympians!
Last year several of these kids were just amazed to see running water inside their room. While at camp they asked up, “Are we in America?”, even though their home was just a few hours away. It is so fun to give when they have so little. We look forward to sharing their story with the world!
Going to the Olympics – Aug. 22, 2008
Yesterday was the capstone of the whole summer. We took five orphans to the Olympics on Thursday and Friday to finish our Olympic Summer camp in Beijing. An amazing end to an amazing summer!
The war is won! This whole summer I kept telling myself what running this camp is just like a war, except without any blood. Well, just a little blood. And there was a hospital visit but no broken bones and no stitches. But it was a war this summer. Everyday we suffered casualties. And when someone was crying, upset, or angry, I kept telling myself that this is a war. When you go to war, there will be wounds. No mess, no ministry.
Yet even though we had casualties, we had bigger victories! You may have heard about a little orphan boy named Kevin. His first day at camp was probably the best day of his whole life. He loved every minute of it. Then we got word that the orphanage director wanted to take him back. The director was furious at us because we sent back non-orphans that snuck into camp. (A week 1 battle that I like to call “The Invasion of the Non-Orphans.”) We asked our Father that night to have mercy on Kevin and let him stay at camp. Each day went by without any sight of the director. The last day came and we said goodbye to all the lil’ campers. I looked down and there was Kevin. The very last camper to leave!
And bigger victories- We had over 100 college student translators this summer and found that they are so curious about why in the world we would come all the way across the world to run a camp for orphans. It is the perfect platform to tell them that WE ARE ALL ORPHANS, in need of a perfect Father.
We also stood in awe at watching Him provide $10,000 in just over a week. Thank you all so much! Every night I would update everyone at camp and then would cheer to hear the amount get closer and closer to our need! It was just amazing!
Thank YOU for the part you played in making this summer possible. Whether coming to a fundraising event or going to China or praying for us. I’m so grateful for all of you!
From the Orphans
Big sister! Since you said I was just like your little sister, I confirm that you are my big sister! You are my family. Sis, although you’re only 21, although I call you big sis all the time, I do want to call you mom, a very young Mom! From you, I get a special love, which never happened. And you, you are wearing my bracelet which is carrying my whole heart. I hope when you’re not happy, you can overcome that by thinking of me.
I love you mom! One more time, I love you, forever, very much love!
Here is the children’s heaven; here is the place where the sun rises; here is the hope of us. Not only did I open my eyes, but also I learn a lot of knowledge of a foreign country. I also learned toleration, and I know what love is. At the same time, I thank you for taking care of us. Here I feel the warm feeling of family which is what I want to get all of the time. Love is what I need.
Meanwhile, I would like to thank Lily (translator). Because of her, we can have the opportunity to talk with each other. The family feeling is wonderful!
From the Translators
During these days we shared a lot with each other. When I listened to the orphan’s stories and knew how their parents deserted them, my heart was painful for them. I felt that they are so lovely and cute, and I can never understand the reason their parents deserted these angels…. In the future, I would like to do more for those poor kids.
My heart was moving almost everyday, when we were having dinner, we talked and joked each other, brought fruits for each other. Well, just like a real family.
From the Volunteers
Since I’ve been home, I cannot stop talking and thinking about the kids from the trip. I knew from the moment I arrived in China this year that it would not be my last time in that country. I have fallen in love with the people and orphans in China as well as the culture and breathtaking landscape. I have seen the pain that these children go through on a daily basis but have also watched them completely open up when shown love for the first time. The transformations that I have witnessed in these kids remind me that it is all worth it.
No experience can surpass the wonderful time we shared with our little Chinese “buddies,” and how much a week with them has changed our lives, dreams and ambitions. We now spend every evening planning our return to China, and not a day goes by where we don’t think about the children and wonder what they are doing.
The week was filled with so many fun times, smiles, hugs, laughs, and songs, but it was the relationships with our Chinese “kids”, our lovely translators, and the time spent with the staff and volunteers that changed our lives.
The Vidler Family
“I felt like I had four little brothers by the end of two weeks of camp, though at times they felt more like my own children. I was blessed with ‘buddies’ who taught me more about life in two weeks than I have learned all year; I realized what real love is. “
A big thank you to everyone who helped make camp possible. It was wonderful to unite with the common goal of reaching Chinese orphans. Thank you!