Category Archives: Stories

Foreign Perspectives

Every year BMH camp brings around a new set of volunteers that are pumped to fly over to China and get camp started.  But some people don’t realize, there is another huge group of volunteers that make camp possible…our Chinese staff.  They are a group of amazing college students that make our communication with the kids possible but also add the extra energy and fun needed for our summer adventures.  It is amazing to be able to form a relationship with them, become part of a camp family and leave at the end of the week with a new friend.  Personally, some of our favorite memories with our translators were being able to bond over life experiences, learn about the culture differences, be parents together for the week and attempt to learn some Chinese (attempt being the key word).

How we would sum up camp life with our foreign volunteers, “The beginning of the week brought a bunch of confident university student eager to practice their English.  Five days later we were looking at a tight knit team of people who had been broken and transformed by these precious children.  Childen who needed constant diaper changes, who always pushed the boundaries, who didn’t act like other children we’d seen before…Children who needed love!”  Thank you to all of our foreign volunteer staff that help make camp possible!  pinkflowerphoto_0005

“I learnt this week that love is not about what you can receive in return, but what you can give. Love doesn’t have any expectations.” – Vivianpinkflowerphoto_0004

“Today at lunch, my little boy said “I would really love to become your son”. After I heard him say that, all the things I previously thought were important no longer seemed important. I no longer simply want to pursue academic achievement and a good job, I want to pursue a life of significance.” -Lunapinkflowerphoto_0003

“I learnt so much looking after my buddies this week. When I saw them being thankful for seemingly insignificant things, I suddenly realized that I haven’t ever really thanked my parents before. When camp is over, I’m going to be intentional about expressing my love and thanks to my own family.” Heysonpinkflowerphoto_0006

“Before I came to this camp I was afraid of kids with disabilities. But after this week I see that they just need more love, they need us.” -Reaganpinkflowerphoto_0007

“This summer camp changed me a lot, I feel like I learnt the definition of love for the first time.” – Olivia pinkflowerphoto_0002For The Kids,

Bring Me Hope

 

Running From Love

Summer Camp 2013 has come to an end.  Although goodbyes have been said, there are stories waiting to be told.  This year Rena (one of our volunteers) shared her personal thoughts about working with orphans and running from love.  I highly encourage you to get your box of Kleenex before you start reading.lokasari_pinkflower2013_0028For the past three summers, I’ve attended Bring Me Hope summer camps for orphans in China.  Going to camp has left me with some of the sweetest memories and some of the deepest sorrow my heart has ever known.  Getting to know and love some of the orphans I’ve met has had such a deep impact on my heart.

For the first two summers, I went enthusiastically to meet with these children who have experienced much suffering and abuse.  Many have attachment disorders, which keep them from forming deeper bonds with those around them for fear of being hurt again.  They run from good and from love because they are self-protecting.  Most of them have no idea how to receive love because they’ve been abandoned and mistreated.  They run from the very thing they need because they are afraid.

Summer after summer, I meet these children. I have attempted to purse them with as much love and faithfulness as possible.  I have made it my goal to bring them hope, show them love and tell them they have value. I have formed deep connections with many of the children. I’ve placed them on a bus on a Friday afternoon and have waived goodbye to them with tears streaming down my face and theirs.

This summer, I realized something.  The children and I are not so different.  I’ve been hurt. I run from love and I lack hope.  I understand them.  I know what it’s like to keep locked inside because more heartbreak seems unbearable. During a volunteer meeting Kelly, one of our camp directors read a description of attachment disorder to us.  For the first time, I realized that I’m prone to the same.  I was never orphaned but I’ve been neglected and mistreated and I carry those scars with me and sometimes they ooze with pain.  Self-protecting has also been my tendency and this year I’ve done it more than I’ve desired to. lokasari_pinkflower2013_0027Earlier during my week at camp this year, I communicated with Kelly that I thought it best not to connect too deeply with the children because the tearing when we said goodbye would just hurt them more.  I didn’t want to hurt them more.  I wanted to bring them a little hope not more pain.  In some way, this thought made sense but I was not opening my heart as wide as I possibly could to these children and that is not love.  I was acting and thinking in my own wisdom, which failed me.  Here is a description of love that Kelly’s kids recited from memory.  Here is my rock when my own wisdom fails me.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.   If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b]6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 

 “Love does not keep locked inside.  It is not afraid for “perfect love cast out fear.”.  Love endures forever.  It is the only thing that makes any sense.  If we are acting in love and laying down our lives for the sake of others we will gain more love and hope will rise. Self-protection makes sense but self-protection is not love.  I’ve been guilty of trying to protect myself from good.  I understand, but thankfully my week at camp did not end in self-protection but with love, the patient kind that waits.

I waived goodbye to one of my little boys.  He hugged others as he began to weep. I drew near and hugged him.  He lost more control of his emotions with that hug and his self-protection was crumbling. I could finally see hope rise in his heart.  I hope love continues to bear fruit in his heart. I hope the love he received he will pour out on others. And I hope that love would fall right back on him.  lokasari_pinkflower2013_0026My time at Bring Me Hope has been a journey.  I’ve learned what love really means.  I’ve seen it in the faces of each of the orphans.  I see the Father in them.  My heart both rejoices in them and mourns with them.  I see the Father more now than I ever have.  Caring for the unloved, the orphan has healed my heart from self-protection. I see this pure and blameless religion washing over me.  I’m so thankful for the wonderful opportunity to have gone to China for the third time this summer.  I went in brokenness and came back whole.  Thank you Father and thank you little broken beauties.  I’ll never stop loving you.  I’ll never give up hoping for you.  If you desire a family, I’ll hope that with you and mourn that with you.

 Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) -Rena

Past Camper to Future Volunteer

This week I was contacted by a young woman interested in volunteering for Bring Me Hope 2014.  As we continued to talk, I squealed with joy when I found out this girl, Anna, was one of our past campers!  There is something about reconnecting down the road with a kid that came to camp that makes life so real!2013BringMeHopeSummer_0045v

“My name is Anna Coiner. I attended Camp Bring Me Hope when I was in the orphanage in Jiangxi Fu Zhou . When we heard that we were going to Camp Bring Me Hope, we were all very excited. When we got to Camp Bring Me Hope, we did lots of fun activities. We went to the bowling place and played games, that was our first time went bowling.  We colored  our shirts and made key chains.  It was so much fun.  When we finished designing our shirts we all put the shirts on and take picture of us all together.  We also went to the river to swim.  I also remember that David Bolt jumped to the water because he saw snake but when he jumped in it was not snake it was just stick we all laughed.  I really loved the volunteers.  They were so kind to us.  I felt loved by them. We all really liked when the volunteers said “Good Night”  to us in English.  We also played musical chairs, it was an awesome game.  When Camp Bring Me Hope was almost over, we were all very sad.  We all were crying because we didn’t want to leave Bring Me Hope. 2013BringMeHopeSummer_0046 2013BringMeHopeSummer_0047

The next year, a couple kids that attended Bring Me Hope at they got adopted by an American family.  I was the last one to get adopted by an American family.  My family loves me and is taking care of me now.  I have been America for 6 years. Now I want to volunteer for Camp Bring Me Hope. I want to help the orphans just like when I was an orphan at Camp Bring Me Hope. I want to tell them about my story when I was in the  orphanage and then I got adopted by an American family.  I want to tell them all the fun things we did.”  Anna Coiner
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And here is Anna today…I already love this girl!

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Thank you Anna for contacting me and sharing your story!  We hope to see you next summer as a volunteer at Bring Me Hope Camp 2014 (woot woot, which will also be our 10 year aniversary)!

New Shoes │Taiyuan Recap

Today is story time from camp Taiyuan.

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pinkflowerphoto_0049 pinkflowerphoto_0050About a week ago we had a little girl named Suzi join us.  Suzi was a kind & warm hearted girl who loved her camp family to pieces.  One day Ciara, her Irish volunteer, brought her to the store and went straight to the shoe section.  Suzi’s shoes were “in bits” and didn’t fit her anymore, so it was Ciaras intention to surprise her by buying a new pair.  As they were looking at shoes, little Suzi began to cry and explained she didn’t have money and could never buy a new pair.  It took her awhile to finally understand that Ciara was buying the shoes and that she didn’t have to pay her back.  Ciara said, “She finally realized that I was going to give her a gift and her eyes got so big!  She couldn’t believe that someone would buy her new shoes!”  The rest of the day was all smiles from Suzi as she happily received the simple gift of new shoes.pinkflowerphoto_0052 pinkflowerphoto_0053 pinkflowerphoto_0054

One of our favorite parts of camp is giving out camp awards. Every night the ‘Award Fairy’ comes to our Assembly Hall (the Award Fairy is played by our crazy-fun staff member Keri) and each night new campers receive awards such as, “Most Generous” or “Biggest Smile.” We wish everyone could have the opportunity to see these orphans nearly burst with pride when their names get called to receive an award. They come up to the front of the stage and everyone cheers and claps for them as they hold up their awards. One of our little campers who joined us last year brought her award from last year which she keeps in a special folder because she is still so proud; even a year later!pinkflowerphoto_0055 pinkflowerphoto_0056 pinkflowerphoto_0057

This week we sent a few of our volunteers to ride back to the orphanage with the kids. They said as they looked around on the bus, so many of the kids had opened their memory books to the page of the ‘family photo’ and were just staring at the picture. Many of the kids looked at the picture and cried as they drove back to the orphanage. This really touched our hearts because we put a lot of time and effort into making the memory books, but we didn’t know how important they really were to the kids. These orphans cherish their memory books and many of them keep them in special places to keep them safe.pinkflowerphoto_0058

Although each week our little campers are carrying home lots of new things with smiles on their faces, our biggest hope is that they carry in their hearts the truth that they are special, important and very loved.  Camp is so important for these kids and in many cases is considered one of the highest points of their lives.  These are lives changed when you and I show love to these kids through volunteering at camp, sponsoring an orphan & standing alongside of them and advocating!  We want to thank you all for the difference you are making in the lives of these kids…who now can see that they are loved and have a hope that can carry them through.pinkflowerphoto_0059 pinkflowerphoto_0060 pinkflowerphoto_0061 pinkflowerphoto_0062 pinkflowerphoto_0063 pinkflowerphoto_0064 pinkflowerphoto_0065 pinkflowerphoto_0066 pinkflowerphoto_0067 pinkflowerphoto_0068 pinkflowerphoto_0069

For The Kids,

Bring Me Hope

Welcome to Yantai Camp│Week #1

We love featuring updates for everyone about camp life.  It is a great opportunity to share what HE is doing in the lives of orphans & volunteers and how you can change lives by sponsoring orphans and advocating for our camp kids!  Who knows…maybe it will inspire you to become part of the adventure and adopt a sweet little kid or volunteer at Bring Me Hope summer camp 2014?

We had a crazy week here at Yantai but I guess that’s to be expected with a new location, constant rain and daily power & water shortages 🙂  However, the great part of all of this is that the kids didn’t even notice the number of times our schedule was thrown out the window.  They were smiling and having the time of their life.  What a joy it was to see them squealing when we brought the ocean to them (the rain prohibited us from going to the ocean) and they got to “go fishing” in a blow up pool.  I think the comment that I heard the most throughout the week was, “Wow, I thought I was coming here to serve orphans and teach them life skills, but it’s the kids that are teaching me!”  We’re super thankful for all the opportunities He gave us this week to learn what it means to rely on His enduring strength and unshakable wisdom.

This is one of our favorite camp transformations and we can tell from the pictures not only that she is loved but His daughter…she is so beautiful and deserves to be treated like a princess!

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May (Chinese Camp Director) >“This beautiful girl is delayed and it is clear that she has received messages her whole life that she is not worthy of love.  The first day of camp she was constantly looking down with hunched shoulders and cowering in the corner.  It was amazing to watch the love of her translators bring about transformation to her whole body stance over the course of the week.  They didn’t let her disability disarm them but instead treated her like a princess.  They were true sisters to her.  They taught her how to look up and face the world and created a safe place so she could!”

IMG_8600Is ^he^ not the cutest little thing ever!

Nancy (Volunteer) > “It was amazing to see how the children changed from Monday to Friday.  Only He could bring that kind of transformation.  I hope that they will allow this transformation to carry them through this year!”IMG_86002

Graham (Chinese Staff) > “I learned how discipline can bring two people together.  I was afraid of disciplining Mike at first but then I took him aside and talked to him about bullying.  He didn’t take it well at the time but by the next day and throughout the week he would always initiate interactions with me and constantly come find me to chat or hang out.  These kids need LOVE – and it comes in many different forms.”IMG_35145

“She was crying all night and wouldn’t let me go.  I whispered to her, “You can fall asleep in my arms.”  She finally calmed down and went to sleep.”2

Kate (Volunteer) >“I had two buddies, they looked so similar I could have sworn they were twins. The first one I bonded with really quickly, the second child was  little resistant.  We were sitting outside McDonalds one day and I was teaching the first one how to kiss me on the cheek (she had never seen this done before) and then the second girl randomly came over and planted one on my cheek too!  What a privilege…teaching two little girls how to express love with a kiss on the cheek!  It was definitely a highlight for me!”

Thank you for reading and letting us share our heart for the orphans…what the world deems as broken is made beautiful by sharing Him and loving on these kids!  What a privilege it is to be part of their story!

P.S.  We are still taking “Orphan Sponsorships” to cover camp + kid costs!  If you would like to take part and see more lives changed like this past week at Yantai visit this link >http://bring-me-hope.myshopify.com/products/sponsor-an-orphan

For The Kids!

Bring Me Hope Foundation

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Lance│Taiyuan Camp Stories

Lance!  A boy known for a huge smile on his face and who has captured the love of all the volunteers at Taiyuan Camp.  Although he is diagnosed with CP and doesn’t have capabilities such as running, this hasn’t stopped him from having the time of his life at camp.  He loves singing at the top of his lungs and like all other boys, squirting everyone in the pool with water guns.

While we were sitting outside of our apartment wondering how to transport Lance to the assembly hall (his legs were tired), a man who owns a business living in our camp apartments offered to give Lance and his friends a ride in a big van.  Lance couldn’t believe we got to ride in this van and kept telling the business man “Thank You!”  As we started to drive off, he exclaimed real loud with a big smile on his face, “Wow!  It’s like we’re a real family!

Below is a picture of Lance in the van with his “real family.”  He’s definitely a keeper!

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Cupcakes for Orphans

As Bring Me Hope begins the long awaited summer camp for Chinese Orphans, people around the world are finding ways to sponsor kids for camp and give them an opportunity to be loved and cared for.

This past month, two young girls (Layel & Christina) got together with the hopes to creatively raise money to send kids to this years summer camp.  With a love of baking and all things sweet, they decided to sell cupcakes.  They called their fundraiser “Hope Bakes” and offered some fun flavors…Banana Split, Peanut Butter Cup, & Vanilla Orange Buttercream.  It looks like they had a blast in the kitchen creating massive cupcakes for delivery.

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We all have gifts, talents & hobbies that can be used for a greater cause!  Like these two young girls…they used what they loved and HE provided more than they could have asked for.  They even exceeded their $300 goal and were beyond excited to be sending a couple of kids to Bring Me Hope camp.  It wasn’t just these two girls but everyone that jumped on board and donated, your gifts are changing lived.

If you have a story about raising money for Bring Me Hope orphans, please let us know.  We would love to feature you on the blog.  We are also still looking for people to get involved with this years summer camp and helping kids come.  If you would love to change a future please click HERE and visit our sponsor page.

Bei & Qiu’s Story

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!

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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!

Qui

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!

Bei

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!

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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.

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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.

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Xia’s Story

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!