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