Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A red thread connection

A friend loves at all times… Proverbs 17:7

An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The red thread may stretch or tangle but it will never break.
-Ancient Chinese Legend

What an amazing blessing I was able to have last week! It was definitely one of those Chinese red thread moments! My roommate Tabitha and I went up to Beijing over a week ago. Tabitha left on Thursday and we had some things we wanted to do before she went. One of those things on our agenda was to meet up with a mutual Chinese friend of ours, Lily. I met Lily two years ago as our guide to Jiangjin Social Welfare Institute (aka orphanage). Tabitha also met her on her last trip to China. I have not heard from Lily in over a year and tried to contact her while I was in China during my last trip. God was saving it up for this day!

Tabitha, Lily and Dawn
We met Lily at Hong Chou. It is also known as the Pearl Market. ANYTHING you can think of is here! Everywhere you turn there is another vendor trying to convince you they have the best price for you! Each of them will insist that their product is the real thing. They will tell you everyone else would sell it to you at this price but since you are their friend they will give it to you for a different, lower price. Welcome to bartering land! Four floors of this and row after row of your new Chinese best friend! Fortunately, we were able to find Lily in all of this! She could only sneak away from her tour group for about 45 minutes but it was so worth it. She is older than I am but I am convinced she looks younger than the last time I saw her! Lily convinced a man at one of the booths to give me a job painting. I can do scripture on scrolls and add flowers to them for 5 kuai a scroll. That is equivalent to $.75 in US money per scroll. She was very excited about that for me. We will have to wait and see. I’ll keep you posted on this. She was amazed to watch Tabitha barter! She is very good and has an amazing poker face. Tabitha and I bought the same thing and she got a better deal. Lily told me that next time I needed to wait until Tabitha was done bartering before I bought anything. Lily and I talked about getting together again while I am here. She told me I could teach her about His word and I in turn asked her to teach me to do calligraphy. (His word is even more beautiful written in Chinese characters!) I do hope that we are able to do that. I am just so glad that this Chinese red thread never breaks!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Welcome to my humble abode

...As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

I'd like to welcome you to Shepherd's Field Children's Village. I have heard from several people that they would like to see where I am living. So sit back, relax and let me take you through a little tour. As you enter the gates of Shepherd's Field, the first building you come across is the office.

Directly to the left is " The Inn". This is where I live. There are two apartments in here for staff. There is a third apartment that I am using as a classroom. There are also 11 guest rooms. This is for team members who come to work/serve at the orphanage. We are able to house over 50 people at a time. Right now, we have three teams here.

As you walk through the grounds, there are many wonderful buildings to visit. To the left of the office is Samaritan's House. This is where the clinic is based. When children have high medical needs, this is the place they live in. There are four additional houses the children live in. There is the House of Peace, House of Blessings, Zachary's House, and House of Love. There is a building in the middle of all these homes for the Little Lamb's Preschool, SLP/OT/PT Therapy and the Primary School.

Across the courtyard is the Banner Factory. All Foreign run orphanages (also known as Foster Homes in China) must have a business that they participate in as well as the care of special needs children. The work the ladies do there is stunning. You should check it out on www.chinaorphans.org. There is a kitchen where all the food for the staff and children are prepared. There is a workshop in a separate building. There are also 2 new buildings presently under construction. One is called the Outreach Center. The purpose of this building is to provide the older children a place for vocational training. I am blessed to be given the opportunity to teach some of the older girls how to paint. They will be able to sell their pieces at our store in the Inn. This building will also be used for fellowship. Staff and children will join here for lunch daily. Next to it is another building. It is where The Little Lamb's Preschool will go. Presently they have one class. Once this building opens, there will be room for a second class to start. The Primary School will also be located there. The therapists are looking forward to their new therapy rooms as well in this building. There is prayer needed for these buildings. Funding is needed and must be deposited into the Bank of China by mid November. Without it, it appears the project construction may have to stop.
Now that I have walked you through the grounds at Shepherd's Field, would you like to come visit my apartment? I live with Tabitha Davis. She is from Nashville, Tennessee. She has been given this amazing gift of videography and photography. She has such a heart for the children here. Since she has been here, she has been blogging stories about the children in hopes of finding them homes and letting people know of the work God is doing here in China. Check out her blog at http://tabithainchina.blogspot.com. She has been a gift to me. She has helped me learn many of the things I needed to know and how to do things in China that I have no clue about (which is ALOT!). She was heaven sent as she has been patient with me. She leaves on Thursday and I will miss her desperately. While here, it has been amazing to see how God has woven our lives together over the last 3 years. Since I arrived, I have been sharing stories with her of my friends and their adopted girls. It was just last week that we realized that she went on a trip and met Anna Pieschke the summer before she was adopted. We also realized that we both had the same guide on one of trips. Some of you will remember me telling you about Lily from my first visit to China. She is wonderful lady so full of life. When I came here this summer, I had hoped to get to see here. God was saving it for tomorrow! We are blessed to be getting together with Lily in Beijing after church. God is sooooo good! Can you tell I am excited about this?
Anyways, let me walk you through our apartment. We enter the apartment into a room that is our living room, dining room and kitchen...all in one! Did you know Samsung makes refrigerators? They do in China! Toaster ovens also work for baking cookies!
Oops! There was a picture of the living room/dining room here
but I hit backspace too many times
and deleted the picture. I couldn't get it back. Sorry!

Our favorite room in our apartment is the bathroom. Periodically, it creates this lovely sewage smell! You never know when it is going to reappear! Sometimes it is so bad that you walk in and it bowls you over! Tabitha adds "I smell a smelly smell that smells smelly!" I won't complain too much though since they give us western toilets instead of squatty potties.
For those of you that have experienced the lovely matresses in China, I will tell you that you are welcome to come and visit me. I will gladly share my box spring with you! I have bunk beds in my room. The mattress on the bottom is a double bed and the mattress feels like a box spring. The single bed on top however has a normal, comfortable mattress. Yahoo! That is where I sleep! It could be worse! They could have given me a bamboo mat to lay on top of a wooden board. I am blessed that they didn't!
I hope you have enjoyed my tour of Shepherd's Field!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Food! Glorious Food!

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; Proverbs 25:21

Before I came to China, my big joke was that I was going to become a vegetarian here! The reason I said this ws due to my first grocery store experience here last June. They had meats that were cured hanging around. Picture a good Italian Deli , mulitply it and then add very unique things hanging there too! The best was watching people picking out their own pieces of meat from the big pile (yes they used gloves!).

Fortunately, the store I shop at is not quite to this extreme!

We have a WalMart Super Center in LangFang. In there, the meat department however is very "open". We are used to foods being prepackaged. I can get that here but it is more expensive and not as many choices. The rest is either laying on ice or in an open refrigeration unit and you pick what you want with tongs. It is like a bulk department but with meat! After you bag up what you want, you take it to get weighed and labeled. Purchasing a whole chicken though will never be the same for me.

(Trying to put a picture here but can't figure it out! To be posted later!)

Now picture getting that head in your dinner! Been there! Done that!

In China, they waste NOTHING! Everything can be used for something so you will find unique things in the meat department!

You can even get your chicken nuggets in bulk in the frozen meat section!

(Will add another picture once I can figure out how to move them!)

So far I am sticking to the things I am familiar with and comfortable with. I imagine I will get more adventurous as time goes on.

Wegmans better watch out though! They have bigger meat, produce and bakery departments with a much wider variety. It is easy to eat healthy here. If you are really craving certain Western foods, Beijing has several grocery stores carrying imported foods. I can even get my favorite Rold Gold pretzels there...if I want to pay $5 a bag!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Second Week in China

It is hard to believe that I have already been in China for 19 days! This has been an interesting journey. It is often really good that God doesn't tell you all that you will be experiencing before it happens. All of you know how much I LOVE to talk! It is amazing how quiet you become when you are in a foreign country and you don't know their language. You listen alot more and communicate through actions. I am getting really good at charades! The Chinese staff seem to understand that better than my mixed up tones of the few words I know in Chinese. Fortunately, time with the children is easier than communicating to the adults. The little ones seem to understand me the best.
I have started going into the homes to pray over the children. My prayers seem to get really short as they want me to play with them instead. After a challenging day, children's laughter always seems to brighten it up. They also don't seem to mind that I don't speak their language. There is one little girl, Bea, who notices me each time I walk into her house. She waves, blows me kisses and brings books for me to read to her. She doesn't even mind that I read to her in English. She also loves to sing with me. When we are playing, she will often be singing and I could swear that she is singing in English.
Each of them has such a story to tell. They are so young but have already gone through so much. Every child here is labeled special needs. One set of twin boys are here because they were thought to have a heart problem. Upon full examination, it was found that they only suffer from eczema and are "all boy"! Others have club feet or cleft lip and/or palate. Some require blood transfusions every other week. My favorite part is when staff point out the children that are already matched with a family. The saddest part is hearing the older children's stories. There are boys here who are 13 years old and so long to be a part of a family. Grady is one of these young men. He suffers from Scoliosis and desires to have a family. He needs surgery and the best place for this surgery is in the States. Please keep him and the other older children in your prayers. So many families have opened their arms to special needs children. My desire is that more families open their hearts to adopting an older child. Please continue to pray that God works in the people He desires to adopt orphans, no matter what country they are from.