Saturday, April 18, 2009

How I ended up here at PHF

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, "Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had." Luke 21:1-4

I while ago I thought I should tell you about my story on how I got here. I put that on the "list" of things I should eventually blog about. Well, you know how those lists are, at least MY lists...I write them, misplace them or forget to look at them and then eventually run into them and say "Oh yeah. I was supposed to do that!" This time, I didn't run into the "list". I actually got a letter that made me think I needed to tell you the story.

Last spring, I was considering going on a m*ssion trip with a team from Visiting Orph*ns. In my own head, I couldn't figure out how this was a good idea while waiting for my adoption. (Yes, my adoption journey is another thing on the list and one will hear that one too!) I am a planner. I like to have things in order and things should make sense. Ever since I became a Chr*stian, I have had to learn that some of the best things have come out of things that initially made no "human" sense at all! This is one of them! Many couldn't understand why I could justify spending my extra money on this trip when I could have saved it for my adoption. I couldn't understand either but felt driven to go. I kept pr*ying about which group I should join. There were three that I was pr*ying about. I remember calling my friend Marilyn and telling her I kept feeling that I should go to Fushun but it wasn't on the list. She laughed at me and told me it was on the list just further down, not at the groups I was looking at though. It was the orphan*ge her daughter came from and there was a team returning there. I hadn't even looked at those teams as options since they were groups returning. I didn't think I would join those but He knew where He needed me to go. I gladly joined this team thinking what a wonderful opportunity to go and see where Sarah came from. Though it was a blessing to give pictures of Sarah with her family to the orphan*ge director and meet her foster mom, this was NOT the entire reason He needed me to go to Fushun.

When we got to Ch*na, part of our itinerary included spending part of a day at a place called Sheph*rd's Field Childr*n's Village. It was a Foster Home run by foreigners outside of Beij*ng. I had never even heard of it before. All I knew about it was that two of the couples on our team sponsored children there. To me, it was just another opportunity to love some more orph*ns. What a blessing it was for our team members to get to see the children they have been helping. The children looked well cared for and the nannies spent lots of time loving the children. This is where it started...I started noticing all the cleft lip and palate children. One little one caught my eye. Her name was Bea (pronounced Baya). Ring a bell? As we walked around, we had stopped into the House of Peace. We were watching the nannies teaching the children how to count while they were waiting on their potties. It was a precious moment. As we walked out of there, I was walking alone. I remember seeing a puppy in a box (possibly the one I feed now every night) and thinking "L*rd, I could work here." I hadn't been happy where I was for a long time. I liked the things I saw here and thought I would like to work in a place where I could share my spirit*al thoughts and beliefs and didn't have to worry about what I could and couldn't say to my students. What better way to help orph*ns than to come and teach them! He had now planted the first seed in His plan.

A few days later we headed to Fushun. While there, my heart was totally changed. When I had come to Ch*na on my first trip, I met numerous babies and toddlers. My heart was not ready for the change that older children can do. From day one, the older children were our focus. We played with the younger ones but it was so easy to include the older children in all that we did. We saw transformations in their faces as smiles eventually came out. They were cautious and protective of their hearts but they recognized two of the couples that were with us. One couple brought photo albums for each child. It had pictures in them from the trip last year. It was such a gift to them! They loved it. The next few days would be times for us to share things with them...projects to make, pictures to color, stories to tell, songs to sing, games to play, whistles to toot and the list goes on. What I think amazed me the most was how we would give these simple little things to them and they would turn around an give them back to us. They wanted to show us their love for us. It was unconditional love. I often cried as they did this. They had so little yet kept giving it all to us. It reminded me of G*d's love for us. I remember being back in the hotel and asking everyone where I could find the story of the widow's mite in the b*ble. That was what I kept thinking of when I thought of these children. Like her, they gave ALL! I wanted to be able to love like that! I wanted to know it would feel to be able to just give it away without worries about how the bills would get paid, fears about how I could pay for an adoption, concerns about what others would think. I wanted to love like that!

I felt G*d tugging at my heart after the first day. Prior to coming, I asked Him to let me spend time with the child He knew needed me most. I didn't know who it was but time was getting short. We only had a few days there and I didn't want to lose a moment. I kept asking Him who it was and when I arrived that morning, one young man (cleft lip and palate none the less) came up to me and lifted his arms up to me and said "Mama!" I thought "This must be the one!" Nope! After we had held our Olympic Games, we were handing out medals. I was standing there and the little one I had in the morning wanted nothing to do with me. I kept asking Him who was it. The next thing I know someone, has slipped their little hand into mine. I didn't even have to look and I knew...this was the one. My heart melted. I turned to look into the precious eyes of an 11 year old boy. His name was Fuxing (sp?). We were inseparable for the next 3 days. What amazed me the most was we all went to min*ster to them and we were the ones being min*stered to. I felt I was receiving more than I was giving. I can still feel all those feelings as if it was just last week. One of the things I received was reigniting my fire to teach children. I was able to do all the things with these children that I so desperately missed while teaching at the High School level.

As we continued on with our trip, I kept talking to the team about when we all would come back and work here after we learned Chin*se. When I got home, I did look into Chin*se classes at the college in my town. About a week after I got home, out team leader sent me an email and told me that PHF was looking for a special educator for two 11 year old boys. Naw...I couldn't do that! It was one of those jaw dropping moments when you realized some of the things you said and did and He was listening..."I could work here."... 11 year old boy in Fushun and have been teaching 5th and 6th graders for past two years at church... "I don't want to work here anymore." I finally sent out an email to Tim and Pam Baker telling them my work history and what I was capable of doing. Little did I know that I would get a reponse that said "You're all that we hoped and prayed for during this past year." WOW! He had been preparing me for this moment!

There were many challenges to get to PHF by the beginning of the school year. I was hoping to be there by the end of August and I accepted the position on July 7th. I had to get renters for my house, pack up a 4 bedroom house, find a home for my cats, come up with the money to pay for a flight and mortgage payments until I could find a renter...and the list goes on. Throughout it all, I just kept asking for Him to be glorified. Many questioned whether I should be leaving a job that I have had for 20 years to do this. How could I live off of that amount? How would all the bills I had back home get paid? Lots of questions and very little answers...just a peace that passes all understanding that I knew that Ch*na and PHF was where I was supposed to be for the next school year. As it all worked out around the 11th hour, of course, I knew He was glorified through this whole process. When I was finally able to call my mother and tell her I had renters for my home, she said to me "He really was in this all the time, wasn't He?" and I said "yeah, ma, He was." He kept speaking to me the same thing He spoke to me in Ch*na, about giving it all. He kept asking me, "Are you willing to give it all Dawn?" I was...not all the time...many times I doubted myself. Was I really hearing Him? Was this all in my head? I remember when my visa got denied, a friend of mine said to me "Wow. You must really be a threat to the enemy. Remember this when times get rough that He called you to this." I have remember that and getting this letter reminded me I needed to share this journey.

I want to share a part of what was written. At the end of our team's time in Ch*na, we were asked to write a letter, talking about how we were feeling at that moment. I was floored when I read it! It was exactly what ended up happening yet I didn't know He already had it all planned out!

Dated 6-26-08

"Oh my heavenly father,
I come to you feeling so much I have been asking you for the past few years to make me into the woman you desire me to be. I never thought I would be here at this emotional place. I am ready to sell off my collections, pay off my debt, sell my dream home and move to Ch*na. I no longer have the passion to do what I am doing in the states. I want to do it here! I will sleep on that board, have only a few outfits, have paint peeling on the walls, whatever it takes. I want to serve where you want me to . I want to do your will. I want to do it in your time. Besides wanting to come and give it all to your children here in Ch*na, I am willing to do whatever you want me to regarding my adoption. ... Before I left on this trip, I heard you keep speaking to me about my need to "have my ducks in the pond." This is a real big pond L*rd! A pond I had never thought looking at. I know you are a BIG G*d, one who is in control. Open the doors you want to open, close the doors you want closed and continue to change my heart. I do desire to be the woman you desire me to be. Send me to the end of the earth. I want to share this amazing love that you have given me with whomever you want me to and wherever you want me to. I am here to serve you G*d. My life is not mine. It is yours. I love you L*rd! Love, Dawn

There is not a thing I wrote that He didn't do in my life. I was at a point that I was on my knees, in my kitchen, listening to Steven Curtis Chapman's "Yours" song telling Him, "If you want me to sell the house, I will. It is Yours. I think I need it for my adoption but You can do anything." He didn't need me to. He found me renters instead. I love how He is changing me, one moment at a time. I love how I can look back and see all the things He lined up to prepare me for this year...

3 years ago...baptized...asked for Him to send me where He wanted to send me and use me however He wanted to use me
3 years first trip to Ch*na
3 years ago...started teaching 5th and 6th graders at church and a challenging bunch they were
3 years ago...started taking m*nistry classes at night
3 years ago...Baker's started asking people to pr*y for the teacher to come and teach their boys

I want you all to know that if you are presently asking Him for something, don't give up hope. Hope does not disappoint when you have Him on your side. He is already working in you. Let Him have all the time He needs for when He shows you that final picture, you will be floored. You will feel exactly what I felt when I read my letter and saw all that He was doing then and now in my life. I can't wait to see what the next picture will be...My daughter...then my husband....His perfect's all worth it for it takes your breath away every time!

Friday, April 10, 2009

...and a GOOD FRIDAY it is!

Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled as spoken by the prophets: "They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots." Matthew 27:35

Today is the day that my Savi*r died for me so my sins could be forgiven! A GOOD FRIDAY it is! Shepherd's Field truly looked like a Children's Village today! We had an Easter Egg Hunt and there were children and nannies everywhere! The staff hid over 400 carefully dyed and decorated eggs all over the grounds. It took them at least 30 minutes to hide them all and less than 10 minutes for 60 children to find them! I'm not sure who was more competitive though...the children or the nannies! :)


Mei Mei

Iris (OT) with her little man

Eric and his nanny

Laura (Speech Therapist) and Cameron

Ling Ling

(pronounced Baya or maybe Jade if my prayers are answered)


Jacob Jai

Gregg, Ahna, Timothy and gang

Joseph, Cameron, Benjamin, Brent, Jacob Jai and others

Brent, Holly, Henry, Joy, Jacob Jai, Adrian, Luke and friends

Adam, Peyton, Emily, Malachi, Bea, Ahna, Timothy
Lucas, Gregg, Will, Mariah, Cole

Not a single child here doesn't need a family. Don't you want to come and
just love on them with me?

The Children of Shepherd's Field
Every child here needs love, especially the little ones that couldn't make it out for this event. If you have never visited Ch*na, consider coming. The gift of love is so easy to give. That is all these children ask for...a little love. Don't we all want that? A little love? I am so glad that on this day, my Savi*r loved me enough that He gave His life on the cross so I could have everlasting life. What a gift...that gift of love!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Red Thread Moment

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

We have entered into the "team season" again here at PHF. It has started to get really busy and I am finding that I am trying to "wear too many hats" at one time as more people come. One of the blessings with having more people come is I get to meet some of the people that pr*yed for me before I accepted the job here teaching the boys. One woman who came with a team from Clearwater, Florida was actually considering my job. It was wonderful to get to spend time with her and see why G*d needed here at home. She has a granddaughter with a cleft palate and is very involved with many good things. I will never stop being amazed how He placed that need on people's hearts who never met me before. I love how He works!

On Monday, two doctors arrived. It was awesome to find out they came from Syracuse, NY. That is my territory! Not exactly right around the corner but when you are talking about being on the other side of the world, Syracuse is close enough. What really made this one a red thread connection was that as Paul was telling me his story, I felt I had met him and his wife before. For some reason I felt I had met them at a craft show. I guess it was because I couldn't remember what else I would have done that would have led me to meet them. It was his wife Melissa that remembered where we had met. It was at an adoption seminar last spring!

My best friends, Marilyn and Walter Pieschke, run adoption seminars for AWAA a couple times a year. I have often presented at these. After my initial trip to Ch*na in the summer of 2006, I really felt that people needed to know the typical life for some orphans. It was just awesome to see how some of things I had said at that seminar impacted her. He is soooooo good! You never know who is listening to the things you say. You never know who you are going to effect. This is why we need to share our stories. The things G*d has shown you and done in your life could positively effect another person's life. I had a hard time "justifying" going on that trip because I was in the middle of getting my paperwork ready for Ch*na. It was His plan and I love that He continues to let me see the fruit from that event.

My request for you is that if you feel He is directing you down a certain path, then STEP! When He guides, He provides. It doesn't have to make sense. Many times, the bigger it is, the less it will make sense to us. Those are the times that He wants us to trust in Him even more and faithfully STEP! You will be blessed beyond measure when you step where He has asked you to. I was and continue to be. I can't wait to see what other red thread moments He is going to provide for me while I am here.