Visiting Eagles Wings Sept 2015 | Part 2

Saturday at Eagles Wings

Here are a few highlights from Saturday at Eagles Wings. I spent the day with the kids in the morning, and again in the afternoon until the evening.  It's always so fun and special, yet tiring being around these kids all day!

These kids love asking questions. Why this, why that. WenXuan was asking why I wear glasses. I just said I don't know and because I can't see well. He asked if I spent too much time on the computer! What a funny kid!! Later we were talking about surgery scars as one kid had a visible one by his neck, and the other kids were pointing out scars they have such as legs or back (spina bifida). The kids asked if I have a surgery scar, to which I said no.
'Why do we have them, Rob gege?'...
'I don't know...'.
WenXuan chimes in: 'I know, it's because we're special!'. Now that I knew for sure is true!!
[all in Chinese]

One the boys is very talkative (to say the least!), always asking questions, and yes he is a very sweet kid, I did have to challenge him to not talk for 5 minutes which he thought sounded like fun at first. He didn't quite last though ;)

I spent the morning and had lunch with the kids who live in an apartment locally. I was amazed at the progress one of the boys has made. He arrived at Eagles Wings around the time I first went in 2013, at which point he seemed very delayed and did not talk. However, this time he could communicate much better, saying 'Ayi' (aunty/nanny) and telling her different things. It gave me such hope that he can be adopted in the future and that he could do really well and possibly catch up more.

On Monday I spent the day at the school that Eagles Wings runs for all the orphanage kids. They have over 70 kids in various classes, some like traditional school, others lower functioning kids needing more stimulation. One boy I know from the school there, cared for by another foster home in the orphanage, asked me:
'Rob gege, do you have a dad?'....
Because for the these kids, having a dad or a mom is not a given. Often being with these kids it is easy to forget they are orphans, without their own families, and then little instances like this highlight their reality.

I also got to talk to one of the Eagles Wings managers to get an update on some of the kids adoption status. It's up to the orphanage officials, not the foster home to submit files for different children to be available for adoption. Unfortunately, this isn't always the easiest thing... We talked through the possibility of different kids paperwork being done in the next batch. I long to see a few of the older children have a chance at having their own forever family, for how different their life can be. Although it is a difficult transition for older children, in my experience from the children I have worked with who have been adopted, it is so worth it. Please join me in praying for the orphanage to be willing to do paperwork for more children, and for families to be found to adopt them.

CunLiang (left) will be adopted this month. WenBo (right) I hope can be adopted one day if his paperwork is done before it is too late.
I left this visit with such hope. WenXuan waved from his room in the 10th floor all the way as I walked down the driveway to the orphanage gate.

Visiting Eagles Wings Sept 2015 | Part 1

I had a wonderful week in Beijing, staying at New Day with my friends there. I had time to get my things together before the big move, catch up with friends and see the kids there too! I left Beijing very early Friday morning to spent a long weekend in Jiaozuo.

I had a wonderful afternoon with the kids at Eagles Wings. I got to the orphanage a bit after 2pm and spent until about 7.30pm there. I met the Chinese managers first to catch up and I was asked to get some photos of some specific kids in the school there. This is my 6th time to visit Eagles Wings, so I know most the kids well and I know most of the staff too. One of the first things that happened was being asked what I thought about EW asking for the orphanage to do adoption paperwork for one of the older boys. I said please please do, without hesitation. A boy who would do so well in a family. I was also told one of the boys is being adopted in just A WEEK!!

CunLiang from Eagles Wings, being adopted NEXT WEEK!
First I gave one girl her camp memory book that she left at camp, my sister Ciara sent it back with me. She was SO excited to get it back and proudly showed it around to everyone! Next I went with the younger kids class, they have a lovely new play area that was recently built that many of them go to during the day. They try and have as many kids from the orphanage as possible in some sort of class, though for these kids it is focused play. One of the EW babies with downs syndrome, who when I was here in the summer could not sit up or push himself up from his front (he would just cry!). I lifted him out of his chair and wanted to test his sitting again - and YES he could sit well, and YES he could do tummy time easily! Less than two months later. I took too many photos and went to see the bigger kids. I walked in the room and they were excited to see me! Immediately one boy shouted out: 'Kid A said you're his gege (older brother) but you're my gege and everyones gege'. How sweet!! Being around these kids really is good for your self-esteem! I explained I was his Bring Me Hope camp buddy one year, but that yes I am all of your gege's. I can be both his and everyones!!

LiZhu gets her camp memory book back!
The baby who can now sit up well. Kids with Downs Syndrome develop behind children without DS and often have low muscle tone which means they are very floppy and it takes longer for them to learn to sit (and crawl, and walk...).

Even later one of the boys jokingly said 'I don't like you' {laughing while saying it}, and another kid quickly said 'I like you Rob Gege'. After school I had dinner with the boys and talked to two of the boys being adopted in the next few months. One on the 14th September and one hopefully in November. This is one of my favourite things to do! WenXuan/Wesley had already chosen small gifts for his two younger brothers, and a hair clip to give his mom.

I decided the theme of my few days at Eagles Wings was going to be hope. Today I met so many kids at the orphanage, most of whom I already knew, but many of whom won't be adopted. Many will need a miracle for their adoption paperwork to be done soon, if at all. Many of whom have special needs too great to be considered for adoption... Yes despite this, which could leave you in despair, I feel hope. I have hope for a better future for these kids, for those who will be adopted, and for those who won't. A hope that is greater than me, that comes from an awesome God. When God sees these children He feels love, and He can see them as He intended them to be - full of life and opportunity. It is this hope that roots what we do, and it is powerful.
    'God gives hope to the needy' Psalm 9:18

Made it to Beijing!

I made it to Beijing, pretty much on time to beautiful blue skies! Pollution here can get bad at times but today was great, thanks to big efforts with the forthcoming Aviation Expo.

See the blue skies around my plane below! Even seeing clouds so clearly in Beijing doesn't always happen!
After getting off the plane it's a long queue of people to get through immigration, though it moved quite quickly. They check your passport and visa and give a big stamp. Thankfully I've never had any issues here. 
I will spend the next week at New Day and then a weekend at Eagles Wings before starting with ICC on the 7th September. They wanted me to start this day at the same time as another volunteer. So, as I already had flights booked it gave the opportunity to add those two extras in before. 

Thanks for your prayers and support! I'll share more in the coming days and weeks. I had an awesome time at home these past few weeks and have felt so supported and encouraged. 


Info card from ICC

ICC made this awesome info card for me about who I am and where I'll be! I have some printed to give to people who have supported me and will be praying for me! If you would like one, shoot me an email or use the contact me page at the top. 

Big News!

I have some big news to share... It won't come as much of a surprise to most of you and many do know.

I'm moving to China!

I have been accepted to volunteer with ICC (International China Concern) for 8-9 months in Hunan Province. ICC is a 'Christian development organization that changes lives by bringing love, hope and opportunity to China's abandoned and disabled'. They have three different projects; two in Hunan and one in Henan. In 2012 I did one of their 'China teams' for two weeks at their Henan project. I love everything ICC does and am very excited at this opportunity. I have thought for a while that this is an organisation I would be very interested in working with long-term when I am ready for that. I especially love their increasing emphasis on preventing child abandonment. So focusing on the route of the problem and supporting families to enable them to keep their children. 

Many of you will realise that this was not the original plan I had talked about. I was originally supposed to move to Zhengzhou to teach English, but a few things didn't work out with that and as I started praying I felt that was not going to be a good fit. After discussing it with my parents and mentor type figures both in China and at home I realised if I am coming to China for a year I should do something along with my passion and calling, with special needs children and orphans. God gave me such peace that it would work out and be even better than I had originally thought and planned. ICC will give me this opportunity. I head back to China 25th August and start with ICC a week later.

What will I be doing?

ICC suggest volunteers spend their first month settling in and getting a feel for the different areas that need help. I do know they need some help with advocating and putting together advocacy profiles for each child that is available for adoption. This involves getting to know and spend time with the children available for adoption and putting together some photos and basic information. The children all have proper medical files so this is more to help potential families get to know the children's personalities. This is something I do have experience with from ICC's other location and from volunteering at Eagles Wings and of course Bring Me Hope (where I ran the advocacy program for a year!).

I also know they need some more help with the older boys, mentoring and running activities for them as a long-term volunteer who did that has just left. Either way I know I will be kept busy there as there are lots of needs.

Could you help?

My flights are paid for already, and I do have some (small) savings that can be used to help with some costs but I will need to raise some more money. If you would be interested in partnering with me on this and being apart of this please do get in touch. There is a paypal donate link on the 'Support Me' page. The cost of living in Hengyang is not very high. I am working out a rough budget of what I will need, I would be happy to share that with anyone who wishes to see. If you would prefer to donate by bank transfer or other way please get in touch through the contact me page at the top. For US tax-deductible donations please contact me. THANK YOU!!! It's not nice asking for money, not what I like doing at all but I trust as God closed one door to open this door, He will also provide a way.

Please pray for the money to all come in. Pray for good preparations at home having to get a new passport and new visa.