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.

Visiting Eagles Wings 2015 (2/2)

On Tuesday I spent the morning in the school helping Yong and Qiang with their maths again. I noticed it was difficult for them to point at the answer sometimes as their arm movement is limited. I was trying to think of different ways for them to be able to communicate the answer...

After lunch I was with some of the kids during a break between classes and one of the boys asked me (for like the 5th time!) why I have hair on my legs. This kid constantly asks why this and why that, as kids often do! This time I laughed and said no more why! I asked him why he has a nose? Then a few of the kids started joking around saying; 'why do you have a big nose?', 'why do you have ears?'.... etc. Then all of a sudden, one girl asked... Why do you have a mom? We have no mom... How do you answer that...

Friends, I wonder what you were thinking about when you were 11... This girl has watched so many of her friends be adopted and is obviously wondering when her turn is...

Wednesday was my last day with the kids and I left after lunch. I did the what I had done the previous two days helping Yong and Qiang and spent some time with the younger kids too. Three of the much older boys gave me a ride to the train station on their scooters which was fun and I went and spent the evening and next day with my friend Kevin in Zhengzhou. It was a short trip but so great to get to see the kids again and see how much some of them had grown. It was extra special to spend time with two boys who will be adopted before the end of the year!

Visiting Eagles Wings 2015 (1/2)

On Monday I got up and went straight to the orphanage to where Eagles Wings is (they have a few floors there for the kids homes, offices and the school). I first got to see Linda, the Australian founder. I hadn't seen her since we first met two years ago in China, so I got to chat to her for a bit and then go spend the morning at the orphanage school with the kids. I spent my time with Yong and Qiang. I first met them in 2012 at camp and then spent a lot more time with them in 2013 at Eagles Wings, when I stayed in their apartment for the 5 weeks. They are hilarious, smart, funny, cheeky, playful... They both have cerebral palsy which greatly affects their muscle movements, meaning they cannot walk and get around on the floor scooting. It also means they cannot really speak, though they do understand and have been trying to find other ways to communicate. It was harder in Chinese reading class as while they do know lots of the characters, they can't read them out. The teacher did try test them a few times but it was more difficult. After that class in maths it was a bit easier. They were given sums and on their desk is a board with the numbers 1-20 written out big. They can point to the answer. I helped them with that class and tested their addition. They didn't get them all right but tried hard and knew a lot!
Qiang in maths class! He loves to learn!
Yong in class. Love that smile!
After lunch I was asked to help one of the boys learn some photography. He is an older boy, and they are trying to think through some possible job opportunities for the kids for when they finish school, one for BeiBei is to do some photography. A local photography studio has agreed to help out (which is awesome!) So I took him outside to practice taking some photos of the garden, and then of the kids playing outside and then we spent the rest of the afternoon in the school taking some photos. I think he enjoyed it! Beforehand he was somewhat hesitant as he is a bit unsteady standing and walking but we figured out that if he kneels down on one knee, he has much more stability! And he can always get a tripod in the future. So I hope that helped give him some more confidence, or at least the realisation that he can do it if he practices some more.
One photo BeiBei took with Guang. Good, right!!
I had dinner and then spent another hour or two with the kids before they went to bed. We played and messed around and some of the kids and nannies asked about the other kids who had been adopted. I had some photos ready to show them which they all loved seeing how much the kids had grown and changed since being adopted! One extra special thing was getting to talk to WenXuan/Wesley about his new family. He will be adopted before the end of the year and had waited so long for his chance, watching so many of his friends be adopted. He has photos of his family up beside his bed and proudly showed me the photo album they sent him! He had briefly met them before, but at that time didn't know they would adopt him. I was so happy for him!!! I took one photo of him and said I am sending to his mom, he smiled real big and said 'you said this to my mama?'
It was so awesome to see my favourite kids once again!! A very special day for sure!

Traveling to Eagles Wings

It was an early start, up about 4am to get ready. My train was at 7am in the city so I took a car in and was there about 6. I hadn't taken the train that early before and it was nice and quiet in the station. I went to KFC for breakfast and got to the waiting room with time to spare. The bullet train's are very long with up to 15 different carriages!

 The first train was 3 hours and I had just under an hour until the second train. However, this also involved taking the subway from Zhengzhou East Station to main Zhengzhou station. It was going to be tight! I rushed off and got the subway and ran from the subway to the second train making it just in time! 30 minute train ride to Jiaozuo and then I headed to the hotel across the road from the orphanage and after nap time I went to see the kids!
I made it to Jiaozuo and checked into the hotel which is so close to the orphanage (3 min walk!), I had a big room though it was very cheap (only about 22€/25$ per night). I grabbed some lunch at the market between the hotel and the orphanage and went to see the kids at 2 when they woke up from nap time. They were all excited to see me, and some of the kids told me that Wesley/WenXuan will be adopted! He then told me himself too and showed me the photos of his family stuck to his wall beside his bed. He seemed upbeat! We talked through the photo book his family sent and played some games with the kids. I saw the babies (though they have all grown so much since last year!!). Lots of the kids and even some of the nannies asked about certain kids who have been adopted so I happily showed them photos or told them I would get s photo for the next day! I ate dinner with some other volunteers and went back to the hotel. It was a long long day but so great to see my favourite kids once again!