Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Touring China

The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity and touring. We're just waiting on Simon's U.S. Consulate appointment tomorrow where he will be issued his visa to return to America with us. Once he steps foot off of the plane and onto U.S. soil he will be a brand new citizen! How cool, right?

So, here are some pictures of the last few days

 Our first church service together. The first time Simon heard "yesu ai ni"
Jesus loves you

Chen Clan Academy

Amazing ivory carvings

The art of paper cutting

 Oh, look, Flat Stanley made it to China!

Pearl Market
In which I stole my friends idea and bought Simon's
future wife a strand of pearls which
I will give to her on her wedding day
with a picture of Simon holding the pearls in China
as a little boy.

Playing ball

Pearl River Cruise

 Standard Chinese Adoption photo

Squatty Potty
I was begging for Christ to return at this point 
of the journey.
I am also currently dehydrated in my attempt to 
avoid a second use of these things.

Visit to the Buddhist Temple

People, people everywhere!!!

Whew! That's it. Gotta get up for Simon's Consulate appointment
tomorrow morning first thing! 
We head for home in just four days. Awesomeness.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Oh, man this kid is a charmer!
People stop us everywhere to tell us how cute he is and then to tell us how young we look. (guess some things are cross cultural! I keep assuring them I'm not a teenager...)

*Simon knows his name now
*Simon can say please although it sounds like "pleuchese"
*Simon has excellent slurping and chomping skills, just excellent.
*Simon randomly wants to take baths, really, really long baths
*Simon sleeps very well
*Simon takes up the entire bed as he rotates 360 degrees all night long
*Simon gives amazing hugs
*Simon loves practicing the names of all the family members
*Simon is a ridiculously picky eater. Ahh, another one to add to the family!!
*Simon yells all the time when he talks (imagine the crazy chinese man on karate kid) 
*Simon's eyes will eat you up
*Simon has to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes
*Simon loves watermelon juice and hates watermelon 

He is such a remarkable boy. I lay awake at night and can't believe he is actually mine and he is actually here with me. So many miracles wrapped up in such a small body. I feel like being near him is like walking on Holy Ground because God is so clearly present in every single ounce of this story.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Orphanage visit part 2

I had to wait to write this post. Yesterday I was too angry to write it out, but I want to write it while it's still fresh in my mind.

There are no words to describe seeing so many orphans. I've seen pictures. I've heard stories. But when they reach out to you and tug on your skirt and lift up their arms you realize 
You. Had. No. Idea.
Not a clue.
They were covered in scabies and dirt and layers of filthy clothing. 
They were deformed and sick.
And I realized on that day that I had never seen anything so incredibly beautiful
I sat in the midst of them and held them. I told them they were beautiful. 
I told them they were handsome.
I told them Jesus loves them.

I don't know how as a Christian I could not be angry as I looked around and saw those that the world has shut away. We have shut away. We have gone about our business, our lives and pretended not to know their utter devastation. We have pretended that an orphan crisis is something exaggerated by passionate fanatics. We have avoided the topic in our churches. We have ignored them. We have failed to teach people about orphan care.
We did this. We did it ourselves by pretending and choosing to close our eyes. 
We brought this on them. We didn't just forget, we ignored
I am undone.

These are the ones we have ignored.

We have said the cost is too great and banished them to rundown orphanages 
so that we can pretend that the world is good and kind.

But it's not kind to them is it?

We say we follow Christ. 

And yet we have no part of "true religion" James 1:27

We told him that the cost of his redemption is too high.

We told these babies that the sacrifice it too great.

We told them we couldn't handle their needs. 

We told him that he has too many fingers and we can't love him.

We left her behind.

I know this is a forward post, perhaps even harsh. If I sound angry it's because I am. I'm angry that we have decided that our lives are worth more than theirs. I assure you that I include myself in that "we."
I walked away to screams of "mama, baba!" I cried and cried on the van ride home because I had to leave them behind not knowing if they would ever have a mama and baba.
May God forgive us.
May He give us the strength and courage to follow Him, wherever He leads.

Orphanage visit part 1

Yesterday we were able to go and visit the orphanage that Simon has lived in for the past four years. I wasn't prepared at all. Nothing could have prepared me. The two hour van ride through huge Chinese cities was a sight to behold. People stacked upon people in apartment building that are back to back and 20 stories high. I've been to big cities...these are bigger, much, much bigger. The city of the orphanage is a wealthy city. You could see the difference the minute we crossed the border. The shops and stores and apartments weren't as dirty as we have seen everywhere else.

We first stopped at his "finding spot." A finding spot is what we call the place where they were abandoned and then found. His spot was in the massive pedestrian street with shops all over the place. He was found in the second story of a McDonalds building there. We went and I could almost sense his fear. Our guide said she thinks he remembers the place. That seems unlikely, but his reaction to it was palpable. The minute we got to the second story he begged to leave and go back. As I walked back down the stairs with him in my arms my heart broke for the mother that walked down those same stairs without her baby in her arms. I snuggled him closer and kissed his sweet face so thankful that I was leaving with him.

On his adoption day we were given a copy of the letter than his parents left with him. It said, "We hope a warm hearted family will come and care for our son. He has thalassemia and we cannot take care of him."
Then we headed to his orphanage. I really wasn't sure how he would react to going back. But he seemed so excited. The minute we got out of the van he ran off and into the orphanage. Downstairs they have a small room with a stage where they have celebrations and events. 
Then we took the elevator up to the fourth floor. This is where I started falling apart and Craig went dead silent. I tried not to gasp. I think I succeeded, but really I'm not sure. Pictures cannot capture the state of my son's former home. Let me describe it in words. There were tiles broken everywhere, holes in the walls, dirt and trash everywhere and puddles in hallways and buckets to catch water from leaky ceilings. The smells can't even be described. Now, take all this in realizing this is one of the best orphanages around.

Let me take a moment to sidestep and tell you about Simon. In the van ride over I was having one of those moments where pride was rearing its ugly head in my heart. I was thinking I was going to an orphanage and would show them the love of my Jesus. How blessed they would be. 
(For real...oh. my. word.)
But God has a way of putting you right back into your place.We walked in and my son rushed into the classrooms handing out the candy we bought for the kids. I expected him to go to his buddies, but do you know what else he did? 
He ran off down the hall before I could stop him and the staff choked up as they told me that he wanted to include the ones that are "severely diseased that no one will ever adopt." He went to the room of the lowest of the low and touched each of them as he gave them candy. Then, as if that wasn't already humbling to my oh so proud little heart he went back to his classroom to his best buddies and pulled out his backpack. 
This is the backpack he sleeps with, goes to the bathroom with, panics if he can't find it because he put all his new toys into it that we purchased him. Do you know what he did? He pulled out his new toys and gave them away. It was all he owned in the whole world and he smiled while he gave it away. 
I may have planned on showing the light of Christ, but in that moment I was shining on me instead.

 Simon and the director of the orphanage who clearly loved him!

Giving away his new toys

 The play room 

A nanny who was NOT happy that he was not in multiple layers. (It was almost 80 degrees!)

Checking out their new toys

His very best friend, Patrick (who will be going home soon!)

At this point I started realizing he was a favorite...

The nanny's asked for our email so they could keep in touch.

I have no doubt that he was SO loved and I am incredibly thankful.

Simon's bed is the second from the right.

Baba pulling it together for a picture

The room Simon started in as a baby.