Xiao Man’s Bio Video

Spunky, delightful, energetic, dramatic, joyful, cuddly, sweet…there are so many words that can be used to describe Xiao Man. When she came to the orphanage a couple of years ago, it was heartbreaking to see her grieve the loss of her family and the world she had known. However, this resilient little girl has adjusted beautifully, and recovered her happy spirit.

Stylin in the hood

This sweetheart LOVES to perform! Whether she’s delivering an impromptu “speech,” dancing to the music, or singing karaoke before her adoring fans, she is rarely happier than when she has a platform and an audience. She also enjoys being “big sister” to the smaller children, and they love and trust her. Despite her extroverted personality, she also loves curling up in a lap and snuggling in for a nice nap.

Sweetly Sleeping

Please watch her video and get to know this delightful little girl. Her extra 21st chromosome must contain a special dose of personality and fun, because she is over the top wonderful. Won’t you pray for a family for this sweetheart, and consider whether that family might be yours? Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you might have. :)

 

 

Reach out and Touch Someone

Touch is something we often take for granted. Hug a friend in greeting. Hold hands as we pray. Rock a little one to sleep. Lean against each other for warmth or support. As members of a family, or a friend group, we usually have as much physical affection as we want (some of us more than we want, although I’ve yet to reach that point :) ).

Cuddle Time

Orphans have the same need for touch that we do, but sadly far less access to it. Caregivers are busy keeping them fed, clean, and safe. Their hands are often too full to hold the small fingers reaching out to them. So whenever the children have the opportunity to cuddle, they take advantage of it.

Content to be Loved

I Love Jie Jie!

The closer they can snuggle, the more they can nestle against us, the better they like it.

Satisfied in her Arms

Don't let me go, okay?

Sometimes there aren’t enough laps to go around, so they make the most of the laps available.

Lap-full of Lovin'

Other times even therapy is welcomed, as long as loving arms are part of the package.

Helping HandI love therapy, if I get time with you!

Naptime is never quite as sweet as when it can be taken resting against a loved one.

Sweetly Sleeping Naptime Snuggles

And of course hugs and kisses are the very best things of all!

Hugs are the best! Kissing Tiny Toes

Thankfully, they always have their “brothers and sisters” at the orphanage to love and support them…

Friends Forever

…but we know that’s not the same as a family. As wonderful as friends are, they cannot replace the safe and loving arms of a mommy and daddy, which is what these children really want. Truly, it’s the same thing we want, which is why God promises in Deuteronomy 33:27 “The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Safe and Sound

Are we willing to do that? Are we willing to open our hearts and arms to one more child, and touch their lives forever? Can we put aside the comfortable known, in order to embrace the sweet unknown that is these little lives?

Happy to be Held

I pray that one day each of these children would know the secure love and affection that comes from having a forever family. They will give just as much love (if not more) than they receive.

First John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” Will you love one of these little ones?

Egg-citing Day!

Since Orphan Camp is coming up next week, I figured I’d better go ahead and post about Easter so we can at least keep up with the big events. Way to stay on top of things,  Joy (haha)! :)

Easter has always been a simple, but fun holiday for us at the orphanage. Since the Good News is God’s focus for the holiday, we think it should be ours, as well. Though the kids are young, they’re never too young to hear this story. We have found Resurrection Eggs to be a very effective means of sharing Easter. Cathy did a fantastic job! Every egg has a small token of the resurrection story inside of it, such as a donkey to indicate his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, coins to show His betrayal, nails in the shape of a cross, and then an empty egg at the end to symbolize the empty tomb. The children were mesmerized by the story, and wanted to touch each piece. Xiao Man here was showing us that she knew how Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. She’s such a smart girl. I just love her heart.

After the story time, we were ready for the Easter egg hunt. You have never seen excitement until you have seen the children go after those eggs! First we “hide” them outside (with varying degrees of difficulty)… …and then we set the children loose to find them. Every child gets to go, even if they can’t actively participate. Some of them like A Yu… …and A Buo, just enjoy the sun and breeze on their faces… …others, like Wu Fu (Five Blessings), stared in fascination at the proceeds… …while Gang Gang was a bit more hands-on in his play. AnAn couldn’t participate in quite the same way, because of his blindness, but he liked exploring the eggs with his hands and tasting the treats inside. Ah, the treats inside. My, how those children loved finding all that yummy candy! Xixi was feeling quite smug about his haul… …while A Bai celebrated every egg… …and Xiao Man was mostly interested in noshing candy.

Dong Dong, on the other hand, generously gave most of his candy away, and spent most of his time carefully arranging his colorful eggs. For at least half an hour, he was completely engrossed, making sure that every egg was un-nested… …taken apart… …and methodically arranged in rows. He was nothing if not thorough in his pursuit of order.

A couple of the children had no desire to hunt eggs at all, but were much more excited to be pushed around by their “big brothers” in their cars. The preferred speeds were fast… …and faster! :)

Out of all the children’s reactions and pictures, this one was the hardest won and most satisfying- Xiao Xiong (Little Hero) was left at the orphanage this winter, and has been (very understandably) grieving deeply ever since. Because he speaks a dialect that none of the orphanage staff, nor any of our volunteers speak or can identify, his frantic communication cannot be understood. Even when being cuddled or played with, he is almost always grave and solemn. You can imagine how excited we were to see his sweet, shy smile break out over his face as he broke open the egg and discovered the sweet treat inside.  Definitely the best surprise of the day!

Every holiday like Easter or Christmas, I think of all that Jesus sacrificed so that I can be adopted from my broken, grieving, hopeless life; made His child; and given joyous life eternal, filled with forgiveness, hope and peace. I look at children like Little Hero, with his hurting heart and deep need for love, and I see myself before Jesus made me His own. When all the trappings and traditions of these holidays are stripped away, there is His heart for adoption. Do you share His heart? Do you look at Little Hero, Dong Dong, Gang Gang, Xiao Man, and others, and see broken hearts worthy of love and redemption? If so, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to help you learn more about the process of adopting one of these precious children as your own.

Christmas Fun

Sometimes we get so busy living life that we get rather behind on blogging about it. That has certainly been the case lately. You know it’s bad when the Christmas post is going up after Valentine’s Day! Please forgive me for depriving you of recent updates on these sweet and precious kiddos.

My wonderful friend, Elizabeth, has graciously agreed to write a post and choose pictures so that you can see Christmas at the orphanage through eyes other than mine. Elizabeth and her husband XieLi have been volunteering at the orphanage for more than a year now, and are fostering one of our little treasures, Eva. Take it away, Elizabeth-

The orphanage Christmas party is one of the highlights of the year. And I mean for the volunteers—though I hope it is for the kids too!

At the beginning of December, we helped the kids put up the tree.

The kids always love this activity, though some of them would rather just play with the shiny balls than hang anything on the tree!

The day of the Christmas party, we started by gathering all the kids and orphanage workers into the main room and telling the gospel through the Christmas story. It’s a special time to share a cultural activity with a deep meaning. Then Joy presented the orphanage staff with some gifts that had been prepared for them. We want this to be a special day for them too!

Next, the gifts were brought out and distributed to the kids. The kids each had a buddy who sat with them to help and admire and cuddle. Pretty paper and boxes are a big hit with every kid, and these guys were no different! But I’ve never met any other kids who got quite so excited about receiving clothes and shoes. It was heartwarming to see them laughing and playing with their new treasures, and giving hugs to the volunteers who helped them open them.

As I watched them enjoying Christmas, I thought about just how powerful incarnation really is. Immanuel, God with us, “became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we have seen his glory…” We know God’s love because Jesus came to live it for us. I am so thankful for the opportunity to incarnate the love of God to these precious kids in a small way. And I pray that one day each of them can know it even more fully through a forever family!

Happy Day

Orphanage Day is a highlight of our week, but more importantly, it’s a highlight of the children’s week. When our van drives into the courtyard, they are waiting eagerly- calling out “JieJie! GeGe! (Big sister! Big brother!)” running to give us hugs, taking us by the hands and pulling us up the stairs for a day of love and fun.

My, how these children love to be loved! Whether they’re being tickled….

…playing ball…

…doing therapy…

…playing together with toys…

…or just being held…

(which is maybe their favorite part)

…these sweethearts thoroughly enjoy every moment of one-on-one attention.

Look at their happy faces…

…gaze into their eyes…

…bask in their shining smiles…

…and imagine what it would be like for each of them to have a family of their own and receive this kind of love and personal attention every day.

Each one of these darling children is waiting for a family.

Created in God’s image, each one of them is valuable and precious is His sight.

Are they precious in ours?

Please continue to pray fervently with us that the God who puts the lonely into families would provide a family for each one of these orphans- homes where Jesus is loved and His Word is taught.

What a day that will be for these children, when they have a home of their own and every day is better than Orphanage Day! :)

Orphan Camp 2013- A Sea of Smiling Faces

Orphan Camp is highlight of our year, for orphans and volunteers alike. It’s a chance for the children to hang out in the fresh air with people who love them, and do all the things that they like most. After years of experience, we’ve found that simple activities and a relatively unstructured time work best.

The pinnacle of many of the children’s time is the water fight and accompanying pool games. Those kiddos love to get wet!

Zhong Zhong just wanted to get his toes in the water…

…while Xiao Ming, prefer to relax and enjoy the coolness.

Xixi preferred to have his adoring fans wet him down while he giggled with glee.

But Dong Dong and Jin Qiu were much more active in their water games. Dong Dong went at it with his usual zestful gusto. He zeroed in on a target, took careful aim…

…and shouted in victory when his spray hit its mark-

Jin Qiu preferred to broadcast his attack and shower whoever got in his way.

Digging in the sandbox was another popular pass time. Oh, the glorious fun of playing in the dirt and getting absolutely covered! I think this was Gang Gang’s favorite activity.

He sat happily engaged by the hour- digging, piling, and making important phone calls… :)

A Yong loved the sandbox, as well. I don’t know when I’ve seen him more focused and determined in an activity than he was in transferring sand from one bucket to the other. He did a great job!

Sliding in various forms appealed to many of the children. The combination of the exhilaration of whizzing downward, while still being safe and secure in their friend’s arms was irresistible. Yuan Yuan took A Buo for a ride, which A Buo thoroughly enjoyed.

Zhong Zhong was a bit more tentative about braving the slide. However, with Luke spotting him at the bottom…

…and Angel and Shelley’s support…

…he made it!

By the way, is this not one of the sweetest little boys you’ve ever seen? God has done a lot of healing for him to be able to smile and trust this readily. What a precious little love!

A Feng, with his love of open spaces, preferred sledding down the hillside with Jim.

Look at that laughing boy; what a joy!

However, A Feng’s very favorite thing, the activity that he ran, beaming from the bus to do the moment he arrived, was to roam around in the wide-open field.

Something in this sweet boy just longs passionately for the sky overhead and grass beneath his feet. One volunteer’s full-time task was to do nothing but follow him around from a safe distance and let him enjoy his freedom. All of us who saw it cried with joy just a bit, I think. Such a simple pleasure meant so much to this young man.

Speaking of joy, Xiao Man was pretty cute twirling her ribbon streamers-

What a darling little girl this one is!

Food is another central theme of our Orphan Camp. We try to have the children’s favorites, and plenty of them. Fangbian mian (convenient noodles, or what Americans might call Ramen noodles) are the macaroni and cheese of Chinese children. They inhale it! Nothing says fun for Xiao Ming like Stephanie feeding him noodles by the forkful. Look at those eager eyes! :)

Yoghurt is another favorite. A Feng could eat 10 a day with no problem. We have to feed him lying down, because it helps him swallow. As soon as he sees a container of yoghurt, he assumes the position-

Lunchtime is a bonanza of meat and veggie rice boxes…

…and fresh fruit (a perennial favorite). I love Dong Dong’s face while he’s getting ready to eat his watermelon.

Of course, the ice cream is the crown jewel of the kids’ culinary adventure.

We had a treat this year, in that a number of our fabulous foster families were able to join in the festivities. These parents are doing such a wonderful job of loving and nurturing the children God has laid on their hearts for this time.

Eva Joy with her foster parents Elizabeth and Xie Li-

Laila with foster mom Joslynn-

Luke and Shelley-

Ruthie with Rachel and Caleb (not pictured)-

And Miss Summer with Hugh and Crickett (how did I end up with a picture of only her?)-

We were so glad that the foster families could enjoy the fun day with us, and that we all had a chance to visit with their delightful kids. Truly, these families have a special role to fulfill in these children’s lives, and we deeply appreciate them.

Oddly enough, I have still more pictures, but I’ve apparently reached my upload limit for this post. Either I’ll write one more post on this event, or I’ll leave it to your imagination. In any event, I hope you have gotten a taste of the children’s joy in the simple pleasures of the day, and perhaps caught the vision for how much more joy could be a part of their lives if they had a forever family of their very own.

Did  you delight, as we did, in the exuberant joy of DongDong’s water play-

Xiao Man’s sweet smile as she twirled her ribbon streamer-

Xiao Ming’s wide-eyed enjoyment of his fangbian mian-

Gang Gang’s sandbox revelry-

Xixi’s laughter as his friends splashed him in the pool-

And Zhong Zhong’s smile of success after his sliding adventure?

Please, pray that God would provide each of these orphans with forever families! They do so love to be loved. Would your or someone you know be willing to love them?

Hard not to, isn’t it? :)