• 28Nov

    On Thanksgiving we (the Wenshan team) held a Thanksgiving celebration party.  The week before I was in Kunming so I stopped by one of the import stores to pick up some real American turkeys.  Our party was in a Sister’s restaurant so we had plenty of space.  They also used to be a Western restaurant so they even had an oven to bake a cake in.  The turkeys went to the owner’s friend’s place to roast on a spit!  They came back looking fantastic and tasting even better!


    Here is one of the rehab kid’s grandma “carving” the turkey.  We had turkey Chinese cut style, meaning take a cleaver and hack away.  She was definitely amazing with the knife, but it was a lot different than my family’s electric knife and mom’s strategic decorative plattering techniques.  I guess either way the turkey tasted the same!


    Our Thanksgiving feast was a combination of Chinese and Western Food.  You can see my plate here looks a lot different than what you all probably had!  We had: turkey, rice, lotus root with pickled vegetables, Chinese broccoli, pork and fresh garlic, pork and celery, a Chinese onion pancake, and spicy mashed potatoes.  (Also offered were Sweet Potatoes, cooked by an American, which I didn’t eat)  All very very good.  I did miss our family rolls and butter though!


    For dessert we had a banana cake (it was the rehab center’s first anniversary celebration too, so this served as the birthday cake), lemon meringue pie, pumpkin pie and 2 apple pies (not pictured).  Also, all very good!


    Here we all are!  It was quite the crowd but it was great to have a big family together to really celebrate all that we’re giving thanks for!

    It was the best Thanksgiving I’ve had in China so far!

    Saturday I got to go back to the orphanage.  A quick story about that.  Some of these kids are so cute and fun that you can’t imagine anyone giving them up.  Of course we never really know the family situation or all that went into the parents deciding to give up their child but sometimes you can take a good guess.  This Saturday I spent most of my time holding a little one that immediately grabbed my leg when I walked into the room.  He was very calm, content, cute, well-behaved and mentally all there.  (He had even learned the “jell-o leg” technique so you couldn’t put him down… make your body go so limp so you just slide down and look pathetic so then you HAVE to pick him up!  Be sure to note that this kid walked up to me and perfectly stood up holding my leg waiting for me to pick him up!!)  Anyway, it was sort of a mystery why this child would be in an orphanage, but then his sock fell off.  As I was putting it back on… the kid had 6 toes!  6 cute little toes, with the 6th kinda being on top of the pinkie toe, but fully formed.  I hope that there was something other than the fact that this little one had 11 toes instead of 10 that compelled this family to give up their child… but I hope even more that there will be a family that is willing to bring him into their home despite the fact that he has 11 toes!

    I should be home in a few weeks!  I can’t believe how fast time has gone.  I can’t wait to see all the signs of Christmas!

    Please pray as my friend has an interview at the US Embassy.  Let’s hope that she can come with me to celebrate the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”!


  • 27Nov

    Hmmm… where should we put this telephone pole… we need to get the wires across the street right?  But people need to walk on the sidewalk… and then cars need to park in the parking spaces… so that leaves well…. here.


    Please note that this is a two way road, with a blind corner curve to the left of this picture…. awesome.


  • 24Nov

    Let’s see… my journey to China all started with the hope of helping orphans. A lot of my work that I’ve been doing over the past year and 8 months has been about helping children in need and THUS helping to encourage people not to give up their kids for adoption. We’ve been focusing on giving parents with children in difficult situations HOPE, so that they know that dropping their kid off at the orphanage isn’t the ONLY option left. So it seemed like while my first motive was to come help orphans, instead I was doing most of my work for kids WITH parents! That is until Saturday!

    I was able to go with the team down to the Wenshan orphanage! What an amazing experience! I first arrived and was led by my heart, I think, straight to the nursery area. There were a good 20 babies in that area ranging from less than a month old (with clef lips) to maybe 2 years. A lot of them were healthy girls and boys. One was basically calling out to me so I went to play with him for a bit. I was trying to stay out of the caretakers’ way as they were changing diapers and clothes, so then I went over to the younger babies. There was one who was just overfilled with joy just to have you rub his little belly. I held another for a bit. Then I saw that the older babies that were all changed were sitting sadly on a bench (some slowly slipping lower and lower into a slouch), so I went over to go hold them. I asked one if he wanted to be held and he immediately put up his arms! SO CUTE. Kids with parents that age don’t really want anyone other than mom to hold them, so sometimes it’s hard to find an opportunity to hold kids. But here, I’m pretty sure your arms will get tired before any of the kids would want you to put them down. The tough part is physically being able to put the kids down. They’ve learned pretty quick some easy ways to make it tough for you to put them down! The first kid I picked up quickly caught on to the fact that I was going to put him down, so he began to tighten his grip on my sweater, then he stiffened his legs so I couldn’t put him in a sitting position! It was pretty funny trying to get him to bend his legs! Finally I did that thing where you can tap right behind the knees to get them to bend and VOILA sitting position. Of course, then the saddest face you’d ever see appeared with the tears and sobs to follow. It breaks your heart, but is hilarious at the same time!

    The “real” reason that we were there was to do some therapy for the kids that need it. There were quite a few kids there needing different types of therapy, so the team just helps those that they can. Their problems range from Cerebral Palsy to mental problems (causing the physical problems) to a girl who has ultra hyper-extended knees causing her knees to almost seem backwards. These kids really need daily rehab, but for now all we can do is make it out there on Saturdays.

    Here is YuanYuan. She’s got a great smile and is a really hard worker. Kids like her make you wish you could just take them out of the orphanage and into your home so that she can get better faster! She has CP and because she hasn’t had therapy she can’t walk. It must be tough to be in an orphanage where you’re constantly surrounded by kids playing and running, but all you can do is sit there and watch. It’s extra tough because there’s no one there to play with her most of the time. With the other kids running around and the workers busy with the babies, it doesn’t leave many options for her. Still she seems to have a pretty positive attitude (at least while we’re there!).

    (picture removed for security reasons)

    Please pray for these kids. The orphanage at times is a very dark place (in spiritual terms). We’ve seen some pretty tough things between the way the kids treat each other (especially the way they treat the disabled kids) and we’ve seen tougher things between the way the workers treat the disabled kids. I am sure that the workers are pretty overloaded with work and so it becomes very easy to lose your patience with some of the kids, but just continue to pray that they can find compassion and patience!

    I can hardly wait to go back again!


  • 10Nov

    Last weekend I needed to exit China so that I could renew my visa (it’s only valid for 90 day stretches).  So the closest place to do that is Vietnam or Laos.  Since Wenshan is closer to Vietnam it only made sense to head down that way.  But if only it was that simple.  Of course nothing here is as simple as it seems…

    First, to go to Vietnam you must acquire a visa.  The Vietnamese embassy is in Kunming and takes 5 days to have one issued.  Luckily, Pam and I were going together and she had a meeting in Kunming during the week.  So she took my passport up with her on Sunday, dropped them off at the embassy and then went to her meetings.  Now it would seem like it would make sense if she could come down to Vietnam from Kunming and I could come from Wenshan, meet at the border and go over together.  Nope.  Yeah right.  The bus from Wenshan to Vietnam requires that you have your passport on you.  SO…. Wednesday I went up to Kunming (I decided I could play up there for a day and also scheduled a meeting in Kunming)… then Friday we were graced with the amazing opportunity to ride a 10 hour plus over-night bus ride down to the border.  The good news was that there was 4 of us going.  The better news was that we got the back “seats/bed”.  You’ve seen some of the pictures on the night bus before, but it’s basically a regular Greyhound size bus… but they fit bunk beds going the length of the bus 3 wide with 2 very narrow aisles.  But in the back the beds are connecting.  So the bad news was that there were 4 of us, and the back is supposed to fit 5 on this massive bed (essentially the 2 aisles don’t exist in the back and they make it a solid bed).  We spent most of the time before the bus was set to go praying and hoping that no one else would come!  Great news,  no one came.  Strange news? while we didn’t have anyone sleeping next to us, we did have someone staring at us!  We started to notice that the girl (maybe 18ish) was stealing long glances at us as we were having conversations with each other.  This in it of itself is nothing new.  People like to watch us especially when we’re speaking in English.  What WAS unusual was that her “glances” were minutes at a time!  Also, usually when people stare at you and you start to stare back at them or smile, then they turn away.  Nope, not this girl.  In fact, all the beds tend to “face forward” in the sense that you put your feet towards the driver and your head is towards the back.  So that made it really tough for her to stare at us all the time, that is until she figured out that if she was on her stomach then she could prop her head up and stare at us without even twisting her neck.  Once she made herself comfortable, I guess we were her entertainment for the bus ride.  Luckily she eventually got sleepy or bored, and rotated and was asleep the rest of the trip.

    We arrived at the border around 6am but the border didn’t open until 8am.  “Luckily” one of the girls we were traveling with left her cell phone on the bus so we spent a good chunk of time trying to track down the bus and get it back.  After all that we arrived at the border around 7:15 and just waited.

    Vietnam was SO exciting, the WHOLE 45 minutes I spent there.  We crossed, looked for coffee and chocolates that our friends had requested, then walked back to the border and crossed back.

    What was pretty interesting was the sudden feeling of incompetence.  All of sudden you have NO language skills and your ability to communicate even the simplest things becomes a charades show.

    We made it back to the bus station in time to catch the 9:30 bus to Wenshan and arrived in Wenshan around 4 that evening.  It made the whole trip about 24 hours to go from Kunming to Wenshan (direct it’s 4-5 hours!) haha.

    I did get a fun picture though.


    So in Vietnam (at least at the border) they have penguin trash cans.  Of course everyone knows what a national symbol penguins are in Vietnam… right?  Or someone just didn’t like the movie Happy Feet.

    Things are going in a forward direction down here in Wenshan.  We’re pretty close to getting a new office.  We found a building and we’re just hashing out some of the details before we actually rent it.  It has the potential to become a really amazing space.  Anyone know anything about making a pulley system that could give some input?

    I should be home in a month!



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