Wednesday, August 17, 2011

China 2011!

My third trip to China just came to an end. This time I’d already read my tour books,  practiced my homemade language flash-cards, knew how many tissue and wet wipes I’d need to bring, and remembered to stock up on pao pao. (bubbles!)  Even so, there was a lot of getting turned around in streets of hutongs, and the phrase I ended up using the most was Wo ting bu dong - “I don’t understand!”

The first part of my trip was spent in Beijing, and my favorite little hostel, The Red Lantern.

We had our own shower this time, woo hoo!  Ryan and Misha were my travel buddies. Ryan, my close friend since we were around 5 years old, was really the spark that ignited my trip getting planned this summer. After learning about Bring Me Hope she jumped onboard with passion and was ready to go, even though I wasn’t ready to commit to plans until I knew more about where Ruby was going to physically be at in the adoption process.  Ryan apparently had God’s ideas in mind because everything fell into place for her to go, and also me, and also Misha, Ruby’s future 16 year old sister from Texas. I was excited to get to show them around the little I know of China, and see them get to experience some of the wonders of this country. 

 We went to the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, and of course my personal favorite, Pearl Market. :)  I am very proud of myself for returning to America with ONE suitcase even though I came with two!  However, Rose reminded me that I gave her a bunch of stuff to bring home in her suitcase…

A favorite part of Beijing for me is just walking the streets and watching everything around you. Old men playing checkers on the sidewalk.  People in that squatting position as they wait for the bus.  A baby running around with split pants.  A grandma riding in the back of a metal bike/wagon-mobile with an umbrella to protect herself from the sun.  Traffic that looks like it was just poured out of a saucepan and pointed in every direction.  Street food that looks so tempting, even though you know it would turn on you in a couple of hours. It’s just amazing to stand still and have all of that moving around you while you watch.

Another favorite part of my visit to Beijing was getting to hang out with Ruth and Dennis!!! I miss them a lot and it was such a blessing to have them with us. Ruth took a long overnight train to spend a couple days with us, and Dennis had to take a bus several hours to get to the city. It means a lot to know your friends are willing to travel to spend time with you :)  They took us out to my favorite meal of the trip. We were looking for hotpot for me, but couldn't find anything good wandering through the alleys in our hutong. We came across this hole in the wall, where Dennis & Ruth ordered us up every delicious dish I could imagine. We did end up with like three extra plates of dumplings, but the beauty of that is the entire meal for 5 people cost about $14 USD. I love China!

Of course the best part of the trip was that everything lined up to get to spend a week at camp with Ruby, who I’ve been dying to hug for a year and 4 months now. I can’t believe it’s that long since I was there last, but the skype visits have helped it seem like not much time had passed between visits. 

We arrived in XinZheng a couple days before Bring Me Hope camp started.
We stayed at SIAS University, which has expanded into a beautiful campus. Nice dorm rooms, showers and AC! With temperatures up to 103 and 100% humidity, it feels like you’re being baked alive in this city. Here we met up with the rest of our possey—my sister Rose, cousin JR and his friend Jacob, my friend Jasmine, and her cousin Xian.

Then monday morning came. I was able take the 2 hour ride with the people that were picking the kids up from their home. When I got there and first saw Ruby we were both scrambling to get a hug. The bus ride back with her in my lap was awesome.

I was also blessed with another sweet kid in my family group, little Winnie. She is 6 years old, and has muscular dystrophy. She struggles just to speak or keep her head upright, but her sweet and hilarious personality came out quickly.  My translator was amazing, a college student named Sherry. I'm so thankful God blessed me with someone who jumps in there and works, because it was a challenging week.
The first couple days of camp are a hard adjustment.  Looking around at my friends I saw a lot of children with severe special needs. It's overwhelming at first and you can easily feel like you're teetering on the edge of a breakdown.  Many of the kids can't walk.  Some kids can't speak and you need to figure out what it is they need.  There are many bathroom accidents, dirty diapers, wet pants sticking to your own body that's already wet with sweat from the heat and carrying kids up and down stairs and across the campus.  There's kids that need to be fed and you can't fit the time in to feed yourself.  Water that needs to be picked up and remembered so you and your kids don't get dehydrated. Each morning I made sure my backpack contained all our water bottles, a cliff bar incase lunch didn't happen, coloring books and activities, spare diapers, toilet tissue, and handwipes. Missing any of those things would send your day in the wrong direction!!

After you get the routine down, life becomes much more enjoyable.  My family of four was fun to be with, so it didn't really matter if we were late because of extra bathroom breaks, or didn't quite make it up the stairs for a particular activity.  My favorite moments were one day just sitting in my room with the girls, coloring and blowing bubbles. Just relaxing together like a family would.

I'm so thankful for my close group that came with us this summer. Rose, Ryan, Misha, Jasmine, Xian, John Russell and Jacob all made me days a little bit brighter.  And seeing the relationships they formed with their kids was inspiring.

One of the most special parts of the trip was getting to share with Ruby about her new family, and watching her meet them on skype as her mom, dad, brothers and sisters. To see a child that I love realize that they now have what their broken heart desires most of joy for her future is overflowing, and I'm so blessed that I'm going to be a part of it. 

When camp ended, I was happy that it wasn't the end of our time with the children. Ryan, Misha and I were able to go spend 3 days with the children where Ruby lives.  Playing on the playground, watching Snow White in Chinese, coloring, and sticking on fake tattoos :)

Leaving was hard. Going back, half way around the world where it sucks cause you can't just pick them up and comfort them.  It was easier knowing that Ruby will be here soon. 

And I'm praying more kids will be following.