Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Continuing Christmas (because I am irresponsible)

The title is true. I have been irresponsible. Back in the beginning of November, Gretchen sent a couple of things for Henry. My job was to deliver them, however, I instead put them on my table in my room and completely forgot about them. From time to time I would glance at them and think, "I should really get that taken care of," but then I would continue about my day without doing it. Today, December 27, I decided it was about time for me to be responsible. I continued Christmas for Henry Hill by delivering his gifts from his mama. Of course he can't know yet that he has a family waiting for him, but he was very excited to get Christmas presents, and even more excited when I told them they came all the way from America. He told Eric nice and loud where his book came from. Even though it was irresponsible of me to hang on to the gifts for so long, it was rather fun to deliver them as Christmas gifts. I hope these pictures will put forgiveness in his mother's heart now that I've finally done my job :)

Thank you!

Showing Eric his book

Looking at all the pictures

P.S. I am glad I was the messenger because I got the sweetest hugs and kisses

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Safe in the Father's arms

On Friday, December 16, 2011, we lost a sweet little boy by the name of Austin. He came to us not more than a month ago with a very complex heart condition. He was very blue and we hoped that he would have surgery soon, but he never got the chance. Austin wasn't doing well all week, running a high fever. Friday afternoon he was taken to the hospital, but died on the way. What a joy it was to know this dear angel. As we mourn the loss of one ours, we are at the same time thankful for the knowledge that he is with his true Father now.

Last Sunday I was able to spend an extended amount of time with Austin. The girls went to Beijing for the day, but I needed rest so I stayed behind. The power went out leaving me with little entertainment in my apartment so I decided to go see Austin. I held him all afternoon. Because the power was still out after 5pm, the ayis let me stay in there holding him while my flashlight provided them with enough light to feed the other kids. This was the last time I saw Austin and I know now just how special that time was.

This has got to be the hardest part of this job. I've never dealt with the loss of a baby before, especially one that I already loved so dearly. I pray that as the winter continues, our other heart babies will grow stronger, not weaker. Lord, we commit them all into Your hands. You are our great provider and protector and it is in You we find our strength and comfort.

Austin Xie Minhuang
March 14, 2011 - December 16, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

What a wonderful surprise I woke up to find this morning. December 2, 2011 marks the first snow of the season at Shepherd's Field! There isn't a lot of it yet, but I am sitting on the couch looking at the window as it continues to fall. Welcome to winter!
Not much yet, but enough to excite me!

Not enough snow to change out of my Converse :)
I am so excited for more snow. I don't mind the cold because it is so warm inside now. I actually have the window cracked a little because the heat is so intense. I've been sleeping in shorts instead of layers for the last week. Today is a great day to be alive: snow, Christmas music, tree to be decorated...thank you Lord for such a blessed time as this.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Giving Thanks

I have so much to be thankful for this year. I have an amazing family back in the states who have been so supportive of my new adventure. And now I have an amazing family here. God has given me so much, though I deserve so little. I would love to tell you all about our Thanksgiving fellowship, but instead I'll give you the cliff's note version:

We ate. We laughed. We played games. We laughed more. We watched a movie. We stayed up all night (literally) to watch football...the first game started at 1am.

Here are a few pictures of one of the best nights I've had in China:
Ready for a lovely meal

Our "parents"

The Girls <3

My first plate of food...I won't tell you how many I had.

Almost licked it clean

Ready for a Packers' victory!

Monday, November 7, 2011

When friends become family...

Tonight began just like any other night in our humble home, but it became something very special. Everyone went their separate ways except for Marissa and me. We waited in the common area for Howard to come out and play :) After almost a month off, we finally pulled out the Dutch Blitz cards. The game was moving a little slow without a fourth player, but we pressed on. I had never played with him, but I really enjoyed the game. It gets loud and then quiet and then really loud and then quiet again...always fun. He calls out the numbers as he plays them which caused us to do the same (sound familiar, Gretchen?). Marissa and I started singing "Jamie" by Dashboard Confessional and decided it would be best to just play the song for Howard. He liked it and said he wanted to look it up and learn it. I will laugh so hard the first time I hear him sing that song to me!!! We kept playing with music in the background, occasionally singing just a little too loud for how many people were already sleeping, but we were having the best time.
After a while, we conceded the game to conversation. This was the first time I've had a real conversation with Howard. Usually we have small talk in passing or work related conversations, but tonight was different. With just the three of us (sometimes four when Stacey would wander back in), he really opened up and shared a lot about his life. He taught us the greeting they use at his church: di xiong or zi mei (it means brother or sister in the church, if you use those greetings they know you are a believer). We talked about movies and decided that we need to have a family movie day. Yes, we are family. I am the big sister to all of them and I love that. I love that by God placing us all in this place together, He has created a new family. There were just so many interesting aspects of the conversation. At one point Stacey said, "I like this night." She told us that so many nights she has been in the Inn and we are all in our rooms, but she liked that we stayed and played and talked until it was time for bed. I really liked it too. I got to know my brother and sisters better.
This Monday night might not seem like much to anyone else, but I know for the four of us it was a night we will always hold dear. I hope that there are many more just like it. I will go to bed now feeling blessed to have a family such as this.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Will Perry's Forever Family

This week has been one filled with excitement. Late Wednesday night, the Ankerich family (minus two) arrived at SFCV. It was such a joy to meet my dear friend Sharon who I have been talking to for months now on Facebook. She is even more wonderful in person! My excitement of seeing her was doubled because she brought with her my gifts from Gretchen! After a month of being here, it was great to receive a little piece of home. Maybe the best part is the Tapatio which I have already used many times...Sara loves it too!

Thursday morning was a joyous occasion. Will Perry met his family for the first time! There were a few tears, but it didn't take him long before he was calling out Mama and Baba to his amazing parents. He loves his sisters too. He knows Rosie, Ella, and Jing in person as they are the three that were able to make the journey, but this morning I saw Savannah and Amelia on the other end of a Skype call. It is impossible to put into words how wonderful it all has been. I have enjoyed the time with them here. I especially have been having fun with Ella and Jing. They are two of the sweetest little girls with warm smiles and big hugs.

After the short time they've spent with us, it is easy to see that Will Perry's forever family will be our family forever. Many blessings to you all as you embark on this grand journey. What an honor it was to be a part of it. We will miss you...hurry back :)

First Forever Family Picture...missing Savannah and Amelia
Ella hanging out
JingJing enjoying the book

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Three Weeks Strong

Three full weeks have passed since my arrival at SFCV, but with all that has happened it feels like much longer. In those three weeks I have fallen in love all over again. I have fallen into a family that I had hoped for to keep from being lonely. I have fallen into my job with ease and excitement. Every time I try to answer questions of what is going on here, I want to come up with some big, grand story, but it is about the little things here. The sweet smiles that light up the world. The gentle touch of a little hand as it fills mine. The hugs that never end. The unexpected, but always welcome kisses. The little things are what keep me going every day.

We have, however, had a few big things happen since the garage sale. Darling little Melissa left this morning to meet her forever family! It was a complete surprise, but her orphanage called yesterday saying they had a family for her. Also, on Monday, we received a sweet new addition to our SFCV family. His name is George...I named him :) He is so beautiful. I love the way he stares at me with his big eyes and laughs when I make faces at him. He is little, but we will make a fat baby out of him soon enough! I love him so much already and can't wait to spend more time with him.

Meet George.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Garageless Garage Sale

Today SFCV hosted a garage sale to raise some money. The final count isn't in, but it was busy and successful. It was great seeing the staff and visiting team band together. We had a basic plan, but as life tends to go here, we hadn't really organized the event until it was set up. Even then, many of us made up the prices as we went along. I was able to practice my bargaining skills with some of the customers. And if any of you have ever shopped at a market in China, you know that is an important skill to develop. I can also count to six now...I know ten as well, but always forget seven, eight, nine...maybe someday. I worked the toy table which was interesting since we had no real prices for anything and I really did make it up per customer. Hopefully, I was fair. I think some of our ayis were more excited about the sale than the village folk, but overall, I think everyone enjoyed themselves. It was an exhausting morning, but a fun peak into a culture so different from our own. All in all, it was a blessing to us and the community. Here are a few pictures from the day...photo credits: Tim Baker.

This was only the beginning...
The clothing tables were very popular
Wendy (one of our kids) was very helpful with the books

Me and Pam before the madness

Monday, October 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Perry!

This is for Perry's family...and of course Annie :)


I am 3 years old :)

I'm just too cute

mmmmm :)

Birthday kisses!!!

I had 2 pieces of cake!
Little do you know, sweet boy, for your third birthday you are getting a family!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hanging with the boys

After school, the kids run out to the playground to burn off some energy. The scene is loud and chaotic, but wonderful and full of smiles. Eventually the nannies come to call them in for the evening. The past couple of days I've walked Eric, Tyler, and Henry home. It touches my heart to see the way Eric cares for his "brothers." He always helps Tyler off the trampoline and makes sure he gets his shoes on. He makes me wait so that we can all walk home together. Normally they go right into the house and that is the last I see them until the next day, but Monday and Tuesday, their nanny has let them stay outside with me for a little bit longer. I sit on the curb with Tyler next to me while Eric rides his bike around and Henry continually tackles me. His laughter can break even the greatest sadness. Its moments like these that remind me of why I am here. Just the four of us on the side of the house hanging out like we are in our own world. I wouldn't trade these afternoons for anything in the world. I look forward to every minute I get to spend with my boys.
Eric making faces at me as he rides his bike

Tyler left the curb today for the car

Henry after he tackled me and I rolled him to the grass

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Welcome to Shepherd's Field Children's Village

Well, I've had two full days here at Shepherd's Field and they have been great. Although I am still battling a little bit of jet lag, I am adjusting rather well. Both mornings I have been up quite early, but I find you can accomplish a lot when you wake up with the sun. I was able to unpack and organize my room on the very first morning. I like my cozy little apartment.
My bed (nobody occupies the top bunk)

Our living room

Our kitchen area

I went to Walmart yesterday to shop for food. I don't recommend shopping when you are half asleep. I didn't know what I wanted and I couldn't think very well. I ended up with cheerios, noodles, and some fruit. That should last me a few days until I can go back. We really just seem to eat rice for every meal anyway...or at least that is what my new friends have told me (more about them in the future).

Today I spent the morning with Jacob-Jai. He is still recovering from his clubbed foot surgery so he can't really get around much yet. He cracks me up all the time. He always wants to take pictures for me. Often times his photos turn out better than mine. In the afternoon I went to hang out with Henry. He wanted to ride bikes but there weren't anymore with training wheels. He was too small for the bikes we had to choose from so I held onto the seat and pushed him around for a bit. He ditched me to hang out with Eric and Howard, but he came back before dinner for a hug :)

Tonight was my first experience eating the street meat. Let me just say: it was delicious! We ate lamb kabobs, spicy cucumbers, spicy green beans, spicy potatoes, fried rice, the Chinese version of garlic bread, and I'm sure there is something I forgot. There was so much food and I just kept eating as much as possible. By the time we walked home I was stuffed but happy. Sorry that I didn't take any pictures of the food, but Tim took a video that I'm sure will end up on Facebook.

All in all, the last couple of days have been great. Even though I am having trouble staying awake late enough to get a normal night's sleep, I know I am where I should be. My main struggle right now is feeling inadequate next to some of the incredible people I've met already. However, I know the Father has chosen me for a purpose. I'm excited for the adventures planned for the next few days before I start work on Monday!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"A farewell is necessary before we can meet again"

Sunday. Sunday is the only day left that stands between me and the 1:20pm Monday departure. Here I sit watching the season finale of Doctor Who, remembering my final week, and trying to prepare myself for the emotional rollercoaster of the next couple days.

This has definitely been a week to remember. There were some great moments, ones that will forever be some of my favorite memories, but it also brought some attack from the enemy.  However, it is just like God to work things out and shut down those attacks. I'd like to say I didn't give in to them, but I maybe, possibly had a meltdown or two. On Wednesday my crown didn't fit, but the dentist was able to rush order a new one and I got it put in today and only paid half of what I owed him because he decided to bless me. On Wednesday my ATM card number was stolen and I had to close the card, but the bank was gracious enough to rush order a new card to me which I received on Friday. Both events that caused me to freak out Wednesday morning worked out and after a reminder from a good friend, I knew that it was okay to not be in control. Unfortunately it didn't take me long to forget that because then came packing. Oh, packing. I have packed, unpacked, and repacked three times now. I have cried. I have snapped at the poor souls who have found themselves in my packing warpath. Tonight though, I am at peace with packing. Sunday night or Monday morning might not bring the same sentiment, but for now, I believe the issues have been resolved. I pray God keeps me in this place.

The next couple of days will be a challenge. My going away party may very well turn into a tear fest, but I am so very blessed to have so many people who care about me and want to celebrate with me. I hate to say goodbye, but the hello that comes next will make it worth it. I know that I am doing what the Lord has called me to. That is the comfort I take in goodbye. I might be sad for a few days, but I will be blessed for an eternity.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Change of Heart and Location

It is crazy to think that I am moving to China in less than two weeks. For many years I have talked big about moves to places such as New York or Florida or North Carolina, but never followed through because I thought it was impossible to ever leave California or my family. But now, I find myself facing the biggest move of my life and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't terrifying. I would be lying if I said there weren't days when I question my sanity, days when the enemy creeps in and tells me I can't do this, that I will fail. There are days that I actually listen to that voice, but there are also days that I listen to the True Voice. A little over a month ago I was having one of those days of enemy attack in my head, but in my heart I heard this:

Why do you fret, My dear child?
Do you think I will send you where I will not go?
Such a place you cannot find.
Where you are, there I will be.
I called you to this dark land,
But look for Me, I am your light.
When you feel alone, look up.
When you feel afraid, take My hand.
I will give you strength to endure
And peace in even the most tumultuous storm.
Woe to none who go My way,
For eternity is your great reward.

Needless to say, that won out over the talk of failure. It is our nature to doubt, but I know where to find my comfort. I know my purpose is to serve our Father. I know He used the children of SFCV to change my heart and my life forever. I don't know much else, but I am ready for what comes next.