Sunday, May 1, 2016

Church and The Government (Day 7 with Timothy)

Our ritual of breakfast stands.



The ritual of cuteness also stands.




We were up this morning to try to make it to an English Church on Shamian Island (walking distance from the hotel).  I knew, most likely, this would be a government ordained Church (the three self patriotic movement).  We wanted to see though.

The first step was walking to the island, of which I am VERY familiar.  Sarah, Anna, and I made that walk MANY times.

In honor of all three girls (Lexi, Sarah, and Anna) I will post their favorite part of the walk.



Creatures...creatures...creatures...





It is SO hard walking down this street and not buying a four dollars precious baby kitty.  Yes, we don't do it...but it's SO HARD!!!!

We made it to Church with a few minutes to spare.


As we set down in a side room for parents with children, the service started in Mandarin and English.  The singing was beautiful.

Then the preaching started.  It was about how God makes you rich and the government is wonderful and should be honored.

Yes, I'm serious.

Lexi and I walked out.  There was no God in the sermon, except the god of government.

I've been reading how Christians (in many home Churches, not authorized by the government) outnumber the communist party here now.  That thought...is beauty.  I LOVE this country, but I love it with the love God has given me.

The persecution still goes on here.  We may not hear about it as much, but our fellow brothers and sisters fight to worship in freedom (http://www.christiantimes.com/article/chinese-churches-cry-out-against-persecution-amid-church-demolition-attempt/54894.htm ).  Today, we came out of the Church emotional and sad.  We wanted to stand up and yell, THIS is not God.

After Church we looked in a few shops, the memories flooding over me.  I remember these women and these shops.

We stopped at Lucy's which serves Amercian food.



By the end of the time at Shamian Island we were EXHAUSTED.  My ankles (for the first time in my life) are swollen (think ham hocks).  So this afternoon I sit with my feet up...thinking through the events of the day.

Thinking of the precious adoptive families I met in passing (one also has nine children and also is a Christian home school mom)...

Thinking of the privilege we have to worship God  (and praying our rights stop eroding)....

Thinking of little Timothy, so sweet and precious, collecting every piece of trash ANYWHERE (chuckle)....

Thinking of home....where we will be at the end of this week...

Thinking of you...thankful you have joined us on this journey....

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lost and Found (Day 6 with Timothy)


Today our agency scheduled a tour for us.  We had the same guide we will have the entire time we are here.

For the first time this morning we oozed out of bed (literally, our bodies said we were not lifeforms yet) at about eight in the morning (instead of the 5:00 am as usual).  We somehow made it to breakfast with twenty minutes before our guide Judy was to meet us.

The buffet more than equals the last hotel we were at.  They have a  Koi Pond kinda trumps a normal restaurant and their pretty fish tanks (chuckle).    I actually have found myself eating Chinese food on a regular basis for breakfast (minus the chicken feet, which were weirdly white today and by the diced fresh fruit kept on ice).

We started the tour at ten, and I found my heart in a very torn place.....

.... at a Buddhist Temple.  We were brought to it as a historical tour since it is over 2200 years old.  It was beautiful.  It was ornate.  The carvings stunned us with their intricacies.


They handed us incense as we entered the courtyard.  It took me a minute to realize just what it was for.  I looked at Lexi, both of us taken aback.  They got tucked away quickly, plans to toss them in the trash (to be truthful) when the opportunity arose.  Some may think that is disrespectful, but I'm MUCH more concerned about respecting my Lord and Father instead of any man.

I racked my brain as to what I could say to reach these people.  They were so lost, bowing and worshiping a false God.  They lit the incense for "wishes" or prayers.  All around us people bowed and chanted.

Our guide just went on with the historical tour.





There is a torn feeling walking through there.

On one hand, you want to turn over tables.  These magnificent carvings, intricately woven masterpieces were made by men....who were created by a loving and merciful God who gave His Own Son.  How it must have pained Him to watch these buildings be raised to worship statues created by men.

Yet my people have forgotten me;
    they burn incense to worthless idols,
which made them stumble in their ways,
    in the ancient paths.

Jeremiah 18:15a

I'm going to get very honest here.

Inside my spirit screamed, "How dare you bow down to carven images engraved with the gold THE GOD created!!!! You might as well bow down to Mickey Mouse with all the good it will do!!!"

Then there was another side of me that ached and mourned as lips moved silently in chants, hoping in a god of the deceiver.  I broke for the lost.  I felt shattered for the generations of mislead.

So I prayed.  I prayed as we walked through the temple.  I prayed for the lost.  I screamed inside, prayed inside, and ached inside.

This is exactly what happened the last time we were here.  It seemed so much like Biblical times and is something we don't  see "in your face" as much in the United States.  Oh, we have many false gods....but they are often hidden in plane sight (money, material success, power, food, drugs, alcohol).  Here, they are idols carved with gold, wood, jade.  They are there in the U.S., but in day to day life, they are often distant.  Truthfully, one of the biggest Gods I've been seeing lately is the God of "Me" (only I matter, whatever make ME happy, if I'm uncomfortable it doesn't matter if anyone else is, I should be able to do or not do whatever I want to).

The lost of this country weigh heavily on me tonight.  I've fallen in love with this land and the people.  I didn't last time, to be completely honest.  I didn't plan on returning, unless God called.

I'm so thankful He did.  I long for the hearts of the people to know Jesus.  THAT is my reality tonight.

Our tour did not end here though.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We then went tomb of a king whose name I can't pronounce.  Lexi says it's the Lion King.  We are now in a great debate.  I don't have the tickets that allowed us to enter, so the Lion King of the Feline Dynasty it is for now.  (Yes, I know I went from thoughtful and deep...to this.  That is an insight into my mind...my VERY tired mind.)



This is how they buried the kings.  There were over two hundred
jade pieces sewn and stitched together with silk to cover the entire body.
They also, when he died, poisoned all animals, concubines, and servants 
so they would go with him to the afterlife.
I'd heard of this, but in all seriousness, it's disturbing.


Lexi and I had a long discussion about how
a parent might feel when their daughter
was chosen as a concubine.  Honored to serve a king often revered as a god? Horrified?


We followed the museum with an ancestral temple.  The same temple we visited when we were bringing Jael home.


Timothy, Lexi, and our guide Judy

Little Man

Ivory Carvings

You'd think we'd packed enough in one day, but after Judy dropped us off it was time for a late lunch.
We decided to go with something overwhelmingly Chinese.  You guessed it....Pizza Hut.



This weekend it happens to be "Labor Day" weekend here.  The crowds were out.


Pizza Hut happens to be a part of a HUGE mall where many cultural treasures can be found.  Lexi and I decided to explore.  I mean what is a trip overseas without getting completely lost and not speaking the language.

Yup...we got lost...in a pearl market.  It was like a maze within a puzzle within a maze.  Literally most buildings in China have ten plus floors.  This mall was no different.  Apparently our "mall" is connected underground to the pearl market (another mall).  We ended up in a complete different HUGE MASSIVE mall.

Now Amber and Bryan (Lexi's parents) at this point need to agree not to kill me.  We made it back to the hotel (after being lost for about an hour) with the help of our guide (a phone call I made) and a kind gentleman.

I HATE BEING LOST.  That is the first thing you need to know.  The second thing is that I have NO innate sense of direction...none.  The third was that my father helped create the first GPS for the government...and the joke is that it was created for me.  Man, I needed my Garmin at that point...sigh.

We are back though, after an eventful day of both lost and found.  Tomorrow we venture out again.  This time to a local island that is a straight shot from the hotel.  I actually have been there many times.  There is a Church there we are going to try to make it to.

So, now I need to head to bed.  I'm extremely done tonight.  That is not said with negativity, but with complete exhaustion (smile).

Please continue to keep our family in your prayers...protection for my husband and kids is paramount.  Lots of mini trials have been happening and that can be exhausting.  Please also pray for some events that will be happening soon and for provision for them.

Thank you SO much for praying us through this!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For those of you wondering, because who wouldn't about this AMAZING little boy (giggle), Timothy is doing great.

We see moments of fear, but he continuously looks for me.  His smile is adorable and he has a giggle that just leaves me breathless and praising God.

He is TINY.  At almost four his pants (a little tiny bit big) are 24 months.  His shirt is anywhere between 24 months and 3T (since shirts can be big).  He weighs 24 lbs (though I think I told you that...I've blinked since then).  He has some little medical surprises, but nothing huge.  His knees DO bend (YEAH!) though may be positioned a little off and he has severe clubbed feet that will require casting and most likely more than one surgery.  He has other issues though with bone (we believe).  His wrist straightens, but barely and cannot flex beyond that point.  He holds it in a bent position. We will be interested in what the doctor says.

He also came to us after living as a baby would.  He only drank out of a bottle (we taught him to use a straw tonight), but will continue to use the bottle initially as not to change too much too quick.  He doesn't know how to feed himself (but is working on a fork and learning quick).  He's in diapers, but we believe he's capable...100% of being potty trained.  He's smart....really really smart.  He's already using some English words.  '

All this is to say we are in love.  HE IS A GIFT.

We thank God daily, hourly for Timothy.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Medical (Day 5 with Timothy)

I think the pork jello is getting to me (like an aftershock from an earthquake).  Thankfully, the Kat pharmacy is open and between Sea Bands (yes, they actually work) and promethazine, I've taken my stomach back tonight.  It's not bad, but I've headed it off.


Breakfast (above and below) at our new hotel in Guangzhou.



We spent this morning at Timothy's medical appointment required for him to be able to get his Visa to the United States.

There's something about Timothy that Lexi and I can't say enough.  This little boy is SO sweet.  He has a smile that will someday melt little girl's hearts.

We saw a bit of fear this morning though.  A stranger had to examine him, and the worst part, they were required by law (sometimes enforced, sometimes not) to take him into another room to draw blood for the TB test.  They are concerned about switching samples or some such.  This poor little boy didn't know if his mama would be there when the door opened.

I wondered what went through his mind.  He's just learning what a mama is.  Was he afraid this was it and someone else would walk off with him?  He had no clue why they were hurting him even with their explanations.

It broke my mama heart.

He curled up in my lap on the way home and laid his head on my chest...and fell asleep.

When we arrived home, Lexi and I had a free day and went for a walk down a shop filled street nearby.  We bought almost nothing, but explored.  The streets were so crowded that we eventually became a bit claustrophobic.  We love it here.  It's wild to see all the building be built straight up though.  We have yet to see a house.

The afternoon was spent relaxing in our room with a little boy periodically saying, "Mama...mama mama mama".

He's getting it.  Someday he will believe in forever.  Truthfully, I think family can be that first step in understanding the permanence of God.  We pray Timothy Bryan Bao will come to understand that family on this earth is forever....and that God is beyond that...for eternity.

Thank you all for praying. Please continue praying for his sweet heart and for protection for all of us (especially those back home right now...a bunch of little things are hitting them).  Also, we have some things coming up that have a financial aspect.  We appreciate prayers that God provides quickly.

Thanks friends!!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Flying Jello Pig (Day 4 with Timothy)

Today was our last day in Timothy's province.  We went to the breakfast buffet...not a normal breakfast buffet, but a super sized "How much can I eat?" one.

Timothy attempting to eat with a fork for the first time.  




We had to check out of the hotel Crowne Plaza at 12:30.  After a night of talking with my husband who was trying to get things fixed with our bank (We may have told them we were traveling four times and still charges from here were labeled fraud.  We also may have been a wee bit frustrated.) I was TIRED....EXHAUSTED....and blasting Newsboys and Toby Mac at 4am (with earphones).  So basically, it was a normal night (chuckle).

At 12;30 we loaded up the car and headed to the airport.  Truthfully, after an emotionally draining day yesterday, "uneventful" left time for "heart rest" and "processing".  It also left time for loving on a little boy that is just blowing Lexi and I away.

Lexi is in the front seat.  I have proof she was here today.(wink)


We arrived at the airport and maneuvered WAY too much luggage.



Once on the plane we all immediately were lolled to sleep....

Not best pic of me, but he was just being so cute! 
Man, I love this little guy!

..... only to be awoken with a trolley of food.  Fish or pork?  Fish tend to be a bit iffy on flights, so we went with pork.

Opening the cartons, the food looked...interesting.  The rice was good, but the pork swam in a brown nameless stew.  We nibbled and I thought to myself that it was probably some sort of gravy.

I stabbed said pork swimming in...ooze...and popped it in my mouth.

I PROMISE YOU IT WAS PORK FLAVORED JELLO.  I COULDN'T EVEN SWALLOW.  Lexi immediately DIED laughing as I turned green, gagged, and spit it quickly into a napkin.

The texture...

The taste...

Oh, please just shoot me now...(I thought)


I still felt like vomiting.  (Lexi was still laughing and I must admit I rotated from SEVERE nausea to laughing.)  Food does NOT make me sick.  I tend to be adventurous.  I may never be quite as "jump into it again".

Of course Lexi pops off with the fact that it's  "Flying Jello Pigs".

Oh my, I'm getting nauseous again as I write this.

All that is to say that we made it to the Holiday Inn in Guangzhou.  I have fallen in love with China and look forward to tomorrow, though since it's Timothy's medical....well, he may not be.

I am exhausted and still need to hop in the shower (and rinse away the memory of pork flavored jello).

Thank you all for the support of the posting yesterday.  It was a glimpse of my heart broken. I will share more of the actual visit to the orphanage another time.  You may wonder how I can go to deep and heart ripping...to this.  One has to process.  I have only begun.  So I look at my son and find joy.  I crack up at stupid and silly things with Lexi.  I live, so I can TRY to process this.

So, in the meantime.

...have a sweet sleep and dream of flying jello pigs....or pork flavored chunky jello....

OR NOT.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Popular and "I will go" (Day 3 with Timothy)

I was once told this was a popular country to adopt from.

Popular like how?  Like the Avengers.... or Sketchers?  Like Chipotle... or getting a tattoo?

I can guarantee it's not popular to be an orphan.  That's for sure.

It's not popular to be left alone as a child, waiting to be found.

We went to the Jade Buddha Garden where 
Timothy was found today.

My son didn't feel popular that day.  I can promise you that.


Popular to adopt from here? Really?

These children didn't feel popular.



I don't think the five year old with Down Syndrome (front left) felt part of the "in crowd".  She wouldn't meet my eyes.  She didn't know how to.  No one had given her that kind of attention.  Being non verbal they may easily be cared for, but not related to.

Our son's friend (middle crib on right) at 2 1/2 years old didn't feel popular.  He felt left by the only child in the room that would chat with him, our Timothy.  He didn't feel trendy as he lay with no mattress, taking a nap on only a board in his crib.

The child you can't see, didn't feel the apple of ones eye.

A one year old lay there, her head flatter than I've ever seen from not being picked up.  She was awake, but cringed away from my touch. She wasn't scared, you could see that....rubbing her back seemed to hurt her.  We suspect she just wasn't touched....touched equaled pain.



As we walked to the next room, clothes (interchangeable between children) hung on the rails to dry.  There were no UGGS or designer purses.  Popularity was no where to be found.

We passed into a room filled mostly with children with Cerebral Palsy.  The potties placed in a crib as to not have to take a child out.  Most of the children were too big for these cribs.  What does that do?  It can cause the muscles to contract and contort to fit that crib.  I eyed a little girl, maybe eight (it's hard to tell by size).  You could see her "in there" though she couldn't meet anyone's eyes.  She just didn't have that kind of cognition or control.  I reached over and stroked her cheek.  Oh my Lord in Heaven (not said with any kind of disrespect, but calling on Him) her perfect and beautiful smile that lay in a contorted body.  I reach over again a ran my finger down her cheek...again the smile.

Oh God.....

My heart screamed, broke, and cried.  This country is not popular to adopt from when this precious gift from God remains.

Lexi and I took a breath as we left..... trying to reign these overwhelming emotions in.


THIS...THIS IS NOT POPULAR.

I long to see someone stand up in a crowd and say, "I will go."  Then another, "I'm going too."
A third slowly, almost battling with the internal decision says, "I'm going." They all walk out.

As I watched the trees speeding by during the hour and a half long drive back to the hotel, I thought about what would...could happen.


I pictured the five year old at the table, a mommy patiently touching the bottom of her chin, teaching her to make eye contact...and seeing the tiniest of first smiles form on this child's face.

I pictured the child, in pain from touch, going to therapy sessions with her new parents...teaching her touch will eventually not be painful. Mommy with lotion in her hand slowly massaging the tiny foot.  The therapist sharing insight on what could help.

I picture a little girl with THE perfect smile, not able to move on her own, with a Daddy standing over her whispering, "It's time to wake up princess."

This could all come from  the three little words, "I will go."  I will walk away from my comfort, because God is not about comfort.  I will do "hard", because Jesus did hard.  I will go against all else in the room, because my God is not about popular.

I'm not sure we will ever fully process what we saw today.   We won't "get over it" or "go on and leave it behind".  If we did any of those things we would dishonor the memories of seven little ones we saw today who are not popular by any of the world's standards.

Instead we will struggle with a memory that our hearts and brains long to scream, "This is not true.  It can't be."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today our hearts we broken all over again.  On one hand we had one smiling little boy...

Timothy and his Nanny
Yes, he looks worried, not smiling.

On another hand these song lyrics ran through my head....

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how'd we ever get so far down
How's it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, "God, why don't You do something?"

Well, I just couldn't bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, "God, why don't You do something?"

He said, "I did, I created you"

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it's time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It's not enough to do nothing
It's time for us to do something

I'm so tired of talking
About how we are God's hands and feet
But it's easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It's alright, "somebody else will do something"
Well, I don't know about you
But I'm sick and tired of life with no desire
I don't want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
"I'm gonna do something"

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it's time for us to do something (yes, it is)
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It's not enough to do nothing
It's time for us to do something

We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill 
But we're never gonna change the world
By standing still
No we won't stand still 

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it's time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It's not enough to do nothing
It's time for us to do something
It's time for us to do something 

"Do Something" by Matthew West

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:34-40
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