Thursday, July 24, 2014

Trip to China- Part 2

Most days, we left our hotel around 7am and walked a short 10-15 minutes to the orphanage. Here is what our walk looked like. The side walks weren't concrete they were this interesting colored tile that got extremely slick when it rained. Also, the "side walks" actually doubled as parking lots because there are NO parking lots in China, you just pull up on the curb and park it right there. Kinda crazy, especially when the cars are stacked in there several deep. (Would hate to be the one parked at the back and need to get out. Guess you're just outta luck if that happens.)

This is what the orphanage looks like. We wore matching shirts to get into the building but once there and in a clean/sterile environment, we'd change into our scrubs.

You often hear of these babies being left "in boxes". This is "the box" that the government established as a safe place to leave children as opposed to just leaving them near a dumpster or in a remote place where they won't be found. There's no video surveillance or cameras of any kind so they can rest assured they will never be found out. People check the box regularly and more often then not, find little children there. It seems unfathomable, but unfortunately its true.

We, the "Little Rock Ladies" (consisting of five women from several different churches) made up the first shift, we'd take report (from the night shift) at 7:30 and get our updates on the kids. After that we'd make a list (numbered 1-9) of who to feed first then based on that we'd start bath time, changing clothes, dressing wounds, changing colostomy bags, then begin prepping bottles for breakfast/mid morning snacks. The morning time was a frenzy of activity. Babies were waking up and lots of meds had to be given, it was always high speed and before we knew it we were almost to lunch time. This is where we spent a lot of our days.

I so wish that I could include pictures of all the sweet children we got to know and take care of in our time there but for the safety of the orphanage, the Special Care Room, and of course the children, I cannot post any pictures of us with them. Boo! There were nine precious little faces in the SCR when we arrived. We saw everything from Bladder Exstrophy (where the bladder forms outside the body), Imperforate Anus (where the children have colostomy bags), Down Syndrome, Hydrocephalus, all kinds of heart defects, some were on oxygen and others on feeding tubes or both at the same time. I had a grandmother who had colon cancer and had a colostomy bag and I've spent a little time in the CVICU (with Ava Jane) so I was not real shocked by what all I saw, but I must say actually having to care for them, change the bandages, the "wafers" (the part of a colostomy bag that actually adheres to the body) and all the other things we did was truly overwhelming for the first couple of days. The two SCR nannies (per shift) who do this day in and day out are A-MAZ-ING! I have NO idea how they do all that they do except for Jesus' strength.

This was the bottle making room with all the different formulas, bottles, sterilizers, etc. It was extremely organized in the SCR and thankfully so. Everything was labeled with each child's number on it so as to have no chance of sharing bottles, nipples, tooth brushes, vitamin drops, etc.

At around 11:30 we would start putting all the kids down for naps then start our daily chores of dusting, windex-ing, keeping up with the laundry, and bottle washing and sterilizing for the next round of feedings. We would bring something for lunch each day or have something delivered but one day Lydia went out to one of the fruit stands for us and brought back all these amazing fresh fruit and veggies. Here we were are all getting introduced to passion fruit. I'd never had it before but I must say I did enjoy the crunch of the seeds.

We spent some of our down time (during naps) cleaning out the clothes drawers from wintery to summery things. I loved finding all these totes full of some brand new onesies and sleepers. It was like going shopping but without spending any money, that's always fun! And those babies looked so sweet in their new outfits.

The second day we were there we got to see this little girl, who has a severe heart condition, united with her forever family. What a treat to be able to witness the love of a forever family and the excitement that they had for Lybbi Shu Fang. This week is a very big week for this precious little girl. She will be having a heart cath done tomorrow morning at 9:00am. Would you join me and thousands of people who are praying for there to be no Pulmonary Hypertension and that they'd be able to correct all that is wrong with her heart? If you'd like to follow Lybbi's story you can click on the link. Her story is chocked full of God sized miracles, why should He stop now?! (Below is a picture of us praying for her family and her safety as they began their crazy travel home to the states!) On this next link, you can read the moment by moment thoughts from the doctor who traveled with them from Hong Kong to the states, its phenomenal! This family is amazing, what a gift they have given this precious little girl, I cannot wait to hear what the Lord is going to do next in the story He is writing for them!

Trip to China- Part 1

Some time last fall my Mother in Love (Mother in Law) told me about this mission trip that she was going to go on. It was to a Special Care Room in a Chinese orphanage. There was a family that used to live here in Little Rock, whom she has known for many years who felt God calling them to China twenty something years ago. So from time to time I've heard her tell stories about this faithful family and was interested to go on the trip too. When I initially asked if there was anymore room, there was not, however after about three weeks one of the other girls ended up not being able to go so a spot opened up. When Donna called to tell me I knew I wanted to go.

That was last January and from there we did lots of planning and prepping, actually I should say Donna did lots of planning and prepping. She found our flights, got our international medical insurance cards, corresponded with the Special Care Room (SCR) staff, made sure we had all our passport and visa information and did all the coordinating of schedules so we could gather as a team to get to know one another and pray several times before our trip. At our last meeting (a week before our trip) we found out that we all needed a Hep A shot. So in the midst of planning my Mom's surprise party, prepping for our beach trip (Part 1, 2, and 3) and the China trip I was running around to different pharmacies seeing who could give me that immunization. Third times a charm, we finally ended up at a Walgreen's that did in fact, carry that shot, just had to wait a few minutes with these sweet friends. (Their reward for being good was that we were headed to meet up with some friends at the pool. I was supposed to wait 15 minutes after getting the shot so we walked around the store a few times but left just shy of the allotted time frame due to a tiny dose of whining that had begun.)

We left for our family beach trip on June 7th and returned home late the 14th. I had Sunday the 15th to unpack and repack for China cause I left bright and early on Monday morning the 16th. When I say bright and early, I mean my ride came to pick me up at 4:30 am, it was early!

We had several supplies that they'd asked us to bring: formula, infant gas drops, salsa, coffee and some commentaries. One girl had 20 lbs of salsa in her suitcase…there is absolutely NO salsa nor any tortilla chips to be found in China, we had major withdraws over the 12 days!

We got to the airport and checked in with no problems and arrived at the gate and waited for our 6:15 flight to Dallas. Here was part of our little team minus Amy and Rebekah (because they'd gone on over earlier). We were all anxiously excited to start our long journey.

After doing a lot of leg stretches and making last phone calls home, we finally boarded the flight to Shanghai.

When we landed there, we had a five hour layover before boarding the flight to Xiamen. I set my world clock so I could keep track of Little Rock time and tried to wrap my head around the 13 hour time difference.

None of us could get connected to the free wifi in the Shanghai Airport since we didn't have Chinese phone numbers so that was a First World frustration, oh well. We finally boarded that flight somewhere around 9pm (the second day of our travel) for what we thought would be a short jaunt over to Xiamen. The flight attendants were all Chinese and spoke no English so when we landed and were relieved to have finally made it, we were gravely mistaken. Someone finally explained to us all that "you not in Xiamen, you in Wenzhou". Apparently there had been a typhoon in Xiamen so our flight had been rerouted about 3 hours from our final destination. We had to de-board the plane and that in itself was craziness! This is how they transported us from the plane to an un-airconditioned terminal, we were packed in there like sardines!

Good thing was that we only sat for a few minutes before they had us re-board the plane and had us headed back to Xiamen. We finally landed there at 3:10 am, our total travel time was 31 and 1/2 hours. Phew! We got checked into the hotel and got a few hours of sleep then got picked up to start our orientation to the SCR. Here's part of our team that first morning having breakfast.

Hearing, first hand, about the ministry, how it started and what all they've been doing and seeing, was really inspiring. I wish that I could be more specific, but due to the sensitive nature of the country and the many orphans, I'll have to be vague here on the blog.

After our initial introduction we had our first authentic Chinese meal…it was interesting FOR SURE! This was my first experience with "Pinecone Fish" (that's what's in the center), I fell in LOVE with their eggplant dish that had potatoes in a fish sauce (sounds gross, but it was my favorite). There were dumplings and noodles and of course lots of rice…oh there was plenty of rice! They always have a HUGE lazy susan in the center of these large round tables and the food is served family-style.

I did get accustomed to eating with chop sticks, though I can't say I mastered them, and on occasion I did use my soup spoon as a scoop! A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!

There were 12 people from Little Rock who were going to be covering 24 hour care in order to give the nannies some relief for a few weeks. So we were broken up into 3 shifts 7:30-3:30, 3:30-11:30 and the grave yard shift of 11:30-7:30.

My little team had the morning shift. So after we finished our lunch we had the afternoon to unpack, get acclimated and look around. So we did.

There are tons of little street corner flower shops that sell these huge bouquets. Literally you'd see people pick up these gy-nor-mous bouquets and walk off.

Some of the buildings looked so dilapidated. I was A-MAZ-ED by how many tall sky scraper type buildings there are. Coming from Little Rock where there's less then two hands worth of tall buildings in our entire downtown area, seeing all that was there was pretty fascinating.

Almost all of the apartments have bars on their balconies because they have to hang their clothes out to dry, a lot of the apartments have no large appliances (refrigerators, washers or dryers.)

There was this man driving a cart full of fish…why? I have no idea.

Every day on our walk to the orphanage we got to pass this beautiful park/pond.

There were lots of motorized bikes all over the place. The traffic there is pretty crazy, there seems to be no traffic laws, if you're in their way they will hit you even if you have the right of way. So the key, is to RUN!!

We saw all kinds of people and things out on the streets. Its just different there. The smells, the sounds, the sights, EVERYTHING, is totally different. Every day we passed by this street vendor who sold ducks…can't say that I tried it, but apparently its a hit with the Chinese people.

Each night we were on our own trying to get to a restaurant and then back to the hotel. I've NEVER seen so many taxi's deny taking someone somewhere as I did there. Literally NO ONE spoke English…so we let our fearless Rebekah try to hail us a taxi. She'd hand them a card from our hotel with the address on it and literally every night we'd have 2-3 taxi's just say "no-no" and then speed off. It was amazing, what taxi service turns people down…even if we were out of their "territory" they'd have made a lot of money by taking us all the way back to our hotel, it was really pretty comical at times. One night in particular we were quite far away and NO ONE would take us back, we had our phones, but no wifi capability to call anyone with, so we felt pretty stuck for a while when finally a kind taxi driver waved us into his cab and we sped off at the speed of light…what a relief that was!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Weekend In Review + Start To The Week

This past week we were pretty much stuck at the house because Ava Jane was running 101 fever from Sunday to Wednesday and had broken out in a rash all over her body. By Wednesday morning I decided it was time to go see the doctor and thankfully I did because it turned out she was Strep positive, which had caused the Scarlet Fever, and a wound behind her ear that was either Strep Impetigo or a Staph Infection so she was immediately put on an antibiotic and we waited to hear the results of the culture. Needless to say, by Friday, the kids and I were all quite sick of being house bound so when my Dad called to see if we'd want to go to the Mid America Science Museum for the afternoon, I was more than willing to make the drive, anything to get out of the house!!

Mom and Dad picked the big boys up and headed to Hot Springs a little bit earlier so that the littles could rest and I could pick Adam up after a meeting at the hospital. The kids had such a great time running around trying out all the exhibits.

Being that its a kids museum it was so nice of them to make sure we knew where the "pinch point" was.

There was this 200 lb Anaconda that they have set out for you to try and lift. All the boys got in on this action.


This huge catfish was strung up and had an opening in its belly where the kids could pull items out that the fish had eaten. That was a pretty interesting exhibit. Who knew these bottom dwellers ate bones and even shoes?

There was a self-hoist pulley system, that took quite a bit of muscle. Laws needed a little help but Peyton was able to do most of it on his own.

Emerson and I told secrets from across the room in the "Whisper Dish".

Even Ava Jane got in on the action. She loved the graffiti wall but particularly the tinker toy area.

The kids enjoyed making shadows with Daddy while G-Dad had fun making some music with the pipes.

I will give you fair warning, there is a Tesla Theatre where they show how lightening and voltage work. Well, its tremendously loud and Emerson more then flipped out so we had to leave, it was SO loud and rightfully so, there was 1.5 million volts of electricity flowing thru the cage, YIKES!

I was so glad for the chance to get out of the house to see some new scenery and oh so thankful that Ava Jane was feeling much better!

On Saturday, our D-group from church gathered at the splash pad for some water fun. It was our first time this summer. And as you can see the kids had a blast!!

We enjoyed some hotdogs, burgers and the fixings.

The cookies and brownies were quite a hit with these two, I think between them they inhaled about 8 or 9.

Yesterday we enjoyed some pool time with friends and today we paid a visit to our local library for story time, book gathering and of course, a DVD rental. Can't go to the library without getting a DVD, right? They were hoping for Swiss Family Robinson again but all the copies were checked out so they decided on Milo and Otis. Lawson asked to take his picture with the robot then all the boys wanted in on the pic.

We got there in (unplanned) time for story time which had a farm theme going on. They listened pretty well to all the stories but getting to go pick out a puppet to hold was by far the best part for them.

After the library we ran a few errands which included the grocery store. When Lawson saw this cardboard cut out, he said very enthusiastically, "Hey Mom, can I get my picture made with him?" I said "sure, why not?!" He's not always the most cooperative of our children while taking pictures, but as of late he's become extremely interested in both taking pictures with his own camera as well as me taking pictures of him in certain places or with specific people. I feel like I should encourage his willingness in any way I can so, there we were on the yogurt aisle just posing with Brad.

It was a fun weekend and we've had a good start to the week. I'm very much enjoying time with my kiddos, I can hardly believe the summer is halfway over.
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