Spring is usually a pretty good season around here, and I am happy to say that it has finally arrived in Beijing, and I am enjoying it a lot. I am sure one day soon I will wake up and it will be hot hot hot summer, but for now I will appreciate every warm, breezy day. One strange phenomenon here is what is called "Beijing snow"; I will have to try to get a photo of it tomorrow. It is the "floss" from the willow trees (which are everywhere). It floats in the air and covers the ground like snow. It is also flammable, which is a fun sight to see.
While it is a welcome distraction, the biggest change this month has not been the weather but the absence of my big girl. She left for the US on April 7, and she is sooooo missed around here. I am really thankful for Hangouts so we can keep in touch, but it just isn't the same. I have had to do a lot more cooking for one thing! And shopping! She seems to be doing well with the adjustment and is now on the search for a job. She is also finishing up some college applications and studying (so she tells me) for the ACT test in June. She had planned to take it in Hong Kong in April -- it isn't given in China except to those attending a few select private schools -- but all the spots were taken. After that her school plans will firm up, but her backup plan is to attend community college in the fall. (See our Get Involved page for how to help Marissa raise funds for school. Thanks!)
Kristen and I are muddling along pretty well. It's really odd just cooking for two after so many years with a bigger family. It's nice having leftovers to carry over for lunch, and when we bake we are just doing half batches. It seems like the house should be easier to keep clean, too, but she and I are the two packrat/messy people so we have to work at it. I can tell you there are a LOT fewer dishes to do. Marissa may not have eaten a lot, but she sure knew how to dirty a lot of pots and pans every time she cooked. :) Maintaining any kind of consistent internet connection has been one of our greatest trials -- first world problem, I know, but it is frustrating to be cut off from the world every now and then. I am working on patience and have been challenged to read more -- if I can get enough internet connection to upload books to my Kindle.
These days I have been spending more of my time at the foster home, holding babies and well, holding babies. I got to go on a field trip as a helper last week, and that was a lot of fun. It has been a long time since I went down a slide or played in a ball pit. I have also been working on several articles for the adoption community. I will let you know if and when any of them are published.
Yesterday was just the best day. It made me smile. It made my heart smile. Why? Just the simplest of things. We took a very looooong drive in crazy Beijing traffic (what is WITH that lately?) to the other side of the city to visit with our friends Lyne and Wayne. They both used to work at New Day: Wayne managed the formula project and did some PR work, and Lyne worked with me in Volunteer Services. (Lyne is one of the best -- right up there with my good friend and former co-worker Annie. Everybody needs an Annie or a Lyne, and now I have had TWO!) Last August Wayne made a job change which meant a move to the other side of the city. They also welcomed their baby boy who we had not yet met. (My bad...busy summer volunteer season, US trip, Guiyang work, etc.) With Marissa leaving very soon we had the needed pressure to make it happen.
We had lunch at a casual restaurant near their apartment. Wayne brought a small pizza in case someone (moi?) was not too fond of Chinese food. It doesn't get more thoughtful than that. :) We had a good lunch and started the reconnect and catch up process after a long time apart. Then we went over to their apartment and by then it was like no time had passed. I loved loved loved hearing about the work they are both doing. These are such smart and caring young people with a heart for the hurting and a desire to put their considerable abilities to work where it really counts. Wayne is a social worker who is managing a program to train Chinese social workers in advanced skills particularly related to working with children with major medical issues and their families. This is a fledgling area in China, and there are many obstacles. Most amazingly, his organization offers a 3000 hour certification program FOR FREE to anyone who will commit the time. Wow! Talking to Wayne was so exciting. He has such passion for raising the social work profession from a paperwork job to a real calling to help the hurting and ensure that children get not just the medical care they need, but the emotional and social support to fully heal. He is looking at US and Taiwanese models of medical social work and would really value any help towards developing training in this area.
Lyne is currently training with one of Beijing's finest orphan care programs in preparation for the opening of a new medical foster home project, hopefully in mid-May. This project is unique in that it will have both orphan care and family preservation programs. (Currently, there are orphan care programs that help families on an occasional basis, but it isn't really what they are set up to do. This program will have housing and family support available for those who come from other parts of the country to obtain medical care for a child. There will also be a 30 bed foster home for children from orphanages. Initially the program will focus on children with congenital heart disease. Lyne has been studying hard to learn as much as possible about the various types of pediatric heart problems. I am so proud of her! Listening to her excitement about this project just made my heart sing. This program is in need of funding support, materials for their family apartments and foster home. There may be the potential need for volunteer nurses in the future.
As you can imagine, all this talk of helping kids and families stay together as well as help for children already separated from their families due to overwhelming medical issues just made my day. But what inspired and excited me most is that this is a young Chinese couple, not personally impacted by these problems, who "get it" and want to give their lives to helping those in need. This gives me such hope!
All too soon we needed to leave to fight the traffic back to our home. I smiled all the way home.
About This Blog
Part documentary, part family chronicle and part personal reflection as I try to sort through the ups and downs, the joys, heartaches and surprises of our life and work as we follow the path that God has set for us here in China!
Kristen to continue to adjust to college life and find good friends.
Donna to have wisdom in planning and implementing new programs for the youth and for financial provision to cover our expenses.