This is the long version of what is going on in our lives. It is in two parts which can be read starting here and then scrolling down to Part 2 which follows.
It’s hard to believe it has been 3 years since I inquired about coming to Eagles Wings to manage the program here. I can’t say I have loved “every” moment, but I certainly wouldn’t trade it for anything. The hours have been long and erratic, and the challenges were different than I expected; I have been stretched in ways I could never have imagined, and in truly miraculous fashion I have found that the many years of work that sometimes seemed meaningless became immensely valuable as the skills learned were put to work to meet the needs of the children in my care.
Over the three years I have been China Director, we have taken care of 90 children, seen 28 go for adoption, and nine more are waiting for families to come for them. There are currently 58 children in residence, and there are always more waiting for a spot so they can come. We have expanded from six homes to eight homes in order to reduce the number of children per home for a more family-style of care, averaging just eight children per home: the children have flourished. We also relocated Eagles Wings 5, our baby home, to a safe and comfortable new apartment. We worked on improving the curriculum at our school to make it more in line with local schools, put in place a fantastic school manager and provided training and mentoring to improve the level of education that our children receive. We conducted staff training on child development, understanding disabilities and the special challenges of hurt children, basic medical care and CPR, and sent staff to be trained to work with vision impaired children. We instituted a health care program that brought every single child up to date on WHO-recommendated vaccinations, reduced hospital admissions dramatically and improved the nutrition of all of our children. The area that I am most proud of is the focus on developing independence in our children, even from a young age, and helping the staff to see the children as capable so they encourage and enable them rather than encourage dependency.
In the second half of 2012, the Australian Management Committee experienced a resurgence of enthusiasm and engagement for the Eagles Wings project and set to work identifying new programs and other changes to take effect in 2013. One of those changes was to restructure the Eagles Wings leadership team and do away with the role of China Director and also to move much of the day to day decision making back to Australia. As we worked through the changes in direction and in structure, I realized that the task I had come to do was ending and it was time for a new team to take the program forward. A member of the Management Committee has decided to move to China with her family and take over the role of Director of Homes. It is very exciting to see more people becoming involved, and I know that Eagles Wings will flourish under their leadership.
To be continued..Part 2: A New Day.
The Lord will keep you from all harm--
I never imagined leaving Eagles Wings, and I would be lying if I said it will be easy to leave the children that I have come to know and love so well. However, it is time to look to the future, and it is clear that our future is still here in China. As I have spoken with several different orphan care programs over the last few months I have again been touched by the number of needs and inspired by the many wonderful and dedicated people who are following their vision of service Many of these programs focus on babies, and the need for medical care and early nurturing never lessens, but for the children who grow up and are not adopted the opportunities are few and the risks are many. It is this vastly underserved population that has captured my heart. I believe I am called to provide opportunities for older orphans to attain the education, life skills and vocational skills needed to become independent and productive young adults. Over the next year I will be working to identify options, solutions and most importantly develop relationships and network with others who have the same vision.
So What’s Next?
I will finish my official role here at Eagles Wings on July 31. We have a very busy July planned with a training team, a group of volunteers and many of our children attending Bring me Hope Camp, so it will be a very busy month.
From August 1 through about mid-September my girls and I will continue to live in Jiaozuo along with my three foster children. Two of those children will be adopted in August and September, and I am happy that we are able to stay and keep them in a stable environment as they prepare for this huge transition.
After the children have gone to America, we will be packing up and moving to …..Beijing! Or rather Qingyundian, a small rural village on the south side of Beijing where we will be working with New Day. New Day is a very exciting program which will offer us a community of like-minded volunteers to help mentor and challenge me while I also work to support their current orphan and outreach programs.
I hope by now you are catching the excitement and asking “how can I be involved?”
First of all, I want to thank you for your encouragement and support. Every day that we are here is because of our friends around the world who believe in what we are doing. I hope I can count on your continued support. We will continue to be self-supporting, and due to differences in the programs and proximity to Beijing, we will have greater financial needs than we do now. I have been so blessed to have several new supporters come on board even before I let our needs be known (I love it when that happens!) We still need to raise about $500 in additional support to meet our monthly expenses. Over the next month I will post here to let you know how you can help. In the meantime, please be aware that your donations to Eagles Wings will not flow through to our family.
So away we go...sooner than I had expected, but "I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him" (2 Timothy 2:15) I hope you will come along!
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.