Day 5 of my whirlwind trip started with time spent with the kids at the Hunan program and ended with a flight 780 miles further south to central Yunnan province (no fast trains to that city, and the idea of 20+ hours on the train was not so appealing). I had never been to Yunnan before and had only heard the very best things, so I was excited to see this new-to-me area of China. In addition, the program I went to visit was totally different from the one the day before, and in fact totally different from anything I had considered previously. A couple had hoped to develop a vocational and life skills program for orphaned teen girls on a small farm in the foothills, but after renovating the facility they decided to return to the US and turn the property over to someone else to develop the program. Wow! Rather than fitting into an existing program with a team in place, this was a blank canvas. So much opportunity, but building a program from scratch is a big task. I planned to spend three days in the area so I could get as many questions answered as possible.
The time spent at the farm was a roller coaster of thoughts and emotions. From “this will never work” to “what an amazing opportunity” and everything in between.
From my journal:
I spent time walking throughout the property, investigating all the rooms in the main buildings (24 bedrooms!), and doing a lot of thinking, journaling and praying over the possibilities. The opportunity to create a foster home program for orphaned teens, to model family life, life skills and develop work skills to give them hope for a healthy and productive future would be a dream come true. On the other hand, finding staff, particularly foster parents, and developing the entire program on my own is pretty overwhelming. Again and again I found myself thinking, “I can’t do this.” But then I heard, “No, you can’t but God can.” So I persevered with my fact finding … and my dreaming.
Interestingly, the highlight of this part of the trip was the connections that I made with both Chinese and expats. I had some wonderful talks with a Chinese couple and their friend who had also come to the farm for the week. We hit it off immediately, and soon found ourselves sharing our hearts and praying together. On Sunday I visited the international fellowship to get a sense of the expat community in the area as well. It was fantastic! The music and sermon both spoke to me, and there is a good youth program as well. Afterwards I was able to have lunch with a friend of a friend, who is also one of the worship leaders for the fellowship. Again, an amazing time of deep conversation: I was so encouraged.
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.