Thursday, July 31, 2008

The kids leave tomorrow

Today was the last full day with our kids and I am so sad that it is about over. Our kids will be leaving at 8:30 tomorrow morning. I am not looking foreword to saying goodbye. It seems that today was the best day with Dominic. He was such a good boy today. Although he was getting sick, He was so outgoing and happy and he was sitting on my lap, hugging me, holding my hand everywhere we went. He is just starting to come around and now i have to say goodbye and pray that he will have people continue to enter into his life to continue the work that has begun. Stone told me loved me and he calls my name where ever we go. Peeterr, Peeterr! I will miss it but I will always here him calling my name. I don't think there is a kinder soul that I have ever met. I will miss them so much.

Today Dominic spent his whole craft time busy and into the project. They were making memory books of their time in camp and writing letters to me with help from the translator Eric so I could read it in English. I will share them with you tomorrow. I know I will ball my eyes out when I read how this camp affected them. I just hope they are not distraught when they leave us. I don't think I could handle that.

Eric had a real rough day today. First thing after breakfast I took him and Dominic to the Chinese medical clinic. They both needed medicine because they have sore throats and were running a fever.They started taking their medicine and by the afternoon they felt batter and the fever was gone. I have no idea what they took but it seemed to work for them. I was so nervous that our last full day together would be ruined and Praise God they were able to enjoy their day and feel better. On the way to the clinic, Eric and I were talking on the way and I was telling him how upset I am that the kids are leaving and that it is sad that this might be the best week of their childhood. I started tearing up thinking about it and Eric said to me I will pray for you and them. He also said that he has a Bible which he got from his theology class at the University. He said that he has not read it much but he will read it again when he got home. I exchanged emails with him and I have built the start of a great friendship with him and I know that God is working on him. It is so awesome to see.

At the water park today, Eric dropped his glasses and they were broken. He did not seem too upset about it but when I talked to him later on, he was concerned because he only had 200Yuan on him which is about 30USD. He needed money for the long train ride home on Saturday.He told me he would call his father in Beijing and he could wire him money.He said he would just wait until he was back at school to do that. I felt terrible about that, because he could not see that well without them. We found a local eyeglass store in the area thanks to a translator who lives locally. I told him go order his glasses here. He said he did not have enough money. I told him that God told me that " You need to see and he asked me to give this to you." I gave him the money he needed and he almost cried but He stopped himself. He is very proud and I know I would have had trouble taking any money as well. Glasses are amazingly inexpensive here. He got a very nice pair of prescription glasses that they made for him in a little over an hour for less than 30USD. He was very happy. I am so happy that I could do that for him. He is a good friend and I know he does not have much. I know that if he could he would do the same for me. I just thought I would share that. I am sorry if I am all over the place but it is pretty much the story of our week here. I have been all over the place both physically and emotionally.

A little note about the girl Hannah I was telling you about. It turns out she is not an orphan. Her mother actually works at the orphanage and her Mother sent her to see that there are people who care about them other that the people at the orphanage. What an awesome lesson to teach your daughter. She enjoyed camp as one of them and really shined in her own way. She never left Marie's side. She is the little person in the pictures. She was always with her. She is a sweet caring little girl, just like our little Hannah.

Dominic ran away from us like usual today but the difference today was that he would just run ahead than he would wait. It is a game to him and it is actually expected now and it does not phase me anymore. I know that he will be back because he would not miss out on all of the fun stuff and meals. The kid eats more than I do.

I have really been enjoying the pool, but so much for the pool even though that is great too. The showers there are a treat. It is a big shower that has very hot water, so I along with some others have been using pool time as our shower time as well. The bathrooms here leave allot to be desired in the size and cleanliness category.

Assembly tonight was great as usual. The kids performed for us again and were so much fun to watch. It was a great time. Dominic has been loving using my camera and I have been letting him take it and he has taken some real good pictures. He figured out how to take photos, video and go back and review them. I did not even have to show him. He is very smart. I am glad though that he was not able to figure out the delete function.

After assembly We stayed with the kids and watched Tom and Jerry with Chinese subtitles while the translators and staff had a meeting. It was nice to spend some quiet time with the kids just chilling watching a movie. I wish we would have had popcorn. The kids would have loved that.

After the meeting we said goodnight and headed to the office for a volunteer meeting. We were all telling our stories and ended the night in prayer followed by praise and woship. There is something really powerful about singing praise and worship in this country. It is a freedom that is not enjoyed here. Everything we do is and has been very subtle and discreet until this. It was the most amazing and powerful singing by thirty or so people. I know that the translators and kids had to have heard us. It was incredible to spend some time with God and fellow believers in a traditionally Atheist country. Words cannot describe the power.

The following verse was on the board in the office and it is the perfect verse for this camp. It has sustained me.
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power.Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly,Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary." Isaiah 40:28-31

Most of this batch of photos were taken by Dominic. He is quite the little photographer.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Progress and setbacks!

Hey all today is day three of camp and things are moving along so fast. The children are having fun and and the translators and volunteers are learning so much. I have been so amazed by the energy that we all have. These kids have Eric and I running around in circles. Hannah does not require that much energy at home thankfully, but I guess I do have a bunch in reserve when needed. When I saw Dominic this morning he ran up to me and hugged me. That was a first for him. That felt really good. He was so excited to see me. It reminds me that, I don't think I told you about the sleeping arrangements. My poor translator Eric has 9 boys with him in his room including mine. So, in the morning, Eric is real tired and I have to take over for him. I think they do that so they know that when we leave at night they learn that we will be there in the morning. It helps build trust and it shows the volunteers that the kids do miss you when they are gone. I think Dominic actually looks foreward to seeing me now. We all went to breakfast this morning and on the way Eric asked me if I was a Christian. I told him I was and asked if he was. He said no but he took theology at the University. He said that his professor said that it is important to be good and that is Okay. I told him that there was more to it and that he needs to seek the truth. God obviously opened a door and I pray that he gives me the wisdom to guide him. I have a couple of bible verses to give him and I will be praying for him that he becomes a Christian....To be continued. I have not written much about my translator Eric but let me just say that He is an extraordinary young man. He is 22 years old but mature beyond his years. He comes from a rural farm home. His father worked construction and was gone most of the time. he has a younger brother who he worked on the farm with alongside his mother. As a child he worked in wheat, corn, pea and cotton fields. He came from a poor village much like the one I visited in Nanchang two years ago. He got very good grades in schooldespite that and was one of the first in his family to go to a University. He is extremely intelligent and he talks of how he admires his Dad for physically working so hard but yet he does not want to have to work so hard. He wants to continue his study and be a successful business man. I know he will be. He is a driven young man. Pray that the Lord leads him to do great things. We arrived at breakfast and had a great time talking and laughing. Stone continues to fill the table with laughter and the more we laugh the funnier he is. Apparently there is a famous musical conductor in Beijing that has down's syndrome. All of the Chinese girls come up to him and talk to him and than they tell me he is famous. He gets a charge out of it. He is quite the hit with all of the ladies. I have been praying at meals silently to myself. At first the boys laughed at me because they thought I was sleeping. Now Stone copies me and prays with me. He is such a sweet spirit. I am reminded that the least of us here on earth will be the greatest in Heaven. He will be too. I know that God has a special place in his heart for children like him. Complete innocence is what comes to mind when I think of stone. After breakfast we had morning assembly and did allot of singing and dancing and games. I really let go of my inhibitions and danced like a complete idiot. It was fantastic. The kids loved it. One boy, Bruce calls me elephant in Chinese and at first I thought he was calling me fat. Apparently he was telling me I was very strong according to the translator. The kids are always jumping on me and they love when I throw them around in the pool and when they saw me dance this morning and being crazy they were amazed. I guess strong elephants are not that graceful on the dance floor. Ha Ha Ha. I love to let my guard down with the kids. It makes them so much more comfortable with me. After assembly we had craft time, which is Dominic's least favorite time of day. He does his craft in record time and wants to leave. This is usually what will start him off on his bad behavior. He does not like to be told what to do. He was angry and it carried over into lunch time later in the day when he ran ahead of us and went to lunch and tried cutting ahead of some other kids. I took him by the arm and brought him to the back of the line and he started to cry and threw quite a fit. He ignored me through the whole lunch and it broke my heart. I felt like I lost so much progress. After lunch we went to the pool and yesterday he ran ahead of us. Today he held my hand the whole way and he looked at me and smiled as if to say I am sorry for letting you down. I got to the pool and helped him get ready and I just hugged him and said I love you over and over in Chinese and even though he did not say it back, he hugged me hard and it really told me he felt the same way. I learned during our quiet family time that Dominic does not know who his parents are. He arrived at the orphanage four years ago. He was on the streets before that for who knows how long. Eric even used the term street urchin during the translation. That hurt me deeply that this child's survival skills were learned on the streets. I could only imagine the horror that he experienced as a small boy living on streets to survive. His behavior is because he does not need me at all to provide his basic needs. He does not know he needs love yet but I think he is wanting to feel that now. It is happening and God is working in him. I just wish I had more time. Please pray for Dominic hard today. our time together is about to end in a short while and I just pray that he finds a home. He is two years away from the age when he is no longer adoptable. Fourteen is the cutoff. I hate that. It is so wrong. I must move on, I am torn up emotionally here. We skipped dinner the four of us and we went to the American cafe on campus. We ordered Burgers, club sandwiches and cokes and the kids liked it. What they liked even more was that they had wine glasses of water and we were all doing cheers over and over. It was a nice time just the four of us. I did it more for Eric because he loves everything American and no one has bought him dinner like that. It was special. He loves ketchup. He put some on his burger but he started eating the rest of it with his spoon. he said I really like this. He was so funny. After dinner we went to evening assembly and tonight the kids performed for us. It was so nice to see all of these children's hidden talent. I captured some on video. the highlight of the evening for me was both of my boys were nominated and won awards for kindness and joy. They were both so thrilled especially Stone. You have to see the video to see his reaction. It probably is the only award he has ever won. What an awesome time. I sat there like my kids were graduating college. I was so proud. There is a little girl in camp, I am not sure if I mentioned her before but she reminded me of Hannah for some reason. She just acted like her in some situations that I observed. She is about 5 or 6 and such a beautiful girl. I finally had the courage to go and talk to her. Her translator Buddy said "say Ni Hao Hannah!" I was like what? Her buddy named her Hannah. I had absolutely no idea. How awesome is that? Just some of God's little miracles that happen here that continue to amaze me. I pray that this camp continues to reach orphans for years to come. The need is great and this ministry must continue. I am pretty drained today but still strong! Enjoy the photos and videos from today. I love you all.

videoDominic getting his award for kindness.
videoStone getting his award for joy.
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The camp song, It's a beautiful day at assembly.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Metamorphosis has begun

" I'm finding myself at a loss for words and the funny thing is that's OK. The last thing I need is to be heard, but to hear what you are saying, word of God speak, would you pour down like rain washing my eyes to see your majesty, to be still and know that your in this place and let me stay and rest in your holiness. Word of God speak." I have never heard these words ring more true in my life. I always liked this song from Mercy Me but I never let the words sink in and take hold of me. God has thrown so much at me this week, I feel stronger than ever. God is changing these kids while he transforms me as well. This is an amazing experience. It has been even harder than going to China for Hannah. Hannah was such an easy baby and has continued to be a Joy in our lives. I am so missing my baby girl. Every time I hug these kids or hold their hands I am thinking of her. Hannah.. if Mommy reads this to you, please know that You were so well cared for in your SWI. You were obviously loved and cared for so well. Some of these children have not been so blessed. Please pray with Mommy for these kids that He will provide them safety, comfort an nourishment once they go back to their orphanage and until they can possibly be adopted. Kimmie, Thanks for being such a fantastic Mommy to our Hannah. She is so blessed to have you as her Mother. You are also a great wife. I have not always shown you how much I appreciate you but please know that you are directly responsible for me being here. You helped lead me to Christ, you have obeyed God and you have let us adopt our daughter. I do not where I would be if you never came into my life. so thank you, I Love you. My little Dominic is in desperate need on dental care. He has very bad tooth decay and painful sore inside his mouth. I have been giving him Tylenol for pain and I am taking him to a Chinese clinic tomorrow. He has really started to transform. He has only ran away from us twice today but he knows the schedule and he shows up for the next ac tivity right on time. He is so smart, he is used to being his own boss. He is smiling more and more now and when I hugged him today, it was a little tentative but he definitely hugged back. I keep telling him I love him in Chinese. Most of the time he won't look at me but today he just gave me a yeah right look. That is progress. I am so excited to say that I can see God working in this kid. three more days with him should really show us more of them. Stone has been an absolute doll except for the fact that he is so strong. He nearly drowned me today, accidentally of course. He just grabs you so hard in the pool when he gets nervous. Thank God all of these kids are in life vests which is a godsend because it would be so difficult to have all of these kids who can't swim without them. Most have never been exposed to swimming much less in a chlorinated pool. Sorry to get off track. Stone has been so easy to manage. He is like having a helper because he will yell at Dominic if he misbehaves. Dominic also takes care of him. Stone likes to eat and Dominic will give him food off of his plate. Stone also likes to steal food off of my plate. I let him because I am not eating allot of my food. It is pretty good but it is getting a little old. It is real Chinese with no western influence of taste whatsoever so I am missing some good home cooked food. Mom, I am putting in my order for some eggplant parmigiana.I would also love a steak right now. The cafe has been virtually unavailable to us since we have been with the kids but I am taking my family to it tomorrow for an American meal of hamburgers, Cokes and fries for dinner. I hope they will like it. They are excited about going. It is not something they typically allow at camp because it is not possible for eighty kids to go to a restaurant. I have found favor with the staff here though and they even made a vague proposition of being on staff as a Paramedic for future camps. If it is formally presented I will prayerfully consider it. I was honored that it was even mentioned to me. Some of the highlights of today was playing at the water park that we built and the pool. It is a gorgeous pool and the kids as well as us look foreword to it. Craft time is a little long. The boys do there crafts in about a half hour but get antsy quickly. They want to run and jump and play.....I am pretty lost for more words at this point. I will post pictures and videos from yesterday and today soon so check back. I love you all. Thanks so much for your comments. I wish I had time to answer them. Please know that it brightens my day to read them and I have read and cried over most of them, so keep them coming. They are like candy for the soul. Please continue in prayerful thought for me. I am pretty healthy physically and emotionally, I slept last night pretty solidly and am full of energy even though I have been running constantly. Please pray for my foot. I hurt it and I am having trouble bearing all of my weight on it. I think it is just bruised. I must have strained it sometime falling off the water slide or being drowned by Stone in the pool Ha Ha Ha!!! But I will press on. I shall not waiver! :)))


videoThis was Dominic and assembly last night. It was such a joy watching him smile and laugh.
videoStone and his friend singing after playing at the water park today.
videoDominic was laughing at the way I used Chopsticks today so he taught me and I captured some of it on video. Thanks so much Dominic for teaching me about your culture. You are a sweet little boy in a hardened shell. You will break out of it.. It is starting to crack now.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The first day of camp was a success!

It was the longest day of nonstop kid chasing fun that I think I ever have had. Of course I was up all night before it all started. We met for breakfast at 7:30am. We received our camp itinerary and we headed to assembly. We had an orientation which explained when our buddies would be coming to camp, the sleeping arrangements, needs of the kids, Rules of the camp etc. There are only two rules for the kids. Nobody is allowed to leave campus during the week and never leave your buddies. Of course those rules sometimes are broken with these little ones. The campers started arriving at around noon. They were mostly special needs but they all were bright and cheerful. One little girl about 5 or 6 arrived with major scars on her face from serious burns she suffered as a baby. Her nose and lips are gone. You wouldn't know it though, She is such an outgoing princess with such a beautiful spirit. There are 80 of those stories today as that is how many kids are in camp. We waited until 4pm until the last batch of kids arrived and our little buddies arrived. Dominic 12 and Stone 17 got of the bus and they were obviously tired having taken a 4 hour van ride to the camp. Stone has down syndrome but he is the sweetest little boy. He understands some English too. He is also very self sufficient and helpful. He is full of Joy. I think some of the pictures show that. Dominic is 12. According to his report he is not special needs but he has displayed many behavioral issues. He has already run away from us, hit us head butted a female translator and scratched my arm. Even with all that he is a great little kid and he actually is sweet. I have been seeing the silver lining in him in every moment together today. He has hugged me, rubbed my back and has shown compassion to his fellow orphans. He is aleader and is very protective of the weaker ones. He takes care of himself entirely and is not used to structure. He is a great artist and is extremely intelligent. I know that we will have a major breakthrough with this little boy. We will see him bare his raw emotions and he will see ours. Not to take anything away from my Stoney boy he is such a sweet kid. When he sees us he lights up. What an enjoyable and loving soul he is. When he sees that I am not liking something on my plate he will give something to me off of his and take mine. He cracks me up. .....Honestly guys I could go on forever but i am totally wasted now. I will let the pictures and video do all of the talking. Love you guys. Good Night!!! eating luch with the boys.
videoSome of the kids arriving at camp
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Sunday, July 27, 2008

It is the start of camp today!

It is about 5:30am and I did not sleep much last night in anticipation of the camp about to begin this morning. I am so grateful for this wonderful opportunity that God has given me to be here and do this. I pray that these wonderful kids are deeply touched and carry the joy they experience this week throughout there lives where ever they are led. Please pray for me that We are able to handle whatever is in store here. The kids coming to camp are mostly special needs and mostly boys. If you get the chance follow this link to a blog that really shows what camp is all about. Scan down to the youtubevideo and you will see where we are and who we are working with and what we will be doing. Love you all. Pray for us as you all go to bed tonight, and we start our day at camp with these kids .

http://misschmelar.blogspot.com/

WE ARE AT CAMP!!!

Hey everyone. We made it. It is 11pm Sunday night here. It was a quick and easy flight from Beijing to Zhengzou. It was about an hour trip. We were able to navigate through the airports and actually get on the right plane without anyone being able to speak English. Bill and I felt like a team from " The Amazing Race". David and a Chinese Driver met us at the airport and drove us to the University in Xinzheng pronounced "shin-jung". The translators and volunteers all started arriving as we got there. The pictures from the website are not a tue representation of what we have seen so far but it is what it needs to be. I will take more pictures tomorrow. We ate dinner in the cafe which had allot of american food. I had a club sandwich with egg on it just like in the Lakeview hotel when we were in Nan Chang for Hannah. We went up to our room which is a college dorm here and we are sharing it with seven translators and 2 other volunteers. The beds are pretty much racks like Dad used in the Navy with a thin pad but ever the crafty ones, Bill and I have taken up residence in the office for tonight. It has the wireless internet connection and it also has some queen size mattresses so that will work for us. They had been leaving the windows open so we have to wear repellent indoors. It is definately like camping. I am loving it. The kids will be here tomorrow. They are mostly special needs kids that are available for adoption. Tomorrow I will be assigned to a translator and 2 little buddies. I will introduce them tomorrow. I am going to go to bed now but here are some pictures and some video of our trip to the University. Enjoy!! It was crazy, but a blast. Love you all. Pray for us. God is definately moving here. What a great group of people God has here. I will try and blog more tomorrow, and let you all know about the first day of camp. :)


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The crazy drive to the school!!!
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More of the scenery.

Jesus is with us! Look at the photo and find the cross!



Bill took this photo of Birds Nest Stadium and we did not notice the cross until we downloaded it to the computer. I thought I would share this and let you all know that He is with us! God is Great!!! Comment if you can't find it. Here is a hint! Look towards the lights! Love you all!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Good Morning from Beijing! Traveling to Zhengzou today!

Hello all! It is Sunday about 12noon here. I thought I would post one more time before we leave today for Zhengzou. We are all checked out of our hotel but we will be here until 2pm. Frank our Concierge has been very helpful since we have been here. He has helped us with all of the small things that make traveling in a foreign country sometimes difficult. He helped us have a late check out so we could rest and he arranged for a taxi to take us to the hotel in plenty of time to make our flight. We were able to sleep in this morning until about 9am. We were so tired after climbing the wall and walking around all day. We are just going to chill today. The whole reason we are here is going to require all of our energy for the next five days. Bill and I are both anxious and nervous to meet our group of kids and translators. We want to be vessels for God and help these kids have a great week full of love and laughter and let these precious children see the light of Christ in us. Here are some things I wanted to share with you. I wish all people in the USA would come over here and see for themselves what it is like to live in a place that is suffering ecologically. With the extreme industrialization of china, It has been extremely Hazy with pollution to the point where it is sometimes difficult to breathe when you exert yourself. I have barely seen the sun since we have been here. Even with all of the initiatives China is doing to reduce the pollution, like odd and even driving days, shutting down construction, factories and pollution causing industry, it has still been pretty bad. It seems worse to me than it was two years ago. Jackie said that most homes and businesses are heated with coal. It is the cheapest energy source for them at 150 USD per ton. It is also one of the dirtiest. China is also having a very hard time finding suitable safe drinking water. Bottled water is the only water you can drink here. I don't want to give the impression that I am complaining about it. I am just so very thankful for the clean safe water, clean air and blue skies of the USA. People have no idea how important it is to recycle and find cleaner alternate energy methods. I need to do a better job of it myself and will. China is looking to us for the answers when it comes to protecting the environment but they are way behind us in that area.I pray that they spend more of an effort to find a way to make things better and safer for their people instead of trying to become the economic giant that they are fast becoming. Jackie said that China is no longer "a sleeping Tiger" They are awake now and working with 100% capacity to be the best. Most Chinese work seven days a week in very long shifts without batting an eyelash. You do not see that work ethic in the USA. If the USA continues to send jobs overseas and do the things that our government is currently doing, rewarding the lazy through most welfare programe etc. we will be surpassed by China and that is a scary thought if they no longer need us. Be wary! Be very wary! I hope to see some more comments from you all. It gives us hope and boosts our morale to see your loving words. Thanks to my family for your continued support. Is anybody else following? Please jot me a note. I hope that you are reading and enjoing our mission expierence. I would love to hear from you. I love you all. I will try and make contact again once we get to our next destination. I hope we have an internet connection?
videoHere is a short clip of us driving in Beijing.
videowalking around the neighborhood near our hotel.

Ming Tombs, Great Wall, shopping and Jackie Chan!

Hey Everyone!It is about 8pm Saturday night and things are great. We are having a real nice time so far. Our second day started with a 6:00am wake up call this morning. We were able to go to sleep at 11:30pm last night and slept pretty good. Bill said a train came through the room last night but I must have slept through it??? Oh!!! I get it now! I guess that means I was snoring. I am so sorry Bill. I am glad he brought ear plugs. I will try to sleep on my belly tonight. He said that I did not keep him up all night. I sure hope not. We got up showered and went down stairs because we had booked a tour and the guide was picking us up at 7:30am. We had a quick breakfast at the hotel restaurant. It is called Salt & Pepper. It had a pretty wide variety of breakfast foods with a Chinese flare. We filled up because we had along day ahead of us. Jackie our guide from Destination Travel China picked us up at the hotel with his driver at 7:30am on the dot. Jackie is the American name he picked because he is a big fan of the Kung Fu movie star Jackie Chan. Chinese people that work with English speaking foreigners pick those names for easier communication. The Chinese names are usually too difficult for us to pronounce. We took a small bus from the hotel and made stops at two other hotels to pick up some other people. In our group was a young couple from Houston who live in Singapore but are on a vacation through southeast Asia, they are staying at our hotel as well. Another couple was a middle aged couple from England and a another couple from Japan all on vacation. It was a nice small group. During the drive I saw and got a picture of a Fire Station. It was the first one that I have seen in both visits here so far. I also took a picture of Hannah's dalmation. Look Hannah. He made it to China with me. I will take more pictures with him later in the week. We started the tour at the Ming Tombs. On the way Jackie our guide told us about himself. He is married with a young daughter and He lives in Zhengzhou which is pronounced Jung-Jo. It is the city we are flying to tomorrow afternoon, so that is pretty cool. He works in Beijing and he said he works seven days a week so I am not sure how often he is able to see his family. He is a real nice guy and his English was very good. It was nice to get info from him because we had been having a little bit of trouble communicating but everyone has been fabulous to us. He has been a guide for seven years and he says that he speaks more English than Chinese for his work. He said he even dreams in English. That was pretty funny. We asked him about why we could not get close to the Olympic venues. He said that the security is extremely tight and with eighteen Country leaders including President Bush coming to Beijing soon, the Chinese are very concerned about providing enough security for them. It is a bummer for the tourists but it is understandable. Jackie said his company just provided a tour to some American journalists and they were able to get close but that was the only one he knew of. The local Chinese are not allowed in either. After about a 45 minute ride we arrived at the Ming Tombs. The Ming Tombs are the only Emperor Tombs in Beijing. There are 13 of the 16 Ming dynasty Emperors buried here. The Ming Dynasty 1368-1644AD was the last of five dynasties that spanned over 800 years. I hope you all wanted to know some background on that? We walked around and saw some real old buildings and relics and some funny worded signs for about an hour and a half or so. It was a very in depth Chinese history lesson. I wish I could recall more but it is allot of information. After the Ming tombs we went to the Jade factory. It was a different one than when Kim and I visited the last time but it was basically a lesson in manufacturing jade and qualities of jade. I did learn that the once beautiful lavender jade bracelet that I bought Kimmie the last time was color injected instead of naturally lavender. It also should not have been graded B it should have been C or lower. Oh well, Live and Learn I guess. After some unsuccessful shopping because I could not find a bracelet there for Kimmie we traveled to lunch and more shopping at the friendship store. The lunch was very Chinese served on a giant "lazy Susan" with family sized portions to share some different foods. It was pretty good though. I was able to buy some silk dresses for Hannah, Kailey and Janelle and some fans for Hannah. She wanted some real Chinese fans. I bought her a couple that I think she will like. Jackie told a very nice story about one of the fans just for you Hannah. I posted the video. It was a Chinese fairy tale. After shopping we went to the Great Wall. It was the Ba Da Ling portion of the Wall. It was a different section than the last time we were here. It was much steeper and longer. We climbed up about three towers or so. It was hot and pretty hazy but we had fun. They were setting up a big stage and sound and light system while we are there. I guess Jackie Chan will be there tonight for a program called Disciple of the Dragon. I think it will be a martial arts competition of some kind. It would have been cool to see him, but it was cool regardless. I am a big Jackie Chan fan myself. They had a ton of Olympic souvenirs at the gift shop here as well. I bought a few things for the girls and the boys at work too. They had some very nice Olympic themed gifts there. After a long day of site seeing we were driven back to the hotel. We had dinner at Salt & Pepper's. It was pretty good dinner but the desserts were awesome. The Chinese like their dessertd but how do they stay so thin??? UGGH! I was able to call Kim and Hannah for the first time. I was having a real hard time with the calling card I bought so the staff came to my room to help me make the call. It was real nice to talk to them and hear their voices. It doesn't feel right being in here with out Kimmie and the little angel that brought me here in the first place. Hannah you are a such a joy in my life and I can't wait to take you here some day so you can see the country where you were born. It is the place where God made us a forever family and we need to come back as a family again. Well,here we are now at 9:30. It has been a real long day. I will close now and post some pictures and video from today. I love you all. God Bless and Zai Jyen from Beijing..
video
Bill and I conquered 4 towers but the Wall beat us in the end!!! video
Jackie telling Hannah about the story of the girl on the fan.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mutton, Birds nest and sorry no English.

The Hotel is really nice. Very comfortable, a good wireless connection, and a very friendly staff. Once we got settled, we went to lobby and exchanged some money for Chinese Yuan. One US dollar gets you almost seven dollars Yuan. Bill and I headed out and had some dinner at a local recommended restaurant in town. We were probably the only Americans there. We had some Fried Rice with pork and duck, fried shrimp with the heads still on and a spicy Sichuan mutton which is lamb. We also had a couple of 7ups and Pepsi's. We were filled up. The food was pretty good and it only cost us 16.00 usd. Bill is not as adventurous as me when it comes to eating. LOL He seemed to enjoy the food though.We walked around the town and saw a three fish statue that remineded me of my tattoo. Pretty cool. Afterwards, we went back to hotel and took a taxi to the olympic venues. It was crowded with all kinds of people.Most were wearing nametags and olympic clothing, I am guessing that they were rehearsing for the ceremonies. We were only able to see the birds nest stadium from a distance. The whole place is fenced off with very tight security. There were many Chinese soldiers everywhere. It was a challenge to attempt to talk to them. They either didn't speak english or maybe refused too. The only thing I could understand was NO, Stop and Sorry. WE took a few pictures and went back to the hotel. I tried calling home but was unsuccessful. I will try again later. Today we are headed to the Ming tombs, Great Wall and some shopping. I will type more when we get back. Love you guys.

I Forgot to add rest of the pictures from our day yesterday. Enjoy!

We are in Beijing!!!!! It is 3:55pm

After arriving in Newark ahead of schedule, Bill and I had some time to spare. We both were able to call home and Bill even found a place for us to relax for our two hour layover, because all of the gates were very crowded. We went to the Continental Presidents club. It was a very swanky upper class club. We had to check in first but looking in they had snacks and drinks available, TV’s, nice leather couches, places to spread out and do little work, charge the laptop, enjoy a wireless internet connection and more. It was really a great place for us international adventurers. Bill went in and checked in first, gave the receptionist his ticket and was admitted in. When it was my turn, I handed her my ticket and she told me” I am sorry but the club is only reserved for first class passengers”. Well, I never!! LOL. Bill overheard this transpire and approached the counter again. She said to Bill, “ He is with you? Ok, you can accompany him on his ticket then, go ahead.” We were a little surprised but said thank you and made ourselves at home. As we were walking in, I asked Bill, “ Hey wait a minute. Are you holding out on me? Did you buy a first class ticket after all to leave me in the cattle car?” We both looked at each other and smiled. He is not sure what she saw on that ticket but it was the same as mine. That was some nice favor on our side. Thanks G!!! We had some fresh fruit, bagels, coffee, and juice and had a chance to do a little journaling and call home. Once we boarded the plane and found our seats we were so pleased to have the extra room with the bulkhead seating and an added bonus the seat between Bill and I was empty. Thanks again G, that was pretty ideal. The flight was slightly delayed so as we were waiting to taxi out, we talked to the people behind us. It turned out they were on their first journey to China to go and get there waiting daughter in Nanjing China. There little girl is 6 years old and her name is Gracie. I pray that these fine folks have a wonderful experience in China and have nothing but an easy peaceful transition into a complete family. I am reminded of a teapot we bought in Jiangxi that said in Chinese, “All will be smooth like flowing water.” That has been our prayer since day one and God has shown us his awesome grace and mercy with that little Princess of ours. I am already missing my two girls immensely. I want to share this experience with them but I am truly honored to be here with my Brother Bill. He is a genuinely kind and good man. I’m in good hands with him by my side. Sorry, I was getting off track a little there, back to the people behind us. They both already have grown biological children and have grandchildren as well. I think it is so awesome that they are doing this. There is a great need in this world and people from all walks of life are answering G’s calling. We talked with them about our adoptions, the camp we are going to work “Bring Me Hope” and gave them some tips and ideas for them for when they arrive in the different cities. We also got on the subject of websites and how fun it is to share our journeys with others and maybe inspire some to adopt that might not have. The wife said oh we have a website called http://www.weloveyougracie.com/ . Since Bill does websites he had to ask them, “Who does your website?” Bill has done hundreds of them including ours http://www.journeytohannah.com/ and is always looking for others to follow. She says, “ his name is Bill!” Are you kidding me right now? Bill does these folks website and G put them right behind us. What a small world that G has made for us that we would be placed in these peoples past. You just never know who you will meet. As we prepared to take off I just laughed inside and told G , “ You rock, thanks for being so cool! “…..As I am typing this on my laptop We are about to fly over the western edge of Greenland into the artic circle. We are traveling at about 33,000 feet with almost 9 hours and just under 5000 miles to travel. It is 4:45 am in Beijing right now and I have not yet slept. I am going for that right now. More from me will be posted later. …… We are just settling into hotel now. We are going to get cleaned up and do a little wandering around hotel. I will post pictures and more later. Everything went perfect getting here. Love you all.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Flight canceled.....What????

Our evening was winding down tonight after a hectic day of last minute arrangements. My parents had us over for a nice Italian meal and they got to watch Hannah swim in their pool. Every time she gets into the water it is like watching a world class Olympic swimmer, in my mind anyway. I can’t tell you how proud I am of her swimming. It was a real nice evening. My parents gave me some prayer cards earlier in the week to take on the trip and I will use them. Thanks again guys, I think I forgot to tell you that. I know this will be a blessed trip. I went to bed around 11pm on wed night. I was very tired. I was dead to the world as soon as I hit the pillow. We had set the alarm for 4:30am. At 1:30am Kim woke me up and said that our flights were canceled. What??? I did not even hear the phone ring. I logged on to the computer and sure enough they were gone. They rescheduled us to fly out the next day. I could not believe this. I started to panic a little because I had hotel reservations and another flight to take to the camp and started to think the worst. A whole day in China was going to be lost just like that. This couldn’t be happening. I called Continental and asked what our options were after being put on hold for 30 minutes they told me unless I wanted to travel out of Orlando there were none. I called Bill and we agreed to change to Orlando and take the 7:20am flight out of there and still make our connection to Beijing at 12:10pm. I found later that there were some bad T-storms that stranded our original plane in Newark so they were not able to get down to Tampa for our morning flight. Once we made our arrangement to go to Orlando and everything was on schedule our minds were at ease. Of course G is not going to let this mission be deterred. He is in control and this is part of his divine will. I kissed Hannah goodbye and she reached out and hugged me while half asleep and I kissed and hugged Kim goodbye. I think she was a little relieved that she did not have to drive at night. I am so used to it; I did not mind making the trip solo. I left for Orlando around 4:30 and made it in record time in just over an hour. There was no traffic at all at that time. The only thing is that Kim will have to make arrangements to pick up the car. She said she will go to OIA with her Brother tomorrow and get it. Anyway, I met Bill at the airport at around 6am. We checked in without a hitch and were able to still get our original bulkhead seats for the Beijing leg of the trip. I am so thankful for the extra room. The flight to Newark was nearly empty, but on time and in fact running ahead of schedule. I hope the Beijing flight leaves early as well. That would be good….Bill and I have both decided to go with the Indiana Jones rugged adventurer look for this trip. We have sworn off a razor for 10 days. Why shave when the wives are 10,000 miles away. LOL, I will have to shave if I want a kiss when I get home and even Hannah will say Daddy your face is too rough!! …I will try and post this in Newark. To be continued!!!.......ahhhh!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Next post will be from China!!!

Well, my bags are all packed and waiting by the door. I keep adding things to bring for the kids. Kim has helped out with some last minute items, like disposable cameras , postcards, cough drops, benadryl bug bite cream and a few other items. The longer I think about it the more things I think I need. The funny thing is, is that most of the items I am packing are available in the big cities that I am traveling to. I guess I am just anxious and excited. I called the airline this morning and they were able to put us in bulkhead seating for the trip to Beijing. I am so thankful for that. There is allot more space and leg room to stretch out in. Kim and I had the same type of seating the last time we traveled so I am glad to get those seats again. I put a map of China on the blog so you can see where we will be. We fly into China's Capital of Beijing and stay there for two days. We then fly into the city of Zhengzhou which is in Henan province to the south. We will then travel to the smaller Xinzheng City where SIAS University is located. It looks like it will be a beautiful campus. I can't wait to take photos and send them back for all of you to view. My next post should be from Beijing. Bye for now.
Zai-jyen

Monday, July 21, 2008

Why so Many?

I found this news article that I thought I would share for those that are unaware or do not know the seriousness of the orphan situation in China. The magnitude of this issue has yet to be fully realized. It is a scary thought to one day have millions of marriage aged men with no spouse to marry.....Well anyway, read the article and you will know why there are so many orphans there.

Why so many?
One-child policy has curbed China's population, but it has also produced millions of orphans.
By Rex Rhoades , Executive EditorFriday, August 10, 2007

The blue-suited police officers were inside the orphanage when our team from L-A College arrived. They had just walked in with a cardboard box containing a week-old infant girl, perhaps abandoned in response to China's strict population control policies.
It's a scene that's been repeated countless times across China over the past 25 years since adoption of the nation's controversial "one-child" policy.But it's really an ancient story rooted in Chinese culture and economic realities.For many centuries China had been plagued by periodic famines and starvation. Usually, this resulted from poor weather or floods, but in 1959 and 1960, millions of Chinese also starved to death when an attempt by Mao Tse-tung to collectivize farms went awry. Private farm ownership was eliminated, and farm families were forced into thousands of communes.It was a tragic failure.But the repeated shortages of food were also worsened by two simple facts: In China, about 22 percent of the world's people live on 7 percent of the world's arable land.In the late 1970s, Chinese leaders realized that with such a high fertility rate (the average Chinese woman was bearing about six children in her lifetime), the country's population could quickly - and catastrophically - outstrip its ability to produce food.So, in 1979, Chinese leadership embarked on an ambitious program of economic growth and birth control.And, they have succeeded on both fronts. China's fertility rate is now about 1.7 children per woman, and its economy has been the fastest growing in the world.The Chinese government estimates that its policies have prevented 250 to 300 million births.But, the one-child policy is also tragically flawed.

In Chinese culture, a male heir is expected to support his parents, while a female, when she marries, becomes part of her new husband's family.In a society without a Social Security safety net or a strong pension system, obtaining a male heir is a form of retirement planning. Without a son, an elderly Chinese couple may be left without a means of supporting themselves.Despite its name, the one-child policy is really a complicated patchwork of rules and regulations applied with varying degrees of enthusiasm at different times and in different parts of the country.Urban residents and government employees are closely monitored, and usually only allowed one child. However, in some areas, if a couple's first child is a girl, they are allowed to have a second child.In other, sparsely populated areas, couples may be allowed two or even three children, or wealthy parents may simply be able to pay the fines that result from having more than one child, which can be two or three times a poor family's annual income.The restrictive and often unfair birth-control laws have recently led to sporadic riots of citizens angered by the uneven application of the rules.Still, poor parents who feel they need a male heir often end up with a girl baby, which they feel compelled to abandon in order to try again for a boy. Often the baby is abandoned with a great deal of pain, regret and resentment.It is a crime to abandon a child in China, although parents are rarely caught or prosecuted for doing so.As a result, some sources estimate that 70 to 80 percent of China's orphans are girls. Most often, the only boys who end up in the orphanage system are disabled.As a result of this oversupply of orphan girls, nearly all of the Chinese children adopted in the U.S. and other countries are girls.China does not provide the number of children living in orphanages, according to Beth Nonte Russell, who is co-founder of a foundation dedicated to reducing child abandonment worldwide.Estimates found on the Web vary wildly, from 1 million to 15 million.The one-child policy has had a secondary serious consequence: China has a growing gap between the number of men and women.International Planned Parenthood estimates there are about 7 million abortions in China each year, 70 percent of which are performed to end pregnancies that will result in the birth of a girl. Also, abandonment and orphanage care result in the premature deaths of more girls than boys.Demographers now believe China will be "missing" 60 million females by the end of the decade.China's 2000 census found 117 boys per 100 girls under the age of five, and this gap is expected to widen over time, resulting in practical social problems that can only be imagined

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Here is the Article.

I would like to thank Tony Holt of the Tampa Tribune and Hernando Today for choosing to write this story. I think he did a great job . There are always a couple of quotes that need a little more explaining so they make more sense in the context they were intended. Overall the message of helping orphans was sent out. If one family is touched to adopt a child or someone sends some money to an organization to help Orphans than the article served its' purpose. I hope it is taken as a positive message and helps the cause. Four more days and we are off to China. I have one bag packed and one to go. Wow! Here is the article below and the picture from the paper.

Going Back To China
Local firefighter and father of adopted daughter will return to China to take part in outreach camp for orphans.


Photo by DAVE CASEY : Peter and Kim Paolillo of Spring Hill adopted Hannah Joy from China two years ago. Peter is leaving soon to return to China as part of an orphan outreach program.

Going Back To China
By TONY HOLT
Published: July 20, 2008

WEEKI WACHEE - The world's eyes are on China as it prepares to host a swell of visitors next month.
Firefighter, husband, father and global Samaritan Peter Paolillo will be among them.
His purpose is different than most.
He won't be watching swimming, track and field or gymnastics. He is more focused on what those spectators likely won't see between the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics.
He is there to offer a 10 days worth of hope, support and mentorship to a small group of neglected children and teenagers.
Paolillo will take part in an orphan outreach camp beginning Thursday. He returns Aug. 3, five days before the Olympics begin in Beijing – located 450 miles north of where he will be staying.
"Basically, we go and help orphans who don't get out of the orphanage much," he said. "We get to take them out swimming and camping."
He will be visiting Zhengzhou, an industrial city with a population of more than 7 million. It is an area both of enormous wealth and abject poverty. Most of its residents, like the rest of the country, fall under the latter.
It has a sprawling urban center as well as 2,500 square miles of rural space. It is one of the most famous of what the Chinese call a prefecture-level city – a large area with a metropolis-like core.
More and more people around the world are paying attention to the booming city. The Discovery Channel recently aired "The People's Republic of Capitalism," hosted by Ted Koppel. Much of it was filmed in Zhengzhou.
Paolillo and his wife, Kim, know their Chinese culture. The former has much of it tattooed across his arm.
Among the many designs inked into his flesh are a traditionally dressed Chinese woman, stone lion and pagoda – a traditional tower-like building prevalent in China. They cover every inch of skin from his deltoid muscle to his wrist.
Their knowledge and interest comes from their adopted daughter – 3-year-old Hannah Joy.
They visited Nanchang, located in southeastern China, in February 2006. They returned with their daughter, who was 11 months old at the time.
"We felt led by God," said Paolillo. "We felt called to do it."
The openly religious Paolillo spoke while Christian contemporary music played in the background. His daughter was taking swimming lessons with two other children in the backyard pool while his wife watched them through the kitchen window along with the other mothers.
"She's an American kid," he said. Nonetheless, he and his wife clearly wish to have their daughter exposed to at least some of her native culture. After all, it has had an effect on them.
Following the adoption, Paolillo wanted to learn all he could about special needs children around the globe.
His research led him to discover there are more than 140 million orphans around the world. More than 15 million are in China.
By comparison, there are 100,000 in the United States.
He understands some people's criticism of flying nearly 18 hours to adopt a child when there are enough to choose from in this country – or in Florida for that matter.
But 15 million was impossible to ignore. It still is.
"We never looked at adoption as an option," Paolillo said, "but it was the best thing we've ever done. It was the best decision of our lives.
"We're not trying to advance any particular group or country," he continued. "We just wanted to adopt."
For the upcoming trip, Paolillo will be flying solo. His wife will remain at home with their daughter.
The camp's headquarters will be at Sias University, an American-owned college.
"They opened their doors for us and for this camp," he said.
The outreach program was inspired by "Bring Me Hope," a small, California-based nonprofit group founded with the purpose of offering aid and attention to Chinese orphans.
Up to 500 children are invited to the camp. More than 150 volunteers and staff from around the world take part. They come from the United States, Canada, Australia and the Philippines, Paolillo said.
Each mentor is assigned two "buddies" and a translator.
Paolillo will be there for a couple days before the camp begins. He plans to see a few sights, including the Great Wall, which he visited in 2006.
He knows there will be little time for that when the activities start.
"I was told as soon as your head hits the pillow at night, you're out," he joked.
The camp will include children ages 5 to 18. Parents looking to adopt generally shy away from kids after they reach a certain age, Paolillo said.
Those are the ones he wants to help the most.
Would he like to adopt again? Perhaps someday.
The Hernando County firefighter and his school teacher spouse have enough financial challenges at this point in their lives. They've decided to wait and see whether divine intervention comes knocking for a second time.
"We would love to adopt again," said Paolillo. "Right now, we haven't been called to do so."
Reporter Tony Holt can be reached at 352-544-5283 or wholt@hernandotoday.com.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Packing for China, interview with reporters & swim lessons

Well it is 6 days before I leave for China and things are crazy (in a good way) around here. I am still buying last minute items to bring, Bill made additional reservations for our flight from Beijing to Zhengzou and I have started gathering and packing for the trip. Our office looks like a bomb went off with stuff everywhere. :) It is all coming together and the excitement is really building in anticipation of going. The weather in Beijing for Friday and Saturday when we arrive will be sunny and about 89 with 10% chance of rain. Praying for great weather....
I have some real exciting news to share. The local newspaper was here yesterday to do a story on my trip to China. I am excited about getting the word out about helping orphans so that was a blessing that they wanted to do the story. I will let you know when the article comes out. I pray that the reporter is led by God to write a great article that really tells the story of helping orphans in need. It is not about me at all. It is all about the kids. I pray he got the info he needed and the focus is on them. We shall see.....
Hannah also had her 4th swimming lesson yesterday and she is doing great. Mrs. Kathy is a fantastic instructor. She has had such patience with the three girls in the class. Hannah is going under water now and swimming to the side unassisted and jumping in on her own. It is so comforting watching her and knowing that she is starting to excel at one of the most valuble life preservation lessons children can learn. The fact that she is having fun while doing it is such a bonus. Enjoy the pictures and video of my little mermaid. What a blast! I am going to miss her last two lessons while I am in China. I expect when I come home to find her swimming around like a fish. That is so fantastic. What a great kid she is!


video

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The blog has gone global!

Wow! I have some exciting news to share with you all. I put a global tracker program on the blog to see where people have logged on from to check out the blog. I am so excited to say that I have received hits from all over The USA, Canada, Italy, Spain, France, Argentina, Portugal, Sweden, Singapore, Egypt, and the Philippines. That is tremendous. I am in awe that my little blog has reached people on the other side of the world. I would like to say welcome to you all. I hope you enjoy reading my take on life. If you would be so kind I would love to hear comments, and suggestions from all of my visitors if they have the time. I would especially like to hear from the visitors from around the world.

During the Olympics please join me in prayer.

I thought I would pass this along. We often take our freedoms that we enjoy in this country for granted. Let us pray for our Christian brothers and sisters in China that do not enjoy these freedoms.


"The eyes of the world will soon be on the Olympics. But the eyes of God remain on His children and especially those who suffer for their faith.

Despite what you may hear in the news, Chinese Christians who refuse to register with the government controlled church are being persecuted. Many have undergone horrific suffering.

Recently a prominent representative of a group of house churches in China asked Christians throughout the free world to pray for China during the Olympics. The Voice of the Martyrs, in partnership with China Aid Associates, has accepted that call and has produced the Olympic Prayer Band. We would like to invite you to request one for free to wear during the Olympics. Similar prayer bands will also be distributed to house church Christians in China and they will be praying for you as well.

Use the form below to request your free Olympic Prayer Band. You may also order them in multiple quantities to share with your friends or even your entire church. Please also feel free to share this offer with others who will want to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Communist China."

Tolearn more click here: http://etools.780net.com/a/vomso/bg_vomso_CTI-China-Prayer-Bands_317.html