Saturday, August 16, 2008

Getting the word out about Orphans

The St. Petersburg Times did an article about my trip to China. It made the paper Saturday. It was written well and I am grateful that Gail Hollenbeck gave me the oppurtunity to share my story. I hope it touches some lives and leads people to care for orphans where ever in the world they may be, and in whatever way that they are led.

He brings gifts of heart, hope

By Gail Hollenbeck, Times Correspondent Published Friday, August 15, 2008 7:47 PM

SPRING HILL — While thousands of people were traveling to Beijing to see the 2008 Summer Olympics, Pete Paolillo was just passing through. His destination was Xinzheng City in Henan Province, almost 500 miles farther south.
The games he would witness would not involve the world's greatest athletes. They would be games played by 73 orphans during a week of summer camp as part of an orphan outreach program.
Paolillo, a 36-year-old firefighter/paramedic with Hernando County Fire Rescue, decided to spend 10 days of his summer — July 24 to Aug. 2 — volunteering in a program sponsored by Bring Me Hope, a nonprofit Christian organization based in California that is dedicated to bringing love and hope to orphans in China.
Paolillo's China adventure actually began several years ago, in 2005, when he and his wife, Kim, an elementary school teacher, adopted an infant girl from an orphanage in Nan Chang.
"I believe it was God that directed us to adopt Hannah Joy," Paolillo said. "She was a week shy of her first birthday when my wife and I went to China and adopted her. It was an amazing experience."
Touched by the plight of the many orphans in China — as many as 15-million, by some estimations — Paolillo felt he was being called by God to do more.
"A month later, I was searching the Internet, looking for links about orphans and adoption," he said. "I came upon Bring Me Hope. I thought it was neat that they helped orphans that were sometimes special needs or older kids that maybe didn't have the chance to be adopted like my daughter did. I felt this was a good opportunity to give back and do something for some kids."
Paolillo made inquiries about the organization's first summer camp, planned for 2006. He was unable to go that year or the next.
Then he received a call from a friend, Bill Byrne of Tampa.
"Bill called me one day and asked me if I was interested in going to the camp. I said, 'Wow, Bill, it's awesome that you mention that, because I looked into that camp a couple of years ago, and I've just kind of been putting it off.' When he told me he was interested in going, that confirmed it for me. So we went together."
Camp was set up in two cities, Nan Chang and Xinzheng City at Sias Unversity. Not wanting to return to Nan Chang until his family could go with him, Paolillo chose to volunteer at the latter, an area largely unaffected by the May earthquake in Sichuan province to the south.
Between 400 and 500 orphans from several orphanages attended the camps for a week during a four-week period in July and August. More than 200 volunteers from several countries helped. Each volunteer was assigned two "buddies," between the ages of 5 and 18, and a translator.
Paolillo's buddies were Stone, a 17-year-old boy with Down's syndrome, and Dominic, a 12-year-old boy with behavioral issues. His translator, Eric, 22, was an English-speaking student from the university.
"We were there to hold their hands and take them from event to event and spend quality time with them," Paolillo said about the orphans. "We started in morning assembly after breakfast. They'd have dancing and singing. Then we'd go to either arts and crafts time or to the water park, where the kids had a water slide and water pistols. They loved that. Then we'd go to the pool. Most of them had never been swimming before. It was a great time."
It was a week of deep emotions, and Paolillo couldn't help but become attached to the orphans. Eric did as well and told Paolillo that in the future he plans to visit the boys at the orphanage.
"It was extremely touching the whole time," Paolillo said. "They're great kids, and you could see them transform. You could tell that they weren't used to being loved on. They were shy at first and kind of standoffish. But at the end of the week, they had given me hugs and were telling me they loved me. It was really touching."
Paolillo said even though Chinese law kept the volunteers from sharing their Christian faith with the children, he could see God at work in the camp in the lives of the boys and even Eric.
"At the start of camp, Dominic was definitely a tough kid," Paolillo said. "I found out that he'd been at the orphanage four years, and before that he'd been living on the streets. I can only imagine what his life was like and what kind of experiences he went through. But I saw God transform him into a sweet little, kind boy. I will always hear Stone calling my name. I don't think there is a kinder soul that I have ever met. I'll be continuing to pray for them."
Paolillo said saying goodbye to his buddies was the hardest thing he's ever had to do.
"Since I've been home, there hasn't been a moment that I haven't thought about them," he said. "It was sad to see them go. But they went back to the orphanage happy and with hope that they would have a family some day."
On the day he left to return to the orphanage, Dominic gave his new friend a letter.
It read: "Dear Peter, Thank you so much for the hamburgers. I liked it and I am so happy to be with you. I will remember you forever. I will miss you, too. I hope I can play with you in the future. Thank you and I hope you are healthy and everything is okay."
Paolillo said that he will definitely go back to China and that he and his wife continue to pray about the possibility of adopting again. He hopes that others who hear his story consider adoption, too.
As he wrote in an online blog to his friends: "The trip is over, but the journey will continue."

To learn more
To learn more about Bring Me Hope or to sponsor a child to go to camp, visit

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Inspiration for Olympic Prayer Band Arrested

The below article was sent to me, I thought I would pass it on.

Pastor Zhang “Bike” Mingxuan, known for traveling across China on a bicycle to evangelize, was arrested by Chinese police just two days before the Olympics began. Pastor Bike was the inspiration for the recent partnership between The Voice of the Martyrs and China Aid Association to create the Olympic Prayer Band.
Learn More about the Olympic Prayer Band here
Pastor Asks for Prayer BandEarlier this year, Pastor Bike pleaded with VOM staff to ask Christians to pray for persecuted Christians in China during the Olympics. The pastor voluntarily preaches the gospel openly in China despite being persecuted. He has asked for his identity to be revealed to bring continued attention to the persecution of Christians in Communist China.
Thanks to Pastor Bike’s inspiration and the commitment of concerned Christians across the United States, more than 800,000 prayer bands have been circulated. On Aug. 6, Pastor Bike was arrested while trying to deliver medicine to his ailing wife. His wife and another pastor were also arrested. We have also learned this week that Chinese officials are opening a full investigation of the Olympic Prayer Bands that were distributed to house church members within China. Despite this increased pressure from Chinese authorities, Chinese Christians continue to ask for prayer and to make their plight known.
Order your Prayer Bands today!As the Olympics goes on, the harassment of Chinese evangelists continues to increase. Please help remind others to pray for persecuted Christians like Pastor Bike by ordering your prayer bands today!
More about Pastor BikePastor Bike, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, rode his bike more than 10,000 miles, visiting 24 Chinese provinces to introduce nonbelievers to Jesus Christ. Armed with a Bible and his business card, which declared “Believe in Jesus, Earn Eternal Life,” Pastor Bike brought the gospel to thousands of people. He and other Chinese evangelists have been repeatedly harassed by Chinese officials during this Olympic year. Please pray for the release of Pastor Bike and his wife.

Order Prayer Bands

To order resources about the persecuted church or to donate to VOM, visit

Monday, August 11, 2008

Coca Cola Olympic commercials

Here are a couple of great commercials from Coca Cola and the Olympics. I thought I would share them.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

God's Confirmation

Kim and I had a much needed date night last night with a nice dinner , OK movie, great ice cream and excellent conversation. We talked about everything and we really were tuned in on adoption. Kim wanted to go for it last year and I did not . This year I have been wanting to and Kim has not. We both have been so scared for a lack of a better term. We both want to be on the same page with each other with God leading the way. I pretty much told Kim last night that we need to just do it and not worry anymore. God will take care of it. He is in control. He has already told us once. He will reveal himself again. We talked about special needs and healthy and age of child etc. etc. As I told you all in an earlier post, I came home from China recently feeling blah. I felt like God would have put adoption on my heart real heavy but when I got home it just was not there. I was depressed and in the valley. I explained how we are so heavy under all of our stuff and how we need to clean out the clutter and excess in our home and our lives. Well, today after we got home from Church Kim, Hannah and I started just that. We started with our bedroom, bathroom and closets. We collected and sorted and discarded and came up with three boxes of items for a garage sale, A huge bag of clothes for Goodwill and about 2 bags of just plain garbage. It was a good feeling but we still have the rest of the house to conquer. A little at a time I think will be the right course of action. We will move to the next part of the house during the week or next weekend. Kim and Hannah called me during the cleaning of the closet and showed me a piece of white paper with a paragraph typed on it. Kim does not remember where it was from or who wrote it, but it is very powerful and I know God is telling us what He wants us to do. So here it is and tell me what you think......;)

(click on image to enlarge or you can just squint to readit LOL :) )

Friday, August 8, 2008

The 2008 Summer Olympics from Beijing China

Don't forget to watch the taped Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics tonighht from Beijing China on NBC . It looks like it will be tremendous. I hope that the mascots make an appearane. They are a favorite of Hannah's.

New Special Needs Home built by Shaohannah's Hope

This article from Christian Today was passed on to me by my Friend Bill Byrne. I had to share it considering that children from the state-run orphanage in Luoyang came to the Bring Me Hope Camp that Bill and I were at recently. God is so good!

Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter remembered in new children's home

Posted: Friday, August 8, 2008, 11:29 (BST)

Shaohannah's Hope, the adoption and orphan care ministry founded by Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, has named their new special needs children's home in China after their five-year old daughter, Maria Sue Chapman, who died in an accident earlier this year.
Located in Luoyang city, eastern China, Maria's Big House of Hope will care for orphans with medical impairments such as cleft palate, clubbed feet, blindness, and urological and neurological disorders.
Maria's Big House of Hope is currently in the building stages ahead of its October opening. Funded by Shaohannah's Hope and managed by New Hope Foundation, the six-floor, 60,000 sq ft facility will be equipped with everything required to care for orphans with special needs. This will be the biggest of its kind in China, able to provide for over 100 children at a time.
Luoyang, which has a population of around six million people, is located within the Henan province of China and is one of the poorest provinces in the country. The state-run Luoyang orphanage currently takes care of nearly 700 children and tends to most of the special needs orphans from all around Henan.
"To care for the specific medical needs of these orphans, Maria's Big House of Hope will provide the much-needed surgeries and medical attention, as well as be a bridge to give them hope and the love they deserve. In turn, there is hope these children will then be adopted into forever families," said Shaohannah's Hope.
The Chapman family chose to build the healing home in Luoyang, because of the area's desperate need for special needs orphan care as well as wanting to give back to the country that has given so much to them - the Chapman's adopted three girls from China, Shaohannah Hope, Stevey Joy and Maria Sue.
"We are not in the business of building orphanages, but rather building hope in the lives of orphans and vulnerable children in a way that honours God," states Scott Hasebalg, Executive Director, Shaohannah's Hope.

Is there a need? YES!!!!

Here are some amazing Adoption statistics borrowed from the website journey to me.

Did You Know?...

Every 15 SECONDS, another child becomes an AIDS orphan in Africa
Every DAY 5,760 more children become orphans
Every YEAR 2,102,400 more children become orphans (in Africa alone)
143,000,000 Orphans in the world today spend an average of 10 years in an orphanage or foster home
Approximately 250,000 children are adopted annually, but…
Every YEAR 14,050,000 children still grow up as orphans and AGE OUT of the system
Every DAY 38,493 children AGE OUT
Every 2.2 SECONDS, another orphan child AGES OUT with no family to belong to and no place to call home
In Ukraine and Russia 10% -15% of children who age out of an orphanage commit suicide before age 18.
60% of the girls are lured into prostitution. 70% of the boys become hardened criminals.

Reliable statistics are difficult to find, even the sources often list only estimates, and street children are rarely included. But even if these figures are exaggerated by double, it is still an unacceptable tragedy that over a Million children would still become orphans every year, and every year 7 Million children would still grow to adulthood as orphans with no one to belong to and no place to call home.

Here is an article below written by Steven Curtis Chapman. Thanks Debbie for emailing it to me I hope it touches someone!!

By Steven Curtis Chapman
Special to CNN
FRANKLIN, Tennessee (CNN) -- According to UNICEF, there are 143 million children in the world who have lost one or both parents.
In America alone, there are half a million children in foster care, and approximately 120,000 of these children are waiting to be adopted. In many countries, children are too often orphaned or abandoned because of poverty, disabilities and disease; every 15 seconds, a child loses a parent because of AIDS. These are staggering facts that can seem overwhelming and discouraging, but I believe that God has a loving plan for each child, and that plan is you and me.
Caring for these children is not the job of governments or institutions; instead, it is the job of families, people and communities. As Christians, our compassion is simply a response to the love that God has already shown us. Mother Teresa would constantly remind those who worked with her that the Bible clearly teaches that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Jesus. So in a very real sense, caring for orphans is a chance to meet the person of Jesus in "the guise of human suffering." This is an invitation from the heart of God to know him and to experience his love.
Nine years ago, my wife and my eldest daughter, Emily, traveled to Haiti on a mission trip. Having been exposed to extreme poverty for the first time, Emily returned home with a determined passion to make a difference in the lives of at-risk children.
Only 12 years old, Emily went on an all-out campaign to persuade us to adopt. She bought a book on international adoption with her Christmas money and would read it to us regularly. She began fervently praying and writing letters to Mary Beth and me, encouraging us to consider giving a waiting child a home. Emily knew God was leading us in the direction of adoption; however, Mary Beth and I were not yet convinced.
My wife and I had always supported the idea of adoption, and as Christians, we understood the importance of loving and caring for others. But what I had not yet grasped was that adoption is a physical picture of what Jesus has done for me. I did nothing to deserve God's love; in fact, I was living as an orphan, without hope. Yet God chose to pursue a relationship with me, and through the death of his son Jesus, I was adopted into God's family.
My wife and I began moving toward adoption with fear and trembling and asking all the questions people ask. I remember Mary Beth crying herself to sleep at night saying, "What are we doing? I can't do this." However, God kept reassuring us that this was the direction he was leading us. It was a huge journey of faith for us.
In May of 2000, we found ourselves in a hotel room in China's Hunan province, welcoming the newest member of our family, Shaohannah Hope. From that moment, we began our journey into the world of adoption, orphan care and Shaohannah's Hope.
We went on to adopt Stevey Joy and Maria. Recently, our youngest daughter, Maria, passed from life on this earth and is now safely in the arms of Jesus. We have been completely overwhelmed by the love and support of so many during this time of deep, deep sadness. Through all that we've experienced, one thing we still know is true: God's heart is for the orphan.
Don't Miss
In our travels to Latin America, Africa and Asia, we have visited many different orphanages. If you look past the surroundings and into the eyes of the children, they all have the same look. They seem to convey, "I don't think this is what I was made for. Where do I belong?"
These children are crying out for the hope of a family, for the hope of community, for the hope of a permanent love. Our mission, and the mission of our adoption charity, Shaohannah's Hope, is to show hope to these children and to mobilize people, families and communities to be living examples of God's love for them.
We started Shaohannah's Hope in order to connect willing families with waiting children, but the reality is that there are many orphans who cannot be adopted. Even though we may not be able to bring them into our homes, we still have the opportunity to show them the hope we have.
If only 7 percent of the 2 billion Christians in the world would care for a single orphan in distress, there would effectively be no more orphans. If everybody would be willing to simply do something to care for one of these precious treasures, I think we would be amazed by just how much we could change the world.
We can each do something, whether it is donating, adopting, fostering, mentoring, visiting orphans or supporting families that have taken in orphans. You can change the world for an orphan

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Kid with a Camera

I had to post these pictures. Hannah took my camera yesterday and was taking some pictures around the house. They were mostly of herself. I thought I would share some of them with you. She is way too funny. I always wonder what she is thinking and what she is seeing. I always want her to see only good things. She got a great shot of my cross tattoo. I did not even realize she took that one. I love that little munchkin. I pray that she continues to focus on the cross and realize that Jesus died for her and that she can be saved by him. As Kim and I are watching The Chapman family explain their tragedy on Larry King Live tonight, I can't help but think how precious of a gift our daughter is. She belongs to God and she has been entrusted to us by Him to care for her. I just pray that we can be awesome stewards and do all we can to ensure that she grows up to love and serve him. Life is precious and life is short. It is so important to enjoy all that we have while we have it. God I pray that you protect us from evil and keep our Hannah safe! We know that we will not be whole until we die and join you in Heaven. Just help us to be filled with what we are missing while here on earth. I plan on letting Hannah have the camera more often. I love to see things through her perspective. God gives us cameras, our eyes, to do that as well. He can see things through our perspective. It is up to us to choose what we look at carefully. Love you all!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Chapman family on Good Morning America

For those that missed it, here is the Chapman family's first interview since their precious daughter Maria passed away. Robin Roberts did the interview on Good Morning America which aired this morning. It was very touching and I think Marybeth Chapman was so real with her comments. Asking a parent to give up a child for God's good is a price that no parent wants to pay. I do not want to ever know that feeling. I pray for God's continued grace and mercy for the Chapman family as they recover from this tragedy.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Helping Bring Me Hope.

Some of you inquired about volunteering at a camp or helping this organization financially. Here is some info for you. I hope that you will look into going and helping in this amazing cause. This link is to sponsor a child to go to camp

This link is for volunteering and inquiring about more info. This is a 2008 form but I imagine you can fill it out.

Or you can contact them here. Please remember though that most of these people are all in China right now so give them some time to get back to you.

I also posted a video that BMH put together that was from our week in China. You can't possibly fit an entire week in a 4 minute clip but it is a pretty good representation of the fun that is had.

Feeling the blahs!

I am so happy to be at home with my loving family. I missed them so much. They along with God are my foundation. Without them I am a purposeless man. I am feeling kind of sick (stuffed up, sore throat)since I have been home. I am so thankful God kept me healthy while in China. This time though I am unable so far to get my sleeping patterns adjusted back. I get up at 4am and drag the rest of the day. I guess I have real bad jet lag. I also feel a little bit of a let down after spending so much time in God's presence the last 10 days or so. It was an amazing experience going back to China and helping those kids. I went through so many emotions while there. Now I am experiencing some depression I guess. I know it is normal but when you come home and you realize that we are so distracted sometimes it is hard. I realize I have a home that is full of stuff we don't need. We have comforts that keep us from spending time with him. As I type this and get my thoughts down I can't help but think..."Do I need this computer and Internet? No I sure do not, but as long as I use it for his glory it is OK I guess." Here I go justifying my belongings. Kim and I talked about going through this house room by room and having a huge garage sale. I think we will put it in an account for a future adoption if God calls us to do that once again. I feel so loaded down sometimes by all of the things that we have. Some of it makes a house a home but a lot of it just weighs you down. We really want to simplify things in our lives. That is so hard to do but it is what we want to do. I am sorry for rambling but I needed to get my thoughts down. In fact, I feel a little better now. I have to admit, I am not looking forward to going back to work though. As much as I need to, it sometimes seems to pull me away from his presence even more. I can't let it though. Even though I see people at their worst and share the experience of their horrible tragedies, I need to do it for Him. I am supposed to go back tomorrow but I am not feeling 100% so I think I will take another day to recuperate. Pretty soon Kim and Hannah will be back at school and life will be back to normal. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not but it is our lives. Thanks for all of your continued prayers. Please also pray for the Bring Me Hope team as they are in their third week of camp this week. They have one more to go and are doing amazing things. I miss them. Love you all.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I am home!!! 33 hours of travel to get there.

I am so home!!!... Bill and I finished the evening and packed up all of our stuff and said our goodbyes. We headed to bed and slept pretty good. Eric had told me the night before that he would see me off. At 6:30 Eric gently shook me and said "Peeterr it is time." He did not want me to go but it was time. Eric and I hugged and said our goodbyes. We will be keeping in touch. It will be a lasting friendship. Thanks so much for all you did this week. Eric, you are very special. We left the University by van at 7:00 am China time and headed to the airport in Zhengzhou. Our flight was on time and uneventful. This time there were no people screaming at the attendants because the AC was not working, so that was good. We arrived at Beijing and Bill and I had our last Chinese lunch. We made our flight and it went pretty well. It was on time and smooth but long. There were a few families on board with newly adopted Chinese orphans so that was nice to see. I pray for happiness and peace for those families. We made it to Newark New Jersey with plenty of time to make our 7:20PM flight to Tampa. We made it through Immigration and customs very fast and headed to our departure gate. We saw the flight had not arrived yet and was delayed to 7:50 than 8:11 than we finally boarded and as we were waiting for air traffic to clear so we could taxi we were told another hour longer. UGGGH. Finally we started to taxi out and the plane was making a strange noise. Then we stopped. The plane headed back to the gate. The Captain got on the air and said "folks, this is your Captain. We will be slightly delayed as we seem to have had a flat tire. we should be back in the air in under an hour." Well after deboarding the plane and then finally switching planes we did not take off until after midnight. At this point it was comical. We finally landed in Tampa at 2:45am. I was greeted by my lovely Kimmie! She was so beautiful. I was finally home. Bill was met by his Brother and we hugged and parted ways. What a trip it had been! Kim and I headed home and finally made it. It was right around 4am. Exactly 33 hours later. The age of Jesus's death and resurrection. That is pretty signifigant because this trip had a little of both elements for me. I expierenced death of self and joy, happiness and hope resurrected in these children, on this trip. It was such a powerful trip. All I can say to those that are sitting on the edge of the pool and saying" I don't know if I can do this" just know that you can and God wants you to dive in and get wet! I love you all! Thanks to all your prayers and support. The trip is over but the journey will continue. ;)

Here are some pictures from our last evening and morning in China.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Camp has ended, But God's work continues!

I love you all. I could not have done this without your prayers. The camp has officially ended as we wind down praise and worship time. All of the children have returned to their orphanages and we are all left here a little broken but hopeful and full of God's love. as I type this "How great is our God" is being played on guitar and 20 or so staff, translators and counselors are singing. I am inspired right now and I wanted to start blogging while God was talking to me before the thoughts left me. Today was going to be the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It started with Dominic leaving his room and coming to my room to wake me up at 6:45am. He pinched my nose shut and put his hand over my mouth. What a boy!! I woke up to a mischievous little guy that I have come to love like my son with the biggest grin on his face. This was the first time he came to wake me up. He had dressed himself and left his room without Eric even knowing. How he got passed the hall monitors is beyond me but where there is a will there is way with this boy. Nothing can stop him. I just hope and pray that God reels him in and finishes the precious work he started in him. He pushed me to get up and get dressed. He was so eager to be with me. A first this week for him to show me so much attention. The boys van was to arrive at 8:30am so we packed all of his belongings along with Stones and we headed out to breakfast. For this meal he held my hand tightly on the way to the cafeteria. He did not want to let me go. He knew that he was leaving and I am sure he wanted to spend more time at camp. I guess he thought that if he was good he could stay longer. I am not sure what he thought but he was an angel this day. We got to breakfast and Dominic only picked at his food. This is from a boy that went up 2 and 3 times for more food at most meals. I asked him if he felt sick and he said no, that he just couldn't eat. Eric told me that he did not sleep much either. Like I was on the first night of camp, his little mind must have been racing all night with all kinds of emotions. God only knows what this little boy is going through right now. During breakfast I told him I loved him as I had done every day. Stone always responded with OK like he always had, but Dominic looked at me square in the eye and told me he loved me for the first time. It felt so good but it hurt so much. I almost started bursting in tears right in front of him but I held it together for a little longer. After breakfast we headed to a small grassy area and waited for the boys ride. I gave them the gifts that I brought to camp for them and that made them smile. Of course the van was right on time. I was praying that it would break down on the way and that they could stay longer but the inevitable was here and it hurt more than I ever thought. My heart just sank when I saw them gather their stuff. We hugged and kissed and took some pictures and said our goodbyes. The boys never cried. They smiled at me as if they were saying, we knew this could not last. We have been down the road of disappointment so many times we are used to it. That is the way it felt to me. As I watched the van pull away the dam burst. I just started balling. I could not even look at them. I mustered all I had to continue waving with my other hand over my face. It was so hard. Then Eric comes up behind me and puts his arm around me and says it will be alright buddy. I will pray for you. That of course made me cry even harder. Thanks Eric! You are such a great friend. The look on his face was priceless. He was feeling real bad for me, I am sure he felt helpless. Eric told me later on that Dominic told him that he will look at my picture when he misses me. That made me feel real good. I pray that we wil meet again. If not in this life, than in heaven would be nice. I will always love you boys. You will always be in my prayers. Always have Hope and Love in your hearts.... After the bus left I started to feel better. I knew that they were survivors and would be fine. They were going back to their home. It is all they know. This was Disney World to them. We all have to leave Disney after awhile. I just hope they have more trips to Disney in their lives.... Eric and I decided to have a nice free day together. we decided to go over to the pool and have a nice shower. The pool shiower were the place for showers this week. They were very nice. I appreciate hot water and this place has plenty of it. Afterwards we explored the city together. We walked to a couple of stores where Eric wanted to buy some gifts for Hannah. It was very sweet that he wanted to do that. We went to an awesome park and talked about our relationships with girlfriends, spouses, parents, friends and God. God is working on Erics heart and I expect something profound soon. He treated me to a lunch of Dumplings, noodles and beer. We were stuffed and spent a grand todal of 2.20 USD. It was by far the best meal I had ever had in China. He took me to the real China. There were no tourits there. I felt like I was on an episode of Anthony Bourdains, No reservations. There is nothing better than exploring a foreign land with a local to help you and show you things you thought you would never see. We really talked allot and it is abundantly clear He and I will be life long friends. After visiting many shops and getting an authentic one hour Chinese massage that was fantastic for 5.00 usd, we headed back to the campus. The staff had a ceremony for all of the translators where we got to present them a certificate, say some kind words about them and have some cake which turned into according to Chinese tradition some face smearing with icing but it soon got out of hand and turned into an animal house style cake fight. It was a huge stress relief and allot of fun. After the festivities. I went and took another shower at the pool and headed back to a volunteer meeting. Eric and I decided to skip it and head out to dinner. He treated me for lunch and I agreed to spring for dinner. We had some grilled mutton (adult sheep) on skewers and these giant pitas with onions that they fry right in the street. It was another fantastic meal. Eric and I finished our meal and headed back to the office for praise and worship. I invited Eric but he was tired and headed to bed. He said he would see me off in the morning. This was a great week that I will never forget. As the guitar music stops, all you can hear are the voices lifted up " How great is our God, How great is our God?"

I love you Buddy!! I love You!