I feel as though to say the past couple of weeks have been crazy would be an understatement. The craziness would explain my lack of blog posts, and if you've emailed or messaged me and I haven't responded, pull up a comfy chair and let me fill you in...
The first weekend in November brought a surgical team with an organization called Mending Kids International, based out of California. They brought a team of 18, comprised of about 8 medical staff and 10 volunteers. Throughout their week at Maria's they performed much-needed surgeries on 11 of our babies. We are so grateful for their work. The week brought very early mornings, late nights, and very full days in between. It was my first experience with a medical team since I have arrived at MBH, it was also probably one of the hardest weeks physically, mentally, but especially emotionally.
As much as I interact with our children, I honestly forget sometimes that they are sick. To me, they are just kids and its not that I am in denial that most of them have serious medical needs, I just don't think about it often in my day-to-day interaction with them. This week, however, was different. I would go into the recovery room numerous times a day to check on the babies. While most of them slept post-op, from time to time I would catch one awake and I would just sit by their cribs with their ayis. As I watched them, my heart was overwhelmed with emotion time after time. Although I knew the pain they were experiencing was for good, it was hard to face that without being face to face with suffering. And suffering now had a real face and a real name, and that face was staring right back at me. All I wanted to do was hold them, kiss them, and somehow assure them that everything would be ok.
By the end of the week the recovery room had almost cleared and most of the babies were able to return to their nurseries. There were three little ones left, and one in particular would cry every time I got near his crib. This particular evening he was extra fussy so I finally just decided I would go over and pick him up. When I did, he placed his head on my shoulder, curled up in my chest and was silent. His ayi then told one of the volunteers that was in the room (who spoke Chinese) that this particular child didnt like foreigners, which explained why he cried each time I got close (I wouldnt like foreigners either if they had poked and prodded me!) I cherished this moment with this sweet baby and was so grateful that God allowed me to have that time with him.
Following the medical group, we had two other smaller groups that came for day visits back-to-back.
In the midst of all of this, the time was coming for me to renew my visa (I am on a 1-year tourist visa but am required to renew every 90 days by exiting the country). This would involve a trip to Hong Kong, something I didn't put a ton of thought or planning into, expecting it would be easy; people do it all the time. Well, that unfortunately didnt turn out to be the case for me.
I can say this in hindsight because I am now safely in Beijing visiting a friend, but basically the morning I was leaving, everything fell apart. I had a one-way train ticket to Guangzhou, which is a 2 hour train ride out of Hong Kong, but my plans for accomodations had all fallen through. The morning was spent scrambling to find some connections. Thankfully Laura was able to connect with a friend from college (whom she had not spoken to in years) who has lived in Hong Kong for a while. He called me about 10 minutes before I left for the train station and assured me that everything would be ok and just to rest. At that point I knew that once I got on the train, there was nothing more I could do to plan and I just had to trust.
I am quickly learning that making plans and living in China don't go together very well. And for you who know me, you know I am a planner through-and-through. I was very frustrated at myself that everything was so uncertain for this trip, but then I also had to realize that had I had it all figured out it probably would have still fallen apart at the last minute. One of my friends here refers to it as "The China Variable". Besically, for any plan you have, you better have 3 or 4 more plans to back it up because something is bound to go wrong somewhere along the way.
The kindness of strangers...
During my few days in Hong Kong, as frazzled as I was, one thing that kept standing out to me were strangers, kind strangers. I departed Luoyang on Tuesday afternoon by train...23 hours on a train to Guang Zhou. Needless to say, I got quite a bit of sleep and was able to catch up on some reading, writing blogs (to be posted) and honestly, I just sat and stared out the window much of the time. When I arrived in GZ, the train station was chaos. Thankfully a friend had told me I would have to switch stations and a kind worker who spoke English told me which metro lines to take (just a side note, when I arrived at the GZ East station, the first thing I spotted...you probably could guess...Starbucks. It was in the most unlikely of places, but I guess God knew I needed to see that familiar sign in such an unfamiliar place). While at the train station in GuangZhou, there was an Australian man who walked me through what to expect there (including customs). Upon arrival in HK, as I tried to figure out where to best get a taxi, a lady walked up and asked if I needed help. Why yes, yes I did. I finally arrived at Crossroads and was greeted by Laura's very kind friend Josh. He was incredibly helpful the following day in helping me know what buses to take to get to the center of the city. While in the city waiting for a bus, it started to pour. I had a rain jacket as it had been sprinkling all day, but as it started to rain harder and harder, a kind girl in front of me told me I could stand under her umbrella.
As small as these little gestures were, I knew they were reminders from my Father that He was caring for me, even when it seemed like things were just crazy.
Today as I retold my "adventure" to a friend, her first response was "you are brave, that doesnt sound like fun at all to me." And you know what, to be honest, it wasn't fun. I was scared, I was nervous, I was stressed; but despite those things, it was good. It was good for me to be stretched in that way, to learn I could do it, but also that I can count on people. It was good for me to go into something without a plan. Not having a plan makes you have to trust, and I learned that is something I am not very good at. I am good at having things all figured out, or at least appearing that way, and when they don't, it unnerves me. Even when I cannot see the step in front of me, my heavenly Father has my steps ordered. That's not to say I won't vear from time to time, but never so far that He will lose track of me.
Surprisingly, I did not take many pictures in Hong Kong (as there's a good chance I will have to return), but this was one of my favorite things there. Being a former British colony, they drive on the opposite side of the road...I was grateful for these reminders on the street, but even though it said "look right" I still couldn't help but look left too before crossing (that "look both ways before you cross" has been ingrained in me!)