I feel bad for not posting more about the trip, but things have been crazy at our house lately, so not much computer time. Here's a post about our amazing team.
Okay, so left to right, we have our guide, Steve, a member of the orphanage staff, Shannon, our team leader, Tina (who was only with us the first couple days, as this was her adoption trip), me, Annette, Laura, Jenny, Rachel, and Morgan.
It was an absolute honor to serve alongside these neat people and to watch them love on all the kids we met.
This was during the big kids assessments in Chenzhou. Steve was so patient, translating our instructions as we tried to get kids to do things they might never have been exposed to before.
Morgan. :) Morgan was a gem. She was adopted from Beijing as a teen, and still speaks Mandarin. Although she was quick to point out she was not a translator, her help was so valuable! In some ways, she reminded me of my daughter, Brianna, in other ways, she was so very Chinese it made me smile. She was an amazing fit with the blind boys in Hefei.
Shannon, our team leader. God has His hand on her ministry to Chenzhou, and she is an incredible woman. Two of her kids are from this orphanage, and she has spent the last 5 years building a beautiful relationship with the staff and children there. It was because of her work that we had total access in this facility--an incredible rarity in a Chinese orphanage.
Marilyn! You may recognize Marilyn from last year's trip to Beijing. She wasn't able to arrive when the rest of the group did, but once she was there, she jumped right in. Marilyn has 4 Chinese daughters, and one daughter from the Philippines.
Rachel has a huge heart for the forgotten. She's been to Chenzhou with Shannon's teams before, and she knew the kids well.
Jenny was energetic and had lots of great ideas from her years working in children's ministries for her church.
Laura, who has a Chinese little boy at home, and is hoping to head back for a sibling next year. She fell in love with sweet Nellie, who was a preemie.
Steve was the world's most patient guide. Totally unflappable, even when I spilled juice all over him at lunch one day. We came up with some crazy capers, and he mostly just rolled with it. I think it must have been like trying to herd cats.
Although many parts of the trip were sad or difficult, overall, it was a lot of fun, and I have to credit that to the neat people on the team.
When you travel together, you really get to know people, even if it's only for a short time.
And you have a lot of laughs together. I was totally dancing to the theme music from Elmo's World when this picture was taken. We had so many hilarious moments together, and funny little sayings ("Find a baby, feed a baby!") that made us giggle.
Part of what's difficult about coming home is missing your new friends on the team. There's a decompression time, where you unpack physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Jet lag, missing your team, missing China, survivor's guilt, it weighs on you the first several days.
Heading out with the little kids and some of the staff in Hefei.
Out with the big kids and some of the staff in Hefei.
In our team t-shirts again, in Guangzhou, with Lynne and Michelle (Madison staff). I ended up having the hotel in Chenzhou was my travel dress and team t-shirt, and the hotel in Hefei wash my jeans and my travel t-shirt, since we wore the shirts once in each province. I washed my unmentionables in the bathtubs.
An amazing time was had by all, and I cannot wait to start hearing about matches for the precious children that we met.
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