Friday, May 26, 2006

You Made the Auction a SUCCESS!!

WOW!! Is all I can say …the response to our annual Born in our Heart art auction has been phenomenal!!! Thank you all who won a prized piece and thank you all who didn’t but kept the momentum going!

The team behind this auction have spent months preparing, the excitement mounted as the auction came to a grand close, daily tally’s of the total were cheered on. More than one volunteer could be accused of not putting their full effort into their “regular” work that day as they constantly clicked on the bidding wars J

But most of all the idea that more children could be helped turn Pink was the urge for donors, LWB team workers and bidder alike.

SO …. Drum role the total of $57,000 plus is not the final total. YES can you believe it, we are having inquiries from generous folk that they want to “up” their bid amount. UNBELIEVABLE!

One winner has just added the price of a heart surgery to their total …yes you read right - a full heart surgery!

Included in this number, is the money raised by the children in China who donated their art – both the orphans and the school children. Together, their paintings and pictures raised $4473. Enough for one heart surgery!!

Now many behind the scenes volunteers are working to get those items out to you the winners. Two of the key players are meeting this weekend for a “wrap-a-thon”. The home will never be the same again …empty, void of paintings, books, clothes and beautiful Asian items J They will fill their heart instead with the joy of knowing everyone did their bit to help the children.

So THANK YOU all our supporters, without YOUR wonderful push to tell others and generous bidding we cold not help the children.

Yes this has been a fun way to work together for the children we love.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Gift from an Orphan to Orphan

Heart surgeries…..we always have heart children to heal. No matter what orphanage we talk to about helping kids in our medical program, we always are asked to help at least one child with heart disease. These surgeries cost between $3000-5000 and are so important because they save lives every time.

The “3rd Annual Born In My Heart” Auction, being held from May 17-22, was created just to raise money for these children. Every year, we have been able to help heal more children with heart disease. This year, we hope to heal at least 12 children and the link to our auction will be right on the main page of our website. 100% of the proceeds will go directly to help heal these children.

This year’s auction is extra special. Why? We have the most beautiful paintings created by orphans within orphanages to help heal their friends. One such orphan we met last year on our Sept Cleft Trip. This young woman, named Miao Miao, was such a wonderful help to us all. Miao Miao was 19 and had a special need, severe scoliosis, but that did not stop her! Everyday, we saw her cheerful face, ready and waiting to help us. She was our most requested translator, speaking perfect English. Everyone loved Miao Miao and her spirit. She was there in the beginning, helping us with our set-up and worked 10 hour days along side of us. She touched everyone on our cleft teams and as a special thank you for her work; our cleft teams bought her a bike. Her bike had been stolen when she had back surgery and was in the hospital for 6 months. She hadn’t been able to get a new one. Our team, so taken by this sweet and cheerful young woman, was only too happy to give her something so meaningful. There wasn’t a dry eye when she received this special gift – she was SO touched. Everyone will always remember Miao Miao and how she helped us.

Imagine our surprise when we received beautiful, BEAUTIFUL, peony paintings from her orphanage to be used in our auction, signed by ----- Miao Miao. This young woman watched us heal heart children in her orphanage last spring and then cleft children in Sept. She wanted to help the orphans she lives with the only way she could, with her beautiful art. Wait until you see these absolutely beautiful paintings with China’s national flower, the peony, given by a young woman who knows the true gift of love.

The Miracle of Yi, an Art Auction Child

As we prepare for our Art Auction where
100% of the proceeds will help to heal heart children, We would like to share one of our miracle babies healed from the 2004 Art Auction. See our website for details on this year's auction.

The following story is from Yi's Momma. Since she wrote this story, Yi has had two heart surgeries, one on 4/22 and the other on 4/28. The fighting spirit of this little girl has pulled her through both.

As I spiritually prepare myself for my daughter
Hannalee Jia-Yi’s upcoming surgery, I am reminded of how I first came to know and love this precious child that God has chosen for us. Yi is from our middle daughter Delaney’s orphanage and she was born with very complex heart defects. I first learned about her prior to her first surgery sponsored by Love Without Boundaries. She was one of 5 children that was able to have surgery due to the funds raised thru the 2004 Born in my Heart Art Auction. Little did I know as I prayed for this group of children, that one day I would be a Mom to one of them.

Yi’s condition was so critical and complex that she had to wait for just the right cardiac surgeon to arrive back in Guangzhou to perform her surgery. Here is a post from Amy following Yi’s surgery:

“Well, I believe that God was in the operating room today with baby Yi. Her
surgery was so complex, and hasn't been done successfully very often.

IT WENT PERFECTLY. She is doing so well now. Even the doctor who did the
surgery is amazed. :-)”

Her heart condition requires a series of 3 different surgeries to reconfigure her blood flow. Within a month after bringing her home, she had her 1st Cardiology workup at the University of Michigan. It was determined then that she would need to have surgery to repair the shunt in her pulmonary artery that had been placed during her surgery in China. This would mean that she would still need 3 open heart surgeries. That surgery was performed in September and she was in intensive care for a week with many complications. But once again, God was with her and we were finally able to bring her home 12 days after her surgery. Now it has been 6 months and hopefully she is ready for the 2nd phase of her surgeries. Once again we will travel to the University of Michigan for her next surgery on March 24th.

We are so thankful that she was able to have her 1st surgery in China thru LWB since it enabled her to live long enough to be brought home to America where she can get the advanced medical care that she needs for her heart condition. Without her 1st surgery, she would not have made it this far. Thank you Love Without Boundaries for this Gift of Life for my daughter.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Emily's Story

Here is another heart story to share during our Art Auction where 100% of the proceeds will help to heal heart children. Here is another one of our success stories . We hope to raise funds to heal 12 children just like Emily! See our website for details.

Emily entered the orphanage in 2002 at the age of 3 and already was a very sick little girl. She was diagnosed with congenital heart disease, but there were no funds available to pay for the surgery she so desperately needed. She was not able to participate in intense activites, the staff said, and it made her very sad to see the other children who could. Because of funds raised by LWB volunteers, Emily was able to have her first heart operation in China in March 2003.

The American surgeon, Dr. Max Mitchell, and some of the medical staff referred to her as the "little blue girl from Shantou" as she was so blue from lack of oxygen. As a result of that successful surgery, Emily was finally well enough for adoption.

Our family received preapproval to adopt her in July 2004 and brought her home in March 2005. She is such a bright, caring, energetic young girl who loves life and learning. Once here in the US, it was determined that a second surgery would be needed to complete the life saving repairs begun in China. Emily faced this with the same determination and courage as everything else, and the hospital staff was amazed at her spirit.

She is in kindergarten now and is working hard to learn English and catch up with her peers. She participates in gymnastics and dance, and brings great joy and blessings to our family. None of this would have been possible without the funds supplied by LWB, and because of the foundation's work Emily has a chance for a future.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Good Bye Gong Lu
Yesterday, with lots of tears, Gong Lu returned to China. With these tears, Gong Lu is also very excited to share her new look with all of her friends at her orphanage. Ms. Xu is LOADED with gifts for the children and nannies at the orphanage. Gong Lu is so excited to share all of her new toys with the other children, always thinking of others.

We are so grateful to the host family, Lisa Ferrell, Jim Jackson and their children, who graciously opened their home to Ms. Xu and Gong Lu. They have all become great friends and I am sure that they will miss each other terribly.

Thank you also to ever yone else who has helped and supported this little girl along her journey. There are so many people who have helped her transformation -- too numerous to count. You can tell with Gong Lu's smile how happy she is with her new look.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of this story, we hope that her hope for a family will come true soon.

Thank you all for making her dreams come true!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bringing Princess Bryndan Home

Our Art Auction will beging May 17!! This auction will raise funds for more heart children - 100% of the proceeds will help their hearts. We thought we would share one of our heart success stories. Heart surgeries truly save lives! See our website for details on this year's auction.

On November 9, 2004, I received a group email from Amy Eldridge regarding a 2 year little girl who had successful heart surgery, provided by Love Without Boundaries. Amy’s email said she was available for adoption, and she had posted her picture in the photo album. Adopting again was something I had hoped for, but as a single parent, I wasn’t sure I would be able to bring another child into my family.

After reading Amy’s email, I went to the photo album, and I fell in love. I stared at that little face for quite some time, wondering if it could actually be possible, and knowing it would take a miracle. I contacted the agency, and found out there were 7 families interested in adopting Li Si Qi,. I explained I hadn’t even begun the process, had no paperwork started, let alone completed, and feeling a bit discouraged, let them know that if there were other families interested, I would step aside. The agency asked me to go ahead and send in my homestudy from my son’s adoption in 2001, and although I never thought we had a chance, I sent it to them. I called my daughters, Micah and Daryn, into my office and showed them Li Si Qi’s picture; it was unanimous, we were all in love. I explained to them that I didn’t feel we had a chance, but that I was sending in what paperwork I had, and would complete the agency’s application.

On November 22, I found myself praying about this sweet little girl. By this time, I knew our chances of being chosen were slim, but I prayed that God would choose the right family for her. Within minutes of finishing my prayer, the phone rang, and it was the adoption agency-we had been chosen! Heart racing, hands shaking, and tears streaming down my face, I called in her siblings and told them the news. When my sons, Kevin and Clay, saw her picture for the first time, they both broke into grins. The excitement filled the room, a little sister would finally join our family.

On September 5, 2005, my oldest daughter and I arrived at the Civil Affairs building in Wuhan, Hubei, and met Li Si Qi, for the very first time. This dream we had had for 10 long months was finally a reality. Here she was, rosy cheeked, giving us a shy smile, and, she was ours at last.

It is hard to believe Bryndan Li Taite has been home for 5 months, and the months of waiting are now just a memory. Her pediatric cardiologist said her surgery was well done, and there is a 99.9% chance no further surgery will be required. She is a healthy, happy, and very loving little girl who bosses her brothers around, and who sneaks into her sisters’ bathrooms to help herself to lotions, and perfumes.

There are no words to describe how blessed we are to have this child in our lives. I will forever be grateful to Love Without Boundaries, and to all those who donated so that Bryndan’s little heart could be healed.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Visiting Shantou
My trip started off in Shantou,Guangdong Province. I visited the social welfare institute to see how the children and teachers of the school programs are getting along. Shantou is dong wonderfully.

The staff in Shantou is absolutely lovely. When I arrived they couldn't wait to show me the little ones and how they are learning some Basic English and songs. The teachers take their job of evaluating and assessing the children very seriously. We talked about ways of stimulating and motivating the children to learn. The teachers and LWB are continuing to pursue a Montessori Method. And, talked about adding some sign language signs to their curriculum.

One of the highlights for me was seeing several children that will be adopted soon. I took lots and lots of photos and told them over and over "mom and dad" are coming soon. I so look forward to seeing these little ones home with their families. And, as they are adopted more children can move into the preschool program..a double bonus.

I took great delight in meeting the PAL girls and older children. I had given each of the girls a postcard from Washington DC/Virginia. On each card I wrote one word of the sentence: Study hard, learn and listen to achieve a bright future. Then, I told the girls that they would have work together to put their cards in the right order to "solve" the puzzle. They did! And, they had fun doing it. The girls then all settled down to write notes to their sponsors. It was fun helping with the spelling of the words in English. All the girls had fun writing.

My second day was fun school supplies. Wal-Mart was a fun much the same except the dried fish and jasmine and other specialties to buy near the front door. Then, we got a good electric piano for the teachers who do a super job teaching the little ones with music. Finally, we bargained for some needed furniture at a shop across the street from the orphanage. It was a great feeling seeing the supplies delivered to the orphanage just before I left. There's no doubt that they will be put to good use for the children.

Linda Mitchell
Shantou Education Director

Thursday, May 11, 2006

TongRen School

When we arrived at the TongRen School, the students and their parents were once again waiting to welcome us. The girls were in the traditional dress, which made everything so bright and colorful. They placed the hadas around our necks, and then the parents did the same. It was difficult for me to look at the parents sometimes; their eyes expressed so much gratitude and it was too much to take in all at once. Again, I accepted their thanks on behalf of the students’ sponsors

We took time out to take some photos with the officials that had come to greet us from the county, as well as from Qinghai Province. China is doing so much to promote education in the Tibetan minority areas, and we had a lovely conversation over lunch about the future of education in the minority regions.

We also had a surprise visit from a few of the college students’ relatives. The older brother of one of the students came from more than 100km to thank us for allowing his brother to attend medical school in Xining. He had walked from his village for two days before catching a bus to TongRen, just to tell us “thank you” in person.

After the reports were finished, the students needed to get ready for their school performance so we went to the Tibetan Cultural Center, where the MW teachers had arranged a tour for us. The Center included Tibetan artifacts which were hundreds of years old, a computer lab which they allow people to use for free and offer free computer classes, and a library that contains many different kinds of books, from Tibetan history to books donated by Yale University such as “A Tale of Two Cities” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

We had dinner at the Culture Center with all five of the MW teachers, and learned so much about how their organization got started, how they choose the students for the program, and why they started the program in the first place. We were so touched to learn that the food and tea at the performance had been provided by the families of the MW students. We already knew that they had walked long distances just to meet us and say thank you; now we were learning that they had made the bread we were eating and carried it with them; they had made the yak butter tea we were drinking and carried it with them; they had brought the fruit with them. They must have had such heavy burdens to carry over such a long distance, and yet they had come and gone without us even knowing that they had brought such a precious gift for us.

They sang, danced, and even acted out an English drama for us. Once again we were impressed by the students’ language skills and singing and dancing abilities. At the end of the evening, the students were really upset and did not want us to go. Before long all of the girls had their heads in the hands and were crying. We tried our best to make them feel better, but it was no use. They were so grateful that we had come such a long way just to visit them, and they did not want us to leave so soon. After another long but rewarding day, we were so satisfied to see how well the students are doing and how much they appreciate the opportunity to get to go to high school. They asked us to come visit them again soon, and I would love to be able to do just that.

Angela Taylor
Love Without Boundaries

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Our Trip to Xuri Poor Aid School and Mama's Wish Students

Early, on April 29th, we left Xining to drove appx three hours to visit the Xuri Poor Aid School, where we sponsor ten orphaned boys. The school is located on the bank of the Yellow River and has four classrooms. All of the boys look healthy and happy, but they were all so shy! One in particular was so shy that he could not make himself smile or look at the camera for the longest time. After much cajoling, we were finally able to snap his photo and captured his beautiful smile, then tried to show him the photo. He was so shy that he would not look at his photo in the camera. His dream is to go to college and become a doctor one day.

The school has five teachers, including three Tibetans and two Chinese. The Chinese teachers teach English and Chinese, and the Tibetan teachers (lamas) teach Tibetan, math, chemistry, and physics. Unfortunately, they don’t have a science lab at the school so they are only able to study science books. I wish we could have visited the boys longer, but we had another long day ahead so after a few hours we had to leave in order to get to the Jian Zha County School.

We enjoyed more dusty roads coupled with breathtaking views on our way to Jian Zha County. What happened when we arrived is unlike anything I have ever experienced, and made for one of the most memorable days of my life. As we rounded the corner to cross the bridge over the Yellow River, we were met on the bridge by the community leaders and a few of the 40 girls that we sponsor in this school. There are three traditional greetings for friends who come from far way in the Tibetan culture. First, they gave us the hadas. Then, they offered us a special Tibetan sweet wine with gold flakes. As one after another approached us and offered the wine, Nicole and I pretended to sip because we saw just how many people were lined up to offer the drink to us! Finally, one of “our” girls sang to us. It was a traditional Tibetan song, but they had changed the words from “Mama’s Love” to “the love of Mama’s Wish.” Her voice was so clear and pure; it is beyond description.
Without a doubt she has the best voice I have ever heard in my life. Almost immediately I got goosebumps and began to cry. I had no idea what she was saying, but she had the voice of an angel and it was unlike anything I have ever heard before. I looked at Nicole and she also had tears streaming down her face. Then I looked at Jian Cuo, one of the Mama’s Wish teachers. He, too, had tears in his eyes and was trying to hide them with his camera and wiping them on his shirt. I wish so much that I could attach the sound of her voice and send it across the Internet. Even more, I wish everyone could come to hear her sing in person.

Still emotional from the warm greeting, we returned to our cars and drove on to the school. When we reached the school, we were met by all of the Mama’s Wish students and their families. One by one, each of the girls came up to us, bowed, and placed a hada around our necks. The girls were crying, saying in English, “nice to meet you,” “welcome to our school,” “thank you for coming,” etc. To finally look into their eyes after looking at their photos for so long was like greeting a family member I hadn’t seen in a long time.
Behind the students, were their family members. One by one we approached by a mother, or a grandfather, or an uncle, or a cousin, or sometimes someone from the girl’s village came to represent a family. These people with the most beautiful faces were so grateful.
Imagine looking into the eyes of an orphan’s elderly grandmother who knows that her beloved granddaughter has a chance for a good future now because of the help that she is receiving. Can you imagine the eyes looking back at you? Can you imagine the depth of feeling behind those eyes? It was all so beautiful and moving, and at the same time I wanted to be able to tell them not to thank me because I’ve done nothing – it is the sponsors who are making the difference in these girls’ lives. I’ve known all along that I was coming to China and visiting these schools on behalf of LWB, but in those moments I realized that I am also representing the sponsors. I was receiving so much love and gratitude which I did not deserve. How I wish I could bottle up those moments and send them home to the sponsors.

We continued on into the school, where a traditional Tibetan feast was waiting for us.
After lunch the officials left, and we got down to business – which means the fun part of meeting the students. Each girl was more beautiful than the last, and each one has ambition. Most want to go to college to become teachers or doctors, and a few want to be policewomen, writers and singers. The girls all looked so beautiful in their traditional dress.
One girl began to cry – she was so overwhelmed that her parents had walked such a long way to see her at school and to thank us – her father is blind and the journey must have been a difficult one for him. We also handed out new clothes and supplies to the orphans in the program, and it was so fun to see their eyes light up as they looked at their new clothes, backpacks, toothbrushes, and soap.

I did not want to leave this school and these children. They are inspiring, humbling, funny, brilliant, gorgeous girls and I hope that each and every one of them is able to reach all of their goals and make their dreams come true. Of the 40 students that we sponsor, only one was out of school that day because she was sick. We were told that she was very upset and wanted to come to school anyway, but she was just too sick to come.

Each day I have thought that there is no possible way that this trip can get any better. Tomorrow we shall see!

Angela Taylor
Love Without Boundaries

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Today Show!

Well the day finally arrived. Can you say NERVOUS? I think this is the category that everyone fit in except the star – Gong Lu.

The morning started out with a drive to the studio. We all fit into a SUV and had a great driver. Unfortunately we were stuck in traffic for a while, but we were really early, so it didn’t matter. There was a big truck stuck in the intersection a block down and no cars could move. We must have just sat for about 10 minutes. We kept asking the driver if we could just walk and he said “No No” he would take us there. Imagine our surprise when the driver pulls up 4 car lengths, pulls over and lets us out. We are all laughing.

From there we were led in a back entrance and up some stairs to the “Green Room”. The Green Room actually had no green at all, but just nice white walls and couches. On the wall were huge posters of all the morning televisions stars. There were plates of vegetables, fruits and muffins. I am wondering who actually eats it, because everyone sitting in that room was nervous. Well, I forgot, Gong Lu had a nice snack. :) We all were called individually into the hair and make-up room for a touch up. Gong Lu, with her natural beauty, required nothing. While we were sitting and waiting, Hoda Kotb came in and sat down with us for a while. She was so sweet and was so interested in Gong Lu.

Soon, we were told it was time, so we were led downstairs to the studio. They were filming outside, so we they put our mikes on and led to our seats. I was in awe of the HUGE posters they had of Gong Lu behind the chairs. Gong Lu just stared at her pictures and was talking animatedly about them. She loved seeing herself! We had a little time to meet Katie Couric and for her to let us know what she was going to do. She is SO nice! Just as sweet in person as she seems. Gong Lu worked her charms on Katie too and soon we were rearranging seats so that Gong Lu could sit on Katie’s lap.

When it was our turn to talk it seemed like it went so fast. I just loved the faces that Gong Lu made as Katie was tickling her chin – it was priceless. After it was over, Katie stayed around and took pictures with all of us. Did I say how genuinely nice she was?

We waited outside the studio and met a few more people. A few of the other producers came down to say how much they loved the story and how everyone was crying. There was a lovely producer named Celia, who is Chinese, who came over to meet Gong Lu and Ms. Xu. They had a wonderful conversation in Chinese. Celia left soon after to take Gong Lu and Ms. Xu out to get something for breakfast – they were so hungry.

I had one mission for the day – to have Katie and Matt sign a Love’s Journey book for the Art Auction. Katie promised me she would; now we just had to find Matt. After they closed the show at 9:00 outside, they stayed to greet all of the people who came to see them. Matt came in first and was very happy to sign the book and take his picture with Gong Lu. While we were waiting, many people stopped to hear Gong Lu’s story and meet her – she was the star! After greeting people outside, Katie came returned to say good-bye to us. She also signed the book I brought and then I gave her a copy of Love’s Journey as a gift from Love Without Boundaries.

After all of our goodbyes, it was then back to the hotel to pack up, check out, and then off to the airport. As we got out of the van at the airport, a family immediately recognized the star – Gong Lu and took their pictures with her! I got to spend a little more time with them in the airport, but soon they were off to Austin, TX to another reunion planned by families who have adopted from Ms. Xu’s orphanage. Ms. Xu who only 3 weeks ago had never flown on a plane, now is a veteran flyer. I truly hope that she goes home with fond memories of her trip to America.

As I answered the phone and emails today from all of the people who were so touched by Gong Lu, I am so taken by the fact that so many people are considering Special Needs adoption because of this sweet child. She is truly an ambassador in so many different ways, but she has now helped to change the lives of so many more children. Gong Lu is a precious child, but there are so many others precious children waiting to be discovered too.

Gong Lu is in New York!

We arrived last night – Ms. Xu, Gong Lu, Linda (a translator) and me. We met at the hotel right after check-in and we were off on an adventure to find dinner. After grabbing a map, it was off to find the subway (by the way, none of us had ever been to New York before). With some help from some very friendly New Yorkers, we made our way to Chinatown. I can’t even begin to describe the look on Ms. Xu’s face when she started walking down the street, there was a huge grin – it reminded her so much of home! She was so animated and talking so fast. We soon came upon a restaurant that she like – 5 items for $4.00 and she said the food tasted like home (at China prices too). We had a great meal! Gong Lu, always the charmer, was busily chatting to everyone – she even gave us a little dance to the Chinese music playing in the restaurant.

This morning, we had a very elegant breakfast and once again, Gong Lu had us talking with many of the tables around – she is so social. Soon after breakfast, Dorie from NBC picked us up with a television crew. They were set to tape from the minute Gong Lu walked out of the hotel. Gong Lu is so used to the camera, she is quite the ham!

Our first stop was the Statue of Liberty. Because we had the film crew and were part of the Today Show, they had special passes that allowed us to get in front over everyone else. I felt so incredibly guilty – the line was blocks long and we just marched to the front. The film crew went on first and again taped Gong Lu strolling onto the boat. Our boat ride to the statue was filled with all kinds of animation – at the other boats, the birds, and the wake the boat was making. Everything is so new for her; it is just so fun to share in her excitement in everything. Because of the way we docked, the statue was on the other side of the boat. As we walked to the other side of the boat to see the Statue of Liberty, Gong Lu who was ahead of us started screaming “Ayi, ayi ayi”. She was SO excited and couldn’t wait to share her excitement with Ms. Xu. She was in awe of how large the statue is (as we all were).

We strolled around the statue and met up with the park ranger who was to be our guide. She made Gong Lu a Junior Park Ranger and took her hand to lead us on our tour. It was so much to learn so much about the construction of the statue – our guide was so wonderful! After our tour, she crowned Gong Lu with her own liberty hat. Gong Lu is just so much fun to tour with because her excitement is so infectious. I think that this was her favorite part of the day.

On the return boat ride, she sat with Dorie and me on a bench and showed us how she could use the cameras on our cell phones. I was floored! I was thinking I was so smart by turning off my cell phone and handing it to her. I thought that she would use it to just pretend to talk. The next thing I know, she is taking a picture. Again, I was thinking she was just pretending. Imagine my surprise when she turned my phone around and there was a picture there! This child, turned my phone on, turned the camera on and knew how to take a picture. Next, she showed Dorie how to use her phone’s camera too. Our phones are two different brands and the buttons were in different places, how she figured this out was beyond either of us. This kept her busy for almost the whole return ride. We lots of close ups!

Our next stop was lunch. We decided for convenience and comfort of Ms. Xu and Gong Lu to go to Chinatown again. The Hop Kee restaurant was suggested to us by our driver. Ms. Xu had a Chinese version of a menu to order from and soon our table was filled with many great choices. I think she and Gong Lu really enjoyed their lunch – Gong Lu ate 4 helpings of a fish soup that was their specialty. Again, traveling with a celebrity, Gong Lu had everyone talking. When the restaurant owner heard why we were there – he wanted pictures of Dorie and Gong Lu to put on his famous wall with Bill Cosby and Conan O’Brien – Dorie worked for NBC Today Show and that was good enough for him! Gong Lu was quite the ham as always.

After lunch, we went to Ground Zero. There is nothing I can say – it was so unbelievable. I focused on the cross of scaffolding that was left that they have now mounted and prayed for all the families and loved ones lost.

The last stop on our scheduled tour was the Empire State Building. Because of the TV crew, we once again had our own escort and private tour. The head of security, a tall man and a retired police officer, was our guide. Gong Lu was really taken by his authority and how he told people what to do. She was quite animated telling him that he was just like Ms. Xu who was in charge of her orphanage. Hand-in-hand, they lead our tour. It amazed me how quickly she had this big man wrapped around her finger – another person in love with this sweet little girl. What beautiful views we had of the whole sky line. Gong Lu chatted and chatted about what she saw.

Once we were done with our tour, we dropped Dorie off at the NBC building so that she could edit the last tapes into tomorrow’s show and we went to see the bull on Wall Street. After quick pictures, we went back to our hotel. Ms. Xu, Gong Lu, and I decided to take a walking tour of Central Park located right across the street from our hotel. What a beautiful park. Without a translator, Ms. Xu and I communicated with my limited Chinese language and gesturing. We were able to go see the beautiful flowers she showed me by picture that she wanted to see. Tulips and azaleas were in full bloom and we had a wonderful stroll, taking many pictures along the way. Unfortunately, we were too late for the carousel that I hoped to take Gong Lu on, but it was a beautiful walk.

I settled Ms. Xu and Gong Lu into the hotel. Ms. Xu wanted to get Gong Lu something to eat and tucked in for an early night. Dr. Buckmiller and her husband arrived this evening and I was able to visit with her for a while tonight. She is the most incredible surgeon and such a kind person, I feel like she is an old friend.

The show should be on around 8:40 according to Dorie and Katie Couric will be our interviewer. Before the live segment, there will be a 4-5 minute segment taped in Arkansas and from today’s tour. I know that Gong Lu will steal the show and everyone will see the lovely child we all do.

Karen Maunu