Saturday, December 09, 2006


Friday afternoon after we got back from the Hope Foster Home, all of the LWB facilitators met together for the very first time in China. "Team China" is truly comprised of some of the most
dedicated and giving people in the world. We had a wonderful meeting talking about our 2007 plans and brainstorming on how we can continue to make sure that every single child in our program receives exactly what they need in order to have the best chance possible of thriving and finding a family. As I sat in the room listening to each of them share why they love helping children, I gave thanks that we have been able to find such incredible Chinese friends. After our meeting we took a cold walk to a great hotpot restaurant for our goodbye dinner. Of course even after we went back to the hotel, we continued to talk, and it was very late when we went to bed. I knew I had to leave the hotel at 6 a.m. to get to the airport so I knew I should have gone to bed earlier, but I was loving every minute spent with my friends.

When I am in China, I am always so touched by the incredible hospitality I am shown, and this trip has been no different. When I went down to the lobby of the hotel this morning to check out, all of my friends were standing downstairs to say goodbye to me, even though it was only 5:50 a.m. I am truly blessed to know such friendship in my younger children's birth country.

Zhang Ming and I caught a quick taxi to the Beijing airport, which was just packed. Thankfully we got through security pretty quickly and before I knew it we were on our way to Hefei, Anhui. The whole flight we talked together about LWB's dream to open healing centers for cleft children . I think we really came up with some great ideas at 20,000 feet. :-)

As soon as we landed in Hefei, we grabbed a car to drive to Dingyuan, the site of our second oldest foster care program. After about an hour of driving, we began to get into rural Anhui. As our car sped along, I caught glimpses of a water buffalo standing in the doorway of a building, little girls in padded coats and pigtails playing jumprope, old men sitting at roadside tables sipping tea and selling eggs, strong women carrying yokes and baskets filled with vegetables. I love the countryside of China. Hundreds of poplar trees whizzed by and miraculously the sun even came out for a brief moment. Zhang Ming finally told me that we were coming up to the
bridge that was the entrance to Dingyuan.

First we headed to the orphanage. LWB has done a lot of work in this orphanage. We helped them create a bright and cheerful environment for the babies in 2004, and it still looks wonderful. There are four baby rooms in Dingyuan, with only 43 children remaining in the orphanage as the rest are now either adopted or in our foster care program. The director told me they were so grateful for our help as at one time they had over 100 children in the orphanage, and now with just 10-12 babies per room, the aunties can do a much better job.

The baby rooms in Dingyuan are very clean and the babies look FABULOUS! We provide good formula to this orphanage and it is so obvious as the children's skin looks beautiful and soft and OH THOSE CHEEKS. "Peng" is the Chinese word for "plump" and every baby I saw was peng, peng, peng.