Sunday, April 29, 2007

Loving One Another

As it happens every time we are part of a mission in China, families hear that a team is in their town and they come hoping above hope that their child can be helped as well. We had two such families this time, and both of their stories have touched everyone around them.

The first family came from Anhui province with their son who has microcephaly and epilepsy. This family loves their son so very much, and they want to do everything possible to give him a normal life. The exact words they used were "we were blessed to have our precious son".

When the team at Shanghai Children's agreed to see him, the family was so happy. They waited patiently while tests were run, and spent hours playing with the babies in the rooms and getting to know more about LWB. They shared how they'd never realized there were actually so many kids with special needs until they had their own baby. Sadly, preliminary tests have shown that surgery will not improve the child's condition, but this father and mother want to do everything possible to help him reach his fullest potential. Even though he can't be helped surgically, they want to learn the best way to care for him as they love him so much. Their sweet hearts and their devotion to their son has touched everyone who met them.

The second family who came has a little girl who needed surgery which they could not afford. They actually talked to our team about whether it would be better for her to be an orphan so that she could get the medical care she needs. Tingting talked patiently to them and showed them our kids in the hospital explaining that EVERY child truly wants a mother or father to care for them. When she told the mother that abandonment doesn't always have a happy ending, the mother broke down in sobs, saying that she just wanted to get her daughter helped.

We were able to ask the hospital to cut their fees drastically, and they even agreed to do the operation before the funds are raised, so tomorrow she will be having surgery. One of the volunteers in Shanghai has been raising funds for this family, and we are so thankful we can help them keep their daughter.

Today the mother was once again in tears as she was so very touched by the kindness people showed to her. She wanted to get down on her knees to say thanks today, but Tingting said the only thanks needed is to love her baby. She told Tingting that she has her promise from her heart and her whole family that this child will be cared for. In fact, she said she wants to raise her little girl to be as giving and kind as those around her. She is even changing the baby's name to Xin Meng (Heart & Dream). She wants her baby to grow up with a loving heart like the people who have helped her, and she wants her baby to have big dreams for herself as well. Please be praying for Xin Meng, that she will have a successful surgery and a life filled with dreams.

Sunday in Shanghai

All of the children continue to recover well in Shanghai. Today the older Wendy's aunty had to leave to go buy some supplies, so Tingting sat by her bed talking with her while she was gone. Wendy told Tingting that she is so hopeful that her legs will work better now. Tingting told her how much she would miss her, and jokingly told Wendy she wished she could just stay right there with her. Wendy smiled and said, "no no no....I miss my little brothers and sisters at my orphanage too much so I have to go home". But she promised Tingting that someday she would like to return to Shanghai to show her that her legs are all better!

The volunteers continue to help out in amazing ways and so many new friendships have been formed. This week truly shows yet again that Love Makes No Boundaries Between Countries.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Nick and Lester's Big Bike Ride for Kids

And they're off! Nick and Lester, two forty-somethings from Gloucestershire, are biking through the UK in an attempt to raise funds for LWB and kids in China.

Here's a note from their last post before the big ride:

"Nick and I had our final (err, first) planning session today.Principal conclusion is that it's a very long way. So far, in fact, that the highlighter pen threatened to run out as we marked up our route on the road atlas. Even ripping out all the non-relevant pages of the road atlas, we're still left with a hefty chunk of paper and ink.We have had a go with our bikes fully laden and I think I need to radically reduce my packing. Just how many clothes does a man need for a fortnight?"

Let's all wish them well. We know they are INCREDIBLE SPORTS, especially since they agreed to wear a funny hat to double their pledges!

Kids Recovering

Weekend installment of news from Shanghai Children's and the neurosurgery mission:

I can definitely feel it is getting relaxing in the hospital now.. it is amazing to see how the children are getting better and better day by day..

The doctors came back to check on the kids this morning. Dr Lazareff and the other doctors had so much fun with Hou. That little boy surely has the sweetest smile in the world that can melt everyone's heart. He loves to talk as well and he loves to be in pictures. He also showed me today the picture of himself in it given by a volunteer. He loves that pic so much and he keeps it by his bedside so he can see it from time to time. He even asked me to take a picture of him with that picture - then he was laughing so hard telling me "see? there are two Hous in the pic!!"

Taylor got a new "hat" today - Dr Bao came really early today to change the bandage for his head. With this new "hat", little Taylor looks like a little chef - we were joking with him that he would make a good chef as he himself is so chubby - people can tell he does good food.. he was laughing when we joked with him!

Jacob recovered very well too. We called him LeLe in Chinese.. Whenever his ayi said "Lele", he would say "he he" (laughing). His ayi kept repeating Lele while Jacob kept following with "he he".. it really got everyone in the room laughing!

Liu is doing very well too although she still needs to lay on her stomach. She can't wait already to get herself busy with art work. She was busy with stickers and colors even when she was laying. Naomi and Liu are in the same room. I was trying to practice speaking with Liu by speaking words slowly and one by one.. it surprised me that a couple of times Naomi followed me even before Liu got the chance to repeat after me. I think Naomi is really ready to talk now as she would make any sound like what you make and then laugh and laugh, being proud of herself.

Little Wendy was fussy today for a while as she didn't enjoy the IV. Her director was sitting by her holding her hand and telling her to be brave. Her foster mom ran down stairs to get a new toy and these two women were just so busy doing everything they could to please the baby. Wendy was still crying though, until i asked Wendy if she would love to be in the pic, she stopped crying and gave me a smile, then she went back to crying. It really got me both laughing and crying for her.

Matthew's surgery can't be done this time as it requires a big surgery for his bone as well. We thought it would be best to wait until later this year when a famous orthopaedics surgeon is coming to this hospital to perform free surgery. Matthew was so upset at the beginning when he heard he couldn't get surgery. He was so jealous when Carrie came out of OR and kept asking he wished to be in OR too. We explained to him and told him he would have his opportunity later this year and he was so happy hearing that. He was telling others around that he would have surgery later this year.

Every child from this mission will be in my memory forever. I was telling one ayi today that although I really want to recover and be discharged soon, part of me inside also wished they could stay as I would miss them so much! They are great kids who are so brave. I had surgery myself when I was 20 years old and I remember even at that age, I cried a lot after surgery. But look at these kids, most of them were already smiling and having fun from the 2nd day on. They have added so much fun to the hospital with their giggling, their smiles and their different personalities. It is truly full of joy discovering their personalities. I can't wait for these kids to recover and grow up healthily to pursue their different dreams!


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Shanghai Mission - Thursday

More news from the neurosurgery mission done in partnership with the Shepherd's Crook Ministries.

Yay!!! All surgeries were successfully done! Time has gone fast. In only 4 days, 19 children were healed and their future will be forever different!

Four surgeries were done today. Baby You wasn't crying much after surgery. He was actually sleeping so well. Carrie was sleeping too and her roommate - Matthew came out to play in the hallway as he told me he didn't want to disturb Carrie - he wanted her to sleep well. What a good boy! Benjamin's surgery took hours and his ayi was so concerned. He finally came out and his foreheard doesn't stick out like before anymore. His ayi was staring at him while he was sleeping soundly and her eyes were filled with tears. She kept saying "our Benjamin is so good looking now!" Lei has received a small surgery for his hydrocephalus.

I would say today seems to be a happy day. Most kids seemed to be in such great mood.

Remember I mentioned that Little Wendy was so fussy and cried a lot yesterday. She is so playful already today. She talked a lot, laughed and smiled! Guess what the secret is - her foster mom was blowing bubbles by her bed side. She had so much fun trying to catch the bubbles while laying on her tummy.

Liu, who cried a lot and tried hard to stop crying yesterday has a great mood today too. She could lift up her upper body now and gave a big smile. One of the American doctors has fallen in love with her and she kept running to her bedside to talk to her. Liu has trouble talking but Tasha was trying really hard to say words one by one slowly. Liu tried really hard to follow every word Tasha said. When Liu's ayi mentioned that she likes oranage juice, Tasha disappeared right away and came back with a big bag of juice and toys for Liu. I know I have to watch this child well so Tasha won't try to sneak her back to America!

Naomi was also in a great mood. She smiled all the time. Her ayi felt bad that she has to lay on her tummy for so long and she put Naomi laying on the pillow and held both naomi and the pillow on her lap. Naomi enjoyed it so much and she was making all this noise showing how excited and comfy she was! One of her hands was tied to a small cardboard to hold the IV injection needle.. she kept putting that hand to her ear and tried to talk to it - as she thought that was her cell phone! LOL

Older Wendy just couldn't wait to get out of bed and she felt upset for just a little bit.. I came up to her and kept telling her not to cry.. it didn't work.. she still cried. I told her I was going to tickle her, she burst into laughter and giggling non-stopping.. Oh.. how much I wish she could get well enough to be able to get out of bed. I know she's the one who's always trying to be happy to set a good example for the younger ones.

Hou is another older child who wants to show he's the brave one. He enjoyed so much the new toys he got from the volunteers and was singing while playing with them.

Our volunteers continued to touch my heart deeply. One mom brought her two kids to the hospital with handmade cards and snack bags for each child and ayis. They had so much fun playing with our babies too and they already couldn't wait to come back to the hospital again to help. Jake, one of the kids, was doing some fun tricks that got Heather to laugh out loud - so loud that I could even hear her laughter outside the room. I've never seen Heather being so happy these days.

Pam, our nightsift volunteer, has spent a couple of nights in the hospital helping the babies in the dark over night as they turned off the lights at night. She has started her nightshift from the afternoon. I asked if she should go home make dinner for her husband and her kids - she was telling me "oh don't worry about them.. they are big babies".

Elfie - I call her my last-minute on-call angel. With a medical mission this big, there's always a lot of expected things happening at the last minute and then you need help. Elfie always said "Ok, I can do it" She saved us on so many occasions when we ran into situations like "what should we do now!" I told Elfie today that we would look for Chinese people to foster a baby, she told me she would go for plastic surgery to get herself a Chinese look - I was laughing so hard hearing that!

I wish I could list out every volunteer who came help. I would not know how to organize this without their help.

The nurses in the Shanghai Children Medical Center have been so helpful too. They have been running between rooms and working extra hours this week.. They love our kids so much as they would come to play with our kids and use their cell phones to take pics as they want to keep every cute face in their memory.

Tonight the American doctors and Chinese doctors had dinner together to celebrate the success of this mission. While walking into the restaurant, I told Dr Lazareff that I heard he would definitely come back. I was joking and asked if he was just saying it to be "polite".. he said "no no no.. no empty words.. I am definitely coming back". He promised to come back to China next time speaking more Chinese. The hospital director told him that next year they will have a new OR for foreign doctors and they will have everything in English there.. Dr Lazareff said "no need to because I will come back speaking Chinese". What a super nice and funny doctor he is, but I know it is truly his kindness and big heart for helping orphans that will bring him back here again soon!

I think what touched me the most during this whole mission is that I realized providing children a better future is really not that difficult. Everyone is trying their best and giving their money, time and effort, and in just one short week, 19 kids are going to have a brighter future! I know we can't help all the orphaned children, but if we can just keep this same passion going week by week like this past week, we can definitely provide more and more kids a better future.

The story's not over yet even though we have done everyone's surgery. Let's continue to pray for their recovery. We will keep going back to visit them, too.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Shanghai Surgeries - Wednesday

Things are going so well here. Today has been a bit quiet - I think it is because most of the kids are not crying and are sleeping.

Baby Yuan from Henan came out safe and calm - she is the one who's so tiny and we were so worried. She cried a bit when the nurses tried to position her, but otherwise she's fine laying there enjoying the oxygen supply. When she came out of the OR, her caregivers were all worried and came up to me to tell me some people wanted to take baby Yuan away. They were worried about how they could go back and report to the director that the baby was gone. Of course that got me worried too so I had to rush into the room to ask who would want to take our baby away. It turned out it was our volunteers - so falling in love with this little girl and they showed so much desire to just take her home immediately. Of course they understood they couldn't just "kidnap" her.. but the caregivers had not understood and took it serious. When that was clear, every one, including the nurses were having a good laugh.

Liu came out crying quite a bit but definitely talking! She was trying to tell it hurt, she needed to go to the bathroom, she wanted to eat, she wanted the ayi to wipe her forehead, etc.. Her hand was hurting from the IV and she was so in tears.. I told her to try to get some sleep and by the time she woke up, she could eat and it wouldn't hurt as much. She actually believed me and I could tell she was really trying hard to close her eyes and trying really hard to stop crying, although big drops of tears still came down on her cheeks.. you still see how hard she tried to hold her crying and tried to sleep. Oh.. that moment.. It broke my heart knowing the pain she was bearing, and yet my heart went out for her knowing how much she was trying to follow what I told her.

Tiantian cried a bit too but she quickly fell asleep. Her caregiver and her foster mom used to be so worried about this surgery as they thought the risk of damaging her nerves would be so big and they were so concerned that Tiantian's legs wouldn't move after surgery. So when I went to check on Tiantian, her caregiver was all excited showing me how Tiantian's legs could respond to her touch.

Ai's surgery took a long time and his foster mom has been so restless wondering why it took so long. She was in tears waiting for him to come out. She told me Ai was so scared last night and cried a lot.. She was hugging him all night to give him the secure feeling. Ai came out sleeping soundly - by the time I left, he was still sleeping. His foster mom was still sitting by him waiting for him to wake up, still with tears in her eyes.

Kids who received surgeries on Monday seemed to be so much better today. Can you believe it, Naomi was not crying much anymore! She's ok with laying on her tummy now and she even smiled, laughed and played peekaboo with us. Her ayi also said she finally got some good sleep last night. Jacob has no more fever and was making noise like "singing".. I think he was also in a good mood. Wendy (the older one) still has a low fever but she's doing fine and she told me she felt so much better today. Both Heather and Han are doing great too. Dr Bao took me with him when he changed the dressing for their scars.. I got to see how flat Heather's neck is now and how flat Han's back is now.. amazing!! They both had huge lumps before.

Kids who had surgeries from yesterday seemed to be doing ok too, except little Wendy has had a fever and has been crying quite a bit. Her foster mom and orphanage director both had worrying faces and they tried everything they could to calm her. They helped her change position so she could feel more comfortable and they caressed her arms, massaged her head.. By the time I left, she finally fell asleep. Hou is doing great - he didn't cry at all. He laid there and talked a lot and even tried to make people laugh - can you believe that?? What a personality he has! Oh, and he asked me how the little girl Yuan (his little sister)'s surgery was going. What a caring "brother". Jasmine's tumor was a small one on the back of her head.. her recovery is a bit easier compared to others.. she could sit up already. Lily was enjoying being held by volunteers the whole afternoon - she was sleeping so well in volunteers' arms. Taylor - that handsome man! He was given some new clothes from our volunteers and his caregiver picked a very nice shirt and put it on him - he turned to such a wonderful looking gentleman with that shirt - and guess what, he didn't seem to be in pain as he was in this silly sweet smile most of the time. We were joking so much that he's the kind of boy every girl would want now. We teased Taylor and baby Jiao saying they made such great looking couple. Taylor's caregiver has alredy started calling Jiao daughter-in-law.. that really cracked everyone up!

Tomorrow's surgeries are Baby You, Benjamin (very complicated surgery), Carrie and a small surgery for Lei to find out if he has CP or hydrocephalus.

The American doctors were soooo impressed by the Chinese doctors' skills here. Dr Lazareff said the anesthesia team here is an amazing team who does such an awesome job. Dr Lazareff and his team already told Dr Bao they would definitely want to come back as they enjoy so much working together so far. They think the Americans and the Chinese make a very strong and skillful team together!

Well, another day I walked out of the hospital tired but with a big smile! Seeing how the children are getting healed is such a fulfilling feeling!


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tuesday in Shanghai

This is part three of our postings on the Shanghai neurosurgery mission done in partnership with the Shepherd's Crook Ministries.


Another day of successful surgeries! And another day for dedicated people to pull together all for the sake of children. Here is news from Tingting's report:
Hou came out of his surgery crying very hard, but a volunteer gave him a toy that could sing if you pulled on it. He loved it and it really calmed him down. He made it sing over and over and slowly he got himself back to sleep.

Jasmine came out crying too, but a volunteer really worked hard to sit by her and calm her down, and she soon fell alseep. When she woke up, she was crying again. Her caregiver picked her up, and one of the American doctors was there blowing bubbles to her. That really calmed her down and she even gave a few smiles!

Lily cried too when she came out of surgery, and she was also surrounded by so much love from her caregiver and volunteers. Lily is so tiny that her diapers didn't even fit her! But her caregiver was so nice and she held the diaper in exactly the right way so that her surgical dressings would be okay.

Little Wendy's surgery was quite long. Her orphanage director and foster mom were waiting outside the OR just so anxiously waiting for news. Wendy came out and the orphanage director immediately went over to hold her hand and walk down the hallway with her as they wheeled the bed to her room. Wendy was half crying and half moaning, but she was quickly falling asleep as the orphange director and her foster mom were taking such good care of her.

Taylor was the last one who came out. Before he came out, the volunteers kept saying how handsome he was going to be without the huge lump on his head. When he came out, people ran to see him and tears filled everyone's eyes seeing this little handsome man with a normal head shape now. He was sleeping soundly.

Some of the kids from yesterday were crying a lot today because it was hard for them to accept laying on their tummy. Naomi was definitely a fighter - she never stopped crying and her caregiver never got any sleep, but she was still so patient and so loving, trying everything she could to make Naomi calm down. Han was crying too but she was also surrounded by loving and caring caregivers. Jacob and Wendy (the older one) both had fevers today. Jacob has been sleeping most of the time. Wendy was awake and she was proud of herself being the oldest child there and setting a good example for the others kids to be brave. She always tried to smile. The volunteers love this child so much!!! Heather doesn't need to sleep on her tummy - lucky her.. so she has been sleeping most of the time!


Late on Tuesday night, Dr. Bao called Tingting and said he was still in the hospital checking on all of the kids. He said everyone was sleeping well and all the babies were quiet. Tomorrow's surgeries are Fan Ai, TianTian, Julia, Liu, and Yuan. As always, we are so grateful for your prayers. Here are some more images from today. The little girl below definitely was not happy about seeing the nurse come her way.

Shaving Lily's hair before surgery.

Enjoying a bath with a wonderful volunteer.

This little girl is still so beautiful with her freshly shaved head.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Monday in Shanghai

Part 2 of our blog on the Shanghai Neurosurgery Mission, in partnership with the Shepherd's Crook Ministries.


We got the wonderful news today that all five children having surgery on Monday had very successful operations! Tingting said it was beyond words to share the excitement with the doctors and caregivers seeing such big spinal tumors being removed and knowing the kids had a great chance at a healthy life.

Remember Wendy from yesterday? The little girl who admitted she was afraid? She came out of the OR awake, and even gave everyone a smile, but then she quickly fell asleep again. When she woke up, Tingting asked her in her ear how she felt, and she said "happy", even though her hand was hurting from the IV. Tingting told her to be brave and strong, and she nodded and smiled. What a sweet, sweet child.

Poor little Jacob came out so very hungry since he couldn't eat the whole night before. He was crying, but his caregiver was patiently patting his back and sitting right by him. She kept looking at the clock over and over as she couldn't wait for the time to pass so it would be safe for her to feed him again.

Another baby girl who had arrived in Shanghai with an enormous tumor on her back came out of surgery sleeping peacefully. When she first came out, they allowed her to lie on her back for a couple of hours. Everyone felt it was amazing to see this baby finally able to lie in that position as her lump was just so huge before. They all said that was why she was sleeping so soundly!

Little Naomi was a fighter - as everyone knew she would be. This gorgeous little baby is so attached to her foster mom and she wants no one else to be near her. Dr. Bao, the neurosurgeon, met her and said he wished he could just adopt her on the spot, but she would have nothing to do with him! (nor any other volunteer). She cried all the way into the OR once they took her away from her caregiver, and she came out crying as well. Her foster mom wanted to pick her up so badly and it was so hard on her that she couldn't right away, so she was talking non stop in Naomi's ear and patting her to sleep.

Tingting said that she was just so touched by how loving and caring the caregivers are. When the babies cried their way into the OR, she knew it broke their hearts as when the aunties and foster moms came back into the waiting room, they were all in tears. Tingting told them all they should try to take a nap during the surgeries, as they probably wouldn't be able to sleep tonight since the babies would be uncomfortable. but none of them took a nap. They were waiting anxiously for news on their babies, and they even refused to eat. She said they were truly restless counting every minute until their babies came out.

We also want to say a huge thanks to our volunteers in Shanghai. They helped bathe the babies and had so much fun. They also held the babies and brought food and snacks for the aunties, and just generally did anything asked of them. One wonderful volunteer named Pam came in yesterday for the first time after lunch. Tingting took her to each room and introduced her to each baby, and after meeting them all, Pam took Tingting's hands and said "thank you". Later that afternoon, Tingting had to join in on a doctor's meeting for surgical plans and then later than night she went home. Today when she went to the hospital, she learned that Pam had never left. She had stayed over night watching the babies so that all the caregivers could try to get some sleep. She even went out to buy the caregivers pajamas, toothpaste and shampoo/shower gels. And tonight she is coming back to do the same thing. There are just so many kind and wonderful people in this world.

We also want to mention that a restaurant in Pudong is donating all of the lunches for this mission. The "House of Flour" ( is providing incredible food and even sent over a beautiful birthday cake for one of the doctors who had a birthday today. The people in Shanghai are going above and beyond for these kids. If you get a moment, drop them a line and tell the owners (Brian and David) that what they are doing is great!
Thanks EVERYONE for your thoughts and prayers for these gorgeous kids.