Love for the Broken

As I’ve reflected on my time in China, God has reminded me of the great need to love. No matter where God has placed me, I’m called to make the most of the opportunity to love those around me. I keep coming back to Ephesians 3:14-21 where it talks about the glorious riches of the Father, the mighty power of the Spirit, and the incomprehensible love of Christ. We’re told to love as God first loved us, and His love is active and life-changing. He loved us so much that he adopted us as his sons and daughters! I’ve really loved the idea of being adopted into God’s family ever since my family first adopted, but this trip to Maria’s gave Romans 8:12-17 a whole new meaning to me.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:14-15)

In China, I realized that if we were adopted, we were once orphans.

During our orphan training on the trip, we explored what it means to be an orphan. An orphan is more than someone who has lost their parents. It’s someone who experiences utter brokenness in every area of their life. Children who are left without parents are impacted in their family life, social life, education, and every other aspect of life.

They live in a broken world.

And because of the fall, we’re all born into a broken world.

We’re all orphans, living a life filled with broken relationships.

But then God…

I love coming across that phrase in the Bible! After reading about man’s brokenness, it’s so encouraging to read “But God…”

“But then God our Savior showed us his kindness and love.” (Titus 3:4)

How beautiful is that? In order to call us His sons and daughters, God sacrificed His blameless, holy Son on a cursed cross in the place of dirty, hate-filled sinners.

I like how Show Hope’s training book redefined orphan:

“An orphan is someone who has experienced profound brokenness in fundamental relationships and systems as a result of the loss of God’s intended parental relationships. The Fall has ripped from each of us God’s intended relationships in many ways, and nobody has an unspoiled relationship with their parents or their Heavenly Father.”

God is restoring our broken relationship with Him. Meanwhile, we can (and should) help bring restoration to the lives of the precious children around the world who don’t have families. I’ve seen more of their great need through this trip, and it’s heartbreaking! We can show God’s active and life-changing love to these kids. Whether it’s through prayer, donations, missions trips, foster care, or adoption, I believe we are all called to care for them. John Wesley puts it very bluntly:

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So my challenge for myself and for you is to love. Love in a way that changes the lives of those around you. Pray and ask God how He is asking you to care for orphans.

Through this trip, my perspective of others has changed. Everyone was or still is an orphan. But for the grace of God, we’re all broken. I’m so thankful for His beautiful plan of adoption!

If we’re willing, God can use us to help mend and love the people around us who are broken. He places us in people’s lives for a purpose.

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Deeply Rooted

At the end of our week at Maria’s, our team chose the name Deeply Rooted when we signed the wall in Maria’s. Tonight I found some notes I had made earlier in the week on Ephesians 3 where it talks about being “rooted in love.” I didn’t make the connection between that passage and our team name till now; just another reminder of how God was at work through every detail of the trip! I’m missing my teammates, but I know God has unimaginable plans for them as they return to school and everyday life!

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Home

Everyone on our team made it back safely. I was very excited to see my family waiting for me at the airport! After being awake for almost 48 hours, I crashed and slept for 20 hours!

This afternoon, it was hard to get dressed up and go to work. Thankfully I have a wonderful boss who wanted to hear about my trip and then sent me home when she realized how out of it I was! Now I’m relaxing in my Great Wall sweatshirt and sipping some China tea.

It’s nice to be home with my family, but I miss the kids at Maria’s and my team. There’s so much to process as I adjust back to “normal” life.

This entire journey has been so humbling! I’ve been humbled by my church’s support as I prepared for the trip, by my teammates and their eagerness to serve, by the children at Maria’s and how quick they are to smile, by the staff at Maria’s who faithfully love and care for the kids every day, and by the families that have followed God’s call to move to China.

Now that I’m home, I’m wondering what’s next. I’ve learned so much about orphans/adoption and experienced more than I can put into words, but what’s the next step? I thought this trip would give me directions for how God wanted me to care for orphans. I want a clear sign from God, but that’s not always how God works. So right now I don’t know what the next step is, but I do know that I’ve left some of my heart back in an orphanage in China!

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“We face our greatest challenges not when God requires us to live heroically and sacrificially but when he calls us to be faithful in our daily routines…It is doing the little things every day that puts us on a trajectory of fulfilling the will of God.” ~Jerry Sittser

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me and our team! Please continue praying for the children at Maria’s. I’m hoping to post more about what God has been teaching me soon.

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Last Day

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of the Great Wall! It is so incredible!

This is our last night so I’m keeping this short. My roommate and I are making the most of our last hours together!

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Leaving Maria’s

It was hard to leave Maria’s and all the amazing people there. Everyone has been so welcoming! I’m glad we have a couple days in Beijing so we didn’t have to say goodbye to each other yet.

We took the train to Beijing and spent the afternoon eating some good ol’ American food at McDonald’s and Starbucks and shopping in the pearl market. The market was full of different boothes and people ready to bargain. One lady grabbed my wrist and let me drag her down the aisle before she yelled in Chinglish, “Ok ok! Your price. Man you mean girl. You mean!” I then had to pry her hand off my purchase as she tried to sell me more stuff. Fun times!

Our hotel is really nice and a group of us went swimming this afternoon. Dinner here at the hotel was the fanciest buffet I’ve ever seen! We are definitely getting spoiled after a week of iffy internet, cold showers that kept turning off, hard mattresses, and a Chinese diet.

A couple of our teammates haven’t been feeling great so please be praying for them and everyone else’s health.

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Babies, Painting, and Carrefour

I wish I could get the pictures off my camera so I could add those to my posts! There are some cute kiddos here! They love the camera, so I’ve gotten a lot of pictures of little hands reaching out trying to grab the camera. Some of the kids are so easy to interact with. They come right up to you and smile. The past couple of days it has been my desire to try spending more time with the kids that are harder to interact with. These are the kids that don’t seem to respond to us because they won’t or can’t smile. It can also be challenging to look past the disabilities, arm braces, and tubes and see these children as God sees them. He loves these kids even more than we do, which is so comforting!

I have now visited the 11 rooms on the first four floors of the building! We’re not allowed to visit any kids on the fifth floor because of their critical conditions. And then we’re living on the sixth floor, along with the doctor’s family and interns/nurses.

We worked on sanding and painting today! It’s going to take some intense work to finish up tomorrow, but we’ve enjoyed our time talking as we get sweaty, dusty, painty, and loopy from the stinky paint smells.

Later in the afternoon, we headed to the city center to do some shopping at the mall. We stocked up on snacks at the Carrefour (Chinese Walmart), and I was very excited to find a Dairy Queen! GREEN TEA BLIZZARD!!! Dinner tonight was yummy. We went to a hot pot restaurant where they give each person a pot of boiling broth and you cook your own meat and veggies in it. We’re developing some mad chopstick skills.

We only have one full day left here at Maria’s. It’ll be so hard to leave these kids and the other people here.

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Old City

Yesterday we visited Old City where we shopped and ate lunch. I got to eat duck brain! Yummy mushy stuff! In the afternoon some of us worked on sanding the fence around where the nannies park their bikes.

It’s so humbling being here with this kids! It’s so great to see their smiles, but it’s also sad knowing many of them will never leave or be adopted.

Yesterday I played with two little girls and a boy who would smile across the room from me but would run away when I tried to walk up to them. Eventually the nanny handed me a handful of cereal and I was able to bribe them to come up to me.

Right now a bunch of us are sprawled in the hall trying to take advantage of the one spot where the internet is semi working.

Time to go play with babies for a few hours before lunch! My goal today is to visit the last 4 rooms that I haven’t been in yet.

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Day 5

I can’t believe it has been over half a week already! Yesterday we spent most of our day playing with the babies. Each room has a different disney theme painted on the wall. I think my favorite room is the Pooh room because there are several kids that come up to me and try to sit on my lap. The nannies were laughing at me once because I had three kids trying to sit on me at the same time. One little girl brought me a bug book. I would say the names of the bugs in English, and she would imitate me. Super adorable!

Today we’re heading out to visit the Old City. We haven’t really been out around China yet so we’re all excited!

 

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Roof-top Devos

This morning, I got up at 6 and headed to the roof of Maria’s to journal and read God’s Word. Here’s some of my journaling:

I’m sitting on the roof of Maria’s, watching the nannies arrive for work on their bikes. Across the yard, I can hear the children in the state orphanage calling out as they wake up. Even though it’s early, I can hear the honking of traffic. The sun already blazes through the smog, and the humidity hangs heavy in the air. Patches of corn are wedged between dirty buildings, like little pieces of Nebraska nestled into a corner of China.

On the walls of the roof are the names of the children that have passed away at Maria’s and the words, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” Being here is so humbling.

Last night I went to bed at 10. Five hours later, my body decided that it had already gotten it’s normal amount of sleep, it was time to be up and awake, and it was time to use the bathroom. I laid there for a while, trying to go back to sleep and wondering why I am here. Why did God choose me?

Finally, I gave up on sleep and went to use the bathroom. I’m convinced that great thoughts occur in bathrooms. I suddenly was reminded that it doesn’t matter if I know God’s purpose in bringing me here. I trust that he has a reason, and that is enough. I’m not always satisfied with not knowing, but I have to trust God. So many people have sacrificed to help me get here, and God has made it abundantly clear that this is where I’m meant to be. If He didn’t want me here, I would’ve been stranded at an airport. Knowing this, it’s my job–through the power of the Holy Spirit–to make the most of every opportunity, which is easier said than done.

Please pray that I’d have a servant’s heart as we spend the next few days here at Maria’s. Thank you for all your prayers and messages–they mean so much to me!

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Maria’s

After breakfast and team devotions this morning, we headed back to the airport for another flight. We ate lunch there at a restaurant that had yummy but spicy Chinese food. To our surprised, they also fed us on the plane. A few of my teammates and I bravely tried the packet of pickled veggies, which resembled guts. Yummy!

The Show Hope interns picked us up at the airport, and we are now finally at Maria’s Big House of Hope! It’s the home of over 140 children and the staff and families that care for them. We had a couple hours before dinner to play with these precious babies!

Tonight we talked about how amazing it is that God planned that each of us would be here at this time before we had even considered going on this trip. He has an incredible purpose for us!

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