Children's Hospital of Shanghai

I have been thinking about this post since Saturday. I want to write it, but it is very emotional for me, so we will see how it goes.

Last week was exhausting on every level. Even for a trip that I know is tiring, last week was exceptionally so. The travel was rough, the days were long. So we were excited when the weekend rolled around and we had some time in Shanghai to relax and re-group.

Saturday afternoon Keely, Gongzhan, and I went to the hospital to visit one of our little Superkids. It is very unusual to be allowed to visit a child in the hospital like this and even going in we did not know if we would all be able to see him or not. We were so excited that we all got to see him and that he looked great and was doing so well! That, in and of itself, was super emotional for me!

But let me give you a little more background. Eliana's finding place was at this hospital. So my heart was full as we walked through the waiting room there where she was found. I blinked back tears as I thought of that moment. Perhaps it is the one place where both of her mothers have been. I thought of her birth mother, and the agony and terror she likely experienced in that place. But I blinked back the tears and reminded myself that this visit is not about me or my little girl.

We went on up to the PICU to see the little boy we were there to see. And again my mind wandered. This is also where Eliana had surgery when she was two years old. I thought of her there, alone and afraid, without me. I can't even begin to process that thought. I had to remind myself to not think about it then. We were there for someone else's child. And it was a joyous visit and a wonderful report to be able to give this sweet family!

Later that night, I allowed myself to try to think about what I had seen. I tried to picture her there. I couldn't do it. I can't wrap my mind around her being there, needing me, while I lived my life, unaware.

I know that God orchestrated events perfectly to place Eliana in our family and I am forever grateful for this. As I keep seeing little pieces of her story and understanding more of her life before she was a Martin, I am more and more in awe of her sweet little resilient spirit.

I wrote this a couple of days ago. I'm going to publish it now. I'm home and enjoying being with my crew again!


Kirby {Fuzhou}

We were at the Fuzhou CWI today. I just have to devote this post to Kirby. We met a lot of incredible kids today, and I could tell you a lot of sweet stories from the day, but today I'm going to focus on one exceptional little boy.

Kirby is 7 years old. He has cerebral palsy that affects both of his legs. He walks with the help of a walker and crawls to get to around. But that is such a small part of ho Kirby is!

He is incredibly smart! He aced all of the cognitive tests that Keely did with him. His teacher said he is a "super star" in his class. But, again, he is so much more than that.

He has a vibrant, magnetic personality. His whole face lights up when he smiles. And he smiles a lot! He is so resilient! Let's just say his life is not exactly easy, but what you see is a happy little boy who is slowed down by nothing! He dresses himself and takes care of his own personal needs. Do you know how incredible that is!?

He has a really great little laugh and speaks in very clear,complete sentences. I want to somehow make him very real to each of you and I feel like words are failing me. This little boy needs us to step up for him. He needs a family. Will you please share this post and help to find his family. I know they are out there just waiting to be blessed by this incredible little boy!

For information about adopting him please contact April Uduhiri at april.uduhiri@gladney.org or contact me.

Together we can make a difference for this little boy!


China- Week 1

We are at the end of week 1 in China. We have traveled hundreds of miles this week. We have seen over a hundred children in 5 orphanages so far. Each day brings it's own range of emotions. It is not unusual to experience both delight and heart break more than once in a day.

The thing I most want to be able to communicate to people who do not have the privilege of seeing all of these incredible children is the intrinsic, individual value of each of them personally. They are little people with likes and dislikes and their own personality and abilities. They are lumped together in institutions, but they are so precious and valuable in their own right.

I've been sitting here trying to choose a few favorite moments from the week to share with you. It is so hard to choose just a few!

Starting in Shanghai, I'd have to say seeing how well Suzanna looks was a highlight. She is a little girl with OI who did not look so great the last time we saw her. She had broken her hip and had been in bed for over 4 months at that time. She had licked her lips and all around them raw just from the sheer boredom of being alone and unstimulated so much. But this time they carried her into the room and her little eyes were bright and she looked so beautiful!

In Changsha I was anxious to see Levi. I love him so much and we are looking for a family for him right now so I wanted to see again for myself how he is doing. And, oh my, is he ever doing well! He is so, so cute and "typical boyish". To see the little sparkle in his eyes and watch him interact with the other children made my heart smile!

The first orphanage we went to in the Jiangxi province was Yichun. By far my favorite moment of that day was seeing how excited little Courtney was over the helmet Keely brought for her! It was beyond adorable.

Next was Jian. Here I got to watch as Jaxon was told about his family. He loved, loved, loved the photo album they sent and kept touching and kissing their faces in the pictures. Here we also had the opportunity to go visit a group of of older kids with more significant needs whom we have known for several years. They seem to remember us and were all reaching out for touch and attention. Seeing them there and then walking away again was so wonderful and so difficult all at the same time.

I have a little favorite at Xingyu, so it is always pretty safe to assume that the highlight of my time there will be seeing Samson. He is doing well, though his heart condition is significant. The best news about Samson is that his adoption paperwork is almost completed! Please let me know if you are interested in adopting him!

I have to mention a couple of other Xingyu children here. There is a little girl for whom we don't have an advocacy name but she just wrapped her little self around my heart! She was so proud of herself for going up and down this little set of steps there. Her smile just says it all!

And then there was another little girl who was blind. As Janell put her hand on her little chest she wrapped both of her little hands around Janell's hand. She was such a sweetheart!

It has been a week full of so many outstanding moments! I know after I am home these moments will come back to enrich my every day life and, as always, these experiences will forever change me.


Superkids Picture Post

I posted photos of our entire day yesterday in the Superkids blog.  You can see it here.



So Far In China

Wow! What a trip this has been so far! My flight was delayed in San Francisco so i ended up getting to the hotel at about 1:30 on Monday morning. We had to be ready to leave by 7:30 to go to the Shanghai orphanage. We had such a good day there! The children just never cease to amazing me. They are so innocent, so resilient! I think one of my favorite moments of the day was when Jack walked in and said, "Hello, my name is Jack!" He spoke excellent, articulate English thanks to having been in a foreign run foster home until recently, and was so much fun to visit with.

That evening we flew to Changsha. We got to the hotel there by about 11, but then my VPN wouldn't work and I had some other things to do and by the time everything was done it was 2 AM. Again, we had to leave the hotel by 8:10. Again, the day was full of seeing children who blew me away over and over. We saw so many matched children and it was such a pleasure to take gifts to them from their families and to get updates for their families! And we saw so many children whom we knew or recognized on some level.

We took the high speed train from Changsha to Yichun in the Jiangxi province last night. it was a little earlier night since I had everything that needed to be done all wrapped up by midnight. This morning we leave at 8 for the Yichun orphanage. I find myself getting excited all over again as I think of the children we will see there. The familiar little faces we will see, the new kids we will meet, it is always something that makes me excited.

Our time here will continue to be very busy, busier even than we normally are on these trips. I am borrowing Keely's computer to be able to do this post since mine will not connect to either VPN I have installed. Little things like that are very frustrating when your time is limited.

Over all I am doing so well! I feel (relatively) well. I thank God for this since I really did not know how it would be. I felt pretty bad going in to this trip and God has really given me the strength I need to not only make it through each day, but to be able to enjoy each day. It is such a gift!


Signing Off

I need to leave the house at about 4:00 tomorrow morning. When I am finished with this the computer is going in the bag and I will be completely packed.

I plan to post here as I can, but we will also be posting daily on the Superkids blog, and multiple time a day on the Gladney's Superkids Facebook page. You can also follow us on Periscope. Just download the free app to your apple or android device, search for Superkids, and follow us. We are planning to live stream videos to Periscope, which I think is pretty amazing! The videos will be available for 24 hours after we post them, so you can still watch them if you miss the live streaming.

I ask again for your prayers. Many, many miles will be traveled! Many, many children will be seen! Please just cover the whole trip in prayer for us! Thank you all!

Next stop: Shanghai!


Travel Tips

In two days I'm headed to China. As I've traveled back and forth I've learned a few things about what makes traveling easier. Here are a few of my favorite tips:

1. Travel as lightly as possible. This is a bit of a joke for me since I am normally doing things like hauling a bunch of donations with me. But I still try to pack as lightly as I can. I take a few basic outfits that can mix and match to provide a bit of variety. I try to take fast drying clothes so that I can wash them out in the hotel rooms and they will dry over night.

2. Look at travel time as your vacation time. I love the 13+ hour flight. I just sit there and read or watch a movie while someone brings me drinks and food. They bring me coffee and tea and blankets if I'm chilly. I mean, that is pretty much my dream day! As soon as I get to my seat I settle in. I get out my pillow, take off my shoes, make sure my snacks are easy to access, and pull out my book. It is blissful as long as you are looking at it as a vacation in and of itself!

3. Be flexible. It just isn't all going to happen according to plan. You, and your traveling companions, will be so much happier if you understand this and don't get too upset over changes and delays.

4. Don't let jetlag get the best of you. Get on the local time as quickly as possible. I take melatonin to help me go to sleep when it is bed time. We are always busy all day, so naps aren't really an option. That is really helpful.

5. Take a few comfort items from home. I take chocolate and coffee. I could live without them for 2 weeks, but it helps to have them when I'm feeling stressed and exhausted.

6. Have a plan for communicating with people at home. It might not always work like you want it to, but have a plan. We use FaceTime or WeChat. Most of the time we are able to speak at least once a day. It makes the trip so much easier to be able to stay in touch.

7. Enjoy the experience. Embrace the differences. Cultural differences can be intimidating, but don't spend your time pining for the familiar. Try the food, learn a few words of greeting, step out of your comfort zone. You won't regret it.
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