Less that two weeks ago and I feel like I am still there looking at the pictures. I went to China with America World Adoption Agency's ACT program. This program is open to anyone who wants to go visit the orphanages that they partner with in order to build relationships with orphanages, love orphans and advocate for these kids. I truly believe that we were able to do all three during our trip to China.
Our group consisted of teens, moms who have adopted, teachers, pastors, a nurse, photographers but mostly just 13 people who love God's children. We started in Beijing with a tour of the Great Wall and the Summer Palace. It was a beautiful, awe-inspiring introduction to China.
Then we were off to the Shaanxi province. We worked in both a larger and smaller, more rural orphanage meeting kids that you couldn't help but instantly fall in love with. I think one of the biggest surprises was how happy and welcoming both the orphanages and the staff were.
We started by doing crafts with the kids and getting to know them. The kids at these orphanages are labelled "special needs" and had a variety of conditions ranging from fixed cleft lips, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, and many others. They seemed healthy, happy and full of joy. We got to stay long enough each day to see the rhythm of their schedule at the orphanage. We helped take them to the playground outside, blew bubbles, fold origami, watched them perform songs, fix their hair after bath time and a million other wonderful moments. I was the photographer on the trip and focused on taking portraits of the children in the American World system for those who already were assigned to parents and those who will soon be on the waiting child list.
We had the honor to throw an entire room full of the kids a group birthday party, paint a mural and use the money we raised funds for to buy new toys and clothing. The joy in the room during the birthday party is hard to express. The presence of God was so real and so tangible in the faces of each child. It is so hard to put each moment and emotion in a blog post. Our leader prayed before we left that God would go before us and surround the children and that was answered so clearly. I pray that each child we saw would find a home where they could know Christ and know the love of a family.
Here is my blog on our team journal.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27