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October 12, 2008

Dear Folks,
It’s been quite a busy time since my last newsletter! I’m sure that it seems even busier because along with the many activities of different sorts, there have been continuing trips to the Traditional Chinese Medical Hospital to check on my diabetes (getting better!) and down times with other periods of puny-ness thanks to the ever present scourge of rag weed!

LuPing and LiangLiang have gotten settled in with the foster family which consists of a Mom and Dad (of course) as well as their son and daughter. I don’t have a picture of all of them but I DID get one of the Grandma and the dogs. LuPing has always loved dogs so he’s in hog’s paradise. The family was living in temporary quarters but now, the renovation on their new home is complete enough for them to move in so when we saw LuPing this last Saturday, he showed us his and LiangLiang’s room. LiangLiang had gone with the family to do some work in their rice fields which are too far away from the home for LuPing to walk to. He was left home with the dog to study. We made sure that he did just that! Both of the boys are SO happy to be living out of the orphanage and with a family! Through the kindness of the “Word of Truth Family Church” in the Mansfield, Texas area, we have the financial support to cover their expenses (about $500 a month) for three months. The total monthly expenses amount to $476 including all of their expenses except clothing and shoes. This covers the salary of the foster "Mom", their transportation to/from school, their meals, the additional coal fee to cover heating their part of the home in the winter as well as the cost of school books. We are searching for more folks to help with this monthly need. This support will make a huge difference in the lives and futures of two boys that have had an uphill battle following abandonment as infants. With your and His help, we know that their futures will be bright.

In August, we had gotten word from an old friend and former volunteer that she was going to be in China to participate in a Physical Therapy Clinic in Anhui Province under the auspices of “Love Without Boundaries” an organization we had met through ORU and then the University of Southern Maine had met US through at a later time! We asked if we could join with them and they graciously allowed us to meet them in Hefei and go with them on to FuYang, visiting several orphanages along the way. The orphanage in FuYang is a very poor one but doing great work with what they have. The whole staff has great attitudes and seem to really care about the kids.
Most of the kids that we helped with were fostered in the countryside right around the orphanage. The foster Mom’s would bring them to the orphanage where a room had been set up for our use. The “Pro’s” consisted of a Physical Therapist and an Occupational Therapy Assistant. Joyce, the P. T. would do the main assessment on the kids and EB, the OT Assistant would fit them with any needed apparatuses like hand splints, etc. Migyeong and I were observers and collectors of the necessary demographic information on each kid at first but Migyeong soon became the photographer and I became the “granny” who sat with the kids and tried to keep them happy until their time for assessment came around. I was very glad that I had brought my MP3 player with “praise” music on it! It seemed to be a big hit with the “screamers”. I believe that it was one of them that gifted both Migyeong and me with some flu-like germ that laid us low for a couple of days after our return! It was a great trip and we learned so much from Joyce and EB!

Our friend, EB, came back with us and was able to ply her love and expertise with our kids for almost a week before going on to QingHai and a family there. We still miss her smiling face! If anyone has an extra “X” chromosome, it’s that girl. If there’s a baby anywhere within miles, she’ll find it and smother it with love and care! We’re hoping for a return visit soon.

The Sunday following our return from Anhui Province was a very special one. On this day, the three girls (two deaf and one hearing) who had been going to the deaf church on a weekly basis, were to be baptized along with a group that they had been studying with. I didn’t make a head count but it was quite a large group. They had invited a Pastor from DanDong, a neighboring city to come and do the honors! It was quite a deal, complete with the deaf choir and the message conducted in sign with the customary loud claps that signify “AMEN”, at least in this congregation. You will notice in the pictures that Lina, the hearing girl, has latched on to a VERY cute guy that was in her class. This was really a landmark occasion and one that I wouldn’t have missed, flu or no flu! We have some special plans for these girls that I will mention later.

During the weeklong National Holiday which usually includes October 1, our friends at BMW made their usual visit to brighten the day of the orphan youth. Our friend, Grace, came along with her co-worker John and friend David. The youth were SO excited to have them visit again. They had even brought a birthday cake so those kids whose special days fell around that time were treated as special-special!

Another opportunity for an outing presented itself during the National Holiday: a visit with LuPing and LiangLiang to the parents of one member of our Wednesday night group. Actually, these folks come, too, when they are in town but, now, it is harvest time in the country side. The rice crop is ready for cutting and the fall veggies are getting ripe, too. We drove for an hour out past the orphanage to get to their home. The two boys disappeared into the great outdoors while we caught up with the extended family. The center of the home is the “kang” which is a raised platform that is heated by the stove in the kitchen. During the cool months, the fuel can be corn cobs but once the really cold weather arrives, it’s coal all the way. Actually, these “kangs” serve as a bed for the whole family and a warm place to “hang out”. Even in the summer when it is not heated, it is still the focus of activity, especially if children are part of the family. I even took advantage of one in the next bedroom to have a nap before lunch! The fourteen piglets and other farm animals were at the neighbor’s place right next door. All the countryside folks that live in small communities are close-knit and friendly. It was a great autumn day to be out and we were treated to a visit to their rice field which was HUGE. They said that it will take eight days to harvest it which must mean twenty-four hour days! We are so happy that LuPing and LiangLiang will have the experience of living in the countryside! Either they will like it and plan to live there permanently OR they will hate it and have a reason to study hard and escape to city life!

Just as we were leaving for Anhui Province, the orphanage informed us that they were moving us and our kids from the second floor of the Children’s Building to the third so that a new organization, “Half the Sky” could move into the first and second floor space! Upon our return, we eagerly went to see what had been done and it is looking very good! Our kids are now in two huge rooms on the third floor and are getting used to it. Of course, MingGe, JiaHao and WenXi are very adaptable and have made themselves right at home! HTS folks wanted to include JiaHao and WenXi in their work but we fought for them and WON! Our caregivers were beside themselves at the thought of losing those two kids! Me, too! Now, we’re working hard to find forever homes for them.

Earlier, I mentioned that we have some special plans for the three girls. They are so intelligent and capable that we want to give them a chance to live in the normal world. If we can raise the necessary funds, we want to rent an apartment near ours and hire a caregiver to be with them until they are able to manage by themselves OR get married and move out. We also want to rent a space nearby for a shop where they can sell their handicrafts and other items. This is basically a first “faith” step that, hopefully, eventually, will extend to all of the youth and give them a chance for a normal life outside the institution. We are calling this the “Dream Home Shop Project”. Including the renting of the apartment and shop; the salaries of the caregivers; the food, home supplies and utilities, the total a month will be about $1000 ($835 to be exact). Migyeong and I can’t wait to introduce them to our neighborhood and teach them how to shop for vegetables, etc. I know that they will be in the swing of things before we know it!

Thanks so much for your prayers and support during this month. We realize that supporting our work can be a sacrifice on your part at times but it is one we couldn’t manage without for very long. This truly is a team effort all the way with God as the coach! GO TEAM DREAM HOME!


Elaine and Migyeong

photo of Hope, EB and little one with splints photo - Migyeong and baby photo - Xiao Ping

photo - LuPing

photo - Liang Liang and LuPing with foster mom and dad photo - party with BMW friends photo- David and WangBin

photo - new space photo - WenXi

photo MingGe and WenXi

photo - deaf choir

photo group at deaf church

photo - ShenJia, Lina, HuaJing

photo - pig with piglets

photo - pig with piglets photo - Kang photo-mom and dad harvest rice crop

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