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January and February in Shenyang

March 5, 2013

Dear friends,

It’s easy for January and February to get all smooshed together here in China.  The reason is that it starts with the beginning of the “real” new year on the Gregorian calendar that is observed by most of the world and then followed by “REAL” important celebration of ChunJie or Chinese New Year based on the Lunar calendar.  This occurred on February when the year of the snake was ushered in.  This holiday is celebrated for what seems to be FOREVER to this foreigner!  This is made possible because it coincides with the winter holiday of students and teachers on January 14, allowing the incessant fireworks to begin at least on that date and keep on until 15 days after the official date of Chinese New Year or February 25 this year!  More than a month in all!

During this month, it is traditional to return home to visit your parents, etc.  It was said that 8 million people passed through Shenyang during this season!  Because of all this travel, we were visited by several of our former helpers at the orphanage including several of our original caregivers!  It was fun to go out to dinner with them after all these years! 

It is also a season where groups visit the orphanage to shower their family style love on those that have no family to call their own.  This was very enjoyable for the orphans and the care givers, too. 

Our three boys were out of school for this month and came to our apartment to play computer games and visit with our visitors.  Several of the long lost friends knew the boys when they were little guys so that was fun for everybody!  Because of a lethal fire in an unofficial orphanage in another part of the country, many orphans that were being fostered were recalled suddenly to the orphanage.  Several had been in our early groups such as FangJiang, FangPing and HongTian.  We were glad to see them again but sad at the same time that they had been separated from the “homes” where they had been living.  Because FangJiang had been good friends with LuPing, Liangliang and YongEn when they were little guys, he spent some time with them in the apartment where they live now.   

One member of our Wednesday small group invited me to go with her work unit of teachers to a new skiing resort out by the airport for a pre-paid (by the school) play day.  I was honored to go and thought I could get by with just taking photos BUT when we got there, I could tell that she wasn’t going to try if I didn’t join in (I had mentioned that I had skied several times in my life, omitting that it had been almost 20 years since the last time)!  That is when my usually good common sense ski-daddled and I ended up in boots and on skis!  “Body memory” was helping me out until I encountered a definitely user-unfriendly “lift” on the bunny slope.  It amounted to a moving sidewalk going uphill with NOTHING to hang onto.  I was helped off at the icy and dicey top by the helper we had hired since they didn’t have the concept of “first day beginner” classes, but the next time with no helper, I splatted like a ruptured duck and wrenched both knees!  So much for the elderly on the slopes!  After that, I resigned myself to be the friendly old American and cooperated as Chinese people trooped up to have their picture taken with me as the novelty of the day, month, year, etc,!  I finally escaped to the skiing headquarters with the help of my new friends and waited as my friend continued to enjoy her ski outing.  It was worth it to see the look on her face on the way home: the look of a committed new skier!

An update on ZhiLei:  This is the super smart 6 year boy with brittle bone disease that desperately wants a family to love him and accept his love in return.  Look for the photo of him praying over his lunch along with a visitor.  Those that know him are always amazed at his intelligence and good sense of humor!  He is quite a kidder! 

Concerning our three boys: LiangLiang has earned his second certificate of competence in computers at his financial school after being ranked second in his class in spite of his challenges because he has cerebral palsey.  We are very proud of him!  YongEn is about to complete Middle School and will be testing to enter High School in June.  You might remember that he was delayed in  starting his education because he is confined to a wheelchair due to the aftereffects of spina bifida and club feet.  LuPing, another person dealing with the aftereffects of spina bifida is entering a new semester at the design and tailoring school where he continues to do good work!  Please pray for the continued success of these young men! 

We also ask for your prayers for the little ones that live at the orphanage, particularly ZhiLei that he will continue to get stronger and avoid future fractures to his legs.

Please know that your continuing prayer and financial support for our work with these orphans is of utmost importance to everyone concerned.  To say that we couldn’t do it without you is an understatement.  Thanks from the bottom of our hearts!    

Migyeong and Elaine

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