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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Mission Short Story: A Little Room called Jasper

Almost a month had pass since ... it took me a while to adjust myself back to my daily routine ... it took me longer (with some courage) to actually write my feelings down. I truly miss the time spent with everyone in Jasper room, sometimes tears would just flow by pondering over the happy moments and remembering the sweet laughter of the children.

When I returned home, I could not wait to share my wonderful experience with family members, close friends and church group. Even at work, I was caught by surprise when my Director requested for a presentation over dinner.

In short, I was constantly reminded of my short trip to Henan. The feelings are still strong and I have to admit it has slowly changed who I am inside. Probably it is appropriate to break down my personal experience into several short stories.

A brief introduction, the Sanmenxia Social Welfare Centre is managed by the Chinese government in partnership with International China Concern (ICC), a Christian development organisation with a vision of bringing love, hope and opportunity to China’s abandoned and disabled.

First Impression
“The first day I went to the centre, I was excited, yet a bit scared. Up to this moment in time, everybody seem so friendly and welcoming. I was eagerly waiting to meet the babies, toddlers and teenagers. All my senses were confused, at first my arm was frozen to my side. Why? I have very little knowledge of how to take care of children especially those with significant disabilities. I am not a doctor or nurse. I was afraid that I might hurt them. 
But when I saw the babies lying motionless, staring up at me with longing eyes, I can't help but to pick up a baby from the crib.  I was trying my best to hold back my tears as I cuddle the baby. I tried to speak but there was no words, it felt like trying to speak from behind a glass window... I was speechless ... the room was quiet. I just stood there listening to the beating heart of an unknown infant closely against mine"

A Great Conversation 
The carer said, "How would you like to walk out of here with a child?" 
I replied, "You must be joking. I can't do that. That's impossible." 
How amazing that I walked out that day, not only having a child in my heart but loving several children at the same time! 

Lasting Memories

What was your most memorable experience while on the team? 

Did you feel you bonded with a specific child? If so, who and why?  

No doubt Bo Tau and Shan Zhou are the favourites in the room among the team.
But personally I would say Zhi Pei and Mo Xin gave me a lasting impression.

Every morning Zhi Pei (6 years old) would be waiting eagerly to greet me. When he sees me at the door, he would rush towards me with his arms wide open, waiting for a hug. Lifting him up, we would swirl around the room until we collapsed on the floor dizzy. Our daily hugs not only encouraged intimacy between each other, but also built a close relationship and lifted his spirits.

The children in the stroller section are very quiet throughout the day (except during meal times) ... I would say a little neglected in the corner. When I needed some rest, I will spend some quiet time with them. Mo Xin (3 years old) is not able to sit up on her own. She would cry for attention when I looked over at her. (there had to be eye contact if not she will not bother ... she is cute) She makes a lot of noise when she is hungry, I enjoy watching her, I notice how she observes other kids play and run around the room. I really pray for God's miracle to grant her the ability to move so one day she would be able to join in the fun.

The Story of Esther

Esther just turn four last month, she is adorable, she is also smart in class. I was told she understands a few languages, Mandarin, English, French etc. an advantage for meeting different volunteers from all over the world.

She has either Strabismus or Pseudostrabismus. Pseudostrabismus is the false appearance of crossed eyes. When the eyes are actually crossed or not completely aligned with one another it is called Strabismus. This generally occurs in infants and toddlers whose facial features are not fully developed. The medical team is closely monitoring her progress, operation would probably fixed this once she grow up.

Sadly she also has Celebral Palsy (CP), a condition that cause physical disability in human development in short. Her hip is affected in this case, preventing her to walk, but it is not very severe, she could still take small steps with some assistance. Hopefully with treatment she would be a normal child again.

Have you ever watched a movie, read a book or met someone with a depressing story that made you stop to wonder, "How could anyone be so mean?" I was both upset and mad upon hearing her story. I could remember crying my eyes out that night.

Okay I am not entirely sure the how true the extend of her story but I was told, Esther was abandoned by her parents and because she remembers how it happened, I reckon it is not too long ago. One day her parents told her that they are bringing her out. Any child would be very happy upon hearing this of course. But little did she know that it was the last time she ever saw her parents, they left her at the centre and never came back. Ever since then she has this burden ... shadow ... fear of being outdoor (Agoraphobia). She will shake her head to any offer of going outside the room. No matter how I persuaded her, she would not want to move. Only once did she allowed the carers to take her to the medical room, it was a huge step for her after all the bad memories and emotional abuse. She would returned to Jasper room often shaking in tears.

What happened on that day was beyond my understanding. 
They may have given her up with her best interest at heart.
They may have all the reason to justify their action but it is still unacceptable.

Who does that? Who is that heartless? 
Who could possibly reject such an adorable girl in such a heartless way?

I don’t think I will ever understand the actions of some people.
I may not be a perfect human being, I may not have children, but Matthew 18 has been a good reminder for me to appreciate children more, and acknowledge how important they are to God. 

So may future parents work hard to accept and care for all the children that come into their lives. It is a blessing from God whether they are perfect or disabled. May God grant parents the strength they need to NOT abandoned their children when times are tough.

Why and Why not?

A very common question "Why China and not somewhere else? What made you go all the way there?"
My answer is simple, stop asking "Why", the better question is actually "Why Not" - Why is there always a need to ask "Why" when things happen? Tell me a good reason why I should not go to China? 
For example, people ask me why it’s so hard to trust people, and so I ask them why is it so hard to keep a promise.
"If you don’t try out your crazy ideas while you’re young, you’ll have nothing to smile about when you’re old. I followed my heart, listened to my inner voice, trusted God to help me reach out to the right people, in the right places, and at the right time. I come back not regretting every dollar spent and every tears shed because I know every moment was not wasted."

"What was the most difficult thing you encountered while on the team?"

As I was filling the evaluation form last week, this question got me thinking really hard. I have to accept the fact that farewell is always the hardest moment, definitely not my forte. Now why is it so difficult to say goodbye ... not only to anyone ... especially to these children (who technically got abandoned by their own parents). The process had to be quick and we manage to reduce the impact by having a huge farewell celebration which the long performances lasted late at night (way pass bed time- tired and sleepy I am surprise they were still awake). But it is a pity we didn't have a proper farewell moment. I wonder how are the children doing now, how they felt when they realized we did not show up the next morning.
"Back home I worked closely with children at church. But this trip was a whole different experience all together, learning to show Jesus's love to the less fortunate children as well as their underpaid carers, in a subtle way was a true challenge. I thank Him for taking me out of my comfort zone and letting me see beyond my own needs. I had a good time, I am truly blessed because He sent me here. I would definitely come back again."


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