2020 October Heartbeat
From the Founder
As there have been no new cases of coronavirus reported in China in the past month, things are getting somewhat back to normal. That’s a good thing, and fits our timeline to officially launch our new 7Acres Project, as we’re now more than ready to get started. During the past few weeks, our team has gone through a thorough evaluation by a third-party organization hired by the Civil Affairs Bureau. Everything went extremely well, and in their final evaluation they said that our project to help older teens is unquestionably necessary. They also promised to help make it even better going forward, by recruiting more volunteers and encouraging the citizens of China to help our kids eventually reenter society.
7Acres project unquestionably necessary
Discovering Potential Through Art
Most of our new residents will have spent anywhere from 10 to 20 years living in orphanages or institutions with few, if any, opportunities for real-life experience. What can we do to help them express themselves, and give them a voice to speak to the world even if they can’t physically speak? One idea is to use art as a way to communicate with the world. Some of the kids might have physical or mental challenges and limitations, but could easily have hidden gifts of creativity. Art Therapy is a valuable tool that can help unlock those kids’ true potential and give them something they’ve never had – a voice. We’ll tie this therapy – including things like a new screen-printing workshop – into our Vocational Program, to equip them for making their way independently in the world.
At the end of last month, our Operations Director, Lily Zhuang and one of our older graduates, Wendy (Su Ying), took a trip to Shanghai to visit an exhibition of young amateur artists. This place was amazing, and it really opened up Wendy’s eyes to see that she, too may have some untapped hidden talent. In talking with the participants there, she told Lily that she loves Winnie the Pooh and was interested in how those cartoon images were made. She clearly gravitated toward the woodblock printing, so we ordered a set of screen-printing tools for her. I have to admit that we’re very excited about this, and can’t wait to get started!
Wendy Demonstrates Independence
It’s really neat to see how Wendy has matured into an amazing, young independent woman. Last month, she returned to her hometown of Fuzhou in south China to apply for a disabled persons ID card. She completed everything all by herself, including buying her plane ticket, flying to Fuzhou, getting a place to stay, eating out and taking taxis. Right after that, she flew to Shanghai to meet Lily. She took the subway to get around the city using phone apps, went window shopping on Nanjing Lu – one of the busiest shopping streets in the world – and even went to Disney World, which was her very first time visiting an amusement park. To wrap up the trip, she took her first bullet train ride from Shanghai back to Beijing.
Wendy is a shining example of what we want to see for all the older kids who cannot graduate to independence without help and training from us, and support from people like you. Thank you for sticking with us and believing that we can make a difference in older orphans’ lives. If you’re interested in helping us fund and stock the exciting, new Art Workshop at 7Acres, please contact us at [email protected], or give online at www.chinaorphans.org/donate. Together, we can BE THE CHANGE.
Mid-Autumn Festival Celebrates Family
The Mid-Autumn Festival is the second-most celebrated holiday in China. More commonly known as the Moon Festival, it falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month – the middle day of autumn – and is often celebrated for a full week. It will take place on October 1 this year, which also happens to be China National Day.
This lunar celebration is a time where families come together to eat mooncakes and enjoy poetry while watching the beautiful full moon. Mooncakes are seldom made at home, and boxes of them are traditionally sent as gifts to others. Mooncakes are filled with a heavy, sweet mixture such as lotus seed powder, and covered in a paper-thin wheat dough. The best ones also have an egg yolk in the center.
Every year, the Philip Hayden Foundation would be blessed with boxes of mooncakes for the staff and children. But I also have many memories of the children making moon cakes with ayis and interns. While it was always a messy process, that was their favorite part! This holiday has spread beyond China. It’s now enjoyed by many around the world, but it’s always important to recognize and respect the origin and culture behind this holiday – a day to remember and celebrate love and family.
Are You Ready for Winter?
It’s that time of the year again when we begin our winter heat fundraiser. Every year, we have to pay our annual heating bill for 7Acres in advance – or the steam doesn’t get turned on. Well, the cold weather is just around the corner and we need your help once again. This year we need to raise $45,656.72 for the whole winter’s heat. We’re blessed to have already raised $7,646.62 even before we asked.
We need your help to keep our staff and kids warm
While that’s a great start, we still need to raise $38,010.10 more to keep the kids warm this winter. Anything you can give is greatly appreciated. To help keep our kids and staff warm this winter, go here and choose Winter Heat 2020 or text SFCV to 77977. It’s that easy to help bring warmth to our campus.
It’s hard to believe this little bundle of joy will turn seven in November. Three words I’d use to describe Levi (Han Qiannan) would be: caring, funny and affectionate. He’s definitely the world’s best hugger! Levi’s also an energetic little guy who never fails to bring a smile to your face; and he loves dancing, songs, coloring and much more. Levi was successfully treated for a retinoblastoma while in our care at Philip Hayden Foundation and now has an artificial eye implantation. There has been no recurrence of eye disease and he’s adapted well to vision in only one eye.
While in preschool, Levi’s best buddy was Isaac. The two boys shared giggles and a good friendship, as well as a bit of mischief. It was hard for Levi as he watched Isaac join a Forever Family a few years ago, but he was happy for him. He’s content playing alone now, but definitely prefers playing with other children, especially if it means some monkey business! He still dreams of someday having his own family – it’s really the ultimate dream of most, if not all of these orphans.
Levi had many friends at Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village (SFCV) and is still quite social – he’s living in a foster home in China with several other children, and is doing very well. Nothing seems to stop him when it comes to achieving his goals, so we’re confident that we can help fulfill his dream to be adopted by a loving family. Will you help Levi make this a reality?
The Scent of God’s Grace
“I learned in my Neuroscience class that smell and memory are closely linked because of their proximity in the brain. It is no surprise, then, that lately I find myself saying, ‘today smells like Shepherd’s Field.’ This strange thought often baffles my family and friends, warranting head turns and inquisitive stares, but to me, the meaning of the phrase is clear as day.
“After taking a deep inhale of fresh air filled with a grassy and earthy scent, my brain immediately transports me to Shepherd’s Field. Memories of serving there come flooding back at a moment’s notice. The warm days of summers I spent at Shepherd’s Field were filled with the smell of freshly cut grass and a cleanness atypical of cities in China.
“Along with that calming smell, there were sounds of cicadas buzzing relentlessly and children laughing and yelling at play. I would be walking out of the Little Lambs School after my morning lesson, preparing for an afternoon of water balloon fights, or eating dinner outside with my fellow interns. These memories are abundant with moments of joy, feelings of abandon and assurance that comes with faith, and emotional burdens that the staff shared together.
“As Tim Baker once said, ‘Shepherd’s Field is truly a Holy Land.’ With its patient and enduring nature, it gradually transformed me through the Gospel, the children, and the fellowship. Who knew that I would first get to know God not in the U.S., but in the heart of my motherland? Who knew that after the brief two weeks I first spent there, I would return three more times? God’s Grace was at work every moment I spent there, and I will always think fondly about the memories I so cherish, every time I catch a scent of fresh, earthy summer air.” – Caroline Li
Saying ‘Yes’ Transformed our Family
In 2009 our eldest daughter, Emma had the opportunity to travel to Shepherd’s Field as a volunteer. She was only 14 years old at the time and yet, as parents, we had an overwhelming peace about letting her go. Little did we know what an amazing plan God had in store for her and our family. During her trip she met a precious, joyful three-year-old girl named Dang Xiaoye, known by many as Grace, but Emma would soon know her as her ‘sister.’
Grace lived at Shepherd’s Field from the time she was three days old. During her five years there she received more than 15 surgeries, which quickly earned her the nickname Amazing Grace, because of her ability to survive so many challenges and illnesses. If it were not for the medical care she received – thanks to generous sponsors – and the loving care the wonderful ayis provided, she would never have survived.
In 2011 (two years after deciding to adopt Grace), we finally received travel approval to go to China and meet our daughter, Mia ‘Grace’ Xiaoye who was now five years old and still living at Shepherd’s Field. We also, because of God’s timing and perfect plan, adopted a sweet three-year-old girl we named Teagan Yuanna (from another Province).
Since then, several members of our family have had many opportunities to learn more about China through interning, working and going to school there. These blessings continued to enlarge our family, and we had the privilege of adopting our daughter Lainey Mei in 2017, who was three years old at the time. We love China and hope to bring the girls back there soon to see what a beautiful country they come from.
Mia is now 14 years old and in Middle School. She still has the brightest smile and most contagious laugh. She loves school, drawing, basketball, cheerleading and dance. While Mia has undergone many surgeries here in the U.S. (and will have more in the future), she always has an amazing attitude. She is truly a survivor.
Mia, Teagan and Lainey have changed our lives. Adoption transformed our family’s trajectory and moved us to a place of holding loosely to our own plans, because God’s plans are so much better. If we had said ‘no’ to Emma’s trip to China and/or ‘no’ to adoption, we would have missed all of what these girls have brought us. We are much better people for knowing each of them, and I love that their stories include so many people who helped mold their lives into places of redeeming hope.
Shepherd’s Field/Philip Hayden Foundation will always have a very special place in our hearts, where each child is seen and truly loved.
In Other News
Bright Stars Therapy Partners with Olivia’s Place
• We’re very happy to announce that we signed a one-year agreement with LIH Olivia’s Place in Beijing to train 50 therapists. This amazing organization fills a huge need in China by providing high-quality, affordable pediatric therapy and developmental services for children of all ages and abilities, regardless if they’re local, expatriate, special-needs or typically developing. If you know our history, you might recall that through the years LIH Olivia’s Place has provided free therapy for our kids at Shepherd’s Field. With our new agreement, they’ll provide therapy training to our Bright Stars team and to our orphanage partners. Later, we’ll do online training with more orphanages, to spread this valuable knowledge throughout China.
New Signs on Campus
• It might seem like a small thing at first glance, but we made new plaques for all the buildings on campus as we finalize renovations for the new 7Acres Project. The bright, fresh Chinese/English signage not only looks good, it also gives clear direction to our kids and volunteers to find their way around campus. The new signs will also help instill trust in the public and the local government, as they become better acquainted with our new work and see the professionalism and care we’ve exercised at 7Acres.