One thousand valentines. ONE. THOUSAND.
That is all that is on my mind right now.
We have all of the valentines to send to Africa covered. People have said they will donate and we have enough to send to Africa.
But what about China? 1,000 valentines.
Why do I allow my faith to waver?
I just heard back from the communications directer at Half The Sky Foundation! They have a program at the orphanage in Hainan where Taiger and I volunteered. I had emailed them to confirm an "okay" about sending valentines to the orphans there. She said she thought it was, and I quote, "a lovely idea"! Can you believe that?! "LOVELY"! I was so worried they would say we could not send them for one reason or another (and I would have completely understood that! I mean, what if someone sent valentines that could somehow harm the children....I don't know what kind of valentine that would be, but I am just saying!), but no! She thinks it is a good idea!
So...what does all this mean? It means something so amazing and overwhelming and HUGE! It means that in just over one month's time, we need to collect (are you ready for this?)
ONE THOUSAND more valentines.
I am not kidding, people. One. Thousand.
Just take a breath for a second.
Because this is the truly amazing part. The part that will make your knees go all soft and your heart turn to jell-o.
This also means that GOD loves those children. He knows them. They are HIS children. He knows each of their names. He knows that one likes noodles while another likes rice. He knows that one likes to play with the doll while the other likes the ball. He knows the one that cried yesterday. He knows the one that laughed today. He. KNOWS. them. AND? HE LOVES THEM. He loves them SO MUCH that he would send US to send them cards of love! He loves them so much that he would inspire the directer of communications at Half The Sky to allow us to send valentines to the children. He loves them so much that I can have faith that 1,000 valentines will will be provided.
This is a picture of the front of the orphanage in Hanan!
(Taking pictures inside the orphanage, or of the children, was --understandably-- not allowed.)
I try and find one good picture to use for each of our projects. I was looking at a lot of pictures to use for Opearion: Love (sending valentines/cards to orphans around the world). Many of the pictures I considered using were just beautiful and would have worked well...but I really felt like I should keep searching. I wanted to use one that really symbolized LOVE. I found among some of GABI DICKENSON's photos, images where kids were hugging each other and thought, "That is PERFECT for Operation: LOVE!"...but then I would change my mind. I saw some of people loving on orphans and thought THOSE would be perfect...but something just wasn't right. SO, I totally did a dorky thing and I "googled" images of Chinese orphans. I know. Lame. BUT... I came across this picture. The second I glimpsed it, it took my heart away. I clicked on it and read the story:
A man in rural China worked as a scavenger. He was quite old for the job, and should have retired. In China (as everywhere, I would assume), scavenger workers don't have a lot...they don't have a lot of money, food, clothes, a lot of space in a house. One day, he was out working and he saw a group of people all gathered around something. He was curious and went to see at what it was they were all gazing. He worked his way through the crowd and saw in the middle of the group a small baby wrapped in a thin sheet. The man was so sad that no one was doing anything to help the baby. They were just looking. Well, this kind old man, I imagine with calloused and wrinkled hands, lifted the small baby. The man said the infant was frozen stiff. He brought the small bundle home and he and his wife wrapped the little girl in a burlap bag and fed her soup broth. Soon, she warmed up enough to move. The wife felt sad for the girl and said she pitied her. She said that no one else wanted to touch the baby. "She is human", the wife expressed, something I think many people forget about orphans.
The years have passed and the man is now more than 80 years old. That first little girl he brought home was not the last. Over the years, he has taken in all of the abandoned children he has found and now cares for over 40 little ones. Everyone knows where to send abandoned children, and even the local law enforcement knows to bring abandoned babies or children to this man and his wife to care for.
This story absolutely broke my heart...and healed it at the same time. This man who had NOTHING, sacrificed EVERYTHING for that little girl. This man has a deep sympathy and a Christ-like love for his fellow-man. He does not judge those abandoned, or think they are less than him! He and his wife see them as deserving children. And although Christianity is illegal in China, this man is the greatest example of how to live a Christ-like life.
So, I chose this picture. It SCREAMS "love" to my heart. The picture is of one of the children he has taken in. You can see the boy is holding and LAYING IN the hands of this kind old man. It is so touching and so powerful!
May we all love as he does! Let us all perform this small act of sending a valentine so we can be like this man and show love for those so starving for it.
I can't sleep, so I decided to post!
Our great friend, and someone who has really helped SSS so very much, delivered her valentines/cards to us today! They are beautiful, each with a picture of Christ (so we know they are going to Africa, not China). THANK YOU, C!
Many people have said they would donate valentines. Each told me how many they could provide, and guess what the total is? 225! I kid you not! We serve such a GREAT God! Thank you to everyone who is donating valentines!
If you still want to donate some, don't hesitate! We still need MANY more!
Please continue to pray that the orphanage in China (where T and I spent time with the children) will allow us to send some valentines to the children there. I know it would mean so much to T, as he really misses the children there, and he loves them so much. I admit, I, too, miss those little munchkins. I became especially close to one little girl and I really miss her hugs and her laugh. Unfortunately, they would not allow us to take pictures of the children, so I can't share her picture with you. However, her face is imprinted on my heart, and I will forever be able to see her smiling face in my mind.
Is it time to go back to China yet? :)
It has been a crazy few months! It has been overwhelming going through the, what I call, "Reverse Culture Shock". That is the shock of going from China to America. Going from typhoons to temperate weather. Going from cement floors and walls, to carpet and wallpaper. Going from random power outages, to consistent electricity. Going from shower over the bathroom floor to a bathtub and lots of hot water and a "western" bathroom. It is that panic that comes from having TOO much, and not being able to forget the life you have lived, and, even harder, the things you have seen.
Having Reverse Culture Shock, severe jet-lag and Christmas all within the same month has been a bit hard to come through. I have appreciated the patience of my family and friends as Taiger and I have "gotten back in to the swing of things".
With the settling of the chaos we have been able to reflect on our time in China. Taiger is really starting to miss China, and we can't wait for the day when we can go back. In the meantime, we will occasionally share stories on our other blog, manygrandadventures.blogspot.com, of our adventures there. We hope you will stop by our other blog and enjoy hearing our stories and seeing our pictures.
Now that we are back and things are calming down, we have all decided it is time to get Sixteen Small Stones started with some new projects for 2011! We are really jumping in with both feet and have a few new projects already underway!
To kick things off, we are having our annual OPERATION: LOVE, sending valentines to orphans around the world! We hope you will want to be a part of this project by making (or purchasing) valentines and sending them to SSS. We will collect all of the valentines and send them off! Let us know if you are interested in helping with this project! The deadline for sending in your valentines is March 1, so get out the glue and glitter and get going with the fun!
We are also raising money to purchase beds for some very special little girls in Africa (Racham Ministries, Uganda, andthenloveon.blogspot.com). (Don't forget! Even ONE dollar helps...and you can donate via Paypal using the button on the left hand side of this blog!)
OPERATION: Fuzzi Bunz is returning from last year for an encore run! Thanks to two very generous women, we had great success with this project last year, and we hope this year is just as successful. Many children were greatly blessed with these cozy, cloth diapers, and we hope to bless many more little ones this year!
If you are at all interested in helping with any of these projects, please let us know! We would love to have any help with these fun projects! We also are so very thankful for anyone who feels so compelled to donate money, diapers, valentines, time, prayers or love! :)
Thank you all so very much!!