Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Beijing Bustle

The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest day of air travel in the US. When my escorts and I arrived at the international terminal and walked in - it appeared to be the busiest day in Beijing as well. Every available seat in the foyer was occupied by sleeping and weary travelers. I turned to my companions - whose eyes were wide with surprise at the crowds and said "remember to pray hard - this is what it will be like in the US!" "We will, we will, we are sorry."

What was I thinking when I committed to this day of flying? Just getting through customs required fearless bravado, aggressive maneuvering of 200 lbs of luggage and no "excuse me please" polite passings.

Once cleared through customs CHAOS! Thousands of people stopped - looking around, chattering in multiple languages, somewhere bound - if not home. The Venezuela Olympic team didn't understand the broken English of the Chinese health inspector when she asked about contact with "birds". Frankly, even to me it sounded like "beards". The coach turned to me with a bewildered look "no habla Espanol?" "Pollo" I replied - he laughed and finally answered satisfactorily to the question.

The Koreans couldn't figure out which line to get in, the Chinese just pushed forward, the American's (including me) appeared frustrated, the French bewildered at the cost of a coke, and the German's casually cashing in on duty free cigarettes.

Me, well - I'm just trying to make it through one more airport, one more departure, one more goodbye

Again....

Time After Time

"Lying in my bed - I hear the clock tick and think of you"

Last day in China -
I woke up late, well rested and ready to get the show on the road. I tried finishing my thoughts on the orphanage visit, but was too emotionally overwhelmed by remembrance of the images of smiles and joy on the children's faces. Even now, I fight back the tears.

Star World TV was carrying the AMC Music Awards. One of the featured performances was a duet of Cyndy Lauper's "Time After Time".

"When you're lost and you look you will find me.. time after time. If you fall I will catch you I'll be waiting..."

Sometimes the sadness of the goodbyes makes me feel as though I am falling into a pit of too many farewells - always leaving a piece of me behind and no one waiting to welcome and refill my cup of kindness poured out - now very empty..

"Whatever you do to the least of these, you have done so unto Me"

The smile on the upturned face of a small girl - her desire to "look like me" and have glitter and sparkles on her face - her squeals of delight as her nose shined red and her eyes were covered in golden glitter that twinkled in the sunlight - what have I done? What have I left? What have I more to gain than this?

It was if I was looking into the face of my King - so happy I was there, so happy to touch me, to wrap waiting arms around my legs - to show off His big grin and reassure me of His love - through a tiny orphan girl in a broken body but a big smile!

"If you fall I WILL catch you - I will be waiting"

All the time!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sha-sha and the Little Apple Tree

We left the orphanage full of love, well hugged, kissed repeatedly with smiles and giggles and exclamations of "Come back soon!" Last year the long walk away from the orphanage resulted in the salvation of my interpreter - this year the 5 Chinese girls that were with me pledged to return to the children on a more regular basis. Seeing how they responded, how they longed for recognition and human touch really moved them.

I returned back to the hotel with Hope and a member of her church Shasha. It was her first time to see the children AND CARE EE. Her first question when we got settled in for the long ride through the 5 o'clock traffic was "your are so pretty and so very kind - why aren't you married?"

I had to laugh at her innocence and the enemy's use of the same old well-worn dart. "Well" I replied "a complicated question I often ask myself and God."

I reminded Shasha (and myself) the story I had just shared with the children about the "Little Apple Tree". We all look at things other people have and fall victim to the enemy's tactic of making the focus of our happiness and contentment on things external. "If I only had a husband - a better job - a bigger house - lived in America - had more money... THEN - I would be happy!"

I said "don't you think God hears the children at the orphanage crying out to have parents - someone special to love them? They would surely be happy then."

For now He hasn't given me a husband or answered the simple prayers of these children with more than an unspoken "be patient." But, He gives us each other and joy and delight while we are waiting.

"God sets the lonely in families"

He Makes No Mistakes

"You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit how I was sculpted from nothing into something"

The cab driver had a hard time finding the small side lane the orphanage was located on. Last year, our group was let off on the highway at dark and we walked a mile through the small lanes filled with factory workers and merchants. CARE EE drew quite the stares, then and now, as little children ran out into the street to get a glimpse of a real live "Soo-chow" (clown in Chinese)

The gate to the children's home was locked with a padlock and chain, so we waited in the street and tried to get someone insides attention. The director soon came out with a huge grin to let us inside. As we walked into the courtyard the joy began - the little ones started running toward us - waving, laughing, smiling - their excitement could not be contained!

"You watched me grow from conception"

One of the happiest to see me was a little 5 year old girl who tightly embraced my legs - looked up and laughed out loud. I have seldom seen more joy at my arrival. When she finally let go of my legs long enough for me to move indoors, she held up her hand to act as my personal escort.

I grabbed hold of her deformity without hesitation. Her palm had 2 fingers crumpled together and a stiff nub where her thumb should be. She was quite adapted, as I would later see, to using what God had knit together, the best she could.

After photos and frame decorating the children settled down and sat on the floor in from of me watching the tricks, remembering their amazement and asking for another story. I told them about the "Little Apple Tree" and how it was hard to be different. While they are still too young to grasp the full meaning of the story - they did understand the "praying and waiting" more than most.

I looked across the room at their broad smiles, I saw their tender hearts and a readiness to receive and experience joy and love.

From the world's eyes, they have no reason for any hope. They have been abandoned because of their physical birth defects: cleft palate, club feet, mangled hands, dwarfism, cross eyes, conditions that in the West are easily correctable. Here, in a country that strictly enforces the one child per family policy, it makes these children disposable.

"You formed me in my mother's womb"

Faith: when confronted with the material reality - it is looking in the face of inexplicable tragedy with the belief and the ability to say "God is good all the time." God saw the mother's and father's who would leave these children for death at worse or to a life of abandonment at best. AND GOD - knit them together. I told the children "God doesn't make any mistakes." He never forgets their name or where they live. He is watching - and He delights in them...

...as do I.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Getting Here was Half the Battle

I was shocked when the plane actually took off - but take off we did and 40 minutes later I arrived at the Beijing Airport. I'm not as brave or friendly as B so I was stuck purchasing a phone card to call C's cell phone. She and E were stuck in the notorious Beijing traffic so I waited in the coffee shop and caught up with my China saga.

Just as I was about to make another phone call they came in to greet me full of unnecessary apologies. It was wonderful to see two of the girls who had accompanied me last year to the Beijing Orphanage, and feel comfortable that all would be taken care of. On our way to the city we discussed our plan for the day and tomorrow. They are both currently unemployed so they are available to spend the afternoon shopping for the orphanage and do some personal gift shopping as well.

We drove by taxi to the other side of the city near the Zoo to a shopping mall. The store was more of a "zoo" than the one containing the animals! We spent almost 3 hours finding and completing the purchases. It was arduous and tiring as their negotiations and indecision finally led them to have me sit down so the "price" could be brought down even more without a foreigner present.

We returned to the hotel and I napped and waited for the arrival of S and J who also were stuck in the "jam" of traffic. We finally headed out for a delicious dinner of Peking Duck. A real treat for the two of them and D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S for me!

You Get What You Pay For

I was nervous about this morning's early departure. "WongWay" would be my driver to the Jinan airport and last year when he awoke to a fogged in city he didn't show up. This morning however, he was outside the hotel (he probably slept there) ahead of schedule (6:00 am).

With my four pieces of luggage we loaded up the car and headed out through the dense fog for the new and improved Jinan International Airport. Lack of visibility closed the highway and memories of last years ordeal clouded my thoughts. The "back" roads to the airport were filled with bicycles and pedestrians making their way to work and school along the invisible roadway. It became a competition of who ruled the passage as trucks pass, horns blare with the people impervious to it all.

B and I took our minds off the unfolding fright by telling stories of past "adventures in travel." I have the famous "Lost in Sri Lanka" saga; my old stand by "Left Behind in Bosnia" and the "Wrong Town Terminal" of Cuban notoriety. Our laughter probably confused WongWay but it also kept him alert and awake.

We were early enough to be first in line to check in for the 8:10 am flight. "How many bags?" The bad news "3" "You are overweight - and too many bags." Quick thinking and proper planning, I was sure would get me by. I pulled out the "Shandong Pictorial Magazine" showed the counter agent my name on the cover and flipped to the pages with the photos inside. I also used the note A had written years ago regarding my work in the orphanages and items being for children. "International ticket?" the agent inquired. "Yes, of course" I replied as he inspected my continuing flight plans and LET ME PASS! One hurdle down.

Alas, a few minutes later a red bar highlighted my scheduled flight "Delayed". We hurried back up to the counter only to hear the airport was closing AND the agent didn't know when any flights would take off.

The benefits of having B as assistant willing to do an exemplary job: 1) no fear of strangers and asking questions of anyone who is patient enough to look at the Chinese English dictionary with her. 2)She makes all the phone calls that I would be to embarrassed to make, by asking total strangers if she can borrow their cell phone. B called Mr T (the airline vice president and former student of D) and asked about the weather forecast.

I kept watching (the clock and the departure board) and my flight status suddenly flashed NOW BOARDING! WHAT! B ran up to the counter to hear the agent say "Yes, your flight is about to leave - hurry on to the gate!"

For the price of the ticket ($25 US) I suppose you can't expect to hear an announcement of departure times - it was one of those "you get what you pay for moments."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

You Came Back!

The last performance and final day in Jinan, China the day's event was held at the Jinan Home for Disabled Children. J and D's neighbors accompanied us with their visiting daughter and granddaughters. We had lots of gifts to deliver and a colorful crowd awaiting us in the new orphanage building.

A beautiful facility, roomy with lots of light. The children were dutifully seated, but their patience soon broken by squeals, applause and excited waving as we walked into the room. "You came back" they exclaimed with such happiness. The little albino boy jumped up and ran over to give me a hug. It was marvelous.

The older children (who are deaf) had fun participating as actors in the stories - watching their teacher sign out the instructions and then really hamming it up. I asked the children what they remembered from last year and the story I told, they all held up their hands to imitate "stars twinkling in the branches".

After the show - we set up the desks to give them room to decorate their frames with stickers and markers. Only one small girl was afraid to have her picture taken with CARE EE, despite repeated coaxing from the teachers - she would have nothing of it.

We finished just in time for the children to be lead off to dinner - with hugs, waves and exclamations of "see you next year"!

Tell Them the Deaf Hear

Last night's public performance sponsored by the church drew a standing room only crowd! There were approximately 450 in attendance. Mostly adults and teenagers with a few children. On the front row sat Mrs W's deaf students.

It reminded me of the verse spoken by John the Baptist,and Christ's answer. He asked "are you the One...? Jesus answered "tell him the lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear - the prisoners are set free!" There are many imprisoned by lack of information and lack of workers willing to Harvest" You have taken time to participate in this "Field Work"!

It was an experience to be translated into TWO languages one heard and one SEEN. The students were so excited. They work regularly with Mrs W, and most are believers. Before going "on" I asked the organizers if I had permission to "share" openly?

"Yes, of course - they know this is a Christian meeting"

The ENTIRE performance was a time of "Good News" ALL the stories and "tricks" were told with the theme of Christ, His mercy, His love, His redemption. Several of the female deaf students on the front row kept nodding and nodding in affirmation. I felt like they were encouraging me and in their own "language" saying "You GO GIRL!!!"

Go, I did - and by the end of the program - many were proclaiming the shed blood of the Lamb as redemption! Each person attending received a "Wordless Book - bracelet or keychain" with instructions for sharing the meaning. We had a little "test" and with enthusiasm they replied what the colors meant (some even in English!) Gold = heaven; Black = sin; Red = Jesus Blood; White = Redemption; Green = growing!!

We all grew last night! Along with the bracelets - they ALL received a BIBLE!! Now that is a true GIFT here. At the end of the meeting D came up to me with tears in her eyes and said "Who would have thought my students would be able to hear the Gospel so openly?"

The things we take for granted in our faith, the freedom we enjoy and too often ignore - HERE is one that is cherished, sought after, hoped and prayed for.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Conversion

The last day of performance at the University brings anticipation and a sense of relief at a job concluded. The students again had good questions with many opportunities to share on faith, the Bible, and God's direction in the life of His children. One of the last questions was "what is the most difficult part of your job?" I answered with the images of the children of Taian Orphanage fresh in my mind. "Goodbyes are the hardest part - too many goodbyes."

The performance was greatly enjoyed and the "morals" at the end of the day received with many sounds and nods of affirmation. One girl came up at the end and said, "I want to join your organization, how can I help?" My prayer for them in leaving is that hearts have been changed and spirits moved toward faith in the only One who can help, the One who can bring the Harvest, the One true God.

Our last evening was spent having dinner in the home of A, at the Communist Party compound. We were greeted by his wife and niece, who at 5 was quite taken back by the strange foreigners. She cowered behind her aunt and when J walked through the door - she started crying. Perhaps it was his height, or who knows maybe the cowboy hat he is seldom without?

She settled down after much coercion and reassurance by her aunt but remained quite shy and unwilling to come anywhere near us. At some point during the dinner (perhaps when she saw we ate food not children) she began to interact a little with the invited guests. She stayed away from J though still thinking he was a bit too tall, too different, just too...

The change in her demeanor came after dinner. We watched a DVD featuring Montana cowboys - she identified the cowboy hat J wore to the ones the fearless bronco riders were wearing in the movie, When it was over, she was jumping up and down on the furniture ready to be the next rodeo star.

She donned J's hat as we were leaving and gave us a big grin awaiting her photo to be taken. Thoroughly converted from frightened Chinese child to new bronco showgirl!

Our time is spent "exposing" the Chinese (young and old) to a new "culture" of believing. We look different, sound different and have our own "language" that is sometimes hard to understand. It didn't' take long before the little girl went from frightened child to adoring friend. In China, it's all about time invested into relationships and "sharing" (Good News or Cowboy Hats)- that will ultimately be what turns hearts to truth and "converts" lives!

Part of the Story

Days and nights of dual language exchanges create a craving for mindless entertainment. China has an English language news station, but it has been removed from the Jinan city cable lineup for "lack of interest".

What IS of interest at the University Hotel however, is America's embarrassing export HBO! I confess, I switch it on when I come into the room just to hear some familiar language, and if I am lucky to see at least a portion of a decent movie.

Fifteen minutes of around fifteen different movies, IS what I have seen so far, and the desire to know how these particular stories end got me thinking about another ending.

Of all the individuals I meet across the globe, I am only privileged to interrupt their "story" for a short time. But there is an "Author" a "Perfecter" of our "faith stories" busy at work composing the roles we play, the scenes and locations where we find ourselves.

Some stories I have seen in the midst of tragedy, some in sorrow, many I have affected with joy and laughter. The opportunity to revisit year after year the same children, allows me to see visible updates to their journey. How tall they have grown, how mature many of the young boys and girls appear.

We are constantly interrupting someones story, and someone is only seeing part of our own.

Oh, but the promise of heaven, to know, as we have been fully known...

as the famous radio commentator Paul Harvey used to say -

"That my friends, is the rest of the story!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Coincidence of the World

... is the providence of God!

The day begins at 6:00am. Our routine established into breakfast in the lobby buffet that at least is convenient at best is consistent. We set off across campus to the waiting students. J and D have been preparing them for my arrival by explaining certain terms: non-profit, orphanages, disabilities (although here they more readily understand then the term 'crippled' is used).

The questions come and the Spirit provides the "answers". "Why do you go? How do you choose wher to go or hear about where an orphanage is?" The last question posed an opportunity for the 'coincidence of the world is the providence of God' answer.

The story of how I met J and D (through a woman I met in Israel who two years later invited me to her home in Wyoming, where I met a couple from Montana, on their way to China!) of course it is something they cannot understand and frankly I'm not sure anyone of truly can!

"a man may direct his steps, but God guides his path.."

Redeemed
Oh How I love to proclaim it!!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Courtyard Chaos

After the class we were whisked away to the Middle School across town where Mrs W's son attends, We arrived just as the children were filing out into the courtyard. They were the smallest classes which of course evoked the loudest reactions. Children are children no matter what the culture. Strangers are well... strange. Screams, laughs and giggles, let us get close to you but not too close... the unfamiliar being the funniest thing.

The auditorium was filled with 250 of the excited ones and the rest of the 750 students watched on close circuit TV. Oh, they had a time. They were able to practice their English proudly "good morning, how are you, what is your name.." I used their Principle as one of the key characters in the story and they really got a laugh out of that!

Afterwards we headed back out to the courtyard where the children, now fearless, approached and handed us pieces of paper to sign, arms and hands to draw on, something as evidence they had seen a "celebrity" that day.

We left and stopped to pick up invitations for Saturday night's public program. It is a small business card with CHARLYNN printed in English and the words above "God Loves you Forever"

Yes, indeed He does!

The Quest for the Question


"But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I'll probably never fully understand..."

Our faithful cabbie was waiting outside the hotel right on time at 7:55 to take us the quarter mile up the road to the classroom. The students gave B and I a warm greeting to welcome us, as J had given a short introduction on his day's special guests. As with the previous programs over the past 5 years - the performance down to the photographs passed around the classroom, are designed to promoted "leading questions." While it is still dangerous business to "evangelize" in China - one does have the liberty to answer "direct" questions.

Naturally, when the students see photos of such diverse places as Africa, Bosnia, Russia, and this year's addition of Sri Lanka tsunami victims - they immediately question "How can you see such things? Why...? How...? THEN I am free to say "I am a Christian... the Bible teaches... God loves the world..." They generally nod their heads making sounds of affirmation, not necessarily understanding.

Although most of the "students" are well over 20, their enjoyment and enthusiasm is not dampened by their age. The real blessing comes after the program as the students continue to pose "leading" questions to their "teachers". This day J was "lead" to give the REAL answer to the REAL question - and shared the Good News to the group gathered after class. Perhaps soon some of the "searching students" quest will be over?!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Binding


"He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted"

We left early Sunday morning for Taian in the cold and rain. Winter has definitely arrived in China! We all piled in (a veritable clown car) with the supplies purchased for the orphanage stuffed into every space available between and even under the seats. We arrived safely in an hour and a half to the apartment where we were to wait for the rest of the visitors accompanying us to the orphanage. Once all of our group arrived we set out for the Children's Home.

We were greeted outside by the director and the children followed quickly behind him. They were so happy - hugging me one by one and greeting me with open arms. Many of the children had grown so big! We hussled up the stairs in one huge hugged crowd - for a moment tears filled my eyes - happy to see my friends but sad they are still friends living in an orphanage in China.

Our first stop was the room with the wheelchairs. They had five of the disable children sitting in the chairs waiting for their benefactor. They began waving and smiling at the colorful "clown" and we were happy to see the remembrance of former visits register on their faces.

The director and the coordinator allowed time for many pictures and handing out of gifts of cookies and crackers to the children in the chairs. The director gave a speech of thanks and friendship we have established over the last five years. They handed me a plaque and allowed me to address the gathered media. I expressed gratitude for being allowed to come as well as sharing the gift comes not from one person but from individuals in the United States who know and care for the children. Once the ceremony was over, we went down the hallway to the children in the nursery.

They were in the same conditions as last year. Most, severely disabled or down syndrome - abandoned at birth for a life confined to a 2 1/2' x 4' crib. Some were laid two to a bed because they were so very small.

Their response to touch is astounding - one of the significant things that still brings tears to D's eyes. One child of 11 or 12 (her disability confines her to the crib) was crying - I was able to use my little puppet to turn her wailing into laughing, sadness into joy - with just one touch to her face!

The rest of the children were gathered for the program down the hall and our camera crew and officials lead the way through the darkened corridor. They clapped and smiled with great enthusiasm as CARE EE and her entourage entered. I shared a few new tricks and asked what their favorite story was?

"The one with the Baby Bee" they replied as they made hand gestures and buzzing sounds. I called the director up to act as the "King" and fixed a curly wig and Groucho Marx glasses on his face. The children cackled out loud at the transformation, and participated in each phase of the story - even agreeing at the end on the moral - "everyone can make a difference."

For the first time this year we were taken on a tour of the entire facility which is also a home for the elderly. They were so happy to have visitors and their smiles were infectious as the children's.

Next year will be the 90th anniversary of the orphanage. Started in 1916 by two Assembly of God missionaries. I wondered what they would think of the doors being opened to a missionary in disguise of a clown?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Love is Eternal


"We don't see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright!"

The city of Jinan sits in the valley between the rolling hills of Shandong Province. In the fall while the weather is trying to make up its mind to be hot or cold - foggy conditions are quite normal. Still unsure of the time zone, my body wakes up around 6:00 am and I peer outside to greet the Chinese sunrise.

The haze is dense and, a mixture of pollution and fog marring the beauty with a smoky smelling smog. The elderly, already below my window in spite of the hour, practice the art of Tai Chi at the University Park.

The Eastern world slowly awakens.

Like the purposeful movements in Tai Chi, questions are posed during "divine appointments" and the answers exercised to bring strength to the asker.

Saturday night we had dinner with a long-time friend of J and D's. A party member, who initially showed great interest in their belief system, but still 5 years later has made no move toward a change of heart.

It is customary here to exchange gifts when meeting again with old acquaintances. A, graciously received the items we brought to him and he presented B and I his expression for this re-meeting.

The first was a collectors folder with Chinese money displayed. But the second is what piqued real interesting conversation.

It was a commemorative folder which had the slogan printed in English "Love is Eternal". Opening the trifold display were 2 envelopes with a graphic logo and again the English words "love is eternal." A. went on to explain this is a campaign to raise money for the underprivileged children, and has gained popularity all across the country. "I give this to you because of your love for many years for the Chinese children". I thanked him, and posed the question " do you believe love is eternal?"

"Oh yes, of course, love never dies."

For all his unresponsiveness to a change of life, his heart is responsive to displays of love.

Too often, our mindset becomes self-righteous and indignant "why don't THEY - get IT?"

But for a man in his position, to make a profession of such nature would have drastic and most likely immediate consequence. He would lose his job, his apartment, and his place in the community of established party members. His wife would also be jeopardized, losing her job, and his 18 year old son's future at the university would probably come to an end. It is a sacrifice we can scarcely imagine.

We DON'T see things clearly now. We ARE looking "through a glass darkly." We need to be careful not to quickly condemn that which we cannot understand.

"But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do... trust steadily in God,hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love."

Even a Communist in China sees that -
Love is Eternal!

Friday, November 11, 2005

No Bible No Breakfast

Redemption for the student gathering came at the end of the meeting when one of the believers in the group was asked to close in prayer. M spoke with a quietness of spirit and somewhat shy about praying out loud in English. She began with thanks and humility for our time of fellowship. She thanked the Father for His Word to His children and reminded us how we need so desperately to study it.

Then she said, "It is our food Lord. Let us think 'no Bible no breakfast'. Let this be the first thing we do in the morning to start our day."

How convicting for those of us in the West who own many Bibles, along with various translations of the text that go unopened and unread. Here was a group who literally put their life and future at risk even owning a Bible.

"... the one who makes a meal of Me lives because of Me. This is the Bread from heaven..."

Illusion Delusion

Greetings Far Westerners

I am here safe and sound on the other side of the Pacific Ocean and settling in nicely. Tomorrow is the big program at the Taian Orphanage with the delivery of the wheelchairs. Our liason (J) has gone to Taian today to make the final arrangements for the delivery at the orphanage. Deb as informed me that the plan is for a big "presentation" event ot occur. All from a lowly clown!

Last night our "Meeting" was very interesting to say the least. We spent the day casually, eating breakfast at the hotel (Chinese food of course) unpacking, organizing and getting situated. We headed out for the "CareeForte" (Chinese version of Walmart) to do a little shopping - took home KFC for lunch and had a good long nap until 4pm. We ignored phone calls and door knocks (even an entrance into our room went unnoticed).

We went and met J after his class and headed to their apartment and then dinner. J and D were still out so the meeting began without them. There were about 15 in attendance with an even mix of male/female. J tried to buy timed before D and J arrived and had the students state their name and where they were from. Easy enough. But as the turn came to S (one of their students from last year) he was reluctant to answer. "What is the purpose of your question?" His attitude seemed argumentative at best - hostile at worst. It was strange and J worked through it diplomatically. I showed the video of Sunshine after Rain Ministries "How Do We Make it Count" and then took questions afterward.

The students started off with simple questions at first "how long have you believed?' etc.. and then S spoke up 'I want to ask you a question that is not polite. Do you think your job is meaningful?" I proceeded to share an answer I had given my son "investing in the lives of others, adding value, instilling worth and meaning - yes, I believe that is meaningful."

He persisted 'you have given a simple answer and I think my question is complex. I think you are in an ILLUSION".

I had an unexplained flash of anger and irritation. I grabbed the photos of children sitting silently in my lap. I flashed them before my accusers face "this is not an illusion, these people are real. These lives are made different, these are tangible witnesses to the meaningfulness of my job."

He smirked - I was irked!!

"Illusion it is" he remarked undeterred.

J was diplomatically working to diffuse the situation about freedom to chose to believe and chose not to believe. With D's frustration equalling mine, she said - "we've spent enough time on this."

I was all for moving on.

Oddly my heart felt "heckled" by this deluded foreigner. I honestly did not know where he was coming from, how could he argue such a point? I had heard his delusion seeing love as an illusion.

Who does that?

"Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities of darkness..."

Strongholds are being brought down! Tomorrow will be a BIG day - a long travel day as well as emotional and physically taxing.

YOU are the ammunition that loads the gun! Stay vigilant in this battle. Stay on alert - the fight is to the finish and eternally significant.

To the King and His Kingdom all the glory!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

SH-EEEEE (atsu)

Ah.... 21st century travel! Chairs that will bring relaxation and relief before you ever leave home. You can find these sanctuaries of mechanical massage in various locations around the world's airports. I figure I am definitely worth this bit of splurge. It makes up for the post 9/11 security hassles - derobbing, shoes removed, twenty questions for safety in these traveling times.

SHEEEE - AH...! I was so relaxed from my shiatsu that I casually went to take one last pit stop and then checked out the magazine store , looked over at my gate - EMPTY!!! Everyone had BOARDED. I was the last person on the plane - lumbering down the aisle to the LAST corner window seat on the plane....

Oh well..

Hihohiho it's off to work I go...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Calendar of Events

Nov 9
Depart for the Far East: Travel via San Francisco, Tokyo, Beijing
Nov 10
Arrive Beijing and continue in country flight to Jinan
Nov 11
Evening Speaking to Group "Sharing the Work Global Style"
Nov 12
Unscheduled visits and opportunities
Nov 13
Church
2 pm Orphanage Visit - wheelchair delivery
Return to Jinan
Nov 14
University Program
Middle School Program
Nov 15
University Program
Speaking to Home Group Q & A
Nov 16
University Program
Speaking to Home Group Q & A
Nov 17
Teacher Meeting
Nov 18
University Program
Evening Speaking to Group "Sharing the Work Global Style"
Nov 19
Eveing Public Performance
Nov 20
Church
2:30 Orphanage Program
Evening Open House
Nov 21
Travel to Beijing
Nov 22
Orphanage Program
University Program
Nov 23
Depart Beijing 2:00 pm

Crazed but not Crazy!

YOU MUST THINK I AM CRAZY leaving for China just two weeks after my return from Sri Lanka! For the past ten days, I have been going and going – unsure of my current time zone, trying to arrange schedules, take care of business matters AND rest.

HOW CAN I DO THIS? YOU!! My support network of saints, generously providing the financial means, and faithfully committing to pray through various time zones, dangerous treks, and asking for boldness for the Word to go forth. NOW, is the time for us to be busy about the Father’s business. I gladly hit the road/sky again and take off to the Far East (which oddly enough I have to fly west to arrive at).

I WAS SELECTING A PHOTO to add here, and I though I have thousands to choose from, I settled on one taken last year at the orphanage in Taian. It was my fourth visit in as many years and as you may imagine I have seen the children “grow up”. Four years to you and I seems to pass all to quickly. But in the life of a child – to go from 4 to 8, 10 to 14, from 14 to 18 is a time of growth, independence, and significance. Since my first visit in the year 2001, I have witnessed their changing heights and faces and experienced their joy at my coming. We are friends! There is no doubt in their hearts or minds of our care and concern for them. They know they are treasured – they mean something to someone.

THE VALUE OF SELF-WORTH cannot be calculated monetarily – The value of love will be calculated eternally.

My twenty-one year old son recently posed an interesting and provocative question as I was preparing to leave for Sri Lanka. “What if you’re wrong and when you die that’s it?” he said with a wry grin on his face. “Well, I’m not wrong, but… since you asked, even if I am wrong in my beliefs (which I am not I quickly added) then, I have spent a significant portion of my time in this life investing in the lives of others less fortunate. I have spent hours affirming the significance, value and worth of children in orphanages, the disabled, and people living in the depths of unfathomable poverty and human suffering. If this IS (though it’s not) all there is, I have invested in others and made their lives better, if only for a short while. AND, if I’m not, well – I will meet my Maker and hear His words, ‘Well, done my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master’.” He laughed a bit uncomfortable and said “so either way you are in a win-win situation”.

WE are in a win-win situation. By supporting this ministry you are making the investment toward YOUR future. We have the opportunity to change the world! We have been given a mandate to care for orphans. You will see from the calendar, this trip is filled with orphanage programs, divine appointments, and opportunities to share hope to this emerging world. Each year, my in-country friends have called the orphanages to find out their most pressing needs. In the winter, this usually means blankets, socks, and warm coats for the children. This year one of the orphanages requested 15 wheelchairs. After three weeks of trying to locate a source in China, the report came in today they will be shipped and ready for delivery on November 12!!

All during this time, the Good News, the Message of the Kingdom – will be preached ALL over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come. MATT 24:14 – THE MESSAGE

Sunday, November 06, 2005

On Solid Ground...

...but in a terrible "twister of activity to get ready for my next adventure!

November 9th through the 23rd I will return to China for my 5th visit there in as many years. It is exciting to be returning, visiting children in the orphanage, speaking before University students, and bringing joy and laughter to young and old.

Your requests to the One, have never been more important. Now is the time, today the day of redemption and opportunity.