Saturday, September 23, 2006

Even Now

I confess, in my weak spiritual moments I use humor to deflect and get me beyond my anxiety or nerves and even irritation (but I must watch the sarcasm in times like this). On my way to the Beijing Orphanage, I laughed at the though of the "lost" Americans, joking "at least their "found" but will they be?"

As I enter an institution I send up an arrow prayer like the cupbearer to the King (see Nehemiah) "God you got me into this you'd better show on up."

He does faithfully and it's interesting to watch how He behaves. Sometimes I will see His glance come across the face of a knowing child. At other times it will be through the arms wrapped around me in a welcome embrace.

He must have sensed I needed something special to erase the memory and trauma of the accident. The sinking feeling I had of a "Protector Father" and His unwatchfulness over me. His response and attention came at me like a steam roller in the body of a three-year old giggling girl. Her mouth deformed by a cleft palate, did not stop her from laughing and grinning a wide crooked smile. While the other children were friendly and excited they could not match her abundance of energy. She was a non-stop motion of flaying arms and legs. Using CARE EE's body as a jungle gym and gymnastic springboard. She laughed - jumped - laughed - hugged - laughed - touched the sparkles on my noise - laughed and ran around the back to play hide and seek with her red-headed friend.

I received His love through her. I took her enthusiam as His encouragement "I am glad you are here. I L-O-V-E YOU, this much. Have fun with me. Have some fun for me, show these abandoned and broken the delight, touch and love of their creator God. Go for it!"

When the performance started my little bundle of love sat right in front where she could get a full view of me and I of her! She kept me focused with smiles and giggles. At the end of the program I laid down on the floor and got "dog-piled" by the rambunctious two and three year olds.

But right across from me on the mat was my friend. We exchanged knowing glances and though He didn't audibly speak - in her eyes I saw His heart.

"Well done my good and faithful servant - enter into the joy of your Master."

then she broke out in giggles as we both got up to say goodbye.



Affectionately Yours

We were loaded!

So many bags of gifts as well as a significant cash donation for the heating fund for the orphanage. The American couple from Jinan arrived with H, right on time (8:30 am) and then we had a good idea - which went wrong then right (two taxis instead of one crowded one) would soon see the Americans left in the dust and lost somewhere on the highway behind us. After several cell phone calls to the orphanage our own taxi finally located the building, unloaded the partial goods and set off down the back roads and alleys to try and find the other driver and the lost Americans. I had given up hope and assumed with the couples small but helpful amount of Chinese they would be able to make their own way back to the University where they were staying.

In the meantime, there were the children.

I sat in the middle of the floor and was soon surrounded. One precious bundle of joy was jumping up and down on me, hugging, squealing and touching the glitter on the end of my nose. Her overactive enthusiasm and affection put all the other children at ease. They wanted a part of the "soo-chow" and they soon crowded in and found their own part of me to touch, and hang on to.

I was surprised to see S and J arrive, even though they often expressed interest in coming to the orphanage - to actually follow through is another story. J was soon surrounded and sat down to accommodate the affection of her new friends on her lap. S seemed to be trying to take it all in with good, but distant humor.

An equally astonishing arrival was the lost Americans. Turns out they got out of the cab at a place they thought they could be found and found they were.

There were only a few of the older girls there from prior years and the rest of the children appeared under 5 years old. I gathered them around and told the story of the "Farmer" with S dutifully portraying the "wiseman". One by one the children came up to act out the various farm animals, making noises in between their laughter. I limited the performance because of their age, and the fact they were ready to perform for us!

Several of the little girls were already in the traditional Chinese costumes. The director explained they had taught themselves how to dance and they created their coordinated movements. It was moving. The smallest dancer had severe scoliosis and would move through the dance motions with great but graceful care to maintain her balance.

We held back the tears but broke out in applause when they were through. The older girls performed a traditional Chinese fan dance with syncopated rhythms accompanied by fluttering fans. The grand finale was the "English" song. All the children gathered together from the youngest to the oldest and sang "Jesus loves me this I know." Some were even using sign language to accent the verses.

Yes, Jesus does love them. The Bible tells ME so!

And from time to time

He shows me just how much.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Tsoo-zoo

C stayed overnight at the hotel to keep from traveling the hour and a half first thing in the morning on Friday. J agreed to meet us at the shopping area to help purchase the clothing for the orphanage. The "mall" is referred to as the "tsoo" due to its location across from the "zoo". However, due to the number of shops coupled with the amount of shoppers the mall IS A ZOO!!

J was running behind so I asked C if we could run into the real zoo and see the giant pandas. Because of the heat (according to C) the animals were all inside and very inactive. The depiction of a white and black pandas was not what we saw. The bears were a dingy yellow and moved slowly through their jungle habitat. I was glad to finally go - but not too impressed with the location. The girls finished shopping and we stopped for lunch.

Soon we were stopped in traffic.

C had choir practice and J agreed to accompany me to the CAREFORE grocery store to purchase the food for the orphans. We loaded the cart as full as we could with milk, shampoo, cookies, meat sticks, soap, toothpaste and a few treats. With each item added to the cart J's eyes grew bigger and bigger. Finally, when the list was checked off and the cart could handle no more - we proceeded to the check out. My guess on the expenditure - several hundred dollars. I even was wondering if I actually had enough cash to cover the cost (I had well over $500 exchanged). The check total was 612RMB (under $100) - what a deal. J pushed the cart and laughed - "I have never in my life spent so much money at the grocery store!"

We unloaded our wares at the hotel and shared an American style meal of "pizza". I asked her if she liked it to which she replied "I'm not sure, this is new food for China." With the coming Olympics in 2008 I would hasten to say - not for long.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Some Hundredfold


"some fell upon good soil and produced a crop. Some tenfold, some hundredfold..."

C arrived late to the terminal but considering she was traveling from the other side of Beijing and the traffic - it was no surprise. I waited for her in the familiar "Queens Cafe" just outside the baggage claim area. A fitting place for a cup of "Cafe Americana."

She was apologetic and humble, happy to see me and to help out - not as much could be said of the cab driver who was not too quick to try and help us lift the "Monster Bag" into the trunk.

We made our way to the University Hotel (my Beijing home for the last 4 years) and had just enough time for a short nap. I needed it from the 4:30 am wake up call.

Too soon C reminded me we needed to meet Ms S for lunch. It was wonderful to see her and spend time with her even though it was short. She has made all the arrangements for tonight's performance which she warned the student's might not be too many.

After lunch we made our way back to the hotel through the University park and to the waiting nap zone. Air-conditioned without construction - made it easy to catch up on some rest before the performance.

The University driver arrived at 4:00 and Ms S brought some small gifts to show her appreciation. We loaded ourselves and the props into the car and set off in hopes to bypass the coming 5:00 traffic.

The campus was an hour with no traffic - our hopes were high.

C and the driver had quite a lively exchange during the course of our journey. He even shared he read the Bible his grandmother had given him everyday - but did not believe ...yet.

"Some seed fell upon fallow ground and the birds of the air..."

When we finally arrived at our destination the campus building where the performance was located was all but deserted - granted it was still an hour till show time but I was thinking it might be a bust - nobody showing up at all.

We were led into a teachers lounge and as I put my makeup on, C told me there was another performance of the military scheduled at the same time. She said "maybe some have to go to the other purr-fo-mans."

Oh well...

If five show up then it will be a great performance for those five people!

At 6:00, the director brought me a clip on mic and led us down to the waiting audience. When I walked into the room the applause and laugher was almost deafening. There were not 5 people in the auditorium - there were over 500!! And they just kept pouring in and trying to find a place to sit or stand. Cell phones came at me from every hand and angle. "This way please, look this way. Let me take your picture." Talk about paparrazzi!!

Finally, we got started, I spoke slowly and judging by the laughter and applause in all the right places, they understood. The stories were great fun and the freshman students were dramatic even without my coaching. Uproars came from the crowd. It sure was a surprise to me.

At the end, I took questions and again God gave me the opportunity to bring glory to His Son and to sow a few seeds for the Kingdom. "I visit orphans because I am a Christian and this is what the Bible teaches us to do."

"pure religion undefiled..."

Protected


It could have been so much worse!

The flight to Beijing was filled to capacity and fast. You are hardly in the air before you are on your way back down again. The stewardesses passed out English papers and on one of the last pages an item caught my eye, "Student dies in hospital's waiting room". Seems he couldn't pay for his treatment.

If someone Chinese had not been with us to sort through the very "RED" tape, if J,D and B had not had "cash RMB" the if's are overwhelming. But God was with us ... and though that night it felt as if everything was against us - it was NOT the whole story.

Of Fog and Fear

"Surely, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20

Wednesday was spent packing up, sending emails back and forth to Beijing in an effort to clarify schedules, as well as hotel and airport pick ups. I confess, I will not be sad to leave the "scene of the crime."

Everyday, in fact several times a day, we walk or ride past the place of peril. I can hardly look up in the taxi cabs taking us from Point A to Point B, without gasping at the pedestrians walking brazenly into the oncoming traffic. Not to mention the thousands of cyclists and motor bikes that crisscross through the cars without a care or concern for safety. Admittedly, the brakes on the vehicles are not tapped too often as the cars find a way to negotiate the chaos carefully. It does not make my nerves any less frayed.

D and I ran a few errands and made our way to the hospital, BA was sitting up on the side of the bed, conversing with her ever-rotating number of Chinese visitors. Physically, she has improved faster and better than expected - emotionally is another story. The reality of the wait, the location, the actual circumstances of being stuck are taking their toll. When certain things are said (or thought through by following the train of suggested utterance) tears find their home in all of our eyes. When the night "servant" arrived J, D and I said our "goodbyes and get betters".

I am fighting the fear and trying to forget the events of what seems like an eternity ago. Last week we were enjoying the celebration and the circumstance of what brought me to China. This week there is an entirely new set of circumstances and hardly cause for celebration.

This morning I woke before the construction started (4:30 am) or perhaps it had only stopped temporarily. I looked out across the campus from the hotel window and thankfully the fog did not seem near as dense as in years past. I am hopeful the plane will depart on time and my arrival in Beijing will be on schedule. C will be waiting to meet me and assist in the transportation to the hotel.

No life circumstance or weather anomaly is out of His control or dominion. I pray as I leave the fogged in city of Jinan, my heart, soul and spirit will clear. The good fight will be fought in a new city (on a different front) and I will finish the race.

Strong!

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Quiet Time (NOT!)

"The farmer couldn't get any sleep. Such a Noise! So he went back to the wise man..."

The construction crews start early in China. They have a great deal of "catching up" to bring their society into the 21st century. Here on campus is a small picture of what is taking place in cities all across the nation. The older socialist style block housing units and business structures are being replaced by modern glass and steel structures that dazzle the eyes.

Traditional centuries-old neighborhoods are being leveled to make way for "suburbia". The elevator at the University hotel has a perpetual advertising screen playing commercials for "whiter skin" products, spa treatments and housing communities that look like any neighborhood in the USA, complete with manicured lawns and neatly trimmed shrubs.

Being here in the midst of change has been interesting. Six years ago the questions of the students quickly gravitated toward Christian morals, philanthropy and benevolence. This year, it hasn't taken long before Hollywood depictions of American life-style surface. "Are there really so many homosexuals in America? Are children having such bad relationships with their parents?" Hard to fight a steady stream of imagery from HBO.

I told the old Jewish Folk Tale "Such a Noise" to the orphan children in Taian. I had them teach me the Chinese word for "noise". "Chee-uuh" they would repeat until I mastered the right tonality (until I had to say it again 5 minutes later.) The farmer complains to the village wise man and receives advice each night in an effort to help him get some much needed rest.

The first night his complaint is of his nagging wife and whining children. The wise man tells him to bring in the cow. Each subsequent night he is advised to bring in an animal until all his barnyard friends are in his house, mooing, oinking, clucking and neighing. "Such a Noise!" At last the wise man tells him to put his animals back in their stalls. The farmer has his perfect sleep. The next day he inquires why the wise man had given such strange advice, to which he replies "Just so you know, things can always get worse!"

Certainly, I am praising God things are not worse here in Jinan. So many ways the accident could have had far more serious results. I am trying to stay on track and look forward to the tasks the Lord has set before me. But there is always "Such a Noise!"

What I am able to block out externally by shutting the windows, does not stop the internal noise going on. Only when I bathe myself in His Word, am I able to establish my spirit "beside the still waters."

My friend in Sri Lanka sent me some verses to read for the day. Although the "noise" is all around me - I will quiet myself with this:

"When you go looking for your old adversaries you won't find them. Not a trace of your old enemies. NOT EVEN A MEMORY. That's right. Because I, your God have a firm grip on you and I'm not letting you go. I'm telling you, "Don't panic. I'm right here to help you."
Isaiah 41:10-14 The Message

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Strongholds

The ONLY way that I temporarily received rest was through the work of the prayers I knew were being offered up on our behalf. When I turned off the computer at 3:00am and laid down in bed - every time I closed my eyes I could see the headlights of the car, hear the engine gun and Brenda's body being hit and thrown in the air and onto the ground.

It remains horrible.

Outside the construction crews were at work. Jackhammers were going off, hammers and banging and clanging and every other type of building sound outside my window came into the room and unsettled me. I KNEW there were prayers going on - after all it was getting on in the afternoon and I knew people were awake, at work - at home AND checking emails. I settled myself with the knowledge that "STRONGHOLDS" were being brought down.

Every time I heard the jackhammers I pictured the spiritual realms - we are NOT given weapons to fight ordinary battles - but ones that bring down spiritual strongholds.

They ARE coming down.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Terrorism

Definition: "Calculated use of violence against civilians in order to attain goals that are religious in nature..."

I finished praising God, writing the update and we all (J and D, BA -their friend from Nebraska that I did a revival with last year, and our sister in Taian L) were off for dinner.

BA was being herself and cutting up and finding Chinese phrases to botch at dinner giving her 150% while laughing and making us laugh. We were going over the schedule for tomorrow with L, what time they would meet at Walmart to purchase the gifts for the children at the orphanage. BA had earlier discovered a short cut through the campus gate that would cut out about 5 minutes walking. I squeezed through, L and then BA. We made our way in the dark and yet, again were laughing and planning and enjoy the walk home from the restaurant.

As the three of us made our way down the home stretch of road toward the hotel (we were less than one block away) I noticed a car in the road coming toward us however it had from the looks of things stopped. I stepped up on the sidewalk, BA closed in behind me on the road next to the curb, and L was walking a few paces behind her. I looked up and the car suddenly stepped on the gas and AIMED directly for us striking BA!

I cannot begin to describe the absolute horror of a body hitting a car. Seeing her out of the corner of my eye fly through the darkness and land on the grass behind me. Screaming, kneeling down and seeing the car stop, and then speed away. Before I go further, I will say that BA remained conscious calm and was making lists of what needed to be collected before the ambulance came.

I was shouting at L to call 911 (there is no 911 in China) shouting at the students to call the police to stop the car to follow it to do something. My friend lay calmly on the grass.

There is a saying in Africa "God is good all the time- all the time God is good" tonight He was being exceptionally good to BA. She conveyed that she was afraid to move but the pain was manageable she said "I'm a cancer survivor, I do pretty well in crisis."

J (who speaks fairly good Chinese) and D had still not made it to where she was hit. I yelled at L to go get them for surely they could not be that far from us. There was a crowd gathering, eye witness conferring what they had seen in rapid Chinese and cell phones pulled from every pocket that contained them. Finally I could see the silhouette of J's cowboy hat rounding the corner and L reaching him and telling him there was an accident.

Of course they could see something had happened, but with very little street lights it was impossible to tell just exactly what. It was 8:30pm - it would take until 9:15 for the ambulance to arrive on campus. It would take another hour for the police to arrive!

If there are health horror stories to be told - they are rampant in the third world. I have seen hospitals in many countries and health care professionals doing their best with what they have available to them. As BA was laying flat on her back, it was explained to the ambulance drivers that she was hit by a car, thrown and was laying where she was. The attendants brought out a stretcher, no back to it, no neck brace - and asked her to move herself! They slid her in the back of the van (there were no wheels on the stretcher or anything like you would see ANYWHERE in the US.

L (the Chinese sister) climbed in and off they went to the hospital - D arrived in time with BA's passport and insurance and followed in a cab.

The dark of the night fell like a heavy cloak over the scene.

This was the most flagrant demonic attack I have ever seen in my life! The car was stopped in the road and then FLOORED it and crossed into the wrong side of the road to directly hit BA.


I could further mortify and horrify with the scene that ensued at the emergency room of the hospital. I will spare you the details but know whatever you are imagining the conditions as far as sanitary or orderly or helpful or rational or reasonable erase them and replace them with blood, crowds and chaos. BA was calm.

We were praying and praying and praying to which she would respond at the end "I'm really doing pretty good considering." After CAT scans, x-rays, and numerous exams the doctor determined they should keep her 4 or 5 days to watch for internal injuries. They decided to try and get a room (by this time the Police, the Foreign Affairs officer as well as the Police for Foreigners had arrived). D and J inquired if they had different rooms for foreigners - they all laughed at the same time (apparently one of the teachers had been at another hospital where there were separate accommodations for non-citizens).

Here a hospital stay requires someone stay with you at all times. They do NOT serve you food or water - you must have someone bring it in as well as laundry and other things we would take for granted in a US facility. We are not in "Kansas" or anywhere near "OZ" even, this is the third world where you do NOT get what you pay for.

After reviewing the 2nd CAT scan the doctor informed the growing crowd of friends, teachers, and prayers that he wanted to insert a tube to drain the blood in her chest and determine if she was still bleeding. Prayers were uttered, discussions on pain, drugs, surgery, anesthesia, and every other manner of question flurried around the doctor that spoke enough English to say, this needs to be done soon.

Shortly after the procedure started, the Police officers were returning to the campus - it was well past midnight and I decided to take my chance and have them bring me back to the hotel and to this - CALL FOR PRAYER!

As I said, BA has "the peace that passes all understanding". As for me (D too as she keep saying) I am WRECKED! I feel totally vulnerable, totally attacked, as well as dealing with the emotion and guilt of how close it could have been me laying flat on the grass, pants ripped open by the force of the blow trying to calm a hysterical bystander with "I am okay really not too bad" utterances.

My close friends remark how often I use "battlefield" terms when relating the "Harvest" and activities I partake in. Tonight's events are so totally shocking to my senses, my sensibilities, my faith in a Protective Father -we have been in the trenches - advancing into enemy territory, dug in a trench of successful planting when - BOOM!!! My buddy has fallen right beside me. What do I do?

Pomp, Circumstance and Ceremony

Well, this is it "the show". We enjoyed Chinese food for breakfast and were alerted when to make our way across six lanes of traffic to the orphanage and the official ceremonies.

A marching band was playing as the officials walked down the street to the meeting hall where the media was waiting for the arrival of the mayor, his entourage, and of course mine! We gathered in a large room with a marble conference table set with flowers, water and gifts.



As soon as all the officials arrived we were ushered to the top floor, followed by dozens of camera men, film crews and the crowd holding up personal cameras and cell phones to capture the parade of who's who or who knows who.

We took our places on the stage at our personalized stations. Johnny, my interpreter for the day, tried to keep us informed of when I was to speak and what exactly I was to say. He and Lynn had diligently translated the official letter from the Assemblies of God World Missions, painstakingly accessing the internet trying to figure out the correct terms and finally deciding to use the English term as a proper noun (Assemblies) would not be translated into Chinese. When I was signaled to go forward - I did so without hestitation. Looking out on the crowd was humbling. I thanked them for the opportunity to come and represent the organization as well as my country and people who had a great love for China, its people and its children.

Johnny, hesitated from time to time and whether it was fatigue or his business in Shanghai - who knows, but the Director soon gave the "cut it short" signal and that was the wrap up. I wound up not reading the letter - but it was the most perfect gift for this auspicious occasion.

After all the speeches had been made, the children of Jinan and Taian orphanages performed. The first song (sung by the albino boy from Jinan) was about "Momma". The two women who sat beside me were wiping back the tears. For once I was glad I couldn't understand.

The variety of performances ranged from fan dances, an army patriotic display and group songs and reciting thanking everyone for caring for them. The last was the Taian children doing an interpretation of the Chinese opera skit. It was a wonderful display and tremendous celebration to be a part of.

There was a tour of the facilities by the media and then the press. We walked over to the orphanage and went up to visit the baby room. Several of the children from last year were out of the cribs, in braces, crawling and moving around in other ways. It was encouraging to see.

We joined the rest of the dignitaries for the official lunch. It was very formal (we sat with the Mayor of the city) with much glad-handing, drinking, toasting and "bottoms up."

We made important contacts and the Director of Beijing services for all social welfare agreed to help us get into further orphanages in the future. We left with great hope and future for the larger ministry opportunities. We went back to Jinan with the bus carrying the kids from the Jinan orphanage. It was fun talking with them and sharing time on a more friendly personal basis.

By the time we got to the hotel, the kids all got out and helped us carry our bags into the hotel and took group pictures. We waved at the bus and had them teach us the words for "see you tomorrow."

We had no idea what the circumstances would be when the dawn would break on our tomorrow.




Thursday, September 14, 2006

Recognition

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! We'll see it all then, see it as clearly as God sees us. Knowing Him directly just as He knows us! 1 Corinthians 13 The Message

It was a good thing jet lag woke me up before the jackhammers. Otherwise my mood might have been affected by the crack of dawn cracking of the concrete behind the hotel! When the noise started I looked out my window to see what the heck was being built up or knocked down.

Through the dense autumn fog I could make out the construction work well underway. It was if the noise represented the continuous clash occurring in China. East meeting West, ancient struggling to make room for modern, past pushing forward into the present.

In the fight to bring China into the 21st century, environmental issues have suffered. The dense fog shrouding my morning is caused by the massive machinery, increase in personal cars and the farming practice of slash and burn. Thousands of acres of harvested corn is now being set on fire to add nutrients back into the soil. The combination, fuel, fire and fog, is choking.

I find myself in the middle of a politically correct event where East is paying respect to those in the West who fell in love with a people and a nation 90 years ago.

After six years of CARE EE, this is the first time they have "seen" Charlynn.

As we were waiting for the officials to arrive for dinner, I looked down into the lobby to see the children from the Jinan orphanage arrive. I waved and said "hello". They looked up at the curious white stranger and then - perhaps the smile, the eyes, the way I said "hello" - they started waving their hands over their heads - "Hello, hello, hello."

For a moment, I thought of the dinner at Emmaus - where the disciples were in the presence of Christ but didn't realize it. Then, perhaps it was the way He laughed or finally they overcame their own preoccupation of grief and saw "Him."

The Word teaches we shall all be changed. The Albino children, the ones with cleft palates, the deaf, the lame - all one day will be made whole...

I can only imagine the joy when we finally "recognize" each other!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Of Messes and Miracles

There is no making a 4:00 am wake up call easier. I went to set my alarm clock and saw the time set for 3:45 am. Puzzled at the early hour and being so close to when I needed to wake up, it took me a minute to realize a mere 5 days ago I had set out for another early morning departure.

I must back up and say, having a friend willing to take me to the airport before the rooster has crowed does make it easier. I arrived at DFW with my 150 lbs of luggage (in three bags + a 20 lb carry on and a 15 lb backpack). Praying for favor (accompanied by my government invitation and ministry letter stating the good nature of my cause and weight I approached the counter.

I didn't fly and I was charge for too much (weight) and too many (bags) AND my seat assignment (middle of the row for 13 1/2 hours) I was stuck with. I prayed STILL and Hard!

While watching the scrolling news on CNN, the US weather flashed and highlighted storms in the Ohio Valley and Chicago. It didn't take long for the announcement of flight delays due to weather, to be heard, followed by groans and a flurry of cell phone calls.

I made mine - to my early rising friend "Pray, not only did I have to pay for my luggage, now I might miss my connection to China!" Vision of phone calls, rerouting, rescheduling, re re re ... flashed like lightning hitting the skies over Chicago! "Okay I'll pray " she said.

Not five minutes after my phone call ended the gate agent announced - "We have been cleared for departure immediately and will begin boarding!" A smile broke out across my face. Once we landed in Chicago I made a beeline for the internet and sent out another "Pray hard" issuance. Just as I was ready to hit the send - everything erased!! Now that's not funny. I hurriedly retyped, (probably leaving out some of my wittier remarks) and hit send.

Off to the gate where my middle seat was waiting to be bombarded by prayers. At the end of a very long line, I could hear (but not wanting to hear) "do not ask for seat changes, this is a full flight there are no seats." It would take me a few minutes to get to the "no" so I continued to pray and hope.

I shuffled my backpack and bag over to the overworked agent and said "I couldn't hear you at the end of the line, did you say no seats?" "That's right" Sounding sweet, sorrowful and sentimental I used my best southern gentile tone and said "really?"

He shuffled the papers laughed and asked if I would bring him something from China. "I'll do better than that I'll write a commendation letter."

So... here I sit staring out at the messy Chicago weather from the seat of my second miracle of the day.

I have a feeling the next two weeks will be full of both!

Monday, September 11, 2006

CHINA - Calendar of Events

September 12
Depart for Beijing via Chicago

September 13
Arrive in Beijing
Transfer to Jinan

September 14
TRAVEL to Taian
Official Government Dinner

September 15
9:00 AM
Official Ceremony for 90th Anniversary of Taian Orphanage
Return to Jinan

September 16
Unscheduled Opportunities and appointments

September 17
Performance Jinan Orphanage for disabled children

September 18-19
Shandong University
Performances in AM and PM

September 20
Speaking to Home Group Meeting

September 21
TRAVEL to Beijing

September 22
Appointment with friends and colleagues

September 23
Performance at Beijing orphanage for disabled children

September 24
Return to USA

CHINA IS 13 HOURS AHEAD OF Central Standard Time