I'm going to let each person reflect back on the week in their own words:
I guess I have to admit that I have a favorite. I'm guessing it won't be a huge surprise to most of you when I talk about Samson. I really consider him ''my baby" in many ways. Seeing him each time is so precious and heart warming. This time he acted very shy at first, but it didn't take long until his cute little grin started to show up. He had this silly pair of glasses that he insisted on trying to perch on his little nose. He had to scrunch his nose a little to keep them on, which just made him even more adorable. We found out that his paperwork is almost ready which was truly the highlight of my trip thus far!
For me, the highlight of this week is the pure wonder of “re-meeting” all these amazing kiddos. In April, (my first trip) was a whirlwind… and at times a bit of a blur. But this year, I know them. I recognize them and feel that giddy, excited, “I-know-you” feeling as they enter the room. For the matched, children, I know their families too… so it is double the excitement. I got to watch these kids open care packages and look at pictures of their forever family for the first time. What an honor to be part of that! One little guy just kept kissing his book… it was adorable. They all clung to their items and loved carrying around their bags of goodies.
Infants I held in my arms are now walking around and starting to say words. Some of the school-aged kids say things like “you are back again?” or “I remember you.” For me one of the most amazing second-meetings was with a boy who had just entered the orphanage a few weeks before our arrival last year. He was grinding his teeth so severely that they could not get him to open his mouth to be fed—he was quickly losing weight and the orphanage staff were very concerned. I have worried about this little boy for 6 months. When we arrived, we asked about him (describing the sick little boy we had met previously), nervous about what the answer might be. Excitedly they told us he was doing much better. And oh my gosh!! When he walked in to the room, twice the size of the last time I saw him, chubby cheeks, smiling and vocalizing, I almost lost it. Kids are amazingly resilient. This little guy is proof.
The most memorable, special part of the trip so gar for me was the time that we were able to spend with the older group of kids in Jian. They were so thrilled to see us, and were so very longing for affection. It was such a blessing to be able to give it to them, if only for a short amount of time; holding their hands, giving them hugs, and talking to them in words they couldn't understand, but were happy to hear. Seeing the joy in some of their eyes made me later wonder were that joy could possibly come from.
Superkids is an experience that is difficult to put into words. To be honest, it's so personal to me it feels spiritual. I have never felt closer to God or more like my true self than when I'm bending down to look into the eyes of these miraculous children. They bring out the best in me, that's for sure. I am convicted to see and love all people the way I see and love these little ones. They remind me to be strong and grateful and always have hope... especially the older ones.
There is undoubtedly something maternal and wonderful about feeling the weight of a child in your arms and cuddling them close to your chest, but for me personally, it's the older children that keep me coming back to China. I miss them in a way that makes my heart ache.
So it's funny to me that when Landon came into the room and I was so drawn to him that Erin came over to me and whispered ''I knew you'd love him.'' But seriously, who wouldn't?! Everyone on our team could sense how special and bright and sweet he was. He and I played a game of memory together that I will never forget. It was so enjoyable for me. We laughed and teased each other and he giggled and giggled at the fact that he beat me miserably. I wasn't the only person on our team that was outsmarted by this incredible boy. He played a game of patterns and puzzles with Ashley (our translator) that was so hard that Ashley couldn't figure it out for the life of him. Sweet Landon tried to explain that "you just have to find the rule and then the game is easy." Ha! Ashley didn't think so.