Thursday, August 6, 2015
On Wednesday morning we left our hotel early to visit Mei Mei's orphanage almost five hours away by car in Xiangyang City. I had asked if we could visit, and had first been told yes, then our guide came back, and told me the assistant director felt the trip would be too difficult emotionally for Mei Mei, and maybe we shouldn't. Our guide knew how much I had wanted to go, so she persisted, and was able to get us permission to go. Which I really appreciated, as it was a very long day for her, too.
Highway most of the way, pretty scenery whizzing by fast. Rice paddies, water buffaloes, fields, some mountains, farms, then into another big city... City, where Mei Mei was found.
We first met with the orphanage director and the assistant director at a restaurant for lunch. Such yummy local food (I don't think I could get tired of the Chinese Chinese food (compared to American Chinese).
A lot of Chinese conversations and smiles, some translated, most not.
Then we followed the director's car into the orphanage, which was tucked in a neighborhood, gated. Bright, painted buildings, landscaped yard. Parking under the orphanage. We sat in a steaming hot receiving hall for a while, and the director told me about the orphanage. I was able to ask some questions.
Theirs is the second largest orphanage in Hubei, with about 200 children. Mostly disabled. The orphanage has a program for local disabled children also, and they can get therapy there (we met some of the families). They also help their older orphans get education, jobs and apartments. Very impressive.
Then we got a tour of the orphanage. I am still processing it all... I wasn't allowed to take photos of the children (although I got two exceptions - the little boy James I had posted about this summer was the very first child we saw at the orphanage, and I was able to take his photo, and I have two photos of a girl in a wheelchair, who is being adopted into US this month).
Three things were so clear after our tour: 1) These children are loved and well taken care of. 2) Director Joe is doing an amazing job running this orphanage, and 3) Mei Mei loved her nannies.
I still get all choked up about our visit. God really gave us a miracle that day. Mei Mei wanted her nannies, went to them, was held and loved on by them, and then she wanted mama. Yes. She held her arms out to me, and came to me. I carried her in the carrier for the rest of the visit. I am so thankful for everyone's prayers - and before we left the hotel in the morning we bowed our heads, held hands and asked God to give us extra wisdom and grace in caring for Mei Mei that day, knowing how emotional it was going to be. And God really answered our prayers.
This one nanny had a very special relationship with Mei Mei, I know it. She was all teary-eyed again, and so was I.
After we left the orphanage we visited the park where Mei Mei was found. We don't know exactly where, but we did find out more details, which are part of Mei Mei's story. Personal, private.
Looking at the local people I couldn't help but wonder if we saw anyone who is related to her...
We all have our stories. Mei Mei has hers. There is pain and loss in her story, but in our Heavenly Father's hands her story can bring glory to His name. I am in awe of what He already is doing.
At the end of our long day we chatted with daddy on the other side of the world. All is well.
We start our travel back to the east coast of USA early tomorrow morning (Thursday afternoon at home). Please pray for smooth travel. We have a very short layover in Beijing, Mei Mei is all two years old, and has a strong will of her own, and Mr A and I have been having stomach trouble for the past two days.