Before I moved to Utah and become a proud home owner/loving dog owner I used to have a job.
It was the kind of job where I got to rub shoulders with intellectually stimulating professors and interesting students from all over the world. I got to read engrossing novels and force those interesting students to write boring papers about them. And best of all, I got to travel to exciting places, with exciting people.
Maybe some of you remember that I taught English lit and comp classes at BYU-Hawaii for 12 years. I also taught an interdisciplinary history class called World Communities for several years, which afforded me the opportunity to travel to Mexico, New Zealand and Fiji. And then, as if life wasn't charmed enough, I was lucky enough to travel with the BYU-Hawaii concert choir to China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, and New York City as the tour historian.
It was awesome with a capital AWE.
So last week, the president of the Empty Nesters Club in my Sponge Bob ward called me and said she heard my hub and I do presentations.
I know. That's what I said.
Long story short, my hub and I are doing a presentation. To the Empty Nesters club. About one of our trips.
What do you say to Empty Nesters?
I know not.
But the request has turned my mind to China, so allow me to practice right here. On you.
I'll start with my favorite day in China.
Yesterday on my dummy diaries I wrote about how the spirit it mightier than the body, and how sometimes you encounter people who can't remember you, but who you can't forget.
For me, one of those people was a toddler named Kaisho. I met him in a government-funded Handicapped Children's Rehabilitation & Training Center in Xian, China, which is a fancy way of saying I met him in a Chinese Orphanage.
A lot of the kids there had been anonymously abandoned, and some were sent there near death.
Kaisho reached in and branded his hand print across my heart the moment I picked him up and started tickling him. He had the most contagious giggle. I wanted to steal him so bad. Sneak him out in a laundry hamper or something. Somehow I just had to kidnap him--smuggle him back to the United States with me.
I mean, he was abandoned anyway, right? Why couldn't I have him if no one else wanted him?
I just don't get red tape.
(But I do get red thread. Especially if it is invisible.)
In the end I had to admit, it wasn't such a bad place. As bad places go.
Hopefully Kaisho found a loving family to bust him out of that no so bad place.
Overall, the orphanage experience left our whole group in a state of reverence.
Would it be too much like a Hallmark card if I said we showed up to bring gifts to the children--store bought gifts--but they gave us better gifts. The kind you can't buy at Walmart.
I don't have to spell that out do I?
Just before we left, the children gathered around us and sang, "Jesus Loves Me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so." In English. They learned a Christian song in English, and they don't speak either language.
Sweetest moment ever.
Second sweetest moment was their faces when we busted out the toys.
Allow me to share a few excerpts from some of the choir member's tour journals:
After devotional today we were able to visit an orphanage that had several handicapped, sick or just abandoned children. It was such a touching experience. Many of us let the tears fall as we played with these precious kids. Just to make them smile or hear their little laughs was so awesome. As I was holding two boys on my lap for a picture, they both had their arms around my neck. I looked down and noticed that one of the boys pants had something stitched into it. It read, “A little bit of love from someone is precious for a lifetime.” That hit me hard and I hoped that I was giving a little bit of love to that boy--SPENCER BANGERTER
The visit helped me to know there are always children who need our help. When I saw the babies, I knew they really needed a mother. They have a right to parents and I worry about when they grow up and they ask where their parents are. I know it will be hard for them. I don't want them to think they don't have any hope because their parents didn't want them.--KIT MING LAU
It was very emotional for me to see all the children here dealing with so many challenges. It was really hard not to express any sadness or depression in their presence; I wish I could take every kid here in my arms and hold them for a day and forever.--LOUIS PRESCOTT
As soon as they looked into my eyes and hugged me, I wanted them to feel that familiarity of love. The three kids that were on my lap wouldn't leave, and as I sang little lullabies to them, they held on closer when people would try to lift them away. After a while I had two of them fall asleep in my arms, and they got heavy, but I didn't want to let go, to the point that I got a glimpse of what a mother goes through. I wanted to take them with me, and even for a minute have them feel that love. I just want to keep feeling these things.--GINA SMITH
In one room, we sang Mo Li Hua for the kids. Most of us were crying because we felt sorry for them, but also because we felt happy to visit them. I thought that through this kind of service, we can spread the gospel without any words. I was feeling that the Lord was there with us, and he was shedding the light on them. We had the opportunity to give gifts to them. I can’t forget their happy faces when they received the gifts. I was so honored that we could make them happy--MARI SASAKI