When I made the call to travel with The Sparrow Fund to serve at an orphanage in China this past October, I knew that I wanted to get my kids involved. They weren’t boarding a plane with me to go…at least not this time! But, this trip was their trip too. Mommy was leaving and for no short time. The best way to prepare them for that was to engage them and help them grasp the vision for engaging their friends too.
So, I went to their teachers. I told them about The Sparrow Fund and about the trip and asked if they would consider being involved in two specific ways: (1) allowing me to send home a letter written by my children asking if families would be a part of the effort by sending into school specific items from our team’s wish list and (2) letting me come into the class when I was back to share about the experience. We were thrilled when they were thrilled by the ideas.
Over the next month, we collected stickers, toy cars, stickers, play dough, stickers, beach balls, and more stickers! When I finally left for China, I had a suitcase literally half full of stickers (which were a huge hit) and came back with a suitcase literally half full of little Terracotta Warrior excavation kits I picked up along the way that I thought my kids’ classmates would like chipping away at when I came in to share.
I was so excited to go into that class with those excavation kits in hand as well as lots and lots of pictures of those stickers in action. Kids recognized the same stickers they had picked out themselves stuck on the faces and fingers of children on the other side of the world. It was if those stickers made the connection between them.
I shared about China and the kids and the orphanage building and how we helped. One little boy’s hand went up right away when I explained how nearly every child who lives in the orphanage has some sort of special need.
“I have ADHD and ‘personal space’ issues. Are there any kids like me there?” he asked.
Another child almost fell out of her seat trying to get my attention. She signed with so much facial expression that I felt I understood even while I awaited her ASL interpreter’s explanation.
“All the kids in those pictures are orphans?”
My yes only spurred more questions from her that she continued to sign with her face full of feeling.
“None of them have a mom or dad? Why would their parents ever want to give them up?”
I did my best to answer their questions. I don’t know if I satisfied them with my answers. I felt at peace regardless. My answers were a window into my own process as I have faced the realities of broken relationships. I hope they planted some seeds as they start their own process and were made aware, some for the first time, of children just like them on the other side of the world who do not have families.
I have been back from China over 7 months now. The effect of my experience isn’t growing smaller as time passes; it’s growing bigger as opportunities to share continue to arise. Each of these opportunities is a gift because they serve to remind me and keep it all close. Every time, I get to relive those moments that changed my life forever.