going back and paintbrushes

January 13, 2015 Hannah, orphanage realities 0 Comments

January 4, 2014… I mean 2015. Where does the time go?

I have my ticket. I’m flying back to China on the 9th, a Friday afternoon. By the time you all read this I will have been in the good ol’ PRC for about three days, and will hopefully be sleeping soundly (why are you laughing?) on a hard bed at the orphanage. Right now the plan is to take a day or two to register locally with the PSB, remember how to speak Chinese, and then head straight to the orphanage early Tuesday or Wednesday morning for a three-day stay.

Excitement or trepidation? Which one is prominent right now? I don’t know. I’m sitting on the carpet surrounded by mess. My carry-on suitcase is by my knee. It’s half-full of books because this girl is sick of Kindles and needs some pages to flip. The other half of the bag has my clothes and I’m not brining many because you only really need 2-3 outfits a week, especially during wintertime in Inner Mongolia when I’ll probably sleep in my clothes too… I have an empty backpack behind me and sitting in the hallway outside my door are six very, very large duffel bags full of blessings.

A few weeks ago my parents purchased their airline tickets from China to the US and were awarded two free checked bags. In the hopes that I would have two as well, I posted a quick little invitation on Facebook, inviting people to send me things off of a specific Amazon Wishlist that I would carry over. I had two bags, after all – 100 pounds of space and weight! Apparently the generosity of the orphan-care community is expectation-exceeding. Because, as I said, outside my door are six very full duffel bags. Turns out I can only carry one bag over for free, but God has already provided the funds for me to lug carry the two. And the rest of the family will bring the rest when they return to China next month.

As I ponder what this means – going back, I have many feelings. I’m eager, excited and enthusiastic. But I’m also aware of the fact that it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be hard to walk down the streets where people are always staring. It’s going to be hard to figure simple things out – like when utilities go bonkers and I don’t have the language to figure out what’s wrong. It’s also going to be really hard to, in just a few days, hold a little baby in my arms who has left her mother just a few days before and now has no one.


I’m not looking forward to that at all.

Often – too often – orphan care is romanticized. “Oh, look at those cute little babies. I want one. You have the best job.” No. No I don’t. It’s true that there’s really nothing better than cradling a tiny newborn, singing and rocking it to sleep. But when this baby was in his mama’s arms only days ago, and now he’s in an orphanage, it’s not a precious picture anymore. It’s a broken picture.

We are not the painters who can re-work this broken picture into something beautiful. We are only the paintbrushes. God is the Master Painter.

Orphan care. Adoption. Foster care. Prevention. None of these things are easy – you know as well as I do. But they are little things we can do that are messy-looking brush strokes in what is going to be a gorgeous masterpiece. One day we will see it. One day we will look down and around and ahead and gasp in worshipful delight.


“This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.” Zechariah 8:4-5

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