Monthly Archives: August 2013

Blind and Beauty

“I’ve never met a person who was ugly, unless they wanted to be. I’ve never seen my wife’s face, but I’ve listened to the sound of her smile.”
– Tom Sullivan
“During the last week of camp I met a little boy named “Timothy.” He was blind. His face, where his eye sockets should have been, was flat and kinda empty, and on one side the eye was missing completely. When I first met him, it was really hard for me to look at him…I was disappointed with myself that I couldn’t love him instantly the way I had with all the other kids. I remember emailing a friend one night and expressing how sad I was about this little boy – I felt like he didn’t just have a minor disability but that his disability actually defined him. Eyes are so key to a persons’ soul, and to hardly even have eye sockets just seemed so unfair. 
On the first day i went up to Timothy and his caregiver to see how they was doing. She was sitting their crying. Tears streaming down her face. Timothy couldn’t really engage in the art activity that we were doing so she had her iPod out and was letting him listen to her music. She was clearly overcome at the intensity of his disability too. 

As the week went on. I got to know Timothy a bit. He was a pretty passive kid, in his own world a lot of the time, obviously had not received much education or one on one attention. He seemed very oblivious and quite removed from the real world. But still, I fell in love with him. I started teaching him guitar and just kinda interacting more with him – figuring out ways to include him and make his surroundings come alive to him. I ran his hand over the contours of my face and through the length of my hair. I started to explain about how my skin was a different color to his…but then i stopped – does color even exist to him?  We connected through touch and he could tell instantly when it was my hand he was holding and when it was someone else’s. 

Then on Thursday – this was the highlight of my entire summer – we took him to the ocean. At first he didn’t want to go in, he kept saying he was scared, and so his caregivers just let him play in the sand. But I really wanted to try taking him in. I knew he would love it once he got in, its just that he didn’t know what the ocean was – and how would he? He’d never been there before, he couldn’t see it and I’m sure the sounds of crashing waves weren’t the most inviting.
I held his hand and explained that i was going to take him down into the water. He said, “姐姐我不要,我害怕,害怕” – “sister! I don’t want to go in, I’m scared.. scared”. But we went nice and slow and I explained all the sounds and textures and smells to him. When his feet first hit the water he was a little surprised and kinda hesitated but I kept reassuring him, and then, he decided to trust me. We went further in. His face showed a mixture of raw curiosity and deep peace. He seemed to be enjoying it. When he was in up to his waist he was still holding both of my hands, but visibly starting to relax. Then I put his hands in the water and rubbed them together,  he let out a little giggle and started saying 洗手洗手!”I can wash my hands!”  He put his hands up to his face and giggled further, exclaiming 姐姐!看看我!我在洗脸!”sister look at me! I’m washing my face!” it was the coolest thing – so innocent, so pure. 

We ventured in further. It was incredible. He was in awe of all that he was sensing. The way the waves gently lapped against his body, the saltiness on his lips, the all encompassing presence of water. When we were deep enough I told him to lift his legs up and that I was going to teach him how to float. He tried it immediately, trusting me fully, and relaxed onto his back. The look on his face was one that i’ll never forget. He was so delighted and kept doing his little giggle thing. He could have stayed there for hours. 

I think it was then that I realized he didn’t need eyes to communicate delight. I didn’t need to be able to look into his eyes to understand what he was thinking/feeling, his voice and facial expression was plenty. It was also at that moment that I stopped defining him by his disability, but by his name – Timothy. He was no longer the little blind boy with no eyes. He was Timothy, the brave adventurer who I had the privilege of taking to the ocean for the first time, the innocent child who was so willing to trust, the young man who had no qualms expressing emotion and embracing freedom.
I hope that next time I see a little boy with no eyes I don’t have to wait a few days before I start seeing his heart. I hope that I will be able to remember that he is not defined by his physical features or lack there of, just as I am not. I now see that beauty is not only something seen with the eyes, but it is the delight that seeps out when you allow yourself and others to embrace  freedom.
Timothy, thank you for redefining beauty for me, and for revealing something of my own beauty to me.”  -Rach 
We meet so many kids each year at camp that from the worlds view are “flawed” and “unlovable.”  These kids are more than a number, more than a face and more than their disability.  Timothy is like so many other children, is longing for someone to show him he is beautiful, he is loved, his life has purpose!  Through HIM, we see the beauty of this boy and so many other children!
For The Kids – Bring Me Hope
P.S. Below are all the videos from this week’s Yantai blog features!

Foreign Perspectives

Every year BMH camp brings around a new set of volunteers that are pumped to fly over to China and get camp started.  But some people don’t realize, there is another huge group of volunteers that make camp possible…our Chinese staff.  They are a group of amazing college students that make our communication with the kids possible but also add the extra energy and fun needed for our summer adventures.  It is amazing to be able to form a relationship with them, become part of a camp family and leave at the end of the week with a new friend.  Personally, some of our favorite memories with our translators were being able to bond over life experiences, learn about the culture differences, be parents together for the week and attempt to learn some Chinese (attempt being the key word).

How we would sum up camp life with our foreign volunteers, “The beginning of the week brought a bunch of confident university student eager to practice their English.  Five days later we were looking at a tight knit team of people who had been broken and transformed by these precious children.  Childen who needed constant diaper changes, who always pushed the boundaries, who didn’t act like other children we’d seen before…Children who needed love!”  Thank you to all of our foreign volunteer staff that help make camp possible!  pinkflowerphoto_0005

“I learnt this week that love is not about what you can receive in return, but what you can give. Love doesn’t have any expectations.” – Vivianpinkflowerphoto_0004

“Today at lunch, my little boy said “I would really love to become your son”. After I heard him say that, all the things I previously thought were important no longer seemed important. I no longer simply want to pursue academic achievement and a good job, I want to pursue a life of significance.” -Lunapinkflowerphoto_0003

“I learnt so much looking after my buddies this week. When I saw them being thankful for seemingly insignificant things, I suddenly realized that I haven’t ever really thanked my parents before. When camp is over, I’m going to be intentional about expressing my love and thanks to my own family.” Heysonpinkflowerphoto_0006

“Before I came to this camp I was afraid of kids with disabilities. But after this week I see that they just need more love, they need us.” -Reaganpinkflowerphoto_0007

“This summer camp changed me a lot, I feel like I learnt the definition of love for the first time.” – Olivia pinkflowerphoto_0002For The Kids,

Bring Me Hope


Running From Love

Summer Camp 2013 has come to an end.  Although goodbyes have been said, there are stories waiting to be told.  This year Rena (one of our volunteers) shared her personal thoughts about working with orphans and running from love.  I highly encourage you to get your box of Kleenex before you start reading.lokasari_pinkflower2013_0028For the past three summers, I’ve attended Bring Me Hope summer camps for orphans in China.  Going to camp has left me with some of the sweetest memories and some of the deepest sorrow my heart has ever known.  Getting to know and love some of the orphans I’ve met has had such a deep impact on my heart.

For the first two summers, I went enthusiastically to meet with these children who have experienced much suffering and abuse.  Many have attachment disorders, which keep them from forming deeper bonds with those around them for fear of being hurt again.  They run from good and from love because they are self-protecting.  Most of them have no idea how to receive love because they’ve been abandoned and mistreated.  They run from the very thing they need because they are afraid.

Summer after summer, I meet these children. I have attempted to purse them with as much love and faithfulness as possible.  I have made it my goal to bring them hope, show them love and tell them they have value. I have formed deep connections with many of the children. I’ve placed them on a bus on a Friday afternoon and have waived goodbye to them with tears streaming down my face and theirs.

This summer, I realized something.  The children and I are not so different.  I’ve been hurt. I run from love and I lack hope.  I understand them.  I know what it’s like to keep locked inside because more heartbreak seems unbearable. During a volunteer meeting Kelly, one of our camp directors read a description of attachment disorder to us.  For the first time, I realized that I’m prone to the same.  I was never orphaned but I’ve been neglected and mistreated and I carry those scars with me and sometimes they ooze with pain.  Self-protecting has also been my tendency and this year I’ve done it more than I’ve desired to. lokasari_pinkflower2013_0027Earlier during my week at camp this year, I communicated with Kelly that I thought it best not to connect too deeply with the children because the tearing when we said goodbye would just hurt them more.  I didn’t want to hurt them more.  I wanted to bring them a little hope not more pain.  In some way, this thought made sense but I was not opening my heart as wide as I possibly could to these children and that is not love.  I was acting and thinking in my own wisdom, which failed me.  Here is a description of love that Kelly’s kids recited from memory.  Here is my rock when my own wisdom fails me.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.   If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b]6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 

 “Love does not keep locked inside.  It is not afraid for “perfect love cast out fear.”.  Love endures forever.  It is the only thing that makes any sense.  If we are acting in love and laying down our lives for the sake of others we will gain more love and hope will rise. Self-protection makes sense but self-protection is not love.  I’ve been guilty of trying to protect myself from good.  I understand, but thankfully my week at camp did not end in self-protection but with love, the patient kind that waits.

I waived goodbye to one of my little boys.  He hugged others as he began to weep. I drew near and hugged him.  He lost more control of his emotions with that hug and his self-protection was crumbling. I could finally see hope rise in his heart.  I hope love continues to bear fruit in his heart. I hope the love he received he will pour out on others. And I hope that love would fall right back on him.  lokasari_pinkflower2013_0026My time at Bring Me Hope has been a journey.  I’ve learned what love really means.  I’ve seen it in the faces of each of the orphans.  I see the Father in them.  My heart both rejoices in them and mourns with them.  I see the Father more now than I ever have.  Caring for the unloved, the orphan has healed my heart from self-protection. I see this pure and blameless religion washing over me.  I’m so thankful for the wonderful opportunity to have gone to China for the third time this summer.  I went in brokenness and came back whole.  Thank you Father and thank you little broken beauties.  I’ll never stop loving you.  I’ll never give up hoping for you.  If you desire a family, I’ll hope that with you and mourn that with you.

 Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) -Rena