Extra! Extra! First Update from China!

We who are still awaiting our turn in Beijing have received our first updates from staff and volunteers in China. The first week of camp began on Monday, and we are fortunate to hear from staff member Kristen Chase with some photos and a few words about what the staff has been doing to prepare for camp, and about what we volunteers can expect once we get there.

“Our staff apartments have been filled with anticipation and excitement for camp. From an aerial view I’m sure we would resemble a busy anthill; everyone is at work making sure their responsibilities are being taken care of.

Bethany, Mary and Jeff have diligently been searching for the perfect food for camp. And today they hit the jackpot when a great catering company impressed us beyond belief. Hours of research and planning has finally paid off, and your stomachs should be rumbling in expectation of some seriously yummy Chinese food!

A handful of the other staff members spent the afternoon preparing the camp’s water park. In just a few hours, over 100 beach balls and a number of pools were blown up, leaving their apartment cramped and their lungs very tired.

Becca has been coordinating and welcoming over 100 Chinese translators, Peter has been making trial runs for potential excursions, and Nate has been capturing hilarious moments and experiences with a video camera. We’ve all been very busy. But we’re all so excited and feel privileged to be serving in these ways. Even now as I look around the room, I’m aware of how the Father is using our individual gifts to serve the greater body.

And we’re so excited for all of you to come and add your own gifts to our team. I’ll attach some photos of the school location so you can get a feel of what awaits you!
We’ll see you soon!
-Kristen Chase (on behalf of all the staff)”

Below are a few of the pictures Kristen sent. To see more, visit her personal blog.

She said this first one was captured during a team-building exercise in progress. I feel sorry for whomever is on the bottom.

Here are two shots that should provide you with a feel for where we will be staying.

Since Kristen wrote her update, we also received word from Michelle Rusch, a volunteer who will be reporting from China this week and next. Here is what she had to say:

“Camp is well under way, and we have 68 orphans this week. Yesterday afternoon we decorated T-shirts for our trip to the Great Wall. In addition, everyone enjoyed the water park and swimming pool. Aquatic activities are a big hit! At the end of the day (last night) we had an opening ceremony where we had a canopy of beach balls fall down on the kids which turned into a big game of throw-the-balls-around. The night was also packed with interactive songs and a movie. It was a blast and the kids really seemed to like it.

Today we went to the Great Wall, and the kids really enjoyed that, too. After we got back, we went straight into crafts and glamour shots. The kids were pretty exhausted from the field trip to the Great Wall, but managed to find a little more energy to play dress up and start memory books. They will work on their memory books throughout the week—including personal drawings and actual photos from the camp—and take them home at the end.

One praise to report is that we originally expected only 51 orphans, but we had 17 unexpected children show up this morning. That means that each American and translator is paired up with 3-4 children. We are calling the smaller groups our ‘little families.’ It is nice and the children are really starting to warm up in their smaller groups. That is, we are seeing more smiles and hugs. Another praise to report is that everyone made it here safely and we have had good health with no major injuries to report so far.

Check back for more updates from Kristen and Michelle during weeks 1 (this week) and 2.

— Tom Pfingsten

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