For the past seven months, coming to China was a constant topic of conversation in my life–from thinking about the strange foods to the excitement of what God was about to do in the lives of each team member. I couldn’t stop talking about it!
When I heard about Show Hope in November of 2011, I prayed about going on a short-term trip to China for a month before I decided to run it by my dad. As I tried to “butter him up” before I asked, he cut right to the point and said, “So, you want to go to China, huh?” I mumbled a “yes” and quickly explained how I felt like God was calling me there but he said, “Anna, as a dad, I get nervous when I get a call from a guy who wants permission to take you on a date, when it rains at night and you have to drive home by yourself in the rain, and when I think about giving you away on your wedding day. But you going to China for 10 days doesn’t worry me because I know God loves you better than I could and I trust He will lead you.” That conversation started my process of applying for and getting accepted on the student team to China.
As I learned more about Maria’s Big House of Hope and the things going on there, grace was a continuous theme that seemed to permeate every part of Show Hope and the work done at MBHOH. God has been gracious in proving people to see a need, and faithful to provide the resources to do something about it. After being in this place of hope this week, I have learned a lot about brokenness. My eyes have been opened to see that I am just a broken spirit in need of a mighty Savior who is Healer, Protector, and Provider of the fatherless and the weary. His grace is overwhelming and His Gospel brings healing. We proclaim victory in the One who is victorious as we will continue to ask for God’s guidance and grace throughout the rest of our time here in China.
I first met Judah when I traveled to MBHOH last summer, and we were buddies, but I walked into his nursery not really expecting anything. To my surprise, when he saw me he started yelling in Chinese with joy. Abby, the MBHOH intern, started talking to Judah in Chinese. After a few seconds, she turned to me.
“He remembers you. He’s saying, ‘you came back.’” I was shocked. It had been a year, and several groups had visited since then. I still can’t believe Judah recognized me after all this time, but I love hearing him joyfully call out my name when I walk into his room. He is the silliest boy I have ever met, and he is always laughing, singing, and wanting to play games.
I am grateful for the opportunity to visit Maria’s Big House of Hope and meet all of these sweet children. The children are so full of joy that it rubs off on everyone who walks in the door. Laughter resonates down the hallways and smiles fill the rooms. I feel so blessed to have experienced this wonderful place.
I have absolutely loved every minute of being here. Yesterday, we were outside playing. While I was watching the kids slide, run, and get sand everywhere, the little girl I was holding fell asleep in my arms as I prayed over her. I was amazed at the peace of that moment. I have a completely new picture in my mind now when I think of Maria’s Big House of Hope. The children here are true miracles. Every smile, every laugh, and even every still moment is such a blessing. I am so thankful to be here with these amazing people and these precious children.
During the past three years God has truly worked in my heart to grow my passion for orphans. But caring for orphans is not an easy choice, and in many ways this has been the hardest week of my life. I was challenged to allow God to mold me and to surrender everything to Him. Dan, one of the interns here at Maria’s, said on the first night “God has called each of you here for something specific. Don’t miss it. Don’t miss the opportunity to find out what it is.” I didn’t want to miss it and I am so glad God is so strong and so good and so faithful. I love it here. I am so thankful that God has lead me to come on this trip and that He is training me to rely on His faithfulness and His promises.
Orphans are not distant to me any more–they are real little boys and girls, with real hurts and real joys. I know their names and I have held them in my arms, and that is one thing I will never forget. Playing in the sand box, splashing in the pool, laughing as we put stickers over other kids’ faces, or even cuddling when a baby just needed a hug, was a priceless gift.