Saturday, April 13, 2013

Living Hope International

Saturday was a really priceless experience for The Boss and I. We had the honor of spending all afternoon with Lily Fang and her daughter Elizabeth. For those who aren't familiar, Lily and her husband Samuel are the founders/directors of Living Hope Adoption Agency. This is our second adoption with LHAA and after 6 years of interactions, they really feel like family to us. Their passion for bringing families together by adoption has obviously touched our lives. But further than that, what I find most admirable about this family is the scope of their work through Living Hope International.

As you can tell, our itinerary has been a fairly flexible and loosely set one. We had originally planned to go to The Great Wall, in addition to visiting LHI, and join the other LHAA family that arrived on Thursday. But we felt that it would be too long a day for Mei Mei and that we would be pushing her too hard if we tried to keep up with the pace they had planned. It's a good thing because their plans all got changed and shifted by the orphanage from which their child was coming. So we still haven't met them but we rejoice that another little one has met her forever family as of Saturday evening! And not walking The Great Wall twice is no big deal - we're still among the few folks we know that can say we did it once!

As I was saying.... LHI is a beautiful training center for children who have no family that can raise them. Run by a large board of directors from all over the world, and headed up by Samuel Fang, this home focuses on educating them while giving them a place to live during the school year that is safe and provides for all their needs so that they can learn well. The kids are all given regular school curriculum, music lessons, language lessons, household chores, and vocational training when they are of age, all in a family-style atmosphere in the process. In the past, I've talked a lot here about LHI and what they do so it was a great treat to see their operation in person (again.)

Last summer, one of their campus sites was destroyed by flooding. A new location was imperative. And boy, did God provide big! So much so, in fact, that the facility that we toured in '08 has been combined into the site we saw today. This one houses about 40 school-aged kids, various staff members, and still has room for guests of the organization. In fact, The Boss and I had thought about staying on site but with the great distance and so many unknowns about Mei Mei's medical needs, we thought easier access within the city would be wiser for us.

Lily picked us up from the hotel on the way back from violin lessons for some of the children. It was such a treat to see a familiar face from home. We all joked that it is pretty sad that we have to travel all the way to China to spend the day with someone who literally lives just across our little town.

Once we arrived, the staff had a hearty lunch waiting for us. Mei Mei just ate, and ate, and ate. We couldn't believe it, especially since she had a late breakfast and a snack before Miss Lily arrived! They got a kick out of her and her very spunky (demanding!) insistence on "MORE!"

This is the cafeteria where everyone eats together
for all their meals.
There's also a big screen at the end that they
use for presentations and so on.

Shaggy, I just had to snap this picture of all the rice.
I know how much you love rice!

Then the staff, Elizabeth, and Lily took turns showing us around the campus. It was great to see Elizabeth "in her element" - she is such an engaging and mature young lady - I just know God has great plans for her!

Around this center "family room" they have a computer room, a conference room, a beautifully stocked library (YAY!), study rooms, and a nice open "family room" for group gatherings and movies together.

This "family room" is in the center of the main
building and offers lots of seating, a very large fish tank,
and a roomy place for "movie night" for the kids.
All of the classrooms, guest rooms, library and conference
rooms are on the perimeter of this center space.
This large tree-looking structure
used to be a fountain but they have it decorated
like a Christmas tree.
From this vantage point, the kitchen is off to the left.

This is the main entry to the center.

The courtyard out front is wide and spacious and
several boys were playing dodgeball when we drove in.
Wouldn't it be nice to see a basketball court set up at one end of it?!

As we were walking, I was asking Lily what LHI needs the most right now to keep functioning well and keep meeting the needs of even more children. Her response was so gracious and telling of the heart behind this organization: "We don't really need more things from America like clothes and so on. The kids have enough things." But she went on to share that they are regularly in need of prayers for protection and safety, as this new location is governed by officials who are not empathetic to the mission of the school. Further, they are in need of regular monthly support to be able to run the facility, afford the rent and expenses, and still pay for high quality, skilled staff members to train the children for productive adulthood. The lessons for violin, voice, and vocational training do not come cheaply but in this culture, they are vital to making sure that these kids leave this boarding home well prepared to support themselves and their families.

I promised Lily that we would indeed pray and that we would work to share the word about the physical needs of the organization. If any of this tugs at your heart and you feel led to support what Living Hope International is doing, please go to their website (CLICK HERE!) and check out what they are all about. You will be making an investment in the eternity of several young lives that could change the world!

Thank you, Lily and Elizabeth, 
for a fabulous day and for showing us
the amazing work you are doing there
at Living Hope International!

1 comment:

Our Journey to Rachel said...

What an amazing treat for you all! I remember our visit when we were in China in 2008 and I really enjoyed it so much! The new facility looks amazing! I love the photo of you all with Lily and Elizabeth. Maybe we can plan some sort of fundraiser to help raise funds. Let's talk when you are home and settled.

Love reading about your journey. I can't wait till your home. I know you can't either! Mei Mei is truly adorable! You can see the change in her in the pictures you're posting. I can even see the little "sassy" girl in there. LOL.