(Bear with me friends... This post may take a night or two. Being home means that I am up to my eyeballs in laundry, with no cheap laundry service to wash, dry, fold, and deliver clean clothes to my hotel room. It also means there is no breakfast buffet, with American and Chinese cuisine --- not to mention the cooked to order eggs and omelets! No waitress to come take our order, deliver the prepared food to our table, and then clean it all up when we leave! And no maid service to come in and make our beds, clean our room, and replace wet towels... I think you get the idea! Here goes anyway!)
28 hours after leaving our hotel in Guangzhou, China ~ We arrived HOME! It was an awesome, awesome trip! It would be hard to beat some of the sweet "moments" we shared with Rachel in China... but bringing Rachel through the front door of her very first HOME as a seven year old last night would rank pretty high on my scale of awesome ~ spectacular ~ moving ~ humbling ~ sad beyond words ~ and immeasurably more incredible than almost anything I've ever experienced!
Imagine with me for a moment what it would be like to be 7 years old and to have never experienced a bubble bath because you were showered in groups of 6 - "locker room" style- in an orphanage instead. Or to never experience the simple summer fun of swimming... not in a lake, or an ocean, or a swimming pool. Or being a little girl that could never have long hair with braids, bows or pigtails, because it was too much work for the nannies. Or to love "frilly" things like dresses, makeup, and jewelry, but to grow up with almost all special needs boys that couldn't care less what their reflection looked like in a mirror. Or longing to run and play, but never experiencing the thrill of learning to pump yourself on a swing or sliding down a simple slide. Or to long for a Mommy and Daddy of your own, but be forced to watch as others leave for "home", while you wait because your needs are just too great. Or to be dying of a failing heart and never hear the hope found in Jesus, because you live in a culture that believes that blessings come from rubbing the belly of a buddha.
Last night, Rachel walked into HER home for the very first time... a home filled with love; with a Mommy and Daddy who are crazy about her; with brothers and sisters that fill every day with fun; with bubble baths at night before she is rocked and tucked safely into her snuggly bed; with a bedroom fit for the princess she is and where frilly, little girl things abound; where long hair is allowed and bows are encouraged; where there is makeup and jewelry and mirrors to admire herself in and plenty of people to tell her how beautiful she is; where swimming, dancing, swinging, jumping, biking, and sliding are something to enjoy almost everyday; where doctors are willing to try just about anything to fix her broken heart; and where she can learn about a Jesus who loves her, who can heal her, and who can make her life "whole", regardless of what the future holds.
That's Rachel's new home! Watching her take that all in was miraculous in itself! To realize how much most of us take completely for granted was humbling. And to be slapped in the face with the reality that for this little girl, these normal, every day things, existed only in a dream world before last night. And most precious of all?... The look on her face when she noticed the blown up photo of herself - taped to the front of the refrigerator door many months ago- as if realizing for the very first time that we had been dreaming of HER too! It makes me cry just to type it- These things should NEVER be!... Not for Rachel... Not for any child! But sadly, they are! For over 160,000,000 ~ they are! Thank you Lord, for giving me the incredible opportunity to be a part of your beautiful redemption story in the life of this one ~ our precious Rachel! And for the many people that you used to make this day possible for us and for Rachel ~ our lives will never be the same! May you find this Mommy worthy of such a great calling.
(OK... I admit it! Once I got started, I couldn't help myself! I finished this post in one sitting... But it's already after midnight and my very jet lagged body is going to feel this in the morning! - Continued prayers on our behalf are appreciated, as we only have a few days before our medical "journey" begins...)