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Location: Beijing

Today is Day 21 of 21, and all of our students are currently flying across the Pacific homewards. We’re back in our now empty apartment reflecting on the past three weeks. It’s eerily quiet here now without all of the laughing and conversations that have formed the constant backdrop to the past three weeks in this basement-turned-home. Evan and I are still listening to the standard One Direction & Melanie Martinez playlist and organizing photos, but without Chris, Molly, Maddie, Rachel and Olivia here, the place doesn’t feel quite as cozy. 

 

This Session has been incredible for us for us in so many ways. Getting to watch this group of strangers turn into friends and then even act like siblings with each other has been simultaneously heartwarming, inspiring, and hilarious. They’ve sung loudly, practiced sweaty tai chi, held sick infants, slept on long bus rides, ran laughing through rainstorms, had sleepy grouchy breakfasts and deep conversations that lasted long into the night. They’ve challenged and supported each other through the fantastic, the difficult and the mundane moments. They’ve inspired Evan and me to see the world differently and to evolve the way that we think about our roles as mentors and as humans. In the past three weeks, we’ve become this funky kind of family that I feel proud and grateful to have been a part of. 

 

This crew has dived into the China experience headfirst and has come into this trip ready to work hard, to learn and to be emotionally challenged by the difficulty of seeing orphans and abandoned children. It’s not easy to hold infants and to play with giggly toddlers whose future is so unknown and potentially so unstable. I’m proud of this group for going into caring for babies without hesitation, and for being so ready to give love to these children who don’t have a family of their own. Rachel was always so genuinely caring and gentle with the tiniest of the premature babies, and Molly formed a special bond with one dramatic little lady who ignored most people but would run across the room and throw her arms around Molly whenever she saw her. Chris always had Han giggling through his breathing tube, and managed always to keep that chubby guy entertained and even saying “Apple.”  Maddie was flexible (literally and figuratively!) and could bond with just about any toddler, and had a great ability to keep each of them comforted and entertained- especially with her purple hair 🙂  Olivia shared her vibrancy with every toddler, but formed an extra special bond with one little guy who has a colostomy bag. Each Lifeworks student had a special ability to share their love with these babies, and I was so impressed and inspired by their willingness to jump in and do so. 

 

We also spent hours sorting donations that would go back to benefit the Little Flower baby home and spent an afternoon playing with children with burn injuries and with mental disabilities. It’s difficult to stay motivated dealing with donations, and not easy to see kids who have endured so much pain and tragedy, but these Lifeworks students really rose to the challenges and did some amazing work here in Beijing. Evan and I are so grateful to have been part of facilitating this group’s trip.