06 May 2008

Update from Elaine

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I spend the bulk of my time doing three things: 1) reading the B and pr.ing, 2) developing relationships with medical residents and other Chinese my age here at LIGHT, and 3) holding babies at orphanages and talking to residents at nursing homes while the doctors treat patients. Sometimes I wish I had more “work,” but I think this is exactly what I need to be doing now. If there is one thing that G. wants me to remember after I go back, it’s that no one is here without a clear calling. That is, people don’t come because they recognize a need or they see pictures of poor Chinese children orphans with cleft palates. They come because they were told to come. The best way I can spend my time right now, therefore, is to get to know Him better so I can understand my calling.
In the first picture, I am holding an orphan with a cleft palate, a common condition in China. When I first came to China, I spent much more time observing doctors. After a while, I felt that I should spend more time doing other things, since I am not a doctor yet and cannot treat patients, and I had seen enough of the same already. Now, when I go to orphanages, I spend all my time holding and playing with the children. This sounded like a waste of time to me until someone explained to me that children thrive on physical touch and orphans are starving for it. In fact, most of the infants in orphanages have heads that are flattened on the back because they spend too much time lying down in their cribs, instead of being picked up and held. This is true even in the orphanages that provide good care. My time in orphanages has underscored the importance of adoption. Steven Curtis Chapman, the American musician, came here to give a concert last weekend, and he himself has adopted three Chinese girls, and started a nonprofit to facilitate more adoptions. What has inspired me to think about adoption is the fact that what children need most is love. They simply need to get out of the orphanage and into a home where they are receiving love and individualized attention from two devoted parents, instead of being an institution that cares for over a hundred kids.

The second picture is of a rural clinic, which, as you can see, is a very small facility. Multiple patients and doctors all crowd into one room and privacy is discarded at the door. The other two pictures are of nursing home residents who have joined the family and are filled with remarkable joy. I’ve been grateful at these nursing homes to be useful as a translator for the other American you see in the last picture, which has been a great motivation for my language study.

As I said earlier, I am spending a lot of time with Him, finding out where He is working to understand where He might call me to join Him. One way that I have seen the HS doing remarkable things is through a recent medical m. trip to Pakistan that eight LIGHT members took. I have been encouraged enormously by what they have shared. After just spending two weeks there, they returned with such a heart for Pakistan. They want to go back and bring more doctors. Everything I read about in the book J. in Beijing about the far-reaching impact of a Ch-nizing China is completely true. The Chinese have incredible access to the Middle East that American m’s do not have. The Chinese have favor in Pakistan and are received warmly. The Pakistani locals would ask the team members to come over for tea all the time and even ask for their autographs.

G. has put a new spirit of gratefulness within them, at least for the female members. The reason for this is that they were shocked by the status of women in Pakistan. It’s accepted for men to have up to four wives; women are often not allowed to work, or even leave the house without a man; most women get married between 13 and 15 years of age; and the worst, in my opinion, husbands sometimes kill their wives if they make eye contact with another man.

Another tragic fact about Pakistan is that the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake is still being dealt with. Devastated houses remain dotting the landscape. New houses are flimsy and poorly constructed. This, no doubt, has also contributed to the tremendous health needs in Pakistan. Many of our doctors saw around 50 patients a day.

Although the extent of the needs can be overwhelming, I’ve been greatly encouraged by seeing such young believers–some who have just joined the family less than a year ago–with great conviction that JC can change Pakistan around. They show a genuine passion in returning to Pakistan to invest in relationships and love on the people there.

As for me, I will be here with LIGHT until next Tuesday. Then I’m off to teach English. I’ll be returning to the states on June 27.reading to the bottom of this e-mail! I hope this next bit of good news makes it worth it: I was accepted into Baylor! This better be good news for those of you in Houston, anyway. I’ll be seeing you for the next four years =)

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