Thursday, May 22, 2014

Construction Trip in Pictures

Co-Founders Robin and Dr. Joyce of New Hope Foundation with Derek:

The planned area for the new playground:
Space reserved for the picnic tables,
the clothes "lines",
and the pipes--so they could be easily reached for maintenance.

Derek had to stain all sides of these boards:
More boards Derek stained that were drying:
Boards drying on the clothes "lines":

Preparing for the awning:
"Doctor, please watch your fingers!"

This was one of the ways the men got the wood to the top of the building (7 stories). This man was on a beam, straddling a hole, hauling the wood up the side of the building.
Railing for safety:
Ramp for wheelchair access:
See the heart knot? After the men built the deck/platform, heart knots showed up in various places. It reminded them of the love they have for the children who will be playing on the playground.

The construction team was called the
"Playground for Angels Crew":
The construction crew in front of Maria's Big House of Hope:
New friends on the Great Wall of China:
Construction crew:
My handsome man!
We were so blessed to have such special, gracious people
send Derek by prayer and finances!
We cannot thank you enough!
God bless you all!!!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Derek heads home

Derek is expected to arrive home at the airport at 1:26 a.m. Monday. As you can imagine, the children and I are very excited!

Before we envelope him in our arms, I just wanted to thank all of our prayer warriors for upholding us! This time apart has been so much easier than I thought it would be--and I know it is because so many people were lifting us up in prayer. THANK YOU!

It has been quite evident from the sweet, peaceful sleep of the children that they have felt safe and secure. What a true blessing! Derek and I were concerned about Hope, but she did great! She is beginning to really understand that her daddy will indeed come back, and he will not abandon her!

There were many things that did not get done on my "To Do" list, but what got done was:
1. Playing time
2. Cuddling, snuggling, and kissing time
3. Story-telling time
4. Playground silly time
4. Reading time--which brings with it a lot more cuddle time
5. Lots of "together time"

So, though my house looks like it always does, and I didn't get the closets cleaned out or the clothes sorted and packed away...I got to be here, really here, for the children. So, we all have our love tanks full, and now it's time to make sure Derek/Daddy gets his tank filled up with family love.

In addition, thank you for praying for my dad! He is recovering well from his heart surgery. Thank you for praying! And, my ear feels so much better! The pain and pressure have stopped. Thank you!

May God bless you all for praying for us and caring about us! You have blessed us so much!

Up next: Pictures from Derek's trip.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Being Uplifted

Today was a bit of a roller-coaster-ride kind of day. I received a text this morning that my dad had entered the operating room for his open heart surgery, and just as I felt a sinking feeling in my gut, Derek called through on Skype. It was so good to talk with him and share with him what was going on. What a sensitive guy!!

Then, my friend Kristi refreshed my children and me by taking us along on their family nature hike. Our children had such a good time finding treasures on their nature hunt that it helped to occupy everyone's minds.

Cherish had an especially good time being a "nature tracker" with Kristi's son. She had such a good time, in fact, that that was pretty much all Cherish talked about all day. In addition, the children kept looking through their treasures all the rest of the day, before finally putting them in "special" places before bed--to ensure they don't ever get lost. 

Thank you, Sweet Kristi, for caring for us so well! It is always so uplifting being in your presence!!

After about 7.5 hours in the operating room, my dad was finally rolled out of surgery and into ICU. As soon I received that text, Derek immediately called through again. What impeccable timing! This time he was able to talk with the children and me for over an hour, as he had woken up very early. (What a sweet man to sleep less so he could talk with his family more!!!!!!)

Cherish was able to show Derek some of her favorite treasures from the hike, Andrew showed Derek some of the pictures he had drawn for him, and Hope tried to show Derek the secret posters we were making for his arrival home, but I covered the camera quickly enough for him not to see. She's my silly one!

(We are planning a homecoming celebration for Derek at the airport--complete with posters, balloons, and flags. It helps the children keep busy and excited as they await Derek's arrival home.)

Derek has thoroughly enjoyed his time in China! Tonight was the men's first time walking around and getting food on their own--as they are back in Beijing. Two guys saw some scorpions squirming on some skewers, so they decided to have them for supper. Yum!  

After the guys chose their supper, the cooks rolled the scorpions in oil, fried them, and handed the skewers to the men. The guys pulled off the stingers and dove into the crunchy little critters!

Derek and the team are headed to the Great Wall of China as I type this. (The guys get one full day of touring before beginning their trip home.) They are headed to a new section of the wall that Derek has never seen before, so he's excited about the day.

In addition, the guys will be stopping at some shops to look around. Since Cherish has been helping me out so tremendously much, Derek will be hunting today for some extra special little gifts for her.

Cherish's heart is full of compassion and love, and she helps me without even being asked. In addition, she's so gentle with the children and pampers me whenever she can. God bless her!

This weekend, Cherish will be finishing up all her school work for the year. We are all excited for her! As a reward, she'll be starting out her summer break with an "all-nighter"--the night daddy flies in around midnight (Sunday night going into Monday)--and with lots of free time to spend with daddy as he stays home on Monday to work through his jet-lag.

So, tomorrow will be school day at our house. This momma is looking forward to summer vacation as if I was the child again! 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Playground for Angels Crew"

The staff at Maria's Big House of Hope has affectionately labeled the men's construction group the "Playground for Angels Crew". Here's a photo, compliments of Show Hope:

The photo includes some of the staff and their children as well.

The caption on their Instagram photo reads:
"The annual men's construction team is busy at work on the roof of Maria's Big House of Hope! They are building a brand new playground for the kiddos :) We are so thankful for this team!"

We are all proud of you guys!

Thank you for praying!

Thank you for praying for the men on the construction team at MBHOH! One of the guys accidentally drilled into his finger today. It could have been much worse. Thank you for covering these men in your prayers!

As you pray for this trip, will you remember to pray for the orphans as well? They are in desperate need of prayers.

Our hearts are heavy right now by so much sickness, loss, and suffering lately. One little one went home to be with the LORD last night. His family could really use your prayers.

Will you please also add us to your prayers? My dad will be having open heart surgery in the morning, and the surgeon will be replacing one of his valves with an artificial valve. Will you please pray his surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nurses have wisdom? Thank you.

In addition, Hope has dental surgery at the children's hospital next Friday. She has breathing difficulties, which will make this surgery tricky. Her surgeon and anesthesiologist could use your prayers for wisdom as well. We are also praying Hope will not get sick from any of the germs Derek may bring home from his international flight next week (so she will be able to keep her appointment).

Also, I have been suffering with much pain from my inner ear. If something doesn't change over the weekend, the surgeon will be putting me under as well.

I am so thankful we have a God Who knows everything, Who cares immensely, Who is ever-present, and Who delights in the prayers of His Saints. He knows what is best and what will bring Him glory. We trust Him. He is a good God.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A moving day!

Derek usually calls us via Skype in the morning (around 9:45 p.m. his time) and in the evening (around 6:00 a.m. his time). But, today was extra special. Before becoming grimy from work, Derek spent two hours with the children at MBHOH. He was so moved from his time with the children that he had to call me to tell me so many amazing things. He was reduced to tears. I joined him.

To see him so moved by tremendously ill children and being ready "right now to bring home four of them", just melts my heart!

For the sake of the children and their dignity, there will be no pictures posted, but what a moving time for Derek. He is so moved by the great need of the children and the love and attention they crave and so desperately need. It was a day of seeing beyond all the medical devices and seeing the children. Really seeing the children.

Reduced to tears. How precious!

New Hope and Maria's Big House of Hope get medical visas for some of the children to travel to any country that is willing to give life-saving surgeries for some of their sickest children. Derek told me there is a 74-year-old lady who travels with these children to any country they can get to and stays with them the whole time they are in recovery. Recently, she was with a child in the hospital for three months as the child recovered.

Can any of us really imagine what it would be like to be DESERTED, SO ALONE, and SO LONELY you feel your life is being sucked out from you? But, then a grandmotherly lady walks into your life and allows herself to be consumed with your life! She comes into your desperately empty life and begins to love you, cradle you, comfort you, talk to you, feed you, bathe you, caress you, hug you, and snuggle with you. To fill you up with all things good when you have reached your lowest point in life.

With tears Derek asked me: "How can anyone ever retire?! There are so many needs and so many jobs for anyone who is willing. We have to do this the rest of our lives!"

Use us LORD.
for life.
We want to live poured out.
until our final breaths.

Wednesday's Update

Derek just finishing his Wednesday. He is on his way to bed exhausted. They guys start their projects by 7:30 a.m. and work until after dark.

Today Derek spent another full day shellacing all the boards for the floor. And, since he spends a lot of time under the floor shellacing the underside of the wood, he got to have a turpentine bath tonight . Some of the shellac is still in his hair .

When he was taking “shellacing breaks” today, he was unloading large boards off the delivery truck (daily work), and hulling them up 7 flights of stairs to the roof. (I’m married to Hercules, so it really was no problem .) And, when needed, he helped a guy install railing around the deck/floor.

Derek said that one little boy has become special to him. The boy is deaf, and though Derek knows some American Sign Language, that’s no help at all. However, the two of them have bonded. The little boy is continually blowing Derek kisses whenever he sees Derek passing by his floor.

The bond seems to be evident to others as well. The guy in charge of the team told Derek instead of heading up to the roof at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow, he wants Derek to spend some time with the boy before beginning his work day. So, to say the least, Derek is VERY EXCITED to have a “date” with this little boy in the morning.

Every day Derek tells me that he can tell so clearly that God WANTED Him on this trip. Some of the reasons can’t be told over Skype or e-mail, so he has much to tell me when he gets home. I can’t wait! God is at move, and it’s exciting to see it—even from a distance.

Thank you for praying for the guys and for this trip! We truly can’t thank you enough!!!! There are bigger reasons that I have the liberty to say, given the sensitivity of the place he’s at.

God bless you all!!!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tuesday's Update

Derek: Today was another full day of work. We try to begin the day’s work before 7:30 a.m. My job is to crawl under the floor and shellac the underside of all the wood boards. The floor is two feet off the roof to cover the pipes. I am having fun! (I am so glad he does not have claustrophobia!!!!!) Two guys are assigned inside jobs, and the rest of the guys are up on the roof with me all day.

The guy’s bags that had not arrived did come, and all the tools were inside. What a blessing!

MBHOH--God's hand is on this place!!!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Skyping makes all the difference!

The family got to Skype with Derek for 40 minutes before he began his day of work today, and Derek smiled the WHOLE time! He is LOVING his time at MBHOH! In addition, the children agree that it feels like daddy really isn’t gone, because they’ve been able to see and talk with him each morning and evening.  Also, Hope and Andrew KEEP talking about baby brother that is coming home with daddy, and Andrew prays for “brother” every time he prays during the day and when he prays at night. Even though Derek, Cherish, and I keep telling him and Hope that daddy is not bringing home a baby, Andrew keeps thanking God in prayer that daddy will be bringing a baby home with him. 

Monday's Update

Derek’s update: One of the guys’ luggage has still not arrived. This means they are missing some needed construction tools. Derek spent the entire day on the roof. Most of the time he was lying on the roof in the hot sun, polyurethaning the underside of the new floor’s framing (temperatures in the 90s). The floor's framing is now complete. If the men can finish the floor and build the playground in time, they will build shelving and bunk beds after that. There were only a few minor injuries today. THANK YOU for praying for the guys!!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Maria's Big House of Hope

Derek’s Update: One of the donated items he was able to carry over was formula that one of the babies HAD to have to survive--and it could only be purchased in the States. The formula was so desperately needed for the baby that there was much rejoicing when it arrived. On the men’s last flight into Luoyang, all the caulk and wood glue was confiscated. In addition, previously, all the saw blades were confiscated. The saw blades that are purchased in China are not of the same quality, so the men have been warned to be extra careful not to cut off fingers. They will begin building a floor on the roof—to cover the pipes on the roof. When they finish the floor, they will be building the playground on top of the new floor they build—complete with ramps for the children in wheelchairs. The men will spend their days outside working and their evenings making repairs inside MBHOH. What a blessing it is that Derek gets to be there!!!!! THANK YOU for supporting him and the other men on this trip with your prayers.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Derek heads to China

MANY THANKS to all who have prayed and supported Derek in his desire to go to China to help with construction projects at Maria's Big House of Hope (MBHOH--medical facility that cares for the medical needs of the most desperately needy orphans in Luoyang, China). God supplied ALL of Derek's financial needs for the trip AND is using him to carry MUCH NEEDED medical supplies to MBHOH.

In addition to carrying over construction supplies, Derek wanted to help the orphans further. He called Show Hope and informed them that he was willing to carry medical supplies over to MBHOH if they needed a carrier. They were indeed in great need of a carrier, as MBHOH was in desperate need of various supplies. Thus, Show Hope shipped Derek all sorts of medical supplies, medications, clothing, preemie diapers (which are not available in that area of China), etc. that their donors had purchased.

Derek was planning to add those supplies to the ones many of his friends had already donated to the orphans at MBHOH. Thus, Derek was on a mission to get permission to carry all these much-needed supplies on his flights.

After several calls, he was granted two free-of-charge humanitarian aid bags--but with permission only from our local ticket office.

We began packing. After all the packing was complete, Derek had three bags to check and one carry-on plus a camera. Two bags were jammed full of orphan-only products, and the third bag was clothing for the orphans plus the construction equipment he was going to need on his trip.

Derek only had the carry-on for his personal use. He was ready to go!

Thursday evening, as he was putting the children to bed and kissing them good-bye, he received an e-mail. United had cancelled his booked(!!) flight. It was to be Derek's first leg of his trip to China. They cancelled the flight and rescheduled him to fly out on Monday! There was no way that could happen. Derek had to find a way to get to Newark, NJ before his international flight left. He considered driving, taking the train, flying out of other cities.... Nothing was working. With the help of his group leader (both working frantically on their computers), his leader was able to find a flight out of a city about three hours away from us. Derek gladly accepted the new flight!

Then, we had to figure out how to get Derek to that city.... He ended up renting a vehicle from our local airport--the only place open in the middle of the night. The car could not be picked up before 1 a.m. or he would be charged about 4x (!!!) the amount for the rental.

The whole family started out for the airport at midnight. Derek got the rental, and we returned home just in time for Derek to kiss and hug the children good-bye, jump in the shower, and put his bags in the car.

Having been up 22 hours by the time he got in the car to begin his drive to the new airport, he.was.exhausted!!!! We kept praying the new ticket office would not reject his bags. He arrived at the airport, got to the counter, and he was refused one of his bags. He was in city far from home. He had already returned his rental car. He was not leaving a bag of humanitarian aid! He checked the two bags that were full of medical supplies, medications, clothing, etc. specifically for the orphans. The United workers suggested he try to carry the third bag through security (a bag with 5 pounds of large deck screws (!), several screw drivers (!), etc.). SURPRISINGLY, security decided to let him through with the bag. He took the extra bag to the gate to see if they would check it. They would not.... But, they let Derek carry it on the plane!

When he got to Newark, the staff stowed the extra bag under the plane. Derek was ready to meet his team, get on the plane, and get some rest. 

When he arrived in Beijing, he and the team spent the night in a hotel and got to the airport the next morning to catch a flight to Luoyang. However, the plane did not show up. They were rescheduled for 6:00 p.m. that night.

So, they left the airport to eat lunch and visit New Hope (another medical facility for orphans run by American doctors). The team got a full tour, and Derek was so amazed at all that he was able to witness.

We keep being reminded of an important quote by Dr. George Murray: "When I yield myself to the LORD for His Redemptive missionary purposes, God controls all things for me so that through me He can bring Jesus Christ to the world around me. That includes sickness and health, sunshine and rain, open doors and closed doors, friends and enemies.... I am never out of God's sight."

Amen! God is sovereign, and His plans cannot be thwarted!!!

Next up: Maria's Big House of Hope!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


We were finally able to celebrate Hope's and Andrew's birthdays! Andrew had a sight fever remaining on Sunday evening, so we spent the first evening at Downtown Disney in the air-conditioned Lego store. The store was a HUGE hit! The children would have stayed there all night if they could have!

Andrew: "I don't want a picture with him! He's too scary."
Hope: "Not too scary for me! Me got muscles!"

And then came the day to celebrate their birthdays at LEGOLAND. Andrew's fever had left him, his breathing from his pneumonia had returned to normal, and though he was still slightly "under the weather", we didn't have to worry about the sun, heat, and activity. It was enjoyable watching the children have fun!

 A loving big sister:

 Racing the cars:
Racing is serious business!
Cooling off under the mister:

Time to cool down again:
Little guy was not feeling too well, so he and I got to snuggle a lot:

A highly-decorated birthday boy:
A highly-decorated birthday girl:

Relaxing while her brother drove:

Someone actually got a picture of all of us looking and smiling!
My riding buddy:
Cherish riding solo (once again) since the two little ones
had to be accompanied by an adult on most rides.
Though she wanted to be with us,
she was very gracious about riding solo.
Look at Hope's face!
A ride the two little ones couldn't go on,
so Cherish had me to herself!
We really had a fun day being together and taking an easy pace.

Bonus: We were able to get in on one of LEGOLAND's "Home School Days", so we saved about $350.00 as a family! What a great deal!