"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats

Friday, May 16, 2008

Worlds apart


Once upon a time there was a wise man
who used to go to the ocean to do his writing.
He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day he was walking along the shore.
As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer.

He smiled to himself to think of someone who would
dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man
and the young man wasn't dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore,
picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer he called out, "Good morning! What are you doing?"
The young man paused, looked up and replied, "Throwing starfish in the ocean."

"The wise man then asked, "Why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?"

"The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don't throw them in they'll die."

"But, young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach
and starfish all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!"

The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish
and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said-
"It made a difference for that one."

I love this poem and I know that many of you have read it before. But yesterday, it meant so much more.

As I mentioned in my previous post, everything that is going on in the world is just really getting to me. Recently, I have spoken to a few people and listened to their thoughts on all these issues. It struck me how easy it is to get wrapped up in our own lives when we aren't affected by all these tragedies.

One of the people I was speaking to was my Mom. As you all know, I love my Mom so very much and do respect her opinion, but sometimes we just don't see eye to eye.

After telling her how I felt and how it drives me crazy that we are so blessed and how we take so much for granted, she responded with "Ohilda, one person can't make a difference in this world. What you have done adopting the kids is a beautiful thing, but you've done your job. You can't change the world." I was stunned. I felt my heart sink upon hearing those words. I then said, "That's not true. Kai is one person. A child at that. And God used him to change Ily & Herb's (my sister and BIL) heart and opened it up to adoption. She replied with, "Well, that's Kai. He's a special little boy." Hmmm....then I said, "How about Mother Theresa?" She replied, "Mother Theresa is Mother Theresa." She proceeded by saying, "Unfortunately, you have to live in this world, not in the world that you think it to should be."

That cut through me like a knife. First, our adoptions weren't, aren't and never will be a "job". We are blessed to have been called by God to be the parents of these babies. We were obedient to that calling. While yes, the children are definitely living in a much better situation then they were previously in, there is no doubt we are the ones blessed by that obedience.

I then stopped and said to her, "No, I don't have to live in this world. I don't want to live in this world." I reminded her of the very first scripture that the Lord led me to when He began to reveal His plan of adoption for our lives. James 1:27 - "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

To keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
I struggle every single day to do this. To not allow the evil of the world to fill my heart, but instead I am always asking myself, "What would Jesus do?" I pray daily that the Lord grace me with wisdom that my children can see my actions towards others and learn that actions speak louder than words, and more importantly, to give God the glory and honor for any accomplishments they achieve.

hortly afterwards, I hung up and felt a black cloud hovering over me. I felt like I was standing before a fork in the road. Her words left me quite distraught and afterwards I was thinking, "Maybe she's right. Maybe I should turn the other cheek. Maybe I've done what I could, but I could never change the world. So, I should stop trying." But those thoughts bothered me even more. I thought about her words all afternoon. They ominously lingered in my mind.

Later that night, Scott came home and I said to him, "Do you think that one person can make a difference in this world?" He said, "Absolutely!". He then reminded me that one person can make a difference in both good and evil. For instance, Jesus was a man on earth and he completely changed the world. But also, Adolph Hitler was one man and he, too, completely changed the world. "Yes" Scott said, "one person can make a difference in this world." Boy, do I love that man! I felt much better after praying and hearing my husband's words of reassurance. And I was reminded of again of how quickly Satan can try and creep into whatever may bring glory to our God.

This morning, after speaking to my sister and telling her about what had transpired, I found an email from her in my inbox saying, "CHECK OUT THE DEVOTIONAL READING FOR TODAY. EXACTLY WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT. FAITH WITHOUT GOOD WORKS IS DEAD!!! KEEP BELIEVING AND TRUSTING AND GET TO WORK GIRL !!!!" A definite affirmation from God! Thank you, Jesus!

Here was today's scripture and devotional reading. Amazing, huh? Don't allow yourself to be caught up in this world. Remember, this is only temporary, while we may never have the mansions, extravagant jewels and fancy cars, our rewards await us in the most magnificent kingdom you could ever imagine. It is then, and only then, that I wish to live as a princess in my Father's castle.

Today's Scripture:

“Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Galatians 3:6).

Today's word:
So many people today are looking for ways to be righteous or to be in “right standing” with God. The Bible simply says that when we believe God, that’s righteousness. The proof, or evidence, of our faith in Him is found in our actions. The Bible says that faith without works is dead. That means, when we really believe something, our actions will support what we believe. Because Abraham believed God, he obeyed His word and left his father’s land even when he didn’t even know where he was going.

In the same way, when we believe God, we have to leave some things behind in order to embrace the new life He has in store. As you let go of the old and, by faith, embrace God’s promises, know that He is leading you down paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake! Keep believing, keep stepping out, knowing that your best days are ahead of you. As you follow His leading, you’ll walk in righteousness and live the abundant life He has in store for you."

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

What can I do to make a difference?

I have quite a few things I want to blog about, including Kai's meeting with the cleft team and answering questions I've received about his progress with speech.

But right now, there are so many more important issues to bring up. I titled this post according to my thoughts. My mind is just swimming in disbelief at the tragedies occuring all over the world. The cyclone in Myanmar with a death toll of almost 29,000 and still almost 220,000 people missing, the disease/hunger crisis in Africa has increased 57%percent since 1997 and every 30 seconds a child dies of malaria, the deadly tornados here in our own country that have left many homeless and 20 dead, and of course, the devastating earthquake in China just to name a few. We can't go on ignoring the world around us.

The China earthquake has moved me to the core and the thought of so many parents losing their beloved children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles....not to mention the number of children left orphans is just astounding.

If you haven't donated to this or any other relief fund (even $1. to help these people will go a long way if everyone donated) please, consider doing so. If $1. is a too much to ask, will you consider praying for those desperately in need right now?

On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, "Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me." Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, "Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink, I was sick and you did not visit me." These will ask Him, "When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?" And Jesus will answer them, "Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!"

Here is the lastest update from Half The Sky Foundation:

Dear Friends,

As word comes of the hundreds, maybe thousands of children lost in the earthquake, I am finding these emails almost too painful to write. When I think of so many parents who have lost their only child - so many children newly orphaned - so many families destroyed - there are no words….

Still, I will continue to write daily with any new information that has been given to us and confirmed. Again, please do not contact us to inquire about individual institutions. We will give you all of the information we have. If you do not hear from us about a particular place, it likely is not affected. At any rate, we don’t have any information beyond what I am passing along to you.

As of now, Thursday afternoon in China, there are 14,866 people confirmed dead, 14,463 in Sichuan Province. There are 22,438 people reported missing – 21,020 of them in Deyang alone. There have been 3,300 aftershocks and they continue.

Here is the confirmed information we have regarding children in welfare

Chengdu: The city continues to experience aftershocks and the institution director is afraid the water supply will be cut off again, so has requested disposable diapers. They are having trouble finding sufficient supplies of milk and formula. All children in foster care have been located and are fine. The institution has structural cracks but was built to current earthquake standards and is fundamentally solid. All the children remain on the first floor of the children’s building, mostly in the cafeteria, and, weather-permitting, outside while awake. We’ve posted
a few photos on our website.

Chongqing and Yibin orphanages are fine – no building damage, no shortage
of supplies.

The orphanages below report problems. However, please note that not a
single child has been injured; all are fine:
- Zigong CWI needs bedding, powdered milk, crackers and disposable diapers
- Neijiang CWI has suffered some structural damage; one or two children’s
dormitories, office building and laundry room have cracked walls.
- Nanchong 2nd SWI has cracks in walls, substantial damage to the ceiling
of a staff building, needs tents
- Mianyang Zitong CWI has severely damaged walls. Children have been
moved to a military base. Urgent need for diapers, bedding, powdered milk
and purified water
Hanzhong CWI (Shaanxi)- Quite a few water pipes burst, the water tower had
cracks. Children have been evacuated and there is need for more tents,
bedding and purified water. We’ve posted a few photos on our website.
Dujiangyan SWI has evacuated all children. They have no tap water or
electricity in their temporary shelter. They urgently need food, purified
water, diapers and powdered milk.

We are still unable to reach these institutions: Deyang CWI (78 children),
Abazhou CWI (52 children), Guangyuan SWI, Mianzhu SWI

One of our HTS Beijing staff, Ma Lang, is a native of Mianyang, Sichuan, close to the epicenter. HTS’ Director of Child Development, Ma Lang is both a pediatrician and a child development specialist. She is on her way home right now to make use of her skills both medically and to help children traumatized by this disaster. We are so proud of Lang and wish her safe travels. She has promised to share her journey with all of us. So soon you’ll be hearing from us both!

Usually just before June 1, China’s Children’s Day, Half the Sky announces a special appeal to help us fund new orphanage programs in the fall.

While we are committed to starting those new programs and know we will need help to make it happen, we just don’t feel we can ask for help improving lives while children in Sichuan are losing theirs. There must be a Children’s Day Challenge this year but not at this time. Please do what you can to help children in trouble now, and remember to help the kids of HTS a little later this year.

Our hearts and prayers today are especially with the parents who have lost their children in the collapse of schools - Muyu, Xinjian, Juyuan, Liangping, and the rest.

Please give what you can to help the children who survive go on with their lives.

If you would like to donate to Half the Sky’s Children’s Earthquake Fund, it would be great if you would do so at Global Giving.

The Ford Motor Company announced today that they will match every gift!

If you prefer to donate directly to Half the Sky, of course that’s fine.
Here are the various ways:

You can donate by calling Half the Sky (+1 510 525 3377) or on our website:

If you would like a Canadian tax receipt, please donate at

If you would like a Hong Kong tax receipt, please call us at +852 2520 5266 or online at

We have been so moved by your support already. Thank you!

with love,

Jenny Bowen
Executive Director
Half the Sky Foundation

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Update from Half The Sky Foundation

Dear friends,

I know you have been waiting eagerly for more news of how the children are faring during the aftermath of the disastrous earthquake in Sichuan.

When something terrible like this happens, confusion is everywhere and rumors spread. All of us are so worried about the children. We are trying to be scrupulously careful to pass along only information that we’ve been able to verify.

We have now set up a procedure whereby we can get an update from the Ministry of Civil affairs each day. They are supervising all relief efforts so have the most complete and accurate information available. We also now have contact information for all affected welfare institutions and have begun the process of reaching out to them directly to see if theyneed help.

I will write daily with any new information that has been given to us. Again, please do not contact us to inquire about individual institutions. We will give you all of the information we have. If you do not hear from us about a particular place, it likely is not affected. At any rate, we don’t have any information beyond what I am passing along to you.

As of now, Wednesday afternoon in China, there are 12,012 people dead and 7,841 missing in Sichuan alone, and the numbers continue to rise. 26,206people are living in temporary shelters. Only 30 children of 900 have been rescued from the collapsed high school in Dujiangyan, Sichuan. At least 20 children were buried in the collapse of a primary school in Liangping, Chongqing.

What follows are the welfare institutions closest to the epicenter: Mianyang, Zitong County, Dujiangyan, Deyang and Guanguan.

The following is a preliminary, and not necessarily complete, list of institutions which are also potentially affected: Wenjiang County, Neijiang, Rongxian, Zigong, Ganzizhou, Panzhihua, Luzhou, Santai County,Leshan, Suining, Nanchong, Guang’an. We will have a full list later today or early tomorrow. While we’ve heard rumors about some of the above, we won’t pass on that information until we’ve made direct contact and verified. I want to stress that we’ve heard no reports of children in the welfare institutions being injured, only that some have been relocated for their safety.

An update on the Chengdu CWI: There has been some foundation damage to the rehab building and some cracked walls in other buildings, which are being carefully inspected. The children’s building is in the best shape and all children have been moved to the first floor but spend most of the day outside, weather permitting – or in the institution buses if there israin. All institution staff and HTS staff are working around the clock to care for the children and keep them safe.

In cooperation with China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs, Half the Sky has set up the Children’s Earthquake Fund. The Fund will provide direct aid to the thousands of children who are suffering in the wake of the earthquake and aftershocks. Donations will be used to provide emergencyand long-term relief to children affected by the disaster, including emergency shelter, food, and medical care for children orphaned or separated from their families, as well as temporary or long-term fostercare or, if necessary, temporary institutional care. The ministry has guaranteed that the funds will be used only to help the children.

You can donate to the fund by calling Half the Sky (+1 510 525 3377) or at one of two dedicated sites online: Global Giving:

http://www.globalgiving.com/pr/2100/proj2086a.html or

Half the Sky website:

If you would like a Canadian tax receipt, please donate at

If you would like a Hong Kong tax receipt, please call us at +852 25205266 or online at https://www.paydollar.com/b2c2/eng/charity/payInfo.jsp?charityId=4947

We are juggling a lot these days — doing everything we can to help out here as well as keeping our existing programs operating, AND opening model centers in 5 new provinces this year to bring everyday care to so many children still waiting for us to reach them. But somehow we must find away to do it all.

This is just a devastating, heartbreaking situation. We are so moved by your desire to help.
We feel fortunate to be a conduit for so much loving concern. Thank you all!

with love,


Jenny Bowen
Executive Director
Half the Sky Foundation


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Monday, May 12, 2008

Praising God!

An email received this evening from Half The Sky Foundation:

Dear Friends,

We have received many emails and calls about the terrible earthquake thatstruck Sichuan and Chongqing yesterday. We have reached the threeorphanages where Half the Sky operates programs: Chengdu, Chongqing andYibin. All is well. At each place, the children were all evacuated until the tremors passed. The buildings suffered no great damage. And no child was injured. We will reach out to other welfare institutions in the province today. Should we learn of any problems or earthquake-related needs, I’ll post another note.

Some of you have also written regarding the EV71 hand-foot-mouth virusthat has affected many, particularly young children, in several provinces. The orphanages are taking special precautions and no child in aninstitution has been reported infected. We are monitoring this also.

While Half the Sky exists first and foremost to provide nurturing care andeducation to orphaned children, we are pleased to be in a position to the eyes and ears on the ground in China for all of you who have such concern for all aspects of the children's welfare. We are so grateful to those of you who make our presence in China possible.

with love,


Jenny Bowen
Executive Director
Half the Sky Foundation

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China and its families needs our prayers

This morning the western world awoke to the new of a devasting 7.8 magnitude earquake that struck central China. It is reported that 900 school children are buried beneath the rubble in in Sichuan province. Click here for the news report.

I know a few families in China right now bringing home their little ones who have not been heard from yet, and several more who are scheduled to leave in the next few days.

Please join us in prayer for all those affected by this horrific earthquake and for the families that have suffered the loss of family members.

My heart goes out to the people of this country. They are still dealing with an intestinal virus, making it way from province to province, that has claimed the lives of more than 28 children.

May our Lord especially watch over the orphans whom have no family to hold them while they are hurting or filled with fear from all that is happening.

Specific Prayer Request: Please lift up 3 Heritage (the agency we used with Anna Grace) families that are devasted by the news of the earthquake. They have 3 sweeties waiting to come home in this region. Two are in Nanchong, just east of Chengdu and one is in Deyang, right near the epicenter. May they hear news soon that their babies are safe.
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