Sunday, August 25, 2013

Family Retreat

In July, we hosted a wonderful Family Retreat, which included 22 families affected by disabilities. Also, we had seminars for 60 adults with disabilities. Here are some photos to give you a glimpse.

In the morning, the children spent time outdoors. This photo captures one of the four small groups.

The parachute activity has always been one of the favorite retreat activities.

This little girl with Down's Syndrome won everyone's heart. She was always eager for a hug. She attends our Heart to Heart English classes on Saturday mornings. Her English needs a lot of improvement, but her smiles speak volumes.

These girls are six-year-old twins. Cindy has a physical disability; Sara is typical. They are attend the English classes. In fact, the two volunteers standing behind them are also a part of the English classes. Amy translated for Dayna and me this summer in the adult class. Vivian is one of the adult students. An exciting component of this year's family retreat is that we had three volunteers who are affected by disabilities. We want to serve with and not just for people with special needs.

The hotel grounds were beautiful.

The kids also had free time to play games with their volunteer buddies. Here, Teddy and others are playing Chinese Chess and Go.

Many advocates for people with disabilities say that their greatest need is friendship. We are so glad the Family Retreat provides many friendship opportunities.

These adults were a part of the Fly Higher Adult Seminars. The lady in purple is Snowy, who helped us invite several families to the retreat.

There were many teaching moments during the day.

I was privileged to work with Samuel. He was one of three translators who helped me during the retreat.

Here is a photo of the whole group. More than 50 volunteers assisted this year.
I had the privilege of holding the microphone for Dr. Zhang. His story is similar to Joni Eareckson Tada's. He is responsible for the Chinese translation of Joni.

We enjoyed hearing from the Shenyang Blind Association Choir. A few of the members attend our Saturday English classes.
We were so glad Teddy could come.
This girl with Cerebral palsy can only say a few words like "mama," but she was deeply moved by the song the children sang about each person's value.
Leo and his mother were singing in appreciation of the decorative bags that were given to the children by Texas kids. Leo attends our English classes on Saturdays.
This is the North House where some of our seminars were held.
We enjoyed getting to know many new families. This boy (who we named Jerry) is also a part of our Saturday morning English classes.

Thank you for your support!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

New Apartment

We're getting settled into our new apartment and actually feeling a little spoiled here! We loved living in our old place, and we were very suprised and disappointed when our landlord said we needed to move out so he could sell it. But it seems like this new place is a big blessing. It was the only available apartment in our same complex, and after looking around at a few other neighborhoods, we decided it was best to stay in this area. We love this location, and our kids enjoy the playground with swings -- very hard to come by in our part of the city.
Here are Samuel and Helen, two of our friends and helpers on moving day -- taking a little ma jiang break after working so hard!

One of our favorite things about the new apartment is the spacious kitchen that flows into the dining area and living room. Those doors open out to the storage porch.
In the photo below, the front door/entryway falls between the table and the cabinet.

Sorry for the photo quality! This gives you an idea of the living room.

One of my favorite features of the living room is this desk we were able to tuck behind a loveseat. It's the perfect place for homeschooling with the kids and all of their coloring and craft projects.
 The next photo is boring but gives you an idea of our huge hallway. The bathroom is at the end of the hall. On the left is our room and the office; on the right is the guest room and the children's room.
Molly and Hudson's room is bigger than our last apartment, but nearly identical since we bought the furniture from our old landlord. (There is also a wardrobe that matches the desk.)

The landlord agreed we could spend nearly the first months' rent on a few pieces of furniture so this giant wardrobe has been a great addition to our bedroom. There are lots of shelves and even a mirror inside of it.
We have one room devoted entirely to guests. After living here for three days, we had our first overnight guest -- a Family Retreat volunteer. This weekend, a close friend will be coming for two days and next Saturday, Kevin's mom arrives! It's like we're running a B&B. :)
This photo shows our glorious bathtub (Molly and Hudson love it so much!) and washing machine. It is so much faster and quieter than the washing machine in our last apartment. And since it's not in the kitchen, it doesn't interfere with cooking or washing dishes. It's fancy!
A few more photos for those of you who love details. Back in the kitchen, here is a view of our pantry cabinet and the door leading to our second bathroom. This bathroom is smaller, but it does have a shower.
 And here are two views of the kitchen porch. It's a handy place to keep cleaning supplies, and it is big enough to serve as additional kitchen space for our rice cooker and crockpot.

I still need to upload pics from our office and back porch, but this is more than enough for now. I hope this gives you a good idea of our new place. It's on the 6th floor -- exactly 90 stairs to climb -- but it's going to be a beautiful home for us.