Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We are back home!

We arrived home Sunday afternoon, a little slap happy tired, but so satisfied with what was accomplished. We have been gently recovering from the time difference. It's amazing what you can get done when you wake up wide awake at 3 am.

Needless to say, both of us really needed Mexican food when we got home. As of now, I've had it twice and I'm on my way to a third. While Amy and I have traveled internationally before, this trip was culturally exhausting for us. We have a couple of theories:

1) we were mightily stressed before leaving getting everything prepared, plus wrapping up details here for while we were gone, which leaves you emotionally and physically drained...not the best way to start a trip.
2) after a while in China, you begin to feel very claustrophobic.
3) we really weren't prepared for real Chinese food.

However, we left with a deep love for the people of China, especially our 22 children we facilitated the 2 day camp for. Our staff is developing plans for finding families for these great kids, plus thinking forward for future advocacy efforts for children in China. We can't wait to continue to share photos and video through this blog.

Hope you all are enjoying the amazing fall weather!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A sampling of China

Group photo from our weekend program with the children

No clue what the sign says. Hopefully doesn't say "idiots stand here".

Gate of Heavenly Peace (entrance to the Forbidden City, adjacent to Tianamen Square, and the location from which Mao Zedong announced the formation of the People's Republic of China in 1949)

As an aside, I totally told a child "si" today in response to a question. My brain has decided to mix languages regardless of where I might be located. So very very sleepy...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Shanghai...the Austin/New York/Chicago of China?

Our team has departed Beijing and arrived in Shanghai, a city to the southeast situated on the Huang Pu River which feeds into the Yellow Sea. The city has a distinctly different feel to it from Beijing...Beijing feeling more historic and industrial and Shanghai more cozy, hip, and modern. Amy and I went to do a home study update and full home study yesterday (yes, even in China, Amy does home studies!) and had an amazing dinner overlooking the river and world famous Shanghai skyline, including the 2nd tallest building in the world. Like two good Texas girls, we ate burgers for dinner. We just couldn't handle any more Chinese's delicious, but we really needed ground beef.

Amy and I have been catching up on work from this past weekend with our camp, making a more formal plan to advocate for our children from the camp this past weekend. We definitely want to partner with you all in surrounding these kids with hope!

For the next two days, we will be providing developmental and counseling support to several different children home facilities here in Shanghai along with the gifted Superkids team who will be providing physical therapy for the children. It's amazing to see the skills of our team work collaboratively.

By the way, there are just some universal things about men and women that translate regardless of culture. Our friend and guide in Beijing was on a phone call in the evening with a female that sounded a bit upset. Amy asked..."was that your wife?" He was completely shocked that we knew the woman he was speaking with was his wife.

Until next time!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tired is not quite the right word...

Amy and I arrived here in Beijing safely and are attempting to recover from flying for 16 hours, a very upset baby on the plane, three inches of leg room (for Amy anyway, Elizabeth's knees touched the seat in front of her) and more cultural changes than we could say. However, we got to begin our program with the 20 children today which warmed our hearts considerably. The children absolutely amaze us in every way - some descriptive adjectives would include creative, funny, precocious, intelligent, and very inquisitive. We will be sure to share details, photos, and videos once we are able to get them loaded.

One aspect of this trip that has become abundantly clear is the impact this will hopefully have for other older children in China. Meeting with officials from CCAA and the government has left us with the impression that this is a rare occurence, but an open door as well. We both pray this opportunity would pave the path for many children and families to be united.

We will post again on Monday...Sunday for you TX friends. Yes, we are 13 hours ahead of you. Our bodies are not, though :) We are off to bed, a Luna bar, and Chinese television...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pralines and Glitter

In coming up with ideas for bringing fun "American" items for our campers, we thought of pralines for some reason. Very random candy that is loved much after excellent Mexican food, but something these kids likely have not eaten or heard of. So off to the Mexican bakery I went this morning to pick up 3 dozen pralines for our group...I had to test one to make sure they were ok. It was amazing by the way.

The rest of today will be spent picking up random last minute items for our curriculum, like glitter. Who doesn't need glitter, really?

We are already tired and haven't left...but will at least soon be on a plane going somewhere :)

Monday, October 6, 2008

T-minus 3 days

Welcome to the Gladney Bright Futures blog! We hope to use this space to share what is happening on our side of the world with plans, programs, and hopefully much more to come.

Amy Curtis and I (Elizabeth Johnson) are very busy finalizing details and getting materials together for our upcoming trip to Beijing and Shanghai, China. We are facilitating a mini Bright Futures program for a group of children in Beijing, working on details and plans for our upcoming Bright Futures trip in February to Beijing, and traveling to Shanghai to build our base of knowledge. We cannot wait to share the journey with you!

Be sure to check back for photos and videos from our journey. We will periodically be updating the blog and would love to hear from you back home! You can click on "comments" at the end of a blog post to add your thoughts.