Ending one of most memorable trips. Of course all have been in the past too, LOL. This trip has been a bit "more" in that teens bonded and I feel were "marked" in deeper level. Today's writings are first Maia, Kristina good friend, the second from Board member extraordinaire Linda! Stay tuned there is couple more writings next week.
"I've been in Asia for 14 days now. I could never dream have witnessing so many smiles, and tears of happiness. When Kristina and Robert approached me to go on this trip, I immediately said yes, but didn't think much about it. I went into this trip very blind and unsure of what was going to happen. Now looking back at it the blindness was a gift, since I had no expectations. I was blown away with what I witnessed.
We started in Cambodia, on Saturday, July 8th. Cambodia was both sad and incredible. We started our first day out visiting one of the Cambodian killing fields. I previously learned about the Cambodian genocide, in school, it made the whole experience easier to digest. Nonetheless it was so heartbreaking to walk along the pathway with the headset on following the map. Looking at the bones, seeing that they used to be part of someone. They were the best physical example to represent all the lives that were taken. That was the first time I felt something in my soul. I felt a type of ping releasing a feeling of numbness.
The second time was when we walked up to the first girls home and they all were smiling and laughing. They all hugged me and were overwhelmingly happy. I got very close to one girl, though we didn't talk much and neither of us knew each other's names, we now have a bond. We bonded over small hand games, learned the ABC's and jumping rope.
Lastly is Go Vap, Kristina's orphanage, we walk in and we see all these kids practicing some type of karate. All these kids were special needs though. It was amazing to see them so happy in this type of environment. The healthy little babies were little beams of happiness that infected everyone when they walked in.
It was beyond anything I could describe. Then I had to look down at a child with so much potential in life and see that that potential was taken from them broke my heart. These were the children with some type of illness leaving them to lie in bed next to one another. I was so upset to see the reality but knowing the nurses take such good care of them is comforting."
Maia Hendershot, age 16
"Today was our last full day in Vietnam and another trip out to Go Vap, the government orphanage where Kristina was adopted by Robert and Dorothea. Every time I visit here there are new stories to learn about kids and hearts are definitely touched. This trip I had the privilege to bring my oldest grandson Eli with me and watch him experience and feel the reasons I know I am supposed to keep coming back.
We started in the toddler room this time. Eli being the oldest of five siblings was right at home having a little boy crawl into his lap. I enjoyed watching him interact with the toddlers and also holding and feeding the infants in the baby room. There was no hesitation about what he should do; he just provided love and play. Then there were the things that were much more difficult today.
The director came out with a baby about two weeks old that was found abandoned on the street. She was beautiful and appeared healthy and Eli could not understand how someone could just leave a baby on the street. Maybe we need more of The Father's Homes in Vietnam?
The director asked us if we could pray for an 18 year old boy who was alone in a room trying to recover from a lung infection he got while in the hospital during a surgical procedure. We gathered around his bed and prayed for him. He was obviously uncomfortable and Bruce leaned over and kissed his cheek. One tear rolled down his face as we were patting his arms and legs. We asked if he was crying because of pain. They talked to him and he said no, he was so touched that we cared enough to spend time with him and he could not hold back his emotions when Bruce kissed him. A little compassion brings great hope.
We next went to the hydrocephalus ward, which consists of three rooms with children of many physical problems. This is always the hardest room for guests to see. Again, just a simple touch and talking to them in any language brings comfort and even joy and giggles to some. My grandson Eli had walked through all three rooms and spent time talking and touching many of the patients.
I looked over at one point and saw him just sit down in the middle of one room and bow his head. He was overwhelmed by the number of kids needing help and just had to stop and pray for them all. With tears in his eyes he went back to the first room where he heard a child crying again. When I followed I saw him sitting down, rubbing her legs and telling her he was there. The compassion and caring I saw in him and all the teens and young adults on this trip, fills me with hope that even our short visits can make a difference and bring some comfort to these kids."
"Feeling so blessed to be a part of GIBTK. Come see for yourself-"