This was written by Beth Kam, an Agape Fish high school intern. View the original post.
It was 5:00am and as dark as night. The sun wasn’t even up, so why was I awake?
We were going to visit Rui Rui in the countryside of Gansu. Rui Rui has congenital heart disease, but she is unable to receive surgery because of her pulmonary hypertension. So for the last two years, I have raised the money for her heart medicine by teaching a summer craft camp. I was so excited to finally meet her in person!
Rui Rui lived far away from the campsite, which is why we were up at 5 in the morning. A private car had been hired to take us first to Lanzhou, and then we would take the bullet train out to Dongwei. Before reaching the train station, we stopped for breakfast at a small beef noodle shop where we had fresh, hand-pulled noodles.
One of the camp counselors, Xiao Wen, was actually a heart surgery patient (you can read his story on this blog here). When he first arrived I recognized him immediately, even though I had only seen his picture. He now finished his third year in college and is studying business! It’s amazing to see how blessings can come full circle, as LRS supported Xiao Wen and now Xiao Wen is serving at their camp for others like himself.
Our last day with the children was a half-day at the Natural History Museum in Lanzhou. The day before we had gone to visit a girl who Beth supported through her craft camps. The girl lived up in the rural areas of Gansu, far away from the camp, so we spent the entire day there and went back to the city after to find a place to sleep.
I was so excited to see the children again! I had missed them, even though only 24 hours had passed.
The children greeted us joyfully, many of them rushing to give us hugs. While waiting to enter the museum, they all began to play the hand game we taught them a few days ago. I was so glad to see them enjoying themselves and playing the game not only with us but the other counselors and with each other.
We explored the museum, looking at ancient pottery and tiny statues of Buddha. All too soon, it was time for us to say goodbye.
It was a flurry of hugs and tears and some people looked at us curiously as they passed by, but it didn’t matter. We took a group picture at the end.
I led the morning exercise today by teaching them some fencing moves. Josiah helped me to demonstrate.
Later, the children made dot paint pictures, beaded bracelets, and decorated scratch magic together. The counselors then took all the artwork and tacked it up outside on one of the house walls.
It was beautiful.
I would have joined in the exercise, but I wanted to heal quickly from the mild cold that I had developed overnight and thus be able to use more energy being with the kids, so I stood to the side and watched. The children ran around the open space outside the dining area, doing jumping jacks and various stretches led by Yunyun and the other camp counselors.
After introducing a new song to them for music class (one in English called “Deep and Wide”), we dove right into the crafts, which was decorating the painted frames with stickers and shaping model clay. Beth gave them instructions for both crafts, with the (only) bilingual teacher translating for her. We helped the kids to color the Crayola Model Magic with Crayola markers (we’re not sponsored or anything haha), and then rub the color into the clay.
At first, the kids seemed a little unsure of what to make. We told them they could make grapes, a banana, a dog, anything they wanted. I helped a girl make red cherries, and Beth made one of the kids a very cute little pink mouse. Suddenly, more people wanted little mice! And I couldn’t blame them; I half-wanted one myself. Beth and I made more mice for the other kids. A girl asked me to make her an orange cat (which I internally struggled to shape), but thankfully it turned out quite winsome.
I woke up, frozen in place. It was cold at 6:30 in the morning.
The children gathered outside at 7:40 to do some morning exercises. After a breakfast of millet congee, bao, you tiao, and an assortment of vegetables, the kids made their way back to the courtyard for music, which I was teaching. Mom translated for me while I taught them the songs “wo de peng yo zai na li” (which means “where is my friend”) and “Flowers of the Field”. They did fairly well for the first run!
When music class finished, we set up two table stations for crafts. One for painting photo frames, and one for stringing together a beaded keychain.
We arrived in Lanzhou, lugging our suitcases that were mostly filled with craft supplies, candy, and beanie babies for the children. It was warm, but not humid.
We ate a lunch of Lanzhou’s famous beef noodle soup with the children, then brought everything from the TFish office out to the sidewalk, where we waited for the bus that would take us to camp.
Read about the life-changing stories on the mission field.