Since 2004, 16 children have been rescued from abandonment.
Here are their stories:
Here are their stories:
Not too long after Hannah arrived in Beijing, little David came along. Being left in a small box wrapped tight with small blankets, there was a small message and a 10 Ren Min Bi note on him. That is approximately $1.60. The note simply said, “Use this for him.” He was a cleft palate, cleft lip little newborn. Even though many people want a boy over a girl, this is not what many want and this little guy with a very distorted face, it seems it was too much for them to live with. According to some reports, David came from the same area as Hannah. As I have said in the past write-ups on the children, I do not know the exact area or village these children come from but it is obvious to all of us why they were unwanted. The loose knit contact of phone numbers along the way, it is virtually impossible to trace the orgin of each child. The note and 10 Ren Min Bi did stay with the baby though. It helped to show how the person abandoning David desired for someone to help and was even willing to at least put some money into his care.
David’s face was no doubt too “ugly” for anyone to want to keep him and raise him as their boy. In a culture where boys are quite often preferred over girls, you would think someone would take him in and or attempt to get him to some place where he could have his little face operated on to restore him to “normalcy”. These poor places, and especially small villages, do not have orphanages nor agencies to care for such children. They would have to be brought to far away cities for care, even if there was someone who went through “the normal” process of caring for this abandoned child. It would also have to be done soon as many people do not know how to care for such children. Fortunately in my case, cell phone connections make it immediate in eventually getting the contact to us.
The best information we can gather is that little day old David was left outside a small “clinic”. In many small villages across China, there are single room or small “offices” where vaccinations or midwife services are done by basically trained nurses. These nurses can offer services for people.
Phone calls came through the process of a boy that was impossible to feed without a special bottle. He was said to have a severe cleft palate. From the initial clinic to the next few contacts, each person knew that the child would eventually end up in Beijing for treatment. What is beautiful is that all the contacts knew that Beijing has the best Children’s hospitals and that as long as there was a way to get the child there, David would get the help he needed.
David was a very difficult newborn to feed. I have many types of bottles and nipples to use in choosing the right bottle for him. The “wiggle squirt” method of feeding newborn cleft palate, cleft lip babies and the knowledge I have to care for so many of them, is very important to care for the baby until surgeries can be done. David and Hannah are seen in pictures together as David was rescued on July 1st.
David is 11 years old now and I had an expert who worked on special braces to straighten his teeth. His smile is beautiful and his teeth are in the proper place. It is always amazing for me to look at the early pictures and see the awesome transformation of his face.
I thank God everyday for David and he is often called, “The boss” and knows how to lead the other children as a special big brother.
What a joy to see Hannah now caring for her little sister Deborah I was reading in 1 Samuel chapter 2 at the time word came to me about this unwanted girl. The prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel chapter 2 is so beautiful and God especially spoke to me concerning giving this girl the name Hannah based on verse 8.
“He raises the poor from the dust,
He lifts the needy from the ash heap
To make them sit with nobles,
And inherit a seat of honor;
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S,
And He set the world on them.
This verse tells it all for little Hannah coming literally from “the dust” and “ash heap”.
As I think back on the early days, it seems that Hannah's story unfolds as an example of what happens in a society where boys are preferred over girls and how "normal" babies are preferred over special needs children. To complicate things worse for Hannah, she was both a girl and had been born with a cleft lip and partial cleft palate. With these "two strikes" against her and born into a poor village, she was abandoned in a trash heap and most likely left to die.
In the beautiful plan for Hannah’s life, God helped me put together contacts that would allow for word to travel to this village and be set in place where there would be help for rejected children. All Chinese know, the best hospitals and doctors are in the big cities. Word was left that if a child was abandoned and needed help, they would contact a number which would network to another number. It is a known fact that in poor places of this world, these things are going to happen even with the most advanced improvements of education and counseling. As is the plan, no one knows that an American man is involved. I have been careful to only have information left in places with Chinese people who know where babies may be left. This is an art in and of itself and requires knowing many people in isolated places. The rest is prayer and a loose knit connection of phone numbers, all destined to break down at any moment. Anyone questioning someone in the process would only know the original story and not the person who found the baby, the next person along the process would know that someone ahead in the process would love this child and care for their medical needs. I have an awesome “prayer force” of people who know and trust me, and simply pray the connections work to save a baby.
Oh the story Hannah could tell if she wasn't a newborn only hours old and handed from person to person with only a prayer keeping her moving to the next place. God was there though, right? It is sad, but one has to admit, many Chinese people do not want girls that look like newborn Hannah with her lips upturned and her palate split open. I hope and pray this could change some day, but for now, culture is culture. Even now as many know it can be fixed, the children are still abandoned. There is a true need for prayer and a plan. The safest important information that is always conveyed is how the baby was left and why. No one feels a risk with transferring this information and it is confirmed with an obvious disability to the child. Upon seeing her, it is clear that she was not wanted because of her appearance. I have never received information on a “normal” child.
The story is as follows, a woman was out early in the morning going to empty trash in early June. As this woman threw her trash on the huge pile, she noticed there was steam rising on the pile and then noticed a naked newborn baby girl on top the trash heap. It was clear to this woman why Hannah was thrown away. It is also obvious this lady did not want this child, she could have kept her but thank God she knew that someone she met said there are people who would care for such a child. Hence the long arduous process of getting the child to us in Beijing. The beautiful thing of the process is that anyone in the process always knew there was someone who would ultimately want her even with the "ugly" face. Often in this process, it motivates the people along the way "to do their part" in caring to feed or even cloth the baby. Think about it, they could have very easily just kept the baby anywhere along the process and I am sure this happens sometimes but not often with "ugly" face baby girls. Like I said, these babies are all coming to me on prayer only. The amazing thing in the last 7 cases, is that God had revealed the sex of the baby even months before the baby was born. I know it sounds crazy but God can tell anyone anything in anyway. Amen?! It was not just girls either, with 2 boys and 5 girls.
The beautiful thing for Hannah is that she comes to a situation where she has received the best of medical care, doctors (both Chinese and foreign), and sufficient finances to restore her to a beautiful face and healthy straight teeth. Isolated orphanages in poor places are not going to do this nor have the finances to do it quickly and professionally. This all takes years as well as much research. Although I have several contacts with orphanages, they are not going to be able to get her immediate care. It also takes sufficient finances up front to do it with the best of surgeons My contacts and research with foreign surgeons is also key to get the best advice.. Some places won't even take new children and will turn away children. Hannah has had a family environment with other children as she received care from her first day with me. I know she thanks God for her uncle Ray and the rest of the children are family to her.
Hannah is learning to be a good big sister in caring for little Princess Deborah the 3 month old. May God continue to use this special girl to reach out and help others in need.
“Without life, what else is there?” said the hand written poster at the “Pro Life Rally” in Washington DC this past January 22nd,2014.
James is an amazing story of how life is to be valued even when many in his early days had given up on him as it was thought hopeless to even try to save him. His story, more than any of these lovely children, reflects the grace of God and willingness of “Uncle Ray” to go “the extra mile” to seek and to save this rejected little boy.
Not knowing the train station, but only that is wasn’t too far away from Beijing, the engine pulls into the city with many cars full of people who would get out at their destination. With people emptying off each passenger car and walking out to travel with their belongings to buses, taxis and cars to where ever they were headed, the scene is similar all across China day in and day out.
As is the process, with all the passengers off the train, the cleaning people work their way through each car and remove the sheets and prepare the train cars for the next journey. In the process of cleaning and removing sheets from compartments, someone comes across a newborn baby boy abandoned on one of the beds. This little boy was so thin and frail that his eyes were sunken into his head like a skeleton with no eyes, and emaciated to the point they wondered if he was even alive. But as the story goes, he was still alive, but barely.
I am not sure with some of the communication through the contacts whether this boy was treated in a clinic near the train station or a hospital nearby, but medical people tried to feed him and he would throw up the baby formula milk almost immediately after feeding. Most likely to try to get some sort of nourishment into his body, his little body was punctured with needle holes in attempts to get a vein to get him on IV. The reason I know this to be true is that even after arriving in the Children’s Hospital in Beijing, the doctors could not get him on IV as he was so shriveled that a vein could not be located.
Word came to one of the grandmothers working with me about the boy. He was explained to be almost dead and asked if she wanted to try to help. Grandmother contacted me and I told her to have the boy brought and we will try to save him. When grandma first met with the person who handed the baby to her, I was aware of the fact that this little boy would throw up almost immediately after feeding him. I instructed grandma to keep feeding him even if he throws up.
One of the advantages I have over many other ways to save babies is that I have contact with many doctors (Oversees as well as local) and medical experts to get advice. My research online is also a very important part of discovering conditions and treatment for each child.
Upon seeing this little guy for the first time, I knew he was close to death and needed immediate treatment. I was able to compile a list of possible conditions and in the 6th condition on my “short list” was a condition called pyloric stenosis.
Something that cannot be over emphasized is that I have the ability to know the medical terms both in English as well as Chinese and get advice quickly from both sources.
I was convinced through research that it was an intestinal issue of some sort. Time would not afford me an explanation on all the conditions. I later was encouraged to find out I was that “close” in the initial research.
Names are given by me and I gave him the name James. I was reading in the New Testament book of James and was quite fond of that name. It is interesting to note that the book of James has a heavy emphasis of works as evidence of one’s faith. Without great effort on my part, this little fellow would have died for sure.
Holding him in my arms and praying with grandma I asked her to take the little life to the Children’s hospital in Beijing to get tests. Off she went and we stayed in contact by cell phone as I continued to research information in his condition and contact doctors I knew in the US.
One of the most shocking phone calls came not long after grandma was at the hospital and worked to get a “check-up” on James. Grandma calls and says the first doctor said to her, “Discontinue treatment, he is too far gone.” (fang qi zhi liao) The doctor attempted to get a vein and could not find one! He was so hard and dehydrated and his skin was so close to his bones, the veins were unrecognizable. I asked grandma to find another doctor, which she did and the same message came back to me. “Discontinue treatment.” This was very hard on grandma and I comforted her to stay with it and we will continue to pray. I asked her to once again look in the hospital for yet another doctor. For the 3rd time the words came back with tears in her voice, “Discontinue treatment.”
It was at this point that I was on my own, grandma said to me the words that I know went against her own Christian beliefs, she said, “I think we need to just bring him home.”Under the pressue and medical advice of the doctor, It would have been a death sentence for sure but I couldn’t blame her, after all the doctors are professionals and I knew we were to trust their assessment. I prayed and sent out emails for others to pray with me. God gave me an idea and the wisdom to keep trying to save this weak dehydrated boy.
I called grandma as she held this frail little guy at the hospital and said, “Here is what I want you to do.” I asked her to walk around asking medical staff if there was a retired doctor who comes once in a while during the week into the hospital to work part time. I knew that this type of doctor would be more experienced and may have a willingness to get James on IV, do MRI’s and or get a CT scan and to try to assess what the condition might be. She walked around and to our excitement, grandma found an older doctor just like I prayed. This doctor was able to get James into a room, put him on IV through his inner thigh and stabilize him by being rehydrated. He asked grandma why she was spending the money on a baby that will not survive anyway. She called me and I told her to have him go ahead with the MRI or CT scan try to determine what is wrong with James. Grandma kept feeding baby James and the doctor saw him thrown up. I am convinced this doctor (after that) had a good idea what was causing the problem. He went ahead with the plan and he quickly discovered that James had a pyloric stenosis. With the blockage, and the impairing of the emptying of his gastric contents into the duodenum, James was starving to death. It must be noted though that it was imperative to just keep feeding him even with him throwing up. He must have had a little nourishment pass through the pylorus but it was only a matter of time for him to die.
The doctor then told grandma the news. This doctor said that it was a simple operation and yet he did not believe James would survive the attempt. Grandma called me and I was careful to encourage grandma to only say that she had confidence in the doctor’s ability and we should go ahead with the surgery. I made it emphatically clear to not mention things like, “Try any way, or even if he dies on the operating table to ahead with the surgery.” The doctor still believed it was a waste of money. Praise God, he went ahead with the operation, James survived and we were all elated!
It was only a short matter of time that James started to fill out and become a “chunky” little fellow. I even let him get a bit “too fat” at one point just because I really wanted to know that he was feeding well.
Today, James is a very intelligent little 10 year old that has excelled in his homeschooling studies in every subject that has come his way. It is almost “too easy” at times for him to go through lessons. To challenge his abilities, I have used him to do much of the corrections on the other children in their lessons. I am trusting there is a bright future for this very blessed boy named James.
As many people know, train stations are some of the busiest places in the world. For the vast majority of Chinese travelers, trains provide services to all cities and to some of the most isolated places in the People’s Republic of China. I have had many experiences travelling all across from north to south and all along the Eastern part of the country.
It is not unlikely for someone to abandon a baby at a train station, I am sure the thought is that someone will see the baby, pick it up and care for the child. Often authorities will be notified and the baby will be taken away, if there are no orphanages nearby, it is anyone’s guess what will happen to the child. If the child is a baby in need of medical treatment, it may end up at a clinic and or a small clinic to get some treatment.
Baby Rebekah is a very unusual story. She was left in a dirt poor village train station with no clinic or orphanage or any facility to care for her. Her story is just another example of how God’s grace is upon a newborn baby left and laying for over 10 hours with no one to notice her or help her.
Try to imagine some lady selling snacks and drinks at a small table inside this isolated, poor village train station, she sees a small box over against the wall. From early in the morning until late in evening, the box remains in place as many , many people come and go. The travelers all have their bags, sacks and suitcases but over the course of 10 hours, there remains this tiny box against the wall.
Finally, in the evening, this lady gets and walks over to look at the box, she obviously notices it is closed. She opens the box only to find a beautiful little newborn baby girl inside. Can you imagine Rebekah breathing with the box folded shut but as you may know, some boxes folded shut have a small rectangular opening even with the flaps of the top of the box “closed”. God allowed for just enough oxygen to get into the box to allow her to breath. She was quiet, I am sure weak and frail but did not make enough noise for someone to be drawn to open the box.
The story goes that this lady picked up baby Rebekah and then to the disgust of everyone around, they all noticed the large ugly lump on the back of her head. No one wanted to touch her at that point. In China where disease and many superstitions abound, they wanted nothing to do with the girl.
Praise God I had made some contacts with people who had mentioned to this lady months earlier to help any children that may be abandoned, unwanted or in need of serious medical assistance and make contact with some phone numbers. These phone contacts would then get information to other people I know. Again, no one knows an American is involved nor do we know the original train station where baby Rebekah was found. All people know is that someone is will to spend money, provide medical assistance and care for the girl in the big cities. Trust me, there is no one (locally) who would have spend one fen to help this girl if I was not somehow involved to be the end game for her medical care.
Only this lady, working at the train station, was willing to care for the girl and quickly get information to her contacts to come and get the baby. Thank God she fed the girl and within days Rebekah was brought to my grandmothers in Beijing.
Upon seeing this precious newborn for the first time, my bible reading that morning was in Genesis 24 and I chose the beautiful name Rebekah. She was so lovely to hold for the first time. Oh how God loves her so much, we all love her dearly too. While looking over the baby with some of the grandmothers, we noticed that Rebekah had pierced ears! In the holes in her ear lobes, there were tiny strips of shiny silver foil. It was as if the mother wanted to make her pretty or maybe it was a way the mother struggled to make up for the ugly back of the head. In any case, it was not good that the holes were there and you can imagine how Rebekah would have cried when the holes were made. It was not jewelry either, it was simply silver foil strips which may have appeared to someone like jewelry. I have thought many times over what all that meant. In every case, I sensed the mother struggled with abandoning the baby and I am sure wanted to “make her pretty” so someone else would love her. It always makes me cry to think back on those thoughts of what the mother surely struggled with.
As I had done so many times before, I contacted doctors in the US, medical experts online and researched possible causes for this excessive lump on her head. With the two pierced ears, the doctors wanted to know why in the world did the mother do that! I just told grandma to tell the doctor that the mother has serious problems and she did not have the child’s best interests in mind. Grandma does have the girls interests in mind and doctor went ahead without asking more.
The word from the doctor coming back to me from grandma was that they wanted to do some sort of invasive treatment. I told grandma absolutely not. Through my contacts, I was able to determine that needles into the back of the head and any draining of blood, water or brain material would seriously jeopardize Rebekah’s neurological condition. Word from Chinese doctors and some Western doctors was that it could be hydrocephalus but I was not about to have a shunt put in and start draining fluids. After much prayer, many tests, and discussions with several key doctors, I decided to go with a non invasive treatment. The amazing thing is that one key Chinese doctor as well as a good doctor friend and an inventor in the US, all suggested trying Hyperbaric Oxygen treatments for an extended period of time.
The Hyperbaric chambers are used in a variety of ways and for many conditions, but my focus was on the swelling on the back of Rebekah’s head. I had grandma schedule the treatments and planned for a month in total. The 45 minute, 5 days a week treatments inside the chambers might help in reducing excessive swelling, which improves the health of cells needed for the healing process.
Every morning for 5 days a week for one month, I would travel with grandma to the hospital to get Rebekah her treatments. After a month, we were seeing results and I decided to do more treatments. Although it was not cheap, I was very excited to see this precious little girls head return to normal with no appearance after almost two months of treatments. There was also no way of any neurological damage as it was all non-invasive and was the safest treatment for her.
Today, Rebekah is a healthy 9 year old girl with an absolutely beautiful head of long hair which covers her lovely normal head. She is smart, hard working and is the best out of all the children in caring for little newborn Deborah. God has truly blessed me to get her to where she is today and may God continue to bless her in the days ahead.
It has always amazed me how God would allow me to have 5 boys and 5 girls. As most of us know, girls are more commonly rejected in the Chinese culture. It is a known fact that there is an imbalance in the ratio of boys to girls. Time would not afford me in this story to go into the statistics, one only has to research if for themselves to see this gross injustice.
So why in the world would anyone discard a baby boy? Well, in the case of many boys who have been abandoned, there was some sort of “defect” accounting for the child’s rejection.
I thank God for the many who have prayed for me over the years and it is so obvious how God led me to rescue children. John John is one such story. Or as I so love to call him, “Johnny John John”.
As has been the case in so many rescues, the word comes to me of a child left in a train station in a dirt poor village many miles from the capital. Word comes to me of a boy with a very ugly face and yet someone was concerned enough to contact my contacts. It is nothing less than miraculous that a loosely knit stretch of cell phone calls would ever result in saving a life. Thank God for technology and especially as it relates to some of the most isolated places on the planet.
When John John was brought to me, it was clear he was a reject. It is so true that a cleft palate, cleft lip baby just doesn’t look pretty or handsome, but he or she is still a life for whom Christ died, and nothing in God’s sight has greater value. Although we see the value, it is clear that some person or persons somewhere in the dark corners of a “perfect” baby society did not want this baby.
Upon first holding this baby, I was just beginning my into study in the gospel of Luke. It was clear to me as in the case of Zechariah, I was not about to give to “go dumb” over desiring to give him another name. Verse 63 jumped out to me as I knew the baby was coming and it blessed my heart to name him John.
“And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished..” Luke 1:63
Well my dear friends, I was astonished too. What a joy to hold this precious little guy and to know that he has such a glorious name as John.
John John’s cleft palate and cleft lip were going to be a difficult thing to handle. Fortunately I had a huge variety of bottles, nipples and had done extensive research in caring for babies like this. Remember, David and Hannah both had similar conditions and I was blessed to do a fine job in feeding them together as they were just weeks apart. For anyone doubting my ability, it is clear that David and Hannah fared well under my care.
My “wiggle squirt” technique is common in learning to feed cleft palate, cleft lip babies who are unable to actually suck the milk from the bottle. Wiggles help the baby know the nipple is there and the squirts are timed to their swallowing. The amount is very small in the initial days after birth and adjustments have to be made as the child feeds on more and more milk. There is so much to each feeding, as one must be careful not to squirt milk up the nasal cavity nor can one feed too quickly. Time has to be made to burp and quite often more air is sucked into the babies stomach due to the fact there are “so many openings” as the milk goes down. It is a joy to me though and I am truly an expert in that have cared for so many over the years.
Like in the case of many families, names kind of evolve. The name John went to John John and then to Johnny John John and even to “Johnster the monster”. I laugh because although John can be a real sweetheart, he can also be a real monster. It has not been easy for him to have the introduction of little Joseph, due to the fact that John had always been the youngest of the boys prior to Joseph’s arrival, John John struggles at times with jealousy. I work hard to teach them to love each other and help John John strive to be a “big brother” to Joseph the 2 year old.
John John is a very special child, his cleft palate, cleft lip surgery went very well and it is a testimony to my skills in finding the absolute best surgeon to restore his deformed face to the handsome little guy he is today. Praise God for His grace on Johnny John John and many thanks to the many prayers for all the children.
In closing, John John loves to learn about cars. I guess it is a typical boy thing. One day John John wanted to let everyone know that he has learned much about how to maintain a car and remembered I had a tune up on my van. John said to everyone the most hilarious thing. John said, “Uncle Ray changed the oil in the van and he put a new coffee filter on the engine too.” Actually I was the only one who laughed as the rest of the kids see John John as the “car kid”.
Let us rejoice in this precious little guy and may God continue to bless him with a joyful life.
It is hard to imagine being rejected and discarded twice and especially as you see the sweet spirit of the girl I named Joanna.
"and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means." Luke 8:3
I was doing my daily bible studies and I was in Luke chapter 8. I received a phone call from one of the grandmothers that there was a girl with severe spinal issues. I had just finished reading verse 3 and noticed the beautiful name Joanna, I knew this was to be her name. The word also came to me that Joanna was actually abandoned twice. Someone found her outside of a train station and after months of care for her, the first person to "rescue" her took her to the very same train station to abandon her once again. I wish I had the original note but it explained that she was "too much to care for" and for that reason was abandoned again. The note did also indicate that she was cared for from a newborn until months old. This is just another example of why it has been so important for me to have so many contacts and allow people to know there is someone in the big city to get the best of medical treatment. Again, NO ONE knows that an American was ever in the process except for my closest connections in Beijing. This has always guarenteed that people do all they can to get the child to these grandmothers to do "their part" to help this unfortunate child. I will always be the first to admit that I have been the "mastermind" behind the child's rescue. Prayer is knit all the way through everything I do and God's grace has been on each rescue as they are all so different.
When she arrived in Beijing, she was so weak and close to death. Some of the early pictures show how her body thin and the spinal condition was serious. In the months and years of caring for her she got stronger and stronger. It has always been a challenge to keep her healthy. With Scoliosis, her spine is not only bending but worse, she is twisting. As doctors have explained to me, her spine is actually "cork screwing" and in the not too distant future, her vital organs will be severely comprimised. In short, she will die if there is not some sort of treatment done on her spine.
The good news though is that for 8 years, Joanna has done suprisingly well with me and she is a great student. With her homeschooling, she loves to learn, plays hard with the others and is the friend of everyone. Joanna was very close to Phoebe and I look forward to praying again and talking with Joanna about Phoebe.
Although many people notice immediately that she is deformed, I would never treat her like a "second class" person. I have heard many very insulting comments about her body but I remind her of God's love for her and that uncle Ray will do everything he can to get her the best treatment.
These past 3 years, I have been planning the best possible medical attention. It is my prayer and desire that God will allow her to live a long and healthy life. I am leaning toward having her spine fused in the place it is right now and not to run any major risks on her life or the possibility of being paralyzed from the neck down. In the case of this type of surgery, she will always be deformed but will live healthy and most likely will not grow much from her present height. Fortunately there are plenty of short people in China. May God continue to bless me to care for Joanna and may God be glorified through the life and testimony of Joanna.
One of the most exciting times in my life is to finish the complete Old and New Testaments and to begin another journey through God’s word. It was in 2007 that I once again reached the milestone and read the last chapter of Revelation. I moved on to the book of Genesis again and had read up to chapter 18 with the story of Abraham and Sarah and the promised birth of Isaac. The phone call came in from my connections in place that a newborn girl with “an ugly face” was left unwanted. The rescue was on, praise God she came smoothly through the connections. I assumed it was going to be a cleft palate baby girl but was not 100% sure.
Through the recommendation of a couple of good friends, another friend named Diane Modrow wanted to come to help me with the kids in Beijing. Diane came and stayed with me and the kids for 3 months and worked also with grandma Guo and it was such a blessing for all of us to see the arrival of Sarah. This newborn was from a dirt poor village, it was going to be a very special event both for Sarah and for the newly arrived former Green Bay Packer named Diane. She was about to learn what it really means to “win a game” and “to cheer on the team”. She was about to become PART of the team instead of just jumping up and down to shout with the Cheese Heads. This hard working lady was about to embark on a journey she would never forget. Like in ABC’s “Sports featured on Wide World of Sports” She was going to rejoice in “the thrill of victory” and at times cry through the “agonies of defeat”. Fears, tears and joys inexpressible were going to run through her veins.
I am confident that Diane will all tell you, these were some of the most exciting and also some of the most difficult months in her life to date. I will let her tell her part of this beautiful story of the girl we have all come to know as Sarah.
Sarah was one of the most difficult babies to care for as she did not sleep well and needed to be fed almost every 20 minutes to an hour constantly for the first few weeks. I was well programmed in these challenges and it was a blessing to have Diane and grandma also help at times. I am one of those special “animals” that loves to care for newborns, and especially special needs newborns. I realize that men are not normally willing to do such work, but God has blessed me through many sleep deprived nights to lovingly care for these precious souls.
Sarah’s cleft palate and cleft lip “split” was very wide and this made it quite difficult to feed her. She also did not swallow well. It was particularly hard to keep getting up all night so often to feed, burp, change, comfort and lovie dovie her back to sleep. It really is a joy though. They are so lovely at the early age of days and weeks old. They are so dependent upon us to care for them and I know how God must look with total pleasure to do one’s best to show the love of Jesus to these little lambs.
As is the case of all my babies, I do not use locally made baby formula. I knew for year that it was not safe to use locally manufactured baby formula. Fortunately I have had friends who traveled to China either as United Flight attendants or business friends, who would bring me the best quality baby formula from the US. Later in 2008 with the “melamine in baby formula scandal” it became obvious that the wisdom God gave me protected my little babies from sickness and even possible death.
I can’t resist in giving “fun names” to each of the kids and Sarah is no exception. She has been called from early days, “Punkin Wunkin” and later it evolved to Wunkin and then to Wonk and some of the kids even call her “The Wonk”. Sarah loves it though as she knows it is all in great love and appreciation for her little self.
When the time came for her surgery, which was well after Diane left, the doctor did not think he could “stretch the skin” to sew her up both in palate and the work on her lips. I knew from my research that this doctor was the best and I asked grandma to encourage the doctor and assure him he was not only the best to do the surgery but that he would do a great job. Pray was, is and has always been my greatest “tool” in the operations. God would guide this awesome professional to do a stellar job. He did just that. Sarah looks beautiful today thanks hard work and detailed research on my part to get her the best of care at any cost. God has supplied the money either through my work or at times through others gifts and I have always done what is best to restore each child to beauty of form and face. This is the “Mordecai and Esther” Esther 2:7 goal for me and this work.
Sarah still struggles to pronounce things properly and I know there will have to be at least one more surgery on her to get it “totally right”. Let’s do our part to get Sarah where she needs to be as she faces the challenges of life.
In closing, I want Diane to add her own testimony of those 3 months in the earliest days of “Punkin Wunkin” Sarah. Have fun Diane, thanks again for your willingness to come and serve!
There is nothing more interesting than when a child has an extraordinary beginning to his or her life. This is truly the case of the little guy we have already come to know as Joseph.
It seems as the biblical story of Joseph in the Old Testament or the New Testament stories of both Joseph’s, this child will always be known for a unique start to “his little career”. As early pictures indicate, this little boy was another reject due to his cleft palate, cleft lip and yet as post surgery photos and videos clearly show, he is a handsome little prince today. I now want to tell the unbelievable details of this little lamb in the flock of God.
Cell phones are marvelous devices and no one would deny the fact they have been used in some of the most critical rescue situations. In the case of Joseph, cell phones were the key to communicating necessary information to help this abandoned child. The strange thing is that he was abandoned just after birth and that at a small clinic. Try to imagine a couple coming into a small one room midwife staffed clinic designed only to give the most basic of vaccinations and sometimes to help a woman give birth to her child. This is the room where Joseph was born.
The phone calls come in explaining the details of this child’s life. A couple comes in to have their baby girl and the birth goes well and a healthy newborn baby Chinese girl comes into this world. In the small one room clinic there is another bed and just after the birth of the couple’s baby girl another couple comes in to have their baby. It is not completely clear but I came to understand that this other couple was looking forward to having their baby knowing ahead of that it was going to be a boy. I can only assume they had some tests to determine the sex. Although this is not allowed in most cases in China, it goes on all the time in a “boy crazy” culture. Black market workers use equipment and charge fees illegally to determine the sex, who knows how many girls are aborted in such evil practices.
They apparently were excited about having a boy, and sure enough, it was a boy! The problem was that as soon as the father saw the boy he yelled, “That isn’t the boy I want!” Very quickly both the mother and nurse and also the couple in the bed next to them could see clearly the cleft palate and cleft lip on this little newborn baby boy. The joy turned to tears in a hurry as there was much discussion between the husband and wife as to who was to blame. It is sad people would feel there is someone to blame in this all too often occurrence. Praise God the father of the girl who was born had enough sense to remember that there was someone who once said to him that if you even hear of an unwanted baby, call this number. He was aware of the fact that the child would receive the best of care in a major city and everything would be paid for. It was also understood (as I planned) that people would love the newborn no matter what condition the child was in.
The nurses did not trust the situation and only after agreeing to bring the child all the way to Beijing, would they release the child to someone else. Although the couple with the girl would prefer a boy, they did not want the boy who looked that way. The sad thing is that the father of this cleft palate, cleft lip boy left the clinic never to return and eventually the mother also left the newborn and fled the clinic. The mother of the girl that was born and the nurse knew they did not want to deal with this boy and the “embarrassment” of having a boy with “such a face”. Remember, this is a boy, but “Not the boy they want”.
It is hard to believe that Blaza is already 17 years old and will turn 18 in his next birthday. As my grandmother knew all too well, it can be quite challenging to care for a mentally challenged child.
It was a rough beginning for this child. As I have shared before, I do not believe Blaza is a Chinese child. The area where he was rescued is up in the North West of China. Although I do not know the exact area where he is from, I have had people from the uighur Chinese minority try to communicate with him. He could not understand their dialect. To the best of my ability over the years I have gathered that Blaza was from a family with other siblings. He was living in a train station in the North West where there are countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. He was abused physically on a regular basis as he was "kicked" out of the train station where he was known to dig in trash cans and try to find food to survive. His entire body was caked with human waste and urine and was in rags most of the time. He would wrap himself with any rags he could find to stay warm. Of course the train station was his best place to call "home" but those who worked in and around the train station would drive him out on a daily basis. He was unwanted mostly because most did not consider him a Chinese child. To the best of my ability I have been able to determine he was abandoned around the age of 4 and when he was 6 years old I got word that he was sick and would not live much longer. He was a total reject and no one cared for him. His survival skills kept him alive but would he would not have lived much longer.
The reason I know he was called Blaza is "Bu La Zi" in pin yin (the Romanization of Chinese) is what the people in that area who were of the Han majority would call anyone from the Uighur minority. It was just a generic name. He does not speak nor does he understand any Uighur dialects. His communication skills are very limited although I have been very successful in teaching him to speak and understand both Mandarin and English. He even does a beautiful job writing neat Chinese characters although he is very limited in comprehending them.
Upon getting him to me in Beijing, he had many bad habits. He was not "potty trained" and would both defecate and urinate on himself and any bed he would sleep on. Over the years, he has ruined several mattresses just from not getting up when he needed to go to the bathroom. My solution has been to use only soft sleeping mats and washable blankets to sleep on and cover himself. It has taken years to help him learn to use toilets and bathrooms and to learn to keep himself clean.
Another very difficult habit to break has been his twitching and shaking of his head. He used to move his head around and make grotesque faces opening and closing his mouth. I would tell him uncle Ray loved him and he did not have to do that. I think the reason he used to throw his head around and shake his head is because he was beaten at the train station so often. People did not want him around. You can imagine how he smelled and no one wanted to go near him except to force him out of their area. This must have gone on for at least 2 years.
Blaza still to this day is tempted to dig in the trash; after all he survived for years doing this. He also knows that the food quality of trash is "much better" in the places he now lives. This has been a huge challenge for all of us to break. I do not allow him to "empty" the trash for fear he will "trash dive" for things he wants. Although he has these tendencies, sometimes Chinese workers and volunteers will use him to "empty" the trash only to catch him digging in the bins. I sometimes would go out with him and then let him dump the trash.
Blaza has come a long way and God has helped him learn to love others and not grab food from others. He can get upset at times and often does not know his own strength as a 17 year old. Usually at eating time he can be tough to handle as he always wants more even though he is already full. Once again this is due to his "survival" instincts from years ago. Many times I will have him wait for his meal and have him eat only after the others are done eating. There have been several times where people continue to feed him and he will actually throw up from over eating. I have worked hard at helping him understand uncle Ray loves him and he will always have enough to eat. Blaza trusts me to always do what will be best for him and the others. He has learned to share but it is a huge challenge for him as you can only imagine.
As for education, he has learned to speak both English and Chinese. He does not speak much but does understand both languages. This is amazing as he is very challenged mentally. The others children can’t help but laugh sometimes in asking him questions. Fortunately Blaza never takes anything personally and he doesn’t understand most jokes. He does love to see others enjoying themselves and he will often jump up and down when the other children are having fun. This is his greatest enjoyment besides food.
He can be very destructive with electronics as he enjoys tearing things apart and throwing the batteries away. The back plastic covers are almost always his first place to “attack”. He has destroyed many remote controls and children’s toys. It is very upsetting for the other children and they have all learned to keep toys away from him or play with him together to protect the toy. He is also known to throw things away that he has broken to hide what he has done. All of this requires much patience and a vigilant eye on him. Blaza could never work a normal job nor could he even make it through 1st grade. I have had him sit through several of the other children’s first grade classes, but his abilities are very limited.
Blaza does have his chores though. He is required to sweep the floor, hang up clothes and even wash clothes he has urinated in and later to hang them all up to dry. He is not good at folding them though and has no ability to put the clothes in the right place. Although he is not liked by many workers who help care for the children, we love him for who he is. Love is a choice for all of us, even when he can be very challenging.
Like in the Foundations main goal, We all want to be the "Mordecai to Esther" and love Blaza as our own family member. We have taught him the love of God and how to love each other.
What the future holds for adult Blaza is hard to say, but he knows he has a family and uncle Ray has been there for him. May God continue to bless him as he has now moved to adulthood even though his mind is limited to the ability of a three year old.
“ Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17
Everyone loves and appreciates gifts, especially when they are directly from the Lord. I now tell the wonderful story of the girl I named Phoebe, her love for Jesus, her love and kindness toward others and the short life God had planned for her.
Many a days I have cried over the loss of this beautiful godly 8 year old but I would never question God’s goodness toward her nor toward all of us who came to love her. She truly was special and had a marvelous sensitivity to spiritual things. As grandma Guo so truthfully stated in testimony at Phoebe’s memorial on December 22nd, 2014, Phoebe was the “peach maker” she was always in the middle of so many pictures posted online with www.rayschildren.org and it was her way of making sure she helped others understand it is all about forgiveness and restoration. Now on to the providential details of how this “special gift” came to me.
Although many know uncle Ray as a basketball player, my real sport has been tennis. I was an all conference undefeated doubles player in my junior and senior year of high school. With this love for tennis, I have taught Chinese leaders as well as instructed businessmen through the 1990’s and enjoyed going to watch professional tennis in Beijing. Every year Beijing hosts what is known in ATP circles as “The China Open Tennis Championship”. I have for the past 10 years or so, bought tickets and watched many of the best tennis players in the world compete for this China championship. Although it is not as big in name as the US Open, Wimbledon or the Australian Open, the “big names” all show up in early September or October for this opportunity. The strange thing is that it is not usually over crowded with fans especially as Chinese normally don’t like “baking” in the sun watching day matches.
It was at this time 8 years ago that I wanted to go by myself to watch a match or two. The tickets were very reasonable at just 50 RMB which was a mere 9 US dollars to watch an entire day of tennis, and that in some court side close to the players seats. As I watched some matches, I realized it was September 10th and I was two days away from my birthday. As some may or may not know but quite often Chinese locals don’t celebrate birthdays and no one of my closest friends knew my birthday was two days away. As I sat in the stands of the first day of tennis for that championship, I prayed that God would remember my birthday and bless me in a special way on September 12th. The next day being “911” and how I have always prayed for victims families for years, I did not want to go and “enjoy” tennis for the day. I instead went on September 12th to kind of celebrate my own birthday by enjoying another day of watching the world’s best men tennis players.
It was while watching a match that my cell phone rang and I knew there was something special about the call. I answered and I was being informed about a new born baby girl that was abandoned and that she had “an ugly face”. As I have stated before in other write-ups about the children, contacts had been in place by me to have people “be my eyes and ears” in very poor places where children could be left with no one to help. The art of these contacts is that I have always been careful to never reveal that an American is even involved. The Chinese contacts all understand only that there is someone at the end of the contacts that will care for the special needs child and it will be done “in the big cities” where the best of hospitals and doctors would help. With my expertise in understanding not only the mindset of people who can’t help but also more importantly the mindset that they are at least willing to help get the child to someone who can and will help. It is nothing less than miraculous for all the contacts to work and ultimately result in the special needs child be saved. One can only imagine how many children are left and there was nothing in place to assist them. Prayer has played a huge part in making sure the “connections” are never broken.
Fortunately for Phoebe, my critical connections and willing assistance along the way brought her to grandmothers in Beijing who I had in place to receive the child. It is always a very exciting thing to see these needy newborn babies for the first time. Upon first seeing Phoebe, I could see why she was looked at as an “ugly face” girl. It is sad that mothers and families are unaware of surgical techniques available today but this quite often is not the only reason the special needs children are unwanted. Time does not afford me some of the most obvious reasons for these abandoned children but it is right and proper to do all we can to save them from certain death.
As many of the early pictures show, Phoebe had a very wide split with both the palate and lips. She was a very difficult baby to feed and yet she was a blessing to care for. I train all my one grandmothers to feed them with the right bottles or nipples. The holes have to be cut to the right size and depending on the age of the baby, hard or soft bottles are used. It is a true art to feed these special needs babies. Not only have I done extensive research on caring for these babies, but I have much experience as you can see in David and Hannah who are now 11 years old.
Another key to caring for Phoebe was in choosing the best surgeon to do her difficult surgery. I always wait until the child is at least 8 months to a year old before any surgery is done. Recent research about the risks of anesthesia on newborns is a great concern for me. It is better timed to do the cleft palate, cleft lip surgery when the baby is closer to a year old. It is clear that with David, Hannah, John John, Phoebe, Sarah and Joseph all did well after their surgeries. Phoebe was done just before she was a year old, the surgeon had concerns to the difficulty but through our prayers, she turned out beautiful.
Every year from her first birthday, Phoebe and I celebrated our birthdays together. I would also make sure that I flew back to China a few days before September 12th so we could be together. It was always a special cake with our names written in frosting. We even blew out the candles and rejoiced to know that God blessed us to be together. I know this also created a special closeness to her yet the other children loved Phoebe and knew she was an unselfish girl always thinking the best for others.
There is so much to share over the years with this godly 8 year old girl. When she trusted in Christ as her Savior and how she loved to read the bible and pray and sing praise to God. All beautiful stories of how God used her in so many ways.
When I returned on September 11th, 2014, it was just for this reason, to celebrate my birthday once again with Phoebe. I was driving up to the apartment in a car of a friend of mine only to see Blaza “dumpster diving” as we stopped at the apartment entrance. As soon as I got out of the car I walked up to Blaza and said “What are you doing Blaza?” He pulled his head out of the dumpster and headed up into the apartment. This has always been the battle with Blaza, working with him over the years to teach him to trust in all of us to care for him and not to look elsewhere to get “food”. Grandma’s don’t always listen to me in not allowing Blaza to “empty the trash”.
Upon coming into the apartment after being gone for few months, the kids all greeted me with hugs and kisses. I did not notice at first Phoebe had something wrong. It was later that night that Phoebe told me she had a sore stomach. Grandma left to leave me with the kids and spend the rest of the day with them to get caught up. It was later that evening that I looked at Phoebe and held her and noticed that her stomach was swollen tight. I gently pulled her shirt up and noticed she was very swollen in the abdomen and there was something desperately wrong. I asked her once again how she felt and she said, “I am going to die uncle Ray.” I was shocked to hear that. I called grandma Guo immediately and later that night picked her up and rushed Phoebe off to the Capital Children’s hospital to make arrangements for an emergency surgery. I carried Phoebe in my arms as she was in pain and tired. Up and down in the hospital throughout the night as we filled out paper work to plan for an early morning surgery. Praise God we were able to have Phoebe in early on our birthday to have surgery to repair her ruptured kidney. The doctor told us blood and water had been accumulating for weeks as he could see the small rupture on her kidney. This accounted for her excessive swelling in her abdomen.
The surgery was successful and we visited Phoebe daily in the hospital and called her to have bible studies on the phone or in person. Pictures in the photos section shows me and others who visited in September and early October. The video posted shows just days before she is released in October and the kidney was fine. She was not however, allowed to eat meat or much protein. I have another video of all of the kids and me eating sandwiches and soup at a Subway. Phoebe enjoyed her egg salad sandwich that the doctor allowed her to eat.
During a check-up for Phoebe in the hospital, she was still not allowed to eat meat. Some careless worker or volunteer left a chicken leg and thigh on Phoebe’s table and she ate it knowing she was not supposed to eat it. No one would blame an 8 year old hungry to eat something tasty but this caused her stitches to tear lose and would require yet another emergency surgery. Oh the battles of dealing with things like this over the years. I am far from perfect but one thing I have straight is the best for the kids and I always put their interests before mine.
That surgery also went well and we once again visited her at the hospital and or arranged for other volunteers to visit and watch her. I was there through the whole process, either in person, or in the case of Phoebe in intensive care, having grandma Guo visit with the doctor and dropping off money for me. While in ICU, the doctors did not allow us to even see her or have any input in the process. I did however pay the 10,000 RMB daily for ICU. To the best of my knowledge, no one else dropped off money to help but did go and take pictures of her at her worst hour. This was sad both to me and especially to Phoebe.
Phoebe was never quite the same after the second surgery and she had other complications unrelated to her kidney. The hospital did eventually release her around Thanksgiving. While at the new apartment in Chao Yang district, late at night, Phoebe was in excruciating pain and asked me to take her to the hospital. She once again was in need of surgery. I carried her again through the hospital in the late hours of the night and early hours of the next day as grandma Guo filled out paper work. I have pictures on my cell phone of Phoebe with me throughout the night and she even managed to smile several times as we took cell phone pictures together sitting on the hospital floor. She would sleep in my arms as we moved up and down floors to fill out paper work. This time though we ran into hassles with the hospital as they claimed we needed a “legal” guardian to have the surgery performed. Evil press reports of “abuse” hindered us from continuing. I find out later that even foreigners were involved with speading lies to “help” get Phoebe and the rest of the children away from me. Even in this very difficult time, I was able to get the surgery approved. No one was a help but Maggie, grandma Guo and me.
After the December 7th surgery to open up the blockage in her duodenum, the doctor informed grandma who informed me, that Phoebe was drinking water and doing good. We all thought she would finally be ok. I was relieved to know that Phoebe was improving. Little did anyone know that Phoebe would make a turn for the worse that evening. Calls were coming in to me that she was not doing well. She went down fast, went into cardiac arrest and slipped into the arms of the Lord. We were devastated to learn of this precious life lost.
Probably the worst part of her final hours was to learn about conversations between the doctor and Phoebe. At first we thought she was not conscious before she died. Phoebe said to the doctor at one point, “Wo xiang chi rou bao zi” (I want to eat a meat filled bun) the doctor told her that she could not eat for 5 days. At this point she had a fit of anger and not long after that she died of coronary heart failure. (Doctor said “xin zang shuai jie”) I don’t blame the surgeon but it was disturbing to grandma and other people that talked with the doctor after Phoebe’s death to learn some other thoughts from the doctor. The doctor said, “If I had known Phoebe was so close to dying, I would have let her eat something.” We all could not help but be angry and wonder what the correct procedure should have been. There is no doubt the understanding that Phoebe, already being depressed with her condition, was overwhelmed with still not being allowed to eat.
I would never question God’s goodness nor even the doctors assessment of what was best for Phoebe. We also later learned that Phoebe had an enlarged heart and a hereditary heart condition from her parents, and this had little to nothing to do with her injury (that was repaired) nor even the intestinal blockage.
Although Phoebe’s life was short, she had a great impact on the people around her. Her great love for Jesus, her smiling kind spirit and her forgiving heart was contagious to the other children. Thank you God for the best birthday present I have ever received. I especially appreciated this lovely girl and will always remember her on my birthday. Fortunately in Christ, there is an eternity ahead of us. Give her a hug and kiss for me today Jesus.
Everyone who follows baseball rules knows that “3 strikes and you are out”. It is hard to imagine that besides being a girl, both a cleft palate and a cleft lip would result in the abandoning of this precious little girl I have named Deborah. She really is a “princess” to me. I can only hope you can all see how lovely she is in videos of me laughing with her and watching her deformed yet beautiful smile. Oh the bliss of her lovely innocence. Fortunately for her, before she even understands what the “problem” is, she will be operated on and restored to beauty in form and face.
Her name came from my reading in Judges 4 and how courageous Deborah was in the face of danger and loved God. This is my prayer for this little girl. Pray for her to grow up in the spirit of Deborah.
The very same nurses who were used greatly to get Joseph to us, helped to get this precious baby girl to us in Beijing. She has the best of care and these nurses know it would be the case. Although I did not see them through the entire process, Deborah was brought to Beijing by someone they knew.
Initially there was someone who wanted to keep the girl along the way but the nurses knew this would not be best for her as it relates to her surgery. I have done much research and have gone through many pictures of children who have had cleft palate, cleft surgeries. I know which surgeons in China are the best at fixing these children’s faces .I have also see children who did not turn out very good and will have scars for life. It doesn’t always turn out well, but I have an excellent track record with the beautiful results on the faces of Sarah, John John and Joseph.
My hope is that little Princess Deborah will be restored to a beautiful face and her smile will shine and be fitting for a princess. I will say though, it is so cute to see her smile so brightly even through her split lip and palate. Showing her the impartial love of God has demonstrated to her and the others around her that she is just as normal as anyone else.