Friday, September 09, 2005

Safe in China

Team one has made it safely to China! Most of the group either arrived in Beijing early Friday morning or Friday afternoon. The early group was able to take a quick tour of this beautiful capitol city while the group landing late in the afternoon quickly checked into the hotel and got ready for our first meeting. It was so wonderful to finally meet the people who would be helping to make these cleft surgeries a reality.

Now that we are safely here, I can tell you that we had just a wee little problem with the surgical instruments getting stuck in Chicago. They were supposed to be delivered to Oklahoma early in the week so that they could be packed and go over in our suitcases, but they just didn't arrive. Luckily, several of us were flying out of Chicago, so with the help of a lot of wonderful people, we were able to solve this problem. A huge thanks to Nancy Brown who had them couriered to the O'Hare Hilton, to Bruce Finch who worked with United to make sure they understood that we would be adding medical instruments midway through our journey, and another huge thanks to Scott and Jo Flynn who ran to Target to buy two huge rolling duffel bags for us to pack the supplies in and who then dropped the bags at O'hare so they would be waiting for us. Because of their help, it was no problem at all to arrive in Chicago, run over to the Hilton, pick up the surgical instruments and then check them on their way to Beijing. And thanks for crossing those fingers and toes.....all of the suitcases arrived safely in China and we were able to load 45 huge pieces of luggage onto a truck heading overnight to Luoyang. All of our supplies will be waiting for us in Henan when we arrive tomorrow.

Michael Han, from Always and Forever Adoption Homeland Tours met us all at the airport and somehow managed to corral our huge group into our bus to downtown. He is an incredibly kind man who had all of our transfer details worked out. I kept thinking on the bus ride into the city how blessed we have been to make so many friends who are willing to go the extra mile to help children in China.

We had our team meeting and dinner tonight, where we all got a little more acquainted and talked through the patient files, pre and post op reports, and other important details of the mission. We got a report from Luoyang that the 12 babies coming from Guangxi and Jiangxi have all arrived safely and the kids' pre op labs all went great. We also learned that the kids were all smiling and happy with their caregivers, even after such a long journey. All of us cannot wait to meet our precious patients!

At the close of the dinner, the team made a very special toast to Dr. John Padilla, the wonderful humanitarian that we have dedicated this mission to. Even though he is unable to be with us physically, I know that he is with us in spirit, and his compassion and tender kindness towards children will be part of every cleft surgery we perform. John, we are trying our best to keep your dream alive.

Tomorrow morning we start off at 6 a.m. We have to catch a flight to Luoyang, where we will quickly check into our hotel and then head to the orphanage to organize supplies and do the first pre-op evaluations of the children. It will be another very busy day.

More tomorrow from Henan!