Arrival at Maria's Big House of Hope was an exciting culmination to
a long journey for the thirteen women who had traveled twenty plus hours
to reach this destination. When our bus turned onto the dirt path to
Maria's, I couldn't help but think the bus driver had made a wrong turn,
but he seemed confident in his choice, so the rest of us just sat and waited
to see where he was taking us. All of the sudden, in front of us
rose this beautiful building covered in blue sky and clouds...
We were finally at Maria's!!! All the pictures and stories I had seen and
read didn't do it justice! I could feel the tears well up in my eyes....
To the left of the orphanage is a prison to the right is a mental
institute and in front of it is a building which is suppose to house the
new state orphanage. Yes, it was very evident, we were in God's territory!
Once inside the revolving doors, we all felt the presence of a sacred place.
On the right wall was a picture of Maria Sue Chapman, daughter of
Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman, namesake of the orphanage.
There is an official plaque from the chinese government and the
piece of Maria's artwork which is a flower with only one of
the six petals colored. If you read Mary Beth Chapman's book, "Choosing
to See", you know that to the Chapman's that signifies Maria is the only one
of their six children who is complete, now that she is in the presence of our Lord.
Above the flower artwork is the word "see" in Maria's handwriting. The family had been
praying for God to allow them to "see" why things were the way they were. There on the
back of the artwork in her own little 5 yr old handwriting, was the word "see". It was like an
answer from God himself. Here on the walls of the orphanage hangs that precious artwork.
As a mother, seeing that priceless artwork hanging, reminded me of the generous
hearts of the Chapman's. Allowing the artwork of their precious Maria to
hang halfway around the world for others to be reminded to "see"!
As priceless as any Picasso, Maria's artwork graces the entrance hall
of Maria's Big House of Hope. It is a sacred place indeed!
We were met by Mariah Bywater, one of the nurses, who is from
Beaufort , South Carolina and Linda, who works at the orphanage
Linda is instrumental in overseeing the staff and the daily operations
of the orphanage. Mariah takes care of the very sick babies. It was
beautiful to see how they worked together to care for the children.
On the far left wall, is another example of how children's art can be
as important as a fine painting. Here hangs squares decorated by
Maria's classmates in her honor. The teacher allowed each child to
chose if he or she wanted to paint a flower, the word see or a ladybug.
The squares were then hung together to create this collage.
It was just beautiful! (wish my photography was better!)
Directly in front of us was a quilt that was lovingly made
for the foyer by another Tennessee lady. (again sorry the photograph isn't better!).
This really is a beautiful quilt!
All through the orphanage, the walls are painted in bright, child like
themes. Here is the preschool class in the two pictures below.
This is the Nemo room....
There are many other rooms as with painting as well. I think my favorite room was
the Peter Rabbit Room but they were really all very cute!
But the real reason were were there was for the babies.....
We each got our daily dose of baby love....
"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you. I always
pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. and this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1 : 3-11