Dan Dan just finished her time with a volunteer family at our Children’s Hope Hosting Camp in Beijing the last few weeks. Here’s what her family had to report:
Dan Dan is shy and quiet at first, but it doesn’t take her long to warm up to each of the people who come into her life this weekend. About 10 minutes into the taxi ride home she is chattering about things she sees out the window, etc. She is the same with my friend Helen who goes to the Zoo with us, and with my assistant Lori, and with little Michael (9 years old) and his mother, who comes by to visit her and bring her gifts. And by our third day together there are some people she warms up to instantly.
Dan Dan also has a teachable attitude. At first when someone stops and gets down to talk with her at church, she looks away and does not answer. I ask her to say “Ni hao” to those who talk to her, and after that she does. After that she seems to instantly warm up to people and enjoy chatting with each one who comes.
Dan Dan likes to be independent in taking care of herself. She dresses herself for the most part, brushes her teeth, cleans herself after toileting, and cleans up her area after eating or doing a project. While walking through a university campus on Sunday morning I buy for us a little fruit and buns in a market. Seeing no benches or chairs nearby, I find a relatively quiet place and sit down on the curb with her wheelchair facing me. After a while she intentionally slips right out of her chair and maneuvered herself to sit beside me on the curb!
She also likes to be neat and clean. She puts things back after using them. She cleans up the table after lunch, brushing the crumbs onto a plate, throwing our trash away. She puts away her toothbrush and soap when she’s finished. She tidies the table after playing with toys or doing a project. Once I get her a pan of warm water to wash her hands after toileting, and she wants me to dump it out before we leave the bathroom. At lunch she wants to make sure everyone has chopsticks and bowls.
Dan Dan is also generous, and thinks of others. Her little friend Michael buys her a pretty box with little cakes, and when I prepare them for her to eat at breakfast, she divides them up and sets one before me and the other for herself. She has told us earlier how much she likes strawberries, but I find that she has put both strawberries on my cake rather than hers!
Dan Dan seems to have an adventurous spirit also. She is never reluctant to try something new or go where she has never been before. She likes when we run down ramps in her wheelchair. She likes to feed the llama, although she has never before seen a llama and at first she is scared when it comes near. She happily uses a warm-air hand drier in the bathroom for the first time. She loves going on a boat ride. She eats cotton candy and chooses the balloon she wants.
She is also affectionate. She reaches out and takes my hand, and when we must part, she cries.
I think that Dan Dan’s best quality is her cheerful gratitude. I never see a trace of self-pity. She never demands, fusses, or complains. She accepts gifts with gratitude, but never complains when a promise is delayed. I ask her if she wants ice cream, and she says yes. But while we are waiting in line, my husband comes and we have to go and meet him, but she never shows disappointment. Later we get the ice cream.
Dan Dan has deformed but beautiful hands, which she can use nearly as good as I can use my well-formed hands. Dan Dan’s feet are also deformed and she has difficulty putting on her shoes. Her feet are also very ticklish, so if you want to make you both laugh, wash her feet! Dan Dan’s lower legs are very very thin so she cannot stand. However, it seems as though she would like to try. I wonder if with therapy and braces and special shoes she could learn to walk? Dan Dan wears a diaper to bed. One night it remains dry; the second night it is wet and she takes it off herself. (In her defense, she slept later than normal that day because I had gotten her to bed late the previous night).
Dan Dan’s good qualities make her a delightful addition to the family! I think she is eminently adoptable! My Chinese assistant Lori said she fell deeply in love with her immediately. Her pleasant, good-natured easy-goingness make her a joy to be around. When there are difficulties, such as when she has trouble pulling up her pants after toileting and she is slowly sliding out of my awkward hold, she is laughing. As the weekend goes on, we get to hear more and more of her contagious laughter and we cannot help but laugh with her. Laugh at the goodness of God. Laugh at our own awkwardness. Laugh at our initial reluctance to bring this child home. Laugh at our own compaints and expectations of a perfect life. Dan Dan enriches our lives! She attracts kind people into the circle of our lives. She abundantly returns our affection. She is intelligent and just waiting for someone to teach her to read and develop the life of her mind. Dan Dan is a treasure indeed!
To learn more about Dan Dan, call Nicky Losse 314 812 1742 or submit the form below.