May 13 taking the kids to the Shanghai Zoo

By Kelsey:

May 13, 2014
We all had a beautiful day today visiting the zoo with the children we met earlier at Shining Star. Each child seems to have found a place in our hearts which made parting with them rather difficult.
I found myself growing quite attached to the oldest boy of our group, a boy aged nine named TaoTao. Within a few minutes of our trip he informed me that today was Elephant's birthday and there would be a party for him at the zoo. TaoTao knows such things and we don't question him as about it-we just take him for his word. As a result when we showed up elephant had a full group of us singing him happy birthday. I think it was TaoTao's favorite part of the trip. For the rest of us our highlight was seeing the zoo's pandas. What an experience.
I have been very impressed so far with Shining Star and their attitude towards the children. Rather than coddling the kids and making them dependent, Shining Star is focused on teaching them to adapt to their surroundings despite vision impairment. As a result, when we were helping clean a few days ago TaoTao, much to his excitement joined us in the work. It gave him a sense of purpose and pleasure to be working among us. He was, however a little confused by our sudden appearance.
"Why are you here?" he asked Reina and &
I.
"To see you."
He scrunched up his face as if trying to comprehend.
"To see me?"
"Yes," we answered "and to clean the leaves out of your sandbox.
This last sentiment was truly curious; anyone could pick the mottled leaves out of the sandbox. Why did a team of Americans come to do it from so far away? It is one of the more humbling realizations one makes on a service learning trip. We leave with puffed up pride about all the good things we will accomplish-really in the end what your doing is quite small, humble, work. This is often how it really is to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
It made me realize that even though I don't have a visual disability TaoTao and I still have a lot in common; we want to be of use. He helps clean and I pick leaves out of his sandbox. God provides these small ways for us to be of service and we do what we can.
Praise him who through all blessings flow.
-Kelsey Case

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