Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I know this will be a longer story than usual, but I am going to ask you to read it all the way to the end. Something amazing happened to me today, and I believe it was for a reason. I hope you will feel the same after reading this letter.
LWB has been working in China since 2003, and just a few months after we began helping children there, we decided to do our very first cleft surgery mission to Guangdong province. It was on that trip that I met Dr. John Padilla, one of the most extraordinary men I have ever had the honor to meet. His love and compassion for children born with cleft was humbling, and he influenced me in an enormous way. He helped heal 53 children on that first mission, and he promised me he would return to China with LWB every year to heal more. Tragically, John died just a few months after our trip to China in a plane crash. I wrote a blog dedicated to him that you can read here. I hope you do have the time to read about this extraordinary man, but for those of you who don’t have the time, I will tell you that John Padilla is a hero to me. He is the man who dared me to “dream big”, and our cleft healing home idea was created completely in his honor. I think of him every time we heal another child born with cleft.
Recently LWB was invited to submit a project to a new proposed television reality show called “Imagine This”. This show was created in large part by an actor named Eion Bailey. Many of you might have seen him in Band of Brothers, on ER, or in many movies. He is a man with a heart of compassion, and he came up with the idea of doing a reality show where each episode would be shot in a different location around the world, and a team of people would come together to do something amazing…whether it is to build a school for kids in South America, or provide a well system for a village in Africa. We were asked to submit a project for consideration, and immediately we knew that we wanted to submit the idea of a new cleft healing home for a province in China, where all the orphanages in that province could send their children born with cleft for loving, one on one care. We have created our sample episode at this website location: http://imaginethistv.com/group/chinahealinghome
Today Karen Maunu and I had a conference call with Eion Bailey and one of the show’s producers. We were discussing the possibility of building a new cleft healing home, and Eion told me that he would really love to see it happen because it had personal meaning to him. He went on to tell me that he had a friend who had been so influential in his life. This man had believed in him from the very beginning, had invested in his future and his career, and was someone that Eion admired greatly. He told me that he wanted to see this episode happen because he wanted to dedicate it to this man’s life, as he had sadly passed away. And then he told me that this man had an absolute passion for children born with cleft, and I got goosebumps all over my entire body. “Are you by any chance talking about John Padilla?,” I asked holding my breath. And unbelievably, beautifully, miraculously…he was. So while I tried my best not to cry, I said, “Eion…I need to tell you a story.” And so I told him about LWB’s relationship with John, how he had gone with us to China and fallen in love with the people there. How he had told me he wanted to return every year to China to help even more children in the future. How he had told me that if I really dreamed of a day where no orphaned child would die from being born with cleft that I needed to never give up until we made it happen.
I think everyone on the call was emotional by this point. Somehow a mom in Oklahoma helping orphans was on the phone with an actor in Hollywood who wanted to help bring change to the world, and we were both tied together through the same amazing man who had died far too soon. I am sure that John was up in heaven at that moment smiling, saying “I told you all to dream big.”
There have been times with this foundation where I have known I was part of something absolutely extraordinary. I have seen miracles happen and have felt the enormity of God working for the good. I remember baby Kang, the baby who started it all. The heart surgeon in China told me he was not going to survive post surgery, but when thousands of adoptive families came together through the internet to pray for that one tiny baby, he rallied the very next day, and LWB was born. I remember baby Hercules from our cleft mission in 2005, and knowing that I was in the middle of something so beyond me as everything came together in the exact right way to save his life as well. I remember Baby Li, and Cui, and Chang, and hundreds more lives which have been changed because people came together and believed a difference could be made. I have been so blessed to see again and again that when people step out beyond themselves to help others, the EXTRAORDINARY occurs.
Today, I felt again with everything in my heart that something extraordinary is going to happen. I don’t know what, I don’t know when, but I felt so strongly that something wonderful is going to come from this show if it becomes a reality. It might not even be in China…it could be an episode shot in Peru, or in Haiti, or in the US, but I believe that Eion Bailey and I were supposed to speak with each other today and learn about our connection to John Padilla for a reason.
PLEASE join with us one more time and be a part of making something wonderful happen. We need your help! We need as many people as possible to visit http://imaginethistv.com/group/chinahealinghome, sign up to join the group, and leave a comment on how important this project and show would be to orphaned children. The producers will be meeting with the networks very, very soon, and there are still people out there who don’t think that America would want to watch a show where people are doing good in the world.
YOU CAN HELP MAKE IT HAPPEN. Log onto our page, join our healing home group, and leave your feedback that this type of show is EXACTLY what we want to watch, what we want our kids to see, what we believe is important. Forward this to everyone that you know, help spread the news for as many people as possible to voice their opinion. I know every single person who supports us believes that saving the lives of children is absolutely important. But now we need to take action and let the networks know as well. Thank you so much in advance for believing this project should be done and that our healing homes can give orphaned children a second chance. Let your voice be heard, both in John Padilla’s honor and in honor of every child with cleft who is in heaven right now with him because they lost their struggle. You helped save 10 babies’ lives with the Facebook challenge, you saved even more with the Cookie Contest, and now we have a chance to impact countless others by showing our support for this new series and an episode to help orphaned children in China. Thank you, thank you, thank you….for always believing that every child born deserves to know love. Together, I know completely that we can make this show and a new healing home a reality, and give some of the most vulnerable orphaned children real hope.
Because every child counts,