From the Heart – Remembering Luke Tianyi
I first met Luke Tinyi fourteen years ago when he, as a one-month-old infant, arrived at Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village. He came into our care because he was born with a complicated heart defect.
At that time, none of us would have imagined that this precious little angel would spend the next 12 years of his life in our care. During those years, he saw countless housemates get adopted into forever families. It wasn’t that Luke was undesirable for adoption. Quite the contrary, there were plenty of families who wanted to adopt this sweet and kind little boy. The problem was related to his hukou, the official registration needed to be eligible for adoption.
I have so many fond memories of Luke growing up at SFCV. At first glance, he came across as being kind of shy, especially around new people. But as you got to know him, he was actually very engaging and funny. As he grew older, he was like a big brother to his housemates, even helping the nannies take care of them. He loved his teachers at Little Lambs and school in general. They played a crucial role in shaping and molding his character. Besides his love for school and being a helper at home, he loved playing games, reading books, and playing with LEGOs.
Another fond memory I have was that Luke and I surprised each other during one of our fall party celebrations when we both showed up to the party wearing the same costumes. We didn’t plan it – it just happened. That year we both dressed as pirates, and we had so much fun pretending to be pirates battling each other with our plastic swords.
Luke the Performer
Some of my fondest memories of Luke were during our International Children’s Day celebrations. Luke was quite the superstar, and he loved performing. If you ever attended one of these special Children’s Day parties, I’m pretty sure you would remember Luke. Always the constant perfect performer. The first year we did a fashion show as part of the activities, stealing the show with his infectious smile and a tip of his fedora as he walked the catwalk. The audience loved it so much that they even did an encore catwalk, and he never missed a beat. He was just as professional the second time around.
One of my more recent memories took place in January of 2020 when Luke went into the hospital in Beijing for what would be his final heart surgery. This one was to help improve his oxygen level. The surgery took place in early February and was, by all accounts, a success. While visiting him in the hospital, I remember playing cards with him, and I lost every time. His face would light up as he won each hand. By the way, he was really good at it. I was genuinely trying to win.
Luke the Kindhearted
In the past couple of years, he developed a love for caring for plants, playing Wuziqi (Chinese chess-like game played with black and white stones), and he continued his passion for reading. He took good care of himself by making his bed, folding his clothes, and putting things in their proper place. Luke also helped his younger roommates when they needed it. He was one of the kindest, most loving kids to ever come through our doors.
On January 9, Luke was taken to the hospital for a medical emergency, and I regret to inform you that his life ended there. His death came as a shock and was heartbreaking to all who knew and cared for him. There will be no more fashion show catwalks, no more dress-up parties, and no more card games for us. Not in this life anyway. I know Luke had a good life and compared to most orphans, a great life. He knew he was loved and felt secure in that. I’m so happy to have been part of his life, and I know everyone on our SFCV team echos that sentiment. His Chinese name, Tianyi, means God’s will. Having said that, I think he was needed elsewhere. I can imagine him playing Wuziqi in heaven and probably winning every time.
We are missing you, Luke.
By Tim Baker
The Leader of the Pack
“If you had the pleasure of visiting Shepherd’s Field/7Acres in the spring of 2018, you would likely have encountered a gang of six 10-year-old boys. Known to stash squirt guns around campus for easy retrieval at opportune times, or beg for golf cart rides, this gaggle of friends was always palling around. The leader of this group was undoubtedly Luke. The bonds between these boys were deep. I can only imagine how it must have felt to experience total acceptance- despite a disability, despite not having a typical family. Friends that understand you. Luke fostered those friendships. I know that through those friendships, he provided love, hope, and trust for his friends that will never be forgotten.” – Dustin and Katy
Luke the Helper
“After school was over, while others would go home or play on the playground, Luke would come to the greenhouse. He would give me a grin, grab a broom, and help me finish my work for the day, no matter how long it took. I’d hoist him up on my shoulders, and we would walk around SFCV, talking until it began to get dark. He was intelligent, outgoing, and a leader, but his selflessness and kindness will always stick with me.”– Connor
Luke the Big Brother
“Luke was the ‘big brother’ to all the kids at PHF. He was one of the first people the children in his house would run to for comfort, and he was always willing to help his friends with schoolwork.
One of the best moments I shared with Luke was when I was interning in the Little Lambs School. Luke wanted to help me buy Christmas gifts for everyone in the class; he was so excited to pick out gifts for his friends that we ended up buying three times as many gifts as we had planned.
One of my favorite memories of Luke is when the school children went on a field trip to an indoor park. Luke and Francis decided to play a ton of arcade games together; Luke was so happy to spend time with his buddy. Even so, he ended up giving his last few arcade coins to some of the younger kids so they could also share in the fun.” – Annie
Year End Planning
Year-end contribution statements were sent by mail on January 21. If your physical address was not in our records, an email statement was sent on January 24. If you are missing your statement, please email Lori.Baxter@chinaorphans.org and let me know! Update your records now by visiting our self-service portal at chinaorphans.org/contact-us. You will need to provide your email address to log in. You can even check your donation history while you are logged in!
If you prefer, call Lori at PHF at 866-526-3712 or email her directly. Your donations make a difference in the life of an orphan in China.
One At a Time in Asia
Would you like to make a difference for a child in rural Asia? In 2022, PHF will be supporting community-based workspaces. Over 80% of children with disabilities in China live in rural areas, which also have lower income. Over 70 orphans and unsupported children live in this particular region, and most of them are boys.
There are over 40 staff members in this small village providing care for these vulnerable children. The One At a Time in Asia project through PHF is sponsoring 25 front-line nursing staff, therapists, and special education teachers. These dedicated workers provide direct care for the children in their care. Among the 30 children with moderate to severe disabilities, many of whom require 24 hour care, are kids with cerebral palsy. They need help with changing positions, moving, stretching, and bathing.
A Montessori Resource Classroom for early education started recently, and the first group of children are attending. There are plans to grow this class to up to 30 students. We’ll keep you updated!
To protect the privacy of this project, limited information will be available on our website. Sign up email updates for more complete updates.
If you’d like to learn more about this project or other ways to get involved, visit chinaorphans.org/get-involved.
Access Your Account Online
Great News! We have updated our online donation system, and you now can access your account online. For your security, you will need to request access through a link on our website here. You’ll be asked to provide your email address, and a link will be sent to you. For your security, that link is only good for 24 hours. But you can access your account as often as you want.
Use your self-service page to:
- Update your physical address
- Update your email address
- Change your online donations
- View your donation history
- Print receipts for past donations
If you have any questions, please email Lori.Baxter@chinaorphans.org.