Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 18...Guang Zhou

Tonight I've been reflecting on the past month.

July 1st I watched one of my dearest friends drive out of my driveway and off to her home for the very last night before she moved to the coast. July 2nd our TA came, and that began the crazy whirlwind of getting plane tickets, bags packed, and lists made of appointments and chores for my parents to keep while we were away. On July 5th we were in the ER with Greg, uncertain of what the next few days would hold. July 11th we took off at 6 AM from Memphis beginning our near 24 hours of straight travel to China.

We landed here July 12th, and began to immerse ourselves in a culture so incredibly vibrant, and full, and different from our own. We met and began to bond with other families, and began learning of their stories and journeys that led them to China. The next few days we saw sights that we've only ever seen in history books, and on T.V. Amazing things, with so much history, you could almost feel the stories being whispered from the walls of Tienanmen square, the forbidden city, and the great wall.

We boarded our first flight in China on July 14th and flew to what seemed to be a different nation. Zheng Zhou was so very different from Beijing, it was a real shock to us all. The level of poverty in the cities outside the major areas here in unbelievable. Just two days later we woke up early and headed to the stark plain office where we met our children for the very first time. Each story was a little different, but on the whole, all of the kids did well, and all of the parents did too!

A short ride later and we were back to the hotel, where we finally had time alone with our kids, to bathe, feed, and truly meet them. The next day we traveled to see the room and orphanage that our daughter had lived all but 10 days of her life in. I still haven't been able to go back and read what I wrote those first few days, and the emotion just writing this brings is overwhelming. I literally have tears in my eyes as I type.  The next few days were difficult to say the least, as we felt out Annabella, and she felt us out. It seems as if we've had her forever now, and we all feel so natural together, but it wasn't that way at first.

July 21st we flew to Guang Zhou for what we thought was our last week in China. Getting here felt like we'd stepped into a piece of paradise compared to Zheng Zhou, and we were all excited and relieved to be in a different location. The next few days all of our children seemed to really come out of their shells and blossom into more vivacious little beings, and we all bonded with them, and with each other even more. It was great to be reunited with the friends who had adopted from different provinces who we'd not seen in a week. To meet their children, and hear their stories was such a great experience.

July 26th we all headed to the U.S. consulate's office and took the oath for our children that will allow them to become U.S. citizens when they step foot onto U.S. soil. We all began to pack and prepare as several families planned to leave the next day. On Friday July 27th we got the news that only 2 families would be heading home on time, and the rest of us began our frantic scurry to rebook flights, cancel rooms, vans, and call home to our families to let them know what was going on.

The next day I think we were all still in shock and few of us ventured outside of the hotel. We gathered and prayed, and tried to console one another. Today, July 29th, we got up, had breakfast, and headed to a Christian church to attend a mandarin/English service. To be able to worship here was something we didn't think would be possible, and to have been able to experience it was truly something we will never forget. Hopefully tomorrow we will all receive our visas, but only God knows what is ahead of us.

Tonight as we sat in the hotel room on the floor on a towel and ate Chinese take out from the Cantonese restaurant downstairs, I realized something. This precious little girl is ours, truly ours, forever and ever, ours. This little girl that we affectionately call "Stinky tofu" and "sticky rice," who loves a bath, hates to shop, loves to dance to music, and refuses to eat colored food. This is our daughter. I would do anything for this child. She is no longer just the little girl we are adopting, she is truly my daughter. I think every parent realizes that moment when you just KNOW that you would give anything, and do anything for your child. That moment when you know if anyone very tried to hurt them that you would do anything to keep them safe. Tonight was that time, and that moment for me.

As we sat there sharing fried rice, shrimp, and noodles, she would turn to each of us and smile that nose crinkling, eye squinting smile. She sat between us with her little legs stretched out so she could touch both of us with her tiny little toes. I love this sweet and precious little baby with my whole heart. I love her as much as I could ever love a child, and I know that she is as much mine as my three biological boys. I can not believe that it has been just one short month according to a calender, and that we have gone through so much change in that amount of time. It seems as if it's been so much longer. I am humbled at how much God has blessed me in His plan of allowing me to be this perfect little girls Mom.

I sit here in awe and wonder of what I ever could have done to deserve this blessing, and the grace of God. I am so unworthy of the love that He shows me, and though our daily trials may seem huge to us at the time, I know that to God they are less than tiny specks of dust in His great, grand plan for our lives. If you don't know Christ, I pray that you will one day understand unconditional love, and the grace, and mercy that only He can show you. The life changing love that you can only find in Christ is my true prayer for your life. So tonight, please pray for us, and I also ask that you include someone in your life that hasn't yet found that love and mercy of God. Pray whole heartedly for them as hard and much as you can, that they will one day find the peace that you have, and that they can only find in Christ.

Dear Heavenly Father, Tonight I come to you in humble thankfulness of all that You have blessed me with. The support that You have given us in our pastor, church, and family and friends has been such a lifeline for us here. I know that You have great plans for us, and I pray that You will help me to follow through in whatever it is that You need me to do. I pray for the friends that I have who have not yet found Your great love. I pray that You will burden them with the Holy Spirit, that You will bring them to You. If I can be used in any way, Lord, I pray that you will open my heart and mind to Your will. I lift up all of the families here, Lord and pray that You will continue to strengthen us in our earthly bodies, in in our faith. Forever in Your Great Name I pray, Amen

Worship @ The Christ Church on Shamian Island in Guangzhou, China

It was PACKED!

The band

Two English songs, and one in Mandarin...these were the Mandarin lyrics

These ladies were the Mandarin Speaker and English translator for the introductions and announcements

The pastor on the left, and the English translator on the right

Our daughter in her first ever church service

And later in the room eating dinner

Mmmmmm...Fried rice for dinner

And more messy hair after a bath...We LOVE her messy hair!

And then Greg having fun with her...she was so funny running around the room wearing this mask!

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