Monday, November 4, 2013

Hope in Christ

When we were trying to decide if we were going to embark on our China adoption journey, we speculated about how this adoption would impact our family.  I remember attending a worship service during that time and singing along with a Chris Tomlin song

 "if this life I lose, I will follow You."  

It struck me that the odds of my dying in my pursuit of God are not too great right now.  However, I may lose my life as I know it--the things I enjoy, the dreams I have for my family, my plans.  Those may be lost as we jump into the unknown.

As you know, we decided to take the leap of faith..  We followed where God was leading.

We have experienced loss.  One of the losses that my girls have struggled with the most has been the absence of my oldest daughter.  She moved out when Davina moved in.  In addition to missing her, we have had to navigate having a new sister/daughter.

During this time, I have seen God answer prayers and work in my family more than I have ever seen in my life.  I stand in awe of how gracious and loving God has been.  He has tenderly met the day to day needs of my family.  

Recently, one of my daughters had a really difficult day.  As I dealt with the stress of the day, I sensed God at work in me--giving me strength, wisdom, and patience.  I was grateful for His presence and provision.

A few days later I read these words from John Piper:

He (God) beckons us into the obedience of suffering not to demonstrate the strength of our devotion to duty or to reveal the vigor of our moral resolve or to prove the heights of our tolerance for pain, but rather to manifest, in childlike faith, the infinite preciousness of his all-satisfying promises.
(From "Desiring God")

In my light suffering (dealing with a raging child is difficult, but in reality, it is low on the scale of suffering endured by other believers), I am learning that my hope is in Christ alone.  As I deal with difficulties, I experience God in new ways and I begin to see more clearly that He is all sufficient and that my joy is in the sufficiency of Christ.  My most satisfying joy does not come from obedient kids, a clean home, or an attentive husband but from Christ alone who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  When my joy comes from the all sufficient Christ, my circumstances don't matter.  My hope is fixed on Christ.  His promises are precious and He meets my deepest needs.

This is such a liberating truth that I am only beginning to understand.  I am grateful for this journey and how God is revealing Himself to me.

I want to end with some pictures...While the point of this post has been the joy that I have in Christ, I have a lot of fun and laughter in my everyday life.  I want to share a few pictures of my girls.  Following are pictures of Halloween and of Yuly, Riza, and Davina meeting the FSU Lady Noles Basketball players.  Both events were tons of fun!!







Monday, October 14, 2013

Opening eyes

For our family, the path to our second adoption began with the awareness of a need.  We learned information about the plight of orphans in China that we could not ignore.  As the Bible says,

"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we do not know what to do.  God, who weighs our hearts and knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act."  
Proverbs 24:12

Here are a few facts about orphans, specifically teen-aged orphans in China, designed to open your eyes:
  • There are approximately 712,000 orphans in China.  Families from the United States adopt .003% of these children each year.
  • Children are no longer eligible for adoption, foreign or domestic, after the age of 14.  
  • Children are allowed to stay in the institution until 16-18, depending on the orphanage. 
  • The amount and type of education for children in orphanages varies widely between orphanages.  
  • Although orphanages do try to help orphans transition to adulthood, there are overwhelming difficulties as these young adults look for work.  The job competition in China is stiff, and the educational training of the orphans is often lacking.  In addition, all individuals in China have an ID number (like a SS number) that they must use on applications and other forms.  This number reflects family of origin and therefore identifies these young adults as orphans which impedes their job search as orphans are considered "bad luck."
  • Of the children who age out, 85% of girls end up involved in human trafficking and 75% of the boys end up as career criminals.

These children who age out are forced to navigate very difficult circumstances without adequate resources, and most importantly without the hope, love, and support that a family provides.

Surprisingly, not every orphan wants to be adopted.  Adoption brings significant change and the thought of it it too overwhelming for some children.  However, the vast majority of teens have seen other children adopted and long to be adopted themselves.

One of these children who has seen his friends adopted, who longs to be adopted is "Ferguson."  He has been a friend of Davina's for 5 years.  He is caring and sweet.  He is an average student, although he has some difficulty expressing himself verbally.  Davina tells me that because she knows him, she does not have trouble communicating with him.  

It is true that adoption is not for everyone...but if you are at all curious, I'd love to chat.  I will tell you the truth...adoption is hard, but soooo totally worth it.  After all, we were adopted once too...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Treasures

...but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often.
Luke 2:19 (NLT)


   As we parent the beautiful gifts that God has given us, we have moments, treasures, that we discover along the way.  I think, like Mary, we need to lock these memories away in our hearts and think about them often.  These treasures are special blessings from God.  The psalmist also knew the imortance of thinking of about the amazing works of God.

I will remember the deeds of The Lord
Yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago.
I will meditate on all Your works
And consider all Your mighty deeds.
Psalm 77:11-12

Sometimes I am looking for, anticipating, finding treasures.  Like when we have planned for a special event or a vacation.  I expect to find treasures at those times.  

However, this week, I unexpectedly mined a gem that I will treasure.  I will draw it out and remember it periodically.  

Davina asked to take Tae Kwan Do lessons.  She said that she had been preparing to take classes in China shortly before we adopted her.  Todd and I agreed for several reasons.  We think the physical exercise will be beneficial.  We want to encourage her to interact with peers (she has been very reluctant to do that).  We want to demonstrate to her that we are going to treat her like we treat her sisters (her sisters each have an extra-curricular activity).  We also have looked for opportunities to show Davina that we will meet her needs (for attachment reasons).  This process has looked very different than with our younger adopted daughter, and in some ways more challenging because as a teenager, Davina wants to do things (and should do some things) on her own, so we look for ways that we can meet her needs.  Allowing her to take this class meets a (sort of) need.

All of these are good reasons.  But the best reason caught me completely off-guard.

During class, parents sit in an adjacent room and watch through a glass, or a few parents may sit in chairs in the classroom.  I asked Davina if I could sit in the room and she agreed.  During class, she repeatedly looked over at me and grinned--especially after she had just completed a move.  She wanted to make sure I was watching,

It struck me.  Davina received good care and had many opportunities in China.  She traveled.  She went to school.  She had lots of friends.

But she didn't have a mom and dad to cheer her on, to pay attention to her, to applaud her successes...

The looks that she gave me during that first class are a memory I will treasure.  I am so grateful to be her mom.  I am thankful that I can be there to watch her and share in her experiences.  I am thankful that God continues to surprise me with unexpected blessings.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

School Daze

Wow!  I can't believe it has been almost a month since I have posted.  The beginning of school has made my days a little more hectic (but in a good way!)

Our daily life is feeling more normal, more predictable (note: I said more normal and more predictable, not completely normal and completely predictable).

My two youngest are enrolled in Classical Conversations (CC) this year.  This is our first foray into CC and we love it!  CC gives a loose structure to our curriculum while still allowing us to express our individuality.  In our case, we use the CC curriculum as the basis of our history and a supplement to Bible, science, and grammar.  In addition, we are using Singapore math this year (for me, choosing a math curriculum is the MOST stressful part of homeschool!  We have tried Saxon, Teaching Textbooks, and now Singapore). We are studying Sea Creatures with Apologia curriculum (love it!), and using Daily Grammar.  We have a Bible curriculum (New testament survey this year).  We also supplement with other teaching activities as needed.

In CC, the girls have to make a presentation each week.  To my surprise, both of the girls enjoy this.  Riza likes to supplement her talk with visual aids.  So far this week, she has used a poster, a diorama, and stick puppets during her speeches.



Riza likes anything with arts and crafts and this year I have done a better job incorporating these into our history studies.  Here is Riza's version of the Bayeux tapestry.  The original tapestry depicts the Battle of Hasting--a significant event in English history.  Her tapestry displays significant events in her life:  my pregnancy, my morning sickness, her birth, her seven birthdays (depicted with birthday cakes), and then her painting this tapestry.  Her life in a nutshell :)



Davina is focusing on math and history through Florida Virtual School.  History has been a struggle, but she is getting the hang of it.  She has two really flexible and helpful teachers, so that has been nice.  We also supplement with English lessons, grammar, and English reading.  She reads aloud from the Bible with her dad almost every night.

Davina's English continues to develop and with it, we are hearing more stories of her daily life in China.  I am really proud of how hard she is working and her attitude toward school and the way she works independently (mostly).

We have discovered that Davina loves wings (the hotter, the better) and sushi (but not with eel!).  She has even made her own sushi.  It was delicious!  :)



Davina is very artistic and she enjoys putting face paint on her sisters...















All in all, it has been a fun month!  I'll try to update again before another whole month is up!

Sometimes (often!), I get worn out...tired.  And in these times, God calls to mind a couple of key verses:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

To me, this verse means that God will give me sufficient grace.  Enough.  Not too much.  Not tomorrow's allotment, but a sufficient amount for today.  And this verse:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.   Lamentations 3:22-23

This is awesome because it will mean a fresh allotment of God's compassion for tomorrow!  I'm amazed at the way God continually renews my strength when I rest in Him.  Too often I try to do things in my own strength, and when I finally come to my senses and rely on God, I am refreshed with new energy.  

I know I say it often, but I mean it, I am so grateful for this journey.  For so many reasons.  I am thankful for laughter, for sweet hugs, for a full heart...but also for the priceless joy that I receive when I rest in God.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Desire of my Heart

Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4


This verse is filled with such hope and promise.  In my journey of faith, I have seen God keep this promise over and over.  I'm so grateful that God sees and knows the desires of my heart.  Truthfully, I have seen that God knows my desires better than I do.  As you probably know, I often said (in my younger days) that I wasn't sure I wanted to have any children.  Now I have five!  That makes me giggle.  And I am so grateful that God has given me each precious gift.

I recently read this quote from John Piper:

"There is only on basic reason why we disobey the commands of Jesus:  it's because we don't have confidence that obeying will bring more blessing than disobeying.  We do not hope fully in God's promise."

I disobey more often than I care to admit.  However, I'm overjoyed that we were obedient to God's call for the plan of our family.  God has given me the desires of my heart....desires that I didn't even know that I had!  I'm sure that ten years ago I would have listed the desire of my heart traveling all over the world and teaching at a university.  God had a different (and better!) plan for my life.

I'm reflecting on this as school starts in our area.  I have enjoyed seeing my friends' first day of school pictures.  Here are some of ours...Savanna goes to Community Christian School.  She drove herself this year.  (still trying to get my brain wrapped around that!)  I am homeschooling the other three.  Davina could barely get her eyes open!






Homeschooling is another area where God has given me the desire of my heart.  With my oldest two, I never considered myself capable to homeschool.  I enjoyed working part-time.  The girls were blessed with awesome school experiences.  Things were good.  But then we decided that Yuly would benefit from homeschool.  So we decided to take the plunge.  

When we made the move to homeschool, it was with fear and trembling.  And I love it.  Truly.  As much as I loved my job, I love homeschooling more.  I tell my girls, a bad day of homeschooling is better than a good day at work.  And I mean it.

As I looked at everyone's pictures of the first day, here is what really struck me.  Most of my friends my age have sent one or more of their children off to college now and many of them now have only one child at home.  (I am definitely of the generation in which two children is the norm).  This easily could have been me:  Audrey off to college, Savanna starting her Junior year.  Only two years until Todd and I would be empty-nesters.

I am so glad that we have still several years (that will undoubtedly fly by!) before we become empty-nesters.  I love Todd.  He is my best friend.  I am always grateful when we have time alone together.  But we both agree that we are so happy that we have awhile before we are empty-nesters.  I know the time will come.  And when we reach that season, I hope it is filled with long walks on the beach with Todd and many visits with grandchildren.  But for now, I am enjoying having children from elementary to college aged.

Ten years ago, I could not have imagined writing these words.  The journey with God is one of adventure...of going places I could have never imagined (or thought I wanted to go!)  But God knows me.  He loves me.  He wants the best for me.  Obeying God, following God ALWAYS brings more blessings than disobedience.  Now, if only I could remember that all the time :)

Oh, and about those desires I thought I had to travel and teach at a university...I guess I was on the right track.  I have traveled...to Colombia and China to adopt my girls.  And I do teach, just not to a group of college students.  And I have no doubt that God's plan has brought me more joy than any desires that I imagined on my own.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Winging it

Back in the day when I had only two girls (imagine that!), I learned quickly that even though my girls were raised in the same home and had a lot of similarities, they each brought their own personalities, weaknesses, and challenges into the family.  And these were my biological children.

Now we have 5 girls.  It is really fun to see similarities and differences with all my girls.  Yuly has learned to celebrate the ways she is similar to her sisters (like a shared love for dance) as well as her differences (her beautiful skin and hair color).  We already see how Davina fits our family with her sense of humor.  She is athletic like Savanna.

But of course, there are differences.  And parenting each of them requires me to grow as a parent.  Before we brought Yuly home, I thought that I was a pretty good parent.  Not perfect, of course, but my girls seemed to be doing well.  (I mean, when the social worker asked my older two girls what they didn't like about my parenting, they replied, "She makes us eat whole wheat bread."  If that's the worst they have, I must be doing o.k.)

God used Yuly to show me areas of parenting weakness. Parenting her required me to stretch and bend and change.  I received a crash course in "How to be patient."  (Still a struggle, but I am sooo much better than I used to be).  I learned to pray more:  more often, more specifically, and more fervently.   God also used her to grow my faith and my trust in God.

And now, I am learning again.  We already had two teenagers when we brought Davina home.  I had some basic teenager parenting skills, but I am now enrolled in the advanced course.  And there is no syllabus.  Or textbook.  Basically, we are just winging it.  Parenting situations arise for which I have no precedent to base my response on.

Example.  We know that Davina has had a lot of trouble developing a good sleep pattern.  She goes to bed, says she is tired, but says she just can't sleep.  Sometimes she gets up and we find her reading in the middle of the night.  OK, we decided that sleep adjustments will come and not to worry too much.  Then one day, when we awaken at 7:00, we discover that Davina and Yuly have been up since 3:00 a.m. playing and eating (healthy foods!)

So, what is the correct response?  They didn't break any stated rules (I mean, we've never had to tell any of our kids, don't get up in the middle of the night and have a party).  Still, it probably isn't a good idea to allow this to happen on a regular basis. 

What did we decide?  We laughed and talked about it.  We celebrated the fact that two sisters had such a special, if somewhat unconventional, time together (they were both beaming when they came into our room!)  We are thankful that they were not sneaky about it...we heard all the details of their exploits.  And we gently talked through the fact that this was a fun, but one time only, party.  That night is for sleeping. 

Disclaimer:  I'm not saying we handled this the "right" way.  I'm just telling you that based on our family's unique personality, our parenting strategies, our teaching style, and our girls' needs, this is the way our family handled it. 

God promises us wisdom when we ask..and I am asking A LOT lately!!
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.  James 1

I have received wisdom.  Not all at once, but for each situation.  God is working within me, within the life of our family, and within each of my girls and I am grateful.  


Monday, July 22, 2013

Daily Blessings

The Lord's lovingkindness never ceases
For His compassions never fail.
They are fresh every morning.
Great is His faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Every day we get to witness God at work in our home.  There are new blessings each day.  We are so grateful that we serve such a generous God.  Here is a peak of some of the blessings in our home...

  • We took Davina to the beach for the first time.  I enjoyed watching her excitement and joy as she picked up (seemingly) every hermit crab and shell on the beach.  I loved hearing her say, "Mommy, mommy, look at this!"

  • We also went to the Gulf Marine Specimen Lab in Panacea.  They have a variety of tanks, some of them with crabs and other sea life that may be picked up.  All of the kids loved the personal encounters.
  • Davina is quite a cook...and an artist.  It is really fun to see her combine the two!  For a recent dinner she made radish roses to garnish the dishes.  She also looked through a cookbook and found a recipe for apple pie.  She had never had apple pie, but wanted to make it.  With a little help, she made the pie, but the decorations on the top were all her own...(it is hard to see, but it is a smiley face).  Oh, and the pie was yummy!



  • Watching my other girls love on their sister, minister to her, extend grace to her is really amazing and a huge blessing to be able to witness.
  • I know I have mentioned that Davina has a silly streak.  Here are a couple of photos that capture that:
    This was taken at the Florida History Museum and the rest of the family is up on a replica of a Steam Boat.  We are in the water trying to swim to them.

    Also at the Florida History Museum...just more silliness to show you that Davina fits right in!!

I took these two on a hike...thinking it would be a fun, wholesome activity.  They acted like we were on the never-ending journey (all in good fun, of course).

  • There are the little daily blessings that are hard to capture in words and photos...
    • listening to Yuly tell Davina about Colombia and asking her about China
    • Davina's daily work copying passages from her Chinese-English Bible.  She was copying the creation story in Genesis and I started praying about picking another book of the Bible because of some of the content in Genesis.  Without my knowing it, Todd was also praying about suggesting a different book.  He had decided to suggest Proverbs.  When he went to talk to her about it, she told him that she wanted to change to a different book and suggested Proverbs.  :)
    • getting glimpses of her life in China.  We are beginning to hear little stories from her time in SWI as well as small snatches of her life before...like she told us that she had seen snow when she lived with her first family.
    • watching Savanna teach Davina how to make hair bows and then having Davina make bows for her two younger sisters.
We thank God for the amazing privilege of parenting these five beautiful girls.  We make many mistakes as parents and are grateful for their sweet forgiveness and God's fresh mercies every day.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

(Re)learning to trust


Praise be to the Lord,

    for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him. 
           Psalm 28:6-7


God continues to show Himself throughout our family's journey.  Recently, He has been revealing Himself to me as trustworthy.  Yes, I know He is trustworthy.  A hymn from my childhood echoes..."Only trust Him, Only trust Him, Only trust Him now."

I like to think I trust Him, but really, I fail in this area many times every day. Every time I try to find solutions to my problems, take matters into my own hands, become anxious about my situation, I am demonstrating a lack of trust.  God has been relentless in showing me my sinfulness as I refuse to trust.

Thinking about God objectively, it seems ridiculous not to trust Him.  He is Sovereign!  He is LORD Most High!!

And yet, like Paul, what I want to do (trust God), I do not do.(Romans 7:18)

I am learning that trusting God is not a once a day event.  It is a minute by minute, breathing in, breathing out decision.

Some minutes I trust God, but many other minutes I do not.  And really, I am learning that I cannot trust without the power of the Holy Spirit at work in my life.

And yet, God is so merciful.  He continues to lead and guide me.  He continues to reveal Himself to me.

We recently came through a tough 24 hours with our daughter.  She was withdrawn, non-communicative.  And I felt totally helpless.  Finally, I realized that was exactly where I needed to be.  Helpless.  Acknowledging that I had NO IDEA how to get through this situation.  I had nothing to bring to the table.  Helpless, yes, but not hopeless.  I chose to put my hope, my trust in God.  The One who could whisper to Davina's heart.  The One who could meet her needs even when I could not.

When we came through that situation, I understood what the psalmist meant!  God helped me and I, too, was leaping for joy!!








Friday, June 21, 2013

The difference of a year...


  • On June 18, 2012 , we saw "Rissa's" picture on http://wonderfulwaitingkids.com/  We sent an inquiry to Lifeline to ask about this child.  At that time, we only asked for her date of birth because as a family we had "decided" we did not want to adopt a child with a May birthday.  (ha ha!)
  • On June 22, 2012, we realized that we could not get this child out of our heads, so we asked for more information.
  • On June 28, 2012, Rissa was featured on the "waiting children" e-mail from Lifeline.  Through prayer, we decided 
    • not to put a hold on her--trusting that God would hold her for us if she were our daughter, and
    • that we would prayerfully consider her for a week.
  • On July 2, 2012 we asked a couple of more questions about Rissa.  For us, the most important question was "Does she want to be adopted and move to the United States?"
  • On July 4, 2012, before we received a response to our questions, we couldn't stand waiting any longer and initiated the process to adopt our daughter.  We knew she was ours and we trusted God for the responses to our questions.
  • On July 16, 2012 we received the answer...she was open to adoption from the US and she "wants to be adopted so badly."
And now, one year later...

  • She has parents and four sisters.
  • She continues to blossom and grow.  
  • She is very silly--which fits our family perfectly.
  • She is thoughtful.  Here is just one glimpse:  Davina really likes pork.  I really do not.  In fact, because I am the cook of our family, I would estimate that I have cooked pork a total of 10 times in our 24 year marriage...until the last month in which my numbers have drastically increased.  Last night Davina wanted pork, and I told her I would fix pork for her and would thaw out chicken for me.  She told me that she had found a recipe for Coca-cola chicken (she also knows I love Coca-cola) and she said she would fix chicken for me and I could fix the pork for her.  We worked in the kitchen side by side making dinner for the family.  It was so wonderful.  And the chicken was delicious!!  I think the pork was o.k., too.
  • She is open to spiritual things.  She is reading her Bible with Todd and independently.
  • She tells us she loves us...usually in response to one of us (even her sisters) saying it to her, but increasingly, she says it spontaneously.  It sounds beautiful.  :)
Ahhh...the difference of a year.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Monthly Lifesong Blog Update: The joys of adoption

13-6 MM Email

"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)


Adoption. One of the most beautiful pieces of the Gospel. An all-powerful and loving Father God chose us, in our sinfulness, to be His sons and daughters. Does it get any better than that? The fact that we, as Christians, can replicate this relationship in our own families to tell the Gospel through our lives is an complete honor and joy.


"WE SAID YES TO ADOPTION" // Andy & Laura's Story

Andy and Laura, adoptive parents of Eli from Ethiopia shared how God provided every step of the way, crushing fears and showing that HE is faithful to finish what He starts.

Part of God's provision came from Lifesong and its partner, Legacy 685 Adoption Fund, helping this family financially with a matching grant and funding support.


INDIGENOUS ADOPTION // Ukraine

Meet Volodya and Lyliya, one of the many Ukrainian families blessed by Adoption without Borders, an initiative that intentionally links like-minded families and churches in the USA with Christian families in Ukraine who are seeking to adopt.  

awob pictures MM

"(Adoption is) the deepest evangelism we can provide, to dedicate our lives to bringing children to the Lord. Our biggest dream is that all of our children would commit their lives to God." --Volodya & Lyliya, adoptive parents of five Ukrainian children 


HOW CAN I HELP? 

Because of your support, the families above have been able to give a forever family to a child in need. Are you looking for ways to join the cause? What you could do:


READ MORE ABOUT ADOPTION...

How Could We Not? -  Erik & Erin's adoption story is unique, but beautiful as they stepped in to help a family member in need by providing Austin with a stable and secure family. Read Full Story

Worth the Wait - Guest blog post from Jeff & Rachel,  adoptive parents of Kate from Ethiopia. Read Full Story

God Creates Family from Strangers - Sharon, adoptive mom, shares her heart of on an ordinary day four months after bringing Asrate into their forever family.  Read Full Story

US Churches impacting Ukrainian families! - Three US churches wrap around a Ukrainian family to ensure home repairs where finished soadoption could be complete. Read Full Story

"I know you guys!" - Read as Robert & Alexis share about meeting their son Jacob for the very first time. Read Full Story

Monday, June 17, 2013

Johnson: Party of Seven!

Davina and I have been home from China just over three weeks.  She has been a Johnson for a month. It truly has been a wonderful month.  Here are a few highlights:
  • Davina is learning English at autobahn speed.  I'm amazed at her intelligence, resiliency, and effort.  She did this on the fridge (Do you see that she used our initials to form the "f" in family?)

  • We are learning more and more about her.  Some about her past and some about her preferences.  She loves Sprite and pork.  She does not like anything pickled.  We haven't found a food yet that she thinks is "spicy" despite what the label says or if everyone's mouth is on fire.
  • Davina loves teasing her sisters and sneaking up on them in a fun (not mean) way.  She has a great sense of humor that is already apparent even with the language barrier, and I look forward to continuing to see this very silly side of her.
  • We are meeting lots of new people as we try to meet Davina's unique needs.  New doctors, new tutors and new friends.  One friend that we have met is a Chinese Christian lady who has lived in Tallahassee for 16 years.  We are enjoying getting to know her and are so grateful for her friendship.
  • Cocooning is different with a teenager.  Really different.  Davina really likes going places although meeting people (because of the language) is clearly uncomfortable for her.  We try to get out of the house daily to places like the grocery store or on a walk on a trail.  She even got in a swimming pool for the first time ever :)
  • She really wants friends, so we are slowly introducing her to church friends.  She has even had an outing to the yogurt shop with her older sister and her sister's friend.  Just teens.  
  • Davina has attended three dance recitals:  two ballet and one Irish.

  • You may remember the frog episode in China...since we have been home, Todd has teased Davina about that.  We have learned that Davina had never tried frog before but she had always been curious about tasting it.  She has confessed that she didn't really like it.  She has tried to convince Todd that it was not frog, but actually "small chicken."  Of course, that makes for more teasing.  The is a yogurt shop that we all like called "Sweet Frog."  Todd calls it "Sweet Small Chicken."
  • We came home on a Thursday.  Todd and I debated on how to handle it.  We wanted to give Davina the option to stay home for that first Sunday without giving her the idea that church attendance was optional.  We asked if her if she wanted to go to church that Sunday or wait a week.  She chose to go her first week here!  We had a parallel Bible ready for her and we headed off.  We went only for worship and on one song with simple chorus, Davina even sang along!  She has now attended church on four Sundays and a few days ago she brought her Bible to Todd and asked him to read to her each day!  So grateful for her open heart.
  • I am also so grateful for how sweet all of my girls have been to Davina, each other, and Davina.  There have been the usual family squabbles (not involving Davina yet), but generally there has been a genuine effort to help Davina transition into the family.
  • We celebrated the three May birthdays with Todd's parents.

This is not to say that there haven't been challenges, too.  Despite our ability to communicate via typing, communication is still difficult and cumbersome especially when trying to help with emotions.  Functional communication (e.g., "are you hungry?") is fine.  And there are times when she is quiet and we don't know if she is sad, tired, overwhelmed, moody...(and probably, we have seen all of these and various combinations of these).  During this time I am keenly aware of my shortcomings as a parent in both my ability to discern the problem and my inadequacies in helping the problem.

But I am learning to take comfort in my insufficiency and trusting in God who is All Sufficient.  My heart often breaks for my girls.  For the pain that they are experiencing.  For the hurts they have that I cannot heal.  For my limitations as their mom.  And I remember this verse:
 
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, You, O God, will not despise."
Psalm 51:17

My broken heart is a sacrifice to God and He will accept that.  My brokenness is a way to worship God and He will accept my sacrifice.  He continually refreshes and renews me.  As I pray and trust Him, He works in my girls' lives in ways that I cannot.  And through the brokenness, I learn to trust Him more. I see that He is Sovereign.

So grateful to be the mom to these amazing girls.



Monday, May 27, 2013

We are HOME!!

Even though I tried to prepare Davina for the ordeal ahead, there is no way to adequately prepare someone for 26 hours in airplanes and airports. Throughout the journey, Davina would look at me and say "Long." But, the good news is, the long journey ended with us arriving at home!! We were greeted by our family and both sets of grandparents. It was so wonderful to see everyone!

   

The girls have been so sweet to Davina and to me. They quickly offer to help me as I try to get the house back to normal. They show Davina around the house and talk with her on the translator. It is so special to watch.

Yesterday was Sunday and Todd and I debated taking Davina to church so soon after arriving home. We asked her if she wanted to go this week or wait until next week and our hearts were so happy that she chose to jump right in to church. We had a Chinese English Bible ready for her and so we all headed to church together. Quality time is my love language, so I was bursting with joy having a pew filled with my whole family plus my in-laws. One of the songs that we sang was "How He Loves Us" and by the end, Davina was singing along!! When the pastor stood to preach, Yuly helped Davina find the Scripture reference in her Bible. Wow.

For lunch, Davina cooked one of her favorite soups. It was yummy. We supplemented with some Chinese take out. One funny thing that happened was that we all struggled to learn to use chopsticks during the meal, but Davina used a fork. We all laughed when we realized that she was not using chopsticks.

 The adjustment is going well, although we still covet prayers as we make the transition. The biggest prayer request is for communication for us with Davina. She is learning quickly, but of course, she has a lot to learn! Thanks for following our journey. I will continue to update every week or so :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday in China...aka last full day in China :)

Today we got up early to meet our guide for our consulate appointment. Davina does not do early, although fortunately, she is able to be teased about it. She moves very slowly in the morning. I didn't get her up early enough and we missed getting to breakfast. We had to grab something to eat in the van on the way to the consulate.

 As we were loading into the van, our guide got a call from another guide who had a family with a consulate appointment too, but their transportation had broken down. Our guide offered for them to ride with us. We were happy to share. I am thankful that our guide has the reputation to be helpful! What a great witness.

 When we got to the consulate, we skirted around the long lines of Chinese people waiting outside hoping for a visa appointment. We went up a few levels and then our guide began to give us instructions because she is not permitted to go along with us into that area of the consulate. I acted nervous (mostly acting!) but I wasn't too nervous because there were several other families in line and I knew we could follow the crowd and figure things out. Before we went to the consulate, our guide told us that NO ELECTRONICS, even our translator, were allowed in the consulate. Not everyone gets this coaching, though, because as we headed through security there was a guy arguing why he should be allowed to be the exception and bring in his cellphone. Sheesh.

 Up the escalator we went and followed the signs to adoptions. Here we sat in a waiting room and over the next 10-15 minutes about 10 other families made their way up to the room. We still had seen no workers behind the windows, but finally the supervisor of adoption visas greeted us and explained some general information on the consulate process and immigration. After that all of the parents stood to take an oath that our paperwork was truthful as far as we knew. More waiting and then Davina's name was called first! We whispered "winners!" to each other and headed to the window. The worker, from Jacksonville, FL, had to ask Davina a few questions to ensure that she she consented to moving to the US (we had anticipated this--our guide prepares us for everything). Davina agreed, signed her name, I signed my name...and we were told to sit down again. Not winners after all :(

 More sitting and waiting and listening to children play with the toys in a little area right behind us. The children were all really cute but there was one boy who was really loud. Davina and I agreed that we hope he is not on our flight home!

 Finally we were called back up to the window. I had to make a small correction to one form because we changed Davina's name after it was submitted. The worker stamped some pages then told us we had to go to another window in another room for Davina to be fingerprinted (again, not a surprise). We went there and with no waiting, Davina was quickly fingerprinted and we were done.

 As we rode down the escalator, our guide saw us and said she was so happy to see us! I think she was worried for two reasons...I had acted nervous about leaving her...and also because a week ago the consulate had been shut down due to the white powder episode. At that time our guide had two families upstairs and they were detained for several hours while the situation was assessed. During that time our guide had no contact with the families so I am sure she was wondering what was taking us so long! I assured her that we did not get lost, but that we were one of the last families from our group called up.

 We came back to the hotel and Davina napped. For lunch we got sandwiches from the little deli across the street, we packed and I prepared ten gifts for our guides. At night we had planned to go to the noodle restaurant, but it was pouring so we ate noodle bowls in the room instead. We will eat at the restaurant for lunch on Wednesday.

 And so ends our last full day in China. We are both ready to leave. I know Davina will miss this place. I will miss the food. I hope Davina and I can figure out now to cook some of the delicious foods we have eaten here. But I look forward to eating them at home. Home. Ready to be there!

 "Save us, Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give praise to Your holy name and glory in Your praise." Psalm 106:46

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday: Chen Family Ancestral Hall

This morning we met our guide and headed to the Chen Family Ancestral Hall. The hall was built in the 1880's just outside the wall of the city. It was a place for the Chen family to stay when they came to Guangzhou for business. It was also the place where they celebrated important holidays. It included a large room with a long altar for seeking their ancestors...both to offer homage to their ancestors and to ask for their blessings, Now that the hall (and I use that term loosely...there were lots of open courtyards) is an historical place, the rooms are filled with historical displays and/or shops. We bought a wall-hanging of a banyan tree (the symbol of Guangzhou and Davina's favorite tree) and I bought a piece of rice with my name on it :) If you ever got World magazine as a kid, maybe you can remember all of the interesting articles, but I remember specifically reading about artists who draw and write on rice and I was so fascinated! It was fun to be able to watch the artist write my name on the rice and then put it on a charm. In the display area, there were displays of carvings of all types: jade, ivory, bone, olive wood...There was also porcelain art and beautiful vases. It was all very interesting...to me. My guide needed to make some phone calls and Davina opted to sit with her instead of look around. Both of them had been to the hall many times and we not too interested in seeing it again. The rest of the day was low key. At night we went out for Chinese again. I am really going to miss the food, so I can only imagine what it will be like for Davina. However, having said that, we are both ready to go home. She is counting the days! And so am I!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday...more shopping

In the morning we had an opportunity to attend an international church. The guide asked Davina but she said she did not want to go.  I did not insist.  I am not especially concerned, but please be praying that going to church at home will not be an issue.

Davina slept in and we had to hurry to the breakfast buffet.  The buffet is quite extensive but I am tired of it anyway. :). Spoken by someone who eats the same thing at home practically every day.  There are two stations where you can order food: one has eggs and pancakes, the other has noodles with all sorts of toppings.  I keep trying to get up the nerve to order from that station, but so far, no luck.  I don't know...it is just so different than anything I have seen so I am intimidated.  Time is running out...

After breakfast we hung out in the room with the exception of going to Starbucks. I am sure you won't be surprised if I tell you that Starbucks is overpriced just like at home.  We had gone there before when Todd was here, but when he was here, he handled the money and I didn't pay attention.  Yesterday I was really wanting a frappuccino.  I get one about twice a year, but I think my need for it was more comfort food than anything else.  Anyway, Davina and I each got a cold beverage and I got one slice of a cake I had wanted to try ever since we saw it on our first day here.  The total?  85 yuan!  Just to refresh your memory, we have gotten four dishes at the noodle restaurant for 90 yuan.  Crazy.  Well, it was the one and only time for this trip, and it was lunch, so I guess it was o.k.  The cake was...odd.  I don't know how else to comment on it.

In the afternoon we went shopping with a whole new group of families.  Everyone that we had been hanging out with is now home.  We went to a different store that sold tea sets, vases, and a variety of other, mostly breakable, things.  I did manage to buy a couple things,  :). Then we returned to the place with the 5 story jewelry mall, so Davina, the guide and I went to Pizza Hut and got cold drinks and visited while the other families shopped.  I did squeeze in one more purchase there, too :)

My Bible readings right now are in Proverbs, but Todd sent me one if his own yesterday.  "It is better to be bored than broke."  I guess that is a hint or something :)

When we got back to the hotel it was storming...thunder and lightning.  We opted to get sandwiches in the deli in the hotel and stay in.  And so ended our day.  We are both counting the days!  No dancing from Davina yesterday, but she did sing a little "we are going home on Wednesday" song!

Oh, one word about communication and one prayer request.  Davina and I use a variety of words, restatement with different words, gestures, translator and google translate to communicate.  We are doing ok, but of course, it does not allow us to have a lot of deep discussions.  However, Davina told the guide that she is understanding more and more of my speech.  She is really smart and I know the communication will come.

And the prayer request...beyond the obvious ones...my family is really missing being together, and my girls especially are missing me.  Can you please pray for comfort and peace for them?  Even more, can you pray that they seek God for comfort,  that they look to Him for the peace they need while they wait for us to be reunited?  Thanks, friends.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday, in the park...

We hung out in the hotel room for the morning and early afternoon.  Davina got up and went to breakfast with me about 9, but then came back and napped for  3 hours.  Teenagers!

In the afternoon we caught a cab to Yuexiu Park.  This is a huge park but we went specifically to see the Five Ram Statue.  This statue is the symbol of the city of Guangzhou.  Apparently, about 2000 years ago this area was barren and five immortals came down on five rams bearing rice sheaves.  The immortals blessed the area, left the rice sheaves, and the rams turned to stone and so Guangzhou was born.  The statue was erected in 1959...no word on the original turned into stone rams.  The statue was on the top of a high hill.  Wish I had counted the steps.  In fact, the whole park was very hilly.  We were constantly going up hills and down hills.  Sometimes on a path and sometimes up staircases.  There are three big ponds/small lakes in the park, too.  The whole place was beautiful, but also very hot.

I'm sure you can imagine, that being in Guangzhou is different than being in Tallahassee.  Even in the park.  There are obvious similarities, flowers, trees, families...but there are also differences (beyond the superficial one that I am often the only blond around).  There are loudspeakers throughout the parks we visit. The music is not uniform throughout the park.  Sometimes it is soothing music, but sometimes it is happy upbeat music.  There are people gathered in small groups singing.  I am not sure if they go to the park with the idea to sing or if people just join in.  Sometimes there is a crowd listening,  but often it seems that the group is just singing to amuse themselves.  Because there is music playing everywhere, it is common to see couples dancing.  And the parks we have visited all have statues.  Lots of statues.

While in the park we saw some old buildings and part of the original wall that surrounded Guangzhou. I got the sense that Davina wasn't too much of a history buff and she was underwhelmed with these sites.  When we left the park we started looking for a place to catch a cab.  We walked along a busy street.  We could see cabs, but I had no idea how to signal one.  The roads are also very different in Guangzhou.  The large busy streets are like divided highways.  There is a fence between the two halves of the road so you cannot cross the street (or make a left turn)...there are periodic bridges for pedestrians and u-turn lanes for cars.  On this busy street, there was also a fence between the sidewalk and the road, so there wasn't an obvious place to hail a cab.  Once again, Davina successfully navigated for us and found a subway station.  We rode the subway back...more interesting and cheaper than a cab.  Cab ride was $3 but subway was 50 cents.  It is always fascinating to me to stand in a train packed with people and to not see anything but dark haired people.  I guess I sort of stand out.

At night Davina asked if we could go to McDonald's and I acquiesced.  I picked something at random off of the menu that is unlike any offering at home.  It was good but messy (sauce dripping out).  There was rice and vegetables and some type of patty.  It might have been vegetarian, although I am not sure.  Well, it was good and the fries were familiar.  Davina had a chicken sandwich.  She liked it.  I am not sure she had ever had McDonald's before.

One word about price...almost every night our dinner costs around 90 yuan.  That's about $15.  Pizza Hut was 104 yuan ($17).  McDonald's was 37.50 ($6).  So, at least it was cheap :). And be impressed...I paid with a 20, 10, 5, two coins that are worth 1 each, and five bills that equaled .5.  Exact change with a variety of bills and coins.

At the hotel Davina was excited to remember that it was Saturday as her favorite two shows were on. One is a soap opera set in the Ming Dynasty and one is a variety show.  I have no idea what is going on most of the time, but Davina laughs and laughs and I enjoy hearing that!

As we were headed to bed, Davina started dancing around the room singing, "we are going home on Wednesday."  I told her that I would dance with her on Wednesday.

Today, though,we are still here, and I am thankful that even here I am not out of God's reach.

"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast." Psalm 139:9-10

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday--orphanage visit

Today we took a van trip with another family to the Guangzhou orphanage.  Davina and the other family's daughter both lived there at one time.  The orphanage is huge...many buildings including a school and rehabilitation center.  The grounds were very lovely.  We were unable to go inside because of concerns of transmitting the bird flu, but what we were able to see seemed very nice.

While we were there we met with the director and we saw one of Davina's teachers.  It is clear that Davina was loved by them.

As we stood visiting, Davina told Rebecas about a friend of hers that needs a family.  He is an eleven year old boy.  I will be writing more about him soon, but I wanted to mention him now in the hopes that God will begin to gently nudge someone toward bringing him into a forever family.

The afternoons are getting difficult.  I am not creative enough to think of things to do and it is super hot.  Davina really does not like to walk in the heat, so I don't want to go somewhere outside and the only places inside I know are shopping places...also not a good option.  We both agreed yesterday that we were bored, but we are unsure how to remedy it.

In the evening, Davina got on QQ which is sort of like Facebook.  I had debated (internally) whether or not to allow her to do this while we were in China, but a combination of boredom, of me missing my family and friends (so I was empathizing) and the fact that she has been so sweet and compliant made me decide to offer it to her.  She was thrilled.  She was so happy to see her friends.  I really prayed before and after...I worried that it might make her sad or moody but it was actually the reverse.  She was more smiley and when we walked to gt dinner, she locked her arm with mine during our walk to the restaurant.  When we got back after dinner I told her she could have 30 minutes and at the end of the time, she got off without my even asking.  I hope that trend continues :)

We went to dinner with a couple who are deaf and have adopted a 13 year old daughter who is also deaf.  This is their first child.  Only the parents came to dinner because the girl was very tired so she stayed in the hotel with the interpreter.  Once again I gave Davina free reign to do the ordering and once again she did a fantastic job.  It was fun to visit with other parents and share our experiences.  The mom even taught Davina and me a little bit of sign language.  All in all it was a very good evening.

Most of the group we have toured with are leaving today. I am ready to go home, although God has really helped me not to feel too homesick.  I'm grateful that He is caring for me here in China and at the same time caring for my family back home.  But I am ready for Him to care for us all in one place!

"Let the name of The Lord be praised both now and forevermore.  From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of The Lord be praised!"  Psalm 113:2

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thursday: bookstore

Today we took a cab with another mom and her son to a bookstore.  It was five stories high, and although it mostly had books, there were also little areas selling everything from shirts to phones.  Whenever we have shopped, Davina tells me that she does not want me to buy her anything.  Today I was able to convince her to let me purchase 4 reading books and one English workbook for her.  I first broke down her defense by telling her to get a book for the plane ride.  She relented and agreed to pick out one book.  I could see she was having a hard time deciding, so I asked her to let me buy several.  I told her that at home I could buy her more clothes and shoes, but I would probably not be able to find Chinese books.  So, she picked out some.  I was happy.

In the afternoon, other families got called to the consulate to begin the visa process.  There were over 70 families there and the consulate employees worked as quickly as possible to get them all processed.  Now the families await the actual visas which will come Friday or Saturday.  It should mean that by our appointment at 8:30 on Tuesday, everything will be back to normal (at least for adoption visas).

In the evening Davina got interested in a movie and didn't want to go out.  We ran over to the little deli across the street.  We got a little pizza like thing for Davina, a pepperoni and cheese sandwich for  me, and a little loaf of some type of sweet bread.  Total cost...3 dollars.  Seriously.

Tomorrow we have to get up early to head to the grocery store to buy diapers as a gift to the orphanage (we had planned to go tonight, butt I gave Davina the option to get up early to shop tomorrow and she chose to stay in tonight).

So, that's it.  Things continue to go well.  But please keep praying!

Wednesday: botanical gardens

Today we headed out to the botanical gardens. The grounds were beautiful. I think we would have enjoyed it more except it was so HOT.  It had been hot while we've been here, and today, for maybe the first time since we got here, we saw the sun, so in addition to being hot, the sun was beating down on our heads!

The garden had orchids, roses, and a friendship garden.  Davina is quite good at taking pictures and she had a lot of fun at the garden.

The afternoon we just hung out at the hotel and Davina watched tv.  She needs to soak up all the Chinese she can because her world is really going to change.  I know she is looking forward to it, but it will still be hard.

Her English is better every day and she works at it.  I rely on her when we go out.  She is great at directing me and helping me accomplish any task that we have undertaken.

We tried a new restaurant and it was really yummy.  I let Davina order.  Whenever I order for myself it is never as good as the food is when I let her order.  We had peanuts in some type of sauce, tofu that tasted smoked, stir fried potato (the potatoes were grated in long strands), and something very spicy that made me have a coughing fit so Davina said "no more spicy."  If you had asked me before I traveled to China if I liked tofu I would have given an emphatic "no."  Davina has ordered it twice--prepared two completely different ways--and it has been delicious both times.  Davina assures me that she knows how to cook all these different foods and I am looking forward to learning from her.

Davina looks forward to talking to her family, and especially her daddy, twice a day.  We had trouble connecting with Todd while he was at work today, but she would not give up trying until we had been able to chat a little bit.

Some of the dads in our group are leaving to go home as we wait out the consulate situation.  Because I am a little late in writing this post (it is actually Thursday afternoon as I am writing this), I can tell you that the consulate has reopened :). Not sure exactly what the means for us, but clearly a step in the right direction.  We are thanking God that we see some positive movement toward home!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday: shopping and boating

The morning's activity was shopping on Shamian Island.  This is a beautiful little area with restricted automobile traffic.  It is also very popular with photographers taking pictures of models for advertisements. The most interesting one we saw was a tall, leggy blond with about a 20 inch waist wearing a mini skirt and 6 inch heels pushing a baby carriage (with nothing in the carriage).  

Shamian Island has shops, but also a lovely park and  some old, historical buildings.  From what I read, it was at one time British property and so many of the buildings look European.  It seems that its history goes back to the mid-1800s.

Although Davina and I did a little shopping, we mostly sat in the park.  We even bought and played a hacky-sac like game...I was abysmal at it, but we had fun.  We played with another family in our group and attracted a small crowd.  The game seemed to be played by a lot of adults who stand in a circle, chatting, and kicking the thing (it looks a lot like a badminton birdie) to each other.  Just like chopsticks, the natives make it look deceptively easy!

At night we went on the Pearl River cruise.  This is a quintessential tourist activity in Guangzhou.  We enjoyed sailing down the river and looking at all the buildings lit up--many with colorful lights.  We also saw the Guangzhou Tower which is the tallest building in Asia.  It was beautifully lit up with changing colors.  I also had a delightful time visiting with our table companions.  It was fun to share our adoption stories.  Davina had a lot of fun taking pictures and looking at the sites.

Several times today as we sat silently looking at the sights and listening to the sounds including women singing, couples dancing, children talking, I was praying that these sights and sounds would be permanently etched in her memory as happy moments to reflect upon when she misses China.

We laughed a lot today.  Davina is just so fun to be around,  When I look at Davina, I think of these verses:

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever.  Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy 14th birthday to Davina

The day started with Davina hearing 3 of her sisters singing "happy birthday to you."  It was nice.  Then to breakfast ...I think I shared that Davina is very artistic and makes portraits every day with her breakfast food.  Today she made a birthday cake.  It was really cute and decorated with items from the breakfast buffet.

Then we met up with other families to go to the zoo.  We started with a tram tour of the zoo so we got to see an overview of the park.  Then we were on our own. Davina had noticed my love for giraffes, so we headed there first and she took a lot of pictures for me :). We walked around in the heat.  Here are the main items  of interest:

  • The zoo has a lot of tigers.  Multiple cages with multiple tigers in each cage.
  • Raccoons are zoo-worthy animals in China
  • So are deer (I mean, the plain, normal kind of deer we see in Florida)
  • The panda cage was being refurbished so we did not get to see pandas :(
On the afternoon Davina just wanted to watch tv.  We have watched almost none, so that was fine with me.  She kept checking flight tracker so she could see where her daddy was.

At 5:00 we got called to a meeting...our guide informed us that due to an emergency at the consulate, there would be no visa appointments for the next two days.  At the meeting was a dad and his son who have been here for 6 weeks awaiting the results of the same type TB test that Davina had.  His son had shown up positive on a routine TB screen required of all kids over 2 and have been waiting on the results of the second test here in China.  He was cleared to leave at the same time Davina was and they were actually in the consulate working on paperwork when the facility was evacuated :(  The dad and his son were fun to visit with (the son nearly talked Davina's ear off!). The dad had a great attitude about all of their delays which I think was an encouragement to us all.

After Todd and Savana landed safely in Atlanta, we decided to go eat.  We went out to a different Chinese restaurant.  It was more expensive and not as good as the other one.  Davina got noodles--traditional for birthdays...long noodles equals long life.

We were back in the hotel room playing on the iPad and there was a knock at the door.  A bellman brought Davina a birthday cake!  The box and ribbon are made of chocolate bar and inside the box is a cake!  It is so beautiful.  A gift from the hotel.  Davina was dancing around the room with joy.  It was so sweet.

We stayed up until Dad and Savanna made it all the way home and then we went to bed...and so ends our Monday in Guangzhou.

Please pray for all of the families in China right now.  The consulate emergency is a developing situation and we don't know how it will play out.  Typically families leave 36 hours after their consulate appointments so many in our group are having to adjust travel.  We aren't sure when the consulate will reopen, so please pray.  Thanks.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mothers' Day in Guangzhou

Today we met the group to go shopping at a local (non-tourist). Our guide said we would get better prices here with no haggling.  The shops were in a ring, and at the top and bottom of the ring, there were entrances to 2 huge 5 story malla.  One had all jewelry stores and one had mostly jewelry stores.  It was amazing.  We walked around the circle and looked at some shops...and we did a little buying, too but I can't give that part away!  At one point, we walked the length of one of the malla and exited to the plaza on the other side.  It was quite stinky.  When we have traveled off the main streets, there is an increase in bad odor...I won't go into details...be thankful.  Even on the main streets, there are a lot of people smoking and there is smog, so we are never confused and think we are in a park :). Many people in the city wear masks over their faces because of the smell.

Back at the hotel, we had to change to a smaller room, although it still has a bedroom and a huge sitting area.  One unique feature is that there is a huge picture window that allows you to look into the bathroom from the bedroom.  Fortunately, there is an optional curtain.

We have been eating breakfast on the 30th floor, but were told when we downgraded our room we would have to eat in the first floor dining room with the other peasants.  However, when we were making the switch, the very nice hotel lady gave us a special card to allow us to continue to eat at the top floor dining room.  Yay!  A special blessing!

So, after moving our luggage (and receiving a delivery of clean good-smelling clothes from the laundry man), it was time to take one more walk around the hotel and then tell Daddy and Savanna good-bye.  We said a family prayers and had a group hug and they were off.  When they got to the airport, Rebecca got them a seat upgrade.  Yay. Another blessing!

Davina and I looked at pictures, she tried to teach me how to write mom and dad in Chinese (epic fail) and then we went for...pizza of course.  It was at an Italian restaurant. Different than American pizza, but very delicious.  Then, back to the hotel for a little more visiting then off to bed.   Another good day.