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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Medical Travel Appointment

Today we headed off with 6 other families and their children (most had at least 2 kids with them) for the GuangZhou Travel Clinic.  Davina had to go through several stations including a general body check, vital signs, height/weight, eye exam, and ENT exam.  She also got 3 shots which she took very bravely.

While we were there we learned that Davina does NOT have TB and so is cleared to travel!  The test she had took 6-8 weeks for incubation but no one could ever tell us when the test would be read.  If it had come back positive, she could not have traveled without a special visa.  Anyway, I won't bore you with the details about that because we don't need it!  There was a risk that we would have had to stay in the country longer if she had tested positive, but now we know we are on track to leave on schedule.  That is a huge answer to prayer!

The clinic was hot, noisy, and crowded.  In our travel group there were approximately 30 people and we weren't the only group working through these stations and sitting around waiting.  One fun note: I got Savanna to take a photo of a squattie pottie.  Taking that photo is the closest either of us hopes we will ever get to one of them!  So far we have been able to avoid them :)

In the afternoon, I filled out more paperwork while the others just relaxed in the room.  Later, Savanna and I walked to the store with another family to help them buy a translator for their son.  We also bought some snacks, because of course the same store that has high end tech devices also has seaweed flavored chips.

For dinner we went back to the Chinese restaurant, although Todd told Davina "no frog."  She really giggled about that!  We got different dishes this time and they were all very yummy.  I seem to struggle the most with the chopsticks, but at least I am providing my family with meal time entertainment

Davina is working very hard on her Englush.  Words cannot describe how sweet and fun she is.  She has a great sense if humor.  She really loves her daddy and is going to miss hm a lot when he and Savanna leave.  She told him that we would hurry and come hme, too.  My thoughts exactly!

"Children are a heritage from The Lord,  offspring a reward from Him". Psalm 127:3

Friday, May 10, 2013

A walk in the park

This is just a quick update...but let me start by saying that Google the Apple are not playing well together and it is really frustrating me. I cannot seem to post pictures here, so the stories are here and the pictures are on Facebook. Sorry.

 Yesterday our main adoption related event was to go to the police station to apply for Davina's passport. Lots of waiting, but our guide takes such good care of us. Earlier in the day we decided to walk to a park. We got confused by our memory of the instructions so we decided to go back to the hotel to ask for directions and a map. There was confusion at first because the hotel worker wanted to send us to a park that required a cab ride, and we kept saying that we wanted to walk to a smaller nearby park. She finally figured out where we wanted to go and gave us a map of the city, a hand drawn map and a paper with the name of the park in case we needed to ask someone for directions. Once again, Davina proved to be a capable guide. The park was quite large (so I am curious about the size of the bigger park) and very beautiful. All of the trees and landscaping was neatly arranged in rows. We enjoyed the park for a little bit and then decided to head back to the hotel.

 We got hopelessly lost. We kept walking and walking. Finally we spotted a subway station and decided to use that. While we were waiting for the train , Davina found the station, the park, and the hotel on the map. We had wandered far afield!

 For lunch we grabbed sandwiches at a little deli across the street (in the interest of full disclosure I should admit that Savanna had a chocolate donut). The lunch was delicious and our four selections cost less than $6. We will be going back there! For dinner we had Mexican. It was good, but for the price, we have had other food I have liked more. So that's our day! Tomorrow, more paperwork!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Davina Yuerong Johnson

We are excited to tell you that we have a new daughter! In a small office somewhere in the middle of Guangzhou, our adoption was finalized. Before the meeting, Rebekah (our guide here) said that they would interview Davina to make sure she wanted to join our family, but our time at the office was very short and Davina was not questioned at all. When I asked Rebekah, she said that everyone can tell how happy she is, so they did not need to question her. :)

 Next stop was the notary. We were briefly interviewed about our family and why we wanted to adopt Davina. I was caught a little off-guard, and I said because she is so beautiful. Todd added that we knew we wanted to adopt and when we saw her picture we knew she was our daughter. I guess we passed. Davina had to write a statement in her own handwriting acknowledging that this adoption is something she desires. And just like that, we were done and she is ours!

 Davina got a little car sick and so we came back to the hotel for a nap. We ate noodle bowls for lunch and then we headed out for our adventure. We took the subway to the circus. Words cannot describe this incredible adventure. First, Davina was a great guide and helped us navigate the subway system. And the circus was incredible including swinging trapeze artists who performed in the dark so only their glow in the dark suits showed, trained animals including bears, elephants, and monkeys, six motorcyclists going full speed inside of a metal sphere, high divers, and an assortment of random animals paraded through including a hippo, zebras, camels, flamingos, and monkeys herding a group of pigs. Oh, and three white tigers and a lion came out, too. It was really spectacular.

 We were all hungry when we got back, but sleepy, too and the fastest option was Starbucks. Todd and I had sandwiches and the girls got sweet treats. Then it was time to FaceTime with the family. Yuly and Riza kept calling for Davina. It was all so sweet to see all of my girls interact. Audrey doesn't get to say much with her sisters around, but it is nice to see her sweet face :) So that was our day. Our next step is to go to the police station and apply for Davina's passport. By the way, her English is improving constantly and she is working very hard at it. She is an amazing girl and has a smile that is so sweet. Please continue to pray for us and our family. Riza has been sick and my parents have had to take her to the doctor. The little girls are also trying to finish school so that they can be done when we get home. Savanna has done pretty well working on her school work, but she needs to finish. And of course for Davina as she has so many transitions and adjustments to make. I am so grateful for all of your prayers and support. I really cannot tell you how amazed and overwhelmed I am with all of your encouragements. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Meeting Davina

Today has been a very good day.  We all slept pretty well.  It was our first time sleeping in a bed since Saturday. We got up and got ready.  The breakfast buffet is on the 30th floor.  There was an amazing amount of food and an incredible view.

We met with our adoption agency's representative and got all of our documents ready.  While we were in the meeting, our representative got a call that Damina was having tea and dim sun while waiting for our meeting.

We drove across town and then walked several blocks in the rain to get to a very non-descript building.  We rode up a small elevator (9 of us because we were one of two families going to the meeting) and up to the 6th floor.  All of us waited anxiously for the arrival of our precious girls. The other family's daughter came first and the mom rushed to her daughter only to be told that there was a  "procedure" and the daughter had to go do something in another room.  This family's daughter is 14 months old and she just kept crying.  Finally after what seemed like two days, we caught a glimpse of Davina coming down the hall.  She was smiling :). We waved to her as she went by, and then she finally came out and we showered her with hugs!  I don't remember much of those first moments.  Then we went and sat on the couch.  She had saved her money and brought gifts for us!  So sweet.  She was smiling and smiling (and the rest of us, too).  I got to ask the caregiver some questions and then we were off to go shopping at a huge store that included a grocery store.  We got some comfort foods, a hand held translator, and a traditional soup cooking pot.

We went back to the hotel and rested while Todd filled out some more paperwork.  Then we went out to a Chinese restaurant.  It, according to our guide, was a restaurant for locals and we were definitely the only non-locals there.  We asked Davina to order for us all.  We had tofu, eggplant, pork, and an unknown dish (that we later discovered was frog) Most of the items in the menu had an English tag, too, but not that.  Because of the uncertainty, and because it was super hot, I ate only one bite.  Todd had a couple. I don't think Davina liked it much either.  The other food is amazing.  I would never have ordered the eggplant or tofu, but they were both delicious.  We each had a bowl of rice in front of us and we would take one small amount of the food from the serving dish and put it on our bowls.  Of course, the only utensils we had were chopsticks and a flat spoon.  Davina enjoyed helping us learn to use chopsticks, and she was very entertained by our attempts.

After dinner, we came back to the hotel and had FaceTime with our family.  That pretty much covered the day.  We went to bed exhausted.  Today we have to go to a notary office to do more paperwork.

I am having trouble posting pictures here. The best place to see pictures is on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

In Guangzhou

We are here in China.  It is really hard to believe.  We had a looooong couple of days of travel and then we landed here at 4:45 am.  We've had warm showers, Starbucks, and a short walk in the area around our hotel.  We've also had some FaceTime with our family at home.

Today we are mostly resting.  Savanna is working on schoolwork and I just finished an on-line CEU class.  The hotel is beautiful and our room is amazing.  It is nice to relax a little especially because the week before we left was crazy.  Here is a glimpse of our last week:

  • Shower and prayer time for Davina.  Such a sweet time with my beautiful sisters in Christ.  Audrey led off the prayer which made it extra special. Thankful for my sweet friend Katie (and her mom) for hostessing.
  • Skating birthday party for the other member of our homeschool.  I even skated.  Later that afternoon I told Todd "my legs really hurt and I don't know why...oh."
  • Celebrated Yuly's birthday...twice.  Family dinner the day before her birthday and cake on her birthday.  On her actual birthday we also had..
  • Children's choir performance at church.  Riza and Yuly both sang and the songs were all Scripture.  So proud of the way they are hiding God's word in their hearts.
  • Savanna went to a Quincinera celebration at school.
  • We attended a musical at a local high school because Audrey was one of the choreographers.  It was so fun to see the product of all her hard work.
  • Celebrated Audrey's birthday the day before her birthday.  And I got to see her soon to be new living space.
  • Celebrated Audrey's birthday with a special breakfast, went to church together, and then headed to the airport.

Our travel was fairly uneventful except that Todd and Savanna got randomly selected for "special security screening." I guess a little pat down never hurt anyone. :)

So, I will close with a few pictures of our travel so far...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A rose by any other name...

Early in this adoption process, Todd and I said that we wanted our future daughter to have some input on her name...whether to keep her Chinese name or not, and if so, whether to use it as her first or middle name.

Then we found our daughter.  Her name was Rissa in the shared list.  We thought that was awesome sign because we have a daughter named Riza.  We learned that our daughter's Chinese name was Yuerong.

We waited on deciding about her name, hoping we would have some contact with her, but we didn't.  Finally it came time to fill out some official paperwork and we had to make a decision.  After prayer and discussion, we decided to keep her first name as Yuerong and add Hope as her middle name.  She has been called Yuerong for a long time, so we wanted to keep something familiar.  We weren't sure how to pronounce her name :) but we were willing to call her by her first or middle name.

Then we got an e-mail from her.  She asked us if we had decided on her name.  She wanted to know if she would be able to choose her name.  She asked if her name could be Davina.

When I read the e-mail, I sat in wonder with so many emotions.  Glad to hear from our daughter.  Happy that she felt comfortable to ask.  Curious about why she chose that name.  So we asked.

This is the response we received:

"she knew the name meant 'to be loved'"


So our sweet, beautiful daughter, who is deeply loved already, will be named Davina.  And we will be finally able to love her, hug her, and begin to know her in 5 days.  5 days. 

See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are!  1 John 3:1