June 30, 2008

We made it home!...finally.

Wow, what a trip. We made it home at 3:00am this morning (Monday). We left with only an hour delay from the HK airport around 1pm (midnight Sat/Sun here). We made it to LAX in about 12 hours. Only Sheehan cried and shreaked for the last 20 minutes of the trip during landing. He was definitely tired and didn't enjoy being woken up to put on his seatbelt.

Then we deboarded to immigration at the same time as two other international flights. It took us about 1.5 hours to get through immigration (for Josiah). Even though it looked like we were probably going to miss our 1:04pm (LA time) flight, it didn't matter b/c it was cancelled. Steve stood in a line to get on another flight for about 45 minutes. He was able to get us confirmed on the 7:45pm flight, and stand-by on the 4:55. For about an hour, Kate, Sheehan and Josiah all fell asleep on the airport floor following our 80th McDonald's meal. Then we headed over to the gate to see about getting on stand-by. There was only one seat left on the 4:55, so we couldn't get on that plane. We found another corner to sleep in and the boys and I fell asleep on some seats ... quite an upgrade from the floor. We got up and walked down to the other gate where our flight would leave from. The boys were entertained by a family from Vietnam who had been on our flight from HK. One of the women even bought them both Chunky bars and they were giving the boys all their snacks. That kept them happy. We boarded the flight and the boys stayed awake the entire time. I'm sure the people were wondering why they were still awake at that crazy hour. Considering we'd been traveling for 24 hours I was wondering myself. Josiah did not like the seat belt upon landing or the fact that I gathered all his toys together and put them away. He screamed at the top of his lungs (I'm not exaggerating) for the 10 minutes we took to land. I'm sure everyone around us was very pleased.

Steve's Dad and Geri were waiting at the baggage claim to pick us up and to meet their newest grandson. Sheehan went running down the hall toward them when he saw them. He was so excited. He kept asking when we would be home as we were flying in. Josiah enjoyed meeting both Grandpa and Grandma and loved the attention...not to mention the stuffed horse they brought him (Sheehan received a stuffed bull). Josiah fell asleep in the carseat on the way home and didn't wake up until 11:30am. Sheehan stayed up until around 9:30am. Ahhh...Steve and I took turns. I stayed up until 6:30am until I couldn't handle it anymore and was getting really cranky trying to "sleep" on the couch and Sheehan kept pulling the pillow off my head to ask me questions. I went in and woke Steve up and we switched. He went into the living room and stayed up with Sheehan until he fell asleep at 9:30. We all were awake by noon and Steve's Dad and Geri came over from their hotel and we ordered pizza and they played with the kids. Around 6pm everyone "napped" and woke up around 9pm. Josiah is still asleep and so is Sheehan. Steve and I are both awake and feel bored. It's such a weird feeling. I actually feel too tired (exhausted) to read and too awake to sleep. Total jetlag. Maybe we'll get outside tomorrow.

Thanks for following along on our trip. It was definitely enjoyable and for me WAY better than our last trip to China...poor Steve and Sheehan got sick this time (but are definitely on the mend). I highly recommend Hong Kong for anyone who wants to enjoy an exotic vacation. It was beautiful...just don't go during monsoon season like we did. Also, we're still not sure what the bumps are all over Josiah and Sheehan. I plan to contact the doctor tomorrow. They seem to be popping up even though we weren't around any bugs...plus, Steve and I never had any of these. Geri suggested Chicken Pox. I don't know what these things are. They are primarily on their legs and arms.

Ok, I have to go, Josiah just woke up and is hungry. We decided to go to Denny's for dinner...or is it breakfast? We're not sure.


Sleeping at the airport
Playing with Vietnamese friends
Waiting...

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June 28, 2008

Disney Downpour

Psalm 126:5 - Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.

We made it to Disneyland yesterday and only experienced three major downpours lasting over one hour each, the first one beginning within seconds of purchasing our tickets. We still had a great time. Hong Kong Disneyland is a lot smaller than the other Disney parks, but is also much cheaper. Because of the rain, we were able to ride most rides quickly because the lines were so short even though it was a Saturday. The longest line was for the Autopia (the cars) and it was about 35 minutes. Otherwise, we usually waited less than 10 minutes for each ride and even walked on to some. Sheehan's favorite was Mickey's Philhar Magic (3D cartoon where you where the glasses) and Winnie the Pooh. For the 3D movie, Sheehan jumped out of his seat trying to grab the objects in front of him. He also enjoyed the Dumbo ride. Josiah liked anything that moved especially the teacups and Dumbo ride, but did not care for the fireworks or the 3D cartoon too much. He seemed to be scared. Steve went on Space Mountain and Steve indulged me by willingly riding the raft over to Tarzan's tree to climb. Our shoes and socks were soaking wet from the first downpour. Luckily, the boys were wearing sandals and we had a change of clothes plus bathing suits for them. Also, our 2nd stroller/backpack began to break and we actually just left it next to a bench b/c there was no trash large enough for it. It served us well for this trip. I think Josiah was just too heavy for it because it was really ripping. We made it home around 9pm and dropped into bed.

Today, God willing, we head home! Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We fly to Los Angeles at noon and then on to Chicago. So, if all goes according to plan, we will be home around 7pm, Sunday.

Mickey Monsoon
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Cup o' sickness
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June 27, 2008

On an adventure

Galatians 6:9 – Let us not become weary in dong good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

This verse may have to become our dedicated family verse. Yesterday, was pretty adventurous for us and involved a LOT of walking. We axed the idea of going to Disney because it was pouring rain in the morning (not unlike this morning, but it’s our last chance today). We debated on the $20 breakfast buffet and decided that that was way too much money, especially when Sheehan eats so little and the cost was still $20 for him. Thankfully, under our hotel is an entire mall and we were able to find a little Chinese diner where we ate fried eggs, bacon and noodles. Steve had the egg and bacon sandwich … on white bread with the crust taken off. Apparently the Chinese are not big on crust J.

After breakfast, we headed to the Star Ferry and took it over to Hong Kong Island with the intention of going to the top of Victoria Peak even through the rain and fog and clouds covering the peak. When we got to the island we realized that we were running late and that it was already lunch time, so we had to skip the tram ride to get to the Peak tram and go get lunch instead. McDonald’s was the place we knew, so we went there. It was the same one we went to on our first trip to HK island inside the giant, posh International Finance Center mall. To get a good visual of what we looked like … picture a foreigh family dressed like they are ready for a day at Disneyland having a McDonald’s picnic in the middle of the John Hancock building in Chicago. There were business people and dressed up “shoppers” … and the Hall family with drool bibs, milk mustaches and hot sweaty parents.

After lunch, we decided to walk to the Peak Tram instead of taking the tram/bus. We didn’t realize that it was uphill the entire way. The walk was clearly marked, but uphill. As we were walking we saw a bunch of people in orange vests surrounded by police and camera-people. We don’t know if it was picketing or protesting, but it all seemed pretty orderly. With calves burning and backs aching (I was pushing Sheehan in the stroller and Steve was carrying Josiah on his back in the backpack stroller), we made it up to the tram.

The Peak tram is a tram (like a car on a railroad track) that takes you up an incline carried by pulleys. It kind of felt like a roller coaster. Josiah was asleep for the entire ride up. At times we were at greater than a 45 degree angle. We made it to the top and as we were up there the clouds began to part and we were able to get some really good views of HK island and Kowloon (where we’re staying) as well. It was beautiful.


Then we went down the tram (the downhill portion “looked” a lot like a roller coaster ride without the speed … Katherine was a little uncomrtable) and decided to walk to the Zoo, which looked like it was really close. “Looked” is the key word. It was all uphill again and we had to climb stairs and cross dangerous roads. We made it! The zoo consisted of a playground (which the kids thoroughly enjoyed, and looked like a place that the rich people send their kids with the nannies b/c it was all Asian or southeast Asian women with Caucasian babies), lemurs, a few monkeys and many birds.

After that, we were totally dead and it was 6pm and the kids were cranky. We decided to just walk back to the pier for the ferry since it was all downhill this time. We got lost (Katherine’s definition … Steve knew exactly where we were J). We ended up in party central at the end of the work day on a Friday evening. We literally turned a corner and there was a street full of bars, mostly full of westerners, music, partying … it felt like Chicago’s Rush Street … and there we are with our strollers and backpacks. We followed the narrow road down to another bustling street. At that point, we found the words longest escalator and I wanted to ride on it since we may never be in HK again. We rode for a few minutes and then got off and decided to take a cab back to the pier. We got there in like 5 minutes, and we realized that where we were walking was WAY off course of getting to the pier. At dusk, we made it across the harbour on the ferry and decided to eat dinner at the Spaghetti House at 8:15pm (our usual bedtime). After dinner, we walked back to the hotel through Kowloon park and immediately tried to get the boys to bed. Of course, they were all wound up, but eventually fell soundly asleep. Today, we go to Disney HK and it is not currently raining, but the clouds are thick.

Everyone seems to be feeling better health wise, but Sheehan has a few bug bites on him and Josiah seems to be covered in them. They’re actually pretty large red welts. We’re glad to be going home tomorrow.

Josiah going counter-clockwise
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Josiah going clock-wise
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June 26, 2008

Back to Hong Kong (slowly getting back to America)

Isaiah 41:10 – Do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Yes … we survived our trip to Hong Kong! We have made it back to the land where they understand English, where the staring is pretty much minimal, and where one can find a McDonald’s within reasonable walking distance anywhere in town J … Steve suggests trying the Shogun Burger (I’m not making that up … which has teriyaki sauce and an Egg McMuffin egg on it … yum).

The trip to Hong Kong was rather uneventful, yet grueling. After bidding farewell to the lovely White Swan Hotel and the wonderful buffet, we finished packing, did some last-second shopping, checked out of the hotel and hopped on the hotel shuttle to the train station. Our guide Kelly was terrific, making sure our bags were taken care of and sitting with us until it was time to go through security. She even made sure a helper took our heavy bags all the way onto the train. We realized how wonderful that actually was when we got off the train. The train ride was rather pleasant … the kids played with their cars and read their books, while Mama and Baba looked out the windows. The entire trip took about two hours with about 45 minutes of waiting at the terminal before boarding. Compare that with if we had flown, and who knows if the rainy weather had any cancelled flights, and I can’t understand why anyone would pass up the train when it’s only $25/adult and free for small kids. The train attendants walked up and down the aisles hawking items...Olympics stamps, vaious drinks, and hot boiled corn on the cob.

Getting off the train with two strollers, two large suitcases, four backpacks, a rolling briefcase and two kids was a little rough however. After begging one of the employees to let Steve back on the train to retrieve one forgotten item, we lumbered up the elevator, through customs, and out to the taxi stand via a bathroom break in a under-air-conditioned train station … well let’s just say Steve’s shirt felt like he was back in the White Swan swimming pool playing shark with Sheehan. After breaking through a little language barrier with the cab driver, we all sat in the back seat of the cab where a mini-World War IV broke out between Sheehan and Josiah, and then Sheehan and Baba. When three guys are all hot, tired, hungry and two of them are under the weather, it’s not a good mix. Cooler heads prevailed however, and we were on our way to the Royal Pacific Hotel and Towers.

Steve will confess while driving to the hotel, he became a little apprehensive about his choice in hotels. Remembering that this hotel was chosen based on it’s reasonable rates, he began to wonder how this hotel would stack up to the Renaissance, Sofitel and White Swan. Upon arriving though, his worries were allayed. The staff was very attentive to our “baggage challenges”, and when we got to our room, we were rewarded with a very nice view of Hong Kong harbor and an even larger room with a couch to boot. After soaking that in for awhile, we went hunting for food. We took a pedestrian walkway above the crowded streets to Kowloon Park which was dramatically nicer than we were expecting. This is a very large park, perhaps on par with Chicago’s Lincoln Park. There are Chinese gardens, a rather impressive aviary (Steve pretended he knew what she meant when Katherine said: Do you want to see the aviary? In my head I was thinking … what is that … a fancy name for an airport?) We stumbled on a McDonald’s in the park where Steve feasted on the Shogun Burger, and then walked the park before finding another McDonald’s kiosk that sold only ice cream. We indulged, then seeing some yawns from the kids we headed back to the hotel. We were then treated to a view of the Hong Kong light show from the comfort of our hotel room, and after some book reading, it was lights out.

Tomorrow, as long as the weather permits, we will head to Hong Kong Disneyland … Sheehan is excited, but when we mention it to Josiah he has that look on his face like Steve did when Katherine mentioned the Aviary J.

Until tomorrow, Good Night (good morning).

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June 25, 2008

The US Consulate

Proverbs 16:9 – In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

Statements that sum up our sons’ personalities thus far:
Josiah: I just wanna have fun (and food) on my timing!
Sheehan: I just wanna be the boss!...and everyone should follow my rules…especially Josiah.

Yesterday was a little more eventful. It rained most of the day, but the boys and Steve were able to get in a little swimming time before it really started to come down. After swimming, we dressed the boys up in their new Chinese outfits and took them around the hotel to get photographed. We took some on the traditional red couch, where all adopted children get their pictures taken, as well as in front of the waterfall and the fish.

Then we ate lunch at the deli downstairs again (super cheap!) and then Josiah took a nap and Sheehan watched a video. After the nap, we went to the US consulate. Helen, our guide, had called earlier in the day to tell us that she wouldn’t be able to meet us, but another person would (Steve couldn’t understand the name) at 2:30pm in the lobby.

At 2:30pm, nobody showed up and there was still nobody at 2:45pm. Adoptive families came and went and a person named Kenny came and gathered a bunch of families and so we thought maybe we were supposed to go with them??? We really needed to be at the consulate b/c this was where we would get Josiah’s visa and all the applications for him to immigrate into the US. If we didn’t make it, we would have to wait another week. Steve was becoming very frantic, to say the least. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him that anxious (usually it’s me).

We saw a familiar-looking woman herding a bunch of families onto a bus to take to the consulate and we told her our dilemma and how there was no guide to meet us. She said she would take us. It turned out that this woman, Elsie, was our same guide in Guangzhou, when we adopted Sheehan, through Children’s Hope International. We were so thankful! Plus, she entertained everyone on the bus with singing, telling jokes, and sharing some information about Guangzhou. While we were on the 30-minute bus drive she received a call. We heard her say the word, “Helen,” and knew it must be about us. She got off the phone and told us that there were two women waiting to meet us and were following behind us in the hotel bus. They said we were supposed to meet us at 2:45pm, and we said, we were told 2:30pm. Everything worked out in the end and we got Josiah’s visa and the mysterious “brown envelope” that we’re not allowed to open. Only immigration in the US can open it.

After we got back, we headed straight to Lucy’s for our 4th and final meal there. I had spaghetti (tasty), Steve had a grilled chicken wrap, and the boys split some satay, which neither of them ate.

After dinner, we packed and went to bed a little earlier. Today, we are leaving on a train for Hong Kong. It is a two hour ride, but only costs $25/adult (kids are free). I think the only reason a person would fly to HK is b/c they don’t know just how cheap it is to take the train. We were told that it would be MUCH more expensive than it actually cost us….like $55 more and we thought we’d have to pay for the boys. This morning, we will pick up the last of our artwork and souvenirs and then head out on the 11:15 shuttle to the train station with our guide.

Praise God for Zicam. I have not gotten full blown sick yet. I have been taking that stuff religiously and have felt kind of tired and weak with a soar throat around 8pm (my China bedtime) and then sleep well at night and wake up refreshed. Josiah has not gotten sick either (maybe he gave us the cold). Steve is on the upswing (or at least he’s hopeful that he is) and so is Sheehan, but they still are very congested, coughing, and kind of tired.

Hey Melissa, have any tomatoes grown on my plants yet? Big Boy or Cherry?
Waking up Josiah
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June 24, 2008

Another day in Guangzhou

Psalm 127:3-5 - Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are son's born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver if full of them.


It amazes me how many Chinese people are surprised that we are adopting boys and they really are confused as to why we would not choose a "perfect" girl. We've told them that these children need a loving home and we don't really care if they have a "disability." Really, after thinking about it, our answer is that we are called, as Christians, to care for orphans and that is why we do it. Plus, we are children of God, and have been adopted into His family, through His Son, Jesus Christ. No matter what we look like or how many bad things we've done, He still accepts us when we come to Him with a repentant heart. God cares for us and loves us. As God's children, we want to do the same thing and show these children, our children, that we love them and care for them and that they are worthy of it. We pray that God will bless us with more and more adopted children to love and care for.


Yesterday was another laid back day. We hung out in the room after breakfast. Our guide called at 10:30am to let us know that our appointment would be at 2:45pm today with the US consulate. Around noon, we decided to go down to the deli shop in the hotel and eat lunch. It was pretty good and cheap except for my ham and cheese sandwich. It was 48 yuan (about $7) while the baked pastrami sandwich and the pig in a blanket that Steve and Sheehan had were both less than a $1 and they were bigger! Weird.

After lunch, we took a walk and ended up shopping. We found a shop that is WAY off the beaten path and we felt bad for them, so we bought most of our souvenirs from them and it turns out they had pretty good prices. We go back today to pick some of them up that had to be made. Then the boys took a nap. After the nap, we walked to the Cow & Bridge Thai restaurant (or something like that). We didn’t like it as much as we thought we would. Many people had raved about it and we’d been asked many times if we’d been yet. It was expensive (for China) and tasted like everything else we’d eaten since we’ve been here…I did have chicken wings in a carved out pineapple…that was pretty cool. Maybe we were expecting it to taste like Tasty Thai in Vernon Hills…actually, I know we were. We love Tasty Thai…which probably should be named Tasty American Thai.

After dinner, we did a little more shopping and then went swimming. We talked to a man in the kiddie pool who, with his wife, adopted a 6.5 year old girl (who was swimming like a fish, but a week before wouldn’t touch the water) who is deaf. They learned sign language and then they arrived and she was deaf in only one ear and totally could hear out of the other ear and speaks Chinese. They have been in China for almost a month. They were in Beijing for 15 days and in Guangzhou for 10. Yikes! We thought our 18 day trip was long. Luckily, he owns his own business, so didn’t really have to take vacation.

After swimming, we went to bed. I slept for about 9 hours (like every other night…I think this might be why my cold has not really taken hold of me). Josiah and Sheehan both woke up in the middle of the night crying and screaming (at separate times) for about 5-10 minutes and were both inconsolable. We figure that Josiah is grieving and this is good b/c he hasn’t done much grieving, but he has woken up crying on three separate occasions over the last two days. We figure that if he grieves he’ll attach better to us b/c his grieving is indicative that he was attached to his foster mom or someone else at the orphanage. We don’t know why Sheehan was crying…maybe a nightmare? I had a really freaky nightmare and actually after Josiah woke up, I went back and had the same dream but the serial killer had a different face the 2nd time around (the first time around, he was Al Pacino). Steve ended up killing the serial killer with an ax because he had a bullet-proof body. Whacked!


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June 23, 2008

Psalm 115:1 - Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

Today, was pretty laid back. Ate b-fast as usual. At 9:30am Helen, our Guangzhou guide, came to our room and helped us do some paperwork, really she does everything for us and she just shows us where to fill in blanks and where to sign our names. It’s quite nice really. After that, Josiah and I walked over to have his physical examination done to apply for his visa. Steve and Sheehan stayed back since they are still sick. Josiah cried when we entered the clinic. Helen said it looked like he saw the doctors b/c he was pointing at the door indicating that he wanted to leave. After a few minutes of crying, he calmed down and actually didn’t cry at all the rest of the time. Three different doctors looked at him, ENT, height, weight check, and another doctor did an overall scan of his body. The whole process took about 8 minutes. There were at least a dozen families in there with their adopted children.

After the exam, we picked up some noodle cups and yogurt at the 7-11 across the street and ate lunch in our room. Then we went swimming.

After swimming, we took a nap (or at least the boys did). Josiah woke up at one point crying pretty hard. We’re not sure if he was grieving or if he’s not feeling well. He didn’t want to look at me and only wanted Steve, so we’re thinking he’s grieving. He fell back asleep pretty quickly.

We’re pretty pathetic b/c after naps, we went back to Lucy’s for the third night in a row for dinner. I think we’re just not feeling like dealing with not knowing what to order and how to order it. We talked about trying the Thai restaurant on the island, but Steve said he hadn’t tried the hamburger at Lucy’s yet and I said, ok, we’ll go there again. Maybe we’ll try the Thai place tomorrow night.

After dinner, we took the boys to the playground on the island. It had slides and a few things for kids, but mostly a lot of adult exercise equipment. They have this kind of exercise equipment at all the rest stops on the highway too. That’s one thing that I would like to see in the US – adult playgrounds.

After that, we came home and fell into bed. I’m really starting to feel sick – sore throat, lethargy. I hope Steve feels better soon, so that we’re not both feeling awful at the same time. When we adopted Sheehan, there were a few days when we were both pretty sick. But, mine lasted for about two weeks straight and I had to see the dr. when we got back. I hope it’s not as severe this time.

Video of Josiah singing a Chinese song - we think...
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June 22, 2008

Are we on the sun???

Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two - Matthew 5:41

Whoa, is it hot here or what? In the sun, I think it’s something like 184 degrees. It is so nice to be in Guangzhou where we can access our blog and add video (hopefully it will work) and check our email. We couldn’t do any of that in Zhengzhou. It was really weird, we would type in the address and it would re-route us to some Chinese website.

This morning we woke up and ate the traditional White Swan breakfast overlooking the beautiful, but high Pearl River. The river is full of seaweed and plants. There has been a lot of rain (30 days in a row before yesterday) in the south and flooding as well. There were many boats floating around with people picking seaweed out of the water. There’s no way people would want to swim in that water with all that seaweed…and we did see people swimming in it the last time we were here.

After breakfast, Sheehan, Josiah, and I went to the Chen Clan Academy Museum of Folk Art. It is a house dating back 100 years and is full of the original furniture and artwork that was typical of that time period. They had all these giant ivory carvings, which they now do on camel bone, to save the elephants. They had many carvings on the buildings in wood. They were very intricate. The coolest thing was the embroidery room. They had all these artworks that were embroidered. I actually thought they were paintings until I looked at them really closely. They even had people embroidered. I didn’t realize that embroidery could look like that.

Steve had a fever of 101 and wasn’t feeling well, so he stayed at the hotel. Helen, our Guangzhou guide, helped me with the boys. Sheehan is still sick, but seems well enough to be out…Steve wasn’t well enough to take care of him. After about 45 minutes at the academy, the boys were hot, tired, thirsty, hungry, and bored, so we left and we skipped seeing the temple and shopping. I figured I could shop outside the hotel for anything I need, since the people are sooo eager for us to buy anything and everything.

After we got back, we decided to walk to McDonald’s. We thought it was right off Shamian Island (where we’re staying), but it turned out that it was quite a ways down the street (unless we just didn’t find the close one). We asked a guy and he said to keep walking, it was in the Guangzhou plaza. We finally found it and there were actually two of them, plus a KFC, and a Papa John’s (my least favorite of all time pizza). We went to McD’s and again didn’t get what we ordered, but that’s ok, we were prepared and we ate well anyway. I got some chicken wings that turned out to be FIRE wings. Oh my goodness, they were SO hot! I only ate one and half before passing them off to Steve and then my head exploded. Thankfully, McD’s was air-conditioned b/c we were pouring sweat by the time we got there. It seemed to be about a mile walk. (Steve’s perspective … it was literally 100F, Sheehan was too tired to walk so he rode on Steve’s shoulders, all while Steve was dealing with his internal 100F temperature … it felt a lot longer than one mile L)

We found the Starbucks on Shamian Island, but were a little disappointed that everything costs about the same as in the U.S. Everything else here is ultra cheap, but our Starbucks bill (four Frappucinos (2 w/o coffee, of course) in various sizes) came to more than double our entire meal at McD’s!

Then we came back for a “nap.” Actually, Josiah napped. Sheehan kicked and screamed and cried until we finally gave up (about 1.5 hours) and played a video for him on the DVD player…unfortunately, he won’t be swimming tonight b/c of his tantrum, he’ll be shopping on the street with me.

I’m guessing that most of you (probably none) do not look at our blog in the middle of the night (which is our middle of the day), but the temperature/weather guage is currently reading 97 degrees! Hot!!! Definitely a good day for swimming and/or air-conditioning.

I hope we’re not leaving out too many details about Guangzhou. I think that b/c we have been here before and reported on it on this blog before we feel like we’re being redundant. If you want to read more about Guangzhou (probably not) then please go to our blog archive (right side of blog) and find September 2006. I actually just took my own advice and went back to look at our Sept. 06 post and saw that I even took some of the same pictures. Sheehan looking at fish (he was so little), a view from our room (we’re on the 15th floor this time), ducks hanging in windows, and I talked about how I was so sick the last time. The coffee shop we took a picture of, is now Starbucks, the same birds are in the White Swan cage, and Josiah is even wearing the same sandals that Sheehan wore the last time (which Fleurette wore even before Sheehan… I wonder if they’ll last another child?).

Also, this trip has felt more like a vacation to me. I actually thought that might happen since we’ve been to China before and kind of knew what to expect. Also, I’m not sick yet, so that could have a lot to do with it, plus it’s warm out. Being a new parent with Sheehan was really hard and I felt like there were so many unknowns when we first got Sheehan that I just wanted to be home, plus he grieved a lot more and was A LOT more demanding. Josiah is so easy and we feel like we have a little more knowledge about kids so things are pretty nice and I’m actually not counting down the days till we leave like I was last time. I’m looking forward to Disneyland and Victoria Peak in HK and I look forward to going swimming everyday here at the White Swan hotel.

Another thing different from last time is that we’re traveling alone. Last time, we were with a group in Beijing and in Guangzhou (we all separated to go to different provinces) of about 9 families. We had people to talk to and that was nice. I think that having Sheehan here (another American to talk to) has made us feel not so alone…is that weird? LOL! There are however, many Americans at the White Swan, as usual, who have adopted Chinese children, and we have had a few conversations with some of them. We met a couple from Madison, WI this morning. They adopted a cute 6.5 year old boy. Another little girl named Gracie, came up and started talking to Josiah at breakfast this morning. She was adopted years ago and her family came back to adopt her little sister. She was very outgoing and enjoyed playing with other kids. One disappointment is that the Swan Room is closed (the playroom). I had played up the playroom to Sheehan so much when we had to leave the “playroom” at the Hotel Sofitel in Zhengzhou and now we find out it is closed until after we leave. Oh well, more swimming I guess.

Did I mention (I honestly can’t remember) the lifebook that the orphanage gave to us about Josiah? It has 105 pictures in it from when they took him in until a month before we got him. Each picture is accompanied by a journal entry (all in Chinese, of course). We are very excited to get it home and get it translated. Anyone know anybody that can do that?
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Swimming at the White Swan Kiddie Pool

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Sheehan being a shark

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Happy Birthday to You

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June 21, 2008

Proverbs 14:23 - All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

We're finally able to access our blog. Yea! But, now Skype is not working. :-(

Well we made it to Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton. Kate and I had our game plan laid out well last night for a smooth transition out of the Hotel Sofitel Zhengzhou and we were able to get everyone bathed, dressed, fed and packed up by 8:30 AM leaving plenty of time to get checked out before our ride to the airport. We bid Zai Jian to the Sofitel breakfast with Steve’s 30th slice of French Toast, Katherine’s 10th Brioche, Sheehan’s 50th piece of bacon and/or sausage and Josiah’s 18th pound of fried rice.

The airplane ride was … well … it was exhausting. As smooth as everything else has gone, the airplane ride was a challenge. Josiah is not a big fan of seat belts, and he wasn’t too keen on the roar of the plane engines during lift off either. But all of that paled in comparison to when Katherine went to the restroom … without Josiah. Wow! The kid can belt it out when he is unhappy. Let’s just say the entire plane turned to see Steve do his best song and dance routine with Josiah while Katherine took a brief two minutes to herself (with Sheehan). The good news is he has obviously begun his bonding with Katherine J.

We eventually arrived to the familiar White Swan hotel, where we reacquainted ourselves with the Japanese Carp and the inside waterfall, before heading to Lucy’s the Western restaurant where we had Pasta, Cheeseburgers and grilled cheese … oh yeah, and Josiah had an adult-sized plate of fried rice J. Then we went to the White Swan swimming pool where we enjoyed the kiddie pool.

Tomorrow we do some sightseeing and perhaps shopping, and weather permitting some more swimming. FYI - It was a high of 95°F today.

Next morning: We woke up this morning and both Steve and Sheehan are sick. Steve has a fever and probably will not be sightseeing today. Sheehan is iffy. They were both awake quite a bit last night coughing and just uncomfortable while Katherine and Josiah slept like peaceful babies.

By the way, Josiah has been singing “Happy Birthday to You” quite often since we sang it to Steve on his b-day. You can only make out the word, “you,” but the melody is definitely Happy Birthday. He’s quite a happy little boy that entertains everyone around him. He has adjusted SOOO easily so far. He’s very content with pretty much everything unless he asks specifically for something and you say no, then he cries and drops to the floor, but even that stops after a few minutes, so it’s been pretty easy. He’s learned the English words, “happy, sad (which he’ll actually act out and it’s quite funny), bye-bye, and uh-oh.”

video

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June 20, 2008

Psalm 133:1 – How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

Happy Birthday Steve! Today is Steve’s birthday. I was sad that he would have to spend it in China where nothing special is bound to happen, but things turned out much better than I thought.

We started the day as usual with the yummy breakfast. It didn’t rain, so we really could have gone to the zoo and it turned out to be really hot. I dressed the boys in sweatpants and jackets thinking it would be cool. Wrong. It was the hottest since we’ve been here. At 9:30am we went to the Henan Provincial History Museum. I was actually kind of bored. I don’t really know much about history, especially Chinese history and really it was all a bunch of vessels and figurines that were dug up in the Henan province thousands of years ago. That is interesting in itself, but I didn’t really know what I was looking at and I didn’t understand the significance of anything and after I’d seen 100 of the same pots, I felt like I had seen enough. After the museum we went back to the hotel b/c Josiah was falling asleep and Sheehan still wasn’t feeling well.

We ordered room service which was only $25 for 3 meals, two of which were kid’s meals, but were the size of any extra large adult meal. Just before our lunch, the front desk called and said they had a cake to bring up to Steve. They brought in a white cake with peaches and kiwi on top and an edible chocolate sign that said “Happy Birthday.” I wish I could have taken credit for all of this, but I had nothing to do with it. Steve thought I was pretending when I said I didn’t have anything to do with it. We still don’t know if one of the parents called the hotel or if the hotel staff got his info off the passport and this is just something that they do. The man who delivered it even put candles on it and we sang Happy Birthday. Josiah LOVED it and was clapping and smiling. Sheehan ran and hid under the pillows and kicked his legs, as he has some kind of fear of the Happy Birthday song (on his 3rd birthday he cried when we sang it to him).

Josiah had fried rice and fruit for lunch. He really seemed to be shoveling it in, like REALLY shoveling it in, especially the watermelon. It has us concerned that maybe he wasn’t getting fed enough at his orphanage. He eats so much and so fast and such huge bites. He hasn’t thrown up yet, so we’re thinking that what we’ve fed him has been ok. We’ll get more info back at home when he sees Dr. Andy on July 3rd.

The boys then took a nap and at 4:30pm, Miranda walked us over to pick up our laundry. As we were walking (I forgot my camera, of course) we saw a woman selling goldfish and bunny rabbits from a cart. PETA would have had a fit. The white bunnies were in tiny little cages with no room to move. She had about 20 of them. They were so cute.

For dinner, we celebrated by eating at the hotel restaurant where we eat breakfast. We have eaten at the same table every time we’ve been there (at least 6 times). It’s kind of behind a make-shift wall where all the tables are non-smoking. It’s good because when Josiah starts yelling with excitement at the top of his lungs, he doesn’t stand out as much.

It was the last night of the Seafood Festival. Wow! I’ve never seen seafood like this…ok, maybe on our honeymoon, but that was it. After dinner we took the kids to the little play area in the restaurant which amounted to some kiddie picnic tables and a bunch of stuffed animals. It was here that we witnessed another side to Josiah. It was like someone snuck five soda’s or cups of coffee to him when we weren’t looking. The kid was pure adrenaline. He was running, waiving his arms around, he even went on top of the picnic tables, grabbed Katherine’s hand and jumped right off … another difference from his conservative brother.

Before bed, we all got the cream treatment for Scabies. Katherine is really starting to itch since she has already had it before, plus she has been sleeping with Josiah.

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June 19, 2008

Brotherhood and Chinese casual dining

Psalm 133:1 – How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!


Today was rather uneventful. We started out by going to breakfast, which is absolutely my favorite time of the day. I don’t know what it is about the breakfast. The selection? The overly attentive staff (we literally have a person standing next to our table taking our debris away all the time, refilling our coffee, picking up the napkins, forks, spoons, etc. that the kids (and adults) drop.)? The not having to cook? It’s all good. But, it seems extra special in the morning.
I should also mention that the baked beans and corn on the cob that we made fun of on the first day has been on the Zhengzhou buffet every morning as well. In my American-centric mind, I think that everyone is supposed to cater to us. Maybe Chinese people actually enjoy these items for breakfast. I have enjoyed having fried rice for breakfast every morning. Yum!

After breakfast, we updated our blog and slides (via my mom and sister) and at 10am we met Miranda, who took us over to get our clothes laundered. It was about a 5 minute walk. We also picked up some diapers and a new bottle for Josiah and then came back. Then we played with the boys for a while, I did some of our other laundry, we ate noodle bowls in the hotel room for lunch and then took the boys swimming. Josiah preferred to sit on the side of the pool rather than be in it. At one point, I was taking pictures and Steve had turned around to attend to Sheehan and Josiah slipped right in the water. Yikes! He didn’t cry, but he definitely didn’t enjoy going completely under water. He’s pretty resilient. The water was much colder than a few days ago and the boys were getting cold (so were we), so we left.

Then the boys took a nap. At 3:45pm they woke up and we went downstairs to receive Josiah’s birth certificate, etc. from Miranda. Then we went to dinner at a Chinese chain restaurant (New Island Coffee) that serves western food.

Things we learned at dinner tonight:
  1. In Chinese restaurants you only get two napkins per table, unless you can speak Chinese.
  2. If you don’t know the language, you probably won’t get what you ordered.
  3. You don’t get any tableware other than a spoon and chopsticks. So, if you have two children and you order spaghetti and need to cut it up, plan on using your spoon or chopsticks to chop it b/c trying to communicate “knife” when you don’t know Chinese is futile.
  4. Eating dinner on a couch is not really kid-friendly.
  5. “Italian spaghetti” really means noodles with salty red sauce and when you say, “please put it on the side,” that really means give me extra on the side.
  6. Josiah doesn’t like the word “no”…and neither does Sheehan (but we already knew that).
  7. Josiah loves whipped cream…along with every other food … except for one exception below.
  8. Josiah doesn’t love hot red peppers. Katherine made the mistake of giving Josiah, what looked like a red bell pepper. Instead, it was a flaming hot red spicy pepper and Josiah immediately spit it out and started crying and screaming at the top of his lungs in the middle of the restaurant. We quickly gave him water and more fried rice to ease the pain. He’s been drinking water voraciously for the past two hours, probably still trying to get rid of the spiciness.
By the way, (I don’t think we mentioned this) we’ve been thinking that Josiah has been saying a lot of “baby talk” and nonsensical words, but it turns out he’s speaking Chinese. Miranda said that at one point he was reciting his numbers and then said, “let’s go home and play!” Today, she heard him singing. We’re oblivious. Our Chinese is so limited.

Also, the orphanage (Half the Sky foundation) gave us a booklet full of pictures of Josiah and journal entries for about every 2-3 weeks.

The boys are getting along fairly well. Sheehan is not as jealous of Josiah as I thought he would be. Praise God! Sheehan is still very possessive of his toys however and enjoys bossing Josiah around. On their bad days, Sheehan is the fighter and controller while Josiah is the sulker and manipulator. On their good days, Sheehan is the helper and reminder of anything forgotten while Josiah rolls with the punches and is extremely conversational (in fact he is talking and singing himself to sleep as we type J). What a pair. They are both our little munchkins and we love them very much!

Tomorrow, we will visit either a zoo or museum or both. It’s supposed to rain, so we may axe the zoo idea. We’ll see.

Sheehan is beginning to cough and has a slight fever and I think we all have scabies. We got a prescription from the pediatrician before we left. It’s pretty common in the orphanages here. We’ll treat ourselves tomorrow night before we leave. Other than that we’re all pretty healthy still. Praise God! Still we appreciate any prayers for continued good health.

P.S. We hope to add video to our blog as soon as we have access to it, hopefully in Guangzhou (Saturday). We haven’t been able to send those to my mom b/c they’re too big.

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June 18, 2008

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Wow … yesterday we started our blog by saying we were parents of two boys … crazy. Today the feeling is … we are parents of two crazy boys J. It has taken very little time to realize that Sheehan and Josiah are polar opposites in so many ways. But one thing they share in common is a surplus of energy and a zest for fun.

We survived a lengthy eight hour round trip drive today to see Josiah’s orphanage where he grew up. This proved once again to be one of the highlights and lowlights as it did with Sheehan. We were introduced to the Orphanage Director, who was very pleasant, provided us with a lovely gift, and presented us with a crisp business card to boot. Then we went to see the nannies that took care of Josiah. One of the women was his foster mother and she was overcome with emotion at the sight of Josiah and held him weeping for several minutes (then, of course, Katherine started crying too). Josiah was very excited to see her. It was very moving and demonstrated the love these people feel for the children. Then we went into Josiah’s room, to see the crib he stayed in and to meet all of the children. Quite honestly, this is one of the most bittersweet moments we have experienced in our lives. To see the excitement and bubbling interest from these children on having a visitor, and the thirst for attention and touch is so exciting, only to see the sadness and pain in their eyes at our departure. They were very interested in seeing themselves on the video camera – we faced the tv screen in their direction as we taped. They were all in cloth diapers that looked like old rags. These children need homes, they need the attention every one of us longs for, and not just receive it if they happen to cry the loudest. Our prayer is that each of these children finds a forever family.

When we finally arrived back at the hotel, the kids simply had a blast. They kicked the beach ball, danced on the floor, jumped on the beds, and loved bath time. They loved every minute of it. In fact the only sad moment was Josiah being pulled away from the bath … he doesn’t like someone telling him bath time is over.

Now everyone is asleep except Steve and all is peaceful and quiet. Tomorrow is a very exciting day of doing laundry and signing some papers. J Print Friendly and PDF

June 17, 2008

Psalm 90:1-2 – Lord, you have been our refuge in every generation. Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity, you are God.

Yesterday (Tuesday), was a lot more relaxing than Monday. By the way, I’m pretty sure it was primarily nerves that was causing my stomach difficulty, as we ate at the same Chinese restaurant Monday night and I had no ill effects. In the morning, we hung around the hotel room after our elaborate breakfast. These meals are amazing! They have everything you can imagine, even sushi (yuck, in my opinion). It has been cool to watch Josiah eat pretty much anything we set in front of him. So far, he won’t eat banana or pumpkin soup (we really are trying almost everything). He did kind of have an upset stomach yesterday and what we’re feeding him probably has something to do with that, so we’ll try to hold back. We’re just so excited to see a kid eat fruit and vegetables!

Later in the morning, we went out for a walk in the park across the street. We were getting the usual stares. We are starting to understand that this must be the way of their culture. Staring isn’t acceptable in the US, but here it is normal and common. When we were at the park, there were a couple men playing Chinese instruments and a woman was standing there singing. It looked very impromptu (we forgot the camera). Another person was staring at us closely, so Katherine waved and Steve videotaped him (true confessions … to make sure I had footage of him if he decided to accost usJ). He smiled and then others came over almost as if that was an invitation to talk to us. They started talking to us in Chinese … they knew zero English. Katherine was able to communicate in her minimal Chinese enough to let them know we didn’t understand (although I later learned through our conversation that I was telling them I didn’t know anything – LOL!). We were able to tell them Sheehan and Josiah’s names, where they were from, how old they were, that they were our sons and that Sheehan didn’t understand Chinese, but Josiah did, and that we were from America and that I only knew a tiny bit of Chinese. One man was ranting and raving and I kept hearing the word for America(n), but then when he was done, he smiled at us. Who knows what he was saying. I immediately came back and looked up a bunch of words I wanted to say, but had forgotten.

After the park, we ate lunch, then took a nap, then went to the adoption affairs office where we officially became Josiah’s parents. The woman in the picture presented the certificate to us.

After the “ceremony” we headed to the grocery store. Sheehan loved the flat escalators that you can put your cart on and Josiah LOVED the shopping cart. These carts are different from the US b/c they go sideways too, so that makes for some fun maneuvering. Every time you turn a corner you feel like you’re trying to catch up to your cart. Then we headed to Chinese McDonald’s for some Happy Meals, then back home for some playtime before collapsing into bed.

Today, we are driving down to the orphanage which is about a 4-5 hour drive each way. We will take lots of pictures. Print Friendly and PDF

June 16, 2008

One more makes FOUR!

Jeremiah 31:3 - The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness."

Wow! We’re parents of two boys now! Crazy. Everything went really well yesterday, very smooth. We were picked up at 3pm and literally driven across the street around the block to the Henan Adoption Affairs Office. We totally could have walked. Anyway, we went up the elevator and Miranda said Josiah was already there and waiting so we should get our cameras out. That was different from when we met Sheehan. We had to wait about a half hour for him to arrive.

We walked down the hall and could see him through the window of the office. He was sitting in a chair in his little split pants. LOL! If you don’t know what split pants are, they’re basically pants that have no crotch that allows toddlers to squat and go potty anywhere even on the street. All their privates just hang out, front and back, and this is totally normal. So, yes, he’s potty trained. We walked in and he was sitting contently on his chair. We smiled and came over to him and he looked at us curiously. Sheehan smiled at me and said, “his pee-pee’s sticking out,” and started laughing.

Josiah was very happy to play with us and was smitten by Steve who played peek-a-boo with him. Josiah climbed out of his chair and walked around playing with things in the office. He was totally having fun with us. We drove over with one of the nannies (who held him on that trip) to get his passport photo done. We continued to play games with him. He was content getting his passport picture taken.

Night time was a breeze. We gave Josiah a bath, which he thoroughly loved … especially the water being dumped over his head. Then the boys played with their cars, Katherine showed them how to jump on the beds, and then we settled down for story time. When we turned down the lights, Josiah started to get a little weepy. He reached for Katherine and eventually drifted to sleep. He then proceeded to sleep for about 11 hours. Thus we start to see some drastic differences between the two boys. Sheehan hates to go to sleep, gets fidgety when he gets tired, and wakes often and early throughout the night. Josiah slept straight through for the 11 hours, including the last two hours when Katherine, Sheehan and I all were up and talking/playing. Granted this is night #1 and things could be totally different beginning tomorrow...Sheehan slept his first night through also.

After speaking with the Colorado grandparents on-line (Skype - which has been totally awesome b/c we don't feel so alone here in China), we went to breakfast in the hotel and learned a bit more about Josiah’s dietary preferences. HE LOVES FRUIT! He woofed down two bowls of diced fruit including kiwi, pineapple, watermelon, melon, and cantaloupe. All the fruits Sheehan dislikes. Oddly enough, the only fruit Josiah wouldn’t eat was bananas … the only fruit Sheehan will eat J.

So all is well. We are about to head out for a walk in the park across the street. When we get back, we will introduce Josiah to the swimming pool. Later this afternoon we have some papers to sign.

Over and out (for now).

P.S. Currently, Steve is having a tickling match on the bed with both boys and Josiah is laughing absolutely hysterically. LOLOL! Print Friendly and PDF

Anxiety

1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

Wow, I am really having a battle with anxiety right now! The queasiness in my stomach can't make up it's mind as to whether it's nerves, the Chinese food I ate down the street last night, or my lack of sleep (awake since 1am). I just ate something and feel a little bit better, but all of my guts are still churning.

We will meet Josiah in less than 2 hours. I really hope I don't get sick. Steve is eating a container of chocolate pudding as I type. Ewww. I just want the waiting to end. I think the muscles in my back are getting more and more tense too. It's really hurting. Did I feel this same way when we were in the last few hours before getting Sheehan? I think I was. I distinctly remember saying, "I feel like I'm going to throw up." I may have mentioned it in my blog. It's interesting how similar things are to last time. At least since we've arrived in Zhengzhou. The city looks similar to Xi'an, at least from where I'm sitting, the room is set up the same, shape-wise, our guide is local to this area and so attentive and helpful....we do have a little 3.75 year old sleeping on the bed, so that's a little different, and could be more cause for my anxiety as I'm not sure how he'll react to finally having a little brother after all these months of thinking he's imaginary. Man, I'm going to throw up. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Thank You Lord. Steve, I think I need a back massage. Print Friendly and PDF

June 15, 2008

Psalm 145:9 - The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.

When we were still awake at 3am this morning, we suddenly realized that we had left our backpack at TGIFriday's where we had dinner ... I know what everyone is thinking ... you're in Hong Kong and you go to Friday's? What can I say, we like supporting Steve's company's customers ... and we wanted to play it safe knowing there were probably no American restaurants in our next city :-). Anyway, the backpack contained our video camera (with a little footage), a HK tour book (from the library), our sweaters/jackets and a change of clothes for Sheehan. We put it in a chair and forgot it when we walked out. Ugh! We got the phone # for Friday's from the internet and called to see if maybe they were still open since they had a bar. It was closed. Our flight was leaving at 12:40 today and we had to leave for the airport by 10am, most likely earlier than Friday's opened for the day. I was resigned to believe that we would not see our backpack again and I came to terms with it. Steve sent an email via their website to see if they might find it and also informed them that we would be back in HK in approximately two weeks. We eventually went to sleep and then woke up and just before we left at 10am, Steve called. Someone answered and Steve described where the backpack might be located and what it looked like. They went to look for it and came back and said they had found it! We rejoiced! Thank You God. Steve ran over and picked it up. It wouldn't have been a major loss, but we were really wanting to videotape our meeting Josiah like we did Sheehan, so we're very thankful to have it back.

We flew from HK to Zhengzhou today. Sheehan fell asleep on the way to the hotel. We will try to wake him soon, so we don't have a repeat of last night - he was up from 10pm to 4am. The hotel (Sofitel) is VERY nice. We're going to check out the pool at some point. Driving through Zhengzhou, it looked like there was a lot of construction going on, which I think pretty much describes all of China. So far, it looks similar to Xi'an, but there is not much tourism here, no lure for westerners, so we may be the only ones we see. There was a westerner on the airplane. I asked why westerners would come to this city and Miranda, our guide, said that they come to teach, if at all. There is a university in Zhengzhou. We have had many stares even just at the airport and on the airplane because we have Sheehan. I'm guessing they are thinking, what is that Chinese boy doing with these foreigners? I might ask Miranda to see if she has any ideas about their thinking.

We will meet Josiah at 3:30pm tomorrow! He will have a 4-5 hour car ride to meet us. Poor thing.

Happy Father's Day Dads! Wow, this has been kind of a lame Father's Day for Steve. Other than the card and gift card to Starbucks Sheehan gave him this morning, there wasn't much to it. :-( Maybe we can celebrate tomorrow. Getting a new son is a good Father's Day gift. :-)

We have not been able to access our blog or email in Zhengzhou. We will keep trying, but we're guessing that some sites are blocked here. Thankfully, we have been able to access Steve's work email and we are having my mom and/or sister post our blog.

It is now 4am. Sheehan has been awake since 1 am. We're hoping to get him to take a morning nap, so he'll be in good spirits to meet Josiah. Please pray that he'll take a nap...that is often not easy for him. Thanks! Print Friendly and PDF

June 14, 2008

A day in Hong Kong ...

I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven - Matthew 5:44-45






Jet lag ... what jet lag. It is 10:45 PM Saturday evening, and Sheehan just woke up from a five hour nap, while Katherine is just starting to saw logs.

We had an enjoyable day, despite the rain doing some sightseeing today. We rode a "junk" boat across the Hong Kong harbor to Hong Kong island where we found some comfort food for Sheehan (McDonald's) while walking around. We had some nice talks with one of the locals and a nice, chatty lady from Austrailia. People in Hong Kong seem to be rather courteous and friendly compared to some other large cities we have been to.


When we arrived back in Kowloon, we took Sheehan to a playground ... about 15 minutes after he passed out. Below is an amusing short video of our attempt to rouse him.

video
After Katherine and I finished off a short nap, we headed out to the Promenade to see the light show ... a light and laser show coming from the buildings across the harbor on Hong Kong island.







Tomorrow we take off around noon China time ... Happy Father's Day to all you Dad's out there!

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June 13, 2008

We made it!

Psalm 139: 1-3 - Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways.

Steve's (tech-savvy) dad texted us these verses just before our flight yesterday. They came in handy for remembering that God is in control of all our circumstances.

When we got to O'Hare yesterday we learned that our flight was cancelled. We had done a pre-check-in the night before, but didn't check the flight status that morning. Melissa and Fleurette dropped us off at about 7:15am. We were a little distressed about the flight. I prayed while Steve stood in line and talked with the United reps. They got us on a direct flight to Hong Kong that would actually arrive 2 hours prior to our original flight! Thank You God! The new flight was scheduled for around 12:30 PM. It took off around 1pm.

Man, that is one long flight. Sheehan did really well, but was really tired. He slept for a good nine hours. He was only antsy for about 2 hours (arms and legs a bit out of control, not obeying, whiny, etc. - pretty good for having to sit in a seat for 20 hours). Steve got a couple hours of sleep, I got about 45 minutes. As we approached China, the pilot mentioned that they were having severe weather in Hong Kong and didn't know how that would affect our trip, but it was difficult to predict the weather that lay ahead.

We made it close to Beijing with pretty smooth flying. At that point, he said we were low on fuel and would have to make a quick stop in Beijing for more gas. We bumpily landed and refueled. Which was actually nice for me because while the plane was stopped I felt more at ease with not having my seat belt on and laying down across the seats with Sheehan (flying is not my favorite activity, but I have definitely improved over the years, thanks be to God, and don't even need drugs anymore). That's probably when I got most of my sleep. After about an hour we were asked to get ready to take off (in the middle of a lightning storm). So, we sat on the plane for another two hours in the storm before taking off (the circumstances we face are first filtered through the loving fingers of God - to paraphrase Nancy Leigh DeMoss - this has become my life quote, as I repeat it to myself multiple times per day). The lightning lit around us everywhere. I didn't know they could take off or land in the a lightning storm. I eventually trusted that they knew what they were doing better than me.

We finally got in the air and made it to Hong Kong pretty quickly (3 hours). We circled a few times and landed in the middle of a lightning storm with gusty winds (reminding myself of God's soveriengty, "He's holding the plane, He's carrying the plane, He has good plans for me, His will is what I want for my life...even if this is plane crashes in a flaming inferno...right?" Right.).

We got off the plane around 9pm. Everything at the Hong Kong airport is similar to any major city in the U.S. minus the maching gun-carrying military. We grabbed something (7-11 ... no Big Gulps Melissa :) for Sheehan to eat and got our tickets to ride the MTR (subway train thingy) to downtown. We got on then got off at the wrong stop. We were quickly rerouted back on to the train by some helpful employees. We got off at the next stop (thankfully, the train runs every 12 minutes). We went to the Kowloon station and then took a taxi to the hotel (Katherine understates this part ... after getting off the MTR there was a line 50 people deep waiting for cabs ... this added an additional hour to our marathon trip :). I collapsed into bed as soon as I got in the room (Katherine is not exaggerating here) and slept so deeply for 5 hours. I don't know how late Sheehan and Steve stayed up (about 30-minutes later - SH).

We woke up at 5 am, I don't know why(?!), perhaps the jet lag(?) and went down to breakfast in the hotel restaurant. YUM! This brings back memories of our first morning in Beijing when we adopted Sheehan. Bread pudding with strawberry and vanilla sauce was the first item on my plate. What?! I opted out of the corn on the cob, baked beans, salad and fried Japanese fish that were available. We wondered if the Chinese think that Americans eat baked beans and corn on the cob for breakfast. We figure that somebody must eat that stuff because they keep serving it. We also had pancakes, eggs, bacon, dim sum, fried rice, noodles, and juice and coffee. (FYI from Steve ... the bread pudding with vanilla and chocolate sauce was outstanding ... I think we need to carry this "American tradition" back to America!)

Now, we're getting ready to figure out what to do today. It's pouring rain here. It was pouring last night when we arrived. They have all these signs up talking about "red rain." I guess this indicates heavy rain fall (possible flood warning). They have different ratings of rain fall and warn you of what its like before you go out.

We really appreciate the prayers and support of everyone ... yesterday could have been a nightmare logistically and emotionally, but as always, God watches over our coming and going ... and protects us in the process.


Sheehan's buddy Min-Min ... contemplating the view of Hong Kong ... ooh, check out that sweet fire hydrant
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June 12, 2008

Last blog before take-off

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Ahhh, this is the day...We wake up in less than five hours. Almost everything is packed and ready to go, we only need to shower and load the van and we're off. Melissa and Fleurette are driving us to the airport. Thanks to Melissa for practically cleaning my entire house today AND watching Sheehan while I got my hair cut AND running errands with me AND helping me finalize my packing. What a sister! :-) I love you Melissa!

Our flight is at 9am. We should arrive in Hong Kong (via L.A.) at 6:40pm on Friday, which will be 5:40 am on Friday here. We'll try to post upon arrival, but not sure how tired we'll be.

We really do appreciate all your prayers, especially in reminding us that God is sovereign and He loves us as He lays His hand upon us. Every circumstance that we experience has first been filtered through His loving fingers (to paraphrase Nancy Leigh DeMoss). When anxious or difficult situations arise, we can trust that God is in control and He knows the outcome. I have no reason to worry. These last few sentences are a reminder of God's truth to myself that I've been repeating the past few days.

I guess I should get some sleep now. Blog ya from China!

Also, I wanted to apologize to a bunch of people who have emailed me over the past few days, especially some of you who offered to take care of our cat and I haven't responded to you. I'm sorry I haven't been able to get back to you. Preparing for such a big trip to adopt a child with only two (real) weeks notice is crazy. I hope to catch up on my emails at some point. :-) Print Friendly and PDF

June 01, 2008

We have some volunteers to care for Fuzzy Kitty!

Thank you to all of you who offered to help care for our cat (like 6 people! Praise God!) while we're in china. We appreciate it soooooo much! We went with the first two offers which were from Paige and Holly/Jennie K. They were all in my high school youth group when I was leading a few years ago. They're so helpful! Thank you SO much!

Here is our itinerary while in China:

June 12 - Depart for L.A./Hong Kong
June 13 - Arrive in Hong Kong 6:45pm – stay at Marriott Renaissance
June 14 - Tour Victoria Peak/Star Ferry
June 15 - Depart Hong Kong for Zhengzhou – stay at Sofitel Zhengzhou
June 16 - Meet Josiah!
June 17-20 - Paperwork/get Josiah's passport/visa
June 21 - Depart Zhengzhou for Guangzhou – stay at White Swan
June 22 - Hang out in Guangzhou, maybe swim in the pool?
June 23 - Josiah's medical exam
June 24 - Appointment at US Consulate
June 25 - Take oath to adopt Josiah!
June 26 - Depart Guangzhou for Hong Kong – stay at Royal Pacific Hotel & Tower
June 27 - Disneyland Hong Kong
June 28 - Tour Hong Kong
June 29 - Depart Hong Kong/Arrive L.A./Chicago Print Friendly and PDF

May 29, 2008

Received travel approval!

Psalm 107:8-9 - Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

We received our travel approval on May 27th! We will be flying off to Hong Kong on June 12th (back on June 29th) and will meet Josiah on June 16th, the day after Father's Day. We leave only 2 weeks from today! We will post a more detailed itinerary as we receive information. Print Friendly and PDF

May 21, 2008

Day 111 - Half the Sky Update - May 20

We're on day 111 of our wait for Josiah. Our wait for travel approval began May 6. Our agency said we should hear something in 2-3 weeks. So, it looks like we may not travel until late June or early July. At least this way, Steve will not have to take one of his vacation days b/c of July 4th. :-)

Letter from Half the Sky:

Dear Friends,

As I delay writing this report a bit longer each day, I realize that, likeso many, I find it harder and harder to read or write those grim statistics or tell the sad stories. We wish we could be done with this death and disaster and start to move on. But still the numbers come.

There are 34,073 people confirmed dead, 245,108 injured, still more than 35,000 still missing.

Yesterday, after those three silent minutes in Sichuan, people began tocall out, “Rebuild! Rebuild!” Today, when I was feeling I couldn’t openanother casualty report, I read instead a report about new babies bornduring and right after the quake. They have names like ‘Li Zhen’(Earthquake) and ‘Born in a Tent’ and ‘Long March.’ They, like all thesurvivors, will carry these terrible days with them always. But theirlives are just beginning. For them and for all of the children whosurvived, Sichuan will begin to rebuild.

As hope of finding more survivors fades, we find hope in each bit of goodnews –

During the past week we managed to reach every single orphanage in thehardest-hit areas but one - Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. Today we finally made contact. They said, “The institution buildings areno longer safe to live in. All the children live in tents. The governmentprovides us with enough food and water and daily necessities. Now we onlyworry how and when we can possibly rebuild.”

Of the 24 children (all of whom were from hard-hit Anxian County) who wereported were brought to Mianyang Zitong SWI because they were newlyorphaned, I am very happy to tell you that 13 of them were reunited withrelatives.

The children of Suining SWI have now been able to move back into theirorphanage building.

More displaced children are arriving daily at shelters in Chengdu, but noone is giving up on finding living relatives yet. Yesterday, 70 childrenwere brought to a large hospital in Chengdu for urgent treatment. Some ofthem had joyful reunions with family, but of course, not all. One veryyoung girl signed her own consent form to have surgery on her broken arm. Ma Lang wrote, “She was a sweet and tough girl, and the doctors, nurses,and volunteers loved her very much.”

Ma Lang and two other HTS staff are now in Mianyang and we expect morenews from them soon. Meanwhile, our relief operation is going into fullswing, with tents, tarps, medicines, beds, blankets, rice, diapers, food,clothing and baby formula moving in and out of the Chengdu CWI forimmediate delivery to distressed areas.

As we get closer to realizing our small part of meeting the basicchallenges of shelter and emergency supplies, it is time to embark on themost critical project for the long term – helping the children heal and goon with life. This is, of course, why Half the Sky exists and how ourorganization can best help Sichuan’s children rebuild. Now we will begin the process of training caregivers, foster parents, shelter workers andvolunteers of all backgrounds to work with newly orphaned and displacedchildren.

We believe our long experience working with children orphaned by AIDS andother children who were not infants when they lost their parents has givenus a solid foundation for this work. But this week we are recruiting ateam of pediatric psychologists, trauma specialsts and social workers tohelp us adjust our training methods to this special circumstance. (If youare, or know of, a Mandarin-speaking professional working in this field who would like to volunteer for this project, please let me know!)Within two weeks, Half the Sky’s entire staff of field supervisors will beworking with caregivers and new foster parents all around Sichuan. Our work is just beginning. Thank you so much for making it possible!

More news soon.... Print Friendly and PDF

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