Sunday, September 14, 2008

Another Fabulous Day!

Our first stop this morning was at a Living Hope International training center. It was the highlight of the whole trip so far, and I could have easily spent all day with the kids! This orphanage is currently housing 44 kids, from 11 to 17 years old. They recieve a wonderful education and are part of a lovely family environment that nurtures them and equips them for their very bright futures. These particular children are unavailable for adoption because they have living family members that simply cannot care for them. Toward the end of our visit, a young girl named Lois seemed particularly taken with me. She approached me with a hug, and a touch or two to my hair. Apparently red heads are fairly rare in China. She shyly said to me, "I will not forget you," as she held my hand while we waited for the picture time. If you click on her picture, you'll see her draped over my shoulder. I had a difficult time composing myself when we left, and little Lois has captured a bit of my heart. I'll share more about LH International in a future post. For now, get yourself over to their website and consider sponsoring one of these precious kids. You will never regret it.

We headed to the Great Wall from there. It was mobbed with tourists and the personal space issues became quite an issue as we navigated our way up the steep stairs. I'm talking some steps actually higher than my greatest possible stride length. I know, that's not much but it's a lot when you are trying to keep your momentum! I turned back when the walkway became suitable for only two people across. There were four people trying to pass at once and I'm certain that my racing heart was not just exertion! Brittany made it a good bit further than that; and The Boss took Bayley up almost to the third station with him. This view is from the highest point that they walked.

Sam took us to a little restaurant within the local Jade Market and The Boss gave me a lesson on eating with chopsticks. I actually did pretty good. Good enough to devour the delicious teriyaki chicken and pork dishes set before us. The Jade Market was full of beautiful jewelry, intricate carvings and the obligatory sales clerks. Again with the hard sell. The Chinese believe jade to be a symbol of lasting happiness, so it was fitting that The Boss bought me an early anniversary gift: a beautiful teardrop pendant. Perhaps the best present was watching him negotiate a better price. It's so uncomfortable for him to barter, but he was determined to conquer this traveler's skill and I'm proud of him - he did good!

We took a long drive back to the city and got snared in traffic as a result of a pretty bad car accident. It was sobering, and made us really grateful for our cautious driver, Mr. Fan. He was quite skilled at weaving in and out of traffic, and still managed to be respectful of the pedestrians and bicycles that are EVERYWHERE!

Sam took us through Beijing by way of the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube. We got some okay pics but the traffic was crazy, as the Paralympics are still in session. It was still very exciting to be that close to the site where Michael Phelps worked his magic! These last three days we've seen lots of people from all over the world associated with the Paralympics and we think that some of the staff connected with the British swim team are actually staying in the same hotel we are.

The last touristy event was the Flying Acrobat Show. OMIGOODNESS! Those kids were amazing us for the entire show. Flexible seems so benign as a way to describe their moves. And their strength? Many of the tricks made us moms gasp out loud and left everyone with their jaws dropped. Breathtaking feats of amazing talent and precise, intricate moves perfected after years and years of training. A great metaphor for the beautiful city that is Beijing. A perfect way to end this part of our journey.

We spent the night re-packing our stuff and preparing to fly out to Xi'an early tomorrow morning. Brittany and Bayley are heading off to Nanchung. Both The Boss and I were commenting that it will be strange to navigate this next step of the journey without them! They feel like family now and we are grateful that we can see them again in Guangzhou. I can't wait to see them with their little Addie.

We are now less than 48 hours away from Aidan. And as beautiful as this mini-vacation has been, nothing will be as amazing as finally holding our daughter for the first time.


Salzwedel Family said...

Less than 48 hours to Aidan!! Praise God!!!!!!!!!

Jonni, John & Sofia said...

It sounds like you are having a wonderful time, just think 2 more sleeps and you will have Aidan!


Mama Moose said...

The LH school was a huge highlight of our trip too. Quite sobering, isn't it?
Enjoy Xian, it's really a wonderful city!
Can NOT wait to see Aidan in your arms!

Heidi @ GGIP said...

I have been reading all your posts with interest and anticipation!

Carol said...

OH MY SON HAYDEN LOVES FAN!!! Please say hi for us if you haven't already left!!!

Kempers said...

Almost there! yeah!! In the mean time get some sunblock on! You are getting pink! :-)
We're praying for you guys

Carol said...

Oh and PS..we thought we were getting Emily on Monday, but when we landed on SUNDAY, in Xian..the guide told us "We must hurry, you will get Emily in one hour!".....I think this happened to others in Xian too!!!!!!!!

ARE YOU READY??????????????????

VikingClanEnMass said...

Wow, 48 hours...that's so hard to imagine. You must have a hard time sleeping with all the excitement! I didn't notice the pinkness...but Sis is right, sunblock is always wise! Just lookin' out for ya! Good job on the bargaining Boss, man! Jade...sounds like it'll go well with your coloring, Sis! And I can't imagine SHY red hair is such a novel thing to the Chinese, I've lived with it all my life! hee hee! Loved all of the pictures so far, especially the one of the LH school! Our friends are leaving soon for China to bring home their little girl...Blessings and love and hugs to you and Boss! It's so strange not to be able to pick up the phone and just call anytime during the day!! (I know I could call your cell, but I don't want to burn up your nickels!!) Love, the Viking's QueenMama

VikingClanEnMass said...

Oops, I meant I can't imagine "WHY" red hair is such a novel thing to the Chinese...(NOT SHY red hair!!)
I should edit before I post, eh? Sorry!
~the apparently very tired Viking Mama!

Kateri said...

Safe flight to Aidan! Thanks for sharing so much about your trip. It's bringing back great memories.
It's 5 months today since we were handed our little lady :) She was holding both of our hands this morning in church and all I could think about was how you are so close to the joy that I was feeling at that very moment! God has truly blessed us all!
Soak this all up...I know you are. These are some of the best days of your life!!!
Hugs and stuff:)

Anonymous said...

The sights and sounds seem wonderful. You'll both be on sensory overload, trying to take in everything. We're excited to see Aidan join you in your pictures. We're praying everyday for you and the grandkids. Sister is right, put some sunblock on that pink skin. Love, GramO & GrampO

Elissa said...

Wow, this is bringing it all back for me! I am so excited fro you and the boss! I can't wait to go to bed so tomorrow will be here faster :)

Sharon said...

Sounds like a whirlwind trip so far. My heart was pounding too climbing the Great Wall. I only made it to the second post. I was amazed that I didn't see one car accident in China, although I had heard that it is common and certainly the driving is crazy.

Can't wait to see photos from the big day!!


Anonymous said...

Today is sept 15th and I do hope that both of you are able to walk after that fab trip up the great wall. I, too, loved the Chinese acrobat show - a troup visited a couple of years ago at PENN. Todd, great negotiating! Glad to see that both of you are enjoying the sites. Just a wee bit longer till baby! VB