I want to start out by firstly saying thank you. Thank you first of all for reading this blog and following along this journey but most especially for all the love, support and prayer you have offered to us this past week. Thank you for all the sweet, supportive and encouraging comments both here and on FB as well as all the kind notes sent to us via email and text.
Things are going so much better.
That last post started out as a private email I was going to send to a select few but after reading over my shoulder, Mike suggested I post it on the blog so as to give readers a ‘full disclosure’ glimpse into the journey. I hesitated over the publish button, not sure I wanted to wear my heart on my sleeve, doubtful that I should be airing the dirty laundry. But in the end, within seconds of posting it, a flood of such love and prayer like we have never known overwhelmed and has fortified us.
I am happy to report that Joseph appears to be turning a corner, due in large part no doubt to your prayers. He woke up the very next morning a different child. He actually erupted in smiles and cries throughout the day much like a normal 20-month-old should. He still remains somewhat guarded and reserved and is clearly an introvert but I believe the healing process has begun. As one commenter noted, he is likely learning *how* to cry. As unconscionable as it sounds, it may well be that his cries were not responded to in the orphanage, or at least not reliably so.
His cry is pure gift to us. And we are honored and relieved that he is finally allowing us emotional access to his wounded and vulnerable little heart. We still have a long road ahead of us but brick by brick, the wall is coming down.
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Arriving in Guangzhou on Saturday was the biggest figurative and literal breath of fresh air. The difference in the feel of this city after a week in Zhengzhou has been like night and day. Not only does the city appear cleaner and the air fresher (thanks to the coastal breeze) but there is a noticeable lack of scooters, car horns and that general sense of chaos that we thought was just par for the course in China. Things here in Guangzhou are exponentially more orderly. Where Zhengzhou was an example of “China without a filter ” (as Mike calls it), Guangzhou has demonstrated China’s attempt to become more western. It truly feels like a cosmopolitan city here with more Americans and Europeans as well as businessmen from all over the world.
The Marriott China Hotel here in Guangzhou was the biggest welcome to weary travelers when we arrived.
The rooms are bigger with more space to allow the kids to run and play.
There is a happy hour every night that offers appetizers that are filling enough to count as dinner. And do I even need to mention how medicinal a glass of wine or cocktail is at this point in the trip? With the company of our fellow adoptive families and travel companions, the dinner hour here truly is happy hour. We are in the company of some amazing and wonderful people who have become like second family to us. It pains my heart to think that we only have a few days left together before we fly to our homes spread across the US.
On Sunday our guides Joselyn and Kathy took us on a tour of the city of Guangzhou, a city that boasts a nearly 3,000 year old history. Our first stop was to a Buddhist Temple where locals still come to worship their gods. Images and statues of various gods, including Buddha himself lined the grounds. As strange as it may sound, it was a bit of a shock to the system to watch throngs of people coming to offer prayers and sacrifices of incense, fruit, nuts and oils to these strange gods.
We admittedly have so little experience outside of the Judeo-Christian faith and while it was interesting to see how other cultures and religions worship, it was an unsettling experience. A large pagoda towered over the temple, rendering a formidable feeling to the whole experience.
There was one temple dedicated to a goddess of mercy and compassion. I just couldn’t help but offer a juxtaposition to the scene.
Our next stop on the tour of the city was the ancestral home of the Chen family which holds the cultural wealth of traditional Chinese art. Wood, ivory, jade and stone carvings, silk embroidery, tapestries and calligraphy.
I haven’t spoken much about our amazing travel companion Linda-Anne but she has been the secret behind this journey being a success. Her help with the kids, her support during the difficult moments, her assistance when going through the exceedingly stressful security lines in the Chinese airports and all the love and attention she’s lavished on the older kids while Mike and I have been occupied with the littles has been the biggest blessing. She is beautiful and genuine inside and out and I can’t imagine this journey without her.
On Monday Marianna and Joseph had their visa physicals done–a requirement by the US Consulate. It was a formality mostly but both kids passed with flying colors.
Tuesday will be one last free day before our US Consulate appointment on Wednesday. Three more sleeps until we’re on a plane headed home!