Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday, February 28: Buddhist Temple, hanging out by the lake, andvisit with Darrel Six

Today was a tourist day for us. Right now we are waiting for "little lady" as we call her, since she is very girls, to get her passport issued, so we killed time by touring. We started out at breakfast sky ping with our boys. They have been busy making pictures for us and their sister. Nathanael asked a couple times if she was coming home with us and we assured him yes! It was so good to tell them we love and miss them. We are over half way through our separation now.
We met our guide this morning for a planned tour of the oldest Buddhist temple in the Fujian province. We have already seen 2 temples while in Xiamen, so really didn't want to go to another one, but since it was already planned in our package from our agency and we thought we could use it as an opportunity to share with our guide, we agreed to go.
The temple area was very large and impressive. The architecture was very old and intricate. Even the grounds had very old trees and beautiful ponds. However, the stench of incense was everywhere. In every building, idols sat with food and more incense and candles burning before them, and saddest of all, there were many people worshipping and bowing down to them. So many passages in Scripture came to mind about false gods and how it disgusts God. How could these beautiful people, Anna Faith's people, think that a statue can see them, hear them, smell their incense, eat their offerings, and bless them? It can only be the deception of Satan. There are so many strongholds our enemy uses, and in this country, it is false gods who steal God's glory. Please pray for these precious, deceived people.
After we got back to the hotel Kris got us McDonalds since Anna Faith fell asleep in the bus. We are actually getting sick of Chinese food this year since our meals can't be mixed with home cooking. There are just so many dishes in restaurants to enjoy, and then the oil and spiciness get to us. After Little Lady woke up, we went paddle boating on the lake. It was fun for us for a while, but then our legs were very sore! The paddle boats are not very efficient and move slowly. We did a lot of walking around the entire lake. We also went into a large museum for free to see several exhibits. One was displayed dresses in China over the last century. They were gorgeous and interesting to learn about. Then we saw the history of Fujian Province through artifacts found over the centuries. We saw some items from Nanping and took pictures for Anna Faith.
Tonight one of Kris' old friends who he hung around with in Xiamen 10 years ago, Darrel Six, took a train to see us. We went to Pizza Hut and got caught up on how he is doing. Kris has really enjoyed seeing his old friends again while we've been here.
Tomorrow is open. We have no idea what we're doing until 2:30 when we check out, get Anna Faith's passport brought to us, and get on a plane to Guangxhou. As big planners, I hope we'll find something!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday, February 27th: visiting the Nanping Orphanage

Today we took a trip to Nanping, a city with a population of 500,000 built along a small river in the mountains. It is in the northwest corner of the Fujian province, about 2 1/2 hours from Fuzhou, where we have been staying. Anna Faith is a great traveller. She fell asleep shortly after we left and woke up as we were coming into the city. The road we were on is only 10 years old and was just like a U.S. highway. The only difference is the manicured shrubs and about 30 tunnels, some that were a couple miles long, along the way! The views were breathtaking of the countryside, rice patties, mountains, rivers and small towns in valleys. Nanping is a city that is beginning to modernize. There were old buildings and many new ones, and even a KFC and McDonalds that looked very new in the heart of the city. Next to an old suspension foot bridge was a new modern one for cars. We parked in front of the orphanage, and the first thing I saw was the tunnel. This tunnel passes under a train track to the gate of the orphanage. My mind went back to the first thing I read about Anna Faith the day we received her file to review last September: found at 8 days old in a baby suit in the tunnel leading to the social welfare institute (orphanage). Tears started to come as we approached it. It all began here: a frightened mother and perhaps father came here August 24th, 2011, and left their beautiful baby, never to see her again. She chose life for Anna Faith, and compassionately left her where someone would find her and be able to care for her. God knew all along what His plan for her would be. Even the adoption agent who came with us today said "I can see she was made for you". She looks in my eyes as if she has always known. I can't explain it, can't make sense of it, but I know that God is sovereign and He is good. His plan for each of us is amazing! Anna Faith has such a story to tell, and with her personality God gave her, I'm sure she won't be afraid to share it!
We continued on to the medical part of the orphanage and met a doctor and nurse who work there. They were very happy to see our girl, as was a 14 year old girl who ran up to her to give her a hug and hold her a while. Then her nanny appeared. She smiled a huge smile and went to her. Her nanny obviously cares for her a great deal. We praised her for the care she gave Anna Faith. She also cares for 11 other kids in the same room, but Anna Faith is the youngest from what we saw. We got to see her room, but only for a few moments. The children were supposed to be napping, even the old ones. They are all special needs, and most of them seemed to have mental delays. I found out that the kids that Brooke, a friend I've corresponded with who adopted from the same orphanage last year, has been advocating for are still there. Hopefully the pictures the workers took on 2 disposable cameras I sent with her care package will have photos of those children, because I only snuck one photo before being told it wasn't allowed.
We met with the vice director, Mrs. Wang, since the director is out of town today. She showed us photos of kids with their adoptive families and got Anna Faith's hand print for a picture page she is making for her next. Then we asked her nanny about the outfit she was found in. A few minutes later she brought it to us. I cried again and thanked her, saying how it was very special to us. We then went on with a couple of workers to eat lunch. Anna Faith had to say bye to her nanny, but didn't cry but for a few seconds. She wanted to go to me on her own. I was thrilled! Kris got to leave the nanny with a Chinese Bible and shared with her. I pray she will read it and find the hope we have too.
We enjoyed the meal with the staff a lot. They got lots of dishes for us, including one made from bamboo shoots that is a local Nanping dish. After the meal we thanked them and left. Anna Faith fell asleep again so we had a quiet ride back. Kris shared and left a Christian book with our driver when we got back to the hotel. Then we played around some more with our baby girl, went out and got bread for dinner (we were so stuffed from lunch we didn't want anything else) and settled in for bath time and sleep. It was an emotional, but very special day for us. I want to treasure all these memories and be able to recall every detail to my daughter one day. She will likely have so many questions, and I want her to have every answer we could get. Tomorrow is a day of sightseeing. We are ready to get home, but still have 6 days to go!

Tuesday, February 26, Panda World and visit with the Kelly family

We had a great day today! It was interesting at breakfast, as we tried to get Anna Faith to like a high chair, and she threw a tantrum. Fortunately, she doesn't go long before realizing she's not going to get her way. As Kris says to her I've done this three times before, and you are going to figure out soon that I'm not giving in!" We found out later that she had never used a high chair before, but we will still do it since she's not going to eat in our laps after we get home.
We went with our group to Panda World, a park with 2 pandas, several lesser pandas, and a few bears. The park was run down, but still interesting to see. We saw a show with tricks by the lesser pandas. Anna Faith had never seen animals before so was mesmerized, and didn't make a sound the entire time.
After a local lunch and a long nap time, we met up with Kris' old friends from Xiamen, who live now in Fuzhou. They have a daughter who goes to college in the States but is back with her parents to teach for a year while doing online courses. We ate at the Peking Duck, a hot pot restaurant that also served duck. We had both and stuffed ourselves with a feast! Afterwards we took Anna Faith to Dairy Queen to get her first ice cream. She didn't like the cold taste, but loved the flavor! While we were at the restaurant, she decided to get loose. We didn't think she would leave our sight, but realized she is a social butterfly despite her quiet demeanor in public. She walked everywhere smiling big and discovering everything she could, occasionally looking back to see if we were still with her. We got lots of stares by onlookers, but that's Chinese culture. They did that with our boys in China too! She fell asleep on the taxi ride back and we had a great night's sleep. Kris wasn't equally liked with me as much today. She's starting to like me more, at least temporarily. We'll be working on him spending more time playing with her in the next few days.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday, February 25th. Anna Faith officially becomes ours!

We woke up after a good night's sleep and our fourth little flower stretched for minutes, sat up, and looked at us with a huge smile. We were so relieved she was happy to wake up to us and wasn't sad or scared! We went downstairs to breakfast and discovered she is a messy eater. She loves yogurt, doesn't like eggs and played with them on Tonya's lap and won't eat fruit. We went with our guide Penny and the other adoptive family here this week to the Civil Affairs building after briefly getting to Skype with Tonya's parents so they could meet Anna Faith. She said Grandpa several times as she saw Tonya's dad on the screen. It was so cute! At the Civil Affairs Building we signed the final papers. We were asked why we want to adopt from China, how we were going to care for Anna Faith, had to promise never to neglect or abuse her, and then were asked "do you want to adopt this child?" Of course we do!, was our answer. We went to a notary after that and were asked similar questions, then we were taken to a China Walmart which is just like a Chinese big grocery store, and bought a few things for her like rice cereal, milk, a spoon, bottle brush, a teether since she is cutting a molar right now, and lots of diapers for the orphanage since we were told by them that they are needed and we are supposed to bring the orphanage a gift on Wednesday when we go visit. When we got back Anna Faith was ready for a nap after a little lunch, and fell asleep without as much as a whimper. She slept over 3 hours in her crib! We went for a walk in the evening around the lake and saw beautiful flowers in the park nearby and people doing their nightly dancing outside. We found a local small restaurant and ate fried rice and fried noodles. Anna Faith really wanted to try my noodles and ate more than I did. I will have to try to make them when we eat home! She likes eating off of our chopsticks. We may have to make adjustments with time on that one! We got into the hotel and got her a bath. This time she didn't cry when it was over. We got a chance to Skype with the boys at home and Kris' Mom and they were able to greet their sister. They really were excited to see her! It was a little hard on Nathanael because it was obvious he missed us. kris skyped with him more later and he cheered up. This time Anna Faith fell asleep on the bed next to me. We never put her in the crib all night because she slept lightly and tossed a lot. We were afraid she'd cry and wake up. Tonight we'll try to do the crib so Kris and I can sleep better. It was a great first full day together and a wonderful thought that now she is officially ours!

The Day we'll never forget: Sunday, February 24, Gotcha Day

We didn't sleep very well on Saturday night. The thought of holding Anna Faith soon was making my heart race, just like the morning of all three of our boys' births. On the 18 month anniversary of her abandonment in front of her orphanage at what was determined to be 8 days old, our daughter would be joining her forever family at last! While she had her first papers processed on her biggest brother's 6th birthday last year, we had just a week before put in our application to enter the China special needs program. God's perfect timing brought us together.
We decided to kill time in the morning by going to a historical area with lots of shopping nearby, called 3 lamps 7 valleys. It was a great time to go since Sunday was the last day of Chinese New Year holiday, called the lantern festival. They had unique cultural shows with flutes, puppets, food art, and amazingly intricate handicrafts. We bought a few small things then ate lunch nearby after buying some groceries we thought we should have in our room for Anna Faith. We really didn't know what she ate yet, so guessed she'd like rice cakes, bananas, bread, yogurt and juice. It's a good thing we've spent time in Chinese orphanages, because we guessed correctly with the rice cakes and yogurt! We got back to the room, chatted online with Kris' Mom and Dad before they went to sleep in the States, then spent time reading the Bible together and praying. I started a journal just for Anna Faith to give her when she's older about our journey during her first days/months in our lives. It was about 45 minutes until 3:30 at that point, but since a friend who has adopted from the same orphanage told us they sometimes show up early, we went ahead to the meeting room where she would be brought to us. We didn't find her there, but we did find the other family's daughter waiting with two orphanage workers. We excitingly called our guide to get word to the Australian family in our hotel that she had arrived. A few minutes later, we got to witness the beautiful meeting of a family with 5 older children meeting their 7 year old daughter, who they had waited 6 years to adopt. They told us this is very typical, since Australia is more or less anti-adoption. We recorded them and celebrated with them, but then went back to watching the front entrance from the third floor balcony by the meeting room. My palms got sweaty, my heart beat faster and faster the closer to 3:30 it got. Kris set up the camera to video our first moments. He had to sit down and read to handle his anxiety. Finally, right at 3:30 a woman holding a little girl walked in. I shouted "Kris, she's here!" so loudly the woman heard from below and waved at us. We waited for them to come out of the elevator, and then I began to cry. It was like a dream. The woman handed her to me first and because I was so emotional, Anna Faith looked scared. After a few moments I calmed down, then Kris held her and I brought her the stuffed unicorn from her brothers. She smiled a huge smile and hugged it. We melted! I couldn't stop saying "I'm your mommy, I love you" in Chinese to her and "she's so beautiful" over and over. We moved into the meeting room and immediately started working on paperwork. So many documents giving us custody and papers for her visa and passport to America. We got out some Gerber puffs from the States (thanks for the idea Brooke!) and got out toys for her to play with. She loves lights and sound toys and had a blast. Before long she was giggling and smiling from ear to ear. Remember, she is 18 months old and has no remembrance of ever leaving her orphanage! God answers prayers! We had photos taken of her with us for her visa, got translated information about her habits, routine, diet, and likes/dislikes, asked the orphanage worker, Mrs. Wang, a few more questions, and then were free to take her to our room. She didn't cry. She was very curious about all the toys in our room and immediately started playing and smiling. After a while, we took her outside for a walk by the lake. She was a little scared, but never cried. We can't believe how well she is transitioning! So far she like Kris and me the same. She doesn't like either of us out of her sight, which is great! That means she's bonding to us. She is such a girlie girl. She's not rough or like to bang things. She doesn't climb, yippee! She does like to hit Kris with blocks to hear him yell "ow"! She likes to jabber and sometimes acts like she is sassy. She loves jewelry and sparkles. The way she wanted to put on her new sneakers with glitter on them was hilarious! She loves to look at herself in the mirror, and we had fun trying on hats. so far she'll only keep them on if we go out since that's what she's used to in the winter here. She also copies everything. If I say a color, she tries to say it. She figured out how an ipad works in minutes. immediately after watching me, she started sliding, clicking, and moving things around on a toddler game we got Nathanael last year. she's played with the telephone in our room, taken pictures on our camera, and has watched fireworks from the window as the finale to Chinese New Year wrapped up as we went to bed. We decided to eat in the room for dinner and tried to feed her, but she just wanted milk and rice cakes. We undressed her for the first time and she danced in her diaper! she loved the freedom of no clothing, as I'm sure she's not allowed to do that in the orphanage. We got her in the bathtub, and at first she didn't want to sit in the water, but before long was playing with the toys her brothers chose to send along for her. When it was time to get out, she cried a lot. We knew she was tired and we were warned the first night would be hard. She is used to sleeping next to her Nanny's bed in a crib. She is the favorite in the room she was in. We got her dressed and paced the room. It took a while, but eventually she fell asleep in my arms. So precious! I laid down with her on top of me and an hour later woke up and placed her in her crib. We never had to get her out of it until 7 a.m. this morning! She whimpered through the night and needed reassurance, but we were amazed at yet again, more answered prayer. Today went better than I could have ever imagined. The thousands of prayers that have been raised for the last year by hundreds of people were answered, every one. Our daughter has been loved and nurtured, understands what love and trust is, is bright and healthy, and has already begun transitioning into our family. What a good God we have!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday, February 23rd, Xiamen and travel to Fuzhou.

After a good 8 hours of sleep we woke up at 5:00 and started our day at our friend's apartment. After a breakfast of bakery bread (our favorite breakfast in China) we went to the ticket office and purchased train tickets to Fujhou. Two bullet train tickets for a two hour ride cost us $30! We walked around to see where Kris lived for the last four months he was in Xiamen, then walked to a large Buddhist temple that had been constructed since Kris lived here. It had a statue of Buddha that was about 70 or 80 feet tall. Kris shared with a woman who oversees visitors there and she replied "you may worship Buddha too". That is the spirit of tolerance that is prevalent in Buddhism. After packing for a day trip, we got on a bus then took a ferry to Gulong Yu, an island off the island of Xiamen. It was beautiful, and very crowded with visitors. The weather was perfect and since it is still Chinese New Year holiday here lots of people crowded in to see the attractions. We spent a lot of time shopping in the quaint shops with hand made goods, crafts and jewelry. We bought some very cute things for Anna Faith for her future birthdays, and shared her story with several merchants. We also got to see the state church where Kris took many students on Sundays. Two of his friends believed in a service there on Easter Day. He showed me where they were sitting that day.. Some people approached us. One older man shared the gospel with us even though we told him we already believe! They offered us tea, and a young woman named Sissy spent a while encouraging us and offered us materials to take in Chinese so we may share better with others the rest of our time here. We then left the island and walked along the beautiful beach in Xiamen until it was time to meet more old friends for dinner at the university. After a great Chinese meal (so far all we've even is local Chinese food) we were taken to get our luggage and dropped off at the train station. Getting all of our luggage On the train with a large mob of people (they make Black Friday crowds look tiny) was quite a task, as Chinese only travel with a small carry on or hand bag. We got lots of annoying stares as we stopped up lines to load! I got a cat nap while Kris shared with a young man sitting next to us. We arrived just before 10:00 p.m. and met our guide Penny at the station with our driver. She is very sweet, just like we were told! She is not a believer yet. She told us that one family last year spent a long time sharing and explaining the Bible to her and she really appreciated it. We are very comfortable in our hotel room. We've already unpacked our luggage and were pleasantly surprised that our bed isn't typical Chinese-it is a little soft! Every bed we've slept in while in Asia has always been very hard, so this is yet another blessing to us. Now we're up at 5:00 a.m. And can't sleep. The anticipation is killing us! At 3:30 Anna Faith and her orphanage worker, Mrs. Wang, arrive on the 5th floor in the meeting room. There is one other family staying here with another adoption agency too, and they are from Australia. There daughter is in a different orphanage, but will be brought here at the same time today. What an emotional room will that be! When I write our next entry, it will be about meeting our fourth flower. It's still hard to believe!