Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time ~Oswald Chambers

Saturday, February 28, 2009

She Smiles

Sleeping Beauty is not awake yet, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to post pictures of the smiles she has allowed us to see over the past few days before we head off to discover Guangzhou.

The second to last picture is my favorite because she came out with that grin after a couple of teenage boys walked by. Hmmmm.........

New City, New Friends, Same Old Congee

We arrived in Guangzhou this afternoon with the only scary part of the trip being the realization that on Friday we will have to do the same thing again for 15 times as long when we fly from Hong Kong back to Newark. Ouch.

I'm looking forward to exploring (a.k.a. shopping) around Guangzhou tomorrow. It already seems like a different kind of China than the China of Guangxi, but we'll see. Another benefit to being here is that we get to meet up with all the other families from our group who met their children in their various provinces earlier this week. For us, it is the first time we have met any of them, since we were not in Beijing at the beginning of the trip.

We were pretty worn out after another day of traveling so we decided to lay low and do room service tonight. Lia had what she's had for dinner (and breakfast, and lunch) every night...congee. It's like rice mush with some meat thrown in it. Her congee of choice is chicken. It's about all she'll eat, save for some fruit, and the ever popular Gerber puffs. And her pipes have, how shall we say, suffered from the lack of fiber.

So before we left Guangxi, Mary, our ever faithful guide, left us with one last piece of Chinese culture. I don't know what you call it, but the picture on the front of the box says it all: the happy baby with the mighty colon. One dose of that and everything was moving right along in just a few hours. Ancient Chinese secret.

Our bathing beauty is now ready for bed and so are we!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Have Passport, Will Travel

We received Lia's Chinese passport yesterday which means she is free to roam about the country. Today at 1 pm, we leave Guangxi for Guangzhou which is in the Guangdong province. About an hour's flight east. It is there at the US Consulate that we receive Lia's visa which allows us to bring her back into the US next Friday.

It's definitely with mixed emotions that we leave Guangxi. There's much more of this land that I'd like to see, but there's also much more waiting for us in what lies ahead.

By the way, Lia is doing much better. Last night while Skyping with our kids back home, she was chowing down on Gerber puffs as if she were eating popcorn at the movies. Yesterday morning, I wasn't even sure she could pick up a puff on her own and now she's digging into the bottle and stuffing her face with handfuls at a time. And she was giggling with her cousins (thanks Lindsey and Rachel)! Makes me realize how much she's been through in the past few days and that there's obviously much more to this sweet girl that we'll get to know in due time.

View from a Chinese Village

Today Mary took us to the village of the Zhaung people which is located about an hour outside of Nanning. Half of the people in Lia's birthplace, Beiliu City, are of the Zhaung people group, so this was especially meaningful to us.
The highlight of the trip was a conversation with the woman in the last picture. She is a gardener who put all 4 of her children through the University by growing tomatoes (yes, tomatoes). As is evidenced in that last picture: she had a beauty in her smile and in her spirit that was obvious to us all.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lia and Friends

Yesterday, we picked up the pictures that the orphanage had taken on the disposable cameras we had sent in a care package. We sent 2 but they only used 1. Makes sense because there really wasn't that much time, but I had been hoping for more.

I got at least one smile. Maddie, is that Ella in any of the pictures? I couldn't tell but I thought you'd know :)
Today is our last full day in Guangxi and we are off to the countryside to see pigs, water buffalo and farm life. I honestly never thought I'd be sad to leave but I am. Life here in a 5-star (very loosely interpreted) hotel, never having to cook, and my own personal guide aside, it's hard to think that this will be the last Lia sees of her birthplace for many, many years. I hope I can recount to her about the people and places of this land in years to come.

More of Nanning

Today Mary took us to Green Hill Park, another beautiful park in Nanning where we toured a Buddhist temple and an eight-sided pagoda built by the Taoists.

A small portion of the Chinese population practices Buddhism and although there were a lot of sightseers, many people were there worshipping as well. They brought donations of fruit to the Buddha (which would be used by the monks there and given out to children) and they were bowing to the statues. Very interesting. I think the smoke from all the incense being burned may have taken a few years off my life.

Next, we went to a nine story pagoda built by Taoists (several hundred years ago, I think she said). The original structure was torn down by the Chinese in 1937 because of the war. They did not want to give the Japanese a visible structure by which they could mark out the city to bomb it. After the war it was rebuilt to look like the original. Climbing to the top (and yes, we did make it) allowed us a great view of Nanning. The view was hazy though. Not sure if this was due to clouds or the incense from down below. :)

Lia is definitely getting more comfortable with us. She has a preference for me but will go to Scott as well (for which my back is extremely grateful). We caught her in a second smile today while watching two girls from our group play at the restaurant. I know there's a wild woman in there. We're just waiting for her to come out.

We are picking up pictures this afternoon from a local photo shop that were taken on the disposable cameras we sent to the orphanage after getting Lia's referral. We need to develop them here so the airport check-in machine doesn't ruin the film. I'm hoping that in them I'll find more pictures of that sweet smile.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Got One!

Last night at dinner, I was holding Lia in my lap and lifting her over my head then bringing her back down to my lap again. Suddenly, I thought I saw a trace of a grin. So, of course, I did it again and there it was! A big smile, teeth and all! We saw at least 3 or 4 smiles right then and it made our night. OF COURSE, I didn't have my camera (when will I learn?)

So as soon as we got back to the hotel room I did it once more, only to get the pouty lip and a whimper. Ooooh, she's good.

Yesterday, we walked around People's Park, which is near the hotel. It's another beautiful area full of Chinese culture and personality. I have really wanted to take pictures of the people. The different generations, activities, everything. It's all so beautiful. I just didn't want to be rude. Maybe I'll ask Mary today what she thinks. The people in Nanning are very friendly. Almost everyone will greet you with a smile and a nod. And I'm so grateful for those who speak a little English.

Last night at the restaurant, after we ordered and the waitress left, Scott said to me, "You know, when you point to yourself and say "Sprite" three or four times like you just did, she thinks it's your name. And if you say it slower and louder, it really helps." Guess he was right, because he got a drink and I didn't. At least now, she knows my name. :)

Today we are ready to head off to Gray Hill Park.
Well, most of us are ready....

Thank you so much for all your comments. We appreciate them so much!

Touring the Town

Today, our guide, Mary, took us on a tour of the Guangxi Museum and Minority Park in Nanning. It was a hot day (at least by my standards) and a perfect opportunity for Lia to wear her sun hat (which she did with no complaints :)

Mary, a native of Nanning, has been a guide for several different adoption agencies for about 3 years. She's great and knows a lot about Chinese history and the history of her province. We were able to ask several questions about Beiliu City (where Lia is from) and even convinced her to take us to the countryside on Friday (a 1 1/2 hour ride outside the city) where I'm hoping to see some water buffalo!
The Guangxi Museum was full of ancient Chinese artifcats made of porcelain, bronze, and terra cotta. All very beautiful. I was able to purchase a little porcelain tea set for Lia as a souvenier for her from her homeland.
And Minority Park was gorgeous. There were plants and flowers everywhere with red lanterns hanging from the trees and Asian music playing in the background. I would love to have stayed and had lunch there but Mary says "Chinese babies must have a nap" so back to the hotel we went!

After a day of touring the town, Lia and her daddy are now sound asleep in the bed. (Looks like Mary was right).
Here are a couple of pictures from Minority Park (thought about you, Amy!)

Tomorrow is another park, Friday is the countryside, and then Saturday it's off to Guangzhou!