Sunday, February 27, 2011

China Update #8 - Saturday Night & Sunday Morning in Guangzhou

(From Jay)

Last night (Saturday), we had the pleasure of joining two of the other Holt families out for dinner at a chinese restaurant down the block. It was a little different than what I'm used to...when you walked in, you walked past several aquarium tanks filled with different kinds of fish, crabs, shrimp, and other peculiar things.

But these weren't for looking at...these were critters that you pointed at, they netted them out, and it was dinner...head, tail, you name it! We planned ahead and had one of the Holt employees write down in chinese what we was boring stuff like Chicken and Broccoli and Fried we handed that to our waitress, and we got a fairly good supper. Plus we got to enjoy it with a couple other families both adopting special needs children from China. We stayed a long time and laughed a lot, caused mostly by one of the families new 6 year old that kept yelling out the chinese equivalent for 'beer' and laughing and totally embarrassing her new mama.

Camille got to catch a sweet moment of holding little Lori while she slept. It was a blessing.

The other image here was just to show our place setting at the restaurant. Rather than multiple forks, we got multiple color coded chopsticks...interesting!

Sunday Morning

This morning we had the opportunity to attend a church near our hotel. We were so encouraged to see the large number of believers gathered...mostly Chinese...very few of the visiting Americans attended, unfortunately. It was overwhelming hearing a packed room of believers singing praises in a language we couldn't understand...and our thoughts movied to a day when we will all praise God together. They had a bilingual Mandarin-English service, and it was such a blessing. Please pray for these believers!

Later today, our group of four Holt families will get out into Guangzhou to look around. Tomorrow we head back to the clinic to review some of the lab tests from Saturday. Please continue to pray for us here...Guangzhou is beautiful, but we are missing our little ones, and missing our home and our bed. Please continue to pray for the little guys at home...and pray for Lori's transition. She LOVES Maddie & Annie, but doesn't care for me or Camille...especially me...I'm trying not to let it bother me...but I confess that it does.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

China Update #7 - The Halfway Mark!

(From Jay)

Well, we have made it to the halfway mark! We are now on the downhill stretch and SO READY to hug our little ones at home and just be back in our own country, state, city, and house! But I must say, that Guangzhou has been such a lift to our spirit...which was much needed.

This morning we plopped Lori in her new stroller, buckled her in (which she HATES) and made a few stops. First we stopped by a shop right outside the hotel and dropped off two bags of laundry. It just feels weird dropping of a bunch of your dirty clothes to a complete stranger in a strange shop, and hoping you will see your clothes again.

Second, we headed to the photo shop and had pictures taken for the entry visa to the US for Lori. If you can imagine the worst Sears or JC Penney photo sitting with your kiddos, just multiply it times 3 or 4 and you have our experience with Lori. I think there were two or three involved in holding her down for the photo. It was like holding a greased pig. We managed, though.

Then we took a walk to the medical clinic which is here on the island. There Lori saw an E.N.T., had a height/weight/temperature check, and then saw a general doctor. It went fine. Everyone was nice, and the clinic was full of other American families adopting from China. There were all sizes and shapes of little precious Chinese children, including a precious child with down's syndrome sitting across from us.

We then took a long time to just walk around the island and check out different shops and stores. Everybody wants the Americans to come in and look..."i make you good price"...we heard several times. We noticed several apartments up high having balconies with laundry hanging...any second we expected to see our shirts and underwear hanging for all to see, but we haven't spotted them yet.

This afternoon, we had our first meeting with the Holt staff in the hotel. We went over all of the paperwork for the US Consulate, and met three other interesting families adopting other children, each with an interesting story. Over and over we continue to hear families we run into telling us how they too didn't have the money to do this, and how God provided for them each step of the way...and the blessings of confirmation that abound. It has been such a blessing to visit with other families from all over the US...Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, Washington, New York, New Jersey...

It 4:45 pm in our room, and we are going to meet some of the other families for dinner...going to an authentic chinese restaurant (imagine that) much so that we had to get one of the escorts to write down what we want on a sheet of paper in chinese...hope its right...otherwise we might end up with the ostrich kidneys I saw on a menu last night.

Lori continues to bond with the girls. Its amazing to see how far she's come. She is even starting to open up to Camille. She continues to avoid me at all costs. I know not to expect too much too soon, but its hard when every time I come near to her that she runs, shakes her head and cries. Its just hard. I think its a combination of being a man and having a beard...a combination that she had little exposure to. I am confident that time will heal all things.

China Update #6 - A Sea of Faces

Today has been an amazing day. Thank you, Lord, for the work you are doing in so many families. To start, we had a great breakfast at our hotel with about 50 other adoptive families. Next, we met up with another Holt family and headed off to get the kid's Visa pictures taken. After that, we walked to the Medical Clinic for the medical exam and TB test. Now, we are waiting for the medical exam results - which Jay will pick up around 2:30 pm.

In the midst of all this - we have had the opportunity to stop and talk with many people. Everyone has a story and some are nothing short of remarkable. Here are some of the stories we have heard today.....

We met a blind man from New Jersey who is here adopting a little blind 3 year old. We ate lunch with them and it was extraordinary to hear his story.

We met a chef from London who is here visiting with her publicist - she is working on a new cook-book. They wanted to know all about Lori and were so taken by her. I'm sure they are used to all the attention - yet here we stood on the street telling them the story of this little 2 year old that had them captivated. Maybe this will inspire them to take up the cause of orphans and help bring change to the life of another child.

We met a woman here adopting a 12 year old girl because she is already the adoptive mom of this little girl's best friend from her orphanage. This is her 11th child.

We met a woman here who was adopting her 5th Chinese baby. Her and her husband are in their early 50's. Her oldest daughter is 32 and is here with her.

We met 2 families adopting the most adorable little girls with Down Syndrome. I got teary eyed as we sat and watched them committing to a life of self-sacrifice as they give these daughters a new lease on life.

We met a family from Illinois adopting a 6 year old little girl with a connective tissue disorder. Her movements are severly limited and mimick a child with severe cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. They have 3 other kiddos at home who are excited to meet their new sister. Their life is forever changed and the work of getting help for their new daughter has just begun.

Just when we think we've actually done something slightly out of the ordinary - we are quickly humbled by these stories. We are among a sea of faces here and have seen about 100 kids this week meeting their new forever families. These people are just like you and me. They come from all backgrounds, incomes, places, walks of life. The common thread is their love for these orphans.

Let me put out a plea - if you have even remotely ever thought about adoption - Please act on it. Don't wait until the time is right for you. It's not about you. It's about the millions of kids in dire need of parents, in dire need of medical care, in dire need of food, clothing, shelter, in dire need of love, and most important - in dire need of a Savior. Bring them home - love on them - and teach them about the only One who can truly give them hope and a future. Don't delay. I sit here in beautiful South China begging you because I am seeing them with my own eyes. I've seen them this week, I saw them last night, I saw them at breakfast and lunch - and I'll see them at dinner. Hundreds of children desperate for HOPE.

Friday, February 25, 2011

China Update #5 - Lori is legally a Lancaster!

Well, I know you have all been anxiously awaiting news. After 3 nights in Beijing - we spend the next 2 days in Lori's province. We did not have access to computer during this leg of the trip (among other things!) In Beijing, it is very geared toward tourists and there were many things to see and do. Our hotel was very nice and we were very comfortable. In the Province, it was very different. For Missourians - it would be the equivalent of first visiting St Louis with the Arch, Forest Park, Zoo, etc. and then going to Jefferson City which is geared toward government business and there are little opportunities for sight seeing. Our province city was all buisness - no pleasure. It is the capital city and the seat of the government for that district. In this city - we were very uncomfortable outside our hotel. We saw very few (if any) other caucasians and the local restaurants did not speak English. Our hotel room was modest and very hot. Our guide said they run the heat in winter and the air in summer. They do not have any inbetween. Our bed was about like sleeping on a concrete park bench. I really think if you fell across the bed - you might have broken a rib or 2!! Has anyone read the story of Gladys Alyward? She talks about sleeping on a kang. Well, our bed was like a kang with a sheet over it!! The food here was also very different. We finally found a KFC and Pizza Hut (well - that's what the sign said anyway). The food was edible but definately no Jay's Fried Chicken here! Oh for some El Tap!!! The pizza had a strange variety of meat and corn on it. Many of the pizza choices included fish as toppings. There was no options for cheese or pepperoni pizzas. We existed on our hotel's free breakfast which again included fried bean sprouts, red bean pastries, congee, and stuffed buns that we weren't sure what they were stuffed with. They also had fried eggs, ham, pastry, toast, and cocoa crispies. We made do. Here, our purpose was to meet with 2 government offices and complete all the official adoption paperwork. On Feb 24 - Lori became legally ours. Hooray! That meant - we could move on to the next leg of our journey.

We then took our van ride to the airport...a small airport, easy to manuever with many signs in English. Our guide got us checked in and we boarded our flight. The big challenge was the plane ride to Guangzhou. This would be a test for Lori. We texted everyone to pray for her on this flight. And God answered the prayers. She did remarkably fine. She sat between the girls and laid on Maddie sleeping most of the 3 hour flight, and whined some as we were rolling up to the gate.

We boarded the plane for Guangzhou and had a lot of hope in what the next week would hold. I forgot to mention that so far - the weather here has been very dreary. We haven't seen the sun or blue skies for days. Apparently, North China has not had rain for 5 months and this drought situation has allowed sand and dust to blow in from the Gobi desert and it is just hovering in massive cloud cover over this part of China. It produced a very grey tint to everything and a smell that was very strange. So - you can see how eager we were for a change of scenery.

Once arriving in Guangzhou - God answered our prayers. It is a beautiful city - much like the Florida Keys. Since we are very close to Hong Kong there is a huge British influence here and many of the buildings were built by the British in the late 1800's/early 1900's. It is a breath of fresh air - literally. Our hotel looks over the Pearl River and many beautiful boats go up and down all day and night. Our room is nice and cool (beds are still unbelievably hard!) and the hotel is swarming with other Americans. We talked to people from California and New York last night. The US Consolate is here - so there is much more familiarity. The temp is 81*F (yep - that's right!) and we were able to get out last night and walk around and look in all the little open air shops around this part of town. There are little open -door shops everywhere you go selling sourveniers, clothing, food, shoes, etc. and many of them do your laundry, too. Above the shops are where the local people live and I'm so tempted to ask one of them if I can come up and see their apartment.

We found a Starbucks and ate some supper and then bought a few groceries for our room at the 7-11. The hotel has a playroom for adopting families - so we went there to let everyone run off some steam and then came back to the room and went to bed (at a normal time.) We have been so off - that we have been falling asleep around 7-8 pm and getting up around 2 am. This is now 6:30 in the morning after a normal night's sleep. Praise the Lord!

Lori is warming up to us. She actually slept beside me part of the night - which is an improvement because she hasn't wanted me to even touch her very much. She is very funny and mimics everything we do. If we wave at her - she waves back. If we hold up 2 fingers - she holds up 2 fingers. If we kick our leg - she kicks hers. If we clap - she claps. Etc. She really loves Maddie and Annie and always wants them to hold her hand if we are out of the room. She is liking me more, but still warming up to Jay. Today we go with all the other families to the Medical Clinic and all the adopted children will get a medical check and TB test for their Visa clearance.

So, that's all for now. Thank you to everyone who has commented on FB - I wish we could respond but FB is not allowed in China - so we can't get on it. Thank you too for all your prayers. Keep them coming! They are truly felt and appreciated. We love you all and can't wait to see the good ole' USA.

- Camille

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

China Update #4

(From Jay) on Tuesday Evening

After arriving back at the hotel, we realized that we needed some grocery items for some formula, some juice, some fruit and some of the food she is used to.  Camille also asked me to find her a good bowl of Fried Rice at one of the bajillion chinese restaurants around us. (As a side note, there are dozens of types of restaurants...peking, cantonese, thai, you name have to know what 'type' of chinese food you want).  So I left the hotel and went walking a couple blocks to where we were told there was a small grocery store.  The first thing I realized is that it is incredibly scary crossing a street in Beijing...especially at night.  The 'green man' on the pedestrian crossing sign is more of a guideline rather than something you can find as dependable.  You dodge cars and taxis, and the worst part at night is the bicycles and scooters.  The are quiet and before you know it, they are zinging past you.  There is no personal space in China and it's every man for himself on the roads.

I did make it to the grocery store, which was an adventure by itself.  First of all, all the packaging was in chinese, and they have things made very different from the US.  For example, I found several bags of Lays potato chips...but instead of plain, barbeque and sour cream and onion...the flavors were braised pork, tomato, lemon and blueberry.  It's also interesting checking out when you can't speak a lick of the language.  Most people have calculators and type in the amount and show you the number.  And everyone is very friendly.

On the way back to the hotel, after crossing the street again, I stopped by two restaurants.  Most of the restaurants have a menu outside in different languages, so I looked through both to see if I could get camille some fried rice.  I couldn't find fried rice, but I did find many interesting things.  There was braised camel paws, chicken feet, marinated duck tongue, and fried deer knees just to name a few.  I thought about it for a second, and smiled and headed back to the with no rice.  We had oatmeal in the room instead.

The Chinese are much more comfortable eating just about anything.  In our orientation today, the Holt staff member told us that the Chinese self-proclaim that they eat anything with four legs except the table.  This is evidenced by the many restaurants close to us that serve dog, cat, and donkey.

I guess I may be a simple country boy, because my tastes are just not that complex yet.  I look forward to a ribeye steak and baked potato when I get home.

Guess I better turn in... I'm writing this at 11:15 am Tuesday, Sikeston time, but it's 1:15 Wednesday morning's hard to adjust.

China Update #3 (Part Two)

Gotcha Day for Lori - Feb 22, 2011

I had a hard time sleeping - I was full of emotions.  I prayed a lot that God would give me peace, and He did.  We would be meeting our new daughter for the first time and that is quite a moment.  I needed God to prepare me.

After a nice breakfast, we met with our Holt Adoption Team here in China for orientation.  They spent a few hours going over the ins and outs of Chinese adoptions.  They place several hundred children a year with forever families and have been working in China since 1993.  They went over our itinerary for the remainder of our trip and told us what to expect at Lori's orphanage today.  They did a great job of including Madison and Annie in everything and were extremely helpful.

After orientation - we went to the lobby to find our driver waiting for us with a sign that had our name written boldly in black letters.  We went with him to Langfang Development District about 45 minutes outside Beijing to the orphan house.  The scenery was amazing and humbling.  In that short drive we passed Ferrari and Rolls Royce dealerships as well as people living in extreme poverty.  There were many housing districts with many long row houses around central courtyards as well as high rise apartment housing.  We also passed several Wal-Marts, McDonalds, KFC, and Pizza Huts.  America has definitely made it's mark!  Our guide said, "KFC has made Chinese people fat!"

We arrived at Harmony House - which was an older 2-story house in a small gated community.  Surprisingly, the house was quite when we walked in because it was naptime for the 20 children there.  They care for 25 children - but today - 3 were at preschool and 2 were in the hospital.  We visited briefly with the staff and then went to look in on all the sleeping children.  25 children are split into about 4 bedrooms in rows of little beds.  They all seemed very safe and loved. Lori was sound asleep and they woke her up.  She was not happy.  We took her downstairs and tried to win her affections.  She wanted nothing of these foreign faces!!  They told us to take her outside on a walk.  We walked around the neighborhood and she gradually warmed up to us.  She tolerated Jay and seemed to really like Madison.  She was fascinated by Maddie's braces.  She wanted nothing to do with Annie or I.  We walked back to the house and the other children were waking up.  We spent several hours playing with and holding the babies and toddlers.  They were so sweet.  Some loved us - some hated us.  They see very little of the world outside their House and surely not white people!  We talked a lot with Lily, the director, and she told us all about each child.  Most of the children have currently been matched with families in the US or Europe and are waiting to be picked up.  They adopted out 16 last year.   She said we are the first family to visit in 2011.  Sadly, a few kiddos are still waiting to be chosen for adoption.  We were really touched by Blossom and Linda.  Blossom has CP and is 5 years old.  She cannot move her body, does not speak, and needs constant care.  Her chances of being adopted are decreasing year by year.  Linda is a sweet, chubby little 3 year old.  She cannot be adopted because she has no official file or paperwork.  Therefore, her case cannot be presented to the CCAA for adoption.  That means that unless God decides differently - she will live out her life as an orphan.  These stories are humbling.

As we sat in the floor and played with the kids - we handed out some cookies and snacks.  They ravaged the food like Pelicans on the seashore.  Lily told us that they were not hungry - but they always want to eat.  I am guessing that even at this young age - they sense a void in their life and are filling that with food.  I don't think we are much different - don't we all try to fill the gaps designed for God with other things - food, money, sports, entertainment...?  Without our Heavenly Father - we, too, are orphans ravenous for something to give us comfort.  Jesus is the only life-giving, thirst-quenching source of hope we will ever need.  How I wish we could always keep that in the forefront of our minds.

We finally said our  good-byes which were very emotional.  The nannies really love these kids and hated to see Lori go.  She has one favorite Nanny that was really torn by happiness for Lori and sadness at their parting.  We got in the van to go back to the hotel and she fell asleep leaning over on Madison.  She would wake up every now and then and cry and the driver would console her.  She was really hating this transition.  I would have, too.  Can you really imagined being taked away by strangers and leaving everything you ever knew!  I am impressed that she did so well.

We came up to the hotel room and she just laid on the bed motionless staring at the ceiling.  She laid like this for almost 2 hours.  It was a little comical.  She was laid out like a beached whale.  She then got up a little and sat in Madison's lap, looked at a few toys, and finally fell asleep.  She slept the whole night from about 8pm to 6:30am.  She did not cry or fuss.  This was a huge blessing.  We expected a rocky night.  We have a little couch in our room and we moved it over beside the bed and she slept there all night.

We hope it all gets better from here.  We pray (and ask you to join us) that she opens her heart to us and quickly acclimates to our family.  Her world has just been turned upside down!


China Update #3 (Part One)

(From Jay) on Tuesday Evening

Hello Everyone!  As I write this, it's 10 am Tuesday in Sikeston, but it's midnight in Beijing.  Today's been an interesting day!

After a great breakfast at the hotel and a 2 1/2 hour orientation with the Holt staff in our room, we walked down to the lobby ready for an adventure.  Upon walking into the lobby, a man, jumped up out of a seat and walked over to us and showed us a piece of paper with Camille's name.  He was there from Harmony House to pick us up and drive us there.  We hopped in the van and took a 45 minute ride to Harmony House.

As we walked up to the door, our emotions were all over the place:  fear, excitement, anxiety, you name it...We walked in and noticed that there weren't any children around...and soon found out that we arrived at naptime.  We met Lily the director, who is awesome, and the staff nannies.  It was great to meet them all!  But we couldn't contain ourselves, Lily asked if we wanted to see her, and we excitedly said, "yes!".  Upstairs there were three or four rooms filled with cribs with little ones.  The room Lori was in had probably 8 cribs, and she was in the one closest to the door.  I can't express what it felt like to walk up to her crib and see her with my own eyes.  To stand there and watch her sleep and study her face.  It was wonderful!

Before we could do anything, the nannies woke her up out of a very deep sleep.  They began to show her the pictures of us we had sent, and pointed to the pictures and then pointed to us saying 'mama' and 'papa'.  I wish I could say that he leaped from her crib and holding us in a warm embrace...but between waking her unexpectedly, and the reality of the day, she wasn't very excited about us being there.  Of the 25 orphans there right now, she was the only one not happy to see us.  The others hugged us and climbed on us and loved on us...while she kept here distance...studying us.  She didn't know what to think, poor thing.  At two years old, she couldn't understand that we were her family and it was all for her good.  The staff was great!  They were excited for her and kept pushing her toward us.  I finally grabbed her up, and the five of us took a walk around the neighborhood.  And after a short while she stopped crying and checked us out.  It was great seeing her and holding her, but I must confess that her lack of excitement did cause my heart to sink some.  I know she is terrified, and that what she is used to is being ripped from her, but I know that God has ordained this, and that after a short while, she will love us and be used to us.

We spent about 3 hours at the orphanage, and took time to see all the children and take their pictures.  Thanks to the donations of many, we took a whole suitcase full of medicines that will last them a long time.  The children were precious.  Each one of them an orphan, and each one with a special need of some type.  Many had cleft lips or cleft palates, some had heart diseases, some had club feet, and others like Lori were deaf.  One precious little girl, Blossom, had cerebral palsy and could only lay in a chair.  She broke my heart.  I sat with her a long time and just prayed for her and sang to her.  I hope God leads a family to her soon.  We sat down in the living room, and Lily handed us a can with some candied would have thought we had thrown some bread to a seagull at the beach...we were swarmed by the kids.  They were each precious!  Each one of us had our favorites and the kids had their favorites.  Mary loved Annie.  Josiah loved Madison.  Several of them, like Doyle, loved Camille.  I found myself spending the most time with Blossom, Linda, and Mark.  I wanted to bring several with me!

After an incredible afternoon, it was time to go and we packed up Lori's things and everyone said goodbye.  It was so bittersweet.  There is no doubt that these children are loved incredibly by the Harmony House staff.  They were excited, though, to see her finally get to go home with her 'forever family'.  But it was hard to watch her nanny cry as we pulled away.

After getting back to the hotel, we have just hung out.  We changed her clothes, and have pulled out books and toys.  She still is very unsure and cries a lot.  She definitely prefers Madison over everyone.  She is so precious and so smart.  And with her hearing aides she appears to hear some, although most of what she heard at the orphanage was chinese.  Tired and exhausted, she finally laid back on Madison and finally fell asleep.  Its now 12:30 am here, and I smile as I see her asleep in the make-shift bed we have pulled next to our bed.  I pray that tomorrow she begins to work through her mourning and begins to bond with us.  I pray that God speeds the process.  I am not very patient.

Please continue to pray for us and for Lori's adjustment.  Thank you for your prayers. 

Please enjoy some photos from today.  Click on any photo to enlarge.

China Update #2

(From Jay) Monday Evening

Hello Everyone, or as we are learning to say here, "Ni Hao" (Pronounced NEE-HOW)

Like Camille, I wanted to unload some thoughts about our trip so far.  Some of these might be the same as Camille's but will be from a different perspective, so bear with me as I type away.

First, let me say that the trip over was tough.  Sitting in an airplane for 13 hours is difficult.  You don't realize how hard it is to sit for so long.  Several times we had to get up and walk around.  The plane was huge with 2 rows on one side, five rows in the middle and two rows on the far side.  Here's a pic from inside the plane.

Despite the hard trip... we made it, and walking into the Beijing International Airport it was kinda surreal thinking that we were in China.  The first thing I noticed was the sky.  I was told by my good friend Ed "Kowboi" Tyler that I would miss blue sky, and that's exactly what I noticed.  I finally experienced what a city with smog looks like.  It was a cloudy/foggy mix, but just seemed oppressive.  You could notice a difference in the smell of the air once we got off the plane and we noticed many people wearing masks.

We made it through customs and on to baggage claim with not too much difficulty.  When we made it to the exit where the public could wait, I was amazed by the number of people waiting.  After walking a short distance, we found our guide in line holding the movie-like white sheet with our family name.  It seemed weird yet very comforting at the same time.

After a 40 minute van ride in the craziest traffic I have ever seen, we made it to our hotel which is located in the heart of the city...comparable to Times Square in NYC.  The room was nice, and all we wanted to do was eat something and get some sleep.  Although we reached the hotel at 6pm Beijing time, our bodies told us it was 2am and we were tired.  Not having a clue where to go, we went down to the hotel restaurant and grabbed a table for the buffet.  Before proceeding I inquired about the price, because Kowboi had warned me about the prices at the hotel and we arre on a budget!  We were told that the price was 220 RMB per person...which works out to $135 for the four of thank you...and we politely and a little embarrassed excused ourselves.  We found a small french-style bistro next to the hotel, and grabbed a couple pizzas and some bottled water for less than $60...still expensive, but less than the hotel.

It may sound funny, but when you travel abroad like this, it's very possible to experience several weird emotions...I remember thatn from when I went to Romania a few years ago.  I remember feeling panic and extreme homesickness.  There's something about being in a land that's not yours, you don't look like anyone, you don't talk like anyone...that just makes you feel very lost...and I could see some of our group having the same struggles.  Madison seems to be dealing with it better than the others.

Well...after a decent night's rest we spent Monday touring some.  We had built in an extra day in case our plane was delayed, but since it wasn't we were able to go through with our scheduled tour.  We spent the morning at a section of the Great Wall.  On the way, our guide told us so much of the history.  It was very amazing to hear the stories that date back so much earlier than our country's history.  We didn't go to the more common tourist areas of the wall, like an area called Badaling.  Instead we went to the Juyongguan section which was about 40 minutes outside of Beijing.  We quickly figured out that climbing the Great Wall is tough!  It was steep, the steps were very uneven, the surface of each step was uneven and there was snow on the steps.  Combine all of that, and I just pictured myself tumbling down 500 stairs and headed to a Chinese ER.  But the Lord blessed us with safety and away we climbed.  After a short time climbing we reached the steep section heading up the mountain to a watch tower.  Camille and Annie decided to opt out of the steep climb, but Maddie and I charged on to the top to the watch tower.  It reminded me of Sam and Frodo climbing the stairs as using our hands and feet we bear crawled up the incredibly steep stairs.  But it felt great to make it to the top.

Here are a few pics of the Great Wall...we have many more to come.

After a nice lunch and a fascinating tour of a jade factory, we headed back in to Beijing to the Forbidden City.  The first word I think of when describing it is HUGE.  It just kept going and going.  It was incredible to see, and I just wondered what it would have been like to see it in its prime.

(You can click on any of the photos in this post, by the way, to view a larger version of the image.)

I especially liked the image below that shows that outer castle wall with the huge moat (which was frozen)!  We could have stayed there for hours, and went through various exhibits and museums, but at around 3pm, our bodies were still not adjusted to the time frame and we were walking around half asleep.  We finally said we were done, and it was time to head back to the hotel.

So we came back to the hotel around 3pm and slept til 10pm...then we woke up and stayed up til 2am....our timing is so off!

Now, we lie in bed awaiting tomorrow...we have our orientation and then, we head to the orphanage to meet our Lori.  I'm so nervous and excited.  Please continue to pray for us on this trip.

China Update #1

Hello to all back home!

We have very sketchy internet connections here and cannot access our blog.  So, we will do our best to update you through email and then you can pass it on.  I know how exciting it was to read the Oberhauser's story as they were in Ukraine - so I know everyone is wondering what is going on with us in China!

Our hotel is very nice and everyone has been so friendly and helpful.  We met our guide last night when we arrived and then today he took us for a cram-packed day of sightseeing.  We started with a nice breakfast at our hotel - a la carte style like many hotel breakfasts in the US - waffles, eggs, yogurt, pasty, things I've never heard of, etc.  Then we headed to the Great Wall.  It was truly fascinating and amazing.  But, to be honest, after a while - it was just more stairs - so Annie and I stopped and talked while Jay and Madison went on up to a watchtower.  They took some awesome video - so hopefully we can get that loaded up.  After that - we went back into  Beijing and toured a Jade factory and ate at a little restaurant.  Our guide ordered all our food and we aren't exactly sure what all we ate - but it was extremely tasty.  We also stopped at a small city-style Grocery store and picked up some bottled water.  We must use the bottled water to wash our face and brush our teeth as well as for drinking.  So, it is a vital commodity.  Even the locals drink bottled water and don't drink from the tap unless boiling it first.  After lunch - we headed to the Forbidden City.  I really don't have words to describe - it was HUGE!  and beyond fascinating.  However, before we got to see everything - we were all completely exhausted and asked our guide to take us on back to the hotel.  We thought it must be late in the day and time for bed - but it was only 2:45 in the afternoon!  That's equal to midnight in the states so our bodies are completely mixed up right now.  We came home and all fell right asleep - but now it is 2:00 in the morning and we are all wide awake!!  Not sure this is a good thing!  We are a little bored - when we don't have our guide with us we are a little unsure of ourselves out in public - so we have tended to stay around the hotel at night.  I'm sure we will get a little more adventurous in the next few days.

The funny thing is that a few people have stopped to take pictures of the "Americans".  One lady came up and hugged me and had her husband take our picture.  So, if I show up on some random blog or youtube video - you will know what happened.

We have also ran into some other adopting families here to pick up their children.  It is blatantly obvious.  2 caucasian parents and one little Asain baby.  It actually seems to stick out more here than when we see the same scenario in the US.  I guess we will join the ranks tomorrow (or should I say today).  We have to attend Orientation at 9:30 am (7.5 hours from now) and then get Lori around 12 noon.  We will spend the entire afternoon at her orphanage - which is about a 45 minute ride from our hotel.  We are awash with emotions!!!!!!!!!

We called home today and the little kids are doing great with their grandparents.  Thank you, Lord - this was a little nervewracking leaving behind our littles.

That's all for now - there has been lots of down time and lots of tv watching - which is really pointless since most the channels are in Chinese.  We think that once we get Lori tomorrow - she will liven things up a bit.

Thank you so much for all your prayers.  Keep them coming!

Love to all - Camille 

Monday, February 14, 2011


(From Jay)

When we started this journey of adopting Lori, we knew it was something God wanted us to do, but despite knowing that, it was very easy (for me, not Camille) to fall into doubt.  There were constant reminders of the excessive costs and the fact that we already have five kids.  But in our heart, we still knew it was what God wanted us to do.  So even if it was stupid and crazy, God helped us to press on...and it simply became a matter of being obedient. 

I knew that if this was God's desire for us, then He would open the doors and provide everything we needed.  I knew that...but yet I admit I doubted at times...or at least wondered how He would do it. 

It has been truly amazing to watch this unfold.  From the start, doors were opened that we couldn't open by ourselves.  From meeting this or that requirement, to how much money we made, to providing every provision we needed while

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Six Days Til China

(From Jay)
Wednesday night, I sat up late and lamented in my blog post. I was and am nervous…I admit it. But its amazing what God can do in a day…its amazing what God can do in the blink of an eye!

I don’t have all my questions answered today, nor do we have all of our funds resolved yet, but I feel God has given us the boost we needed.

I mentioned in our last post our $3,600 deficit.  Based on an unforeseen real estate closing, and the generosity of some

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ten Days Til China

(From Jay)

I hate to admit it, but I sit here staring at this screen tonight a little stressed.  Stressed about not having all the money we need.  Stressed at not having all of our paperwork sorted out yet.  Stressed about leaving my boys and Chloe for two weeks.  Stressed at the thought of the toll of the extensive hours of travel on my back.  I admit that I can often too easily pick up a glass that is 'half-empty', if you know what I mean.  Having rock-solid faith is tough!  Some days I