Monday, May 19, 2014

Woop, Woop! USA, Here We Come!!!

Thank y'all so much for all your prayers for us!!! Sweet Heng passed the medical exam-I cried when they told me! We waited a few minutes for his medical report and ran down the street to the Consulate where we took our oath and applied for his visa. We should have it in hand, Lord willing, at 4:10 tomorrow afternoon. Our flight leaves Wednesday morning at 9am! We have 25 hours of travel from take off in Guangzhou to our final landing spot in the US. Whew. I'm tired just thinking about it all-and my arms are just aching to hold my little girls!!! We're trying to enjoy our last 36 hours here...

We met another adopting couple on our ride up the elevator tonight...they're from Australia, and ended up inviting them to our hotel room. They agreed and came right on. The mama, their little girl (who they adopted), our three and I hung out in the room while the daddies got take out. Our room was trashed and they came on in regardless. 

The kids want to spend our last full day hanging at the hotel pool with our new mates. (Hahaha.)

Little Heng continues to amaze us! Today he tried ice cream again-and cried and cried with each taste and after the tears, cried and cried for more. What a picture of myself! 

Before I run, I just want to say...we are so thankful we got to bring Sister and Little Man! I can't imagine this trip without them. I think the little girls would've been tired and miserable and worn out. The older two are at great ages for this type travel. They've hung in there so well and amazed us with their maturity. (I mean, it's not like the hotel staff had to tell one of our children to stop jumping over the velvet ropes in the front of the hotel counter. Yikes.) But seriously, it's been such a treat and privilege having them here. 

Heng is in his crib, asleep on his side, under the blue blanket a precious friend made him. His little arm is hanging through the bars and I can hear him breathing. It's a sweet sound and my heart is at peace. So thankful for God's provision and care for His flock! We've seen His hand of tender care in so many ways-big and small. 

It's late. Night, y'all!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Big Day Tomorrow!!!

Hey y'all! I've spent the last three days wrestling with the internet, trying to get pictures to load! Phew.

While I can't go into all the details here and now, I want you to know that this past week has had the potential to be absolutely unnerving in about a million ways and it has been anything but. 

God has kept us in His perfect peace and has been so gracious to us. He is carrying us through this crazy season. We have a final medical exam tomorrow morning and would SO APPRECIATE your prayers! We anticipate Heng will pass just fine, however, the doctors are looking for any sign that his rash (which they've finally agreed is chickenpox - though the absence of fever and itching still puzzles all of us) hasn't completely scabbed over.

Assuming they are pleased with what they see, they will hand us Heng's medical report and we will run it right down the street and over a block to the Consulate where we will apply for his visa.

The visa should be ready by Tuesday late afternoon and we hope to board a plane for the States Wednesday morning!!!

Please, please, please pray he passes just fine. Please pray the doctors are pleased with what they see. Pray that his rash continues to clear. If they don't pass him, you might hear me crying half way across the world! (The pic above was taken with our dear, dear guide who we love so much! She has been phenomenal and couldn't have done anything more to help us. She's a total rockstar!!!-Like our clothes drying in the background!? Haha.)

My arms are physically aching to hold our little girls and I can scarcely let myself dwell on the sweetness of our homecoming! When I think of it for too long, my heart starts racing and I get all kinds of teary. It will be so sweet. 

So many of you have let us know you are praying for us - thank you so much! It is such an honor to be part of the Body of Christ and to be so well loved and cared for. Thank y'all!!! We hope and pray that through the insanity this adventure has been, Christ has been made much of. 

It is incredibly sweet to find ourselves totally dependent on His mercy in this strange and foreign land. So often, it's easy to "fix" things. And we are comfortable, in our own little bubble…but being at the mercy of a group of physicians who we can't understand and having to depend on our guide to translate - it's just made the absolute certainty of God's sovereignty - of Him holding us in the palm of His hand and directing the doctors' hearts - so, so dear and comforting. 

We were thrilled to discover a Muay Thai event being held in our very own hotel lobby…and we were sure to make it to the first round! I feel kind of bad admitting I was a little disappointed to realize the entire thing was choreographed.

Of course, we didn't let on to the children. It may be the quietest and stillest Little Man has been the entire trip. He was rather enthralled.

Today we had a very, very sweet experience. We took a taxi to another hotel and attended Guangzhou International Christian Fellowship for worship. I think it was a tiny taste of heaven, in terms of all the people from so many different tribes and tongues, all worshipping together. There was standing room only. It was sweet to spend Sunday morning worshipping with other believers.

Saturday we spent the afternoon, well, it was supposed to be the afternoon-it was almost the night, on Shamian Island. 

Sister and Little Man and I had made the trek earlier last week, while The Engineer stayed behind, quarantined with Heng. Now that we've stayed in China past our expected leave date, we have nothing scheduled and took the opportunity to spend some unhurried time in such a beautiful spot.

We did a little shopping and exploring...

We stopped at a really neat Starbucks - probably my favorite one, ever!

It was quite a happening' spot. We sat outside on the upstairs porch.

And we learned something super fun and exciting! Our newest addition likes coffee. He's going to fit in with this family just fine! (BIG smile!)

So…in the near two weeks we've had him, he's gone from barely crawling and when he did crawl (at first) it wasn't "right." He would sort of drag one leg and then push off his foot…to crawling correctly and everywhere…to pulling up…and a few times he's taken a solid step to us without any assistance. 

He'd also only ever had rice cereal, formula, and rice congee…and now that we know his rash was chickenpox and not a food allergy, the gates are wide open! This little guy is trying all sorts of new things! We caught him with a box of blueberry flavored poky sticks (icing covered tiny little breadstick sort of things). He was digging in, loving it! Which was a big surprise because he hated sweet things early on. 

He's also learning how to drink from a cup, whereas he's only every had a bottle… and all of this is big because of his cleft lip and palate! It's just amazing what being part of a family does for a child. I can't get over the changes we are seeing in him each day. 

And I can't wait to see him with out little girls!!! What a crazy and happy (oh, I hope!) house we will have! (And messy!)

So we had a great afternoon on the island and had two stops to make before we planned to head home. At our first stop, the item we wanted wasn't in stock and so the shop keeper's husband ran to get them from - well, I'm not sure where, but he was gone for a while. During his absence a nasty storm rolled in - like a pitch black dark, scary kind of thunder (I screamed several times!) and lightning storm. We actually had a great time just hanging out with her while we waited for him to return…

And then we made our final stop and, in the POURING rain, made our way to a hotel. We'd been told the best chance of getting a taxi was to wait at a hotel on the island. So we waited. Finally we decided we should go to the hotel where our taxi had originally dropped us, it seemed busier…only, we were turned around and with the weather what it was -  I mean, the rain was coming down in sheets…we were all soaked…we couldn't find the hotel. 

Finally, finally we found it. And we waited. Nothing. No taxis. Evidently taxis don't run in the rain in Guangzhou. One of the bellmen at the hotel called a friend and tried to line up a ride for us. Nothing.

Taxis came and dropped people, but no one would take us back to our hotel. (It's about a thirty minute drive.) We were all praying. And we were hungry. We hadn't planned to stay nearly that long and had only enough to pay the taxi fee…so we kept waiting. And praying. And my children didn't even complain about being hungry! 

And God sent us sweet Jenny of Jenny's, the store where we'd done some of our shopping. When I told her we'd been waiting, at that point, over an hour and a half, she immediately offered to help us. She and her husband tried to call a cab to no avail. She translated with the bellmen for us. She asked them to call our hotel to see if there were any taxis heading this way…she flagged down taxis and asked them for us…she took us to a busier intersection. She insisted on helping us. Finally, she suggested we take the subway. This was a little overwhelming. As The Engineer said, "It can take us really far really fast. In the wrong direction!?" 

Jenny helped us figure out where to change lines, where to get off, as well as how to purchase tokens…and just like that, we were off. In China, taking the subway - like we had a clue what we were doing! It actually wasn't bad at all and we'd definitely do it again. 

We were the main attraction on the subway. Ha! These crazy, wet Americans with a baby in tow…we were quite a scene. 

We didn't eat dinner until 10:30 last night. Poor little Heng never uttered a complaint and he went a long time without food. We had a bottle, but I was worried it was bad, so we didn't give it to him. He was so content just being held. The picture above was us right before we exited the subway station…right at the entrance to our hotel! 

Once again, God was so gracious! He continues to remind us that we cannot escape His presence. Even on the other side of the world, in a country where few know Him, He is here. Even when all our plans fail, He is still caring for us, making a way, and reminding us His plans are better.

Thank y'all again for your prayers and encouragement. Please, please pray for us tomorrow morning!

Much love and happy Sunday, y'all! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

8 Days In and A Prayer Request

Hey, y'all! Sigh. It's been a long day. But before I dive into that, let me recap our last few days...

We spent Sunday at the Pearl and Jade Market…this was incredible.

And, as if The Engineer ever doubted, it's now absolutely confirmed that I do have THE MOST expensive taste. Period.

We visited two stores and in both, I was drawn to the most expensive piece in the place…I just have that gift. (hahaha)

While those pieces stayed in the case, we did get to purchase pearls to put away for each of our children and that was a special treat. I snapped this pic with the idea that when Little Man gets married gives his bride the pearls we purchased (much like The Engineer did for me), I can bring out this sweet pic of him at the young age of seven, holding that little pouch of pearls.

Sister was touched! Love that girl!

While we shopped, despite the language barrier, Little Man made friends…and picked up a new skill - Bey Blades on steroids…"Top Plate" is all the rage in China and these kids were incredible!

After the Pearl and Jade Market, we spent time at the Chen Family Temple. The level of design and attention to detail…the carvings, etc. were AMAZING. This temple was built without any nails.

Our guide told us the temple was built in 1880…which was super interesting because a lot of the homes near ours (in the States) were being built at that same time. Crazy to think about!

The temple was for all of the Chen family…evidently the Chens are like the Smiths are in the States. There are a LOT of them!

I can totally see these on the wall in the boys' room...

This guy was painting with his hand…and it was AMAZING!!! (I tried it back at the hotel - my skills are, um, NOT so amazing.)

Every day, but one, has been rainy, HUMID, and HOT. Sunday was no exception…you just sweat. A lot.

There were SO MANY bonsai trees…and several yews cut and shaped as bonsais. (Seeing those kind of made me rethink what we did with the yews we had at our old house.)

The Engineer was so kind and gave up touring the temple to hold and feed this sweet baby boy.

Love this boy. Love this man.

The library...

A sitting room…(I'm LOVING the architecture in this room! That window!)

This is the backside of an apartment building that backs up to the gorgeous gardens at the Chen Family Temple. Lucky tenants! What a way to make life beautiful!

A small shot of the gardens - this doesn't do it justice!

The beautiful ceiling in one of the many rooms...

This shot is for you, Amy M! The original garden stool. (smile)

Ornate carvings on a door...

Love this wood carving...

And the dragon!

We spent Sunday afternoon back at the hotel…and by Sunday night, the tension of the last week had caught up with us. Not to air dirty laundry, let's just say The Engineer and I did some, ahem, "talking"…and I shed a few tears…and we are much better for it. Five sinners in close quarters in a foreign land - it's bound to happen eventually.

We spent Monday at the zoo…this is familiar scene…mama monkey is eating lunch while nursing baby monkey. (hahaha)

The kids made lots of noise and finally got this tiger to lift his head. (Such kind, thoughtful children. Hahaha.)

Heng didn't really care about being at the zoo. And he's not an ergo fan. (Which I suppose is great since his baby sister LOVES the ergo!) His lack of ergo riding means my arms should be lookin' pretty ripped! (wink, wink)

While we finish the zoo pics, let me fill you in on the excitement of the last few days.

Long story short, we thought Heng had a few bug bites…until they turned into a full on rash...

We've gone through numerous attempts at a diagnosis, including lots of texting and FaceTime with our pediatrician (who has been WONDERFUL!).

The rash looks like and is acting like chicken pox, only Heng has NO other symptoms congruent with chicken pox.

No fever, no loss of appetite, and no itching. The rash doesn't seem to bother him at all.

Today we made a return trip to the International Medical Clinic and saw four physicians - this was quite an experience.

Our guide had called ahead and they ushered us right in. She told me to strip Heng down…and the doctors poured into the room - all speaking rapidly in Chinese. Our guide and another guide from our agency were there, talking, too. The doctors were rubbing their fingers over the rash, pointing, talking more, pushing, scraping, taking his temperature…our guide and another from our agency were talking - finally all but one doctor left and our guide broke the news. Y'all - that could've been the MOST NERVE wracking experience.

An unidentified rash. A foreign land. Doctors who don't speak English. And my baby girls are half the world away. And God kept my heart at peace. He kept reminding me, "I will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on me." And He did.

The doctors at the clinic were split 50/50. Half think it's chicken pox. The other half think it's just a rash. But, if it's chicken pox, we can't travel until Heng's no longer contagious.

So they sent us to Children's Hospital. I fought tears and struggled to remember this was no surprise to the Lord. And that despite being in a foreign land, we were not alone.

Let me tell you, Children's Hospital in China is VERY different than any Children's Hospital in America. The building exterior was beautiful and very well designed. But the inside - it made me sad. Only a few overhead lights were turned on, it was pretty dark.

There were so many sick children. The crowd was overwhelming.

Our guide had us stay in one area while she registered Heng…and then she ushered us into another section of the hospital. There were SO MANY MORE sick babies…vomit pans…children with "cooling patches" fixed to their foreheads. The needs were so great. And the lines so, so long.

And it was hot. Oh, it was so hot. It only took a few minutes before our clothes were saturated with perspiration.

We wove through rooms and finally got in our designated line and began what would've been a VERY LONG wait, but our guide made a bold move. When the exam room door opened for the next family, she ran in WITH them and told the physician what was going on - and that all we needed was a diagnosis - chicken pox or not…and the doctor agreed to look at him right then.

And the 50/50 split continued…she was 60/40 it's chicken pox. And so…we wait.

Our agency has called the consulate and alerted them to our case. Our appointment has been cancelled…which means, unless the rash is totally gone tomorrow, Heng won't get his visa until next Monday or Tuesday.

We'll be back at the clinic tomorrow afternoon and likely again Thursday afternoon...

We've emailed our travel agent to inquire about costs involved in transferring plane tickets.

The odds are that The Engineer and Little Man will head home as originally scheduled. Sister may or may not go with them. And for sure, Heng and I will be here until his rash clears and he's deemed no longer contagious.

God is keeping my heart at peace. The Engineer emailed work and they've given him permission to do whatever is best for the family. And so we wait to learn of the expenses involved. Please, please pray that Delta will be merciful. Pray that Heng's rash clears and is identified. Pray for our little girls, back home. I miss them SO VERY MUCH. I can't imagine five more days apart.

Last night I read Spurgeon's, "Morning and Evening" and was struck by God's perfectly sovereign timing…

"'Fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again.'Genesis 46:3,4 
Jacob must have shuddered at the thought of leaving the land of his father's sojourning, and dwelling among heathen strangers. It was a new scene, and likely to be a trying one: who shall venture among couriers of a foreign monarch without anxiety? Yet the way was evidently appointed for him, and therefore he resolved to go. This is frequently the position of believers now—they are called to perils and temptations altogether untried: at such seasons let them imitate Jacob's example by offering sacrifices of prayer unto God, and seeking his direction; let them not take a step until they have waited upon the Lord for his blessing: then they will have Jacob's companion to be their friend and helper. How blessed to feel assured that the Lord is with us in all our ways, and condescends to go down into our humiliations and banishments with us! Even beyond the ocean our Father's love beams like the sun in its strength. We cannot hesitate to go where Jehovah promises his presence; even the valley of deathshade grows bright with the radiance of this assurance. Marching onwards with faith in their God, believers shall have Jacob's promise. They shall be brought up again, whether it be from the troubles of life or the chambers of death. Jacob's seed came out of Egypt in due time, and so shall all the faithful pass unscathed through the tribulation of life, and the terror of death. Let us exercise Jacob's confidence. 'Fear not,' is the Lord's command and his divine encouragement to those who at his bidding are launching upon new seas; the divine presence and preservation forbid so much as one unbelieving fear. Without our God we should fear to move; but when he bids us to, it would be dangerous to tarry. Reader, go forward, and fear not." - Charles Spurgeon
How applicable and comforting!

We rest in God's sovereignty. I cannot help but recall the week following baby girl's birth when I was bedridden and how I was so frustrated and begrudging the time until Mama pointed out God had ordained that time and it was a gift. And it WAS a gift. I held our new baby 24/7 and now I am so thankful for that time. I hear Mama's words again as I look at the possibility of being confined to a hotel room for the next five days, quite possibly just me and Heng. I cringe at the thought. I'm not brave. I don't want to do this alone. And it's when I think those thoughts, that the Holy Spirit faithfully reminds me that I am not alone. That even in this, in a foreign land where a foreign language is spoken, He is with me and His grace is sufficient.

Please, pray that we rest in His sovereignty. Pray that we keep our eyes on the Lord and that He continues to keep us in His perfect peace. Pray that Heng's rash clears and if that's not the Lord's will, please pray we can stay here, together. Please pray for our little girls and please thank God for family willing to keep them and to support us - without ever even batting an eye.

To God be the glory!

Happy Tuesday, y'all.