Hello family and friends,
I'm sure you read Eric's post from yesterday evening (he offered to try his hand at it, since I couldn't think straight or even keep my eyes open), as he gave a short summary of our first day and a half in China. I'm afraid tonight won't be much better, as we are both just running on steam at this point. Our wonderful guides, Rosa and Maggie (their “chosen” western names), have kept us running nonstop early until late. Beijing is a fascinating city and the sights have been truly enjoyable. We are just facing overload at this point. Aside from being extremely tired, we are feeling very well and are adjusting to the new time zone. We are also thoroughly enjoying the other families and look forward to the friendships being formed for the years to come.
Today was a beautiful, sunny and mild day to be outside. We explored the Summer Palace, which was the vacation home (more like an exquisite lakeside “compound”) for the emperors. Then we visited the Jade Factory and shopped in the lavish showroom. We purchased the traditional jade animal pendant for Noelle (a small dog representing her birth in the year of the dog). After another lunch of Chinese fare, we toured a cloisone (spelling?) workshop, getting to see the crafts people assemble, paint and fire beautiful copper pots. The finished product is amazing! Then lastly, we made it to The Great Wall. Eric was jumping around like a kid at Christmas, he was so excited. He was ready to run up the wall, but slowed down a tad to let me keep up (mostly). He beat me to the top, but I amazed myself and kept going. The view was incredible! (We took pictures and video, but I'm afraid they won't possibly do justice to the real thing.) Going down was much easier, but not for the faint of heart, as looking down the steps was like looking down a sheer brick ladder. Wild!
Now we are back at the hotel eating a late Pizza Hut dinner. Eric certainly did not complain that we were eating his second favorite meal (lasagna is first). You see, Rosa and Maggie were sensing that the group was tiring quickly of Chinese food (they witnessed the large amounts of food left in the serving dishes at our tables after each meal) and wanted to give us a break. Sunday dinner is Peking Duck, so they wanted us to be ready to enjoy that meal.
Tomorrow morning we will attend the foreigners-only (passports must be shown) International Church Palm Sunday service where we will worship in Chinese and English with Christians from around the globe. We are greatly looking forward to this experience. Our risen Lord transcends all languages and all barriers. What a blessing we are anticipating!
After the Peking Duck we will load the bus for one last tour, the Pearl Factory. We hope to purchase a bracelet or pendant for Noelle that we can give her, along with the jade, when she is older and can understand and appreciate the cultural significance. In Guangzhou we hope to purchase other items we can give her every year at Gotcha Day to help connect her with her heritage and the country she has lost.
But out of all these amazing things we have done the past few days, what we are looking forward to most is the flight tomorrow evening (early Sunday morning for you) to Hefei City in the Anhui Province – Noelle’s city! We are told we may have Gotcha at 8:30am Monday morning (our time)!!! When you are getting ready for bed Sunday evening, we will be holding our precious daughter in our arms! Praise Jesus!!!
As we know that you are keeping us in your prayers, we would ask specifically that you pray for 2 things: that the Nannies prepare Noelle for our meeting (showing her our pictures and telling her about us) and that Noelle, in spite of her confusion and grief, feels peace in her spirit that she is safe and is just where she is supposed to be.
Well, it's late and we still have to figure out how to post this to the blog tonight. We are unable to get an internet connection in our room, and using the computers in the hotel business center has been confusing and difficult. I'm not sure when we will be able to post again, as our flight to Hefei arrives late and we have to prepare our hotel room for a toddler (wow!). We will write when we can and try to post pictures (I know that's what you all really want anyway!). Please know that we love and miss you all.