Opulence

Thought I posted this yesterday but it looks like something didn’t work right…

Getting caught up.  We flew into Guangzhou two days ago, but we got here just in time for the kids to go to bed.  We are with a group of ten other families, and Rebecca and Lily are taking amazing care of ALL of us.  It’s truly a feat.  Our flight to Guangzhou was only two hours from Kunming and it was very smooth.  Hui and Sunita both did very well.  Our hotel is truly 5 stars here.  It is incredible.  Check out the video of our room below because pictures don’t do it justice.  We’re on the 26th floor and have an amazing view.  I don’t know if I’ve ever stepped into a hotel this nice.  It is a wonderful way to end our journey.  We are staying at The Garden Hotel.

Yesterday we did the doctor appointment (ENT, exam, TB test) and it was no fun.  There might be more on that later.  Today we shopped, nothing much to mention there.  As for the hotel, we are loving this part of our “vacation”.  Oh, and I think I’m losing weight, while having ice cream almost everyday.  All kinds of good things happening!

Cultural Zoo

While in Kunming we went to a people zoo.  Our guide called it the cultural village, but it really did feel like a zoo.  It’s kind of like the places we have where you can go to see cultural or ethnic exhibits, except the people actually live here.

Some of the guides.  When we saw them taking breaks they would take off some of their outfit accessories.  The people who live there are true ethnic minorities, but you could tell they were still putting on a show.

The grounds were all beautiful and park-like.  It wouldn’t be a bad place to live, minus the hundreds of strangers passing through the space everyday.

We joked that this will be what all the pictures of Hui (sounds like “Hway” by the way) will look like.  He is starting to sleep less, but still is sleeping a lot for a 2-1/2 year old.

Each “tribe” had their own dress, own religion, own housing, etc.

These pictures are from the Thai section in the village.  It was interesting that our guide still called them “a tribe”.

He also called the Mongol people a tribe.  But he said they look like normal Chinese because of intermarriage.  This is one of their houses.  It was impressive.

There were 25 tribes in the village.  We saw maybe ten percent of the village, and it still took us around two hours.

The man riding the bicycle here was part of a tribe our coordinator called “black”.  Supposedly the darker you are in this tribe the more value you have.  They were eating lunch and our group accidentally walked in on them taking their break because we thought the house was open for viewing.  As soon as they saw Sunita, it was like a stampede.  We got her out of there as quickly as possible.  They were very sweet, just overbearing.

We thought this area was beautiful.  I forget what tribe this was for, but it was for worship.

It was strange seeing people living their lives under our gawking eyes.  It was a beautiful place and very interesting, but also very strange.

Found

Hui, like most adoptable children in China, was found.  He was left behind this school.

He was meant to be found.  I asked our guide why mothers didn’t take their babies to the orphanages rather than leave them somewhere, especially when it is obvious they want them to be found.  He explained that orphanages won’t take babies if parents bring them in.  If parents can be found, they are expected to care for the children.  So the parents aren’t left with many good options.

It is hard to express what emotions overwhelmed me while I looked at this spot.  I wondered if his mom lived nearby.  I wondered if we may have passed her on our way here.  I let my heart break for her as I envisioned her walking away from a 2 month old baby, knowing he would be alone and not knowing for how long.  I let my heart break for Hui, as I wondered how long he was there without anyone to hold him, comfort him, and let him know he would be okay.  We know the police were called and they were the ones who delivered him at the orphanage.  I pray the Lord can heal the hurt, for all the parties involved, that occurred in that spot.  I wish I could tell Hui’s other mother that I will do my best.  That I will love him and care for him and be his mother, just as if he came from my body.  I wish I could tell her that he is laughing and smiling.  This was a much more emotional spot for me than the orphanage.  As I held my babies in my lap (I stayed in the van because both kids had fallen asleep on me) I was so thankful for my children and so sad for their birth families and for all they have lost.

Tomorrow will be a happier post, but this one deserved its tone.  Thank you for loving my family enough to let me share the good and the bad.  And I am so thankful for the good:  Titus Hui has a forever family!

Brother and Sister

I know I’m getting behind, but we had a busy two days.  There is so much I want to share with you, just not enough time to do so.  I had to share this darling photo.  It looks so sweet, doesn’t it?  In reality they were actually trying to take the book from each other, but I’m going to pretend they were laying there together, cuddling, and reading books.  You can too!

thanks

#51 family and friends who help to shield my kids from too much attention

#52 spontaneous laughter

#53 being able to distract a crying boy

#54 good food

#55 hui likes his baba (dad)

#56 sweet big sister, who has been incredible

#57 good sleep (i think this has popped up more than once)

#58 big, free breakfast

#59 maids

#60 god’s faithfulness (always, all the time)

 

Tea Service and More Food

One of my favorite things so far was a tea service at Dr. Tea’s Tea House.  Jared says “It was neat”.

One of my favorite things was Hui saying “Hi, Baba (Daddy)”.

 

Another favorite was the “pee-pee boy”.  I’d tell you more, but I’d rather show you.  When you come for tea, remind me to show you.

We tried four teas.  First, a jasmine tea (my favorite).  It was light and fruity.  Second, an oolong tea, which was stronger, bolder.  Because the cup is very, very hot they showed us the proper way to hold our tea cups for this tea.  Also, you are supposed to slurp it because it is so hot.  Third, a black tea (my least favorite).  And finally, a (“pearl?”, “bird?”, “peal?” – we had such a hard time understand our guide on this one) Pu’re tea.  You were to “chew” this tea.  It can be a very expensive tea.  The people who grow this tea pick it and store it until their daughter marries and then sell it (so it is at least 18 years old) for the dowry.  Supposedly it improves with age.  We bought a “cake” of tea that was a year old.  We plan to keep it until Hui is 18 and then enjoy it with him.  It has “many benefits – it can help with cardiovascular disease, it helps to lose weight, it aids in digestion, and lowers cholesterol” according to our guide.

Another Sunita admirer.

For lunch we had mushroom hot pot.  I was not blown away.  I expected more mushroom flavor, plus they added all the leftover non-edible chicken parts that looked a lot like squid.  It somewhat took away from the experience.

On the left a bowl of the chicken leftovers.  On the right a chicken part that has no business ever showing up on a plate, even for very adventurous eaters (like Mark – hi Grampa!).

Orphanage Visit

The orphanage visit went mostly as expected.  The assistant director said there are about 100 kids in the orphanage and about 500 kids outside the orphanage in foster homes.  I didn’t feel like the orphanage was trying to hide anything, although they weren’t super forthcoming with information and we weren’t supposed to take any photos of the kids.  I guess I feel differently than many families who have visited this orphanage — it felt a little sterile and formal, but not cold or harsh.

This are the shoes the ayis (aunties) are to wear when entering the rooms.  Our guide said this orphanage is one of the top 10 orphanages in China.

It was for sure an orphanage.  A little baby cried with no one there to hold it.  The severe special need kids were in sad conditions.  There were no workers in the baby rooms.  It was sad, but not as sad as what we saw at Sunita’s orphanage.  This felt tame compared to that.  There weren’t a lot of kids to see, but there were a lot of buildings, and some kids are in school.  There isn’t much to show you of the orphanage since many of the rooms had children in them.

The trip was very fast and they didn’t really allow us to linger.  We weren’t allowed to play with the babies or toddlers.  We were allowed to interact with the severe special needs kids.  There is a family we have been traveling with quite a bit.  Their daughter is 13 and also lived at the Kunming orphanage.  She knew Hui from before (at what point before, we don’t know).  Anyway, the mom (Lora) works with special needs kids.  She was AMAZING with the kids.  One older boy, probably on the autism spectrum, was rocking, holding his ears, facing away, and looking so sad – Lora walked over to him and gave him a giant bear hug (deep pressure).  He lit up and smiled the most beautiful smile.  She did it several times, with the workers trying to hurry us along.  She had to pry his fingers off of her.  I wish I had the guts to be like her.  It was an image that will stay with all of us, probably forever.

We really didn’t find out anything new about Hui.  So far we know: he had been with a foster family for about a year, he had 3 older brothers in his foster family, his age was estimated by a doctor, his name means “brave” (Yong) “bright” (Hui), and he is “active and mischievous”.

I wish we could have interacted more with the kids.  I wish we could have gotten more information.  I wish we could feel more like we understood what Hui’s time there was like.  It left me wanting, although I was glad to be able to visit.

Paparazzi

 

Sunita is famous.  We had heard about how the people here might gravitate towards her (and us), but I have to admit the response has been more troublesome then I was prepared for.  People constantly want to touch her, talk to her, take her picture, and I think, take her home with them.  It’s incredible.

She stopped a tour bus.

 

The stalk.

The approach.  I really dig that he is smoking at the same time *note the sarcasm*.

 

 

Prayers

Thank you all for your prayers.  As I said, I think Hui is coming out of his shell and feeling better (Praise the Lord).  Sunita and Hui are beginning to play more, which has also been a blessing. Tomorrow we visit the orphanage, so please be praying for us.

thanks

#41 sleeping kids

#42 being done with paperwork in Kunming

#43 other adoptive families

#44 Hui warming up to us

#45 Hui laughing out loud with Sunita in the tub

#46 Ergos

#47 Increase in health and strength for Hui

#48 Cheerios

#49 Marsha

#50 Energy, even on a short night’s sleep (I know this came from God alone!)

Stone Forest

I’m going to try and limit my words (HA!) and give you mostly pictures tonight.  We visited the stone forest today.  It was beautiful and peaceful.  It also had much fresher air, which was a nice change from the constant smog.

Before you walk into the stone forest there were many “shops” lined up, like this fruit vendor.

A family of four!

These spiders were hanging around everywhere.  They were big and skinny.

We’ve seen a couple really beautiful butterflies.  This one happens to be a little less beautiful, but I liked the picture.

All the rocks are limestone.  It really is a breath-taking place.

There were pools of water throughout.  This one was tucked back in and filled with this vibrant green algae.

We saw more of Hui’s personality today and it was (overall) a good day.  I think he is going to be quite the silly boy.  I also think he, like Sunita, will get overstimulated by attention quickly.  He also, like many Chinese boys, seems to have not heard the word “no” much.  Not getting to do ANYTHING he wants, might be a hard lesson for him to learn.

This was about half our lunch.  There is always way too much food.  It was scrumptious!

This is a Chinese rice beer.  It tasted much like beer at home.

This is a sweet and sour pork and shrimp.  Both were wonderful.  We’ve been eating such big lunches that we haven’t been going out for dinner – just getting some food for the kids.

My beautiful kids!

After lunch we visited a silk factory.  The stuff there was beautiful, but expensive.  It was stunning handiwork.  A tiny square (maybe 8×8) takes eight and a half hours to create.  I wish we could have bought some things there, but they were out of our price range.

Hui

As of now, I only call him Hui, or Hui Hui.  I haven’t really started to add “Titus” onto the beginning, and even when I do it will probably be Titus Hui, not Titus Yonghui.  He knows this name, and although I think we will eventually use Titus, it won’t happen overnight (neither literally or figuratively).

Hui (sounds like a cross between way and hoi – like koi) reminds me so much of Sunita when we first met her.  We see glimpses of his personality, but between being sick and scared (although, I don’t think he is still terrified), we only catch shadows of who he is.  He is smart, he already picked up the word for bus and motorcycle, and the sign for all done.  He loves all things with wheels and his favorite book is the bus book, a book with wheels and pictures of vehicles inside.  He reminds me a lot of the little guy I watch (Hi Finn, Amy misses you!!).  I think with time they will be great friends.  Every single bus we go by he excitedly says “bus!” “bus!”.  He has very good motor control.  He eats and eats.  Once he is upset, he seems to cry for longer then necessary, but I don’t know if that is him or being sick/scared/etc.  He likes bath time and tonight he and Sunita were laughing out loud dumping water.  It brought joy to my heart.  I love FINALLY getting the chance to get to know him.  He was much happier today.  There were fewer tears and some spontaneous laughter.  Thank you again for your prayers.  I believe they make the difference.  With much love from our family to you – goodnight.