Sunday, June 30, 2013

First Days in Guangzhou

Yesterday after checking into our hotel, Evan and I checked out the entire hotel.  We ran into our guide from last year and talked to her for a while. We were able to meet the director of Lifeline, our agency last year.  We had some good conversations.   We then went outside and had dinner at Pizza Hut- Evan's choice.  He hardly ate anything...I thought I was picky- geesh!   We came back to the hotel and skyped with the other kids at home and with dad for the first time (well earlier in the day- middle of the night at home- we did skype with dad just because we hadn't seen him or talked to him much at all with him being out of town the week we were preparing for the trip).   It was good to see all the kids and they were so funny- they were trying to figure out how to get to me via the computer.  Lena was signing 'mom' and 'I love you.'   Evan was telling Jayce how much he loves him and Jayce was quick to tell him back that he loves him too. :)   I was a zombie by the point- could hardly keep my eyes open.  I was nodding off at the computer earlier, waiting for the time to skype them.  We then showered and went to be- ready for our first real full night of sleep.  I think we both slept like a rock, though I woke up at 6:30 on my own and had to work a little harder to get Evan out of bed shortly after 7 a.m.

We were going to get money out of the safe and it started beeping over and over.  We called down and they had someone come up and use a machine to re-set it and open it.   We then headed for breakfast.  Evan was so excited about the bacon and hard boiled eggs- he took 3 of them!   We met a few families at breakfast and saw a few families we had me in the hotel the night before.  We were one of the only families here as of this morning waiting for gotcha day.  Many of the other families had gotcha days last week either here or in another province and recently got here for the remainder of the trip.  Almost all of the kids we saw were under 3.  There is one little boy who just turned 5 who was adopted by an Australian family.   It is such a cool feeling recognizing a child from an agency list and just being able to see them in person.  Little 'Cullen' and 'Lorelai' who were with Lifeline are just precious!   After eating, we headed outside to check out the fish and the gardens around the hotel.  Such a beautiful area.   Evan enjoyed feeding the fish and going over the little bridge.

We then headed to the 7-11 for some drinks and came back to the hotel to catch a cab to the island.  We went to Shamian island to get some shopping.  I wanted to get some of the gifts we are looking for, for our Chinese kiddos crossed off my list...just in case we have issues that prevent us from being able to shop or go out in public much since I am the only parent traveling.  Last year I was able to leave Lena at the hotel with Rick and Evan while I went to the island with a few other moms. Not an option this time.    We enjoyed shopping at Judy's- this was a new shop for us.   LOVE her!  She is pregnant with her second child- hoping for a son.  She has one daughter and she will pay the fine to have a second child.  You could tell how much of a blessing it is for Chinese people to have a son.  She just adored Evan and was really hopeful to have a son herself.    We then went to Christ Church on the island for part of their English/Mandarin service.  There was a line to get in- the prior service had not let out yet.   We learned that many people come and go as they please throughout the church service, some staying for just a prayer or just one or two songs.   There were two women sitting in the back pointing out areas that had space.   One was not afraid to tap a woman on the shoulder for laying her head and upper body on her boyfriend.  That couple didn't stay long after that.   But, was amazing to see the heart some of these people have for Jesus!  They were singing and quite loudly, I might add...even the man behind us who could  not for the life of him carry a tune.   I saw a few people holding out their hands or raising a hand up- that kind of surprised me.  There were a few foreigners, but 99% of the people at that service for Chinese.  Most of the service was done in Mandarin and then in English.  They were really good with their English..I was impressed.   The sermon was about the Great Commission- Matthew 28:18-20. 

From church we headed to Jennifer and Sherry's place.  Jennifer actually came out of her store and tracked us down on the sidewalk.  We were heading there anyways, but I found her to be a little more pushy this time.  I think they are desperate for business since not many families are staying on the island compared to before.   We got some things we got last year for Lena for Reid at both places.  I got a nice tea set for our family.  Sherry was very nice- kind of followed us around, but was not pushy.  We walked through the main cobblestone path filled with statues and pretty buildings.  We saw a lot of modeling shoots going on- for shoes, purses, wedding dresses, clothes, etc.   There was a vendor fair of some sorts going on in that area as well.  I picked up a cheap watch because I had accidentally left mine at home and it will be pretty essential to have the time over the next two weeks.   Evan was stopped at least twice for a picture- a blonde boy with blue eyes is quite the site.  One girl even wanted me to take her picture with Evan by one of the statues.   We then went back to Judy's to get one thing that was cheaper at her shop.  I forgot to mention that she told me she was a Christian and how much God has changed her it.

We then walked to the Victory Hotel to catch a cab back to the Garden.  This was the first time I have ever been in a cab that stopped and not at the location we wanted to go.  He had to use the public toilets and it was apparently quite urgent!   We got back to the hotel and rested a bit and went through our purchases for the day and then Evan wanted to go swimming.  Many families were in the pool with their little ones and some even fell asleep in their parents' arms in the pool. :)   This is where I met the Australian family and another family who are also with Madison, from Illinois.  Evan played in the water for quite awhile while I made a list of questions I want to have answered and read through our itinerary.   We then headed to the room to get ready to go eat dinner.  We had skipped lunch and just had a light snack.  I saw we had a message on our machine- it was Sara...a mom I have been talking with on Facebook for months.  Her daughter is at the same orphanage as Reid and she will have gotcha day tomorrow as well.   We set-up a time to meet in the lobby for dinner and then headed down.  We showed them a few places and then went to Tekila for some Mexican food.  A few other families had the same idea and we joined the family from Illinois at their table.   We had a great time and it was nice to get to see them in person and to know them a little better.

We came back to relax and then I got a call from Stacey, another mom who just got in today and who is meeting her son, Mason, who is one of Reid's best friends tomorrow.   We had a great long conversation.   We are waiting to skype the kids and Rick again before they take off for Rick's grandma's 95th birthday party and family reunion. 

It is hard to believe in less than 24 hours that we will be having our gotcha day and celebrating our son's 6th birthday, his first with at least part of his family!   My mind is full of questions as to how it will go, how he will act, and certain things I just have not experienced with adopting yet, since we have adopted children 17 months and 2.5 years old in the past.   I guess we'll just wing it, go with the flow, and take each moment as it comes.  That and pray.  That's all we really can do.   Still feels surreal.  Tomorrow we will meet some of the other families for breakfast and head to the Trust Mart to get some food for lunches so we don't have to go out to eat so often.   Then we'll just hang out until 12:30 when it is time to exchange money and prepare.  At 2:00 p.m. we will leave the hotel for the provincial civil affairs office.  This is where it will get weird for me- we had a gotcha day last year in a hotel conference room and were the only family there.  This time the room with be full of families, waiting for their child to be brought out to them.  There will be some crying and who knows what else.  It will be loud and probably a bit overwhelming to just about everyone.   I know of 5 families for sure who will be there.  There may be 15 or more...not sure yet of the exact number.

Please say some prayers for us and for Reid- he is leaving with his good friend so that should help and he will have Evan, but he is also leaving the only home he ever remembers having and everything he knows.  Pray for his heart, for his grief, and for God to give him a sense of peace.  Pray for Evan and I to be able to say and do everything we can to help comfort him and make him feel loved and safe, but not too overwhelming. 
Hoping to have some great news tomorrow!


  1. Brooke,

    Very excited for you! Will be thinking of you tomorrow (Monday). Prayers coming your way from Paris!



  2. We'll be praying for all of you Brooke!

  3. Prayers with you and your little guy.

  4. Hope your jet lag is better. So, funny about the lady tapping the affectionate couple. I would like to do that myself sometimes in church-never have though. So, is this Sherry the same Sherry that is very tiny and cute and used to be there?

  5. Brooke, I am so happy to hear how well things are going. You sound like quite the experienced traveler. It is so cool to hear how you have met up with so many other families and your son sound's like he is a great companion. I can visualize all the places you are describing. Glad Evan likes the bacon so well; we found it, um, interesting :) Prayers for peace and understanding from Reid for all he is going through. Having his "birth"day and his "family" day on the same day is pretty amazingly special. I knew you had desired it but didn't think about the depth of what that meant until now. Praying.
    Paige (using my dtr's google account )

  6. Hi Brooke,
    Sarah Risley here...we followed you in Fujian and now here. I and a son hope to be returning in the not too distant future to pick up another CHD son. You sound a lot braver than I am...hopefully this time we can make it to the island...we couldn't swing it in November.
    Yes, that room can be overwhelming emotionally, such extremes of joy and sadness simultaneously. I will be praying that Reid will allow himself to receive your comfort and love even without understanding. Evan will be an enormous bridge for you both.
    Be full of Jesus,