Saturday, June 23, 2012

Home one week!

I have no idea where the past 7 days have gone, but one thing I do know - we have a little guy who fits right into our family as if he had been there from birth.  Even the language barrier doesn't seen to get in the way too much.

After only one night of a crazy sleeping schedule Jack was back to sleeping through the night.  I know we are very blessed.  He prefers to fall asleep in our bed and then we transfer him when we go to bed.  It was hard to keep to his usual "orphanage" nap and bedtime schedule this week, but this flexible little guy just rolled with the punches.  On Thursday I had a Drs appointment.  Megan and Jack played with some toys in the room while the Dr was talking to me.  We both chuckled when Jack came over from playing, climbed onto my lap and immediately fell asleep over my shoulder!  He has even been known to fall asleep on the floor, right in the middle of his toys.

While I mentioned in a previous post that he didn't like baths, we have discovered that he LOVES the pool.  Megan had a little paddling pool at the bottom of her slide.  Before we could catch him, he was down the slide and into the pool with a belly-laugh (there was only about 5 inches of water in it).  This continued for about 2 hours.  He is now tolerating his nightly bath a little better.

Food.  I think I've mentioned before that Jack eats well, almost to the point of over-eating and hoarding.  We had to buy a little snack box that allows him to put his whole hand in but only bring one cheerio, or fruit snack out.  Well, Jack has figured out how to make a fist around a handful of snacks and then pull them out with much effort.  For breakfast, he will usually take 2 different kinds of cereal (and more if I would let him) and some grapes or melon.  I have to cut the fruit up without him seeing me, or he screams for it all.  He loves all fruit, apart from blueberries, most vegetables, ham, turkey, chicken, roast beef and salmon.  I baked salmon for Stephen and I on Friday night and made something else for the kids.  Poor Stephen didn't get any fish after he let Jack try one forkful.

I don't know if it's just because we are "new" to him, but he prefers to follow us around rather than play with toys, unless it's a bucket with some water in it.

Jack copies a lot of single words that we say, like "Hi", "Bye", "Jack", Mama", Baba", "jie jie" (for Megan), "No".  These past 2 days he has been using two syllable words, like "Hello", "bye-bye" and "thank you" appropriately.  He also seems to know when we've said something funny as he will cover his mouth with his hand and bend forward, laughing hysterically.  Of course that makes us laugh at him which makes him continue until he hiccups!

Some have asked how Megan is handling the changes to her world!  For the most part she enjoys having him around, especially when they play outside together.  She is trying to to teach him English by pronouncing all the words in the sentence slowly and loudly.  The only problem is that her sentences are very long.  When he looks at her blankly she will say it again, slowly and loudly. She wants him to learn English fast so he can move on to Spanish!  Of course, she doesn't like it when he gets in her "things" like Polly Pockets, but she is tolerating it better now that she realizes he will not eat the doll's clothes.  He usually pops them in his mouth for a second and then spits them out.  In fact he has shown little interest in them these past 2 days.
Just home from the airport last Saturday, Megan didn't waste time gettting her old blocks!

"Now I think if we add some purple reinforcing it will help...what ya think jie jie?"
He has little "quirks" that are both funny and a little sad.  He insists on putting his own shoes on and sometimes dressing himself.  When Stephen gave him a bath last night he took the washcloth off Stephen and started to scrub his feet, getting right between each toe.  He prefers to feed himself with the fork or spoon, wiping anything that strays to the edges of his mouth.  When we don't understand what he is saying, he will pull us by the hand and bring us to what he wants.

You're thinking, "this kid is perfect".  Well, not quite:-)  He can throw a first class temper tantrum when he is told "No".  He lies on the floor and thumps his feet, or will pull at your clothes with his nails, or teeth. Even with limited manpower at the orphanage I'm not sure he was told "No" very often.  The nannies loved on these children.  Remember they would only have one child of their own as the one-child policy is still very much in effect in China.  The children under their care were like the "additional" children they couldn't have.  We saw the love for Jack when we went to visit.  They all wanted to hold him.  They even fought over who was going to change his diaper when I asked where I could change him.  It is not as easy jumping in to parent a 2 1/2 year old, but our desire is to be consistent so he knows everything we do is out of love.

We have learned so many things on this journey and have so much more to learn.  We are so thankful that God brought Jack into our lives.  We don't forget that there may be a mother (and father) on the other side of the world who is still grieving the fact she left their son in the city park.  After experiencing the culture, we know some of the reasons that may have led to that act.

Jack has an appointment with his Pediatrician on Monday and from there we will get him evaluated at Children's Hospital.Cardiology Unit.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Settling In

Saturday, June 16th

We had a good rest at the Sky Marriot in Hong Kong on Friday night and a quick shuttle ride to the airport at 7.40am.  Jack had some scrambled eggs after we checked in.  This kid loves eggs, boiled, srambled, fried!  We met the other 2 families who were traveling to Chicago with us.  The flight was delayed about 40 minutes in boarding but they did let our group of squirmy toddlers board first.
Jack did great on the long flight of just over 14 hours.  He slept for the first 2 1/2 hours, they played with stickers and ate, and ate, and ate.  He had a few walks around the plane and then slept the last 2 hours.
There was a relatively short line at Customs and some final paperwork at Immigaration and then we got to see Megan!  Security tape wasn't going to hold me back from hugging my girl!  Jack was still a little groggy but I think he recognized Megan from the pictures.  Granda and Granny Moffitt and a few friends were waiting to welcome Jack.  It was sweet of them to come and wait so long while we cleared Immigration.
We stopped to eat at Perkins on the way home and Megan and Jack really bonded, walking hand in hand round the restaurant.  Once home, Jack settled in to playing with Megan like he'd known her all his life.  Sleep adjustment was a little off on Saturday night but that was only to be expected.  The four of us were up playing after midnight.  I think Stephen and Jack got around 3 hours sleep.  We suggested Megan go back to bed, but she wanted to "tag along just in case Jack needs me".

Sunday, June 17th.  Father's Day

Happy Father's Day, Stephen.
We were all a little tired, but functioning :-)  Jack made it to Sunday School and seemed to enjoy being around the other kids.  It was amazing how quickly he sourced out the snack and the Nursery!  He enjoyed the singing and even got into putting his hand up to answer questions.  It's just amazing how much he mimics.

After lunch and opening of presents for Stephen and Granda, Stephen crashed for a couple of hours but Jack just kept going.  He is so like Megan - goes on full speed until the batteries run out!

Jack slept fairly well, Sunday night.  Mom, not so much as she was sure Jack would be up "any minute".

Monday, June 18th

A hot day in Wisconsin.  Megan had a paddling pool situated at the bottom of the slide and spent hours going up and down.  Jack LOVES the slide, he's just not so sure about water.  I think the orphanage report that he loves the bath was a mix up with another child's info :-)  Jack had a good nap and since it was Granda and Granny's last night in Wisconsin they wanted to take us out for dinner.  Jack loved Olive Garden and was extremely well behaved.

Hard to believe this little boy joined our family just 2 weeks ago.  He is such a wonderful addition.  We all love him to pieces.  He is goofy, sweet, loveable and a little bit stubborn :-)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Final Day in Guangzhou

I never thought it would be so hard to pack up and leave China.  This trip has had joyous moments, crazy moments, but above all, a sense that each day we were where God wanted us to be.

Obviously the main purpose and highlight of this trip was to meet our son and bring him home.  We have looked at him every day and thanked God for adding Jack to our family.  We have tried to soak in as much of his culture as we can so that we can tell him about the beautiful country of his birth.  We are missing Megan and can't wait to wrap her in our arms tomorrow, but we have enjoyed China so much.

This morning we gathered in the lobby of the hotel to take family pictures and pictures of the children dressed in their traditional Chinese outfits.  It was quite a feat to get all the children looking the same way at the same time, but we will carry these children in our hearts forever.  Joshua, Jack, Tori, Anna, Allison, Larry and David have been placed with families who we have witnessed showing unconditional love.  We pray that each of these little ones will continue to blossom as they go "home" and settle into family life.  For some it might be a culture shock to find out that their parents really don't live in 5 star hotels and have cleaning ladies and chefs!

We believe God placed us in the travel group that He did with a purpose.  Two weeks ago we were all strangers, but the common desire to obey God's call brought us together.  We have all shared highs and lows, have encouraged and been encouraged and are leaving China with plans to maintain contact.

Our original plan was to leave Guangzhou by train for Hong Kong.  A few days ago, after talking with our rep, we decided it might be easier to rent 3 minivans and travel from the hotel in China directly to the hotel in Hong Kong.  We wouldn't have to keep an eye on babies as we loaded and unloaded luggage at the border and we wouldn't have to get transport from downtown Hong Kong to the airport.  The vans left the hotel at 4.30 and arrived at the Hong Kong hotel at 8pm.  Stephen and I ended up being in separate vans but it worked out O.K.  Jack sat on my lap and happily looked out the window and sang most of the way.  To say the ride was a breeze would be a lie.  The drivers drove like crazy, weaving in and out of traffic at over 120 km/hr.  Theresa and I who were sitting with a child each on our laps, with no seat belts in sight were becoming a little nauseated.  A 5 minute bathroom stop didn't provide the relief we hoped for as all the toilets were stinky squatty potties.

At the border we each had our temperatures, passports and visas checked and the rest of the ride into the city was beautiful.  Our hotel is by the airport as we need to be there just after breakfast on Saturday.

Please pray for a safe trip back to the US.  The flight is 15 hours - a long day for an active little boy to stay seated.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Consulate Appointment

Today we had an early start as we had to leave the hotel at 7.55am for the Consulate appointment.  Each family took an oath on behalf of their child.  Final items relating to the visa were completed and we should receive the visa just before we leave Guangzhou tomorrow.

All the group went out for a final "group dinner" tonight to a fish restaurant called Meijing.  It was a little off-putting when flies were dropping dead on the table, but we managed to get through the meal.  We could have ordered alligator if we wanted.  There were 2 live ones to choose from :-)

We all came back to the hotel and enjoyed a Starbucks.

Time is going fast.

Can hardly believe it is Thursday already.

Some from our group went to the Zoo on Tuesday morning but we decided to have a later breakfast and then skype Megan.   After lunch we took a cab over to Shamian Island, which is essentially a sandbar along the Pearl River.

Shamian Island once served as an important port. In 1859, the territory was divided and given to France and United Kingdom ( 4/5 went to the British and 1/5 to the French). It definitely has a British colonial feel to it and broad boulevards. Many Western families who have come to adopt can be seen strolling around the island. It is just 900m long from east to west and 300m from south to north. There are many souvenir shops and a welcoming Starbucks :-)

Shamian Island Park Sign

Shamian Island Map

Jack getting in line!

Enjoying the slide at the park on Shamian Island

Beautiful shrubs, palm trees and bushes at Shamian Island Park

Looking down the main boulevard on Shamian Island

One of many bronze statues on Shamian Island

Olympic influence is still in evidence all over China four years later

Some of the Consulates are still on the island.  The American one is there, although the Visa department has moved to Guangzhou.

We came back and had a meeting to process the visa paperwork in preparation for the Consulate appointment today.

Tuesday evening we went out with a couple of other families to the Macau Street restaurant and had another great dinner.  The treadmill will be dusted off when we get home.

Stephen took this picture on Shamian Island.

FEDEX - The World on Time

When it absolutely , positively must be there On Time

Note carefully ... driver or possibly his assistant (to be fair!)  is asleep. :-)

Jack and Joshua had to go back to the clinic to have their TB test read.  Everything was looking great so we headed back to the island again to shop for little gifts.  There were some cute shops, two of which were owned by Christian ladies.  It was very encouraging to hear how one of then had been witnessed to by an American family.  They gave her a Chinese/English Bible and it was well used.

Of course we had to cool down with a treat at Starbucks.

Wednesday evening we just relaxed in the hotel and made some Skype calls.  It always makes our day when we can chat with Megan.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Medical checkup and River Cruise

**Blog for June 6 is now updated - our visit to Luoyang & a very full day **
Today was the children's Medical checkup - a requirement for the US Consulate visit on Thursday. Jack did very well including getting a poke for his TB test at the end.

Hustle and bustle at the clinic in Guangzhou

Getting checked out by the doctor in Guangzhou

The Riverboat Cruise

We got on the 3 deck boat around 5.30.  I was a little nervous about how Jack would handle a dinner and then having to be held back from the railings as we viewed the river after dark.  Grace got us all seats along the window of the second enclosed deck.  We ate dinner first and Jack consumed a large bowl of noodles as usual.  As it started to get dark we went out onto the upper deck to see the lights of Shaiman island at night.  It really was beautiful and the light breeze felt just great.  A juggler then put on a show followed by the kids from our group who danced to the music, Jack included!

"Baba" and Jack on Pearl River Cruise
Guangzhou skyline at night

Canton Tower - rainbow color!

Canton Tower - light purple!

Bridge on the Pearl River, Guangzhou

Trying valiantly to keep an uncooperative boy in my arms!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A relaxing day

This morning there was a tour to a Buddist temple and gardens which we opted out of.  It was nice to sleep in until closer to 8am. We all slept well last night.  The beds were comfy and the a/c is much more efficient here :-)

After leaning over the bath for an hour trying to wash clothes, we decided to send some of the heavier items out to a laundry service.  It is almost impossible to get the clothes dried.  We should have a bag of clean clothes returned tomorrow.

The breakfast buffet offers a nice variety.  Jack will eat almost anything and insists on feeding himself.  He is fiercely independent, which is great at times, other times he can become a little emperor :-)  We love him so much!

After breakfast the Williams family and us decided to get orientated to our surroundings.  We didn't make it too far but did find a store that sells glasses.  Jack broke my glasses yesterday so the guide will go back with me to the store tomorrow and help me get new ones. I don't know if I'll have to have my eyes tested, or if they can decipher my english prescription.  It should be interesting!

We all went out as a group to a Portuguese restaurant tonight for dinner.  It was very good and just a few minutes from our hotel.  Another family joined our group today.  They have adopted an adorable 5 year old boy who has spina bifida. 

Tomorrow morning we take all the children for the mandatory medical exam.  The afternoon is free and then we will go on a riverboat dinner cruise in the evening.

Many of you have asked how Jack is feeling. He is so much better.  Still congested, but no wheeze.  We are continuing to use the inhaler 4 times a day.  This boy does not slow down, even when he is sick. It is hard to imagine that at one time he was so sick with a congenital heart defect.

Megan.  Just 7 more days and we will be home.  Miss you lots.  I wear your picture on my lanyard every day and everyone that sees it thinks you are beautiful with your blond hair, blue eyes and missing teeth :-)

Thanks to everyone who has prayed for us while we are in China.  We have been very aware of those prayers.  Thanks to those who left encouraging comments.  For some reason I can't get in to the comment section to respond.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Now to Guangzhou

Jack had a much better night's sleep and we were all down for our last breakfast at the Crowne Plaza Hotel pretty early. The cases were picked up from the hotel room around 7:20am and we were on the bus to the airport around 8am.

At the gate, they had a children's play area which Jack of course made good use of while we were awaiting our flight to Guangzhou.

The flight was just over 2 hours and our agency's representative, Grace, was there to meet us at the other side. Our first impressions of Guangzhou were that it was hot, like Florida in the summer hot. Humid and hot. Yes, it was hot, like 97F hot. (And ladies, you will like this one - Grace had tights on.)

We're staying at the China Hotel which is operated by the Marriott group. It is the most luxurious hotel Jennifer and I have ever seen let alone stay at. Apparently it is popular and has a very high occupancy rate with the result that our party are all separated now on the 6th, 7th, 10th, 14th and 15th floors! We're on the 14th with a beautiful view of the city.

Hotel lobby
Guangzhou is on the Pearl River Delta and this incoming week Grace has arranged an evening dinner cruise to see it up close. It is also home to the world's 2nd tallest structure, China's Canton Tower at 600m (2000ft).

4th floor outdoor play area

4th floor outdoor garden

4th floor outdoor pool

China Hotel, Guangzhou

Nothing else is planned for the remainder of today so we can rest and recouperate.
A well-earned nap upon arrival at our hotel!

Traffic-buses, trucks, cars, mopeds, bikes & pedestrians

It never ceases to amaze any of our group that none of us have been knocked down or killed...

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Visit to Zijing Shan Park

Jack had a difficult night with his chest congestion - he ended up lying on my bed where I tried to prop him up with pillows etc. Still he thrashed about and each breath seemed so labored. It was an anxious time which necessitated much prayer. I was exhausted and heading toward 3am I just had to leave Jack completely in the Lord's hands as I could barely stay awake. As I committed Jack and the whole matter to God again, a little children's chorus came to my mind, providing much comfort that my Heavenly Father was particularly and specifically interested in our present source of distress:

He's got the little itty babies in His Hands... (x3)
He's got the whole world in His Hands.

One of our party has a sister who is a pediatrician and who was visiting them from Shanghai for 2 days. She kindly offered to look at Jack and offer advice as the Agency Rep was strongly suggesting we take him to the hospital. He was indeed pretty congested and wheezing badly. She had some Ventolin/Albuterol and a children's spacer with her that we are able to administer 3 times a day to open up his airway and this has helped immensely. Another Dr in our group has offered us antibiotics which we can use tomorrow if he doesn't improve but so far things are looking much better. A huge thank you to all who have specifically prayed about this.

A day of rest today - that is, a day without prearranged appointments and trips. We went with the Williams family to McDonalds at lunchtime to celebrate their son Matthew's eighth birthday. On the way back we stopped at Zijing Shan Park. It is a beautifully kept park, a real oasis in such an urban environment. Jack enjoyed splashing in a puddle there as you can see.

Zijing Shan Park entrance

Jack finds a puddle

Jack investigates puddle along with his friend Matthew.

The children's Chinese passports arrived this afternoon along with various pieces of official documentation, some for us to keep forever, some for the U.S. Consulate next week.

We packed up all our stuff tonight as our party move to Guangzhou ("GWAN-JOE") early tomorrow morning. Looking forward to moving to the next stage.


By Popular Demand ... Giggling Jack

Stephen writing again... going to try and upload a video to the blog. Many of you have asked about this.

Hopefully it should be available below.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Visit to Shaolin Temple

Stephen writing as Jennifer is asleep. Today we opted for a trip with the rest of the group to the Shaolin Temple about 2+ hrs away from the hotel. Jack did great for the most part considering it was such a long trip. Our guide, Mr.T, spoke very good English and even sang a famous Chinese "lullaby" on the way there which amazingly caught the attention of all the children right away. When asked by one of our group how his English was so good, he replied, "I read the Bible every day - today my reading was in 1st Kings. That help my English a lot." What a wonderful testimony to God's Word - we learned later that he's been doing so for about 7 years. On the way back on the bus he sang "This is the day that the Lord hath made..." I know at least 2 or 3 of us encouraged him privately to keep at this most important of readings.

The visit consisted of 3 parts: The Shaolin Temple (Buddhist), The Pagoda "Forest" and a Kung-Fu show by some of the monks. All parts were good - not everyone's thing of course but interesting nonetheless.

The Pagoda is a place for storing ancient relics, often religious in nature. In the monks case, when one of the Buddhist leaders dies, his body is cremated within 3 days and the ashes are placed into a Pagoda. The length of the period of leadership, importance of the leader etc. will then determine the size (girth, height & complexity) of the Pagoda. A closed door at the bottom means only one person's ashes are there - open means, additional ashes have been added.

The Kung Fu part demonstrated some pretty amazing acts of strength, dexterity, agility and suppleness. We got back to the hotel around 5:30am after which a number of us walked to a Pizza Hut that another family discovered last night. Needless to say it was very good and here we are back later than usual tonight complete with a visit to a Walmart like store for necessary baby supplies.

Please pray for Jack who has become very congested and has the makings of a chest infection. Another doctor friend of one of the group said there is very little we can do as it is equated with the change in living quarters to air conditioning at the hotel, restaurants, etc. - something very few of the children would have been used to. Many of them have runny noses and coughs - indeed even I had a troublesome cough tonight. The air quality in Zhengzhou is very poor - a constant haze surrounds the city. Up in the mountains on the trip today the air quality was noticeably better - even the tour guide acknowledged this!

Here are a few pictures of our day.

Statue at entrance to Shaolin Temple, China

Most of the group at the entrance to one of the temples

Jack riding a ferocious "turtle"

Daddy & Jack at Shaolin Temple, China

Most recent pagoda at Shaolin with inscription that marks the period

Close-up of inscription/carving:  look for video camera, laptop & airplane

Jack tackling a pear (YES, not a typo, a ginormous PEAR)

Though a little blurred just by the sheer speed, the pic does show great suppleness of KungFu participants

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Passport Application and Orphanage Visit

Reflecting on Wednesday, June 6th

The main purpose of our drive to Luoyang city today was to apply for Jack's Chinese passport at the Public Service Bureau so that he can leave the country. Luoyang is Jack's "birth" city.  It has a population of 6.5 million people.

We started out early as it is a 2-1/2 hr drive from Zhengzhou, depending on traffic.  I don't know if our driver thought the trip was an emergency, but he sat at 120+ km the whole way there, honking at anyone who dared move into his lane.

Our ride to Luoyang (13 squeezed into it at one point)
 The Public Security building was a mass of people but our guide got us in and out quickly.

PSB in Luoyang where we applied for Jack's passport
She then said we would be able to go to the Orphanage.  I wasn't sure if we would be allowed to visit but the Director who brought Jack on Monday welcomed us and said we could see the room Jack slept in and also the play room.  It is a large building with around 650 children.

Jack's Orphanage in Luoyang

The cribs were placed close together and the bedding was clean (and pink :-). He had a small locker for his "things".

Jack's bedroom at Orphanage (his crib is top right of picture- note lockers on back wall)
We recognized the playroom from his referral photos.  Large rubber mats were on the floor and 2 rows of children were sleeping on their tummies.  They have a fairly rigid schedule due to the fact that each nanny (ayi) looks after up to 20 babies.

Jack finds his old playroom at the Orphanage & peeks inside

Napping babies in Jack's old playroom

The nannies were all dressed in pink and kept calling out to Jack (Zan Shi).  He would go to them but kept looking back to make sure we were right there.  We got a glimpse of the love shown with the limited time the nanny has with each child and that encouraged our hearts that he had experienced love.

Jack's Primary Nanny at the Orphanage

Outside was a small play area.  The orphanage was just off a busy street.  I'm not sure how often it would have been possible to take the children outside.

Orphanage play area

Orphanage bus
After thanking the nannies and Director for taking care of Jack (and Joshua, whose family also made the trip with us), the Director said it would be a pleasure for her to take us to lunch.  She brought 2 of the administrative staff with her.  We had probably the best lunch we've had in China.  I think we counted 10 dishes on the lazy susan and everything tasted good. 

Lunch with Orphanage Director (she is in blue on the right, next on right is our agency's rep Vivian)

When we left the restaurant, the guide told us we would have time to go see both boy's "finding spots", in other words, the place where they were abandoned.  I think this was the hardest part for me.  We drove to the entrance of a beautiful park called Luopu Park.  I would have liked to have spent a day there just soaking it in for Jack.  We just had a few minutes so we had a quick picture taken at the entrance.  Luopu park is the largest park in Luoyang.  It is located on the banks of the Luohe river and has over 20,000 peony trees, which bloom in April (we just missed them).

At entrance to Luopu Park

Wall mural depicting Luoyang City Flower, the Peony
Stephen & Jack at entrance to Luopu Park where Jack was found in May 2010

Our guide told us it is a peaceful place where many go to walk in the evening.  My mind was flooded with questions, which I know will never be answered.  Was he left there in the early evening, his mother knowing someone would hear a baby cry?  Did she stay and watch, or was it too difficult?  Stephen & Joshua's dad Chad were relating to each other during these moments at the finding spots that it's amazing to think that the mothers (and possibly the fathers) were there in the city the very day we visited. As with any abandonment, the police are called when a baby is found and the baby taken to the local orphanage.  It was upon admission that they detected he had a heart defect.

After seeing the park we drove to Joshua's finding spot - the dermatology unit of a hospital.  Again, like ourselves, his parents wonder why he was left there.  The God who knows the end from the beginning has the answers.  Our duty is care for them from this point on, as He has asked us to.

The last stop of the day was at Maria's Big House of Hope which is also in Luoyang.  Many have heard of the Christian music artist, Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth who adopted 3 little girls from China.  Many families have been blessed by their generosity.  Their third adopted daughter, Maria died in May 2008 as the result of a tragic accident.  In her memory and working with another awesome couple, Joyce and Robin Hill, who also have been huge blessings to China's orphans, they built a beautiful facility in Luoyang & called it Maria's Big House of Hope.

First glimpse of Maria's Big House of Hope

When we arrived (or tried to arrive :-) at Maria's the road was completely dug up.  We were not going to be deterred by a pile of dirt so we hopped out of the van and climbed over the huge piles of dirt and past the construction equipment with kids under arms :-)  I'm sure we were a messy sight when we arrived in the courtyard.

No obstruction too great to keep us from MBHOH - we climbed the big pile on the right complete with babies to reach the entrance!

Two of the American volunteers, Rebecca and Abby were there to meet us.  They were as excited as we were.

Outstanding volunteers at MBHOH - from left with Jack, Rebecca and Abby
The Chinese nannies immediately recognized the children and came to hold them with obvious excitement and evidence of their love & devotion for the 2 boys.  There is SO much love inside those blue walls :-)

Excited "ayis" (nannies) at MBHOH

We got a tour of the whole facility.  The fifth floor is for palliative care.  Such tender, lovely care these fragile babies receive.  Jack was on the fourth floor so we got to see his crib and his play area.

Jack & Stephen beside Jack's crib at MBHOH
Jack and Stephen in Jack's bedroom area at MBHOH (note the wall decor, which was different in every room)
We saw Joshua's room as well.  The nannies remembered both boys and all wanted to take turns holding them, although both boys wanted to check that their new parents were not going to leave them there, no matter how nice it was!

We met Dr Steve and Mickey from the USA who also have spent a long time at Maria's.  It was a place that was hard to leave.  We saw God's love and care for the orphan there.  Jack had a favorite nurse, Jona (from the Philipines) who was shopping while we were there.  As we were driving off in the van we saw her walking along the road.  The driver slowed down so she could see Jack and the guide let me talk to her on her cell phone.  I'm glad I got the chance to thank her for her special bond with Jack.

It was an amazing day. These boys were loved, then abandoned, then loved again, then placed with strangers, then taken back to revisit some of their past and yet they knew "who" were their forever caregivers.  Remember they had only been with us 2 days at this point.

This experience has not only made our family larger, but our faith deeper and our love stronger.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world....James 1:27 ESV

Living Room / Greeting Area MBHOH

Lobby at MBHOH

Preschool Room at MBHOH