We are packing up today to spend the night in beautiful Hong Kong before catching our flight tomorrow afternoon.
It is time to go home. I have savored my time in China; with experience under my belt (and an easy-going child) this second trip has been much easier. I don’t know if I’ll ever step foot on Chinese soil again. If we are led to adopt again, Mike and I will – we’ve already discussed it. But for now, in the immediate few years ahead, I have a very full plate to meet the needs of my family once home.
While I bid farewell to this country I’ve grown to love, I’m leaving part of my heart behind in China. With the orphans who wait. With the friendly folks we encountered along the way, who didn’t let a language barrier stop them from trying to connect with us. With the elderly Chinese people whose weathered faces hint of a life of hardship and hard work. With the homeless scattered along the sidewalks.
I don’t belong or fit in here, but we have been warmly received. For that I am grateful and have so many wonderful memories. Americans can learn much from the Chinese people; they have incredible grit, their students take their studies SERIOUSLY, and they are a tenacious people in circumstances unimaginable.
Before any of you assume I’m negating my allegiance to my own country – hold on, most definitely not! I am glad to be an American, yet how can I not appreciate the country from which came 2 of my children? That the Chinese government would *allow* Americans to adopt their beautiful children, to give them a hope and a future? Not every country allows international adoption nor do they want Americans raising their own. I’m thankful for two Chinese adoptions that were nearly seamless.
Then there’s this newly-9 year old boy, who I’ve known for just over a week:
YOU GUYS!!! How can this boy NOT be loved?! He is a good and brave boy! He’s had several tearful moments, where he blinks his eyes fast to hold back the tears and in those moments his sweet smile leaves his face. Somehow he’s able to refocus and his smile returns.
Yesterday we went to Pearl Market with our guide. While we were waiting for my friends Pauline and Michelle, the shop owner struck up conversation with Levi. She also spoke English and she told me, “He is excited to go to America. When I asked him where he is from, he already says America, this is good!” I had to blink back my own tears at that point; Levi came to us with nothing but the clothes on his back. He is putting one foot in front of the other, trusting the complete unknown, and all with a really great attitude. This son of mine: he’s already teaching me. :)
Here are some of my favorite observations of China: The picture below was taken on the bullet train (at 150+ MPH) from Beijing to Taiyuan. Though we traveled about 310 miles, there wasn’t an area that was void of people – workers – tending to fields meticulously. This photo displays how even in mountainous areas, workers have planted, tended to, and shaped the topography to make it useful.
We entered a park in Taiyuan and when I saw playground equipment in the distance, I thought “Great! Something for the kids to do.”
Nope. This playground was for adults to exercise. And some of them were taking it very serious! The Chinese people are quite uninhibited; I can’t imagine this park being a popular place in North Dakota, haha! Our guide explained that most of these people are retired. Many are grandparents watching their grandchild while their son/daughter is working.
It didn’t take long for the people at the park to surround us. They were more interested in Levi than they were me. In America, you don’t see this. We are more conscious of personal space. :) The people talked to Levi for a long time. Our guide wasn’t too far off, and at one point he was able to translate so I knew they weren’t saying derogatory things. It just made it clear that while Levi is on his way to U.S. Citizenship, he is still very much one of them, and he always will be.
Outdoor Senior Center in Taiyuan. The Chinese are very social people; I wonder if we aren’t as social because we generally have more children to rear, and even into old age many Americans have just as much house as they can handle for upkeep. If we lived with less stuff, we’d probably have more time for people.
Every little girl I saw, reminded me of Selah and her MIA biological family.
Everyone here hangs their laundry out to dry. I love to do this in the summers in North Dakota, and since we brought Selah home, my thoughts wander and wonder about Selah’s birth mother every time I hang clothes on the line.
We were able to travel with the most amazing family, the VanDriels! No doubt this was orchestrated by God in His goodness; our children even have the same birthdate. Their Anna turned 3 yesterday when Levi turned 9. The crowd you see here is Mr. VanDriel surrounded by curious Chinese people. Our guide, George, translated and they talked for quite a while. The Chinese people’s consensus? “We wish Obama was a good man like you are.” So do we, Chinese friends. SO. DO. WE.
Open Market in Taiyuan. Our guides told me that it is most common for them to pick up produce and supplies needed for dinner on a daily basis. Imagine how much fresher the produce is! I’ve lost more than one head of cauliflower in the back of the refrigerator. But our lifestyle does not accommodate a daily trip to the market.
And finally – one of my most treasured memories of our trip. The God who sent me here once again, who stirred up His people to arise and pray, encourage and give sacrificially to be the village to bring Levi home that he may know Him – arranged a very special meeting as our time in China comes to an end. We went on the Pearl River Cruise two nights ago. We were assigned a table for the beginning of the cruise and then we were free to go to the top deck to view the lights. It was so peaceful and beautiful.
As the boat was going back to the dock, Isaac and I took Levi back downstairs to sit, where we found this man at our table. Why didn’t we find a different table? Because we are in China. :) We have been elbow-to-elbow with millions of people for two weeks. So we sat down. The man had joy coming from within. He spoke to Levi a bit and laughed and laughed at his antics. After several moments, he took out his phone and showed me something that gave me chills.
This simple message. Universal. With no regard to male or female, or color of skin. This message, the man wanted me to know the One who saves, changes hearts, and makes all things anew. That God would send His Son, even unto the very ends of the Earth:
I stand in awe of the God we serve. He made Himself known time and again while we sought out Levi. Even now, while here in China, the presence of our Sweet Savior Jesus has gone before me. His Word? It is true. His promises? Never Fail. Haven’t trusted Him yet? You can!
Off to pack and prepare to leave this country and it’s people that have settled under my skin. Still looking for half my heart; no doubt I’ll just leave it here. :)