Monday, October 13, 2014

The Beauty of Charleston and Giving God our Dreams!

 One thing you can't deny about Charleston is that it is a beautiful place.....

 Especially downtown. The architecture and attention to detail of the homes, shops, landscaping, etc. It is lovely. Picturesque is a good way to describe it. The water is serene and tranquil (hopefully most of the time, anyway). I can definitely see why people like to visit Charleston, and some decide to call it "home". Now, as you probably know, I am still up in the air about whether or not I would ever want to call Charleston home, but one thing that the Lord has shown me over this last week is that my attitude needs to reflect the reality that for now (and until further notice) it is our home, and there is something great, wonderful, and God ordained  for our family here. Through prayer, daily devotions and Bible readings, God has shown me that He is ready and willing to do great things through our family in Charleston, if we will but only ask! Consider this thought from one of my daily devotion readings from the magazine Journey: "If we get to know God and His perfect and loving character, we'll joyfully release our dreams into his mighty hands and wait with great anticipation to see what He'll do with them".  I realized that I have not been releasing anything since we arrived here, and especially not joyfully. You see, I have realized it all comes down to how I view God, and if I truly trust Him. If I view him correctly, as the loving Father He is, then I have no reason to not put my full trust in Him, and that includes my hopes and dreams! Consider Jesus' words in Matthew 7, verses 9-11: "Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" 

It struck me as I read this passage how much I love to give gifts to my children. I love to see their reaction, their smile, their excitement. But even my best attempts to give good gifts do not come close to comparing to what God desires to give us as His children. Now I am not speaking of material blessings, though sometimes we are blessed in that fashion, but I am talking about the abundant Christian life- a life that is so much more than possessions and earthly things. A life that has eternal purpose and value.  I am asking God to each day help me to release my dreams for this sort of abundant life to Him, trusting that He loves me beyond my comprehension, and desires to work in and through me, for His glory.

This past week we had a wonderful visit from my mom and her best friend, Belinda. The visit came at just the right time as my homesickness had seemed to peak the day before they came. We had a great time visiting the quaint downtown of Summerville and its many boutiques and unique stores, checking out the awesome consignment and Goodwill stores (and they are awesome!), driving through the many subdivisions,  and of course exploring downtown Charleston. We tried out a great seafood restaurant downtown called the Noisy Oyster. Very yummy.

In just a few days both my parents will be here as we will be moving into our home. We are all excited to have the chance to be able to run and scream and "spread out" once again. The kids have been troopers over these last several weeks and have had to learn a new type of respect when it comes to apartment living. If you know my kids you know they tend to be loud and rough and tough, and you just can't do that in an apartment with neighbors all around (we found out the hard way....a couple times :) I am very proud of them for being so flexible and patient as we have waited to move. I am very proud of them in general. They continue to get up every morning bright and early like troopers, and have great stories to tell me when I pick them up. They are making friends and challenge me to have as positive of an attitude as they do!

I promised to write about our experiences visiting churches here, and I will definitely do that in the next post. We have had good experiences and have been treated very kindly, but have found that Sundays make us the most homesick of all day. We love and miss our church family. More to come on that soon.....

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Starting Week Three in Charleston....

We are starting week three in Charleston!!! Everyone is doing well and though we are still homesick, things are becoming somewhat more normal. I thought I would write just a quick post to show you a little about what our life has looked like since the big this post mainly the kids schools and where we are currently living.

Let's start with where we live. We have been living in temporary housing since we got here. We live in a 2 bedroom (mostly furnished) apartment in Summerville, South Carolina. It is about 3 miles from our new home (we will be closing in a little over a week....yipee!!), and about 5 miles from Caleb and Noah's school, and about 7 miles from Emmie's school. It is close to lots and lots of shopping centers, restaurants, name it! So it is a very convenient location. We live on the third floor, so carrying bicycles up and down has been quite a work out(we need it!). Though it is small (only about 800 sq. feet), our family has had a great time here. There is a community pool and playground, and the kids like riding their bikes here. Lots of bonding :) Here are some pictures:

Next, the kids schools- Noah and Caleb attend Eagle Nest Elementary. There are over 900 students in K-5! It's huge!! School starts here at 7:25, and dismisses at 2:10. Charleston is a very, very diverse area, which is awesome. There are children from a wide range of ethnic groups in the boys' classes. I or Zack take them to school each morning. Even though our apartment is only about 5 miles away, it takes about 45 minutes round trip due to the traffic. Very crazy!!

Here is a picture of their school:

Emmie just attended her new school, Windsor Hill Arts Infused Elementary School,  for the first time this past Friday. She received speech services back home in London, and she will continue to do so here in South Carolina, thankfully. There were no spots available at the boys' school, so this school is the next closest school to where we live that also can offer Emmie the speech services she needs.

Many of you know the difficulties Emmie had when beginning preschool in London last fall. I was very concerned that this would be a tough transition for her, but the day before she started she went in and met her teachers and saw her classroom and did great! Her first day went just as well! She walked into the school like she had been there all along, went into her classroom and was ready for breakfast. I am so amazed by the progress she has made in a little over year. She had a great first day on Friday and is ready to go back tomorrow. In South Carolina, the 4K program is only half days, so Emmie still gets to spend time with mommy too :) I like that. Emmie's school is a little smaller than the boys' school, but still has over 700 students! From our apartment, it takes me about one hour to take Emmie to school and come back home. Really crazy!  Here is a picture of Emmie's new school, her classroom, and of Emmie on her first day:

The way in which the kids have adjusted to their new schools has been a such an amazing thing. We are so thankful and thank God for answering our prayer for our children! Noah was even invited to a birthday party this past weekend by a classmate- he had a great time. Caleb tells stories everyday when I pick him up about what he and his new buddy, Luis, have been doing at recess. Though we know they still very much miss their friends from home, it is a huge relief to see them talk with such enthusiasm about their new experiences.

Our next challenge/adventure is to find a church to call home. The past 2 Sundays we have visited two different churches....more to come on that next time.

Thanks for all the prayers and encouraging texts, emails, and Facebook messages. They mean so much!

Monday, September 29, 2014

What Are We Doing Here?

This past Monday I was sitting by a pool in an apartment complex in Summerville, South Carolina, watching my kids swimming. They were having a great time, the only ones in the pool. I was sitting under an umbrella in the 90 degree heat wondering to myself, “What are we doing here!!!???””

Of course, I knew what we were doing here. Zack had received an amazing career opportunity that we both felt God leading him to take (short answer). That is why I was sitting by the pool this past Monday in Summerville, South Carolina. We had moved to South Carolina. We moved to South Carolina???!!!! What??!!!! Moved from our wonderful, small town of London, Kentucky, a place that I had lived my entire 32 years of life, and a place that Zack and our kiddos had come to love. We moved from London to a place that neither of us had ever even set foot in until about a month ago. A place with really hot, humid weather( I love fall and winter and SNOW) , no hills or mountains (I love the mountains), no one that we really know,  no family, no emotional connection to the state, or anything affiliated with it (i.e. the Gamecocks ), no Kroger( I love my Kroger and especially my Kroger pharmacist J ) . You get the picture…I could have gone on and on that day. Reality had set in. This was our new home. But it sure didn’t feel like home that day (still doesn’t, of course….it’s only been a week!).  

So how did we actually end up here? Well the long answer makes more sense. The long answer is what I have to keep reminding myself of. You see, at the beginning of this year, I felt God leading me to pray Psalm 90:17 “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us-- yes, establish the work of our hands”. I wasn’t sure in what way God was going to do this, all I knew what that I desperately wanted Him, and Him alone to be the one to lead our family.

As the year went on, Zack and I decided to try and sell our home….just test the waters. As with almost all the homes we have owned, this home was bought as a foreclosure, and we had done some updates to the home in hopes of one day selling it to make a profit. We listed our house the first week of June, and just asked God to be in control. We in no way imagined that we would be moving to a new town, just a new house! I have to be honest, I was doubtful we would be able to sell our home and make the profit we wanted, but 23 days after being on the market, we had an acceptable offer and contract. We had looked at many houses in London, just in case our home did sell, and after about a month had found a home we loved. It was for sale by owner, in a great neighborhood, had just about everything we wanted and in our price range! Seemed perfect. We met with the owner the first time, and made an offer.  The owner countered back in a couple days with an offer we were willing to accept. We met to sign the contract, but after an hour of meeting, the owner just “wasn’t sure” if they could sign it. We said we understood, and that we would happily give them more time. We even offered to pay full asking price, even a little more, because we liked the house that much. To make a long story short, over the next couple weeks we met two more times in an attempt to sign the contract, but the owner never was able to sign! Didn’t have peace about it, wasn’t sure, etc.  We couldn’t figure it out. In all our experience with buying and selling homes, we had never experienced anything like it.

Then came a call to Zack a few days before we were set to close on the home we were selling. From out of nowhere he received a call from a recruiter wanting to know if he was interested in a position with an Electrical Distributor in Charleston, South Carolina. Zack thought the timing was pretty interesting, and wanted to know my thoughts. I encouraged him to at least check it out, as the timing of everything going on in our lives was definitely very interesting. He called the recruiter and told him he would be interested in at least finding out more, and in a couple days they had set up a phone interview for Zack and the manager of the office in Charleston. The phone interview took place on the same day that we closed on our house. Zack sat in the driveway in his car and talked to the guy for almost an hour. The next day the recruiter called Zack and asked him if he would be interested in coming down for a face to face interview. They wanted to fly Zack down to Charleston, but Zack, being the smart guy he is, knew I would want to come too J So, we drove. Zack’s interview lasted about 4 hours, and soon as he got in the car, I could tell by looking at t\his face that he was pretty excited. The opportunity he had been presented was simply amazing. On the ride home we talked about our options, and I remember the moment that I knew we were moving. We had been quiet for a while, and then Zack said, “Rebecca, this opportunity could help our family by leaps and bounds…..” I knew he was right.  We spent the weekend praying about it, and when the final offer came to Zack the following week, we both felt a peace in saying “yes”.  

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of trips to Charleston to look for homes, packing, scheduling last minute appointments, and the toughest part, lots of hard good-byes.

Leaving our family and friends and our church family has been a very tough thing. Very tough. Like lots of tears and crying tough. It’s like the lyrics from one of Toby Mac’s songs, “You never know what you got ‘till it’s gone”. Of course, we knew how awesome our friends and family and church were, but I guess not having them physically in our lives has made us appreciate them all the more. They will always be a huge part of us, and their influence will always be felt. Our last Sunday at church was such a special time that it brings me to tears to even think about it. We have been incredibly blessed by the relationships that God gave us while in London (and I am secretly, well, okay, I guess not so secretly now J praying that God will eventually lead us back, if He so wills).
Leaving London meant leaving everything that was comfortable. And, in the big picture, that probably isn’t such a bad thing, but it sure doesn’t feel that good right now. I have had multiple times when the Lord has told me that this life isn’t about being comfortable and feeling safe. I guess this is what that feels like.  I know in the long run it will produce a close family bond, grow our faith and trust, in the Lord and his leading, and teach us resilience and perseverance.

Even though I am quite homesick, we know God is up to something by moving us here, and I am very interested in seeing just what that might be…..I will keep you posted!
For now, some pictures from our first week in Charleston. More to come soon.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Someone Had To Have Made A Mistake....One Year After Meeting Emmie.....

One year ago today I surely thought someone had made a mistake. Either Zack and I had incorrectly heard the voice of God calling us to adopt our third child, a daughter from China, or (and I know this will sound blasphemous, but it is how I felt a year ago today) God had led us to the wrong child. This is what I was thinking one year ago today in a hot, crowded building in Nanning, China.

In this hot and crowded building, a screaming, kicking, biting, spitting, (and everything else you could imagine) adorable three year old little girl was experiencing a tremendous amount of grief, fear, and anger as she watched her only caregivers walk out a door to never return. She was  left with two strange looking white people, and she was not happy. I won’t recount the experience that we all encountered the next few days (you can read it in the blog if you are interested ;), but let’s just say it was filled with lots of crying (by everyone), being confined to our hotel room, and lots of prayers, prayers, prayers. Those first few days with Emmie I was convinced that our lives would never again be the same. And one year later, I have found that I am right. Because of the blessing of a precious girl named Emmie Grace Caldwell, our lives have been filled with more joy, love, laughter and excitement than we could have ever imagined, and our lives will never be the same.  

I do want to share with you all the strides that Emmie has made,  but  what I wish I could communicate to you more than anything is how loving and sovereign God is, and how He has designed adoption to be the process that unites children and families. I am convinced of this now more than ever.  

Emmie finished 8 months of preschool this past May. She started with a very, very hesitant spirit, but finished absolutely loving preschool. She has learned a tremendous amount and is speaking English now, though still with a cute Chinese accent. Most people still can’t understand  what she says, but her family can, so that works out well J She will be starting speech therapy when she returns to preschool in the fall.  
Her personality and the affection she shows to her friends and family are beyond what we could have ever imagined those first weeks in China and first few months home. She is caring, thoughtful, compassionate and concerned. On the opposite end of the spectrum, she also has plenty of attitude to go around and says some of the most hilarious things and has some of the most expressive faces.  Things are never boring around our home! 

She loves her church, and especially her friends and teachers she has come to know. She is always ready with a smile and hug to greet everyone.  Though her first few months at church I could hardly leave her side, she now runs around the entire church like she has been there her entire life. It is beautiful to see!

Her best friends are undoubtedly her brothers, Caleb and Noah. They are her playmates, helpers, and of course the source of her greatest frustration at times.  I can assure you they have a very normal brother/sister relationship! It has been challenging at times to navigate the interactions between the three of them, and she and Caleb have an especially challenging relationship at times. But overall their love for one another always wins out….it just may drive everyone crazy in the process!

I am honestly at a bit of a loss for words for what else to say, for fear of sounding cliché…but here I go.  Being Emmie’s parents has kind of been like being the gardener of a very fragile flower that was uprooted from its original garden, and placed in a whole new land. It has taken lots of care, cultivation, pruning, and attention. It has taken lots and lots of help from the “Master Gardener”. It has taken patience as we have passed through different seasons, and with the changing of each season we have experienced new growth, and new challenges.  We have seen this fragile flower blossom into a strong, vibrant, confident, and beautiful flower, now at home in its new garden and with its new caretakers.  Emmie’s Chinese name means “beautiful/lovely flower”. And that is truly what she is.

 I am so inexpressibly thankful that we didn’t give up, and that Emmie didn’t give up on us. The thought of what our lives would be like without this little girl is too terrible for me to imagine. And yet one year ago, sitting in our hotel room, I was quite certain, somewhere along the line, a mistake had been made. Turns out, I was the mistaken one!  Thank God for the prayers and support of our family and friends, and for God’s guidance, grace, comfort and peace during those first few days.

 God was, is, and will always be in control and sovereign even if we don’t feel it, or at times don’t even want to believe it. God always finds a way to work for the good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28), and are called according to His purpose.  As we have found, that doesn’t always mean the “working’ is easy, fun, or what we might have imagined or planned for, but it is always for the good.
Which leads me to my final point- Adoption is good! It is soooo good!  Adoption is hard and challenging and painful at times. But adoption is good, because it is what God has chosen to use to unite children with families. Families that can give children the love they were created to have!  If you need convinced of this, look up James 1:27 for the definition of what “true religion” is. Read the parable of the “Sheep and Goats” in Matthew 25 and see who Jesus  identifies with.

 As I type this post, at this very moment, I could show you the pictures of thousands of children around the world, and here in the USA who are waiting, just like Emmie, Caleb, and Noah all were, just like I was at one time, to be adopted. They are waiting for someone to give them the love that only a family can. I am beyond thankful for the care and attention all my children were given in the orphanages and transition homes they lived in before coming to their forever homes, but nothing can replace the God created role and relationship of a family.  

I know what you are thinking. It is scary. It is risky. There are no guarantees. And that would be a 100% true statement, at least from our experience. Every adoption we have been scared at times. Every adoption we have had to take some type of risk. And every adoption we signed papers releasing agencies and governments from lots of guarantees.  It is a step of faith. And there is no way around that!

But here is another 100% true statement: If we, the Church, the body of believers who claim to love God and love others, do not begin to do something to bring orphans into families, an entire generation of children are going to grow up without ever having known the love and meaning of a family. Just think for a moment about all that being in a family entails and the meaning it brings to our lives (the good and bad). Now imagine millions of children never knowing anything of family life. This is the current reality of our country and world if nothing changes in terms of orphan care/adoption.

So now I ask you- would you be willing to intentionally pray for a time about how God would have you and your family to respond to the orphans in our world? 

Zack made a statement once that has stuck with me and it basically went like this: It sometimes seems like couples and families that want to have children and children that desperately need a mom and dad and a family are like ships in the night, just passing one another by.

Why is this, when there is this beautiful thing called “adoption”, that can unite families and children?  May God lead us to trust Him and believe in His word as we prayerfully examine this question.

To all our family (especially our parents, Glenn & Linda Toney and Mark & Punky Caldwell) and to our amazing friends and family and our awesome church family at First Baptist Church, London, we could not have blossomed and grown as a family without your love, prayers, and friendship over this past year. Thank you for all you have done for our family, and especially for Emmie.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

6 Months with Emmie.....

Today marks half of a year with Emmie. It seems like just yesterday that we were dealing with the disappointment of being delayed to get Emmie, then flying to Beijing, then meeting a very sad girl .

I remember being in China longing for months to have already passed, in hopes that Emmie would have adjusted to her new family and that we wouldn’t be experiencing the same things in 6 months that we were currently experiencing in China! Now, 6 months later, Emmie has transitioned into our family more wonderfully than we could EVER have imagined during those turbulent first weeks.  

It may sound cliché, but she is hardly the same child that we met in China. Though we certainly saw glimpses of fear and grief for the first months, we now only see them from time to time. Emmie is such a funny, sweet, and affectionate girl. Sometimes I look at her and and just wonder what we ever did without her! She brings so much life to our family!

She has gone through so many changes in these last 6 months, as have the rest of our family members. She now is the “baby” and has two brothers, while Caleb and Noah are now both big brothers and have had to learn how sensitive and delicate (at times) a little sister can be.  For the most part the three of them have bonded and fit in together wonderfully, but there have been some very challenging times for all three as well. But through it all, when we look at them, we can’t help but feel that our family is complete, and has been totally woven together through God’s leading.

Since being home, Emmie has started preschool, probably one of the biggest challenges she has faced other than learning to trust her new family. She was very hesitant and resistant to the idea initially,  but thankfully, over the course of about 8 weeks, she slowly has transitioned into attending preschool 4 days a week, is making friends, and is learning so much.  It is a true praise to see her walk hand in hand with her brothers into school every morning.  She also loves her church family and friends and her Sunday School class. Again, this was a slow transition for Emmie, but she now tells me “bye”, gives me a kiss and off she goes!  Such a miracle!

Emmie’s English is also progressing quite well. She is quite a talker and is learning new words everyday. Her brothers have helped many people,  (including mom and dad) understand Emmie’s “Chenglish” as we call it. These days it is becoming much more like English that Chenglish.  Some of her favorite statements: “No more!”, “Okay, okay”, “I don’t know, maybe”, “It dark…goodnight?”, and my favorite, “I lub de too”  (I love you too).

As I am sure is the case for any other family of five, life with three kids is crazy! Most days are a whirlwind.  My house isn’t really clean that often, and laundry is a continuous process J But there are more laughs, tickles, chases, and hide n’ seek nights than ever before, and for that, we give God all the Praise.  We are learning to have a new sense of “normal” . Our desire is for our “normal” to be one that focuses on the joy we receive from being Children of God, one that cherishes each moment (despite if that moment may be changing two beds full of pee and doing laundry at midnight ;)  one that seeks to guide our children into the Truth of Jesus Christ, and one that above all else, is full of grace.

The last 6 months have been full of triumps,  as well as tough times- there is no way for me to cover them all in this post! The one thing I can say, today, without a doubt- I would do it all again. I look forward to each day. I am very blessed.  We give God all the Glory.

Through all the changes of learning to be a family of five, we have learned so much about what God desires for us as a family that seeks to follow Christ, especially how much grace Zack and I both need as parents! There are so many attributes of God that I am beyond thankful for, but the one that seems to be most prominent to me in this season life is God’s mercy He bestows, new (thankfully), with each morning.

Merry Christmas! Hopefully Emmie will get a chance to enjoy her first taste of sleigh riding and making snow angels this season….fingers crossed!

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness”

Lamentations 3:22-23


Monday, July 8, 2013

Three Weeks With Emmie

Three weeks with Emmie……

I actually had to look at the calendar today to make sure that I was counting correctly…..three weeks since we first met our daughter! Three weeks since we watched her lay in the floor and scream, cry, and kick at the thought of being with us. It truly does not seem as if three weeks could have already passed since that day.
There is  no way that we could have imagined the current state of our life with Emmie three weeks ago.  Three weeks ago we were just wondering how to get through each minute with her, let alone hours, days or weeks. Three weeks ago we were laying on our bed in a hotel room in Nanningpraying for wisdom as Emmie had cried herself to sleep in front of our hotel door- this was the farthest she could get away from us. She would not allow us to provide any consolation or to even approach her.  

God has shown us what we thought was impossible is actually possible in a shorter amount of time than we ever thought possible! Here are just a few “impossible” things we have experienced in our short three weeks with Emmie:

-Emmie wants to be carried by “mama” several times each day!

-Emmie wakes up smiling and giggling

-Emmie is beginning to let “baba” and mama give her kisses and will even give us kisses (sometimes)

-Emmie loves her brothers to pieces, but they love her even more!

-Emmie is beginning to sit with us during storytime and is allowing us to read to her

-Emmie is beginning to be able to go into public places without any major “meltdowns"

-Emmie is telling us “good night” in English as bedtime (most of the time….we still have a couple tears some nights)

Yesterday a friend who is also in the adoption process and whom has already experienced much heartache while she and her family wait for their precious daughter posted this on her Facebook page: God often waits until conditions appear impossible in order to remind us that nothing is impossible for Him- Dr. Tj Betts
For our family, this sums up our adoption experience not only with Emmie’s adoption, but also with Caleb and Noah’s adoption, albeit in different ways. God brings us to a place where we can only exist in and through Him. Where each hour of each day we must seek Him to continue to press on. Somehow I think that this must be how God desires for our entire lives to be. Not that he wants us to experience constant hardships, but rather that no matter what we are experiencing, valleys or mountain tops, we experience it with Him as the Lord of our lives.

I will end this post with two pictures. The first is Emmie the first day we met her, after she had cried herself to sleep by our motel door. The second is Emmie tonight, sleeping peacefully in her own bed, in her own room. She went to bed tonight willingly and with no tears. As I left her room, she said in her very best English/Chinese, “Good night. Love you”.

I know that in the big scheme of things, we still have many issues to work on. I know there will be more sleepless nights, more breakdowns in public , more attachment issues- I know that, and we are continuing to grow, pray and learn. But for now, for three weeks with our girl, we are feeling pretty blessed. We are in a good place. God has done great things in all our lives and hearts. Grace has been shown mightily to us.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Untold Story of My Experience in a Chinese Hospital.....

On our second day in Nanning, the second day Emmie was with us,  we had an unexpected turn of events- I got to experience Chinese healthcare up close and personal!
That Tuesday around noon I began having some discomfort when I went to the bathroom (number  1). By the evening, there was blood in my urine, and I knew that I needed to seek medical treatment. Because it was evening time and most doctor offices were closed, our guide suggested that we go to the emergency room. Emmie was already asleep, so I left Zack with her, and I and the other adoptive mother from our travel group went  with our guide to the hospital. It was only about a ten minute taxi ride to the hospital. When we walked into the hospital, it was like nothing else I had seen before. There were people everywhere, children crying and screaming. Basically chaos! There also many different stations and I would have had no idea where to go first! The first station we went to was registration. The registration consisted of me giving them my name, birthdate and age. That is it. No medical history, no allergic reactions, nothing! After they got my name and birthdate, they gave me a little booklet with my  info in it, and a card, similar to a credit card. The guide then explained to me that my name would be up on the computer screen in a few minutes and would tell us what room we would go into to see the doctor. In the mean time I went over to the “nurses station” where they took my temperature and bloodpressure. We then stood and waited.
In a few minutes I saw “R. Caldwell” come up on the board, in the midst of all the Chinese names- it was pretty funny. Our guide showed us the room that we needed to go in and we waited in line outside the door. We went into the room which was a dimly lit room, and consisted of only a few cabinets and a desk with a computer.  The walls were dirty, there was no sink or examination table.  The doctor was sitting by a computer, and the guide told him my symptoms. He wrote something down in my book, and then typed some things into the computer. The guide said I would need to do a urine test. We had to walk to the other side of the hospital through what they call the “infusion ward”. This was a huge room with people sitting in chairs, side by side, with IV bags hanging. No privacy! Right beside this room was a long table with nurses on one side and patients on the other- the nurses were putting in IV’s as fast as they could. Again, no privacy! I thought to myself, “Glad I won’t be here!” Little did I know!!!
We had to stand in line to get a urine sample cup. The cup was about as big as the cups we use at home to measure the boys medicine.  I went to the restroom, which to my dismay was very dirty, smelly, and consisted only of squatty potties. I filled the cup up, and it did not look good- almost totally red in color. I was thankful we had chosen to come to the hospital that night instead of waiting until the morning.
I carried the sample outside the bathroom to the sink and was shocked to see NO SOAP! In a hospital! Then get this- We had to carry the sample outside the hospital, into another building, up to the third story- it was a crazy long way to carry a urine sample! We then waited for thirty minutes on the results. The card they gave us is what we used to check the results. There were computer terminals in the hospital where you swipe the card. We swiped the card and a small report printed out- of course I had no idea what is said, because it was in Chinese.  We took the report back outside and into the hospital to the doctor we I saw previously. The doctor then said (through our guide, who was interpreting) I would need oral antibiotics and 3 injections. I thought that "injections" meant a shot,  so I was okay with that, though I asked if I could just do the oral meds. The doctor said no. So, I agreed. Didn’t have much of a choice! I then learned that “injections” in China mean IV’s in America!
Before heading to the transfusion ward, we had to visit the pharmacy to get the oral medication and the medicine they would put in the IV- again, very different from the US. Also, we had to pay for everything before anything would be done- registration, doctor visit, urine test, IV, etc. and show the receipt to whomever we visited.
 The "infusion ward"  was extremely busy, with crying children and adults sitting and standing everywhere.  Our guide took care of standing in line for me, as the procedure is to wait in line, give the nurse the medicine, then they mix it and call you back up. We waited about twenty minutes, and I was called back up. I admit, I was nervous. Our guide had told us that no one in the hospital spoke any English, but as I sat down for my IV, the nurse asked me what my name was. She did a very good job of putting in the IV. I told her that she was very good- I barely felt anything, and she replied “Thank you”. The IV bag took about 40 minutes to completely infuse.  After it was empty, you push a button on your chair, and a nurse comes over and takes out the IV- no gloves! Oh well. We left as soon as they took it out. We got back to the motel after midnight! To say that I was ready for bed that night would be an understatement. Thankfully Emmie had slept the entire time, and would sleep all night through! A huge blessing.
The next two days I visited the hospital again for my other IV's. It was a much simpler process as each time I only had to stand in line to have the medication mixed, have the IV put in, and then wait in the infusion ward. Below are some pictures of my experience. What memories! Though there are many issues and problems with our healthcare system in the USA, this experience made me thankful for  many things about our healthcare. At the same time, it was very cheap for me to have medical care in China- only about $80 for everything- a doctor visit, 3 IV's and oral antibiotics. Hard to beat that, I guess. Even if you have to carry your urine quite a distance and there is no soap in the bathrooms :)