Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Fun in Guangzhou part 2 :)

Later in the afternoon we went with our group to a wholesale jewelry market. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before- floors and floors of jewelry booths- every kind of jewel and gem and stone you could imagine had to be under that roof! We didn't buy anything- just window shopped.

After the market we made a stop at Shaman Island. This is a beautiful area of Guangzhou that is usually not very crowded and has beautiful architecture. It also is a beautiful spot to take pictures and we saw many brides being photographed during our visit yesterday.  Eden seemed to really enjoy herself here, even interacting with the other children in our group and running and skipping. It was good to just see her be a kid and carefree even for just a few minutes. 

When we got back to the hotel, Eden was more than happy to take a bath while we waited on our food the guide ordered for us.....Papa Johns Pizza! I can't even tell you how excited I was to eat that pizza!! It wasn't exactly like home, but it was a wonderful treat and we had no leftovers ;)

Eden was so content during bath and bedtime- no tears, happy to look at books with us. It was a true blessing and a hallelujah moment! She was a little restless while trying to go to sleep and it took some time, but she eventually she went to sleep with no crying- unfortunately she rolled off the bed in the middle of the night and that was quite traumatic for her, but she was consoled and slept the rest of the night. Her restlessness remind me of when Emmie first came to us. She was very restless also and especially once home, it took several weeks for her to sleep through the night.

I was more concerned about Zack resting well last night, as his cough has not improved and even with the antibiotic he isn't feeling much better. Thankfully he slept well too :) 

We had to be up early this morning for our Consulate Appointment. We left the hotel at 7:30 to make sure we weren't late for our 8:30appointment. Sadly that meant no big breakfast....haha.

The Consulate is in a new location since our last trip- the building was very crowded and there was a line all the way around it. It was pretty chaotic getting to the right line, but our guide led us all the way and we ended up in the right room. I would have loved to have taken some pictures, but they don't allow pictures near the Consulate (we did take some pictures before however in our lobby :)

Once inside we were there for about an hour or a little more. Eden did great and even played with some other children in our group for a few minutes. We are so proud of her- she is being very brave :)

I believe that the consulate appointment is the last of our "official" appointments. Everything went well and we are now good to go! I wish that meant we could go home now, but we do have to wait for Eden's visa before we can leave the country, which is why we aren't leaving until Friday morning. While we are here we still plan to visit the local zoo, go on a river cruise, and maybe visit the park once more- hopefully that will keep us occupied :)

This afternoon was very hot once again. We tried the pool but Eden accidentally swallowed some water and after that she was done with the pool! Some of the families in our group went with our guide to a new park this afternoon. Though very hot, I am glad we went. It was very beautiful and it was good to get out of the hotel.  

We plan to spend the rest of our afternoon just hanging around the room and maybe trying the local noodle restaurant for dinner. Just taking it easy and spending time with Eden.

Before I go, I want to take time to thank four very, very special people- my parents and Zack's parents. They have taken amazing care of Noah, Caleb, and Emmie while we have been away. It is wonderful to not have to worry about them, along with everything else we are experiencing and feeling here:) of course we miss them like crazy, but we know they are being loved by wonderful grandparents....and for that we are so grateful. We love you Bobbi and Pap and Nanna and Papaw :) 

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Fun in Guangzhou :)

Yesterday was our best day since meeting Eden- so thankful to be able to say that!

She seemed more at ease with us yesterday, and there was only one brief moment when she seemed to be visibly grieving. I am sure she was and is still inwardly grieving, but outwardly things seems better. Praise the Lord! We know we still have a long way to go, but we are so thankful for each positive step along the way :)

We visited the park nearby our hotel yesterday during the morning hours. It was very hot and humid yesterday, and in no time we were all wet with sweat, but that didn't keep us from having a good time :) There is a small amusement park inside the park and we discovered that Eden likes to ride- the more adventurous rides seemed to be her favorites...so she will fit in well with our boys who love the scary rides!!! After the amusement park Eden took a nap and Zack and rested up as well. This was the first day that she took a nap at her regularly scheduled time (according to her nanny) and I do think it helped to set us up for success for the rest of the day.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A New City & Maybe a New Start?

Today marks our second full day in Guangzhou. I do love this city. Both today and yesterday, thought still marked with grieving moments, have been better for Eden. We are so thankful and feel encouraged. As always, Thank you for your prayers. One other prayer request and setback is that Zack's sinus/allergy issues have moved into his chest and he began to feel very achey and very fatigued this afternoon, along with a deep cough. He began an antibiotic today, so please pray that it will do the trick. He has done such a wonderful job with Eden and I can't imagine going through any of this without him. As you can tell from the pictures on Facebook, Eden is so fond of Zack, and for good reason- he is a wonderful husband and father, and he has been amazing with Eden.

Yesterday we had medical appointments for Eden and all the other children. She did very well, especially amidst a crowded room full of loud and crying children and nervous parents (we all were). Each child was first seen by a nurse that takes their basic measurements, then an ENT evaluates them, and then finally a general pediatrician does a complete physical. We went with Eden to each evaluation and she did very well. She even allowed me to hold for her a little while, which thrilled my soul! She still strongly prefers Zack, but I will take whatever I can get! The most difficult part of the exam comes at the end when they draw blood- the nurse takes the children alone into a room and it doesn't last long, but it's very scary for the children and hard to not be with them during such a frightening ordeal. Eden came back crying, but she did at least come to Zack for consolation.

After the medical appointment our guide took us to Wal-Mart (yes, another trip ;) to pick up any supplies we might need while in Guangzhou for the week. We have learned that Eden loves pistachios and peanuts, so we picked up some of those, along with some fruit, which Eden also loves- she is a very healthy eater :) The Wal-Mart in Guangzhou is much nicer than the one in Guiyang- still underground but much more calm and cool.

Eden took a nap on the bus and during part of our Wal-Mart trip- it was a much needed nap as we didn't get much sleep the night before because of our late arrival, and we had to leave the hotel at 8:30am for the medical appointment.

When we got back to the hotel, we finally had a chance to let Eden explore our amazing hotel- it is the same one we stayed at during our trip with Emmie. This hotel is a huge part of what makes the stay in Guangzhou so nice!! There is an indoor and outdoor playground, a pool, Starbucks, and lots of shops to browse through with the stroller. There is also a beautiful park not far from the hotel and it's super close to the subway, so it's easy to get around the city.

We explored the hotel and we found the pool. Eden seemed pretty interested, so we went back to the room to change into our swimsuits. Back at the pool, she was a little hesitant to get in the water, but after Zack and I showed her how much fun it could be, she sat down on the side of the pool and slid right in :) Our kids all love the water, so it was exciting to see that she seemed to like it as well.

After the pool we relaxed in our room, then we went to dinner with some of the other families to a local noodle restaurant. On the way to dinner Eden fell asleep on her stroller, and we had to wake her up to eat- I think she was just exhausted from the day and didn't want to wake up- and on top of that she began to grieve again, so Zack and I took turns eating as our food had already been served. The other took Eden outside and tried to console her. We ate as fast as we could and went back to the hotel.

She had almost calmed down by the time we got back, and a nice warm bath seemed to calm her down even more. She was a little restless at bedtime but no tears and she slept well. Overall, a better day for her than the day before.

This morning we didn't have to leave until 9:30 for some sightseeing, so we were able to sleep in and take our time at the wonderful breakfast in our hotel- think Shoney's or Frisch's breakfast buffet but only on steroids and with a Chinese twist :) Let's just say it's amazing and you could easily over do it without some self control :)

This morning we went to a local museum and also a local store that sells traditional Chinese art, tea, dresses, etc. we had a tea tasting experience and the tea was amazing! It was very hot and humid in Guangzhou today, but even still the hot tea was refreshing. For lunch we took some noodles and beans to go from a local restaurant and ate them in the hotel room- very yummy!!

We played for a long time in our room this afternoon as it was rainy and stormy here. I was a little nervous about how this would go as Eden hasn't been able to tolerate being in our hotel room for long periods of time, but she did well. We went for a stroller ride outside when the rain quit, and again she fell asleep- a double edged sword as she needed the rest but waking up from nap time has been difficult for Eden. Zack and I are partly to blame as we are still trying to figure out her nap times and the timing- it has been quite a while since we have had nap times and we are a little rusty :) It was tough for her for a little while, but we headed on over to McDonalds and a Happy Meal and some weird tasting green tea ice cream seemed to do the trick :) She allowed Zack and I to feed her and laughed with us and smiled a lot. Very thankful for times like these :)

Once we got back to the hotel she became very serious and it wasn't long before the grieving began. I would say this time it lasted around an hour, but the wonderful thing was that she allowed us to hold her the entire time, and even thought it didn't stop the crying or sadness, she didn't reject us, and we are thankful for that. I think that we have accepted the fact that she may grieve everyday for some time. It of course still saddens us greatly, but I think we feel comfortable with it and are okay with the fact that we can't make it better right now...if that makes sense. We can just continue to love her and provide safety and security for her.

It is now bedtime and Eden is resting quietly. A few funny things I want to share about this sweet girl- she came to us on her Gotcha Day with a backpack with Pleasant Goat on it- a very popular kids cartoon here in China. The backpack had the things we sent Eden in her care package inside. We also brought a backpack with us that was given to us as a shower gift and was filled with lots of fun toys and snacks for Eden. We brought this with us on Gotcha Day. Eden didn't want much to do with it that day, but ever since, she won't let either backpack out of her sight! Anytime we go anywhere she has one backpack on her back and the other in her hand! They are definitely a security "blanket" of sorts for her. She also puts her most prized possessions in her backpacks and gets very upset if you try to remove them, even if it just to try and play with the items. Bottom line- don't mess with Eden's backpacks :)

We also found a new favorite fruit of Eden's today. It's called dragon fruit. We passed by some today in the tea store and she went crazy pointing and moaning! We are all about doing whatever we can to please her right now (remember we are in survival mode :) and so we bought a bag for her. The fruit itself tastes like a sweet raisin or fig. Eating them is quite an adventure. I posted a video on Facebook where Eden displays how to do it :)

Goodnight from Guangzhou! And Happy Memorial Day!!

She also loves
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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Days 3 & 4 with Eden...

Yesterday (Thursday) and today (Friday) seemed especially tough for Eden. It seemed as though she would go through cycles of grief- an hour of happiness, an hour of being restless, and then an hour of grieving. Nothing seemed to trigger the grief but grief itself. It is very difficult to see Eden grieve so strongly. She cries for the same people and looks longingly out the window, or if we are out of our hotel, cries and can't be comforted by either myself or Zack, though she does favor Zack much more than me at this point. She does allow me to help her, but does not like for me to help. 

 Only time brings the grieving moment to an end, and we know that only time and consistent care will help the long term grief as well. As it is, we feel as though we are just surviving in a way, until we can go home and begin to help Eden establish her new normal. 

Yesterday and today were rainy in Guiyang. We walked around the city and visited a couple of city parks- a park in Guiyang is the equivalent to a large open space with lots of concrete, beautiful landscaping with flowers and trees, but no grassy areas. Many times you will find people doing traditional Chinese dances or some form of Martial Arts, or men playing a game where they use a whip and hit a giant top over and over again to keep it spinning. When the whip hits the top it makes a very loud popping noise, almost like fire crackers exploding! Very interesting the parks in Guiyang. Eden enjoys taking in the scenes at the parks and being able to run around in an open space. 

We also made a trip to Wal- Mart yesterday. It was our fourth trip so we knew the route well, but we decided to take an alternate route from where we were in town. Well, that didn't end up going as planned, and it took quite a bit longer than usual to get to Wal-Mart. By the time we got there, Eden was literally pulling down her pants because she needed to go pee-pee.  We looked for bathrooms in the park above Wal-Mart (yes, Wal-Mart is under ground...and that is just one way that it is drastically different from USA stores) but had no luck, so we raced down into Wal-Mart and looked for bathrooms near the customer service area at the front of the store- again no luck. We tried asking everyone- police, store workers, but no one could understand! We raced through the store with Eden in her stroller looking everywhere for a restroom. We stopped in the baby/children's area and asked the workers there if they could help us find a restroom. Picture two lone white people, in a store full of Chinese people, basically doing charades for "pee-pee", and anything else we could do to help them understand we needed a bathroom and quick! They were very kind but kept leading us to panties, training potties, but not to a real restroom. We finally gave up and went back to the front of the store, knowing there had to be a restroom there somewhere. I thankfully caught a toilet picture out of the corner of my eye and raced to it. It was a nasty squatty potty, but I had never been so happy to see one! 
Eden was a trooper and made it without having an accident! We rewarded her for putting up with our craziness with a ice cream sundae:) 

The rest of the afternoon we hung around our hotel and went with one of the other families to KFC and to the park nearby. Eden had some grieving moments while we were out and then once we returned to our hotel, she was very upset. I imagine that she thinks our hotel is her home at this point, and I can't blame her for being upset about that. I truly think the best thing for Eden will be to meet her new family in South Carolina and experience her new home and life there.

Today is the day we are finally able to head to Guangzhou! This morning we had some fun times with Eden but she still went through the cycles I mentioned earlier- she has fun and laughs and smiles with us, then she becomes sullen, then she grieves. It is so hard. I have felt like most of the day today Eden has just been miserable with us. We are just continually trying to show her love, encouragement and meeting her needs, despite the reaction she gives us. 

Once we made it to the airport we were hoping she would really like the airport, seeing the airplanes, and finally getting to ride in an airplane, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. 

We arrived at the airport at around 3pm, as our flight was to leave at 5:10. Eden wasn't impressed with the airport and the sights there, as I am sure to her it just seemed like more of the same. We did have fun riding up and down the escalators and playing in the small kids area, but grief seemed to overtake Eden every few minutes. To make matters worse, our flight, or at least boarding it, ended up being delayed about two hours. By the time we got in the plane it was 7pm, Eden was crying and lots of Chinese people were staring at us. Then came the announcement from the pilot that our flight wouldn't actually be able to leave until 8pm- so that meant one hour in the plane not going anywhere with a crying child that we couldn't console no matter how hard we tried. This was not an ideal scenario :)

I truly know that it was out of the kindness of their hearts that the Chinese ladies around us tried to help, and it was a crisis type moment, but the worse possible thing for bonding happened- a sweet lady sitting beside us reached for Eden speaking soothing Chinese words to her and of course, Eden accepted. Both Zack and I knew this was not good for our relationship with Eden- it's textbook to not let anyone else comfort, feed, and care for your newly adopted child but the new parents, as bonding occurs through the child realizing that her new parents are meeting her needs. It may appear rude to others, but it is essential. 

In this moment, with Eden screaming to the top of her lungs and everyone realizing we were stuck on the plane for an hour without going anywhere, the Chinese lady prevailed. As I type this on my phone, I have calmed down quite a bit, but watching a stranger ( even with wonderful intentions) feed, laugh, entertain, and even put to sleep my daughter on the airplane was very difficult. Perhaps what was even more difficult was watching Eden scream and resist leaving this stranger, and realizing that Eden has not really learned to trust Zack or I quite yet. 

When we finally landed the struggle to take Eden from the lady didn't last too long, but of course she cried and screamed, but thankfully did go back to sleep fairly quickly once we were off the plane and we laid her in her stroller. 

We ended up arriving at our hotel at around 11 that evening- we were planning on getting here closer to 7pm...It was a long day, but I am thankful we all made it safely and we are all healthy and can hopefully start anew tomorrow morning.

Speaking of "morning" One of my favorite scriptures says this: 

Lamentations 3:22-23English Standard Version (ESV)

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

So thankful that each morning we have new mercy and can depend on the unfailing love of our Savior, no matter how difficult our days may be sometimes. 

Having said all that I said in this post, holding sweet Eden while she slept on the van ride to our hotel reminded me of why we are doing what we are doing and how precious she is to us and our Creator. I also remembered holding another little girl who was dealing with the same grief issues 3 years ago, and wondering if our lives would ever be the same. 

Thankfully, they never were. We are so, so much better with Emmie in our life, and I can't wait to experience that same joy for Eden, the joy that comes when God begins to turn beauty into ashes in all hearts involved, and gives us the perseverance to continue on.

Thank you for continuing to pray for our family. We are so honored and encouraged to know that we are being lifted up to the one that makes all things new. 

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Two Full Days With Eden

We have now had two full days with Eden and we are working on finishing day three. Tomorrow afternoon we will fly to Guangzhou, something I think all the families in our travel group are looking forward to. Though it has been great to take in Eden's province, I think the change of scenery almost symbolizes a new beginning for us and Eden- it seemed that way for Emmie as well on the last trip. And it doesn't hurt the hotel in Guangzhou has a pool, there is a nice zoo and park in Guangzhou, and it's a much more international city :)

The beginning of Eden's first full day with us (which was Tuesday) started off pretty tough. Though she did sleep all night, she awoke crying and screaming and continued to do so off and on for a couple hours. I let Zack go on to breakfast and I stayed in the room with Eden, as we didn't think it would be feasible to take her crying and screaming to the hotel restaurant. You could tell she was just still so sad, and nothing we did would console her. I just prayed constantly and I knew this could be a tough next few days. However, I also knew there are so many people praying at home, and that was, and is, such an encouragement to us, and we know it has helped all of us in amazing ways.

When Zack returned from breakfast, Eden had calmed down a bit, and we decided to just all go to breakfast and see how it might go. Eden had not had anything more than a fruit snack and a few sips of water for over 12 hours, so we were really praying she would want to eat something.

We got on the elevator and off on the hotel restaurant floor with no tears....miracle #1! We went in and I held her and pointed at things to see what she might like to eat. Then we sat down and she took a few bites of food from us....miracle #2! Zack and I were both praising God for this progress! We never dreamed this would happen after the morning we had.

After breakfast we had to get in the van and travel to the same building in which we had just met Eden the day before. I was extremely nervous that this place would trigger some very bad memories for Eden. As we rode the elevator up and walked in the room, I couldn't believe my eyes...one of the ladies from Eden's orphanage was there!! I just knew this would trigger another grief reaction and I so worried that all the progress we had made thus far would be undone. Amazingly, Eden walked up to her, she spoke something to Eden, and that was it. Eden walked back to me! Major miracle #3!!! Zack and I were both so encouraged by her non-reaction to seeing this familiar lady.

The rest of the afternoon we just kind of hung out with her. Eden did well, and had a little rough time at bedtime that night, and also awoke a few times through the night, but was fairly consolable every time. All of this is to be expected, and overall, we were just amazed with the progress she made on her first full day with us. Thanks be to God and thanks for all those prayers!

Wednesday Eden awoke with no tears...miracle #4! We had a fun time interacting and playing in our room before breakfast. One thing you learn as an adoptive parent is that one of the best ways to bond is through play, so we have played as much as we can. Eden seems to be curious about many things, so one toy doesn't keep her interest too long :) She again ate a good breakfast and did well most of the morning.

We made a very cool visit to the Buddhist Monastery in Guiyang after breakfast. As cool as it was to see the architecture, the culture, etc., it also brought a deep sadness to my heart to realize that such a great spiritual darkness exists among the people of China. We saw many people bringing offerings to place before the giant gold Buddha statue, and others praying and lighting incense to the idols. I pray that their hearts will
Be awakened to the one true sacrifice made for them, and I am so thankful that Eden will have the chance to hear about that great love.

Our trip to the Monastery was followed by lunch at a very popular noodle restaurant. I didn't add all the options presented (raw fish, raw egg, weird mushrooms) to my noodle soup, but it looked interesting :) I just stuck with the broth, noodles, and some lettuce.

After lunch Eden had a difficult afternoon- I think most of it was due to exhaustion, but she began rejecting me and only allowing Zack to soothe her and help her. That's tough when that happens, but it isn't uncommon. I had s few tears in the bathroom and then reminded myself of all that she must be going through. I am truly just thankful that she is allowing either of us to help her. Bedtime was also pretty rough, but she allowed Zack to comfort her and she did sleep all night long....and no tears this morning!

Each day we see progress, more smiles, more eye contact, and more bonding is happening. It's an amazing thing to see happen and a beautiful picture of how love can change hearts- Eden's and ours! It's like a marathon in a way- it takes a lot of endurance, but there is an end in sight in terms of the intensity of the grief, and the end is worth the struggle :) It is sooo worth it.

Of course we have a long way to go, especially once we are home in America, but we are thankful for each little victory along the way.

Time to put Eden to bed, so that's all for now. I will update on our last two days in Guiyang tomorrow. Goodnight from China!

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Gotcha Day - story

Wow what a couple of days! I am again typing on my IPhone email, so excuse any typos and if I don't go into great detail...

Yesterday was Gotcha Day for us and Eden and the rest of the families here with us- I woke up with butterflies in my tummy because you never quite know to expect- logistically (will she already be at the place we are meeting her or we will arrive and wait on her?) or emotionally (how will she react, how will we react?) and you realize your life is about to change forever....it's a whole lot to take in, and of course we know that since we have done this three other times...but still, all the nerves and racing thoughts are there every-time!!

We met Eden in a very large and nice government building on the 20 something floor. She was already there, along with her nannies/orphanage workers. She initially walked right over to us (as you can see from the video on Facebook) and seemed like she was going to be calm- but as time went on the tears started flowing big time. She didn't hit or kick or spit like Emmie did, but she didn't want to be with us and was just grieving so hard- crying and crying. You could tell she was trying to be brave as her nanny would point to us and tell her that we were her mama and baba, but it was just too much for her. Even through the tears she let us embrace her, which we felt was a huge step in the right direction. I just held her and patted her back gently trying to console her. The paperwork that had to be completed took a while, and I just remember thinking "could we please leave?"And of course the orphanage workers mean well, but they stayed the entire time which certainly didn't make things any better.

She had calmed down somewhat when we got in the van and she sat in my lap- the traffic was horrible and it took us almost an hour to make it back to the hotel- Eden fell asleep which was both good and bad- good because I knew she was emotionally exhausted. Bad because I knew she would be so disoriented when she woke up in a hotel room. Well, all "you know what" broke loose when she woke up- loud and violent screaming and banging the floor, etc. She ran to the window, the door, wherever she could to escape. It was very reminiscent to how Emmie reacted. We decided to not leave our hotel room with Emmie so this time around we thought we might try something different and venture out, as the one thing she wanted was to leave that room, and the other couples were going to dinner with their babies, so we thought we would try to also....that lasted until we sat down in the restaurant and they asked us to leave or at least go somewhere else because of Eden's crying :) So we left and ordered room service.

Eden refused to eat or drink and I was getting a little concerned as I knew a hungry and weak child would only add to the difficulty of the grief she was experiencing. We decided to turn on the tv and see if a familiar cartoon would help soothe her, as nothing else seemed to be helping. She refused to play, eat, drink, or anything else. Believe it or not, that did help to calm her, and after Zack and I finished eating, he went on a quick Wal-Mart run with the other dads, thinking maybe some familiar formula she had been used to drinking might do the trick. I got her ready for bed ( which I was very nervous about and totally unsure how it would go) and went through the same routine we go through at home- brush teeth, story time, prayers....amazingly she let me hold her in my lap and read to her- she held her two favorite animals the entire time :) Then I just laid her down with her animals and blanket we brought, laid down beside her, and off to sleep she went....for the entire night!

You have no idea how thankful we are for that because we were exhausted in every way. I have to say, there is nothing quite like being in another country where hardly anything is familiar and meeting your child who is also unfamiliar in basically every way. I think you experience about every emotion possible all in one day, and I can only imagine what her little heart and mind and must have been feeling. It is a helpless feeling to watch your child grieve and to not be able to comfort them. It is just draining.

We have no doubt that what gets us through are the prayers of God's people and the Holy Spirit living in us and giving us strength and grace. You will never know how much your prayers have meant and how seeing those comments on Facebook encourage us. Please keep them coming!

I would love to talk about our day today, as we have seen some awesome progress with Eden, thanks be to God, but I am just spent and ready for bed :) So I will try and work on that in the morning. Goodnight and keep praying!!

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Gotcha Day

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hoping this will work- I am having trouble accessing my blog from China-

Anyway, this is the start of our 4th full day in China- we arrived around 9pm Thursday night in Hong Kong, found a shuttle to our hotel and had no trouble going to sleep after around 30 hours of traveling :)

We awoke to a very windy and rainy Hong Kong morning, but were excited to explore the city nonetheless. After grabbing a quick bite of breakfast at McDonalds, we took a high speed train into the center of the city. Our goal (one of them) was to visit Victoria Peak, a beautiful lookout spot which provides beautiful views of the city.

When we arrived to the central terminal, the directions were fairly clear as to how to get there- we hopped on a double decker bus and that was it!

The bus ride in itself was quite an adventure. We sat on the top in the front row, and had an awesome panoramic view of the city. It was about a 30 minute twist turvy ride up the mountain- one that was exciting and a little scary as there was nothing separating us and our bus falling down the mountain except the skill of the driver- no wall, no fence- nothing! Once at the top we walked around a Shopping mall and went out on the observation deck. The view, though cloudy and foggy, was still amazing! We rode a tram down the mountain which was wasn't nearly as scary....

We "landed" near a beautiful botanical garden and were able to explore it for about 15 minutes before the heavy rains came- we found shelter under a gazebo and waited out the rain, then we went to find a place to eat lunch. It was tough to pick a spot because there were so many choices, but we found a little pub with an interesting menu and it was pretty good (we knew we would have plenty of opportunities for Chinese food the remainder of our trip, so we opted for more Western food this time).

After lunch we explored the waterfront portion of the city, and took a ferry ride to a small island. It was very quaint and had a small beach. From there we took our bus back to our hotel, got cleaned up (we were a mess from all the rain) and had dinner at the mall attached to our hotel.

Hong Kong is a magnificent city, clean, beautiful and very international. There is so much to do there and it is all very accessible- we would love to come back sometime for a visit as one day doesn't begin to give you enough time to explore! We were very impressed with the time we did have, however :)

We flew to Eden's city, Guiyang, Saturday morning. It was a two hour flight from Hong Kong. This was our 4th flight of the trip- so we are halfway through our flights- we have 4 more to go before making it home (but honestly, I am done with flying already) :)

The topography here is very mountainous. The temperature is pleasant, around 70, and so far it has been very cloudy with rain off and on. The city is the Capitol of the Guizhou province, and there are about 5 million people in this city. Despite the large number of people, it is not an extremely international city- before our other travel group members arrived, we were the only Americans/non-Asian people we saw and no one speaks English :) Zack and I explored a little on our own Saturday and it was quite interesting- parts of the city seem very poor, and parts seem thriving. They are in the process of building a subway here, so lots of construction. We are dinner at a beautiful restaurant but no one spoke English so ordering was a challenge :) we pointed at pictures but really didn't know what we were pointing at! We ended up with some very, very spicy food and bony chicken! We made the best of it....but weren't able to clean our plates :)

Yesterday the rest of our group arrived which was wonderful! They are super sweet couples and we are very thankful to be sharing this experience with them.

Yesterday we had lunch and dinner with them (our guide also came to lunch so that helped with ordering) the went to Walmart (will have to post more about that later- what an experience) and had a good time getting to know one another. It instantly made things better having them here.

Today is the big day! This afternoon at around 2:30 (so while everyone in the USA is sleeping) we will meet Eden. I have decided that no matter how many times you do this, the nerves, excitement, fear, and the sheer unknown are still the same. We have no idea what her reaction will be to us, though we feel like we have been prepared for the worst thanks to Emmie's reaction to us three years ago- and I mean that in a good way :) If it goes smoother than that, it will be a pleasant surprise :)

I am so excited just to meet her- to see her sweet face in person, to watch her expressions, to see what makes her smile, laugh, etc, and to probably learn what makes her cry as well :) We have our room all ready with her toys, stuffed animals, and her backpack is packed with goodies that will hopefully assist in making our first meeting as smooth as possible (i.e. candy, treats, toys :) The other children being adopted by the families with us are right around 2, so they are all close in age and I feel this will be a fun and helpful thing for all the girls (yes, they are all girls)!

We know countless people have been praying for us since the moment we left Charleston, and we can't thank you enough for all of those prayers. They bring us great comfort in a foreign land, and especially on such a life changing day as today will be! No matter what happens these next few days we pray God will receive the glory and that our story will point to Him.

I would love to type more but as I am doing this on my IPhone, this is all I can take!

Our specific prayer requests are of course for Eden, and for her little heart to understand that we love her and are here to be her mom and dad forever, that she won't be afraid of us and that she will be able to feel safe with us, rest with us, and enjoy her time with us. Please also pray for the other two precious families and their babies. Please also pray for good health while we are away- we had an early scare with Zack and some respiratory issues on Saturday but thankfully we used the medicine my mother in law sent and God seems to have healed him! I have been fine other than some dizziness that I attribute to being older and not being able to handle all this traveling and time changes and new smells and tastes :)

A huge thanks to my inlaws and parents for taking such wonderful care of our kiddos. Though we miss them terribly we have the assurance of knowing they are in such good hands :)

That's all for now- the next time we update we will have Eden!

Sent from my iPhone