January 24th, 2012

China Post Twenty-Two -- The Hush That Comes After

The riot of life and color that was hundreds of orange trees, pointsetta, dragon fruit plants, and other dramatic red and green plants down at the market is all gone. Except for stalks of sugar cane and a few brightly colored gift baskets, nothing was there that had not been when we arrived.

This is our last night here in Guangzhou. Perhaps, my last post...depending upon what tomorrow brings. It is 4am here. Even the children who stay up until the wee hours are asleep...though I think I woke up the girl who was sleeping on the hard wood couch when I came out. The table is strewn with sunflower seed shells and empty soda bottles. (I caught my daughter drinking directly from the bottle last night. She shrugged and said that she could not find a cup.LOL)

What a wondrous, almost enchanted, two and a half weeks it has been. 

I am always fascinated by the march of time...the process of anticipating something, having it approach, actually experiencing it, and having it fall into the past always intrigues me. This time, somehow, more than most...as this has been such a big undertaking. I am overjoyed at how harmonious it has all been.

Tomorrow we work out how we are going to handle our bags...whether we buy two carry-ons and get our stuff on for free...or one larger bag and pay for it. I would rather the first. It might cost more bagwise...but then we would keep the bags. A fee paid to the airport is of no future use.

And...I need to get to the post office.

Then, we are off to Hong Kong. I've checked on the price of the tickets and put aside the requisite amount. We stay tomorrow at the same place we stayed when we came. Then we have to get to the airport early on Wednesday.

Wednesday will then be some 13 hours onger for us than tis the norm. God willing, we will arrive back in America Wednesday afternoon...and Ping-Ping goes back to school on Friday. (She is already anticipating this. She was doing her homework today, bless her.)

Our experience has been so full that I did not have much time for missing...I missed John when we saw interesting sights I would have liked to share with him, but other than that, while I thought and talked about him and the boys, I did not miss them...until tonight, when I suddenly started missing the boys, all three of them, but particularly Juss. I have some good ideas for the next couple of moderating classes with him and Orville...and I really hope Orville and I can get some work done on our Spore Christmas Carol program in the weeks to come. I miss the Cherubim, too.

I thought about the Cherubim a lot yesterday because the children at the school were taking pictures of things...using his camera. Two years ago, Ping-Ping sent her pink camera to Guang Huang Zen. But he didn't like pink, being a boy. It came back to her via another adopting family, filled with pictures of him. (My one regret on this trip, packing wise, is that I did not bring a photo of John and the boys. However, Ping-Ping's pink camera has one of the family we took with Ling Shan that we have to send her. I pulled it out a couple of times to show people and was puzzled at first as to who the small Chinese boy was in the early pictures...it was Guang Huang Zen two years ago, when he was still tiny!)

Back to the camera...Ping-Ping then sent Guang Huang Zen the Cherubim's dark teal colored camera...more appropriate for a boy...and the Cherubim--who occasionally is amused by things like taking 25 pictures of his foot in different settings (this really made him laugh) used my camera when he wanted one, until it broke.

Anyway, it was funny to see his camera here, being used by different children, none, I think, who knew that there was a boy on the other side of the ocean who had once owned it.

That's all for now. God bless.

Last Post From China

This will be my last chance to post before we leave this afternoon for Hong Kong. The girls have gone out to buy DVDs--Chinese movies or shows Ping-Ping wants to take home with her. I do not know how this will go. Nearly everything is closed. Chinese New Year is apparently a number of days long.

I went out to mail my post cards today and failed, due to the post office being shut, among other reasons. I am quite sad about this. I will leave them with Auntie. God willing, she will mail them. I really wish I had gotten them mailed last week...but I could not put across the urgency to my daughter. She kept saying, "Mail them back in America." The fact that my friends receiving them wanted Chinese post cards with Chinese stamps eluded her.

Her friends were worse. They told me to send emails. I should have asked YiYi for help. She would have gotten it done. 

The only other thing we don't have yet is the CD with the photos on it. But worst comes to worst, they can mail that. 

We also don't seem to have any way to eat today...other than piles of snacks that will soon go off to the school. Sigh. I should have asked Ping-Ping to arrange for us to eat at the school.

One thing was not closed today...apparently across the street is a huge Chinese supermarket...they sell everything groceries, but also clothes and books. This is very good, because they also sell luggage...otherwise, we would not have been able to buy new bags. They did not sell the cute Winny the Pooh carry on I fell in love with early on and nearly bought...though I saw it everywhere. But I did get a nice red bag that matches my big red L.L. Bean Duffle on wheels, that is my travel bag.

There are so many strange things I have not mentioned...weird stuff you see on the back of a bicycle. How all the stores were closed but there was a guy at the bottom of the stairs selling...god knows what. I think it was spotted eggs (duck maybe?) in rock salt, but it could have been black sesame buns in sugar or mushrooms on ice. He was gone later, replaced by a guy selling sets of three live crabs tied together. And on the way back from buying the bags, we passed a guy carrying his newly purchased live chicken by the feet as he walked along. 

You don't see that in Virginia.

I don't like the stairs here. They are too low, which makes my legs feel odd...but also too long, so when you try to take them two at a time--to make up for the lowness--it is awkward. But the wonderfulness of the food makes up for a lot!

I know China can be a scary place...but the police in town are very polite. The children are not scared of them, don' t even notice them. I thought this was noteworthy. I passed two today looking extremely handsome in their fur collared black coats. One looked at me with a brightness in his eye, and, for a moment, I felt nervous. Then, he gave me a big smile and cried out in English, "Happy New Year!"

A number of people said that to me today. Very nice of them!

I only ever got gawked at once, by one young woman in her twenties or so. Many people gave me very impassive looks, but if I smiled at them, 95% gave me a big smile in return. I notice that, already, they are not looking Chinese to me, so much as like people. If I stayed longer, I would probably forget that we were any different. I even was puzzled once--for just an instance--when someone knew to speak to me in English. LOL

It has been so strange to spent these days with no clock and no phone. There was a phone at first, but it soon became clear that it woudn't do me much good--no one called me except for John once a day the last few days (after I finally gave him the right dialing instructions.) So it became Ping-Ping's phone. She could call and text and was on it all the time. Some of the time, she was talking to Ling Shan.

Did I mention that Ling Shan's boyfriend proposed? Can't recall if I did.

Do you know what the strangest thing of all about this trip is: we came to China, we stayed here, we ate like kings, we had great fun, God willing, we will make it safely home and...

 I have not yet spent a single penny of my own money on this trip.

I will, in the long run. I owe the friend who bought our tickets for one of the two tickets. (He paid for Ping-Ping's and lent me money for mine.) And I should probably pay my mother back some of what she gave me. But...the rest, everything, was paid for by the generosity of friends--both in China and in the US, family, and John's readers...who covered Christmas, or the rest of our tickets and our Visa and our part of Ling Shan's ticket...depending on how you look at it.

Wow.

I seldom think of going back into the past, but I almost wish that I could have visited myself while I sat on the plane two and a quarter years ago, agonizing over what to say to my daughter about the vow she had taken to return to China and see her friends, and tell myself that not only was saying "yes" the right decision, but that the grace of God, through family and friends, was going to pay for the entire trip. 

It makes me cry to think about it.

If you are one of the people who helped us do this...God bless you!!!!

If not, God bless you for reading this and following our journey!