Wrapping up in Guangzhou

Noah and Rachel figuring out double pedaling technique on the paddle boats

Noah and Rachel figuring out double pedaling technique on the paddle boats

Sometimes even when the signs are translated it's not much of a help

Sometimes even when the signs are translated it’s not much of a help

Noah's first time in a pool

Noah’s first time in a pool

Doing another statue on Shamian Island - apparently Nathan is falling behind

Doing another statue on Shamian Island – apparently Nathan is falling behind

Gorgeous Shamian Island

Gorgeous Shamian Island

The family at Pearl River

The family at Pearl River

Attending Palm Sunday service at Shamian Christian Church

Attending Palm Sunday service at Shamian Christian Church

Kirk Cameron is everywhere!

Kirk Cameron is everywhere!

Just a cool shot - that's one intense bear!

Just a cool shot – that’s one intense bear!

The reason we braved the Safari Park in the rain

The reason we braved the Safari Park in the rain

One of the many white tigers - some of the few left in the world

One of the many white tigers – some of the few left in the world

Well, it’s hard to believe, but we’re almost done with our time here in Guangzhou. This was our longest stop of the trip and since we’re here for the completion of all the official steps that need to be taken in China, we haven’t been seeing many big sites, but it’s still been plenty for us. The whole family is getting tired and we’re ready to come home soon.

We got so many messages after my last post from people letting us know that they are praying for Noah and his homesickness, and I just thank you all so much! We can feel it. Absolutely. I just keep thinking that there’s no way this trip would be going the way it has been without all that prayer and the hand of God on Noah. Noah may not know it yet, but God has great plans for him!

I wrote last time about Friday night and Noah’s grief about his foster family. After that terrible dinner, he cried himself to sleep. It really was a pretty devastating night for me – it’s so hard to watch a child who never asked for any of this or did anything to deserve it go through such grief. We know he has no future in China. He will not get the medical care he needs here, and his foster parents are older and are not allowed to keep him by law after he turns 14 anyway. Our adopting him is his best chance for a full life. But it just breaks my heart that this is the best that it can be for him because this is so hard. The world is so broken from sin, and I hate the pain that goes along with that – I long for the coming of Christ.

But today, we have blessings. When I was first praying about Noah way back at the beginning, and I was so scared of his medical condition, the one thing I kept feeling the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart was, “Don’t say no to a blessing.” And you know what? I already know Noah will be a blessing. The lessons we are learning from this are blessings. Seeing God provide for what we need, watching Him smooth the way, and feeling His love while we’re doing it are blessings.

The last three days have been blessings. Noah seems more comfortable, and he hasn’t had the same intensity of grief although I know it will surely come again, as all grief does. But now, Noah is having fun, and he’s having a lot of new experiences!

As I said, Friday was tough. And we had to wait in our hotel on Saturday until almost one in the afternoon until we got the all clear on Noah’s TB test just in case there was a problem and we had to go back for x-rays. So we just bummed around in the room and played cards and games and had a very low key morning. It’s been raining the entire time we’ve been here.

By the afternoon, I was feeling pretty stir crazy. I love my family, but 6 people in one hotel room for an entire day was not going to happen if I had a vote. We decided to walk across the street to a park and see what we could find. Noah did not want to go at all, but we talked him into it and he went very reluctantly. When we got there, the first thing we saw were paddle boats. We asked if he wanted to go, and he looked amazed. I don’t think he had any idea what they were.

Later, we found out through our translator that he was worried we would sink (the paddle boats did look about as old as the Terracotta Warriors, I have to say), but he thought it was hilarious that you could move a boat with bike pedals! He actually went a little nuts. He never wanted to stop pedaling or take a break, and it was almost a problem because he really doesn’t have any stamina. But looking at his face and hearing him giggle, that was totally worth it! It started raining really hard while we were on the boat which he thought was doubly funny and it got so misty we had a hard time even seeing the dock. We returned the boat and ended up having to just go home because we forgot our umbrellas, but that was fine with Noah – he’d already done the coolest thing in the park.

When we got back, of course it stopped raining. Our other kids were really hoping to go to the pool, but every time we’ve asked Noah if he wants to go swimming, he answers, “No! No swimming! I no swimming!” The whole time we’ve been here, I’ve only seen people swimming laps. We finally wondered if he thought he had to be able to swim laps or something, so we told him it was shallow and we were just going to play in the water, not swim. He looked amazed again and then shouted, “Let’s go!”

We realized later he’d never been in a pool. He’s never ridden a bike either (or a subway, or a plane until last week, or apparently a paddle boat), but that’s a different post. He got in and immediately tried to swim like Toby and swallowed a bunch of water and it almost killed it right there. But then Nathan said, “Monkey!” and he got on Nathan’s back. We were throwing a koosh ball, and I don’t think Noah’s ever had that much fun. He never stopped laughing or yelling “Rinnah! Rachel! Toby!” telling everyone who they should throw to next or who he was throwing to. It was quite a transformation.

The next day we went to Shamian Island to go to the only English/Mandarin language service in Guangzhou. We all think it should be called the Mandarin-with-a-little-English-thrown-in service but we’re still so glad we went. It’s so moving for me when I hear people worshiping God in different languages in different countries – it makes me think of heaven. The minute they started singing I started crying. Christianity costs people something here. It’s not an easy thing to be a Christian, and it moves me.

After church we stopped at the tiny Christian bookstore there to get Noah a Mandarin Bible. They do not sell them in bookstores in China. And who do you think was on the shelf? Kirk Cameron. He’s everywhere! Our translator, Molly, wanted me to tell her about him because he was so famous he was even in China! Then we did a little shopping in the area and went to a regular bookstore to try to get Noah a few more Mandarin books. We had lunch out with Molly, and all during lunch Noah was saying, “Home! Swimming!” So cute. So we headed back and went swimming again, and by the end, he was even trying to stand on his own a little.

This morning we had our appointment at the US Consulate for Noah’s immigration hearing and visa application. It seemed to all go well. We should get everything back tomorrow that Noah needs to leave the country. Then the final step will be when our plane lands in Dallas – he will be processed by immigration there and should immediately become a US citizen. After that, we still have other paperwork to do, but it’s comparatively minor and all handled in the States.

It was still raining today. It’s just been raining and raining. We were supposed to go to the Safari Park, and we were really up in the air – to cancel or not to cancel? Our girls and Toby really wanted to see the pandas, so we finally decided to try it even in the rain. Noah was not happy at all about this. I was asking God to please help us have a good day together (it’s very stressful when he’s unhappy because we can’t communicate very well, and we really want him to have a good time, but also know that families do things together and for each other), and wouldn’t you know, Noah figured out zoos were cool about 15 minutes in, and the rain even stopped for about three quarters of our time there. God has been so sweet to us this whole time! The pandas were amazing, as were the white tigers which are so endangered. We were frankly amazed at this zoo
– it’s huge and just has an incredible number of animals!

Tomorrow is a down day for us, and Nathan is so happy about that after carrying Noah for 47 miles through the zoo! We will just get ourselves packed up, and then we fly to Hong Kong later tomorrow night. That’s our last stop before coming home Friday. Can’t believe we’re almost there!

4 Responses to “Wrapping up in Guangzhou”

  1. Jane says:

    You’re getting so close to done, and then just beginning! I’ve so enjoying sharing your journey vicariously; makes me want to start the process all over again. See you when you’re home.

  2. jennifer says:

    Thanks, Jane! I’m sure it brings back so many memories for you guys! Looking forward to it!

  3. Donna Klabunde says:

    Hi! So exciting! Prayers are being answered all over the place! Can you text me when you leave Dallas for home? Also actual time of arrival in Cubs? I’m going to try to meet you.

  4. jennifer says:

    Will do!

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