Count of Chicks for Children

God's Plan For Us

This is our journey - God's incredible plan for our lives. When we followed the moving of the Holy Spirit, He opened the windows of Heaven and poured out upon us blessings we never dreamed of! Indescribable joy!

" For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, September 27, 2015

9 Days Home

It is hard to believe we have been home for over a week now. I haven't updated, not because the girls are having a hard time, but because my 50 year old body has a really hard time readjusting to the time difference and dealing with jetlag. On top of that, we began doctors visits this week, and Elli came down with strep throat.
The girls are doing great. It is amazing how well it has been going. A couple of small disagreements, and a meltdown ( Nini, not Meimei) is the extent of it. The girls seem to have almost adjusted to the time difference, though they both want to rest during the day still. Meimei has jumped in with both feet. She acts like she has always been part of the family. Her spunky personality fits right in with the rest of the girls. The only time we have really seen her subdued was the day after receiving 4 shots (she had never been immunized in China, so we are playing catch-up). That day she ran a fever, and was a bit clingy. Even with all the shots and blood work she never shed a tear. She is very affectionate to my mom and step-dad. I think it is because her foster granny in China is called  the maternal grandmother (sounds like wi po - long I and long O sound). The way she handles our granddaughter, Melody, you can tell she was used to being around babies and toddlers. If she sees her getting into something, she'll try to get her away from it.
Erin seems to almost always be in a good mood. It has been harder to find ways to connect, and I know that it will take longer because we have to find activities that she can do. So much of the things we do involve sight, and until you deal with this issue you never think twice about it. On top of that is the language barrier. I know that with time she and the other girls will find more and more things to do together, but it isn't easy right now. She is content to listen to music and books on tape, but that doesn't really promote bonding. After she has been here longer, and we figure out those activities she enjoys doing, it will be better. Thankfully, she is very inquisitive and really wants to learn. She knows quite a bit of English already, and I know she will become fluent quickly. We have an ophthalmology appointment next week, and once we have an official diagnosis we can receive equipment and services from the school for the blind in Louisville.
Today we attended church. It has been a month since we have been. It was good to be back, and see so many who have prayed and encouraged us. The photos above were taken after church. This was our first outing with all the girls. Xiaoyun fixed all their hair this morning, which saved me a ton of time. It takes a bit more planning when you are getting this many people ready to go anywhere- lol! I keep relearning how to take care of a family of this size since we continue to grow. I thank God for this opportunity!!!
Continued thanks for all the prayers!!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Last Night in China

This will be my last post from China. It is hard to believe the day has finally arrived. In a few hours (5:45am) we will head downstairs and check out of our 4th hotel since we arrived 23 days ago. The packing is done, except for a few last minute things, and the girls are already in bed.

Today was spent in the room getting everything organized and packing those suitcases to the brim. We'd packed three of our checked bags already, and part of our carry-on luggage when we realized that we could not find the room key and our cash. We searched this room over. Digging through the trash, crawling around looking under beds- all the fun stuff. We had taken some of our trash out already to the cleaning crew and were afraid Meimei might have thrown it away. I chased down the cleaning cart and tried to explain to the ladies that I wanted to dig in the trash. Obviously, they were pretty sure I'd lost my mind. In my defense, it is quite difficult to use hand motions to explain how a 6 year old who can't keep her hands off ANYTHING might have thrown something important away. Finally they told me to wait a minute and they tracked down the guy who took our trash. After pawing through every inch of the trash bag, there was still no card and cash. By now they were thinking I was trying to say that the guy stole it and they want to call a manager to come to our room. I'm reassuring them that in no way did we think that he took it. About that time Meimei pops her head out the door, and I point to her to let them know we think she is the guilty subject. A minute later Virgil comes out of the room, victoriously holding up the missing articles. Evidently little miss sticky fingers saw us packing and decided to help. She had shoved both the card and cash under everything else in one of the suitcases. I'm still amazed that he found it. When I finally made the cleaning crew understand, we all had a good laugh. The moral of this story is that you must hide anything of value while Meimei is around. If you don't she just might help you 'hide' it somewhere.

Our time here has gone very well. No melt-downs, no tantrums, and the girls all stayed healthy. Each city had many people who showed us kindness. We were blessed with wonderful guides, who were very patient with the girls. The girls are bonding with each other, and we have been able to talk to our girls back home almost everyday of the trip. We are so thankful for all those at home who have loved on the girls. Emily, my mom and David have taken great care of them and it was a blessing that they came and stayed at our house so the girls could keep some semblance of normalcy. Food has been brought to the house, Xiaoyun taken to school each day, the blogs posted for us, our grass mowed, and many phone calls to check on the kids from various people. It seems like some aunts and uncles might have spoiled them while we were gone. They've been taken to dinner, to a play in Louisville, to the toy store, and probably much more we know nothing about. Most of all, we have had so many prayers prayed on our behalf. What a blessing you have all been to us!! We are so thankful for all the encouragement and support- not just while we've been in China- but also in the months leading up to it. We know our girls will be welcomed with open arms, and that there are many who are waiting to love on them. We cannot wait to introduce you all to two incredible little girls!!

BTW- We will have 36 hours of traveling (from hotel to Louisville), to include a 6 hour layover in Shanghai, three separate flights, security checks at least three times, and immigration to clear in Detroit. Please continue to pray!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Guangzhou Zoo - It's All About the Goats

This morning we headed to the Guangzhou zoo. The girls all had a great time checking out the animals. This zoo does not have near the animals that Louisville zoo has, but it was still a pleasant time. I think, of all the girls, Erin had the best time. The funny thing is, it wasn't the red panda, lions, or giraffe that interested her, it was the goats. When we told her there were goats she started jumping up and down and clapping. When she got to pet them she was thrilled. She told our guide she had a very happy day, and when he asked why, she told him it was because of the goats. I think we might have a slight addiction to goats.

We had dinner with the other two families in our group and with John, our guide. After dinner we said goodbye to both families. They will take a train to Hong Kong in the morning, and fly out from there Friday. We chose to fly from Guangzhou on Friday so that Erin didn't have to reorient herself to another hotel room for just one night. The trade off is that we will have a 6 hour layover in Shanghai before heading on to Detroit. Either way, Friday will be a long day for us all. We'd love prayers as we finish our trip to bring our girls home!

Another Day Closer to Home

Today was our consulate appointment. We held up our right hand and stated that all paperwork was true concerning the adoption. Tomorrow our guide will pick up the girls' passports and the final paperwork that we will bring home with us. Once home we will have a bit more paperwork to do- enrolling them on our insurance, KY birth certificates, etc. but for the most part that aspect of our adoption is complete. I can't say I'll miss doing the paperwork.

Waiting for our appointment today was a great time to meet other adopting families and hear their stories. We also meet many new families each morning at breakfast. Some received their first child yesterday- one couple after waiting 10 years. One family was adopting their 12th child (10 of which are adopted). We've talked to families from South Dakota, Ohio, Michigan, Texas, Colorado, New York, Hawaii, Illinois, and more than one family from Kentucky. A family we met yesterday is from a town 30 minutes from where we live. So many like-minded people who share the same passion to help these precious children. It is certainly an encouragement to us.

After our appointment, John took us to a newer area of town, where the 7th and 8th tallest office buildings are located. For a girl from a smaller town, these cities in China are pretty astounding. Guangzhou has a population of about 14 million people.
Two more nights in China!! Can't wait to hug our kids at home!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


We stayed up later last night, and had an early wake up this morning, so at this moment everyone is taking a nap but me. I thought this would be a good time to share a little of our trip while it is still fresh in my mind.
I am so glad we brought Elli. She has been such a blessing-never once complaining about all the inconveniences that this trip has brought. She is a gentle soul, and is willing to help in whatever way is needed. She has done so well with Erin and Meimei. It is a blessing that she was able to come with us.
Erin continues to amaze us with how much she knows and her thirst to learn more. She is constantly asking questions, not just about what is going on here, but also about animals, the climate in Africa, etc. She has a thirst for knowledge. She is slowly becoming more affectionate. She tells us often she loves us, and is starting to give us hugs and kisses. You can tell this is not a normal thing for her. It is still awkward seeming, like learning to do something new, but she is trying. They are not affectionate here in China like they are at home, but she obviously wants that affirmation and closeness. We are letting her adjust to us at her own speed, but it is a good thing to see her warming up. It has been more difficult to find ways to bond because we are limited on games and such that we can use as a bridge to connect us. Once we get home, we’ll have more resources to use, plus Xiaoyun to translate.
It seems as though Meimei has been our daughter forever. She is so comfortable with us, and her personality is shining through. She is playful and quick to tease with Virgil. Busy is her middle name. Her information said she was social, and it was right on target. She told us both- in English- this morning that she loved us. Melted our hearts. She and Erin have started communicating more, and she has really attached to Elli. One of the children in our group is in a wheelchair, and when she realized the dad was trying to get the wheelchair open, she hurried over to help. She will watch what is going on and when she sees a need she will start helping in whatever way she can.
Though the girls have done well, it has been a hard trip. I will confess that there has been more than one time I’ve shed tears. There has been more than one time I’ve thought I can’t do this (from parenting more children, to physically caring for more kids). There has been more than one time that I’ve said absolutely no way I can do this again. And I know that once I am home, I will go through these same emotions again. It is a scary thing to add more children to your family, even when you are sure God has called you to this. So many ‘what ifs’ and ‘am I capable?’ that swirl through my mind. It is a daunting thought to think about teaching a child a new way of life. Will I be able to meet their needs? Will I be able to juggle the laundry, schoolwork, meals, etc for 7 girls? Will I be able to give them each the time and love they need? Will I be the godly example they each deserve?
The answer is no.
No I can’t.
I know this, and it is what frightens me at times. But I also know that God set this plan in motion. He has placed each of our children in our family- through birth and adoption. He knows I am weak, and that is where He wants me to be, for it is in my weakness that His strength can shine through. Just as the Israelites were only given enough manna each morning for that day, I, too, must trust Him for my ‘daily bread’. I know He is faithful, and I am so thankful His mercies are new every morning

Monday, September 14, 2015

Another Major Hurdle Cleared

We found out today that both girls cleared the TB test, as well as the other children in our group. So very thankful!! I would like you to pray for the families of three children who did not pass the TB blood work, that the chest X-ray they have to have next will come back clear. If not, they will not be able to go to the US until they receive treatment or get a special waiver. I can't imagine how hard that would be, knowing that you were only a few days from home and having to postpone.

We took a tour of the Chen Clan Academy, as well as a very old pagoda. This evening we went out with the other families and John (who is in some of the pictures I've included) for supper. Once again, John did the ordering, and this time he ordered a little more adventurous. It is nice to have someone order who actually knows what is in the dish ;-).

Tomorrow we go to the US Consulate for our citizenship ceremony. It is a special day for us, as all that paperwork will become a little more official. Once we land on US soil they will become US citizens. Just a few more days until that becomes a reality!! Thank you all for your prayers!

Shamain Island Tour

Yesterday we visited Shamain Island. It is our favorite place in Guangzhou. It is a beautiful place of cobbled streets lined with large Banyan trees. It used to be controlled by the British, and most of the architecture is British. It has a restaurant, Lucy's, that serves American food. Today we feasted on chicken fingers, hamburgers, fries, and onion rings (with a couple of bowls of noodles thrown in). It was quite different than our meal last night. Our guide, John, took us and the other families to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. He ordered for everyone, and one dish after another kept coming to the table. I have subsisted almost exclusively on peanut butter and jelly since getting to China, basically because I'm not a brave eater. I did end up trying, and enjoying all the food on the table. The girls loved it, and we finally had to make them stop so they didn't get sick. The other families we are with are also Christians, and it was nice to break bread together with other believers.

I wanted to mention a little about one of the families. When we were introduced, I knew that I had seen their adopted daughter before. I was pretty positive she was a little girl we had considered adopting. It broke our hearts to say no to that sweet little girl, but she was wheelchair bound, and I didn't think with my neck problems, I could handle the lifting. God orchestrated it so that not only did she end up being adopted, but He also allowed us to meet her and her wonderful family. What a mighty God!!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Meimei's First Plane Ride

We have arrived in Guangzhou. The next time I pack a suitcase it will be to come home!! Yesterday morning started with a little excitement. Our guide met us to go to the airport, and she brought our paperwork from the notary. As we were checking out of the hotel she told me to look it over and make sure everything looked fine. Unfortunately it did not. They had some dates wrong. These were papers they had been working on all week, and we're hours from flying. Our guide was able to get in touch with Meimei's orphanage, have them make corrections, fax it to Guiyang, get it fixed in the book and notarized, before we flew out. Her colleague got the correct paperwork to us as we were waiting in line at security. We thought we were in the clear right until we went through security, and they wanted a piece of identification for Erin that we didn't have. We handed them her passport, a ton of paperwork with her picture and name, but it wasn't good enough. We ended up having to go to the police area and get a temporary identification pass, just to clear security. It was a bit stressful, and we were so relieved to get on the plane, with all the correct documents in hand. Meimei did great on the plane ride except for one small issue. She did not like that seat belt. Virgil finally had to put his hand over the clip so she couldn't undo it. If looks could kill, I'm pretty sure Virgil wouldn't be here now. Little miss Meimei is used to getting her way.

We met the other families that are with our agency this morning. Both families have adopted a child before. We spent part of our day doing the medical exams and it went better than expected. No tears from either of the girls. They drew blood to check for TB, and we are praying the results come back negative. I have enjoyed every time we have went for medicals with all our adoptions. So many people adopting (so many old people - even older than us) so many beautiful children all in the same room. I've said before that I could sit there all day and listen to the stories of all the families, each on their own special journeys.

Our part of the paperwork is now complete. We have our consulate appointment on the 15th. We will do some sightseeing the next couple of days with the other families. One more day closer to home!!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

We finished our time in Guizhou with a wonderful day exploring the Great Lucky Temple (which we refer to as the Monkey Park). We had a choice between walking to the top, or taking a sky tram, and not realizing quite how far it was, we chose to walk. We ended up climbing more steps than we did at the Great Wall. The girls were all troopers, and made it to the top without complaining. I wish I was able to vividly describe all the sights and sounds we encountered. From people singing traditional Chinese music, older men playing Chinese instruments, water falls, a large  lake surrounded by mountains, women performing graceful dances (video below), several pools full of turtles and koi, lush vegetation, and a 1/2 mile tunnel ,cut through one of the mountains, that we walked through to get to the lake. It was truly like something you would see on the Travel Channel.

Oh, yes, did I mention the monkeys? Once we got to the top of the mountain, they were everywhere. The girls were pretty impressed with them, right up until....

I'd had a soda, and Elli had asked me for a drink. She was holding the soda when a monkey started toward her. Elli tried to get away but the monkey reached for the bottle. Virgil yelled at her to let the bottle go, and she dropped it and ran. Scared her and Meimei half to death. But then it got funny. The monkey grabbed the bottle, went over to his perch, opened the bottle, and proceeded to drink the soda. Turned that Pepsi upside down and drained every last drop. If we had had a video it would have went viral, except for the fact people probably would have thought it was fake. We laughed and laughed- everyone except Elli. She still doesn't see the humor in it.

We were supposed to have walked down further to where even more monkeys were, but since Elli wasn't too happy, we skipped that. We climbed some more steps and came out to an overlook at the top of that mountain. There was an unbelievable view of the city below us and mountains all around us. We finished by taking the sky tram down. Virgil and Meimei were two cars in front and me and Elli (Delorece our guide was in the middle car with Erin, describing the view to her). At one point Meimei looked back and realized we were there, and I could see her trying to get Virgil's attention to tell him. She kept looking back and waving and when we stepped out of the tram she came running over to me.

This afternoon was spent packing and preparing for the flight tomorrow. We leave the hotel at 1:00, and if the flight isn't delayed, we will arrive in Guangzhou about 6. Our time here has been good. We've had so many people showing us kindness (surprisingly, when we were here 4 years ago, this was the province who was least friendly to us- thankful that wasn't the case this time). The temperature has also spoiled us. It has been in the 70's the entire week. Guangzhou will probably be hot like Haikou was, but we've enjoyed the respite from the heat this week.

This will be Meimei's first flight, so we'd appreciate prayers for her. Also, as our time gets closer for us to head home, Erin gets more and more anxious. She is nervous about meeting everyone and learning a new way of life. Please pray that God would calm her heart.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

This morning we met our guide and went to Joshua Park. It was built 400 years ago, during the Ming dynasty, for students. It sits right in the middle of modern high rises, but it immediately takes you back in time. It is a peaceful setting that seems at odds with the hustle and bustle around it.

As we were getting out of the van, we were met with music and dancing. In front of the park were mostly older people doing a beautiful dance. What I didn't realize right away was that they were using what I would think of as a type of whip to keep a gyro spinning, all the while keeping in step with the music. I could have sat and watched these graceful people all day. What a way to get your morning exercise (which is what they were doing).

Our guide asked if I'd like to try. The people were gracious, and showed me how it SHOULD work - in theory. Let's just say that I could keep the gyro spinning, but it was anything but graceful. I've threatened Virgil's life if he shows anyone that video-LOL!!

The girls did great again today. As I looked back at the pictures of today, I noticed Meimei wasn't smiling in any- the little stinker-pot! She must wipe the smile off her face (which she always seems to have) right before every picture. Erin was happy that we found a bookstore and bought more books on tape. Our guide also downloaded an app for us that has Chinese audio books and music, so that should keep her busy for a while. She loves to ask the guide questions throughout our time with her. She is very inquisitive.

Elli and I went out for a little shopping excursion this afternoon. The girls all love hair bows, so we went to a shop right down from the hotel to buy more since our girls at home saw the ones we got yesterday and wanted some too. It was nice to be able to go out for a bit with Elli. She has been such a help on the trip. She's incredibly patient, and never complains.
We have one more full day in Guizhou. Tomorrow will be our trip to the monkey park, and then packing for our next leg of our journey. We are getting closer to home!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Well, incredibly Meimei went right to sleep last night, and slept well. Still no meltdown. We went back to the civil affairs office this morning, and the ayi who brought her from the foster home, was there. Meimei asked if she could call her foster granny, which she did. She talked up a storm, none of which we understood. The guide said she was asking her foster granny if she woke up all right this morning, and said she was being very sweet on the phone. The paperwork had a misspelling, so they have to go back and make a correction, but we should have the final documents in plenty of time to leave Friday. Meimei was given two gifts- a silver necklace and a doll dressed in traditional Miao costume. I know she will treasure these as she gets older. As we were waiting for the officials this morning, I realized there is a wall with photos of some families who have adopted from Guiyang. The lady (Annie) who advocated for Xiaoyun was in one of the photos with her husband and one of her daughters. It was neat to see their picture.
After paperwork we came back to the room, had another gourmet meal- ramen noodles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches- and took a nap. I couldn't believe that all the girls rested (which meant I got a nap too). This afternoon we went out walking again, and found another bigger grocery store near our hotel. The girls enjoy picking out different kinds of candies. 

Meimei continues to be very outgoing and happy. Erin is struggling a bit with sharing the limelight, but we know that is something that will take time. Once home, we will have more readjustments, as the girls figure out how they fit into the family.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Our New Daughter!

We have a new daughter!! Meimei walked in with one of the representatives from the orphanage about 2:30.  She called us Baba and Mama immediately and started showing me what was in the backpack she had brought. It was obvious that her foster granny and grandpa had been talking about our photo album we'd sent, because she was saying some of the names.

She is an absolutely adorable FIRECRACKER!! There is little doubt who was in charge at her foster home. She is quite independent. Poor Elli tried to show her many times how to play certain games on the iPod, but she'd push Elli's hand away and keep pushing buttons until she figured it out. It is unbelievable how much she knows about electronic devices. She actually taught me how to play some game where you cut fruit (no kidding- she grabbed my finger and started showing me how I was supposed to slice that fruit). She's taken a million pictures, and Virgil has already had to start hiding his phone. If we aren't careful she'll have bought a small island online before we get home - lol!

So far no tears. She's given us numerous hugs without us even asking. She's laughing and playing and acting like she's been with us for years. I realize we'll probably catch the meltdown at some point, but so far she's been very happy. She is sleeping sweetly beside Elli as I type and I'm praying we all sleep well.

It is late and we have an early day tomorrow to finish paperwork, so I'll write more later tomorrow.
To all those who are praying for us - THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

Almost to Meimei

We spent a nice, relaxing day getting to know a little more about the section of Guizhou that we are staying in. The surrounding mountains are really something to see. Surprisingly, we are just a few minutes from the famous monkey park. We went there when my mom and I were here to adopt Xiaoyun, and will get to go again this trip. It is something I am looking forward to showing Virgil and the girls. We browsed through the little stores all around our hotel. While we were out walking, a Discovery Channel vehicle drove into the park. It will be neat to perhaps one day get to see a segment on a place we have visited. Erin enjoys walking, and is quite patient when we are shopping. She doesn't ask for anything (except audio books), and is content to just be out and about. We did find her a goat that matches the one our guide, Harry, gave her except that it is smaller. I'm not sure, but I think I was just as excited to find it for her, as she was to get it. Having a baby goat to go with her mama goat made her jump up and down with excitement.

Tomorrow is the day we have anxiously anticipated for almost a year. We sent in our Letter of intent September 11, 2014. It is hard to believe Meimei will be our daughter in less than 24 hours. I woke up through the night thinking about her foster family, and the fact that this was their last full day with her. I pray for them (and Meimei) that they will have peace about the adoption. I'm sure it will be difficult. We leave the hotel at 1:30, and meet Meimei at 2:30. If the Lord wakes you up through the night, we'd sure appreciate those prayers!!! We cannot wait to hold her in our arms, but we also know that, though we have been waiting and excited for a long time, she has only known for a few weeks that she will become a part of our family. We look forward to posting pictures tomorrow of our beautiful, newest daughter!!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Counting Down

We made it safely to Guizhou, Guiyang. Not even a small delay for the flight.

We enjoyed our time in Haikou, and met many kind people there. Our guide, Harry, brought his two daughters with him this morning when he took us to the airport. When he got ready to leave home that morning, they had asked to come meet Erin. He gave Erin an IPod that he had loaded with songs she liked.

After we got settled in the room, we went for a walk. We decided to be brave, and go to a local restaurant. After about 20 minutes of trying to order, we finally ended up with green beans, plain noodles, and plain rice. They brought out some chicken that looked almost raw, and we politely declined. I am not a brave eater, and I think that unless the guide is with us, I'll stick with my peanut butter and jelly. Thankfully Virgil and the girls really like ramen noodles.

We will meet our Meimei at 2:30 Monday afternoon. Counting down the hours!!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Our Last Night in the Room with a Million Dollar View

This morning at breakfast we solved a mystery.  Wednesday morning when we met our guide he told us he had good news - the hotel was giving us a much larger room (free), because they felt our room was too small with the girls. The room they gave us was a lot bigger than the one we had, but what was most impressive was the view. Out our window was an incredible view of the South China Sea. The room we had before didn't even give us a hint that you could even see the sea from our hotel, and until we looked out our new window we had no idea we were so close to the ocean. It  was nice to have the extra space, but it did leave us wondering why? At breakfast today the general manager and assistant manager came to the restaurant and introduced themselves. They said they changed the room because they saw what we were doing for Erin and wanted to say thank you to us. The assistant manager was a younger woman, and she gave me three hugs in those few minutes. It was obvious that they were touched, and it touched us as well. Many times we notice the stares, but there are also many who are kind, and it seems this has been more the case here in Hainan for us. The general manager told us to let him know if there is anything we need, and asked to take a photo with us. We showed him our Easter family photo, and he took a picture of it as well. This afternoon we answered a knock at our door to find that they had sent up a fruit basket for us with an orchid on top. It was a nice way to end our time here.

We took the girls swimming again today, and once again had the pool to ourselves. The rain finally chased us inside, and the rest of the afternoon was spent packing. We leave out at 8:00 in the morning heading to Meimei in Guizhou. Sunday we will get settled in, and count down until Monday afternoon when we meet our little girl.

Continued thanks for the prayers!!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Little About Erin

I thought I'd tell you a little about Erin. We've been together almost a week now, and her personality is emerging. It is obvious that music is a vital part of who she is. She is constantly singing or humming. We had uploaded the Frozen CD onto the iPod, and she is already singing "Do you want to build a snowman?" She spends hours listening to music and books on tape. She spells English words all the time, and is a sponge for learning new things. She is bit of a picky eater, and isn't a fan of trying new things. She does like noodles, yogurt, eggs, and rice. So far I haven't had much success getting her to eat too many vegetables, or even fruit. Pizza, chicken, fries and hamburgers are also on her good list.

Erin is fixated on being young. She says she is 11, instead of 12, and was very offended when we said she was 12. She wants to know if people are big or little (age wise), and says she only likes little. She wants to be a little girl forever. One of our other girls is also focused on age. I can't help but wonder if it is because there is a clock that ticks for all those kids in orphanages. Here in China, once that clock turns to their14th birthday their opportunity is lost.

She is also very vocal about sharing her Bible knowledge with anyone who will listen. Our guide and driver have been forced to listen to Bible stories because we've been in traffic jams, and driving around for paperwork. They now know the name of Moses' mother, and what happened to Joseph 😀. How incredible is it that an orphan in China, not only knows about God, but is eager to share that news with others!!!

We went to the pool today and she loved the water!! She can't swim yet, but the hotel has a small pool and she played in that until the rain came in. We plan on taking her and Elli again tomorrow. It is good for her to be out and about.

Continued thanks for prayers!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Day 543

OK, just kidding. It just seems like we've been gone that long. Actually, it has only been a week, but it certainly seems longer. Didn't do much of anything yesterday. I think everything was catching up with us and we needed a day of rest. We (and yes, I mean we - Virgil and Elli also got in on the fun) did laundry, which was about an hour and half ordeal. Stockings were hung by the chimney with care (or maybe over the bathtub with clothesline brought from home). I am such a spoiled girl. Many in the world don't even have easy access to water, and I complain about washing clothes by hand. (BTW - laundry service is EXPENSIVE; a T-shirt costs over $5 to wash!!! Hence boiling water and scrubbing by hand) That washing must have worn me out, because that was about as productive as the day got.

Today was a better day for us all. After another great breakfast (Elli had stir fry and dumplings and Erin ate the same thing she has asked for every morning - NOODLES!! She will also eat eggs and dumplings, but prefers noodles. Yesterday she had THREE bowls of noodles, three drinkable yogurts, and some milk before we cut her off. She (like the rest of our gang) can put the food away. I'm thinking Virgil may have to plow up the back yard and put in a big garden just to feed them all.
We went to the notary today to make everything legal. Because of the holiday beginning tomorrow, they were just going to mail our paperwork to the next province (which is a little scary, because we're not leaving the country without those documents), but the lawyer called back this afternoon and said we could come late today and get them. They are now safely tucked away with the other million pieces of paper in our binder.

The orphanage director, who was also present when we picked up Erin's paperwork, invited us to come back by the orphanage to get a journal of Erin's time there from 2010-2011. The journal includes several photos and updates on her daily life. We love getting those kind of treasures!!

We also did a bit of sightseeing today. We visited two parks, both of which overlooked the South China Sea. Both parks were beautiful settings, and we all had a good time getting out and walking some. We also went to Holiday Beach, which is a popular area here. Erin and Elli dipped their toes in the South China Sea, which feeds into the Pacific. Hainan is a tourist destination, with a climate similar to Hawaii. Coconut trees line every street. I had my first taste of juice from a coconut that had just been opened up. After we finished drinking the juice (which wasn't very popular with the girls) they cut the meat of the coconut and we sampled that as well. A neat thing to do with the girls even if it wasn't pleasing to their taste buds.

Since everyone has already fallen asleep, I'll call it a night as well.

Blessings, Cindy