Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Last post from Guangzhou... next stop USA!

      Last night our friends Vince, Mary and Malia stopped by the White Swan (our hotel) to see us.  We ended up shopping with them for a bit and then we all ate dinner at an Italian restaurant on the "island".  I meant to take a picture of it, but I never did.  Oops!  Anyway, it has the same feel as the rest of the island, European.  The difference here is they act like Europeans.  They are Chinese people, but I am pretty sure someone flew over from Italy or somewhere in Europe and taught them how to act.
     I talk like I am a world traveler since I have made it half -way around the world to China.  So, I have never been to Europe, but I read a lot and that counts for something.  
     Anyway, the servers at the restaurant act like dinner is supposed to take all evening to enjoy. Now, never mind that the island caters to adopting parents.  A lot of these adoptions are for very small children who DO NOT like to sit very long in a restaurant.  And, not only do they take their good ol' sweet time, they sit around and watch the people eating.  I am not kidding, there were at least 8 people working and they all just stood and stared.  And, the Italian restaurant has many pizza options on their menu, but they have ONE oven to cook them in.  SO, Paul and I are completely finished eating and Vince and Mary don't even have their pizza. 
      Needless to say, by the time dessert came (check out the photo below), it was difficult to enjoy because even the adults were tired of being there.
     Beautiful fruit plate though, huh? 

Emme is thinking... "WHO CARES!!"  You can see it in her eyes.
     We are on the 18th floor of the White Swan hotel.  This is what we saw outside of our window.  If I had to do that job, I WOULD DIE!  I was getting sick to my stomach watching them!  He's just hanging there!  It look very unsafe!

     Emme in the bathtub.  She was getting clean and beautiful for her swearing in at the U.S. Consulate today.

      The appointment at the Consulate is the most anti-climatic thing!  All this time to raise our hand and say that everything we've said for the last several years is true.  At any rate, she is ours and when that plane hits Detroit on Thursday late afternoon, she is a United States citizen.
     This is the beautiful palm tree lined street on the way back to the hotel.  The White Swan is the tall building at the end on the right.
     If you could see inside the windows, you would see aquariums filled with various foods that you could pick out for dinner.  I'd like to this it's fresh catch, but I wouldn't put my money on it.  And, I certainly didn't eat it to find out.  I did get really adventurous tonight at Lucy's and order Sweet and Sour Chicken!  The other two times I ate there I had a BLT.  I like to live on the wild side.
     This is Emme back at the hotel after our appointment.  She is thrilled to be a citizen of our great country.  Adorable outfit thanks to my friend Amber.  She is wearing this outfit home too!

     I think the White Swan is a beautiful hotel.  That picture was taken in front of the waterfall- inside the hotel.
     Tonight, we we returned home from our consulate appointment, we thought we'd just ewat dinner at the restaurant we eat breakfast at in the morning.  After all, the food is fabulous.  It overlooks the water and just has an all around great atmosphere.
     We asked if we could look to see what was in the buffet before we ate but before we had a chance to look around, we decided to ask the cost.  Breakfast was included in our package, so we are clueless about the pricing at the restaurant.  
     It is a darn good thing we asked.  The price 348 RMB.  That is $51.40 per person.  We left and went to Lucy's for the 3rd time this week.  Lucy's is ok, but it's not worth 3 visits in 5 days.
     Emme was nice to mom today!  She just didn't want her hat on.
     Paul and Emme do this EVERY SINGLE time they get in the elevator.

     So, this is it.  Tomorrow we are being picked up at 5:45 am.  U.S. time that is 5:45 on Wednesday evening.  We arrive home 25 hours later.  A quick little jaunt.

     The bags are packed and we are ready to go home.  As I look at little Emme peacefully sleeping in her crib, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness for the people who helped with the process of giving her such a home.  We are far from perfect but we love each other and we love the Lord.  I think that's a great start.
     When I look at her skinny, frail arms and legs, I know she may not have been able to make it much longer.  It is because of so many of you!  Thank you so much to all who have prayed for us during this very challenging process.  I am surprised some people still want to be my friend because of the emotional rollercoaster I let myself ride.  And, there are many, many people who gave us money to make this possible.  When we started the process, we knew we didn't have the money, but we also knew God told us to do it.  Thanks for letting him use you!  Thanks for letting him use you to change a life.
     The next little section was written by Steven Curtis Chapman.  He summed up so many things I wanted to say.  If God has laid it on your heart to adopt, don't wait any longer to start the process.  If you don't feel the call to adopt, find someone to help out financially who does want to adopt.  You will be blessed for your obedience!
    Can't wait for Emme to meet all of you!

In America alone, there are half a million children in foster care, and approximately 120,000 of these children are waiting to be adopted. In many countries, children are too often orphaned or abandoned because of poverty, disabilities and disease; every 15 seconds, a child loses a parent because of AIDS. These are staggering facts that can seem overwhelming and discouraging, but I believe that God has a loving plan for each child, and that plan is you and me.

Caring for these children is not the job of governments or institutions; instead, it is the job of families, people and communities. As Christians, our compassion is simply a response to the love that God has already shown us. Mother Teresa would constantly remind those who worked with her that the Bible clearly teaches that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Jesus. So in a very real sense, caring for orphans is a chance to meet the person of Jesus in "the guise of human suffering." This is an invitation from the heart of God to know him and to experience his love.

Nine years ago, my wife and my eldest daughter, Emily, traveled to Haiti on a mission trip. Having been exposed to extreme poverty for the first time, Emily returned home with a determined passion to make a difference in the lives of at-risk children.

Only 12 years old, Emily went on an all-out campaign to persuade us to adopt. She bought a book on international adoption with her Christmas money and would read it to us regularly. She began fervently praying and writing letters to Mary Beth and me, encouraging us to consider giving a waiting child a home. Emily knew God was leading us in the direction of adoption; however, Mary Beth and I were not yet convinced.

My wife and I had always supported the idea of adoption, and as Christians, we understood the importance of loving and caring for others. But what I had not yet grasped was that adoption is a physical picture of what Jesus has done for me. I did nothing to deserve God's love; in fact, I was living as an orphan, without hope. Yet God chose to pursue a relationship with me, and through the death of his son Jesus, I was adopted into God's family. Watch Chapman and his family discuss their tragic loss »

My wife and I began moving toward adoption with fear and trembling and asking all the questions people ask. I remember Mary Beth crying herself to sleep at night saying, "What are we doing? I can't do this." However, God kept reassuring us that this was the direction he was leading us. It was a huge journey of faith for us.

In May of 2000, we found ourselves in a hotel room in China's Hunan province, welcoming the newest member of our family, Shaohannah Hope. From that moment, we began our journey into the world of adoption, orphan care and Shaohannah's Hope. Send a video question for Chapman

We went on to adopt Stevey Joy and Maria. Recently, our youngest daughter, Maria, passed from life on this earth and is now safely in the arms of Jesus. We have been completely overwhelmed by the love and support of so many during this time of deep, deep sadness. Through all that we've experienced, one thing we still know is true: God's heart is for the orphan. 

If only 7 percent of the 2 billion Christians in the world would care for a single orphan in distress, there would effectively be no more orphans. If everybody would be willing to simply do something to care for one of these precious treasures, I think we would be amazed by just how much we could change the world.

We can each do something, whether it is donating, adopting, fostering, mentoring, visiting orphans or supporting families that have taken in orphans. You can change the world for an orphan.


Jen said...

Praying for your safe journey home!

Norma said...

I know Emme looks happier but I think she looks a little healthier already! Thanks be to God. As for your window washer.......don't think the hard hat will help much if he falls 18 floors. poor guy. guess it puts food on his table.

Sharla said...

Dear April,

From the moment I first read of your heartbreak with Mylei, to my first e-mail to you, to watching you bring home this precious little has been a blessing, an inspiration and sometimes a total hoot to follow your journey.

Thank you for the insights, the honesty, and the laughter...for letting us make this journey with you...

It is a blessing to be your "wish you were near friend!" I can't wait to have icecream with you!

Have a safe trip home!


Chubby Baby Designs said...

And you have me crying yet again! The big toothless shut-eyed grin in the bath made me laugh, what PURE joy from Emme!
And she looks even more beautiful than I imagined she would in her sweet Red, White & Blue outfit, just LOVE her in it!!!
So we will be in flight at the same time, both heading home to be back with our sweet blessings. I have just a taste I'm sure to your severe eagerness to be back home with your kiddos. Can't wait to see you!!!! Praying you will have power when you get home! I will be praying for your peaceful and non-eventful trip back home to the good ol' USA!!!
Love you!

The Kocher Family said...

I can't WAIT to see you guys! Emme is so absolutely ADORABLE!!! As I read your blog each day, I just get more excited for you guys - I can't believe you finally have her in your arms! It's been a long road and I am glad to have watched each step and to have seen your example of how you guys relied on God. I can't wait for Addison and Emme to be friends! I also can't believe they weigh the same and are almost the same length! See you VERY soon!
Love, Kristen (and Addi)

Debbie and Sam said...

We picked up our daughter one short year ago. At 3 years old she was just 20 pounds~ no where even close to being on the growth chart. She had nothing but the skinniest little legs and arms with no muscle tone - couldn't even walk up the threshold into our house. One year later she has gained 9 pounds and is a total climbing monkey. You will be so suprised how a good healthy diet will change things soo quickly. Best of luck and thanks for sharing your journey.

The Gang's All Here! said...

Safe travels April and family. Your little gal is gorgeous and I'm so happy for you all. I've read almost every day since we got to China but commenting takes so long I've just lurked. Today it's rainy and my gang here is napping. I am all hopped on Starbucks so no sleep for me today :)

Come by the blog to see our sweetie - she's doing great! We are blessed indeed.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully this finds you safe and sound on american soil... when Stephen returned last month from Ukraine one of our good friends that went with him started humming/singing either "God Bless the USA" or "I'm Proud to be an American" when their feet his Minneapolis airport... Look forward to 'hearing' from you in your next update.

Tracy said...

Hi Paul and April! My mom mentioned your blog, so last night I spent 2 hours getting caught up on your life over the last year. I am so excited for you guys. Some time after things calm down, we will have to try to get together. We are praying for you!
Tracy (for the whole Geaslen family)

Donna Brandabur said...

so sorry it's been a while since I responded. The hurricane got me off track, although I faired very well compared to so many people. I never lost power. I have been suffering a little from survival guilt!. With the kids not back in school until Thurs, soccer x 2 girls, football, and back to school for me, I have been a bit tied up. I think you are home. Can't wait to see her and all of you.
God Bless and I'm glad you like Marley and Me!

Anonymous said...

We've been praying for your adjustment to the new dynamics of your family...

Donna Brandabur said...

Dear April,

Just wanted you to know how wonderful it was to get to see all of you yesterday. to see Emme in the flesh, after following your story with her, was truly inspirational, especially in the context of church and a message about God being in control and trustworthy even when things look crazy and out of control. I was tearing up during the last part of the sermon just reflecting on you guys with Emme and how the journey with her has been such a reminder of God's love for us, His ability to work for our good, the need to be patient and wait for His perfect timing, and His knowing exactly what we need!
P.S. I agree with one of the other post I read. You should put all these blogs in a book. You are a really good writer and her story needs to be told.

Love you,

Kim said...

Dear April and Family,

Although you don't know me, I have followed your blog since your heartbreaking story with Mylei. I am overjoyed and actually cried when you were finally brought together with Emme.

I have a friend who was (and still is) in China adopting her baby in another province. She hasn't blogged near enough for my satisfaction, so I have stalked your blog, reading and feeling your joy and knowing that although she wasn't blogging, she was feeling the same emotions. Every morning I would check her blog for updates and then yours.

I can't thank you enough for sharing your journey with me. I am so happy that your dreams have come true and you have safely returned to the US. (I hope that tree didn't do too much damage to your home)

The pictures of your journey are amazing - my favorites are the ones of you and Emme! - you have done an outstanding job of chronicling the ups and downs, the joy, the heartbreak, the laughter.

Thank you, April, for allowing me a glimpse into your adoption journey.

All my best,