"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12



“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats





Saturday, June 16, 2007

So much to say!!!


It is now 3 a.m. here. I fell asleep with Kai at 7:30 p.m. (that was the lastest I could hold out). My guys are snoring behind me, which is great because it allows me to gather my thoughts from this day.

After my last posting, I was floating on air!! I woke the guys and we met downstairs with our guide. We all hopped on the bus and he said we were going out to the "far" countryside where we would meet with elder farmers and visit a small village in a farming community.

We drove about an hour in the same direction we had started, except this time we headed in a different direction. Don't ask. I just sat there and watched us pass water buffalo, little shops, fields and fields of crops and rice and kept pinching myself. We are in China!!!!! Gosh, as I write those words, my eyes tear up. I am so incredibly filled with emotion. Ok...deep breaths. I am running on battery for the laptop since Scott had packed most of it and I have to get thru this as quickly as possible, and you all know me and details. :)

Going back to the van. We traveled for about an hour. This time, my previous visions were most on target. We bounced in our BUICK bus down the dirt paths, entertwined by bits and of what used to be a road. We were obviously heading up a mountain. The curves and twists made my motion sickness kick in, but I managed to focus on my breathing and pulled out my Seabands. It also helped that the landscape was a majestic splendor of lush, green mountains surrounded by lakes and dotted by small fishing boats with fisherman casting their nets. It looked like something out of a movie.

We continued up the mountain side until we arrived at a small village. There we got out and although we received a few stares, for some reason, it was not as obvious at when we are in the city. Kai was put on the stroller and immediately, Mr. Jia came and took off with him. It REALLY made me nervous because as we were videotaping and just walking thru the same shacks and broken down 1 room homes with dirt floors, he had turned the corner and taken off with him. Fortunately, Scott was closer and saw this and bolted around the corner with him. It is amazing how those two have hit it off. Mr. Jia loves children and is truly a child at heart, with a Nascar driving degree!! Kai senses that "kid" in him and goes with it! The two exhaust me.

I will stop here one second to just mention that Kai is doing great. I think a little too great, sometimes. He is non-stop energy and we are having a difficult time settling him down when "quiet times" approach. I totally understand that the time change, the language, the food (which he being such a good eater is having not much to do with), and the people are all "new" to him again. His attachment to us is definitely secure. Thank you, Jesus!!! He pretty much sticks to us and to Mr. Jia. He will go with Tony on ocassion, but that's it. He wants the security of his Mama and Daddy!!!!

I digress, again. Back in the village, we see women or men sitting in dark rooms which stand for shops. No light, but yet there is electricity. I am imagining because it is daytime they feel there is no need for it. The shops consists of food, both already prepared and small groceries. Behind each shop there are alleys with buildings, small buildings behind them. Not many windows. As we are walking up this alley, to our right is a river with a wall behind it behind fixed and then more fields for as far as we could see. Now, I seem to see dogs everywhere. :) The day was warming up so they lay on the streets or in the shadows of the alleys to keep cool.

We finally get to the top of the hill and we gather around this small doorway. Three older men are on the steps seated outside. I see Mr. Jia give them 20 RMB, which is equivalent to less than $3. I ask where we are, and Tony informs me that we are in a small YiWu museum from the Ming Dynasty. Unfortunately, we could not video or take pictures inside. The "tour" lasted maybe 5 minutes. It consisted of 5 rooms, some bar, some with incredible woodwork engraved on the ceilings and doors. These rooms surrounded a courtyard. For those that have been to China, you can compare it a miniature scaled Forbidden city, without the renovations. The wood was evidently exposed to the seasons and weather beaten. But the beauty of the work done was something that could not be erased by the thousands of years of rain and sun.

We left there and began to head back around the corner to where our car was parked. There really wasn't much to see, except for the interaction with the people. that I just loved. I saw a few children, here sadly, they were mostly boys. I did see a lady pulling a cart behind her bicycle. She saw me and came up to me because I had my camera in hand. I then noticed that seated in the cart was an adorable little girl. Her face dirty, nose runny, but even with that her beauty made you gasp. I pulled out my camera and spoke to her as she stared intently. Her mother or grandmother, since they usually care for the children while the parents work, quickly tried fixing her hair and nudging her to smile for the camera. I spend a few minutes there since there was no guide to interpret, smile and move on.

I walk by a dark little store. In this store there are a man, a woman, and a small little boy, (maybe 2 years old) seated behind the counter. Again, I am so in love with these children, and he was just precious. The family was not smiling so I was not sure if I should approach or not, but my gut tells me to say hello, "Ni Hao". Then all of a sudden huge smiles break out on the parents' faces. My sign to move forward. I kneel before the little boy whose mother is pushing him towards me. He shyly tries to hide behind her, in which he succeeds, but not before I was able to take a couple of pictures. I so wish I knew that I would have been more prepared and brought candy for these children. Again, with no interpreter, I stay for another couple of minutes nodding and smiling as they are speaking to me as if they've known me forever and I wave goodbye and leave.

We all finally reach the van and head back out. I notice that we are going back in the same direction and figure we are heading back to the hotel. But then we turn off on a different road. This one had a lot of brush on either side, which kept scraping against the car. The dirt path seems to not have been traveled by car very much. At the end of the path, there is a clearing and then we head towards the same time of small shacks we had just visited. We park close to them. There were no shops here, only a few small buildings, with rusted tins roofs, strapped down and moldy walls surrounded by dirt alleys.

Again, I ask, '"Where are we going now?" Tony says, "Mr. Jia would like you to meet his mother." My heart broke. This young man who was so filled with life and who for the short 3 days I have spent with him has never not been wearing a smile, lived in these conditions. We were honored that we were worthy enough to meet his family. I asked who was here. Tony explained since Mr. Jia's english is so poor, that his father had passed away. and that his brother worked in a bigger city and it was just Mr. Jia and his mother living here. He was the provider.

We continue to walk downhill and turn off to the right. We enter this vey small tin roofed home. It was obvious that when it rains, water runs down the sides of the wall because it was very humid in the home and the smell of must filled the air. There was a small broken couch to my right. No cushions and a piece of plywood to sit on. The even tinier kitchen had a cooktop and a sink. Behind it was a small room filled with pieces of wood, obviously for fire and dead palm froms. He then asked us to step into the next room. There, he pulled out some rusted little aluminum seats and wiped them clean for us. He insisted we sit. I was so moved by the actions of this young man in making us feel welcome to his home. We sat in the a circle on the little stools. Behind us was a full size mattress covered by a large mosquito net that was held up on all 4 corners with strings from the surrounding walls. Mr. Jia leaves the room. I ask Tony where his Mother is, and he is said, "She works in the field behind the house. Mr. Jia went to get her and to bring you some peaches."

A few minutes later. In walks this older woman. The many years of sun in her face had obviously taken its toll on her skin. She was very wrinkled, with a couple of teeth missing, but a smile on her face that made the dim room glow. She immediately started speaking in very loud Chinese. Tony translated that she said she was so happy to have us in her home. Mr. Jia then walks in with a basket full of green peaches. We at first thought they were apples. She heads to the small kitchen behind him. Then, she comes back in the room with a bucket filled with some sort of (I was told the name but could not capture it) prepared, tamale looking treats. They were wrapped in wet lotus leaves and held together by string. She reaches into the bucket and immediately starts passing them out. I politely refuse, as does my Mom and Scott. My heart feels so bad, that I just couldn't do that. I reached out and took one and thanked her. She smiles then bends down and grabs another from the bucket and start quickly unraveling it, all while speaking at what seemed to be record speeds. She then hands the small package to Kai and tells him to eat it. I take it from him and peel off the lotus leaves.
(By the way, it's 4:10 a.m. and now I have a wide awake Kai playing by my side...heh).

Inside, there is very sticky rice. I ask Tony what is in it and he says, "rice and sugar". I take a bite. Very bland, but I guess it's filling when you have nothing to eat. Scott then agrees to try some and we have Kai try some. She smiles again as we tell her it is very good. She then starts passing out the green peaches and gives us a rusted peeling knife to scrape the peels off. It wasn't the fact that it was food we didn't eat, it wasn't the fact that the place was falling apart, it wasn't the fact that the utensils would be something found abandoned in a field....it was the fact that this woman, this family LITERALLY has NOTHING and between she and her son, couldn't find enough to give us! They were both scurrying around offering all that they had to make us feel welcome. Their actions completely humbled us. It reminded me of the scripture of Mary and Martha. If I could have wiped her feet at that moment I would have.

I kept asking Tony to thank her for us. That we were so honored to be her guests. She smiled that beautiful, toothless smile again. I also told her that she should be very proud of her son. She has done a very good job raising him. She proudly reached over to her youngest son and rubbed his head. These people were amazing. I know I've used that word 100x, but I can't seem to find another word to describe them. They are filled with humility and humbleness. They offer you all they have, when they have nothing. Yet, we...or let me not generalize, I have so very much and can't bring myself to give everything that I have. I have learned so much on this journey, from these people. God has melted my heart and is remolding it. I pray that he continue to humble me and lead me to the work that He wants me to do.

We begin to gather our belongings to leave and in again walks Mr. Jia's mother. This time with a small bag. She quickly begins to fill the bag with the leftover lotus treats and the peaches. Mind you, they brought out about 10 peaches for 4 people! She then leans over to Scott and pushes the bag to him, while Tony explains that she wants us to have them as a gift from her. My heart is just about breaking. I know that she obviously needs this food so much more than we do, and yet it would be an insult not to accept. We humbly thank her again over and over for her generosity. She again smiles widely.
As we walk into the sunlight from the dimly lit room, we ask if we could take a picture with she and her son. She shyly agrees. Another treasured memento for us to have. We then give her a hug and thank her and begin the walk up the dirt path towards the car.

Normally what I am going to mention is not something that I would say but again, I want to journal for my children so that they can someday see how their actions can mean a thousand words, and how humbleness and humility are one of the best qualities that we can be graced with.

As we are walking up the hill, I ask Scott to give me some money for her. He hands me his backpack and I reach out and take the money out. We all get into the car. "Mrs. Jia", as I call her now, is standing beside Tony as we are preparing to leave. I walk over to Tony and I grab Mrs. Jia's hand and place the rolled up bills in her hand. She looks down. I close her palm so that she could not see how much it was, but she has already realized it was money. She hesistates and shakes her head. I turn to Tony, while still holding her palm closed, and tell him to please tell her that we insist. That it is a gift from us and it would be our honor for her to accept. I know the Chinese people are very proud and I expected her immediate reaction of saying no. But once Tony translated, she understood and tears streamed down her eyes. I give her a big hug and ask God to bless her and her son. We get in the car and drive away with my heart feeling like a raisin. This journey has been so much more than just bringing home a daughter.

Our family with Jia and his Mother.

Green peaches and lotus treats

The countryside
Building a wall by the river
A sweet boy playing with rocks on a bridge

The little boy in the shop at the first village

The small kitchen in Jia's house.

We returned to the hotel after our visit to Jia's house. I then napped for an hour while Scott and Kai went to explore our hotel. At 6:00, my Mom, who had also napped, joined us and we went to eat at the hotel restaurant. The food was excellent.

We all then headed back to our rooms where right when I was ready to hit the sack the phone rang. It was our in-country facilitator touching base. We thanked her for coordinating such a special visit to Kai's birth city and reiterated how wonderful our guides were. She then told me that she had spoken to the orphanage and that our sweet girl is definitely being prepared for our arrival. She said to expect her to be introverted and shy. She knows her "new mama" is coming and has agreed to go with us "for a little while". Bless her heart. I thank God for preparing her to give us a "chance". Please continue to pray for her adjustment.

I can't believe we are so close to holding her!!!! I am giddy with excitement!!!! We are all already madly in love with her but I know that it will be ooooohhhhh, so much more when we actually have her in my arms. It was so hard seeing so many little girls in YiWu and not ache for mine. WE ARE READY!!!!!!!

This morning we were to go see the YiWu Commodities market. Thank you to the YiWu group moderator for advising us of the Christian church here. We are going to Tony to change our plans so that we could attend service there. Then we head out for the 2 hour drive to Hangzhou in order to catch the flight to Hefei. It is bittersweet to leave our son's birth city. It has been a completely blessed 3 days here and we are leaving with so much more than we came. There is not one thing I would change.

Ily, thank you for everything. So glad that AJ is wearing you out!! Get used to it, soon that will be you. I love you!

Amanda, AJ, Adam and Tito....

I miss you guys so much!!! Hope everything is going well. I will call you guys in a little while. Keep praying for our journey and for your little sister. I can't wait till you are all together.

Remember that I love you all, as much as the whole wide world....and back again.

Mom


5 comments :

Charlotte said...

Ohilda,

I sm in tears here, what a beautiful story of meeting Mr. Jia's mother. What a wonderful country our children are from. I hope we never take for granted what we have here in the US ! Thanks for sharing it while it is so fresh in your memory.

Charlotte
www.rachaeljanew.blogspot.com

Aiden's Mommy said...

Ohilda,

I am just holding my breath waiting for every new entry. What a gift of story telling you have. So happy to hear that you are having a wonderful time. Not too much longer now and you will be holding your baby girl!

April

we5chois said...

Ohilda,

You have such a gift for storytelling. I am sure I am not alone in feeling that I am right there in China with you. Your journey so far is filled with so much love and respect. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and emotions with us. Safe travels to Hangzhou and onwards to Anna Grace.
we love you,
Kim C & Co

Kelly said...

Ohilda, this is like reading a good book! Everyday I can't wait to open the next chapter. Thank you so much for sharing with us this incredible personal journey.
Love,
Kelly

mom2-4boys said...

I am in agreement with everyone else your story telling is amazing you should think about writing a book. I to cannot wait for a new entry and check often. Praying for your safe travels to the next phase of your trip.

Tracey

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