"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

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

APRIL 2, 2006 - One day before he was ours!

Tomorrow will be 2 years since our sweet Kai was united with us, his forever family. This was my post from China, two years ago today, along with the pictures I posted on that day. To follow our entire journey to Kai, click HERE.

We arrived in Hangzhou a little after 12 pm. Our guide, Sara, who I have fallen in love with, was waiting for us holding a sign saying BOMBARDIER. She recognized us before we had seen the sign. What a sweet lady!

First, I want to say that the weather here is beautiful, but much warmer than what we expected. It's in the mid 70s - low 80s. So much for Kai's snowsuits I brought. We'll have to save those for AJ when we go up north to visit Uncle David.

From the moment we boarded the van (yes....they were quite surprised by the amount of luggage :-p ) we began to notice how much clearer the air was than Beijing. The smog in Beijing was pretty bad. Also, the trees are green and there seems to be flowers EVERYWHERE! What an absolutely beautiful city! Marco Polo said "In the sky there is Heaven and on Earth there is Hangzhou". How true that seems to be! Sara was telling us how the people from Hangzhou are much warmer than those in Beijing. I have yet to encounter anyone who has been anything but kind to us.

We arrived at the hotel, which is very nice. The rooms are much smaller than the one at the Novotel Peace, but very clean and more modern. The only complaint I have is that there is hardly any drawer space, but I think I'd need a couple of dressers for the amount of stuff we brought. :) Sara assisted us in checking-in and then walked up to our rooms with us to make sure we settled in. I, of course, asked tons of questions and she answered them all. I was a bit nervous because this is Harrah's first adoption in this province, but once again, they have shined! Sara has a great sense of humor and seems very efficient. As we were in the hallway saying our goodbyes, we met the other HFS family that is adopting a little girl from our same orphanage, YiWu Social Welfare Institute. It is a Dad and his son coming to pick up their little girl while Mama is patiently awaiting in the States. We will be the only family traveling to the orphanage, and it is my understanding that we will be doing that on Wednesday. I'm very excited about seeing where my little guy spent his first 22 months of life. I have heard that his nanny loves him very much and I treasure the moment to be able to say thank you in person.

Ok...now onto our day. We settled in, set up our computer, and off we went to explore the city by foot. West Lake is one of the biggest tourist attractions for the Chinese to visit. Chairman Mao used to come at least 4 times per year to vacation on West Lake. The Lake and area surrounding it is indescribable in beauty and gardens. There were literally 1000s of people on the lake this afternoon. Many children with families flying kites, eating ice cream and just enjoying themselves. Someone heard us speaking English and we were swarmed. It turns out that on Sundays, a club called "The English Corner" gather here to practice their English with each other. When they heard us speaking they acted like they hit the lottery. We spent a good half hour chatting away.

I can't emphasize enough how kind and helpful these people are. They are so very proud of their country and we have been told over and over how lucky our child is and how they wish we always remind them of the history of his birth country. That is a given. Kai has so very much to be proud of. He will always be a Chinese American and I am so thankful that God has allowed us to visit his birth country and get to know it a little better as a family so that we may share that with him someday.

After spending about 4.5 hours walking around the lake and seeing one garden more beautiful than the next, we decided to walk into the city area. We went down some narrow streets that smelled ummm.....not very appealing. Amanda kept gagging, and I just kept reminding her this is part of China. She was funny cause she said, "Do we have to see this part?" Anyways, I had to take some pictures of those streets and will post them. We walked down to a main street where you couldn't fit another person on the sidewalks. It was almost like a busy day in Times Square. Soooooo many people! What I did notice here is that there are many more families with more than 1 child. I've been told several times that this is the richest province in China, therefore, because of the one-child policy, the families could afford to pay the high taxes for a 2nd or 3rd child. I see many little girls, too....which makes me smile.

Back to our day, we continued walking and came across a McDonald's that the line was almost out the door. By then we were getting pretty tired and decided to grab something to eat. Sara had mentioned that there was a Pizza Hut down the street. So, we took a walk there. It was very nice. Something else I noticed was that they have 12" and 13" pizzas only.

In the US, we usually order a large which is 16" and huge slices.....these were much smaller and easily shared. No wonder the Chinese are so skinny!! Americans should take notice of our size portions compared to the rest of the world. Anyways, the pizza was great. Tasted just the same as Pizza Hut in the US and the same prices....it wasn't cheap! Notice the eel shish-kabobs in the pictures.

We finished eating and headed back to the hotel. There was a bride and groom in the lobby when we walked in. She was beautiful. Of course, another picture moment. By the way, I was able to photograph quite a few kids in the park. Gosh, I can't get over the fact that I will have "one of those" by this time tomorrow. God is soooooooo good! At first, I thought it was a bit awkward to ask if I can photograph someone's child....but they take pics of Amanda all the time, so why not. And when I do ask, most parents are just thrilled and start chatting away to their little ones to smile. It's cute....they fix their hair and straighten their clothes so I can take a picture. They are so cute, too, with their little "split pants" and their hinies hanging out. :)
OH!! Another thing I have observed that I am very impressed with is their attire. We have honestly not seen anyone dress in raggedy clothes, torn jeans, or even t-shirts. Even the young teens. They're all dressed in dress pants, and most men wear sports coats. The women are all dressed very nicely. Almost everyone wears dress shoes, as opposed to teens who live in sneakers in the U.S. Just very different....and I must admit, very nice to see.

We are about 14 hours from receiving Kai. My heart is thumping and my head swimming. I can't believe that tomorrow I will finally hold our beautiful son! We are being picked up at 9 am (which will be 9 pm EST on Sunday for friends back home). Please say a prayer that Kai's transition be a smooth one. That he bond with us and although he will probably have no clue what is happening in his little world, that God's love bathe him and make him feel secure when he is with us. Tomorrow will be a very emotional day for us as we finally meet the little blessing that will make our family complete.

And as always, I'd like to close by thanking the Lord for this blessing and for filling our hearts with yet another one of his little miracles to love!

Our next post will be with another little one in our lives forever...

Ohilda, Scott, Amanda & Abuela Titi

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