Monday, July 21, 2014

China Day 8, Heading Home!

I had decided not to partake in the touring of the silk market with the group.  I wanted to sleep in and stay relaxed before we had to head to the airport.  Plus, we still had to finish packing.  Four suitcases were a lot and all four were packed full!

We were able to say goodbye to the group before they left for the market and we had a leisurely breakfast with our newfound friends from Minnesota.  We truly hit it off and had some great laughs and moments together!

With the whole mess up with the first day no shuttle show, we were able to get to the airport via the tour company with Forest.  We chatted about how America is compared to China.  Forest was surprised with how much house one could get in America as compared to China.  He's really a great guy and I wish him well with his little family.

Once at the airport, the 'fun' began.  To get to the ticket counter, one must show a passport.  Before going into the security line, one must show passport (the norm), prior to getting to the metal detector, one must show a passport.  And only one person at a time can load/unload onto the conveyor belt.  This process was EXTREMELY SLOW!!  It was a good thing we were at the airport more than two hours ahead!

Once thru the metal detector, no matter what, one is wanded.  My portable charger for my phone was picked out and was questioned.  After I picked up my belongings, my portable charger was brought to another desk area and was inspected.  I was then told I could not take it with me because there was not a bar code on it to identify it.  If I wanted it back, and if I were to return to China within 30 days, I could get it back.  Seriously?  All I could think of was that this thing was MADE IN CHINA!  I didn't want to fight over the thing and just let them keep it.  Stupid.  But it was a very nice charger!

Once in the sky lounge, I realize I had the actual box that the portable charger came in with me the whole time.  The bar code is on the box!  Oh well...quite the experience.  My hubby's charger wasn't questioned tho!

Since we spent the majority of our time in the security line, we really didn't have too much time to sit around, just enough to catch our second wind prior to the long flight home.

Because I had asked my hubby to join me on this trip to China, I told him I would book him in business class to and from, so I was able to fly business class home with him!  I was like a kid in the candy store since I had never flown in business class on an international flight.  I had no clue how to do anything in the seat.  But I soon figured it out and got nice and cozy with the fluffy pillow and comforter and settled in to watch movies.  It was so nice to be able to put my feet up and then to lay down flat to sleep.  I didn't sleep well, but at least I was comfortable!

After our second flight home, we only had one piece of luggage not show up.  We thought it was weird since all of our luggage was tagged priority and it didn't show up.  But in the big scheme of things, it was so nice to be home!!

When I think back on this trip, it really makes me even more determined to be the voice for the children that don't have a voice.  I know there are other advocates for these children, but some of them I don't feel like they are on the side of the children, just on the side of keeping the children in country.  How many times have these advocates gone to different countries and played with these kids and seen their eyes follow your every move, and come up to you with their arms open as the sign of 'pick me up' and just love me for this moment.  How many of these advocates brought candy and toys, clothing, medicine, needed items that are so expensive in country to import?  I'm not saying I'm better than others, I'm just saying for myself, voicing my opinions and know that when I speak, I talk the talk and walk the walk.  I go to Korea yearly, sometimes twice a year and always bring donations and buy donations when I'm there.  I also support the single mothers so that they may have the opportunity to raise their children if they so choose.  I'm not there to tell these mothers what to do, I would never do that.

When I see these babies and children, I see myself.  I can see why on my papers at the age of 4 1/2 years old that I was labeled as selfish.  What kid wouldn't be selfish in an orphanage?  Nothing is your own, you have to share everything!  The one prevalent thing I see tho is that these kids love the attention we give them when we are there to play with them.  I have gotten worn out just playing with them.  This is what matters, that these kids be given a chance to have a family that will pour love and attention onto them!  What happens to these children in orphanages when they are moved from orphanage to orphanage because of age and then when they turn 18 and age out of the orphanage, they are put out on the street.  Now they are truly orphans because they have no one to look after them at all.  Finding a job, let alone a home is difficult.  Why does this happen this way?  It shouldn't happen this way, so unfair to the children I have seen and played with.

I know I can't save the world, I'm not trying to do that, but I can go to sleep at night knowing I have and continue to do what I can to help the children, the mothers, the staff.  It does take a village.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

China Day 7

Our last full day in China!  This will be another day of sightseeing.  Here's our tour guide, Forest (he spelled it with only one 'r', and yes, because he likes the movie Forrest Gump.

What does one do when touring Beijing?  Why, climb the Great Wall of China, of course!  Uh, yes.  We had already climbed THE Great Wall of China, but that was in Dandong, where it was said the Wall started, but is not known because it is so close to the North Korean border.  The 90 minute bus ride turned into a four hour drive to this Great Wall. Traffic was at a standstill. We all thought we could walk the rest of the way so at one point, we all got ou of the bus and started walking sure enough, traffic began to move and our bus came towards us. Just picture Little Miss Sunshine when everyone is running onto the bus!
Here goes, round two:

Marit is my hero!

Seriously killer steps!

And once again, I couldn't go further.  Hotter temps and plus, this was my second time on The Wall.  Here were the views from my vantage point:

The west Wall, which was very crowded:

After the Great Wall, we went to the Jade Factory-Exciting for me!  Had a quick tour of how the jade is made and how you can tell when the jade is real or fake, then ate lunch in the same factory.  Of course I wanted to eat quickly so I could go shop for jade jewelry!  The factory was huge!  I looked at most of the jewelry.  Had a green and white ying yang pendant picked out.  Then before checking out, I found a black jade and mother of pearl ying yang ring.  Bingo!  Perfect for me!

Our next stop, the Forbidden City.  Along the way, we saw these driving past:

Another time driving somewhere, I can't remember exactly, we saw this:

The time crunch to get to the Forbidden City and catch the tour was getting slim.  We arrived and had to hussle to get to the entrance.  Our tour guide ran to the ticket counter while we waited at the entrance.  He made it with our tickets with about 2 minutes to spare, if that!

The entrance to the Forbidden City are these gates with these knobs on them.  The more shiny ones are because of everyone touching them for good luck and fortune since people were not allowed in the Forbidden City, and now being able to, the touching of these is a tradition.

We can always use good luck and fortune!

Various pictures of the Forbidden City, though you cannot get the beauty and enormity of this place via pictures!

These were placed around the city filled with water in case there's a fire. Which hadn't been any help with two previous fires due to lightening:

The manic garden:

On our drive to Tienimen Square, we saw some of the Olympic buildings.
The Bird's Nest:

The Cube, which is plastic and was the aquatic center:

And just some random interesting building:

Time was running short again so we only drove by Tieniman Square.  Was iffy anyway if we would want to go see it in person do to the 25th anniversary and some unrest going on there.  We were fine just driving by.

During the busy day, we had decided we would have dinner at a Hot Pot restaurant so the tour guide made the reservation for us.  After we arrived back at the hotel, we all cleaned up and headed to the mall to the restaurant.  No tour guide or anyone with us that spoke it was the blind leading the blind.  We had no idea what the name of the restaurant was, didn't even think to ask our guide.  All we knew was that it was located on the 5th floor.  Well, the 5th floor was huge and had a ton of restaurants!  Trying to ask the people at other restaurants was not easy.  but lo and behold, we found it! My hubby had seen steam from tables in a restaurant so figured this had to be the place.  Well, the people at the front didn't speak English and therefore, it was difficult to tell them we had a reservation.  Luckily, there was someone standing there that spoke both English and Chinese so helped us out.

By the time we had sat down and tried to order the best we could by pointing to pictures, I wasn't hungry.  I had such a bad migraine from all the touring and hot day.  I managed to eat some fried rice but that was about it.  My motivation to hang in there was that we would go to McDonald's for a McFlurry.  Once I got my McFlurry and fries, I felt so much better, thank goodness!

We walked around the area of the mall where there were traditional Chinese items to buy.  The only thing I bought was a brass Buddha head.  It was tough bartering, but once we walked away without buying it, the price was lowered even more, score!

And found some interesting snacks:

Now it was time to pack and prepare for our departure the next day.  The others in the group weren't leaving until the following day, but I wanted to get home since I had been gone three weeks already!  We met some wonderful people that were in our group.  Was great being able to create new friendships and laugh and share tears with those that have a heart for Holt like we do.

China Day 6

Our last day of our official 'business' ends in Beijing. We had to take a flight from Changchun to Beijing.  

I tell ya, traveling as much as I have the past few weeks sure kept me busy!  People may not realize that when I take these trips with Holt, I'm not on a vacation.  I'm very much into seeing Holt's programs all over the world.  Seeing our programs first hand is so important to me so I understand what and how they work so I can tell others.  I truly believe I can be the voice for the kiddos that don't have a voice and I hope I can help in anyway possible.

We were able to visit the Holt China office and meet the staff.  It was nice hearing about how well the program is running and always great to see such dedicated staff.  Our kids are in great hands.  We were able to treat our China staff to lunch and this was the first time we actually tried Peking duck and we all liked it!  I know, no picture, but it wasn't the entire duck, it was pre-sliced so we could make into a tiny egg roll yumminess!

After lunch, we were all so excited to be able to visit the Peace House.  This is a facility that Holt supports so kids can get needed surgery for cleft lip and pallet, tumors, etc. then recover at the facility prior to being adopted.  Needless to say, we had a blast playing with all the babies.  We saw an amazing photo book of the before and after pictures of babies that had been in the facility.  What an amazing thing to be able to give these babies surgery and then be able to find a forever family.
Here are some of the babies:

This little guy, he had a blast playing with hubby.  Of course, he wanted to continue to do the same thing over and over again just like any other kid.  He truly had a smile that melted our hearts!

China Day 5

What a busy day we had on the previous day, but was so heartwarming to see and hear all that happens when those in need are given just a little in life to continue on with their daily lives.  Made me continually think how thankful I was for my own situation and all that my family has and wished I could have brought so much  more than I did as gifts.  But as I always tell everyone else, I was able to be happy knowing I made a difference being there that day and supporting from beyond.

Today's agenda was to visit an orphanage.  When we arrived, we were greeted by staff and lead inside. I think we were all surprised to see such an amazing orphanage.  The program Director with us told us this was the top of the line facility for China.  The tour of the facility was very impressive.  Programs included therapeutic services, hydro therapy, physical therapy, heat and aroma therapy, tactical therapy and so on.  It was very up to date on everything.  It even had a separate nursery, a movie theater, cafeteria, all state of the art.
Mini cars for the kids:

Movie theater:

Children were grouped together according to age and in separate rooms as form of a family.  When we visited one room during lunch, all the kids were so happy and smiling to all of us and very much wanted to interact with us.

We were lucky enough to meet and play with three kids that were in need of a family.  It takes everything in me to not be sad during these times, but I push thru and play with the kids.  My one buddy really liked me and wanted me to put in the colorful pegs into the board with him.  When someone else tried to engage in our activity, he wanted nothing to do with them.  So sweet and such normal behavior for a child.  We all continued to play with all three kids and they kept us very busy!  We are to be advocates for these kids and help spread the word that these kiddos need a family.  I swear, if we were age eligible, we would have jumped right in!  Was great seeing our group interact with these kids and give them the love and attention they deserve.
My buddy:
He is 8 years old.  He is currently in a loving foster family.  He goes to the activity center at the orphanage for education Monday-Friday.  He is outgoing and lively, (which I witnessed very well).  Gets along well with other children.  He often helps his teacher with tiding up the toys.  he cooperates with his teachers to help other kids to complete the activities.He likes the toy car and books.  he knows common items of life such as fruits, vegetables and so on.  He also knows many colors and can express himself in words.  He can sing and dance.  Has good self-care ability.  He is able to eat with a spoon and dress himself.  He is toilet trained. His physical condition is the absence of the parietal bone.

He had a blast playing ball with hubby and others.  He kept them busy!

This 5 year old lives in this orphanage.  She is able to understand the instructions and follow them.  She can speak simple sentences and is able to express herself and daily needs.  She enjoys reading the picture books and drawing.  She sings songs and able to recite poems.  She knows three colors and can count numbers.  Gets along well with other children and is willing to share the snacks and toys with them.  She is able to feed and dress herself.  She walks alone thru rehabilitation.  Her physical condition, cerebral palsy.

This young boy is 10 years old and is in the 4th grade in a public school.  He is a shy and optimistic boy.  He likes to stay with the familiarity.  He has good language ability and expresses himself well.  He often helps other children and is willing to share snacks and toys with them.  He is very fast at learning and can grasp new poems and text in a short period of time.  he likes to watch TV  he has good self-care ability.  He washes his own clothes and washes face and brushes teeth by himself.  His physical condition:  MRI showed white matter demyelination or hypoplasia could not be completely excluded.  Lower limbs need surgery tho he is able to walk by himself in short spurts.  He currently uses a wheelchair to get around.
What an amazing young man.  Very smart and very personable.  He has seen many families come to the orphanage to adopt kids and he would very much like a family to adopt him.  He is very curious about the United States and it's his dream to see America.

Please pray for these kids and others that wish for a forever family.