Sunday, July 28, 2013

Struggles and Triumph

There has been a lot going on here at home while Doug and the boys have been in China.
Great opposition and darkness have surrounded us. It might have been good to list all the things that have happened on the negative side of life just so I could remember but I got to the point that I had to just forget it and move on to the next challenge. I began to get very overwhelmed and I don’t do that easily. Many voices of fear and negativity continued to pound my soul. The things that would normally have been just something to take care of became insurmountable obstacles. Some days I could just barely hold on.

Unlike the proud person I am, I cried out for help. Family and friends came to my rescue and kept my head above water. People checking in on me. Others stopping by to visit and invite me to get out of the house. I had people come to my rescue in so many different ways. There are no words to express my deep gratitude for the kind words and acts performed on mine and my families behalf. I have people ask me how I’m doing. My initial reaction is “good” because I have now been blessed to have the dark disperse and be replaced by the light. For a split second I think why would you ask? But very quickly I am reminded of the moments I need all of you. My heart is full because I know I have friends, people I can turn to and a family that is incredible. I get teary just to think of it. I am so incredibly grateful to my Father in Heaven. For his tender mercies upon me and my family at home and abroad. He has been ever faithful. Not for one moment did I wonder if he was aware of me or if He cared. I knew my Father and my God was there. In due time the darkness was dispelled and the light filled my soul. Understandings came. Answers that I had been searching for and some for many years were given.

I would like to say that the challenges have ended. They haven’t, but they aren't so hard. In one week I took Britton, our 22 year old son to the doctor for an infection. Two of us had a very bad and unusual flu that caused severe headaches for 3 days. Headaches that caused me to dream my head blew up and that a creature had invaded my head and was moving around in my brain. I woke up when I heard a snap in my head. (I don’t have the luxury of taking Ibuprofen to ease the pain because of medical reasons. Like cause me to die. I’m not going there, at least not yet. J) Things in the house have gone wrong and will need attending to. Things that I can’t even remember until I need them. 5 Children woke up with yucky colds today, Marshall is feeling achy and Clayson has a bad ear infection that has been brewing for a week and home remedies aren't working. Hyrum’s stomach is now constantly hurting him. I have two guesses on what it is and neither are easy to fix. I even went to the Pediatrician for a weigh in on Gideon. The doctor thought it was great news but as a mom I’m not at peace. Gideon has been eating more than Hyrum and Bria combined in the last few weeks. One day he ate 5 eggs for breakfast, 6 chicken nuggets for lunch and 3 hotdogs for dinner. With all of that he ate more watermelon than I can remember and some veggies and snacks. That has been his typical diet and he only gained ½ a pound. I don’t think that is very good weight gain. If I had eaten like that for 3 weeks I’m sure I would be a good 10 pounds heavier. And yet, through all of this and the normal life circumstances in a family with 12 of us in the home, all is well.

A friend reminded me of this quote.

I have been blessed by so many with their strength added to my "widows mite" that I have been able to "stay the course". We all experience trials in life. Some seasons are more difficult than others but I have found that when we are on the right track, doing what the Lord would have us do Satan pulls out all the stops. It is so important to remember to cast not away our confidence. I now am seeing the beauty of life unfold. Attending the temple and being at church have given me even more strength. Talking with people that I LOVE at church and others coming to our home to assist in a blessing and bearing gifts for Scott with words of love and friendship have been just the cherry on top. 

I now feel ready for the trials and challenges to come as we walk the difficult road ahead with Scott. He has great potential and will succeed but this will be hard for him and the family. One week ago I was so depleted I could not even imagine being able to be anyone's strength, let alone a hurt child and all the children that will go through change and growth. Today I am ready. I know my Father is there for me and each of His children. We are of noble birth made in the image of God. We have royal blood. All that we need is already within us. We can do all things we are called upon to do! We will struggle we will be weary at times but if we press forward we will succeed!

I thank all of you for prayers, help and support. I thank you for those things that you don't think were of value, they did make a difference, including the promptings to do something, not doing it and then telling me about it. Even that helped. Mostly I thank my Father for His love. For the inspiration given to others to be my angels in my time of need. I thank my Father for countless angels that surrounded me and my family. I know Doug has a story of struggle and challenge. A story of struggle with darkness. He too has been blessed by angels and perfect strangers. I mean perfect in their love and charity towards my family while in China. People that are no longer strangers but friends that we hope will be friends for life no matter where on the globe we reside.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cool Buildings

More festive photos of last night.  Bubble machines and LED light toys were everywhere!

The part of Guanzhou called New Town accross the river from the Canton Tower.  It's definitely the hot spot of the city. There are about 8 new high rise buildings still under construction.  The new US consulate is in the middle of this area.

Statue in front of a building.  Fat chinese ladies in a tug-o-ward. 
Scott stepped right up for this photo.

The new US consulate building.  It took me a minute to realize where we were and that the American flag was out of place.

Guangzhou library.

The spaceship looking building is the Guangzhou Opera House.

Just a cool building.

We had to buy one of the more traditional Chinese toys.  Scott made it look easy.

The museum.  We actually went back to this area specifically to go to the museum, but there were hundreds of people in line to get in, so we bagged it. 

There is part of the line for the museum.  It continued around the corner.

More cool buildings.  Deanne doesn't like it when I take pictures of just stuff without people in it....

So I had Creed and Pierce stand in front of the opera house.  Don't they look relaxed??

You know Pizza Hut has reached new levels when it is the only restaurant in the opera house.  With a red carpet entrance no less!

I don't know what the age limit is for the acceptability of this practice, but it seems that this little boy was approaching it.  Toddlers squatting with split-pants is one thing, but this was a little over the top.  This photo was taken as a hip shot - not bad huh?

We saw a bunch of people riding these skateboard things.  There were kind of like a separated rip-stick.  I spoke with the guy in charge who was from Germany and spoke English really well.  He said the cheapest set was about $50 and the most expensive was $160.  I was ready to buy the cheap set thinking it was a Chinese company and I needed buy them right then, but then he said the company was based in Irvine, CA and we can buy them online.  Creed reminded me that his birthday was coming up.... 

Scott refused the ice cream cone I bought him a few days ago.  He must be becoming more Americanized already.  By the look on his face and the mess he made of it, I am guess this might have been his first 
ice-cream cone. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Good times. We just wish mom was here....

Scott has been very smiley the last couple of days and has had a lot of fun teasing Creed and Pierce.  Of course, he is having a hard time with limits and boundaries, so it is hard to be patient when he takes things a little too far once in a while.  I have had to remind the boys he has to learn how to be in a family and we need to not get frustrated or annoyed with him.  It’s a balancing act to know how to set the limits with him and tell him when to quit without throwing him into an emotional downer.
He is very easy to take care of on his personal needs.  He takes showers twice a day and changes his underwear each time.  I have to recycle some without him knowing.  If he doesn't unroll them  himself after I give him a new pair from the package, he is suspicious of them and will smell them to see if they are clean.  The ones he wears just for one night after a shower still smell clean so I just roll them up and fake him out.  I hope that is not being a dishonest parent - I am just being practical.  He brushes his teeth mostly on his own or as soon as I prompt him if needed.  We bought him an electric tooth brush and at first he didn't like it to be on when he used it - now he leaves it on.  He understands most everything with very few words and sometimes even gestures.  It makes me wonder how much he might be understanding.  He is just very perceptive. 
He likes McDonald's.  He chose a breakfast burrito that is served more like a taco with a floppy tortilla folded in half.  It made it hard to handle for hi, so I rolled it up and closed one end and he could do that fine.  After we were finished he wanted to clean up the tray before I knew where he was headed with it he brought it to the cashiers counter and set it down.  I was right behind him at that point and had to grab it from in front of someone ordering food.  I showed him where to put it so I am sure next time he will take it to the right place.  He only needs to be shown things once and he gets it.

A dinner party with two other families here.

Scott with Judah.  He was adopted just over a year ago, so he has been a help to have around.  Scott laughs at Chinese cartoons when they are just speaking, so he must understand Mandarin quite a bit.

Getting some exercises on Shamian Island.  The road signs at the off ramp had Island spelled Lsiand.  I guess if all the letters are there, that's all that counts.

The stack of authentic Disney movies we bought in Chinese for 20-25 yuan, which is about $4.

One of the famous statues on the island.


The river front by the Canton Tower with a dinner cruise boat in the back ground.

Looking up at the tower when the lights came on.

Totally cool tower.  1,800 feet tall.  The tallest TV tower in the world.  It costs over $20 to go up to the observation deck.  We just marveled from below. :)

The wind and mist coming off these water falls got us wet 15 feet away.  It was a lot of water.

Girls wanting pictures with Creed and Pierce while we were walking around the plaza Friday night.

Fun evening.  Those are lights in the cement - it was a huge plaza with lots of people.  We bought these LED twirly birds that you shoot in the air with a rubber band.  Creed got really good at it.  Pierce made his finger bleed. You can see one to the right of the tower.

The tower constantly changes color.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Through Scott's eyes

Deanne had heard that a camera would be a great thing to give to an older adopted child.  Holy cow, was that right! Scott is just short of 1,000 pictures with his camera in less than a week.  The follpwing 16 photos are obviously just a fraction of the 1,000.  Many of them are blurry (between not being able to hold the camera steady and not waiting for the autofocus to kick in) and sometimes there are 10 of the same thing.  But here are a few glimpses into the world according Scott....   

Creed opening a bag of dried mangos. 

Scott's soda.

Self portraits are common.

The sink drain.  I am sure if the right person painted this piece of art, it would be worth millions.


I don't know if he realized there was a mirror in back of the cabinet where we keep the snack food.  But it worked well to catch him in the act.

He gave Pierce his camera to record his good looks.

He then had to get one of Pierce's good looks. 

He often takes pictures of the Skype sessions.  Her is mom, Bria and Gideon.

Why not?

One of his favorite cartoons on the TV.  I think if we had a way to scroll through the photos he took of this cartoon, we could probably watch the whole thing.

Me making his noodles.

Almost done with his noodles.

He has taken a picture of almost all of his photos on the 3 CDs the orphanage gave him.  So now I have them on my laptop as first generation copies from the CD's and now as second generation pictures of pictures.

He has taken a picutre of almost all of his posessions.  This is a video we purchased for him today.

Doing Great!

The hotel room comes with 2 breakfast buffets.  The 2 extras we need would cost about $20 a piece.  Scott has two bowls of noodles and maybe some juice and a piece of bread.  Those are some pricey noodles, so I send Creed and Pierce down to the hotel buffet and I have been staying in the room for oatmeal, fruit and juice.  My oatmeal is vanilla flavored and I put pieces of peach in it.  Scott likes the chicken and beef flavored oatmeal.  I didn’t know there was such a thing until Scott picked it off the shelf at the grocery store.  He loves it.  Tomorrow I will take him to McDonalds to see how his taste buds will do with an egg mcmuffin.
I did take him to breakfast a couple of mornings ago when Creed and Pierce went to McDonalds.  We sat next to a 35ish black guy who said hello when he sat down by us.  He sounded pretty accent free, so I ventured into a conversation with him.  He is from Kenya.  His name is Raymond. He graduated from Michigan State. Lived in Roseville, CA for a few years and bought a home there in 2005.  He told me how crazy the mortgage companies were to give loans so easily.   Long story short - you can be in a hotel in Southern China, sitting next to a guy from Kenya, who lived within a few miles of where you used to live and is familiar with the your profession.  He said if it wasn’t for living in America, learning to work like Americans, he would not have been there talking to me at that moment.  He said the problem with Kenya, and any underdeveloped country, is that the people don’t understand how to work.
We have seen many people here with big red circles on their necks, backs and shoulders.  They look like big, perfectly round, hickies.  We finally realized what they are.  It is an Asian alternative medicine technique called cupping.  We saw it on a show on Discovery channel.  A glass bulb is filled with hot air by an open flame, then attached to the skin.  It then sucks the blood to that area.  Mystery solved.
We went to the Chimelong International Circus 2 nights ago.  It is totally amazing.  Everything you think a circus should have, this one has it.  The boys loved it!  I was a little worried about Scott being on sensory overload for 2 hours, but he did really well.  There is definitely a difference in being here during the summer.  Besides the hotter weather, there is just more people everywhere.  We went with the Williamsons and I was kind of playing tour guide since they had never been on the subway before.  I thought we would get there in about 30 minutes, but it took close to an hour because of all the crowds along the way.  The circus has a capacity of 8,000 people and they probably had 7500 in attendance.  We were still early enough to have decent seats, but when it was over we were in a hot, sweaty, wave of people making their way to the shuttle buses and into the subway.  The subway station there is not airconditioned so it felt like a sauna.  We didn't get any relief until the subway train started moving.  Fortunately they have a nice flow of cool air blowing through the cars when it is moving.  And being a head taller than everyone else in the trains, Creed, Pierce and I can cool off pretty well in the breeze.
We got back to the hotel about 10:30 and Scott was still in great spirits.  There was a birthday cake waiting for him in the room.  It was supposed to be delivered at 5:00, but it came while we were gone.  The hotel gives the cake for free to the adopted kids with birthdays during their stay here.  I didn't think to take a picture of it before we ate it, but it looked like a chocolate gift box with hard chocolate sides with a soft cake layered with whip cream in the middle.
Yesterday was another shopping trip to restock the oatmeal, water, fruit, etc.  We also got word that Scott's TB test in the blood work came back positive, so we had to head back to the medical clinic for X-Rays to double check the lungs.  After just 30 minutes and another $20, he was cleared.  He was probably exposed to TB, but never got the disease.  that would have been a real tough situation if he had TB.  Either he would have had to go back to the orphanage for a number of months while he took medication, or we would have had to stay with him through the treatment.  Either option would have been very difficult so we are very lucky he is clear to come home. 
Now on to some photos of our recent travels...
This is a 5 foot brass plate in a park close to one of main shopping areas here in Guangzhou.  It's probably the point from which the entire town was layed out and surveyed.  But that is just a guess.

This is why we are here!

There were a total of 7 guys riding motorcycles around in this mesh cage.  They put on this circus 365 days a year.  You would think they would crash once in a while.

The remains of that really cool looking birthday cake for Scott.  I wasn't thnking about taking a picture of it before we ate it since it was 10:30 pm.

Quaker instant oatmeal.  The bag on the left is chicken flavor.  Scott's bag.  The other one I thought was craisen or something, but I think it might be vanilla.  It's kind of funky, but fresh peaches and a little doctoring with berry jam makes it pretty good.

A monster rain storm from our hotel window.

The chest X-Ray to confirm there was no TB after the blood test was positive.  We are good.  I don't know if they told him to hug the machine or not, but they must have said something to that affect.

A monster cockroach.  Yes - this is in the medical clinic.  Scott saw it first and started laughing.  He pointed it out to me.  After I took this photo is scampered down the wall into an office full of nurses.  They promptly screamed and Scott and I had a giggle together.

He was a bit embarrassed to be without his shirt on. 

Paying the fees at the medical clinic with Grace, our guide in the orange shirt, and Scott looking on.

Emily and Hannah Williamson showing Scott some games on the iPad.  They are both very sweet girls.
What every medical clinic should have in the lobby - a vending machine with wine.

It might be just me, but I don't think the lobby for a medical clinic should have flower arrangements that look an awful lot like funeral flowers.

Hannah and Michael Williamson showing a friendly, wandering Chinese girl a game on the iPad with Scott looking on.  This was in the police station. 

This was also at the police station.  No, this is not the Walkers. It is the Williamsons.  I took a picture of them and they were going to take a picture of us in front of the same wall.  However, it was just after this photo that we were enlightened about the prohibition of taking photos at the police station.  So you can imagine us standing there - its quicker than photo shop.