Monday, December 3, 2007

Shamian Island


Today, I thought I would talk a little bit about the part of Guangzhou we are staying in. Guangzhou is a large Chinese city that used to be called Canton. We are staying in a section of Guangzhou, known as Shamian Island, which was a very important area in terms of the Chinese trading during the 18 & 19th centuries between the British & French. Both Great Britain & France built trading houses and grand residences here during that period. There are now, old colonial residences from that time that emanate a sense of former granduer - think of Pirate of the Caribbean with large, old trees with moss hanging down. The island is bordered by the Pearl River and a man-made moat.

It is popular for the local people to practice dancing, Tai Chi, badminton (it is huge here), and also for wedding photography. Today, I saw 3 brides with rented dresses with jeans and tennis shoes on underneath. There are beautiful hotels, small shops and a elementary school. There are also two 7-11 stores and a Coca-Cola store.

Our schedule today included a visit to the medical clinic for Ruthie's physical, which is required for her visa to the US. That was an experience in and of itself. The clinic run by China. The first thing you notice is that the doctors wear the old-fashioned band around their heads with the circular mirror in the front. The nurses wear the old-fashioned caps. The examination lights and the chairs are very old looking (like from the 50 & 60's). But, some of their equipment is very modern - for measuring height and weight, they have you stand on what looks like a scale. It reads the height & weight electronically without the nurse having to do anything other than have you stand on it. It gives the reading out loud.

Ruthie had a basic physical today at the clinic, along with the other kids in our group who are being adopted. The doctor spent a lot of time giving her vision tests. They used a variety of corrective lenses to help to improve her sight and had her retake the vision tests. I am looking forward to having her vision tested back home to see what kind of treatment she will need.

Once we finished at the clinic, we all went to the playground. You form a special bond with the families you travel with on an adoption trip. We have been blessed to be traveling with 3 great families. The adults had a great time talking while the kids played together on the playground. Ruthie has really enjoyed playing with Katy (the other 9-year old in our group). Katy gave her a traditional red thread bracelet and Ruthie just loved it.

Ruthie is doing very well in fitting in with our family. We are careful not to make too many demands right away because there is such a steep learning curve for someone who was raised in an orphanage and totally different culture from ours. We are gradually introducing social norms and rules to her, but realize that we need to be patient and do it gradually. She is watching us closely and learning so much.

She really likes playing with Kai and they have a lot of fun together. She is helpful with Gracie as well and they have some fun together as well. We spend time each day doing some homework. Below is Ruthie practicing her name.

*For those of you who know Gracie - she loves the wooden snake she bought last summer in Williams, AZ. She spends a lot of time just playing with it on hard surfaces. We brought it with us and it was so nice for her to have it while we are in such a different place. Well, Todd accidentally broke it 2 days ago. Gracie was very nice about it. I was going to have to try to get another one from the little store in Williams, BUT, while shopping this evening, I found another one in a shop here on Shamian Island. YEAH! Gracie was beside herself, she was so happy.

There are many other families who are adopting and it is fun getting to know some of them. We met a family from the US who are adopting a precious little 9-year old girl. She is from Kai's orphanage in Hangzhou. She is very small for her age, she looks about 7 years old. She has a severe heart condition and cannot walk far distances, so her new parents push her in a wheelchair. I found out after speaking to her father today that she may only have 2 years to live. They are hopeful with surgery, that she will be able to live, at the most, 10 more years. At that time, they are praying that there will be new cardiac procedures so that she can survive longer. I was so touched by this. This little girl is so friendly and so fragile. It is obvious that she has bonded so well with her new parents. Her new dad carries her on his shoulders all around and he is such a proud dad. Please include her and her family in your prayers.

Tomorrow, we are all going out to dinner at the local Thai restaurant with the rest of our group. The next day, we travel to the US Consulate to take our oath regarding our adoptive children. We then will be leaving on Thursday morning.

"Talk" to you all tomorrow.



Grace said...

It sounds and looks like such a neat city. I was sorry to hear about Gracie's snake (I know how much she loves it) but so pleased to hear that you found another one. What are the odds of that?

I can't believe that you guys are going to be home in just a couple of days now. I'm sure Brittney and Rachele are thrilled!!! Rachele has been busy lately but if she can make it, we're going to take her to Zoo Lights with us on Wednesday evening.

We'll be praying that these last few days in China continue to go smoothly for all of you and that you have very safe travels home.


Anonymous said...

We are so excited with only three days left in your "Journey to AnAn". Dad and I have been praying for you day and night. Now we will be in prayer for your safe return.
We recognized some of the buildings as French architecture;they are so beautiful.
We would love to travel to that part of China someday with its mild climate and lovely landscape.
We are glad that your shopping adventure turned out to be a delightful experience. What fun!
Yesterday we had help with our tree decorating and raindeer cookies from Rachele, Anysia, and Jake. Our morning was spent with Rachele at church; she looked real pretty and we were proud to introduce her to our friends. She looked alittle out of place sitting with all of us Seniors, though.
Until Thursday... with love, Dad and Mom

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you are coming home Thursday, but I will really miss your blogs! They are the first thing I check each morning and you are such a good writer Noelle--thank you!
I can only imagine how much fun you had shopping-you're right--dad would have loved it!
It is 48 degrees here this morning and a beautiful clear day. Rachele has a FFA meeting after school and I'll pick her up. We all look forward to seeing you.

Love, MOM

Anonymous said...

How I wish I was shopping with you on GZ.......!! We are glad things are still going well. YuMei(and I!) wait anxiously each day for your update. You are in the home stretch of your trip now!

Tina and YuMei

Brett and Jennifer Humphrey said...

Hi Everybody,

We wish we were on the playgroud with you. We remember that playground and how much fun we had there.

We're so glad we get to see you in a few days. Say, "Hi" to Ruthie for us!

We're going Christmas shopping today for Ruthie and feel like we know her pretty well from your blog. That should be fun.

Kenny, Josh and Sofie

Brett and Jennifer Humphrey said...

Thank you for the update, I do miss Guangzhou, we had so much fun there. We will be praying for the little girl and her parents. How wonderful that this family was willing to adopt her, even though they knew they would face tremendous challenges. I look forward to seeing all of you over Christmas and spending time with you all.

Brittney said...

When I checked the blog at 6:30 I panicked that you hadn't left one! I am so glad you did! Gracie sounds like she was so grown up about her snake breaking! That is so cool you found a new one for her! I still can't get over her calling me at 8AM to ask where Jeff put her snake. I can't wait to see you Thursday!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you are having a lot of fun in China! I only wish I could be with you in China when I read the blog entries. How is everyone getting along? I really wish I could meet Ruthie. She souds like she is fun and right for me! See you at the airport!
Have a Great Time!
Anysia J.