Monday, November 30, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Many have asked for a summary of our trip and some recent updates so I’ll do my best to bring you up to speed.

We’ve been home nearly a week and have hit the ground running full steam. Our three oldest children are in school, (Jordan now returning after a three-week absence), and continuing with their normal activities; sports, friends, youth group at church, cheerleading etc. Sheila is taking off work until the first part of December to help with Eden’s adjustment into our family. Much work was waiting for me upon my return. We are so glad to be home and to at least function together as a family. A new sense of what normal looks like for our family should occur soon.

Good, sound sleep has remained most allusive. Eden has done much better with her sleeping the last few nights, but did have some challenges early on, with days and nights being reversed. Last night was the first night I slept more than a few hours. I’m hopeful that we’ll all be on some solid sleep patterns beginning this week.

I guess I should include some statements regarding the conclusion of our trip to China.

The travels back home were arduous, to say the least. There is no easy way to travel across the world in a 30-hour time span with a small child, but we managed as best we could. It ended up that Eden was too big for a bassinet so Sheila made a pallet for her to sleep on the floor. It did the trick. Eden was able to rest some on the plane. There wasn’t much sleep for the rest of us. Our seats on the flight from Shanghai to Chicago were split into two pairs. Jordan was able to eventually worm her way in and sit with Sheila and Eden. It was a long, long flight.

We landed in Chicago an hour early so we had hoped to call my parents to meet us at the airport so that they could see Eden. It was not to be. We proceeded to wait in lines for immigration and customs for nearly three hours. It was a nightmare.

We finally finished our proceedings with customs at around 5:40 pm. Our flight was to leave for St. Louis at 6:00 pm. You had to be there, but it looked like the scene in Home Alone when the family is charging through the airport trying to catch their flight to France. Jordan was in charge of zooming ahead with Eden in a stroller. Sheila and I had as many bags as we could carry. We went through another security check and then ran past an area with some United Airlines employees. We told them that we had only 15 minutes to catch our flight back to St. Louis and still had to take a train to another terminal, go through more security, and then run like the wind to our gate to make the flight. They told us to drop our bags and then would make sure they got to St. Louis. I can’t even tell you why, but I trusted them and dropped our bags. We ran outside, boarded an escalator, ran to a train platform, and waited and waited for a train. That train took across the airport to a domestic terminal. We then dashed through more security as much as one could dash having to place one’s belts, shoes, computer, carry on items, fold a stroller, toothbrush and toothpaste through the security screen; show passports, boarding passes, get screened with the wand, and then have to dump out Eden’s water in her sippy cup, forgetting that it was in there. It was then another mad dash to the gate.

We arrived at the gate at exactly 5:59 pm. Sweat pouring. Heart racing. Completely frazzled. The plane was delayed by 10 minutes. We made it. We wanted to cry. You have no idea just how bad we wanted to get home. God once again made a way.

Sheila, Jordan and I took turns taking mini-showers inside the plane’s mini-bathroom; putting on a fresh change of clothes, washing up and brushing our teeth. It felt wonderful. Within 40 minutes we landed in St. Louis.

As we made our way through St. Louis’ Lambert International Airport, we were greeted by a sea of loving family and friends from church. “Welcome Home” signs were everywhere. Christopher and Micah never looked so good. We hugged and kissed all. Eden was a bit overwhelmed but she did well considering the tidal wave of emotions from everyone.

Our bags never made the plane. Big surprise. No big deal, though. They were on my front porch when I woke the next morning.

Being home was sheer bliss. I can’t describe the flood of emotions we felt over the last many weeks. Somehow being home with Eden and all our children made everything right.

This week things should return to somewhat of a normal routine.

Eden is doing extremely well. Although a bit guarded when meeting people for the first time, she warms up to them very quickly. Eden’s two big brothers, Christopher and Micah have fallen in love with their little sister. Both of the boys have been warm, affectionate and playful with Eden.

Sheila’s sister, Wendee and her three children are still with us. They all flew in from Alaska so that Wendee could care for our boys while we were in China. That, by the way, was a huge, huge help to us, and gave Sheila tremendous peace of mind. One of Sheila’s prayers was that her sister would be able to be near when we got our little girl. When Tom and Wendee and the kids moved to Alaska last year to be missionaries, we thought that they returning home for the adoption were not possible. But God made a way, and through some loving friends and many prayers, Wendee and the kids came to Illinois and have continued to be a source of great help and support.

Eden seems to be right at home with our family. It’s rained buckets since we came home so our outdoor activities have been somewhat limited. However, my wife being the trooper that she is has still made some time for some shopping with Eden. All the girls were able to get their nails done through the kindness of a very dear, friend. Eden loved it. She seems to be quite comfortable with our family and what are now becoming her normal routines.

Eden is slowly picking up a few English words. She is still, based on her spunky spirit, able to get you to do what she wants. I told someone this week that I think we’ll soon enter into a “Chinglish” language, with the hopes of moving more and more toward English in the coming months.

We’re also very thankful to God for Eden’s health. Our pediatrician was pleased with her overall stature and spunkiness. In fact, she was unable to hear any heart murmur whatsoever. So it continues to appear that Eden’s surgery in China was successful. Eden’s height is in middle range. Her weight, however, is quite low on the growth chart. The doctor’s prescription of whole milk and allowing her to eat anything she wants and as much as she wants should do the trick of putting some meat on her bones.

In the coming weeks we’ll take Eden to a pediatric cardiologist and a pediatric dermatologist to double-check things with her heart and to look at the spots and scarring on Eden’s legs, arms and back. We think they may be from mosquitoes or other bugs; not sure, though.

To be continued …

November 13, 2009

I am terribly sorry for what is now a two-week delay to finishing our blog post. I got busy doing something else, came down with a major case of ADD and literally having been running non-stop since we got home.

Again, I’ll do my best to finalize some thoughts.

Family life is wonderful. Although our days and nights seem to be ever so busy, we are thoroughly enjoying life together. Eden continues to thrive. She remains the best eater and sleeper in the family. I realize that all of life has its challenges, and many of those come from the Lord to strengthen and mature us in our faith, but as of now things are quite smooth with our newest daughter and her adjustment into our family. Sheila will remain off work until after Thanksgiving. Until then, she is able to care for Eden throughout each day and enjoying every minute of it.

Normal days include all that involves moving the three older kids through life including school, cheerleading, church activities, friends, ball practice, cooking meals, running errands, caring for the house, and lots of play time with Eden including some lovely walks around our city park.

One most pleasant surprise is just how much Eden has begun to enjoy other people and doing things with our family. She is still a bit hesitant when meeting new people but usually quickly warms up and becomes playful and affectionate with them as well. In fact, once Eden has found a circle of loving friends she’ll usually play musical chairs with them going from one to the other wanting to be hugged and played with. There have been lots of games of peek-a-boo, play times in the backyard, and musical concerts with the help of some spoons, pots and pans. We’ve enjoyed many visits with family members, neighbors, and friends from church over these last many weeks.

Jordan’s cheerleading schedule has kept us all hopping. Eden has been a real trooper. She loves jumping up and down, cheering along with the fans and clapping each down she does something that puts a huge smile on our faces. Plus, she is a lover of all things salty and sweet. Popcorn is her favorite snack at the ballgames.

We’re looking forward to being in Chicago for Thanksgiving to spend time with family and lifelong friends.

We’d like to once again thank all of you who have been such a special part of our adoption journey. We have been blessed through your friendship, prayers, many acts of kindness and love to our family. These last two years have been like a roller coaster, lots of ups and downs. It has, however, been more than worth it. I can say that choosing to adopt this precious little girl has become the best thing that has happened to our family.

Some of asked us if it was difficult to love a child from a different race and culture, to love a child that is not naturally our own. Believe me, those are non-issues. The choice to love is simply that – a choice to love. We’ve loved Eden from the very moment we sensed God’s call to adopt.

Let me close with some thoughts from the beginning of this journey. Some of you may not fully know how the call to adopt entered into my life. Sheila was already fully on board with the idea, as were the children. I was never against adoption. In fact, the opposite is true. I just wasn’t certain that adoption was right for our already “full” family. Sheila asked me to pray about the matter. I did.

One day, while reading the Bible I came across these words spoken at Jesus’ baptism. “At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased’” (Mark 1:9-11).

As I began to think about the significance of the words spoken by God the Father to Jesus at His baptism these thoughts penetrated my heart: “These are words of identity. These are words of belonging and acceptance. These are words that are shared in families. These are words of unconditional love. These are words of noble pride and solid affirmation.”

Of all the things the Father could have said to Jesus as His Son was thrust into public ministry that would culminate with Him sacrificially giving His life on the cross to forgive the sins of the world the Father reminded Jesus of exactly who He was, who He belonged to, how very much He was loved, and just how proud His Dad was of Him.

God spoke clear to my heart that there was a little girl in the world who at that time didn’t know who she really was in God’s eyes. I was broken over the possibility that a little girl growing up in an orphanage may never discover her true identity in life. I was broken over her not yet knowing a family’s true and unconditional love. I wept at the need for a little girl to hear her daddy say to her, “I love you so much and I’m so proud of you.”

At the most clear moment I’ve had with God’s Spirit speaking into my heart I heard God’s call for me to adopt a little girl. With tears streaming down my cheeks for over an hour I rested in God’s love for me and stated my obedience to adopt a little girl so that she too could know who she is and just how much she is loved by God and her family.

That was it. From that moment on the call to adopt was clear. Sure there have been more challenges than I could count. But the call was clear. Adoption was no longer an option. God had spoken clearly that we were to commit to adopt in choosing to forever love a little girl. That single call has held us firm in this journey despite encountering many obstacles.

I weep now writing these words. I have no concept of picturing our lives without Eden. God has done more for our family than I could ever ask or imagine. Eden has touched our lives with the very hand and blessing of God. And now we have the joy to do what God had spoken to me two years earlier. We tell Eden all the time that she is our little girl. We tell her all of the time just how much she is part of our family. We tell her that we love her over and over again, dozens and dozens of times each day. And we smile and clap with joyful pride as we watch her develop in life.

I am forever grateful to Jesus for blessing our lives with Eden. The journey to bring her home is finally over. The journey to love her and care for her continues each day.

May God bless your lives, and my prayer for many is that God will call you to adopt so that a child can discover the love of God and his/her true identity in Christ. May your lives be forever enriched with God’s love.

We count you all as dear friends and gifts to our family. Thanks again for encouraging us along the way.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Three stowaways trapped in the bathroom on the U.S.S. Nightmare. That is how Sheila, Jordan and I felt for a good while this evening. We were hoping for an early bedtime on our last evening in China. But Eden decided not to cooperate with our plans. She has normally been quite the easy baby, falling asleep each evening without much coddling. We were hoping for the same tonight, but to no avail. Our plans to finish up some last minute packing while Eden slept were thwarted by our now, spunky little girl.

Usually, all we need to do to help Eden fall asleep is to turn out all the nights. In a few minutes she’s out cold. Not tonight. Every time we thought she was asleep and turn the computer on to finish blogging or the closet light on to finish our packing she’d stand up in the crib ready to play or just laugh. Finally, all three of us hid in the bathroom and attempted to read while Eden fell asleep. It was so funny. After several minutes we would gently sneak out of the bathroom to check on Eden who seemed to be waiting on us so that we could play some more. Then it was off to the bathroom again for the three of us, trapped like stowaways, waiting for our little one to drift off to sleep. You had to be there. We could not help roar with laughter.

It’s amazing. We’ve had Eden for less than two weeks and she’s already the puppet master, pulling strings and making two adults and an older sister run and hide in a bathroom until she falls asleep.

Well, we are finally finishing up our adoption journey in China. Today was a pleasant day; not much going on. We tried to keep things low key. Breakfast. Shopping. Lunch. Packing. Shopping. Dinner. And yes, more shopping. I love my wife very much but how she discovers reason and reason for gathering more stuff is beyond me. I guess she’s right. Buying a pair of shoes at $3 a pair versus $15 a pair at Target when we get home does make sense. But I’ve had enough. The people are generally sweet, but oh so very shrewd. They’re out to make a living. It’s all part of how things are done in China.

We’ll leave for the airport around 6:45 am and then begin about 26 hours of traveling. Please continue to pray that all goes well and keep praying for the baby crib on the plane.

Often I’ve heard the question, “How does it feel?” referring to Eden’s adoption. Sheila and I have asked that question to one another many times. Sheila continues to use the word surreal to describe her take on things at present. The journey was difficult in getting to this point. Adoption is never easy. It’s just never wrong. There is so much up and down in the process of adoption that when you finally do get your child you almost don’t know how to let your emotions be truly free, especially when you’re thrust into chasing down a 2-year old.

We love our newest daughter very much; no less or more than our other three children. We’ve missed out on so much with Eden; her first tooth, her first steps, her first words and her first smile. But God knew exactly what He was doing in matching us with this precious gift.

I find myself doing the same things with and for Eden that I still do for my other children. I think of Eden non-stop, just like my other children. I look at her while she sleeps and bask in the wonder and glory of Almighty God, just as I do with my other children. I pray for and dream of her future in Christ, believing that God will bring her to faith in Christ at a young age and use her for His glory in serving the needs of the world, perhaps even return to her home country, China. I’m totally overprotective and am ready to pounce the moment I think she is threatened in any way.

I marvel at our new daughter and the personality she has already developed. Eden is loving. She is warm and affectionate. She is a determined little girl, not wanting to give up the smallest of tasks until she succeeds. She is spunky and independent; she knows what she wants and wants it right now. She is so beautiful. She’s like a beautiful little doll you would see in the old Marshall Field’s on State Street in Chicago, delicate and spectacular in every way. She is sweet and kind, already wanting to do things to please us. She has the best stare; sometimes serious, sometimes quizzical, and at other times very deep. She is playful and fun to be with. She is easy. I’ll probably want to take that last statement back in a few years. She has a funny strut about her, especially when wearing her squeaky shoes. I love the way she holds my pinky finger when we walk together. Each of my other three kids did the same. That’s a great dad feeling. I love the way Eden has bonded so well with Sheila, Jordan and me, and look forward to the love that will develop between her and her older brothers. Christopher and Micah will be amazing big brothers.

Eden's first Merry Go Round Ride

I’m just so glad Eden is our little girl. In a word, I’m blessed. God has done more for our family than I could ever ask or imagine. Our lives are forever blessed because of this precious little one. I hope to be a good dad and even calm down a bit. Intensity runs in the Peters genes. Sorry.

I must also say a word about my dearest wife, Sheila. What an amazing person. And although she is many things; wife, daughter, sister and friend; she is above all a godly woman who loves Jesus and one terrific mom. You should see the way she is with her newest daughter. She’s amazing. Eden will grow up knowing that even for that very brief time she was apart from her mother, she was always in her heart, and there she will remain forever.

See you in 36 hours. Can’t wait.


Safari tour

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We’re all a bit overtired so bear with me as I attempt to crank out some thoughts.

Today was actually a super fun day. Since our appointment with the Consulate was moved up a day we were able to have a free day filled with fun. After an enjoyable breakfast we loaded up in a taxi to a Safari Park in Guangzhou.

Again, I must comment on the driving. It’s insane. There are no rules. There are no driving lanes. There is absolutely no respect for other drivers. It’s insane. What probably was technically four lanes of highway turning into two lanes moving onto a bridge turned into another stampede of at least 8-12 cars and trucks side by side trying to enter a two-lane bridge. It’s unbelievable here. There is no way to accurately describe the chaos on the roads. Plus, we were crammed into another small taxi with no air-conditioning on what turned out to be the hottest day we’ve had since arriving in China. Alas, after a major, major bout of traffic jams and some challenges with the heat we finally made it to the Safari Park.

Our experience today was well worth the headache in getting there. It was simply a gorgeous zoo/safari park with beautifully decorated green space with a full array of natural flowers. The animals were also fantastic. We took it all in; lions, tigers, bears – oh my. It was wonderful watching Eden come alive at seeing the animals. It is probable that she has never seen more than a stray dog or cat near the orphanage in her entire life. It was just a great, great day enjoying the beauty and wonder of God’s creation.

In addition to the zoo there was also a complete safari like experience while riding a train. Everyone loved it. Instead of just seeing one lion or tiger asleep at the zoo you would often see dozens of different kinds of animals all throughout the safari experience. They basically took us through the many different animal kingdoms found in both Asia and Africa and aside from some obvious space protections from the more aggressive animals we were able to have zebra, giraffe, camel walk very, very close to our train. It was so neat to watch Eden wave to all the animals.

We’ve found most people here to be incredibly friendly. However, they are the shrewdest people I have ever come in contact with. It takes one to know one. We met two lovely families who originated from China but have lived in Australia for over 20 years. You talk about something interesting; listening to Chinese people speak Chinese one minute and then hear them speak English with an Australian accent. Very neat. They were wonderful to visit with.

One interesting thing happened at Safari Park. Sheila was quite the celebrity. Blond-haired women are a rare commodity here so some folks asked Sheila if they could take her picture. Don’t let her fool you – she loved it. I mentioned before about the lack of personal space in China. Well, in some ways it can be exhilarating to talk about life with them. Through our new Chinese/Australian friends many folks asked us how it is that we were walking around with a Chinese baby. They were shocked to learn that this little Chinese girl was indeed ours now through adoption. They were even more shocked to hear of Eden’s abandonment and eventual placement in an orphanage. They, like us, believe very strongly that Eden’s biological parents made the only decision possible to save her life.

It was a bit surprising to learn that many Chinese people have no idea that there are thousands upon thousands of Chinese children adopted by foreigners each year with multiple thousands of children who remain in orphanages. They thought us to be so kind in choosing to bring a little girl into our home from another country that has had medical challenges. We’re learning day by day that it is us who are the ones so richly blessed by God for having Eden in our lives.

The entire day was so very enjoyable. Eden and her big sister and mommy even got to go on a Merry-go-Round ride together. Eden’s smile was as wide as it could be.

Our drive back to the hotel was smooth sailing. There are many people, in addition to taxi drivers, who hire their private vehicle. We negotiated a price to take us back to the hotel. Sheila laughed at me when I told her that I picked the smallest and most timid driver in a line of many who were vying for our business. Just in case.

After a needed rest in our room we enjoyed a nice dinner at Lucy’s Café. The girls, not Jaws, but the other two are desperately craving American food. We’ve spent much time talking about what restaurants we most want to eat at when we return home and what favorite home-cooked meals we can’t wait to enjoy together. So far the winners are Red Robin burgers, Cheesecake Factory chicken and biscuits, anything at Pappy’s Bar-B-Queue, Sheila’s famous pork steaks, tacos and twice-baked potatoes. We are craving some home cookin’.

Eden was a bit fussy tonight. It’s really the first time she fussed much since we got her. I’m pretty sure Sheila was cussed out again in Chinese.

Eden’s passport and visa arrived tonight. Tomorrow we will spend time doing some last-minute shopping. Apparently, there is still more stuff out there to buy. We promised Jordan some pool time. After that, we’ll pack and head for our favorite Italian restaurant for dinner. Don’t worry; we’ll bring the sippy cup. And then it’s off to an early bed time. Our transport to the airport is at 6:45 am on Saturday morning. We then begin 25 hours of traveling. Please pray that all goes well with our connections and flights. Also pray that we’re able to get a bassinet on the plane for Eden. We’re hoping she is able to sleep on the plane.

We can’t wait to see all of you. Thanks for your investment of prayer, love and friendship to our family. This journey has been all the more enjoyable with you along sharing the ride.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 (Late in the evening)
Nicknames. My mother is the esteemed giver of nicknames for our children. She usually comes up with a combination of something very cute with something very Yiddish. I, on the other hand, have decided upon a most deserved nickname for our daughter, Eden – Jaws. Here is the funny and nearly tragic story.

I mentioned before the ferocity of Eden’s eating. She tears into food like it is no one’s business. She’ll eat non-stop if we let her, inhaling her food. She also doesn’t like to be messed with while eating. Yesterday, while eating at an Italian restaurant, Sheila went to tie a cloth napkin around her neck because we forgot Eden’s bib. Eden had already started to eat some pizza, her second dinner by the way, and when Sheila seemingly got between Eden and her food she was on the receiving end of a verbal tirade with some serious finger pointing. Sheila said, “I’m not sure, but I think she just cussed me out in Chinese.” It was hysterical.

The next thing that happened was the funny and tragic part. We also forgot Eden’s sippy cup. I suggested that Eden drink from the bottle of water I had. I was out voted and told to put the water in the cup. I did. I then watched my daughter take a drink and then heard a terrifying sound. Now remember, she’s drinking water so the only sound should be the sound of swallowing. What I heard was the sound of glass shattering. Sure enough, as I gently pulled the glass from Eden’s mouth an entire section had been chewed off. The Jewish in me quickly panicked as a held Eden’s head forward and stuck my finger in the side of her mouth and guided out the broken pieces of glass. There were several. I hollered for Sheila who also quickly jumped into action and pulled more glass out of Eden’s mouth. Eden never cried. She never seemed upset that broken glass was in her mouth or that I was jamming my finger in for an immediate search and rescue. Eden was just fine. All the glass was removed. She never had a single cut in her mouth. And at the end of the panicked experience she went right back to eating pizza. God is good. Eden is tough as nails and is able to chew glass. JAWS!

Warming up Eden's dinner!

The end of our evening was most enjoyable. Eden’s personality turns very playful when it is just our family. We hugged and wrestled, laughed and played. Eventually, Eden fell asleep in my arms. Very, very sweet.

I must say a word about Jordan. She continues to be amazing. I wasn’t certain that taking Jordan with us and her being so far from home and her routine was the right thing to do. It was absolutely the right thing. This experience has helped all of us really grow in our understanding of people and culture. Jordan has learned so much. She and her little sister are best friends. They have bonded so well with one another. And I do believe having another child with Sheila and I has helped Eden connect well with our family. Jordan has also been such a help to Sheila and me. I am so proud of Eden’s sister and our vey special daughter, Jordan.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today was actually a really fun day. Sheila took Eden for a quick TB check-up. Praise God – all was clear. We then had a very enjoyable breakfast with some new friends. The last couple of days have been quite wonderful, meeting new adopting families and hearing their miracle stories. They are countless and each one is so precious.
We met a mother today from Long Island, New York. She had previously adopted a little girl from China several years ago and has now returned to adopt a beautiful almost teenage girl. I kept thinking just how brave this young lady is to enter into a new home with a brand new family, a new country, a new culture and language after living 11 years in China. She seemed quite happy and well adjusted with her adoptive mother and sister but I’m certain there is so much fear to overcome. She is perhaps one of the most brave persons I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. The miracles of adoptions continue to amaze me.

After breakfast, I, (Jonathan) actually did some shopping with some other guys at the electronic market. It was fine but I’m a little tired from the games that are played. The copyright laws are very different in China and everything you can think of has been copied and cloned to sell at lower prices. You’ve never seen so much stuff. It’s actually pretty sick.

Sheila and the girls enjoyed some time at the pool. Mom and Jordan also decided to paint Eden’s fingers and toes. She loved it and did not want them to stop. Mom and big sister are thrilled to have another girly-girl.

The plans for the afternoon changed on us, but for the good. We were told that our Consulate appointment was moved up a day. Eden was dressed so beautifully in her Red, White and Blue dress embroidered with her name and given to us by our dear friend, Shannon. She was adorable and received many compliments.

The experience at the Consulate was very moving. The ceremony itself was more of a formality but seeing hundreds of families adopting these beautiful, beautiful children and so many of them with special needs; it was a special and very emotional experience.

Here is my quick soapbox on adoption. It is so right in every way possible. If I were not a pastor and I decided to dedicate my life to serve one cause this would be it – hands down. We’ve met family after family whose lives have been forever enriched, both the newly adopted child and the existing family, because of the choice to adopt. I met a man today who was adopted when he was 4 years old. He has no memory of his biological family. Together, he and his wife have 9 children. He always knew that he would adopt children as an adult. He knew how much the choice someone made to love him and bring him into their family forever changed his life and knew he was called to do the same. I make no apology as one who hopes to help people consider eternity right now. Adoption is at the very heart of God. I hope many of you choose this path for your own families. You’ll be forever blessed.

The remainder of our evening was spent enjoying a lovely dinner with new friends at our favorite Italian restaurant. This time we brought Eden’s sippy cup. But she did scarf down the Gnocchi and Jordan’s chocolate cake. Jaws can throw it down. I think she can give the guy from Man vs. Food a run for his money.

Well, it’s off to bed now. We have a free day tomorrow and then wait to receive Eden’s passport and visa on Friday. Saturday morning can’t come soon enough. We miss home and the boys so much and look forward to beginning our new life with Eden with our church family and friends.

Blessings to you all. Please continue to pray for us on our last days in China and as we travel back to the states.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Yesterday we started out kind of early. We met our guide and another family at 8:00. We walked a few blocks to a medical facility here on the island. It was a Chinese medical clinic. It was very crowded. We waited in a separate room just for adoptive families. The mosquitoes were horrible! They just swarm you! Eden had to get a TB test, and a medical check up. She cried more when the doctor and nurses touched her than when they stuck her with a needle for the TB test. She likes to be out among the people, but she doesn't like to be messed with. The exam was quite interesting. To test her hearing they shook a tambourine on either side of her head to see if she would look. Jonathan thought they were trying to distract her and tried to get her to look at it. I had to tell him not to talk to her they were testing her hearing! She pretty much screamed through the whole thing. Luckily it was over pretty quickly. We go back in the morning to have her TB test read. Hopefully it will be o.k. because otherwise we will have to have a chest x-ray. The whole experience definitely made me appreciate our medical care back home!

After lunch we went with another family to a market in Guang Zhou. It was extremely crowded. They sold Jade and pearls there. There are so many shops we wonder who shops there; because most people don't seem like they would have enough money for this type of thing. We also saw a Buddhist temple. There were people burning incense and kneeling to worship the statues of Buddha. It is really sad to see people praying to a man made statue who cannot hear or help them. I am happy when I think that we are offering Eden a chance to know the truth.

Eden's personality is really starting to come out. She seems very happy and content to be with us. She is such a happy girl, constantly smiling and laughing. She is so affectionate and loving. Eden loves to play and always wants a hug. God has been so good to us. He has answered our prayers in so many ways. The transition to our family has gone better than we could have dreamed. We prayed for God to prepare her heart for us and He has more than answered that prayer. My other prayer has been that He would prepare her heart to someday know and accept Him. We are so happy and grateful. We can't wait to come home and for everyone to meet her.

Much love to all, Sheila

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

All the girls are asleep so I thought I would catch up with some writing. Let me first catch you up on the events that took place on Saturday.

Saturday morning was spent with last minute packing, eating breakfast in shifts to get everything done, saying good-bye to Anna (our adoption coordinator and guide in Hangzhou), and making our way to the airport. We are glad to be done with taxis in Hangzhou.

Jordan, by the way, is feeling so much better. Thank God. Thanks also to all who faithfully prayed for our family. Please keep it up.

Another praise is just how smooth things have gone with every appointment, security check in airports, connections with planes and transportation waiting for us each time we exit an airport waiting to take us to our next destination. God has been most favorable to us in this way.

A word about the Chinese people – complex. They are wonderfully kind but have no regard for personal space or what we would consider normal manners. Take for example waiting in line. There is none of that in China. We waited in line yesterday to board a plane and were probably toward the back of what I thought was a line, maybe a hundred people deep. But when the gate opened to begin boarding what I thought was a line turned out to be a stampede with people shoving their way through and literally knocking people out of the way. This is normal. The odd thing is that no one seems upset by it. It’s just the Chinese way. I must admit that I’ve had just about all I can take in this department. I must also admit that I was a bit gleeful when I learned that a British man staying at the same hotel as us also had enough of the stampeding and grabbed a Chinese line cutter and forced him to get behind him.

Another example of the different cultures took place on the plane from Hangzhou to Guangzhou. Since Eden is over 2 we were required to purchase a seat for her. Our seats on the plane happened to be next to a woman who also had a small child with her, only her child was less than 2 years old and did not have his own seat. But mom decided that he would have his own seat no matter what. When the flight attendant asked us about putting Eden in a seat we told her that we would but the woman was not about to move and we didn’t want to cause a problem. When the flight attendant asked her to remove herself from the seat that she did not pay for she stared her down and refused. Needless to say, we held Eden the entire plane ride, but she did well. Another example of a very different culture.

We arrived in Guangzhou late in the afternoon. Sheila and the girls walked the grounds of the hotel and I did paperwork with our local adoption coordinator, Grace.

In the evening we enjoyed supper at Lucy’s Café. We were thrilled to have a hamburger and fries. It wasn’t quite American but it was close. We spent the remainder of the evening walking the area and obtaining a few needed supplies from a local 7-11.

Sunday morning began early but with a slow push to finally get out the door. That’s par for the course for the lovely Mrs. Peters.

By the way, we’re staying at the White Swan Hotel on Shamian Island in Guangzhou. It’s a magnificent hotel with beautiful waterfalls, exquisite shops throughout, and wonderfully accommodating to adopting families. The White Swan is well known for its international flavor. In fact, there is a Trade Fair in Guangzhou this week so in addition to foreigners adopting, there are literally people from all over the world attending the Trade Fair. It’s nice to see so many nations represented but it comes at a cost, jacked up prices and very, very crowded. It has also been nice to meet with many other adopting families who have shared the stories of their own adoption journeys.

Our breakfast was delightful. Jordan was especially glad to have delicacies such as French toast and scrambled eggs. The food choices are in line with the overall theme of the hotel, international with many western options.

After breakfast we walked to the Christ Church. To my knowledge, Christ Church is the only Protestant church on the small island. Its beginnings date back to the mid 1800’s, during the British Colonial period in China. The people were very warm and friendly. However, we soon learned that a later, 11:30 am service was in both Chinese and English. We decided to quietly slip out and return for the later service.

The worship service was very meaningful for us. It was Eden’s first worship service. She, like some who are forced to listen to my preaching, slept for much of it. Listening to the local people sing in Chinese was heaven-sent. We also sang very familiar choruses including “Isn’t He” and “Here I am to Worship”. I was glad to worship Jesus with my Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ.

It was especially meaningful to hear the pastor preach. His text was James 2, the very passage I am currently studying in preparation for my messages when I return home. God continues to confirm His hand in so many ways.

After worship we walked around the island window shopping, and shopping and shopping. Sheila and Jordan are in their element and Eden seems to be of the same mold. Eden also loves to be in the stroller and just be outside moving about. I love to watch her look at the people. We tend to forget that she has spent the vast majority of these past 28 months holed up in a two-room orphanage and has had very little contact with the outside world. It continues to be enjoyable to see the world through our daughter’s eyes.

A pleasant interlude …

His name is 115. I should say that is the number on the identification button he pointed to when I asked him his name. 115 is a massage specialist at the Shamian Traditional Chinese Medical Center. So far, besides the miraculous adoption of our daughter, this was indeed my personal highlight of the trip. I happened by the establishment after Sheila and the girls decided to once again “just look into” yet another shop. This time it was a Disney store. I assumed they would be there awhile so I decided to venture ahead and explore Shamian Island in Guangzhou. My exploration took me only another 25 feet, for the very next building was home to the Shamian Traditional Chinese Medical Center.

Upon entering, I was greeted by a lovely staff who handed me a price sheet. Was it really possible? Could it be that a 60 minute body massage was only 68 RMB? For you newcomers, that’s 10 bucks. Apparently the Disney store had little to offer my girls because Sheila was right behind me. When I told her about the massage she told me to jump at it. I was glad to oblige. Before leaving, she requested yet more money just in case one of those “just looking shops” had something impossible to pass up.

All I can say is that 115 and I became fast friends. We said to little to each other. He asked me only a few times if I was okay, and because I was in pure paradise, all I could do was nod and grunt in a most affirming way. 115 knew I was happy. And I was. Hands down the best massage ever. The Chinese know what they’re doing in this department. They also must indeed have the cure for baldness. We bald beauties are a rare bird. Right now I think I’m a flock of one. But the massage was wonderful.

Sheila, Jordan and Eden spent time at the pool this afternoon. Apparently, Eden took right to it and tried to jump in without mom. She loves the water. Bath times are also special for her. It looks like we’ll have another beach lover in the family. Sheila had a wonderful time enjoying the water with her two best girls.

After a brief nap for Eden we ventured back out for dinner at an Italian restaurant. Again, not home but good. I’ve never seen a child eat so much. In many ways it is so very sad. Eden probably had little to eat with even less variety. She eats all that we put before her and never quits. We have to physically remove the food from her sight to convince her it is time to stop eating. She also wastes nothing. Even the little that falls off her spoon she delicately goes back after it and consumes every last bite. She’s an independent eater. She does not want any help from mom or dad. Just put the food in front of her and she’ll take care of the rest. And that she does, with great zeal. Our meal times have been very enjoyable.

Our late evening was spent doing more window shopping. I’m not sure why it is called window shopping. Sheila buys something at nearly every store. It’s been fun.

Well, it’s off to bed for me. The morning will be here soon and we have much to do. Lots of paperwork, an early morning medical check-up for Eden with TB test. After that, probably more shopping. I may wander back over to find my new friend, 115.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Post submitted by Jonathan:

Friday, October 16, 2009
12:00 pm

Eden is napping and Jordan seems to be doing better. Praise God. She is fussing a good bit about having to stay in bed. She has been able to keep down a couple of crackers and drink some Sprite. Please keep praying for us all.

A funny story follows. My industrious wife did well planning for this trip. Most things one would need traveling across the globe were nicely packed in our bags, prepared to face the toughest of challenges. One of those challenges nearly got the best of us.

While checking our bags in St. Louis we were forced to do some quick adjusting of items from bag to bag to keep things within the required weight limits. Our final bag was only a single pound overweight. Sheila recalled that her trusty jar of peanut butter, weighing exactly one pound, was toward the top end of that final bag. She quickly retrieved the peanut butter and placed it in her carry-on luggage. We made the weight requirement but at a great personal cost. Sadly, the authorities confiscated the peanut butter from us, claiming that it was a liquid and not allowed to pass through security.

Quick Reminder: Sheila was counting on the peanut butter to get her through nearly 3 weeks in China in the event she would struggle eating the local foods. Now, many days into our journey, she has hit a brick wall in the food department and was badly craving peanut butter. So off I went to the local grocery store.

There has been one major bright spot at the local grocery store. There is but one woman who speaks very, very broken English that has been there every time I’ve gone to the store. Together, we’ve been able to find most things that we’ve needed. I prayed before I left for the store that my friend would be there to help me. She wasn’t.

It took me about 45 minutes to locate the small number of items we needed; but still no peanut butter. I began to pray that God would help me find some peanut butter for Sheila somewhere in the store. After nearly giving up a small woman passed me and said hello. I asked if she spoke English. She said yes. However, her English was about 20 levels below the ability of my other friend at the grocery store.

I did everything I could to make signs of spreading something out and then eating it. No luck. My new friend sought the help of others and we all traveled the whole store together looking for what I hoped was peanut butter.

We passed the dried fish aisle. No peanut butter. We passed area where oats and rice is kept. No peanut butter. We made our way to the frozen food section and they handed me a small tube of mayonnaise. Still no peanut butter but we were at least making progress with something that could be spread. I still can’t figure out why single tubes of mayonnaise are in the freezer. I finally found some peanuts and pointed to them and then proceeded again to make my sign for “spread and eat”. Some smiling and nodding ensued. Then, after many more aisles, atop a shelf was a jar of Skippy peanut butter. I was so happy to have found it, and so grateful God helped me. I know it seems like a small matter, but I’m learning to take joy in the minute by minute helps God gives us.

More challenges ensued later while at a local eatery trying to order something for Eden to eat. People are people no matter where you go. While folks have been patient with me as I’ve struggled through communicating with them, it has had its funny moments. I’ve noticed that Chinese people do the same thing Americans do when trying to communicate with someone who does not speak English. They speak much slower and much louder, thinking that somehow I’ll be able to miraculously understand Mandarin if only I could overcome by perceived deafness. It’s been hysterical at many, many points.

I was able to grab a couple of packets of honey from breakfast to have with my tea so Sheila enjoyed a delicious lunch of saltine crackers with peanut butter and honey.

All the girls are napping now. We hope Jordan continues to improve so that we can at least get out a bit tonight and walk around before our early morning trip to the airport as we depart for Guangzhou.