Days 11-13: Final Finishes

We’re down to our last days in China. Days 11 through 13 included final adoption appointments and a few fun trips to see and experience new things. Peyton is beginning to bond with us. She’s still enamored with Jordan, but her attention has mostly focused on Mommy. She still won’t let me hold her. When I do, she whimpers, makes a face like you’d make if you tasted bad cheese, and reaches for Janet. (Maybe I should change deodorants.) But I do get good responses when I play with her, and I can occasionally put my arm around her. Like Elijah, she’ll get used to me.

On Monday, we went to a wholesale market, a six-story mall with hundreds of tiny little shops crammed side-by-side, selling everything China is famous for creating, jade, silk, pearls, and more. No one in the Clark family bought anything. We’d already picked up handcrafted souvenirs at a couple of museums, so we were done, but it was nice to hang out with the other families. After the market, we toured Shamian Island on the Pearl River. The island was gifted to English and French consulates by the Qing Dynasty in the 19th century and played host to a number of other consulates for years, but today the only active consulate on the island is Poland’s.

One of the remaining historical structures on the island is a Catholic church built by the French, Our Lady of Lourdes. It features a statue in its courtyard of Jesus welcoming children. The statue is meant to evoke Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:14: “Let the little children come unto me, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” words that strike a chord with any parent, but feel especially poignant to newly adoptive families. Many Chinese brides and grooms, regardless of religious affiliation, come to have formal wedding pictures taken next to the church. We saw a half dozen posing for their shots at different times while we were nearby.

Another statue stands in the center of the island, depicting a life-sized woman with a violin leading life-sized toddlers, Pied-Piper style. That statue has become a traditional place for adoptive families to take photographs with their new children. We put the “bigs” (Taylor and Jordan) and the “littles” (Elijah and Peyton) into the shot and did our best to get smiles, but only the bigs complied. The littles were intimidated by the crowd behind us waiting and watching.

On Tuesday morning, we had Peyton’s visa appointment at the US Consulate in Guangzhou. We couldn’t take pictures. No phones or cameras are allowed on site. In fact, we had to temporarily surrender our watches at the security checkpoint, because both of our watches are the type that send or receive signals. Everything went smoothly and we took Tuesday afternoon off as a rest and refresh day, partly because we were tired and partly because the heat index was 106 degrees Fahrenheit due to the high humidity. (Given that it was the same or hotter in San Diego that day, we can’t brag about our hardships.)

Today is Wednesday. We spent the morning at Yuexiu Park, a huge park across the street from our hotel. It is filled with small lakes, waterfalls, and steep paths that climb through a lush, green tropical rain forest environment. We stopped to take quite a few photographs including some silly ones with the Fantastic Four. It was a relaxing way to spend our final free morning in China.

It’s Wednesday night as we post this. Tomorrow, we have one more morning tour and then we check out of our hotel and head for the Guangzhou Airport. Our flight leaves that evening and is scheduled to take thirteen hours to arrive in Los Angeles. Due to the date change which happens as you cross the International Date Line, we’ll actually arrive two hours before we took off. Weird. We’ll be driving back to San Diego from LAX. It will make for a long day. Pray for safe travels, no delays, rest on the plane, and patience for all of us.

Thank you all again who have prayed for us, encouraged us, and supported us financially. (If you were wondering if it’s still possible to support us through our online giving page, the answer is “Yes,” until we get home. Once we arrive home, our support account is closed by the agency that runs it.) You have all helped to make our adoption of Peyton possible and we are very grateful. We look forward to introducing her to you personally in the near future.

We thought it would be fun to end with a few pictures of unusual signs or things we saw.

We stayed in an area of Guangzhou with a large Muslim population. Instead of a Gideon’s Bible in each hotel room we found this directional sticker inside of the nightstand drawers.

In a Guiyang Wal-Mart, we saw more varieties of Lays Potato Chips than we knew existed. We selected the two varieties most likely to make Americans squirm.

We saw unusual signs everywhere. Some made us smile. Some made us scratch our heads.

The other side of the fence is a lake. “No Swimming” must not have been clear.

Would the scenic spot still be scenic if it wasn’t excellently managed by the city?

We think this means, “Keep Off the Grass,” while taking pictures. Elijah walked on it, of course.

We were sorry we couldn’t spend the evening at the Timeout Cafe and enjoy its Ukulele Night. (“Mahalo!”) I was very curious about the small chalkboard sign that appears to advertise coffee and crescent rolls… or maybe coffee and pigs-in-the-blanket, if you’re from the South. I’m not sure how they fit together with cowboys and floral leis, but I wanted to find out.

After we finished our River Cruise and were exiting the boat, we noticed the equivalent of an Health Department food safety sign on the wall. Instead of scoring the restaurant “A,” “B,” or “C,” they use a big smile (A), half smile (B), or neutral face (C). Our cruise got a neutral face that day. But it sure tasted good, so we’re not complaining. See you back in the USA soon!

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