Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Final Entry from China!

Well today was our last day in Zhanjiang City. We started out the day by returning to the orphanage to check on the Open Arms program. As we entered the 8th floor, you could hear the music playing. The weather changed dramatically overnight with a cold snap coming through, so all of the babies were bundled up with big blankets over them and were snuggled in the Aunties arms. The Aunties were all smiles when they saw us again. What a beautiful sight!!

The posters have now been hung in the room. Although you cannot see from the pictures, they are daily schedules in both English and Chinese for the Aunties to follow so they know what they are to be doing with the babies throughout the day. There are also flow charts that the nurses have hung which show what the babies should be doing developmentally at each month of age. While all of the babies are behind at the onset of this program, this is the goal that each of them have for their babies to achieve.

I took a few more pictures of Ava’s Room. I thought you’d enjoy seeing the curtains hung, as well as the posters.

Well this is our final post from Zhanjiang. Thank you for following along on our journey to being the Open Arms program. As we sat with Director Su today, I expressed to him again, on behalf of all of the families who have adopted children from ZJ, our gratitude to both him and Ms. Yi for allowing us the opportunity to implement this program, as well as being able to give back to our children’s first home. Director Su asked me to pass on to all of the ZJ families that you are always welcome to visit ZJ, as well as visit the Open Arms program. He expressed his gratitude to all those who so generously gave to this project and for the ongoing support that ZKO has given to the ZJ swi over the years.

It was a very touching moment as we said our goodbyes. The staff at ZJ have been so kind and gracious to us, there are not enough words to express out thanks to them for making us feel so welcome.

The ZKO Team

Monday, April 2, 2007

Last Day in Zhanjiang

Today was our first free day since we’ve arrived in China almost 2 weeks ago. We decided to spend the day touring Zhanjiang City, as well and finish up the rest of the finding locations that we are doing for our ZJ families.We traveled to an area of Zhanjiang called Taiping, and then on to an island off of ZJ called Donghai Island. Our driver took us to a remote part of the island where only the local people go to. It was obvious that they had never seen foreigners, as we drew a crowd very quickly. There were no restaurants or shops in the area, only the local fishermen working off of their boats. The primary business in this area is shrimp, crab, and oysters.The shore ways were filled with local people kneeling as they cracked open the oysters. The beach front was filled with the left over oyster shells. The life here is so simple and so peaceful. It was the closest thing to heaven that I have ever experienced here on earth.

The driver then took us down the coast a little further and there were little huts where they would cook the fresh seafood for the local fishermen to eat. So we selected our own shrimp and crabs for them to prepare, as well as some other fish which they made a fish soup out of. The shrimp was so tender and so sweet, and the crab literally melted in your mouth. I have never tasted anything like it in all of my travels. I took some pictures of our food selections, as well as after they were prepared. I still cannot believe just how fresh all the food tasted. And of course, like any other meal here in China, it was very cheap. We had two plates full of shrimp, a plate of crab, fried rice, a fresh vegetable, a plate full of oysters, and drinks for 3 people and it was a whopping $15 in US money.

I thought for the pictures with today’s journal that I would share with you some of the beauty of the Chinese people and their everyday lives. They work so hard and lead such simple lives, but they are always so happy and content with what they have. I hope that you enjoy these pictures.

Tomorrow will be our last day here in Zhanjiang City. While it is sad to be leaving this beautiful place, we are missing our families so much and are anxious to get our arms around our children.

Thank you again for following along on our journey, and thank you for all the wonderful emails that you have sent us. They have been a constant source of support for us. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we wind down this trip and get ready to make the long journey back to the US.

The ZKO Team

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Taking the Older Kids Out!

Today was another day filled with lots of fun!! We took the second group of children out for the day. They ranged in age of 7-14 yrs old. There was a little confusion on our actual meeting time, so they were there waiting on us when we arrived.

Our translator from the orphanage said that all of these children attend the local school. They have 1 primary caregiver during the week, and the orphanage sent her with us today. This particular caregiver grew up in the orphanage herself and is now 35 yrs old, married, and has a 10 yr old son. Everyday she walks the children to and from school, helps them with their clothing and meals, and also helps them with their homework in the evenings. Basically she is a "mom" to these 16 children.

Since these children were older, they were allowed to pick out what they wanted at McDonald's. Our translator said that on National Children's Day in China, their McDonald's brings food for the children to the orphanage, so that is a very special treat for them. But today was the first time that any of them have actually been at a McDonald's restaurant. We had a lot of fun watching them enjoy their meals. All of them ordered these drinks that were like floats, rather than just plain pop.

After we finished eating all of the children lined up in pairs of two's. They had this procedure down to a science. Every older children was assigned to a younger child, with the older child positioned to be on the left and the younger child on the right. I was told this is how they line up to walk to and from school every day.

We headed to a local department store and the children were permitted to pick out one outfit (either a top and bottoms or a dress), as well as a pair of shoes. While we waiting for the children to try on clothes and shoes, the kids would take our hands and point to everything they could think of and want to know how to pronounce it in English. So they had a very good English lesson today. They all could say their ABC's, as well as count in English. Our translator said that all of the schools teach their children some English as part of their curriculum.

After we finished shopping there was an indoor play area, so I asked the nannie if the children could play in it for a while. She was happy to agree to this, so the kids spent about half an hour playing and boy did they have fun!! I video taped this because I knew that pictures could not even begin to capture the fun they were having.

Once they were finished, we bought them all a cold can of Coke or Sprite and then we said our goodbye's. It was incredibly hard to say goodbye to all of them. They were all so sweet and fun to be with, we could have easily packed all of them in our suitcases and taken them home with us. They just kept coming up to us and saying "thank you". They wanted to hold our hands and would hang on our arms. They were just so sweet.

The ZKO Team