Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day 8, Coming to a Close

Sunday was our last full day here in Zhanjiang. We spent it by going about an hour away to the finding place of one of the team's children, and we spent the morning there walking the streets. It was fascinating to see small-town life. It was on an island, so the market was full of seafood as well as other tropical fruits and vegetables. The market was crowded, and we didn't exactly blend in, so that was interesting. :o)

After lunch we met our friend, Ruth, who took us to two local churches. The first one was the Catholic church, built by the French in the late 1800's. It's gone through several transformations, including being closed for several decades. The Father willingly opened the church for us, and answered our questions. He told us the Sunday morning attendance is several hundred. They had to install CCTV monitors so everyone could see, because they are packed into the corners.

Next, we visited a little Protestant church built in early 1900's by Baptist missionaries. Again, one of the preachers graciously opened it for us and took our questions. This church is also bursting at the seams for worship, and they open the doors and set up tents outside so everyone can hear the preaching. It was wonderful for us to see the spiritual side of Zhanjiang, and on a Sunday, too.

In the evening we begged Ruth to take us to the Macau restaurant again. We were so hungry for the dumplings and several other selections we'd had a few days earlier. We had a great last dinner together, which is sad considering we've finally become pretty efficient with our chopsticks. :o)

Photos of our experiences from this eigth day are here.

Monday morning we will go to the orphanage for a short visit with the children, then return to the hotel and pack up and say goodbye to our wonderful friends here. It's been a terrific, successful trip, and we thank you for following us here, and for your encouraging comments.

Val, for ZKO

Photos from Day 8

Catholic church, built by the French during occupation, ca. 1800's

In the church courtyard

Beautiful gothic-style architecture

Father Phillip told us the history of the church, including it being closed and also used as a factory for a period of time.

The gathering storm created a stunning backdrop

A five-minute walk away took us to the little church built in the early 1900's. Upon entering, we felt like we were in a little country church, but with distinctive Chinese details. We later found out it was built by Baptist missionaries...mystery solved.

Cupboard of hymnals and Bibles

Fascinating architecture

Our last dinner out--Macau Restaurant, AGAIN!

We turned around while choosing our food, and there were the cooks watching US. So I whipped out my camera....GOTCHA! It cracked us up, on both sides of the glass. What a great restaurant!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 7, Saturday

First thing on Saturday morning, Ruth took us to the outdoor market where they sell knockoffs, and ends of runs of clothing, shoes, purses, fabric. Wow....that was fun. I think we could've spent the whole day there. I mean, where else can you get Prada for $25? :o) I do think Guangzhou is cheaper, but our visit doesn't include that, so....maybe next time.

At lunch, we met the older school children at KFC. That was WONDERFUL. I've been so anxious to see them, as we've watched them grow up over the last several years, and they remember us from our last visits. I got to see, talk to, and take photos of three very special little girls who are getting adopted. I had the opportunity to break the news to a little one I've loved since 2008 when I first met her, that she FINALLY has a family. The team all got to watch our interpreter relay the information, and we were all soggy messes. She is THRILLED, btw. I also got to tell the other two little girls that their families are on their way very soon! My heart is full to know that there are still wonderful families out there willing to take a leap of faith and adopt older children. To see their delight in being wanted just makes this the best job in the world...

After lunch, Elsa (the wonderful woman who will likely be there in Guangzhou when you adopt your children) took us to the pearl market. Since the pearls are grown and harvested (is that the proper term?) here, the prices are fantastic. It is right around the corner from our hotel, so Brooke and Ellen were able to join us for a few minutes before they had to return to the hotel to get their things. They are now in the air, going back home. It felt strange to have them missing from our group in the afternoon and evening. We really got attached to them. :o) For a bunch of strangers from all over the place, we really connected well and feel like the women have each become dear friends. And we have them on retainer for the next time...they're not going to be rid of us that easily. :o)

Photos from our Saturday, full of fun, emotion and food are here.

In the evening, Ruth, our interpreter, invited us to her home to visit her students. We got caught in a brief downpour, and we ducked under a couple of shop umbrellas until Ruth met us to guide us to her place. She tutors them in English, and she wanted them to have the opportunity to talk to native English speakers. She has three different age groups, and we each had a great time, asking questions and being asked questions in return. Bethany and Suzanne spent time with the younger children playing Pictionary and I Spy to help them learn. Vickie, Patti, and I spoke to the older ones about culture, local sightseeing, food, and family--from both sides of the ocean. It was wonderful! Ruth took us on a walk of the campus of Normal University, where all the teachers are trained. It really is lovely, full of banyan trees, flowers, and green grass. It has an impressive history of almost 300 years.

We ate a delicious dinner at a local restaurant, and witnessed a graduation party. It looked like they're pretty universal. :o) It was a fantastic day, and we feel like we're seeing a new, fuller view of Zhanjiang, and China in's wonderful to see the un-commercialized side. And it's all thanks to new friends who are willing to show us hospitality. Case in point: we had a difficult time getting a taxi to get to the hotel yesterday. Ruth flagged down a random guy in a car and asked him if we could hire him to take us to the hotel. He agreed, and when we got there, he absolutely refused to take any money, despite about five attempts. We couldn't believe the kindness of a complete stranger for a bunch of was just another reason on a long list, to love this beautiful place.

Val, for ZKO

Photos from Day 7

Special Lunch and Relaxation on Day 6

Our friend and interpreter, Ruth, took us to a popular lunch place where you could choose what you wanted them to cook. By the time you got back to your table, the first round was already there. We had delicious Yunnan tea along with our meal, of course. This was different, and had chrysanthemums in it. It was likely one of our Top Three places we've eaten...wonderful jiao zi and Hunan-style fried rice.

(see photos of these fun adventures here).

In the evening we met our professor friend, Shang, along with several of his colleagues. It just so happened that Ruth knew him as well, so we had a great evening of talking and laughter. Since our work was now done, it felt great to relax somewhat. We've had a wonderful time learning local customs, local hangouts, and almost feel like we know our way around the city. It's been so great making new, local connections that we can draw on in the future. So many incredible people have come into our path on this trip, and we're confident it was not coincidental.


More Photos from Day 6