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But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD-Joshua 24:15

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Homeward Bound

1 bus ride
2 flights totaling 17 hours
1 car ride 2.5 hours

... and we are officially home. What a journey! We flew from Guangzhou to Beijing on Friday morning to catch a 6:25pm flight direct to Dulles Airport. The flight went very well as Lily slept over 8 hours of the 14 hours we were on the plane. The people sitting around us were very pleased as she was the only infant or toddler we saw on the flight.

After arriving at Dulles we boarded the transport vehicle and headed to customs and immigration. It was only a little bit painful as we presented all 7 passports and Lily's special immigration envelope. Once that was complete we were able to leave. As we came out we saw most of Heather's family and our niece, Julia and her husband, Eric. What a welcome sight after two weeks in China!

Lily was great in the car. We made it home at 12:20am... we had a big surprise waiting for us. Our friends had put balloons on our lamppost. When we opened the door we were welcomed with flowers, more balloons, a cake, cards, books for Lily, and some delicious food, so we didn't have to rush out on Saturday morning. Thanks so much. It was perfect. What an awesome surprise! In addition, Julia and Eric made a Welcome Home sign and hung it with a note. It was a great welcome home.

Here are a few pictures of the adventure

Airport in Beijing. Now that is a lot of bags

With quite a bit of time until our flight to Dulles, Lily and Ryan had time to share a drink

Lily traded for Ryan's drink

Lily liked the food on the airplane at least a little bit

We were blessed with some extra seats so Lily spread out for a long snooze. The Passengers seated around us were quite pleased as it was touch and go for a while with a lot of crying before she dozed off

Stickers were a big hit as well

Welcome Home!

Our welcome home balloons

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

1 more day before we travel home

Today was a big day as we headed off for the US Consulate to take the oath and submit Lily's final paperwork to obtain her Visa so she can become a United States Citizen. We took a short ride to the consulate and were joined there by other adopting families. We were there for only about an hour. This was the final step in the adoption process. Tomorrow we will get Lily's visa and we will be ready on Friday to travel home, as a family of 7!

We have met a lot of amazing families and have seen God's hand working through the hearts of many. There are about 30 families adopting just in our hotel. It is an awesome witness of God's love for His children. There are so many great stories including a child who was adopted just days before her 14th birthday when she would have not been able to be adopted. We have also met several families that have adopted 2 or more children...many with special needs. We've heard about many different ways that God has provided finances for these families to adopt through friends, family members and their Church. God is clearly at work as James 1:27 is lived out. It is great to see God's people praying, encouraging and supporting families pursuing adoption.

Just a couple pics of Lily waking up from her nap today

Xiangjiang Safari Animal Park

Today we ventured out to the Safari Animal Park in Guangzhou which is located about 45 minutes from our hotel. The whole family was excited to see all the different kinds of animals. We were really excited about 3 in particular. Elephants for Megan, Tigers for Matthew, and Pandas for the rest of the family. We went with 4 other families that are part of our group. The weather was overcast and cool but we still had a great time. We took a lot of pictures of the different animals.

Group shots of all the kids

Emily and Lily

Megan and her friend Brooklyn, who found her forever family and will be traveling to Wisconsin in the next several days

Heather, Emily,and Lily

Our guide here in Guangzhou Jack, walking with Ryan

Darren, Jack, and Steve, a dad from our group

Matt giving Lily a ride in the stroller

Matt feeding the tiger cub

Meg and her elephants

Mom and Lily at the Panda house

Stephanie and Heather

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Recap of the last few days...

Here we are at The Garden Hotel.

Our Sunday medical appointment with Lily went great. Thanks for all those back at home who have been praying. Here are a few pictures of our brave little girl.

After a busy morning at the medical center, we went to a familiar restaurant from home, Pizza Hut.

We are so priviliged to be on this journey. Lily is a remarkable little girl and we are so excited to call her a Painter. More to come tomorrow.

Good Night from Guangzhou!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Noodles, Noodles, Noodles

The continuing saga of finding noodles for Lily at every restaurant happened again today. We started the day at the medical clinic getting her TB shot checked. All clear, yeah! Then we headed to Shamian Island for some shopping and lunch. After finding some good bargains, we headed to the famous Lucy's restaurant. The kids loved the grilled cheese sandwiches,chicken tenders and fries. Once again, Lily opted out of the American food for plain old noodles. Now when I say this girl likes noodles, words just aren't enough. I had to capture the event so you could get an idea of what I'm talking about. She doesn't just eat noodles, she goes all out and chows down. Think the famous Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Championship. This child could compete if noodles were involved. Check it out!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

From Tianjin to Guangzhou

On our way to the airport we stopped off at a market in Tianjin to do some shopping

Daddy, Mommy, and Lily at the market

Heather and Lily

We didn't realize that we were going to have to stop for pictures as we were heading to the bus to leave for the airport

And they just kept coming with the cameras

Brother and Sister bonding at the airport

Once aboard the plane, Lily did great on the 3 hour flight to Guangzhou

Not sure China Southern Airlines has ever seen quite so many stickers on their tray tables or food on the floor

At about 8:30pm Lily began taking matters into her own hands

I got this one...

Glad we had an extra set of hands
How much more does our Father love us?

I am not one who loves to travel or has aspirations to see the world. I don't have a desire to try a lot of different foods. I don't like going from comfortable to the uncomfortable. I cling to comforts. I am the type that orders the same thing off the menu, often too afraid I will be dissapointed if I go out on a limb. What am I doing here in China? Nothing against China, it just isn't home. Home is where I can find comfort and familiarity. I am so reminded that although not a perfect comparison or parallel, I am here for love. I loved this little girl, Lily, before I had even met her. I didn't come to bring a little girl into our family that was perfect in every way. I knew it wouldn't be all bliss. There would be difficult moments, times of sorrow, nights without much sleep, and unfamiliarity. God planted a seed in my heart a long time ago, knowing one day he would unite me with this sweet little orphan and I would have to leave my comforts to go and get her. Oh what the Father has done for us. He sent his perfect and Holy Son down from his magnificent throne to come to a fallen world to be among us sinners to save us and bring us to our forever home. He loved us that much. A deeper more passionate love than we can even fathom. I am humbled every day by that awesome fact. What an indescribable joy it is to be uncomfortable in this foreign land, knowing that God has entrusted me to raise one of His precious children. To teach her about the ultimate sacrifice He made for her by sending His Son and to teach her that we are all adopted into God's family...with that all being said...We are ready to come home...I'm missing some of my comforts...just sayin'

"In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 4:10

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Our Precious Little Lily Photo Gallery

Lily and Mommy on the bus coming back to the Hotel on Forever Family Day

Lily's first moments in the hotel on Forever Family Day

Daddy and Lily

Mommy and Lily huggin it out

Leaving the Passport Office

Sweet Lily

Noodles Inc.

Lily at Breakfast

Lily and Ryan

Lily and Megan

Cool Shades

She's got her Daddy's moves

Playing with Megan's toys

All Tuckered Out