Dec 2, 2005

Grand Finale

Ahh. Final post before heading for home. The title is fitting as last night was apparently the conclusion to a week-long tourism expo here in Guangzhou which wrapped up with fireworks shot off of three barges anchored in the Pearl River directly behind the White Swan hotel. We sat at the window of one of the other families' rooms from our Nanning group (see below) to have a 13th floor, first row view of a fireworks show that would put D.C., New York, or Philadelphia to shame. Everything was quantity and quality on this display including the showering "willow tree" type fireworks that filled the entire sky and didn't extinguish until they hit the waters of the river. There were new fireworks I have not seen in the states that were like strung-together lights which remained lit as they floated slowly downward connected to invisible parachutes. It was a "de-sight-ful" way to end our trip here in China.

We didn't want to forget to add a picture of the families we met while in China. Many are here for the second time and their children were an inspiration that comforted us when anxiety built up prior to meeting Jeremy. I look forward to sharing website addresses to see what others wrote about our trip so that we can see through their eyes all the wonders we have experienced these past two weeks but forgot to mention here.

Shamian Island has been a little slice of Europe while here in China. The island is where the hotel is located and was originally a French/British settlement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The architecture is considerably different and natural areas are more plentiful than when you cross the bridge into the main city. We smiled each and every time we came across the young children moving between classes and the playground (above). All were eager to say "Hi!" and show us how well they knew English. One man told us that Americans were lazy for not learning Chinese, a language of a growing, world powerhouse. He dreams of a day that we will learn Mandarin just as he learned English -- by watching TV and listening to radio. (And he was one of the better English speaking Chinese as I recall!) Perhaps when Mandarin becomes available on cable TV or required for browsing the internet, I will make a concerted effort to become bilingual.

Friday morning we attended daily Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes on Shamian Island. When we arrived shortly before 6:45 AM, the locals were just wrapping up praying the rosary. Mass was in Cantonese, but we were able to follow along with a copy of the Magnificat -- one of the many beautiful features of the universal Church! When Mass ended, they began praying the Stations of the Cross. It was incredible to see these people praying so reverently in a building with open windows where passerby could certainly here the loud, clear voices singing to a God opposed by their government. Scott and I are just about ready to put together a group of men to make a mission trip here to renovate this beautiful, old church.

We took a stroll on to the mainland Friday after breakfast to see the "real" city; away from all the tourist traps and western fare available near the hotel. Some shops had items that made it nearly impossible to distinguish whether it was a pet shop or a grocery store (they definitely had both) as all contained turtles of various kinds and sizes. Many people had a towel laid out on the street and were hawking horns, paws, or skeletal remains of various exotic animals such as tigers, antelope, and monkeys. One place had several bins like the one above containing huge quantities of scorpions. (Where do you find this many scor -err- never mind; I don't want to know!) We are fairly certain they were meant for human consumption based on the other items available in the shop. It appeared as though the would-be buyer picked up these fresh specimens with chopsticks. You'd better be an EXPERT at chopstick handling before trying to grab a live scorpion! And just how do you eat him before he poisons you? Thanks, but I'll stick with hamburger.

That should do it for our stay overseas. I'm sure we will look back at our trip as a special opportunity; not only to adopt our second son, but also to experience this culture personally. While much of what we read in America is true, China is not as bad as what I had pictured in my mind. There are signs that the government tries to keep its people from knowing too much about the rest of the world, but I tend to believe that between Hong Kong's capitalism and technologies like the internet and satellite television, China will have a hard time maintaining Communism for more than another decade. Regardless, I'm ready for the USA again.

Clicking on any of the pictures posted will give you a larger view, but perhaps the best one of all is Jeremy who smiles with us at the thought of finally coming home to meet his big brother, the family, the two dogs, and all his new friends. I have no doubt he is going to love everyone and everything that make us long for home!