Thursday, August 1, 2013

Day 19 - US Consulate & Shopping

Today was the earliest meeting time we've had while in Guangzhou. We rushed down to breakfast to meet the group at the lobby by 9am. 

We drove to the U.S. Consulate to take our oath and process Mini-Lu's visa. We don't have any pictures from there, because we were not allowed to take our cameras inside. In fact, we couldn't take much inside. Only a few things (diapers, wipes, small snacks, etc.) in a clear plastic bag. 

Everything was so CLEAN inside the building. They had a small play area for children in the adoption section. It was so fun to see all the American families with their adopted children. They also had American style bathrooms (a lot more spacious than a Chinese bathroom, with a changing table) - that made us feel like we're home a bit. The kids (big and small; bio and adopted) all had fun playing together in the play area...so much so that it was hard to hear when one of the staff was trying to explain things to us over the microphone. After he finished his speech, we all stood up, raised our right hand, and repeated the oath together as a group. He then said it was nice to finally see us in person, since he and the other staff have been working on our files for the last few months. I'm sure he says this to every group that comes, but at that moment, I got teary eyed. I looked over and the mom next to me had tears in her eyes too.

The process was so smooth. We were in and out of there within an hour. As many of you know, I am still a Japanese citizen, and I've had to process my green card a few times through USCIS. By far this was the smoothest and quickest process from all my dealings with them. I was impressed.

We came back to the hotel. We fed them quick lunch and put Mini-Lu down for her nap. During nap time, a few other moms and I went to go say good-bye to a family that was leaving today. This is the family that's been in China for THREE weeks, bringing their 3 bio children with them. They were here for 3 weeks because they were adopting two children on this same trip. They are a sweet, inspiring family from Washington. Please say a prayer for their trip home (they will be flying back tomorrow, so that will be Thursday evening U.S. time). 
We took a picture with just the moms before we said good-bye. The one on the very right is the one who left for Hong Kong today.
The bio-sons of the other moms all got along so well during our week on Guangzhou. They always sat together on the last row of our bus. Their ages were 9, 9, and 7. The moms all said it was a huge blessing for the boys to have one another to play with here. Even my girls had fun playing with them at the U.S. Consulate today. They are such great kids! 

Afterwards, two other moms and I ventured out to OneLink Plaza to do our last bit of shopping. We took a cab there and back. 
The place was huge. There must have been hundreds of stores, one story after another. Each floor was like a maze - it kept going deeper and deeper. They pretty much sold anything you can think of there. 
I had to take a picture of this store that sold umbrellas. They look like hairspray bottles (with different designs). You open it up and out comes an umbrella. 

We came back to the hotel and pretty soon it was time for dinner. Our family decided to try out the Mexican restaurant (called Tekila) down the street from the hotel. Going to a restaurant as a family of five has been tricky, but it actually wasn't too bad because the whole place was empty (I imagine we were there early). The food was actually REALLY good (but I think I ordered the best dish out of everyone - for future travelers to Guangzhou, I'd recommend the California-style burrito).

We then decided to venture out for some ice cream. I warned Allan that it was quite a walk to Haagen-Dazs (it was near the place where LB, Mini-Lu, and I had our not-so-fun adventure a few days ago). He insisted that we'll be fine (by the way, we didn't have a stroller because it was a quick walk from the hotel to the restaurant). It had just rained, so the roads were slippery. It rains a lot here in GZ. Fortunately we've been able to avoid getting wet, but we always forget how slippery the roads are (we kept forgetting to put sneakers on the girls - so it's been extra slippery for them in their flip-flops). It's crazy to us that they use these tiles that make the roads very slippery, in a place that rains a lot! 
View from the bridge - our hotel is behind the trees to the right.

Both the older girls slipped once or twice before we finally reached Haagen-Dazs. What we didn't realize was that it was actually a sit-down, fancy cafe here (but you can order to go as well). It was very pricey too! 
From the moment we sat down, it was one drama after another. Mini-Lu was getting fussy (it was getting close to bedtime). Peanut spilt water all over the table, menu, and me because she can't sit still. LB was obsessed about us ordering the right ice cream for her (she actually poked her head and pointed to the picture on the menu when I was trying to order for her). It was a mess. Another moment where we thought to ourselves, "What were we thinking!?"

We were all delirious by the time we took this video: http://youtu.be/7cACsByna_A

Tonight is our LAST night in Guangzhou. Wow. This hotel has been our home for the last 6 nights. We've been traveling the world for 19 days! It's almost time to go back to the "real world." 
Tomorrow is just packing day. We'll probably take the girls to the pool one last time. We then head to Hong Kong around 4:30pm, after we receive Mini-Lu's visa. 

This is my prayer for all the adoptive families here, including our own:

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. (Colossians 1:9, 10 NLT)

Good night from Guangzhou...for the last time!

God is Gracious,
Maria

P.S. I realized after I wrote this that the U.S. Consulate was so clean because it's brand new. It was closed for a week and a half before we arrived in Guangzhou, due to relocating from their old building (that's what caused a small delay before we booked our travels). 

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