Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Shopping, Visiting a Buddhist Temple, and the Arcade

We met our guide in the lobby at 10 this morning to do some shopping, sightseeing, and to do something fun. John took us to what he called "Shopping Street" with lots of outdoor shops. The paper lanterns are beautiful.

This is part of the original street of the Ming Dynasty. They paved over most of the street and built a glass floor to view some of the remains.

Maeli scored some more Chinese books. We actually gifted Fault in Our Stars to someone at the airport when Maeli left her book behind when we arrived in Guangzhou. She was thankful to find another copy so she can finish reading the book.

We also found some more DVDs for Brody. For other adoptive mommas of older children, buying them in China is very cheap compared to buying from Amazon in the US. We purchased an all regions DVD player from Amazon for about $30 when we brought Maeli home and found that she loved watching them in Chinese at first and then watching in English once her language developed more. Watching in Chinese is also helpful in retaining their native language.

John took us to a really great Cantonese fast food place for lunch. It was even better than yesterday. Below are some of photos of journey today. One thing I've really noticed about China is the many smells that seem to appear randomly. From Chinese food to drainage, there's no shortage of smells. It can literally leave you sick at your stomach or craving food! We walked by a store today and I commented on how terrible the smell was. John said that Chinese women actually love receiving them as gifts. We had a good laugh about it.

After lunch we went to a nearby Buddhist temple. I wasn't sure what to expect since we didn't have the chance to visit one last year with Maeli. We wanted to make sure to go this time to get a sense of the primary spiritual presence in China. There were people selling incense, flowers, and fruit to offer as gifts to the statues. As you enter the temple area, you are cross over a raised threshold into the temple area. Brody, not having an understanding of the culture and etiquette of the temple, stood on top of the threshold rather than stepping over. John explained that to the Buddhist people and the "statues" (I'm sure I'm not being politically correct here) that is actually very disgraceful and is like stepping on the face of someone. I expected someone to come over and ask us to leave. Although we'd never to disrespectful on purpose, there are so many culture cues that we aren't aware of...

Gifts of fruit, peanuts, and flowers

You can see the large stone incense area just in front of the temple.

This is the middle statue that sits inside the temple. It's hard to tell just how big it is but I'd say about 30 feet tall.

Since you're not allowed to photograph inside the temple itself, I took this photo to get a sense of how massive it is. There are two more statues, one on each side of this one. You can see the person standing to the right of the statue in the photograph. Once inside, people kneel and worship the statues on small cushion alters. They also place their "offerings" on the tables in front of the statues. When we walked into the temple, I couldn't help but close my eyes and pray to the God who will last long after the statues are gone. I prayed for the hearts of the people in the temple at that moment. I prayed for their salvation and that fellow Chinese Christians would introduce them to the One who truly gives peace. I thanked God for my own salvation and the freedom to worship openly in America. And I thanked Him for being a living God that doesn't require rituals and gifts, but asks for a relationship and pours out His abundance of grace on us. May the people see God for who He truly is and the statues for what they truly are.

We went for ice cream after walking around the temple. China McDonalds are very nicely decorated. It's funny how we've been to McDonald's several times in China but not once in the past year in America. ;)

Thank you Ronald McDonald for the ice cream! :)

John took us to what used to be the largest shopping center in the world. There are many many floors and the mall is complete with an arcade, indoor ice skating rink, aquarium, and lots of shops.

There were hundreds of these fish swimming in a tank outside the wall.

We spent an hour or so at the arcade for the kiddos to play and take a break from walking. It was the first time Brody had been to an arcade and he loved it. He followed Chase around the arcade playing whatever game Chase played. It was adorable to watch him want to do what Chase was doing.

This is his I have to reach the checkpoint face.

There are two American luxuries that I have really missed here. The first being Sonic cherry limeades. Yes, I have a problem... I can't wait for happy hour at Sonic when we go home! The other is Dairy Queen. You just can't beat an Oreo Blizzard! So today, I decided to take a risk and try a blizzard. I told John I was very apprehensive but I had heard that other families were able to eat McDonald's ice cream with no issues, so I gave it a try. It was delicious, cheaper than America (except I couldn't use my discount card :) and so far my digestive system has been fine.

When we got back to the room, we played Uno (for the gazillionth time) and Brody and Ryan put together one of his Lego cars.

We went to dinner at the family style (everyone eats off the same plates in the middle of the table) restaurant and had lots of good Chinese food. It seems dumplings are well liked by all four of our kiddos.

We meet our guide tomorrow morning at 9 to go to our Consulate Appointment. In less than 24 hours our sweet boy's adoption will be final and official in the eyes of China and the US government. It's a moment that we have been praying and waiting for for over 6 months. Our adoption journey has been taking a different turn. From paper chasing and waiting to bonding and healing. This new adventure will surely prove to be challenging and rewarding. Seeing life through the eyes of a child who hasn't experienced family before is heartbreaking and joyful. Watching him begin to acknowledge us as his family is redeeming. Helping him work through emotions and adaptations from being in an orphanage can be exhausting. He is teaching me to slow down, take a breath, celebrate the little things, let go of perfection, smile and praise more, have fun, live, love BIG, and enjoy the journey for the journey is where true Joy can be found.

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