Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Some Down Time

Last night's cruise was quite enjoyable.  The ship was a simple one that had all the feel of a cruise ship trying to be classy but missing the mark just a little.  Don't get me wrong, it was great, but it was a simple affair.  The linen white table cloths had a nice somewhat paper-like purple table cloth over them.  The chairs were covered in white linen as well though they felt a little like deck chairs.  The food was relatively good (buffet style), and I used chop sticks most of the meal since the plastic forks were tiny and thin (I've actually gotten fairly good with chop sticks ... for an American at least ... still need help with long noodles for sure).  So perhaps that gives you a better picture of the cruise.  After the meal, we headed up to the top deck and took lots of pictures.  Guangzhou has some interestingly lit buildings with lots of colors.  The haze made it difficult to capture what we saw but it was still good.  At some point there was a juggling clown downstairs juggling to Ricky Martin music in Spanish, but we stayed up top to look at the scenery.  Liliana ate a ton of food (first to start eating and last to finish only because Mom cut her off and in between the girl packed it away).  She also enjoyed the time up top.
Today and tomorrow we have some down time.  We do not have a consulate appointment until Thursday.  Around the hotel there is a buzz about heading home soon.  When we arrived here in Guangzhou, we ran into some old friends from Beijing who were adopting from different provinces than us.  We also ran into some other groups who are a few days ahead of us in terms of the process.  Hearing them talk about going home tomorrow or Thursday is indeed a bit difficult.  I don't wish the  time away or to short change our experience here, but the time away from Rachel and the kids is difficult.

Today some of our group went to the local zoo.  It was a beautiful zoo with lots to look at beyond the animals.  The grounds were just filled with plants that were a treat to look at as well.  Our reps had us hit the major animals in the park, and naturally we had to stop by the panda exhibit.  For being such a big symbol of China, it was really no big deal in the zoo.  There was only one panda, and apparently he was on break.  He laid there in the sun most of the time we were there only getting up to move to a new spot once.  The elephant and giraffes gave us a better show. 

It was interesting watching Liliana.  She does a lot of baby babbling (I only know it is baby babbling and not Chinese because people who speak Chinese even say it is mostly baby babbling).  She was interested in the animals and even seemed to be trying to imitate a few of them.  Our time at the zoo was short but it seemed to be just the right amount of time for everyone.

We came back to the hotel for some lunch and a nap while we waited for a phone call about the TB test.  She tested negative and is fine moving forward.  Right now Mom and Liliana are out exploring the hotel as they head down to exchange some money.  Mom's great like that.  She can turn a simple chore like exchanging money into a little adventure.  This evening we have a group dinner out together.  Tomorrow is another down day.  I imagine we will spend some of our time in the park across the street.

Tomorrow is also Janaya's fourth birthday. (Today by the time I posted this!) What an amazing little girl she is!  As each one of our children come into our family, it is difficult to imagine our family without them.  Such is the case with Janaya.  She has such a wonderful spirit filled with life, energy, laughter, and fun.  She is such a blessing to have as a daughter, and I love watching and helping her grow to love Jesus.  God has surely blessed us with this little girl we call Janaya.Because of Janaya's vision impairment, we found ourselves interacting with all kinds of people we had not interacted with before.  We suddenly had friends with children with all kinds of impairments be they vision, mobility, or something else.  One of the girls' favorite friends is a little girl who uses a walker, and to them, all of this is as normal as different colored hair, eyes, or skin ... no biggie to to them.  We also met Janaya's initial vision teacher who has adopted four children from China.  God also seemed to bring several other friends into our lives who adopted recently.  Through all of these people, God called us into this adoption. 

In many ways, it is fitting that I am here on her birthday.  Janaya's vision impairment led us into the world of special needs parenting.  When she was younger, plenty of people prayed for God to restore her sight fully and bring full healing.  Of course, God is God, and He can certainly do that.  I've seen Him heal people of all kinds of things that are only explainable by His intervention.  But I also know God is God, and sometimes He has other purposes.  Yes, Janaya having her sight healed would be wonderful, and God may choose to do that at some point.  But when we learned of Janaya's vision impairment years ago, I felt like God said to us that He had purposes and plans to use it for His glory.  So as much as we appreciated people praying in those early days for healing, we prayed more along the lines of, "God, use this as You wish.  If healing brings You glory, then heal.  If You have other plans for receiving glory from this, then go for it."

 In many ways, Janaya's vision impairment gave Rachel and I eyes to see a need in the world and what God was calling us to do about it. 

Had God healed Janaya's eyes early on, a little girl named Liliana would still be an orphan in the Louyang Orphanage, and there would be one more orphan in the world that God's heart cries for. 
There are many times when friends and family say such kind things to Rachel and me about how loving we are to adopt or how special we are or how generous we are being or what amazing people we are because of this.  We always appreciate the kind words, but the reality is that Rachel and I really are not all that special.  In and of ourselves, we have no special knowledge, talents, gifts, or abilities.  What we do have is an amazing God who called us to follow Him wherever He goes and who uses the simple to bring Himself glory.  Our prayer is that when people see us adopting Liliana that they see God's love being acted out.  It's not something we're doing but rather something He's doing, and He chose to use us as His vessel so that He might receive all the glory.

So happy birthday to my special little girl, Janaya.  You are more than the sum of your parts.  You are called by a King who is pleased that you are following Him and Who is calling you to follow Him all the days of your life.  I am sure in this life that God will use the gifts, talents, and abilities He has given you to bless others and bring Him glory.  Your eyes are one of those things that at times may seem like a struggle but know that God uses even our struggles many times over to bring Himself glory.  May this story of bringing your sister Liliana home to her forever family be just one of many times where you see Him using you and all of your special gifts. 

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