Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Certainly I expected there to be various communication difficulties while we were in China.  However, we were told by our interpreter that the reason our agency booked us in 5 star hotels was because the difference between 5 star and 4 star hotels in China was that the staff in the 5 star establishments were required to speak "very well english".  To some degree we found that to be true. Nevertheless, there turns out to be a little, and sometimes a lot of  disparity between "very well english" and actual english as you and I know it.  If for example, you ask the waitress for cold milk in a paper cup with a straw for your child, they bring you hot milk in a glass. When we asked for more napkins, we got paper bags.

We were told by our server that they did not have cold cereal in China. "Only hot, only hot", the lady said.  When we got to the actual buffet line though we found a glass canister of  Cocoa Krispies labeled "PooPoo Krispies" next to a pitcher of warm milk.  Decided against that.

As it turned out, there were quite a few labeling difficulties on the "Western" portion of the buffet. Trying to be helpful, I pointed out to the chef that the carafe that was labeled orange juice was actually pineapple juice.  He bowed to me several times in apology and returned shortly with a new label.  This time the card said "Mango Juice".  Still trying to educate, again I pointed out the mistake. This time he was visibly embarrassed and consulted with several other staffers. They began rummaging through a stack of printed labels and then all started smiling and nodding in agreement.  He ran towards me with the label held high in the air. It read "Pineapple Upside-Down Cake".  I nodded and acted as though he got it right this time. He proudly placed the card in front of the juice.  Right next to the pineapple juice was a container of apple juice, labeled of course, and I'm not kidding, "Apple Pie"!  

If you have not experienced it, I can't explain how out of sorts you feel being plopped down in another culture. Nothing is familiar, and the language barrier makes it so difficult.  I told Susan while we were there that I felt kind of like an alien on their planet. Then it occurred to me that as Christians, if we really believe what God's word tells us, we should probably feel that strange and awkward in our secular world. But, if you are like me, you don't.  We fit in all too well here don't we?  We are just like everybody else.  Because it is comfortable I think.  I'm going to have to work on that.

Anyway, Susan has officially flown out of Guangzhou and is on her way home!  26 hours and 45 minutes and counting.  I have found in her absence that it definitely takes two people to manage my life.  I am A LOT of trouble. We can not wait till she and Lily get here.  Thank you for all your prayers and calls and help.  Susan will have more pictures when she gets home, so I will post them in a few days.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010













Friday, June 25, 2010

The way she looks at me!

My father always told me that you can tell a lot about how a girl feels about you by the way she looks at you. Note the photo on the left. Lily is looking at me. Clearly, I am not her favorite person...yet.

I can't tell you how flattering it is to have my new daughter laughing hysterically while playing with her mom and then in a millisecond, start scowling when I enter the room. Oh well, eventually she will want a wedding or something. My day will come!

On day three of our trip we went to Qingdao (pronounced ching dow), Lily's orphanage city. We traveled by high speed train and clocked around 280 miles in just over 2 hours. The sailing competition of the Summer Olympics 2008 was held there. It is a huge beautiful city, but the thing that stood out the most was the orphanage itself. Situated on the side of Fosham mountain, the compound overlooks the ocean. It is really a beautiful place. Immaculate. There is a playground that rivals any I have seen. This particular center is sponsored by an organization called "Half the Sky", and is staffed with caring workers who are trained to love, cherish and teach the children. I think Lily has had care and attention that far surpasses what is available in most social welfare environments. We are very thankful for that. And since up until now she has had no idea that there is any other kind of family, I thinks she has been very happy there.

Her caretaker has been nurturing Lily since the day she was found. I never could understand what they said her Chinese name was, but she was literally bawling as it came time for us to take Lily. She was holding Lily and clearly did not want to give her up. This presented a problem because we were afraid that if Susan took Lily from the woman, Lily would get very upset and the relationship that she and Susan had been forming would be set back. So instead, I took Lily from her. Believe me when I tell you, Lily literally threw herself into Susan's arms to get away from me, and never looked back. Crisis averted.

One of the most awkward moments of the trip came when we got to the orphanage. In order to show us how much they appreciated us bringing Lily into our family, they prepared for us a huge traditional Chinese lunch. I have already mentioned in an earlier post how much I like to eat. Well, when they brought out the meal it was clear that for me to eat it was going to be a big problem. First, I could not identify anything on the plate except for a lone shrimp sticking out of a gray looking paste that was slathered on top of some sort of thickly sliced something. I was kind of in a panic because I knew it would be offensive to the Chinese people there for me not to eat. However, I decided that throwing up all over the place might be even more offensive. I spoke with our interpreter. I told her that I used to be very very fat, and that I had lost a lot of weight. I told her that now I only eat two meals a day, and that I had already had breakfast. I said that I was very afraid that if I ate all of that delicious food that I would start to get fat again. She passed that along to our hosts. They all looked at me up and down trying to decided how I looked as a fat man. They started laughing in Chinese (sounds like our laughing except higher pitched). They were satisfied with my answer. Later they offered me a seaweed wafer. I held out my hands in front of my stomach to remind them of my former fatness. They nodded in understanding and then the the director scolded the woman who offered it to me. For tempting me I guess.

Whoa, I have been going on for too long. Here's the rest of the day. Toured the city, went back on the train. Lily entertained the passengers by blowing kisses to everyone. They all gave her various forms of Chinese "treats". We got back to the hotel and I immediately walked across the street to Pizza Hut and Kentucy Fried Chicken and bought a lot of "Western Food". Packed, slept, got on plane and came home. Waiting for Susan and Lily.


Thursday, June 24, 2010



Today, I learned a lot about turbulence. The kind that happens on an airplane. I learned what it is, and what it is not. I used to believe that every little bump and jump during flight was turbulence. Prior to this trip to China, I found flying to be extraordinarily stressful. So, anytime someone would ask me about my flight, I would always answer, “It was horrible, a lot of turbulence!” Turns out I did not have a clue. That is until today.

Actually, as it turns out, turbulence is where the plane is jolted and knocked around (sometimes violently) by airwaves moving at different speeds. It is random and unpredictable. Objects float temporarily during especially large drops. The flight attendants slam their serving carts shut and hurriedly dash for their seats. And even though it was my “fasting” day, I snatched a bag of peanuts from the cart as the attendant whisked by. She screamed something at me in Chinese to express her displeasure at my disregard for the “food service discontinuance” announcement. I did not care. I had no intention of going down starving! While we were still bouncing like a rubber ball, I calmly opened them. There were exactly 8 peanuts in the bag. Seriously! I decided to die hungry. About that time the pilot came over the loud speaker and in a frenzied Chinese voice made an announcement. I assumed he said “BRACE FOR IMPACT”. I did so. Then he made the announcement in English. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I apologize for the light turbulence we have encountered. We hope the rest of your journey with us will be enjoyable. Have a nice day, and thank you for flying Air China!”

Light turbulence? Really? So much about life is perspective isn’t it? Sometimes the things in life that we think are such a big deal are really no big deal at all. We just don’t usually figure that out until we face a bigger deal. Visiting Lily’s orphanage made me realize that the things that I fret and sometimes agonize over pale next to a world of children with no parents. This really bothers me. More so now that I have seen it up close. I kind of hope it bothers you too. Is there something you’ve been losing sleep over? Maybe it’s just a tiny thing and the devil wants you to focus on it so much that you never have time for weightier concerns. Issues important to God. He tells us what those are by the way. For you it may not be orphan relief, but for goodness sake pick something and get busy fixing it.

Ok enough preaching. I am home! I miss Susan and Lily, but am so happy to see Em and Teddy and Daniel. I am putting a picture up with this post and tomorrow I will put all the sermonizing aside and tell you about our trip to Lily’s orphanage. Great stuff! More pictures too.

Thank you for your support, your prayers and all your great comments. Susan and I love reading them!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Gotcha Day!

I am writing this blog in Microsoft Word and sending it to Teddy to post on my blogspot because I have been unable to access to site from here in Jinan China. A few updates: Since last I wrote, we have done A LOT! The 13-hour flight from New York to Beijing was tough but incredible. We flew over the North Pole and it was amazing. Flew into Jinan the next morning and within 3 hours they were knocking on our hotel door with Lily in tow. Can you imagine the emotions we all were feeling? If you are thinking adjectives like thrilling, and ecstatic, and happy and excited, you would be completely wrong. At first, all of us, including Lily were more like terrified, and overwhelmed and helpless. Honestly, I was thinking, why am I here, what were we thinking? The same things many of you have been asking all along. Lily screamed to the top of her lungs for three hours solid, which we were told ahead of time is a very good thing. It certainly did not seem to be so good to me. However, in my heart I was screaming as well. After meeting with the orphanage director, we all went to the Chinese Wal-Mart for supplies. If you haven’t googled the Chinese Wal-Mart, you really really should. Although the online pictures don’t really do the experience justice, take a look anyway. I had seen the pics earlier, and still I was startled! Much of the meat is so fresh it is still breathing. Seriously! And, to make me feel even better, almost EVERYONE here is China that we have met, and those who come up to us on the street ask how someone so old could be married for so long to someone so young, and that Susan looks “normal’ to have a child Lily’s age and that I look like the grandpa! So, they treat me here the same way they do in the U.S.

Anyway, somewhere in this process Lily started to get very comfortable with Susan. Still not so much with me. They hold hands and walk and she calls Susan mama. I was so excited when finally she held her hand out to me. I reached to hold it and she let me know it wasn’t my hand she wanted. It was my goldfish crackers! Oh, by the way, I left the camera transfer cord at home so I cannot download pictures. I will do that when I get home. I know I am rambling here, but I want to tell you as much as possible and not go on and on.

Ruby (her English name) is our translator and she has handled everything for us so beautifully. Today was the official adoption and it went very smoothly. Details later, but Lily is ours officially. Thanks to Doc (Susan’s dad) we learned how to Skype, and Emily and Daniel and Teddy have seen Lily online so they can fill you in on what they have seen! Blair and Jeff are on an anniversary trip so they have not met her yet but can't wait. She is laughing and blowing kisses and eating a whole lot. Definitely a “Cheek”!

Now back to the emotions thing. NOW, we are very thrilled, happy, ecstatic and excited, and can’t wait to get her home. When I get in, I will post pictures and more updates. Tomorrow we go by high-speed train to Lily’s orphanage city and then Wednesday morning (Tuesday evening for you) I begin the trip back. Please pray for Susan and Lily as this very unfamiliar place is logistically a challenge. Pray for the kids at home and our flights. We love you. Look forward to seeing everyone!


Thursday, June 17, 2010


Ok. I love to eat. I mean I really really...REALLY love to eat. Having said that, I am a fairly picky eater, but I consider great food one of God's most beautiful gifts. And Wednesday night, I was blessed with one of the most wonderful meals of my life, provided by "The Lord of the Ribs", aka Charlie. It was a trilogy. Boston butt, pork tenderloin, and baby back ribs. After dinner we were prayed for by dear friends. What a send off to China!

We have been stuck in New York all day at JKF due to a HUGE delay caused by bad weather in Beijing. In a couple of hours we will be on a 13 hour Air China flight to Beijing and then on to Jinan via Shandong Airlines (China's little rickshaw in the sky!)

More later.

Keep praying!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

If We Can Do It

I have never blogged before. I have never wanted to blog. I really don't want to now. Not any more than you really want to read this. And you wouldn't except that you have been directed here by an "invitational" email from my wife. Many of you, even though you have not expressed it to us directly, think we have lost our minds. You ask questions like "Exactly what is the age limit for adopting a child over there" and "Really, can people your age do that"? After all, Susan is 48 and I am 51. Yep, each of us with one foot in the grave. What ARE we thinking? Let me fill you in.

The Bible talks a lot about orphans, and when the Bible speaks about taking care of orphans and widows, the actual translation for "taking care of" means to relieve the problem. Now to me that is a pretty clear directive. I am definitely not sure of the exact numbers, but I'm thinking there are millions of orphans out there. Sadly, there are probably millions of families who could offer those fatherless, motherless and abandoned children hope, and love, and provision. Families who could relieve the problem! But they don't. As a family, we want to do what we can to relieve the problem. In these times of great economic uncertainty it would sure be easier not to do this. At our age, it would be easier not to do this. Considering my extreme fear of flying, it would definitely be easier for me not to do this. I did everything I could to have Lily delivered to my door. Sadly, China would not acquiesce so I am reluctantly, but also excitedly preparing for the 23 hour trip. Since I don't do medications it should be fairly miserable. Even worse, since Susan and our budget do not allow for first class air travel, it should be very miserable.

Nevertheless, here we go. After an arduous four year wait, on June 18th we head for Jinan, China to adopt our little girl, and our whole family can not wait. We have jumped through countless adoption hoops. We have been fingerprinted, background checked, tested, re-tested, home studied (and yes, I passed), expired, renewed, mismatched and then finally matched with the little girl God has picked out for us. We really are overjoyed to be near the end of the first part of our adoption journey, and excited to be parents again.

I hope you will follow us as we head into this new and uncharted chapter in our lives. And while you're at it, why don't you see what you are willing to do to help relieve the problem!