Why We Call Our Blog the Miracle of More

The miracle is a beautiful image of Ephesians 3:20--more than I can ask or imagine. Every day is a miracle. Every moment is a miracle. Specifically for our family, the miracle of more is our family growing in ways I would never have imagined when we first committed to adoption 8 years ago. But, the greatest miracle is the change in ME!

If you have questions about adoption, our work in South Africa, or spina bifida, please email me at rbmattox@bellsouth.net

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sweeter and Sweeter

There are priceless moments in the journey of parent hood--all the more so when you become the parent of a 6-year-old whose lived his life in an orphanage, who has had few moments outside of that orphanage. I highly recommend adoption!!! As I smiled my way through our weekend, I wonder how much more our Savior was smiling.

On Thursday, I found a photo of people swimming. Both of the boys seemed to know the Chinese word-you yong- and both seemed to know what swimming is. Drew said he had been swimming before, but Zeke said he had not. Zeke did, though, move his arms as if he was swimming and "swam" around the great room.

I waited until Friday morning to tell the boys we were going swimming on Saturday. ( I do not usually swim until June. The temps in south Georgia have been in the 90's, but the water is still sooooo cold. The girls have been begging to go, though. And, I was a little eager to see the boys' reaction.)

When I told the boys Friday morning that we would go swimming, they were both excited, but Zeke was overjoyed. Like, Disney World overjoyed. He asked one by one if Josie-Tatum, Ellie, and Drew were going, too. Then he shouted to each of them, "Da Jie Jie, min tian you yong." "Xiao Jie Jie, min tian you yong." "Zhuang Zhuang, min tian you yong."

When I came home from work on Friday, it was the first thing he asked about. And, he asked about it ALL evening long. He included swimming in his prayers.

Grandma came over, and we told her our plans. She asked if they had seen any photos of us swimming on the blog. I hadn't thought of that. So, we took time to show them photos from past summers. 

On Saturday morning, I was awakened by two little Asian boys, just after the sun came up. They were both dressed in their swim trunks I had bought the night before.

I had to explain...using google translate.... that the water is too cold in the mornings. I gave the order of the day. Eat breakfast, clean up, eat lunch, nap, swim. They were both excited, but Zeke continued to look forward to the moment. He followed me around all morning. "Mama?" Then he would repeat the order in the tone of a question, as if hoping something might change.

After nap time, we wasted NO time getting to the pool.

Here's a short video of that first moment!
And, it took NO time for him to get comfortable and begin to swim all over the pool with his ring. Zhuang Zhaung (Drew) was more cautious. He finally chose to use a swim ring AND arm bands. Moments later, he was making his way all around the pool, too!!

They loved their swimming adventure, and I'm so glad they did! Because, we love to spend time in Grandma's pool. Summer is coming! My favorite time of year, as a mom...when we can sleep late, change up the schedule, and play!! 

What could make a sweet day any sweeter?

Why...a visit from the Navy son and his bride!!!

Caleb and Caise made it in time to join in this "first" with the boys.

After supper, we sat around and chatted, everyone home..except Brandon. Oh, you moms of many--bigs and littles, aren't the best days the days when they are all around your table again? Caleb and Casie had us rolling with stories of their t-ball coaching experience.

The days was so blessed, each little one's prayer included thankfulness for members of their family, as well as swimming. And, Josie-Tatum thanked him for the time around the table. My heart was bursting with joy.

Some days are hard, but some days are oh, so sweet.

This morning, during church, I went to the alter to pray. As I began to pray, the song continued, "The LORD has promised good to me. His Word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures."

And, I became overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with His goodness. Overwhelmed with His promises. Overwhelmed with how much he cares for me. He has allowed me far more joy, far more blessings than I ever deserved.

His love, His blessings get sweeter and sweeter.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Communication 101

So, we're often asked, "Do the boys know English?"

When I say, "No," they ask, "Do you know Chinese?"

But, sometimes I reply, "They know a little less English than I know Chinese."

Life is rather interesting when we try to communicate. We usually manage well with lots of sign language. The context of our conversations help us understand one another as well. They have picked up some key phrases like, "Take a ba-ath." (It needs two syllables.) "Cu-lean up." and "Qing Zhaung's turn," or "Zhuang Zhuang's turn." And don't forget, "Time to eat!!"

I knew a little bit of Chinese and picked up just a few more words since the boys have joined us.

I try to use the Chinese phrase...IF I know it...followed by English.

Well, today Zeke (Qing Zhuang) was pointing to his knee for some reason. So I said, "Knee." He heard, "Ni," which is pronounced the same way as the joint that connects your thigh to your lower leg. Only this is "ni" means "you."

So, he pointed to himself and asked, "Qing Zhuang??"

I said, "No. Zhe shi "knee." No, this is knee."

He asked again, "Qing Zhuang???'

So, I tried, "Zhe shi xi gai." Chinese for this is knee....forgive the butcher of the pinyin. Followed by "Zhe shi "knee."

Still asking "Qing Zhuang," I am afraid one day I will say, "Hey you!" And, he's going to point to his knee.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Help!!! (Part Two)

If you missed the first part of Help, look below this post.

And, if you read the first part and prayed for my memory card. THANK YOU!!! I know it was the power of prayer. I looked yesterday in the same places MULTIPLE times. I looked today in the same places, and the first place I looked, I found it!

So, here are the photos that scream, "Poor little boys....driving a pink and purple jeep."

They might also scream, "Look out world! When I get my driver's license, and ALL of my family rides with me to school, we are likely going to find TROUBLE~!"

And, if you're one of the faithful...who has prayed for a lost camera or a lost memory card...or any of the other thousands of prayer requests I've posted, please add this to your list.

I learned today of an additional medical expense we were not expecting. It is not a very small amount. We do not currently have any of that money in our family budget. Please pray diligently with me.Oh, how I need to be reminded that He cares for the sparrows and the lillies, and me ALL the more.  And, as I seek His face, may I see HIM more than I see my worries. 

When He delivers us from this snare...and you have joined us in prayer....you can rejoice with us, too!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


A little dramatic flair in the title...I know, but...........

My boys have been seen dressed as fairies and Cinderella. They have worn pretty jewely, princess sunglasses, and a fairy watch with a lovely Tinkerbell dangling.  They were actually fighting over the yellow heart sunglasses until Grandma came to the rescue with a pair of princess sunglasses that ended the argument.

They are often seen making a get away in a pink and purple princess jeep.

And, I'd be more than happy to show you some photos if I could find my memory card....

(Yeah, I know, I lost my camera in China. You helped me pray it found. Could you help me pray the memory card found?)

Meanwhile back at the ranch.....the boys are in need of a few boy things....like boy watches...and boy toys for outdoors that aren't pink and purple...a Superman costume...maybe a pair of blue star sunglasses.

And, then there's Ellie.....I don't know how you can help.

She was sitting on the toilet this weekend when she said to me, "My hiney stinks." (And, whose doesn't?)

But, I hide to take the bait so I asked for details.

I asked, "When's the last time you pooped?" (Hmmmmmm, lots of these posts mention poop lately.)

Anyway, Ellie says, "Ummm, no." Looking as if she is thinking on it more, she says, "Ummmm, no."  And again, "Ummm, no."

Then she said, "Noooooooo....November!!!"

I would say Josie-Tatum is the only one with much sense around here; however, I now know she is losing it, too.

Her sister Whitney has allowed her to watch far too many episodes of Say Yes to the Dress and some other show about dream weddings. Well, Josie-Tatum announced Saturday that she had decided what her wedding favors would be.

A little young, I am aware, to be thinking of such things at 9...but again, I took the bait.

And, she says, "Tacos."

And, with a straight face she said, "The people could throw lettuce at us instead of rice."

So, if all of your children are grown, I invite you to join our Funny Farm......or I can help you complete all of the paperwork and you, too, can be a crazy as us!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Hush Over Heaven

(Pause the play list. You have to hear the audio. The room was dark,)

Left alone when he was an infant.
Estimated to be 4 months old, for know one knew.
Taken to an institution where he spent 6 years of his life.
Hundreds of children.
Few adults and resources.

Finally joining his forever family.

Hearing the name of Jesus for the first time.
Not understanding at all who this Jesus is.
But, just 3 weeks later, praying to Jesus in blind faith.
Thanking him for every member of his new family.

A hush over heaven.
For Jesus said, "Listen to my child."

Friday, April 20, 2012

What's a mother to do?

"How do you have enough energy to keep up with all of them?" I've been asked.

"You are braver than me," I was told when I had the four littles at Wal-Mart grocery shopping.

I like to tell people, "God gives me just enough energy to do what needs to be done." I am NOT by nature a person loaded with energy. But, I do work well under pressure.

I have learned since beginning my parenting journey 24 years ago...that life is short. They grow up too soon. Enjoy them while they are little. It is okay if someone drops by when the house is a mess. You will never catch up on laundry.

 Food eaten after being dropped on the floor or the ground does not ususally make a child sick. Panty liners can bring out much creativity. (Click here if you've forgotten that story.)

I know that four children will enjoy sleeping on the floor in an executive suite room more than sleeping in their own beds. I have learned that memories are made from simple moments...like running through mud puddles. I know the sweetest hugs often come early in the morning, and cookies can sometimes make the best breakfast.

And, today I learned that playing the Wii is an activity that can NOT be postponed. Josie-Tatum, the ever motherly 9-year-old, assisted her brothers out of the bathtub while I was cooking supper. I knew the girls had been playing the Wii and soon heard the boys taking over the game.

After turning the burner down to low so our nutritious Hamburger Helper could simmer, I decided I wanted to watch the boys play. The squeals of laughter were calling me. So, what's a mother to do when she sees what I saw?
Why, take a picture, of course!!!!

Oh, how hard I laughed when I walked through the doorway. We must not postpone the opportunity to play a game just to put on clothing!!!

The other lesson I learned, "Perhaps a 9-year-old daughter is not quite ready to supervise the ending of bathtime."

(I also learned about www.drpic.com . There you can upload and edit photos....including adding the blur effect to a portion of the photo. This information will come in handy the next time I interview a person in the protective witness program.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Will I Be Changed?

A memory from China is etched in my mind. It continues to come to the forefront of my thoughts, and I find myself pondering its significance.

We are ordinary people for whom God has done EXTRAordinary things. Stan is a correctional officer in a prison, and I am a teacher.

When we were in China, though, we spent much of our time in luxurious surroundings.

Adoption facilitators in foreign countries, I believe, think most adoptive parents are rich. (They correctly assume that most Americans are spoiled, though they don't use those words.) With all of these assumptions and understandings, adoption travel is usually booked in high end hotels.

While we booked our own hotel in Beijing and Hong Kong, the remainder of our travel was booked by our agency. We spent two nights in a 4-star hotel and the the rest of the 2 weeks in mainland China in 5-star hotels.

I could live like that.

I enjoyed the extravagant tile shower in a bathroom with remote control drapes. I could choose to close the drapes and watch the flat screen television while I dressed or open them and enjoy the view of the city.

I looked forward to walks in the garden around the waterfall while listening to the children ooh and ahh at the beauty.

We had a separate dressing room and an office in our suite at The Garden.

But with all of its opulence, these are not the visions that keep me awake at night.

I think about what I saw just outside the property of the hotel...on the sidewalks visible here:

We had to cross a footbridge to cross the busy city street that ran in front of our hotel. As soon as we stepped onto the bridge, things began to change. There were nice hotels across the street and stores that sold foreign goods at high prices. There were Chinese citizens who could afford those things.

But, there were also beggars.

I've seen beggars in China before. (I've seen beggars in America.) For the first time, I am ashamed to admit, I was truly moved with compassion. So much so that my mind continues to revisit those faces.

I am certain that some beggars chose begging as a "way of life." I know that there is profit in begging. I am aware that children are sometimes forced to beg and are taught behaviors we would cringe to think of our own children doing.

On our first trip to China, Stan had an experience with such a child. She held her little metal bowl. When he passed by her, she grabbed his leg. She wouldn't let go. She looked at him with sad eyes and hung onto him for several city blocks. When she finally let go, she stood right on the street corner where he left her. Everytime he turned back, she was still standing there. We wondered why she was begging, if she was hungry, if her family taught her to grab foreigners, if she would be punished for not bringing in enough money that day.

On our second trip, we saw many disabled adults lining the sidewalks of Taiyuan, Shanxi. Every day, we passed them when we left our hotel to get something to eat. On our return home my sister Bobbie would talk about seeing them. She would wonder if that would have the life Ellie was destined for, had she not been adopted.

But, God grabbed my heart on this journey.

The first beggar we saw had deformed feet. There was no way he could have walked to the place where he was sitting. Someone had to have carried him there. As we continued to make our way across the bride, there were others, all with their deformities displayed for others to see, all with a look of despair.

But, then there was one man.

He was lying on the sidewalk, for lying down was all he could do. His muscles jerked as he tried to lift his head. He was frail and thin. He seemed to have little control of any movements his made. His eyes were pleading.

He was only wearing a loin cloth.

That's when my heart dropped in a way I can say I never remember before.

I know someone carried him there. I know someone intended to put him on public display. And, just yards away from him were police. Amidst all of this "luxury" a human being sat without any mercy being shown. And, the people just walked by. Law enforcement carried on business as usual.

And, I had to ask myself, "Why is this allowed to happen?"

I've done research since I've been home, and I remain unsettled about that experience. I'm not at peace with what I'm learning. I'm angry and "sickened" by the situation I realize others are living in.

But, what am I doing about it? Will I be changed?

I stood this week as a group of women talked about the price of a watch...thousands of dollars. They talked about what they would do with that. Buy diamonds. Buy a new wardrobe. Put in a swimming pool.

And, I thought, "Feed the hungry."

But, would I? Will I? We truly live in luxury, even if my sofa is broken and the A/C upstairs isn't working. We eat and we throw food away. And, people are starving.
My van is missing a hubcap. Pity me. There are many who walk miles to work.

We sit in our homes and enjoy our freedoms. We watch documentaires about atrocities. And, people are living in bondage. I really believe the disabled people we saw were living in bondage to someone.

But, what am I going to do?

I have been given a first hand glimpse at suffering. Will I be changed? Will I continue to enjoy my middle class life in comfort and forget what I saw? Will I be a voice for those who absolutely canNOT speak?

Will I be changed?

Will you?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Marvelous Beginnings--Mysterious Endings

I've almost always looked forward to weekends. But this weekend, I've looked forward to more than any in a long time.

It has been a difficult week, returning to work, just 10 days after coming home from
China. Qing Zhuang (Zeke) had a difficult time each morning as I left for work.

My dear friend Joli reminded me, "That's good."

And, I needed to be reminded, "That's good." When he is crying because I am leaving, it means he is attaching to his mother. I've spent a lot of time worrying about Zeke. I've pondered if I have made the right decisions. I've wondered if I should change my mind and allow him to start school, though I know there are only 5 weeks left now. I've had to tell myself that staying home with his big sister is really best for him, whether he understands that or not.

But, each night as his face turned stoic at bedtime, and each morning, as he quietly cried when I left the house, my stomach turned flips and my heart squeezed tight.

Last night, though, I sat down with Zeke and Google Translate again. The look on his face was priceless after he listened to my words translated into Mandarin. "Tomorrow, Mama and Zhao Jie Jie and Da Jie Jie don't have school. We will be home with you." As if he weren't beaming enough, he grew excited after I typed in, "We will go to a birthday party tomorrow."

I wasn't sure if he knew what a birthday party was. (I knew Drew did.) But, they both grew excited. And, they wanted to go tell Xiao Jie Jie and Da Jie jie who were in the bathtub. And, I've long know how to say birthday in Mandarin. But, now I can say birthday party. shēng rì wǎn huì

Fewer than 4,000 people live in the city here, and the population of the county where we live is less tahn 20,000. In this small area, our children are part of a growing community of Chinese adoptees, which now includes 10 children, with 3 more coming home to their forever families next month. The neighboring community, which is slightly larger than ours is home to 9 Chinese adoptees. So, while our community is small, our children see their families as nothing unusual. I didn't quite count all of the humans, but the Asian children may have been the majority here.

The boys and the girls had a great time. Stan and I had a great time socializing with the parents who were there. The weather was beautiful. Our friends' home was beautiful. The backyard of their home was beautiful. The back porch/patio was the perfect place to sit in the shade and watch the children.

They helped Mama clean when we came home. Ellie and Zeke joyfully helped clean the bathrooms, standing in the tub and scrubbing. Drew less than joyfully helped Josie-Tatum pick up toys.

Later, the kids wanted to go back outside. They played with the bubbles from the party. They rode in the Barbie jeep. They played "golf." And, since Da Jie Whitney loves to watch Cake Boss, they created a cake in the sand. A golf cake Ellie called it.

But, our day of marvelous beginnings ended myseriously for me. As we prepared for bed, Zeke wore his stoic face again, like he had every other night since I've been back to work. I once again used Google Translate to let the boys know the girls and I did not have to go to school, that we would be home. But, his face remained courageously sad, as if he were fighting tears.

Josie-Tatum and Ellie both began to worry as much as his mama. No consoling was changing his demeanor. We said our prayers, and he took his turn (more on that later) sounding like his "normal" self. But, as the girls got ready to go to sleep, he began to sniffle. When I told him to get in bed, he shook his head, "No."

I put Drew in bed.

I had to pick Zeke up and put him in his bed. I laid down beside him. He laid down stiffly, legs straight, arms straight beside him, head straight back, eyes facing above him. Tears rolled down his cheeks. I tried more than once or twice to get him to tell me what he wanted. He never said a word in English or Mandarin.

I was....and I am still...puzzled. I don't know what triggered his tears.

Part of parenting. Adoption parenting. International adoption parenting.

Language is a barrier. But, this night, there was no language. Is it because he believes I wouldn't understand anyway?

WAs he crying because he is just frustrated with his lack of control over anything in the last 3 weeks. Did he NOT trust that I would be home the following morning? Maybe he was just being a typical 6-year-old boy who doesn't want to go to bed at night.

He did not push away my hand that caressed his face and wipes away his tears. But, he didn't respond positively either. After his breathing became softer and his muscles relaxed a bit, I asked if he wanted to lay his head of my shoulder, and he did. He laid there for a while and was almost asleep when he sat up.

He was no longer angry...I don't think. He was no longer stoic. I asked if he wanted to lie down beside me.

"No," his head shaking told me.

I asked if he wanted to put his head back on my shoulder.

"No," his head shaking told me.

I asked, "Ni yao shenme?" (What do you want?) And, he pointed above his head, to the top bunk. I have discouraged either of the boys from climbing up there. But, my instints told me to tell him okay this time.

When I did, he climbed up. He crawled under the covers. And, he went to sleep.

Now, I do NOT believe the desire to sleep on the top bunk started the tears. I don't know why he had settled down. And, I don't know why he went to sleep so peacefully. I don't know why he was still asleep at 7:30 this morning, when he is usually awake at 6:00.

He started the tears at nap time today.

I do know that our lives are a puzzle still. His is a puzzle to me. Ours is a puzzle to him. And, as we get to know each other, the mysterious moments will occur less often...at least until he's a teenager.

So, please continue to pray for us. Pray for wisdom to know how to comfort when we are unsure of his fretfulness, which does not occur often.

And, my God will continue to answer in ways beyond what I can ask or think. And, I will continue to give Him the glory!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

To Take The Train? Or Not to Take the Train?

If you've ever considered travelling by train in China, I hope the following will be helpful as you make your decision.

As promised about 2 or 3 weeks ago, the following post is about our experience riding the train in China. We took the fast train from Beijing to Taiyun and again from Taiyun to Zhengzhou. Each time we rode "first class," which was only a few, maybe $10 dollars, more than other tickets.

If you asked me, "Did you enjoy taking the train?" I would say, "I'm so glad we did!" If you asked Stan, "Did you enjoy taking the train?" he would say, "I will never ride the train in China AGAIN."

The train ride was MUCH cheaper than flying, less than $50 for an adult ticket, whereas airline tickets can be around $200 each. I enjoyed the experience, just so I could say I rode the train. I enjoyed being surrounded by Chinese people, travelling the way most Chinese people travel longer distances. I enjoyed watching the people. I didn't mind "being watched."

Our first experience was in the train station in Beijing.

After having been there, I would NEVER consider the train without a guide to help me find my way. If you are quite adventurous, you may feel differently. We, however, did not have to worry about asking for directions or following signs. Our wonderful guide Charlotte helped us. If you think you might like Charlotte to help you in Beijing, I will send you her email.

Charlotte purchased the tickets for us, for a small fee. (I do know a family who purchased theirs themselves.)

She shared with us that guides are not allowed in all train stations. At the Beijing train station, however, she simply showed her "tour guide" ID badge, and she was allowed in. She waited with us until we boarded our train. She was even allowed onto the train with us as we found our seats.

The first drawback of the train ride, I would say, is that you have to take all of your luggage with you. I had been told about hiring a porter, so I asked Charlotte if she could help us with that. She found the information booth, to the right after you enter the train station. There we were able to pay a very small fee, can't even remember how much. For this fee, someone took all of our luggage on a luggage carrier tot he train for us. We were also allowed to wait in the VIP section, which entitled us to enter the platform earlier than other passengers. The porter took our luggage to the train for us, be he was not allowed to enter the train with us. Once on the train, we had to pull our luggage through the aisles without assistance. We managed okay, but it was good we were allowed to board early.

The train ride, though, was uneventful. The seats are more comfortable than those on a plane. And, there is much more room.

I was looking forward to watching the countryside pass by, but I was somewhat disappointed. Once we left the city of Beijing, we mainly passed one industrial area after another. After a couple of hours, I finally fell asleep, so I don't know if the view ever became picturesque.

The primary inconvienence came when we arrived in Taiyuan. Here when we got off the train, we had all of our own luggage on our own. We didn't know where to go, but all we had to do was follow the crowd.

We had four big bags, so Stan and I each pulled two bags that were attached with a latching luggage strap. We each wore our own backpacks. Josie-TAtum pushed Ellie in an umbrella stroller and hung Ellie's backpack from the handles. It was not bad..at all...until we went through a turn stile and down escalators.

All of the CHinese people were pushing past us....as is the norm in a country with 1.3 billion people. They were also staring. Mind you, I don't mind stares. And, I didn't mind the people pushing past us. (Stan did, sort of....well, a lot.)

We had Ellie hop off. (All of teh Chinese people were continuing to push past us.)I grabbed her hand, and Stan picked up the stroller. I was getting worried when we neared the end of the escalators. I was beginning to lose control...and I can't remember what happened to cause it.

But, from all of those stares, came a lady. She had been watching us. Ellie was always quite the sight in China. Chinese people with disabilities are not commonly seen in public. There were 2 ladies who seemed to be pleasantly fascinated by her. One of them turned around and helped Ellie off the escalators and back into her stroller. When I told her, "Xie xie," she smiled softly and said, "Mai guang xi," which really means, "No problem," she turned around, and joined the crowed of Chinese people pushing their way out of the train station. (I think she may have been an angel.)

I was ever so slightly worried about finding our guide in the train station in Taiyuan. (I didn't tell Stan that.) We had been told she could not enter the train station but would be waiting on us outside. We heard her, however, before we found her. As we neared the end of the sea of people and saw some light at the end of the tunnel (there really wasn't a tunnel), we heard a heavily accented, "Hello."

There was our guide Helen standing behind the turnstiles, holding a sign that read, "Mattox." We didn't have to look for her at all. She found us, and all was well. The train station in Taiyuan is quite a different experience than the one in Beijing. In Beijing, we pulled up in lanes much like those in an airport. In Taiyuan, we stepped outside to broken pavement and cars parked haphazardly around. Our guide, though, was quickly able to locate our driver who hurriedly came to help us carry our bags.

When we left Taiyuan, just 48 hours later, we found another unique Taiyuan experience. We parked, and again, had to carry our bags across the broken pavement, and some areas of no pavement at all. We got in some sort of line, if you call that slowly moving mob a line, and began our way to the door of the station. Helen left us for just a minute and came back to tell us she was going to be allowed into the train station with us. (She said sometimes they let her and sometimes they don't.)

We had to present our passports as we presented our tickets to be allowed into the door, and then pass our bags through security, not quite as high tech an operation as the airport. As I was trying to put my bags on the conveyer belt, I hear a Chinese woman yelling, "Kola," which you must hear to understand the difference in intonation that distinguishes it from the pronunciation of Americans shouting, "Cola."

Stan was not happy with me.

I am always trying to save a few dollars, you know. And, we had a can of coke that we had yet to drink. I had placed it in the side pocket of his backpack. It had sprung a leak and was spraying all over the Chinese lady behind Stan. She was as polite as any of us would be with Coke spraying all over us.

Did I mention: Stan was not happy with me?

When we made our way into the train station, we were quite the attraction. It is apparent the people who frequnet the train station in Taiyuan are not accustomed to seeing Westerners, especially those with 3 Chinese children in tow, all the while spraying Kola over the natives.

Once again, though, our guide was able to find help for us. I'm not sure if it was becauses they were afraid to leave the stupid Americans on their own, if it was because we were willing to pay a few extra dollars for help, or if we were travelling with a child with disabilities. But, Helen took us into a room where the sign mentioned something about helping people with disabilities. Again, we paid a small fee for a porter. We were allowed to wait in this special room until our train was approaching.

Here a lady came out. It was another special experience we would never have had if we had not ridden the train. The manager of the station came out to talk with us. Through Helen, she shared with us that she has found many babies left behind at the train station through the years. She was pleased to see our children who had found a home. She often thought of the children she had found.

Getting to the train, again was not difficult. We were given the VIP treatment, our luggage was delivered. We were allowed to enter the platform early. We were the first people on the train, so we could easily find a place to store all of our luggage.

The train ride this time did not disappoint. We saw some AWESOME sights. If only my camera were more advanced. If only it was not so cloudy. (It had been snowing.) WE passed through some beautiful mountains, some rising up right outside our windows. It appeared that some had been mined. (Shanxi is known for its heavy coal mining.) I could have taken photos forever....but the 6 hour ride made me sleepy.

I think these might have been retaining walls built to protect the tracks from mud slides.

The train makes a few stops along the way. Some passengers get off, while others get on. I sat up and took notice as we approached this station. This is the town where our Zhuang Zhuang was found...at the bus station.

Arriving in the train station at Zhengzhou was quite different than our experience in Taiyuan. The station is new. Thank goodnes, our guide Helen had written for us the name of the exit we needed to locate. THis time we couldn't simply follow the crowd.

Everyone had taken a nice long nap. Only, I don't think Stan's nap was good enough to get over his Cola experience.

We were doing okay until we approached a LONG flight of stairs. Not escalators, but stairs. Remember, we had 4 BIG bags. I helped the children down the stairs, while Baba the work horse, tried to carry all 4 bags down himself. Somehow me missed my saying, "STand right here and I'll help when I get the children down."

I was somewhat afraid one member of our family might be arrested for making such a spectacle. But, I finally was able to go back up and help him get the bags down.

And, just as in Taiyun, when we finally made it to the exit, our guide was waiting.

We left the Zhengzhou station in a covered garage...again more like an airport. And the world was good again.

So, if you ask me, "Would you take the train again?"

Absolutely...if Stan is not with me. ;)

But, really, if my children were old enough to pull their own bag up the stairs, I would ride the train again in a heartbeat.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Glorious Easter

I really couldn't decide which photo was best for my header...so you help me decide. 1? or 2?

How many of you have tried to get seven children to all look at the camera at one time? And, how many you have a Zhuang Zhuang who refuses to look at the camera?

I had all seven of my children and my daughter-in-law home this weekend. I loved it! It was fun and loud. Unfortunately, there weren't many moments when all were awake and in the same room at the same time, so there aren't as many photos as I would have liked.

Photos of our weekend in no particular order...because who has time for such?

You should have been here when Brandon came home from Athens on Friday night. We were sitting at the supper table when his truck came into the driveway. I told the boys it was GeGe Brandon. Zeke got up and ran outside, to have Drew follow him. They kept yelling, "GeGe Brandon! GeGe Brandon!" Brandon could hardly eat for the boys continuing to try to wrestle, give him some knuckle, tickle, and play.

The boys were napping the next day when GeGe Caleb and JieJie Casie came home, so they didn't receive the same Welcome Ceremony.

Drew has hunted Easter eggs before, having lived in a Christian foster home. As far as we know, this would have been Zeke's first time. It only takes a brilliant six-year-old one moment at finding an egg to put in his pail, and he knows what this game is all about.

Zeke, too, was absoltuley PRECIOUS as the children sang a song at our Easter service. Not knowing a single word, he marched right up onto the stage with the children and opened his mouth to sing. I can't wait to hear him when he actually knows the words.

Drew joined in the march and offering, too, following the other children onto the stage. In typical Drew-form, however, he simply stood there. He didn't sing...and not necessarily because he didn't know the words.

Baba is missing from the photos because this was his 3 day word weekend.

After a sweet weekend, Brandon is back at UGA. Caleb is back at base with Casie. And, today, Tuesday, I had to return to work. In your prayer time, please remember the boys, especially Qing Zhuang (6-year-old Zeke.) He had a very difficult time, a major emotional melt down when I left for school today. It took him over half an hour to calm down. Jie Jie Whitney was able to help him enjoy some of the rest of the day. And, we've played HARD since I came home. Please pray tomorrow will be easier...as he learns Mama comes home!
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Ellie Min Chun

Ellie Min Chun
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