Greetings from Zhengzhou (that's "Jin-Joe" y'all) -
Just a short plane ride this morning and we are here in the not so sunny of the three cities we will be visiting while in China. Not as cold as Beijing and that funny smell seems to have mostly disappeared. However, speaking of smells, we all caught a whiff of something en route to Olympic Park yesterday that quite honestly would rival anything that has been dead for a really long time. Turns out it was fermented tofu. Maybe I'm missing something here but doesn't tofu smell bad enough without being fermented?
On a sad note, we had to part ways with two families this morning. Both were headed to different provinces so we had to say goodbye. It was really tough! It's so strange how close we got with everyone so quickly. I mean, in just 48 hours we had such an incredibly special bond with these folks we had only just met. Hard to explain except to say our hearts broke a little when it was time to go...
I guess the good news is that, as soon as we got on the bus to head to the airport, we got to meet a new family (they were held up in the airport in Atlanta so they were late getting to China), then once in Zhengzhou, we met up with another! Everyone has such amazing and unique stories: Niki is the mother of three adopted children from China and this will be her fourth. Tagging along with her is Makena, her oldest daughter (so beautiful and sweet!) and her mother - a real trooper. Our latest new family is American but they actually live in Shanghai and already have their two girls, Erin and May. We all give them a hard time because they are just here to make everything "official", as they have been Erin and May's foster parents for a while - so that basically means their kids actually know and like them, whereas ours will be looking at us as their kidnappers effective tomorrow morning! The good news for them is that China no longer requires adoptive parents to temporarily surrender their children to their original orphange (then the orphange brings them back) in this situation any more. I couldn't even imagine...
So, once settled in and given plenty of instructions by our new fearless leader, Rita (this girl is just as on the ball as George by the way), we all walked over to the Holiday Inn Express for what has been touted the best noodles around. I know what you're thinking: Holiday Inn Express? Do the noodles come with a continental breakfast? Believe me, I was a skeptic too but they were actually really good. Then me, Brian and Roxanna (our two newest families already had what they needed) made a quick trip to the bank to exchange U.S. dollars for the Chinese RMB (don't ask me what that stands for cause I don't know - just suffice to say, it's their dolla bills y'all) we would need over the next few days (side note: all I was missing when exiting the bank was a large target on my back. Picture a couple of white guys and a white girl being led by a petite Chinese girl into a bank. 15 minutes later, the same group exits the bank looking nervous - one with one of those things that is like a fanny pack but alot cooler than a fanny pack, the other with a large bulge in the front pocket of his jacket. I might as well have struck my new picture pose and held out the wad of cash we all just got...)
Once laden with plenty of Chinese currency, it was off to Wal-Mart. Woo hoo!!! Just what we all wanted. But it was such an incredibly similar experience to just about every other trip I've ever had to Wal-Mart - that's the best part! OK, maybe our Wal-Marts don't have dried animals hanging by the dozen and live reptiles but I GUARANTEE you they all have a certain level of insanity just sitting there, waiting for some poor sucker to walk into it like an unseen cobweb...
The short version is that there was a girl working the babyfood aisle that seemed to be very knowledgable about her products (nothing is ever as it seems, though - especially in China; just ask the street vendors). The deal apparently was that, if we bought a certain amount of formula (yes, Quinn is still on formula at two years old - another little nugget of news we received on the bus ride from the airport today) and receive some other food items for free. Only after several Chinese exchanges between this girl, the checkout girl and another girl in the line next to us who just happened to be kind enough to overhear our trouble and offer assistance as a translator, did we end up saving 8 RMB (that's about $1.20). SO worth it! I was just smiling through the whole thing. What else can you do right?
Other than almost being run down at least twice on the way back to our hotel by random speeding mopeds (they drive on the sidewalks in China), I'd have to say this has been yet another fun day in the far East. We've literally learned so much and been exposed to so many new experiences, it's just crazy.
That's about it for tonight y'all. Tomorrow is the BIG DAY and we need our rest. Please send as many prayers our way as you possibly can. We will be meeting Quinn around 8:00pm YOUR TIME on Sunday (for those of you in Shreveport) so stop and say a quick prayer for us around then. We love you all and can't wait to send pictures and more updates!
Our EXCEPTIONAL guide, George and our bus driver Mr. Sha. This guy is better than Mater with the rear view mirrors...
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