Mornin!

Well folks, we can certainly tell the end is near. I hate to belabor such an overused phrase as "been there, done that, got the t-shirt" but there really isn't a better way to say it. Maybe "been there, done that, got the squeaky shoes?"

I don't know. All I know is we're spent. Quinn even appears to be ready for hotel living to be over. It's freaky how much she seems to know we're just not quite done traveling yet. It's freaky how much she knows PERIOD. I'm still so truly amazed (and I don't think I ever won't be) at how utterly RESILIENT she is. I mean, I don't know what was really going on in that orphanage - never will. But I do know that it wasn't the kind of love and attention we're giving her or that she will be getting from all her family, friends and the folks who have been praying for her and watching her every "step" since we finally got to hold her that beautiful day which seems like a LIFETIME ago...

When I consider that the first two years of her life were completely devoid of the things we are doing EVERY DAY now (hugs and kisses, constant interaction, playing, reading, baths, diapers, food of ALL different kinds, just being TOUCHED...), when I consider all that, then add to it how everything is so completely new to her (i.e., sights, sounds, smells, cars, trees, GRASS!!!), I would just think that, if it were me, I would want to go hide in a corner somewhere and lose my mind. Seriously.

I mean - really! We just pretty much took EVERYTHING from her that was "normal", threw it out the window, and said, nah - that's no good. You need to do THIS. I mean, that's what we've done with ALL these babies. And some have handled it well and some haven't. But even the ones that haven't are already showing signs of being TOTALLY OKAY. It just blows my mind how God is working through all these families, through our agency's staff, through just common people on the street - you name it. He is HERE and He is WORKING. We've met so many INCREDIBLE people here with so many INCREDIBLE stories - it really just makes my head spin thinking about what pretty much every single one of these families have been through at one time or another. Praise God for all that He has done!!!

So, today we headed over to the pearl market (quite possibly the largest "mall" I've ever seen and not necessarily in a good way - unless you like GOBS and GOBS of cheap jewelry), got worn out on that pretty quick, so then jumped in a cab and headed to Shamian (pronounced "Shah-men") Island - the place where you get squeaky shoes for like $5.

This was a pretty neat place, I must admit. Short history lesson: At one time during the mid 1800's, the British and French were "given" this island by the Qing Dynasty (the British/French basically won it after the Second Opium War in 1859) and, as a result, all the buildings on the island are colonial-style and actually quite reminiscent of, well, the French Quarter without all the debauchery. It was refreshing to walk through and just be there. There is a place called "Lucy's", which - as soon as you step foot in this place you feel a bit of home - granted, it's on a kind of overdone scale - posters of every American pop icon imagineable - some old and worthy, some not so much (i.e., you can see a Lady Gaga poster in one of the pics below; that one was tormenting me throughout lunch; then there's what's on the radio. Think mostly bad 80's (i.e., Richard Marxx - aren't there two X's in his name?) Anyway, point is, they really do up the Americana in this place. Food is really pretty good. I had a bacon cheeseburger, fries and they had a COLD Corona here - woo hoo! Then I topped it off with "home made" apple pie! Yeah - I bought the whole package, hook, line, sinker. Of course, the Chinese are no dummies. While you're stuffing your face and taking in all this westernism and feeling all happy and normal, they are secretly plotting to take more and more of your recently converted American dolla bills...

Michaela actually did good though. We have been truly unable to find much of anything we thought Mathis would enjoy much (that's not just total junk; remember - everything's "Made in China"), so we spent most of our efforts on Shamian Island doing just that. And we got some squeaky shoes for sweet Quinn. All together, I think we may have spent $250 but that really did go pretty far. Well, relatively speaking...

Rest of the day was spent taking group photos and a rather "authentic" dinner with our best buds from our original group as this is their last night here (their babies are all under 2 so they didn't have to have the TB test, meaning they have already had their Consulate appointment, meaning they leave tomorrow!)

We are one day closer though, y'all. Can't get here quick enough...
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So, there are statues ALL OVER Shamian Island. Quinn was VERY skeptical of this one of a pug. Hope this isn't foreshadowing of things to come for Birdee. Up for an "extended stay", Brianne & Ray?