Today was a day full of emotion, so I'm thankful to have gotten good rest last night in between my two precious daughters. Jenna cried upon waking and then became very mellow. Once Jenna settled down and was playing with Jason and Shelby, I went for a short run in the nearby park and got some great pictures, despite the light rain falling. The sights and sounds of this HUGE city are amazing. I feel totally safe because there are so many people walking, riding bikes, and doing other activities. Although my faith in Christ is very different from the beliefs the vast majority of the Chinese people have, it was beautiful to see that we have so many things in common, including: enjoying being outside, exercising, and spending time with family and friends.
We then got to Skype with Nathan and Andrew back home and they look great! I miss them so much but am so thankful they're doing well while I'm away. After another delicious breakfast at the hotel buffet, we toured around the hotel. Jenna enjoyed walking on the escalators and she LOVES the elevators. I love this picture of her in a dress from my dear friend, Amybeth, whose daughter from China wore when she was younger. I was thrilled to spend a little time with Stacy Huff and her sweet daughter Sarah before they head back home later today. Stacy also went to Samford, though we didn't know each other then, but now we are forever bonded through the gift of adoption.
Once we got back in the room, Jenna became very mellow and started crying. She reaches up for me to hold her A LOT, and of course I always pick her up when she does this. So this time when I picked her sweet self up, I could tell she seemed tired so I laid down with her on Shelby's rollaway bed and before long, she was sound asleep in my arms.
Holding my new daughter like this caused tears to stream down my cheeks. My heart breaks at the thought that she may have never had anyone to cuddle with her. My heart breaks at the thought that she is probably missing her friends at the orphanage. My heart breaks at the thought that she is probably scared and doesn't know what in the world is going on. My heart breaks for her birthmother that has no idea how much she is now loved by her forever family. My heart breaks for the many questions that Jenna will ask throughout her life about "why" all of this happened to her.
But in the midst of my tears, I think of the joy I've already seen in Jenna's eyes over the past 48 hours. I'm reminded of her first smile and her first laugh...and many smiles and giggles that have occurred since those first. I think of how she reaches her arms up for me, wanting to be held and hugged. And I think of our Heavenly Father that is smiling down on one less orphan!
After Jenna woke up, it was time for a quick lunch. Jason and Shelby had gone to the bank to exchange money and then grab Subway. I made Jenna noodles in the hotel hot pot.
Our "outing" for the day with the other Lifeline families was next on the agenda. We all loaded into the van and headed out into the BUSY streets of Guangzhou bound for a local bookstore. We'd all agreed to purchase some Chinese/English children's books for some orphanages...and in the meantime, we all bought a few things for our new children, as well.
Jenna has been uneasy around Jason at times, not wanting him to hold her much. We know this often happens, when a child prefers one parent over another, but it's still hard for Jason since he loves her so much. So at the bookstore when Shelby started playing with LEGOS, I encouraged Jason to take Jenna to play, too and they had a great time building a tower together. A step in the right direction!
After leaving the bookstore, we all piled into the van again and headed to a Chinese police station to apply for our children's passports. There are A LOT of other adopting families there, too, but we weren't allowed to take any pictures. It was a quick process...they snapped a quick picture of Jenna and we had to review a few documents. One more thing checked off the list before in order to bring our girl HOME!
Once back to the hotel, we had some good play time with Jenna. She loves playing with the ball, stacking cups, and peek-a-boo. There was A LOT of laughter, which made my heart soar with joy after hearing the cry of grief earlier today. Shelby is doing SO good with her little sister and its obvious they are going to share a special bond throughout their life. I knew this would be a special time for Shelby, but I am realizing more and more that it is a special time for me as her mom to see her confidence grow as she experiences so many new things.
Tonight for dinner we ventured out into the rain to a Thai restaurant at a nearby mall. It was awesome!!! Not only was the food great...Jenna LOVED some type of coconut milk soup with chicken...but the entertainment had us all laughing and dancing. There was a band of Chinese men and women singing American songs, including Lionel Richie's "Hello" in a Thai restaurant...go figure?! It was super fun and delicious but the customs in Chinese restaurants are SO different...there are hardly ever napkins on the table and you have to flag down a waiter/waitress if you need anything. In any case, I would definitely go back to Banana Leaf again!
After dinner, the girls and I headed back to the hotel for bath time while Jason went to the nearby store to buy baby diapers as a donation to Jenna's orphanage that we will visit tomorrow. We have to leave here at 7:15 AM for a 3 hour van drive to the orphanage, so tomorrow will be a LONG and EMOTIONAL day.
In a nutshell, today gave me a glimpse into the heart of my sweet new girl. She longs to be held, nurtured and loved. I know this by the look in her eyes and smile on her face when I pick her up as she reaches her arms up to me. Yet there is pain in her little heart, a sadness that I'm trying to understand and will probably never fully understand. But with each new day, I cling to the promise of God's faithfulness and new mercies (Lamentations 3:23). I will REALLY need to cling to this tomorrow as we go to Jenna's orphanage, the place where she spent the first 2+ years of her life.
Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness. AMEN.