Today was a day free of appointments to be at, paperwork to sign, official pictures to take.....it was nice. No complaints, we do what we need to do to bring Leah home, but after several days of having to be somewhere, it was nice to just hang out. We went with another Holt family to Shamian Island today and did some shopping.
It was hot & muggy....we're definitely getting a cleansing with all of the sweating we've been doing. We hear its hot back home too, so we feel your pain! Many of the shops near the White Swan have closed down & the ones that are still there say business is bad.....we felt guilty haggling too much, as we know they must be struggling. Shamian Island must be one of the most beautiful places in Guangzhou because it seems that every time we have been there, this time included, there are photographers taking pictures of models. Today, there were lots of brides and grooms.....we're pretty sure they weren't real couples getting married and that they were just modeling the dresses & tuxedos. Makena thought it was the coolest thing ever. The buildings around the island are beautiful as well, with a bit of a colonial feel. The shops are pretty cool, with many of them named after the owner....Jennifer's place, Michael' s place, Judy's place....and yes, there was a Linda's place and an Amy's place!
The owners and staff of the shops are so helpful and friendly....yes, it may be just because they want to sell us something, but we feel they are truly sincere in their kindness. We ate at a Thai food restaurant and the food was delicious....we're getting a little more adventurous :).....and dessert was Starbucks!
We ended up with a few purchases, with plans to return to do more shopping. Ralph worked out a deal to get our laundry done for 1/2 price and they will deliver it to our hotel tomorrow. It was cool...he and Ashley noticed the owner of the store had a bible and they were all able to talk about their faith openly. In a country where Buddhism is the prominent worship and Christianity is not quite practiced underground, but definitely not encouraged, to know there are those that love the Lord here is awesome.
Leah wasn't too sure about the pool yesterday, but she did get in with me today. She LOVES the goggles, though & wanted to put them on when she saw Makena, Josh and daddy wearing them. She loves them so much, she even wore them at breakfast :)
When we got back to the room, Ralph, A & A went to grab some dinner to bring back and I got out some crayons & coloring books for the kids. It was amazing....Leah suddenly opened up and started smiling and talking! I took some video and will have to have Ralph upload it tomorrow. She has such a sweet little smile and cute little voice! The kids loved it, too.
Just as Makena has 12, what we call China sisters, and Josh has a China brother and a China sister, Leah has 3 China sisters and a China brother......these are children who were adopted at the same time (not necessarily from the same orphanage) of families that we traveled with. You form a special bond with these families and, spending a lot of time together, get to know them well. We have been fortunate to keep in touch with Makena's and Joshua's and we hope to with Leah's as well. We have been able to spend the entire time with one family from Florida who have a little girl who is 6 and just adopted little Mia, who is 5. They are in Guangzhou as well, though Mia is from a different orphanage. They are an awesome family and we have had fun getting to know them. Three other Holt families are flying in tomorrow from their provinces.....we met them all in Beijing before going our separate ways, so it will be nice to see them again and meet their little ones.
Tomorrow is Leah's medical examination.....more prayers requested, as she has to have a tb test and we're sure she's not going to love that. We also take her visa photo (passport photo was yesterday). Saturday is a paperwork check to make sure we brought everything that we needed to bring and Sunday is a free day. Joyce, our escort, said she would like to set up a group outing to the Safari Park, so hopefully that works out. The orphanage visit will be next week.....Catherine, our Holt guide wants to give Leah more time to bond with us before taking a trip there.