Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite times of year. This year we have missed being with our family and sharing a dinner, but we are so thankful for the feast we feel we have been gifted here in China. Our hearts have been so filled up and are overflowing by all the love and support from home and from all we are witnessing here.
Today was a great day for so many reasons.
The first was Elyana being able to celebrate a very memorable day for her 4th birthday in the Province she was born in.
John and I can’t help but wonder, especially while here, if her birth mother or father are thinking of her. We are so thankful that life was chosen for our daughter and that every birthday we are able to celebrate the gift of her sweet smile and joy she has brought into our family.
Elyana at only 1 month old
2 years ago we prayed and hoped to spend her second birthday with us, but God answered no and we met her only weeks after her birthday and were placed in the a travel group of friends we will have for life. We kept saying that would be her last birthday without a family. Now, God orchestrated that we would celebrate her 4th back in her birth country and even birth Province. It was a birthday we will never let her forget.
Xian (Shee-on) is the capital of the Province of Shaanxi. Our hotel is downtown Xian inside of a city wall that is one of the oldest, largest, and best preserved Chinese city walls built in the 1300’s during the Ming Dynasty.
We were thankful it worked out that we would be doing something so special with her on her birthday. The kids had fun climbing up all the steps to the top of the wall. I took a photo of Elyana and Wesley, then Wesley climbed back up and asked me to take a photo of him.
The wall stands 40 feet tall, 40-46 feet wide at the top and 50-60 feet thick at the bottom. It covers 8.5 miles in length with a deep moat surrounding it. Every 120 meters, there is a rampart which extends out from the main wall. All together, there are 98 ramparts, which were built to defend against the enemy climbing up.
Wesley is becoming more and more comfortable with us and we are seeing him reach out more for us. Today was huge when he would yell “Baba!” then chase after John. On top of the wall he chased after him and ran into his arms giving him a huge hug. He is beginning to trust a little more each day and is only yet comprehending what a forever family means.
Our family with our Xian guide Sherry. We have a very similar photo with her when Elyana was “A little Elyana” as she sometimes refers to herself.
Ryan enjoyed the Xian wall…especially when he realized he had a fan club trying to take photos of him. When I noticed I offered to take a picture of him with them. The girls were all giggling.
Jenna had a fan club of her own….they love her blond hair. Crazy to get celebrity status by being a blond!
Our Xian warriors (below)….we are only missing one! Hudson will be with us soon. Sometimes John and I just look at each other and say “Five? Seriously?” God is so amazing and has done above and beyond what we ever asked or thought possible.
It was such a beautiful morning to go out for our last outing with all the other adoptive families. This will be our last group photo since will be heading to Hudson’s Province as they fly to Guangzhou to finish the governmental portion and medical appointment for their children. We will miss them all very much! It has been amblessing us to hear their stories and watch as they walk out their own journeys in faith.
The day wouldn’t have been complete for the kids without a few adventures out with Dad. He took Elyana on a special birthday adventure to a Chinese mall to pick out a birthday present. Ryan went along and they had their first 3-wheeled scooter ride! They came back laughing like they had been on a roller coaster.
Thankfully they made is safely to the mall and back! Whew! The traffic here is wild!! No stop lights or stop signs. Everyone just zig zags around and knows the big buses have the right away.
John used his translator app to ask where the toy store was. And Elyana picked out an awsome styling set….
While she got all dolled up the kids were so sweet and surprised her by decorating our hotel room for a little party. John and Jenna found some really good Chinese cake at the Walmart yesterday (totally different from our Walmart).
Elyana said “This is the best birthday ever!” Something she said last year also….so we are thankful she felt it was a happy day. She is so precious to us, and we thank God for her tender, sweet heart that has brought SO much joy into our home.
I had to share a few more random photos of the afternoon and evening outings John took Ryan and Jenna out on. It’s alot of walking and many people to take the little ones out. And it was SOOOO good for them to take a nap and have a less stimulating day. Wesleys attitude was WAYYY better today. The quiet and uncomplicated days are where I believe the most healing will take place.
They walked to an outdoor Muslim market area. They said it was loud and crazy.
You see Obama everything here. I’m not sure what they think of him…we’ll let you interpret. Also…you will often see Chinese people wearing shirts or jackets with English writing. I don’t think they can read it because most often it makes no sense.
The kids came back to the hotel telling me all kinds of stories and about a Chinese boy that came up and spoke English to them. He asked if he could practice his English on them and asked about hobbies and their favorite colors, then he and all of his school friends posed for a photo with some of our travel group.
In the evening they went out again to try and make it to the KFC. No more walking for them…it was the 3-wheeled scooter again. They had so much fun and came back telling me they almost died…..yeah, that’s wonderful. No wonder I was back at the hotel praying for their safety.
These pictures say it all…
I’ve been praying for a closer bond between Ryan and Jenna. And throughout this trip I’ve seen it. I’m so grateful for the prayers God is answering while we are here…I will always treasure these memories.
Since we are within the Xian city wall, they were able to see the Bell Tower within the center of the city all lit up at night. It really is very pretty here. They managed to make it to KFC and back…but the details and retelling of their adventure were so funny. I’m so glad John has an adventurous spirit. I think they will always remember this.
While they were out adventuring Wesley, Elyana and I had a great time playing. They love to chase me around and jump all over me. I told John it’s crazy but it’s like having twins. They are so sweet with each other and just crack up at things.
Here they are wearing their new I Love Xian shirts that John and the kids found them today…
In the bottom right photo I had asked them to stand up on the bed so I could take a picture and I got one but they fell over and giggled so hard together. They can’t even look at the photo without laughing.
Though our Thanksgiving was not the typical, there was SO much for us to be thankful for!! God’s joy and provision has been poured out….and for that we are in awe. He is a good, good God. He’s given us a beautiful country founded long ago upon His Word, raised up men and women willing to establish our nation, sacrifice and defend the freedom won. He’s given us family who love us unconditionally and encourage us in our calling, and friends who are full of His Spirit that speak life into our hearts. We have been gifted so much. And now we prepare in only a few short days to receive one more blessing…Hudson. Please stand firmly with us in prayer in defense of his heart and the future God has prepared for him. Our enemy hates that he will soon partake of the son-ship purchased for him at the cross.
As you get tucked in bed (unless you are a crazy black Friday shopper) we are enjoying a quiet day before take off tomorrow.
Thank you for walking this journey with us!
“Give THANKS to the LORD for HE IS GOOD! His mercy endureth forever! Great is His faithfulness to us”