Family News From China

Discussion in 'Too Hot for Swamp Gas' started by GatorGrowl, Mar 16, 2014.

  1. GatorGrowl
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    GatorGrowl Forum Admin Staff Member GC Staff VIP Member

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    Jinan which I think is in the southern province, tomorrow they fly to Guangzhou and finish their paperwork there and then home to Paris, TN next Thursday (nine days).
  2. GatorGrowl
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    Thanks again, I am passing these notes to Scott on Facebook.
  3. DaveFla
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    Nope. I've never been to Jinan. I've been to Guangzhou though.
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    Shandong is in the northeast, just a little south of Beijing (well north of Shanghai, and far, far north of Guangzhou). It is probably equivalent of Delaware in the U.S. It is just north of the famous breweries in Qing Dao, I believe.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shandong

    One of the things we were very much shocked with our adopted baby is how angry she got the first time we put her in a stroller or a baby seat, because she had never experienced either one. It was torture for her, restraining her in a way that probably felt like punishment. It looks like this one has experience in strollers, but the baby seat in the U.S. may be a new experience (they don't use them in China). Our little girl screamed bloody murder for 10 minutes on the ride back from the airport, then passed out.
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  5. GatorGrowl
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    Day 5 in Qingdao (Grace’s Hometown)
    BY CSCOTTSHEPHERDON MARCH 19, 2014
    One of the most difficult parts of adopting Grace is knowing so little about her past–herstory. Everything we had prior to traveling to China was contained in 8 pages of documents sent to us from her orphanage. When Grace was brought to us, we received more pictures, documents, and even a letter from her foster Mom. Those helped, but we still have so many questions.

    Our purpose today was to piece together some more of Grace’s story by visiting her hometown Qingdao. We wanted to see and photograph the city so we could talk about it with her and show her pictures one day. We wanted to visit the orphanage to learn about the place she spent her first two years (along with the hospital). Most importantly, we wanted to visit Grace’s “finding place”–the spot she was found as an abondoned one-month-old infant.

    We started with breakfast at 6:30.

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    Grace LOVES strawberry yogurt. She had three cups this morning for breakfast (along with her fruit and watermelon juice).

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    After breakfast, we took a cab to the bullet train station, our method of transportation to get to Qingdao. Even though the train can travel almost 200 mph, the journey was 3 hours (one way).

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    The stewardess on the train brought around toy bullet trains for sale. I (Scott) couldn’t resist. Grace loved it and played with for a long time!

    We brought 17 gifts from Tennessee to give to various agencies and individuals who would help us during our time in China. Today we gave a gift to the orphanage director, Grace’s foster family, and the coordinator at the orphanage.

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    This is Grace’s drawing of a bullet train.

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    This is my (Scott’s) picture of Grace’s doll Shamilla riding on a bullet train.

    [​IMG] Grace had us pose Shamilla riding on her toy bullet train for a picture. She actually took this picture herself!

    [​IMG]Once we arrived in Qingdao, we had one hour to see and learn about Grace’s hometown. This is Mom and Grace at one the city’s main harbors.

    [​IMG]

    After the one hour tour, we had lunch with our guide. (Something tells me “Slobber Beef Noodles” [see above] wasn’t the best translation for this menu item. Perhaps they meant Mouth-Watering Beef Noodles.) We ended having garlic broccoli, vegetable fried rice, steamed pork dumplings, and I had shrimp. Grace had chicken and noodles.

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    Grace masterfully scooping her noodles into her bowl with her chopsticks. I didn’t do nearly so well! (But Traci did even worse. Ha!)

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    After lunch, we took a cab to The Social Welfare Instituate of Qingdao, the orphanage where Grace spent the first two years of her life.

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    Blue Sky is an organization started by a woman from the United States. It functions to help improve the care of Chinese orphans. It is one of the primary reasons Grace’s orphanage was in such good condition.

    [​IMG]Mom comforting Grace. Visiting the orphanage was sad for her because she was reminded of her past by some of the teachers she recognized. (Even though she hasn’t lived in the orphanage for over two years, all foster in children in Qingdao maitain a relationship with the orphanage, participating in field trips, testing, and visits.)

    [​IMG] Daddy played piano for Grace at the orphanage to try and cheer her up.

    Most important to Traci and me during our visit to Qingdao was to find Grace’s “finding spot”–the place where she was found after being abandoned. We had an address, but when we arrived, the place was VERY difficult to find. In fact, it took our guide and cab driver an extra 20-30 minutes asking people on the side of the road, walking up and down the alleys, etc., before they could find it.

    The village where she was abandoned looked more like a slum than a town or village.

    [​IMG]Entrance to the village of Grace’s finding spot.

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    The alley of the house at Grace’s finding address.

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    Open sewer drainage surrounded the homes in area of Grace’s finding spot.
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    This is the view inside the window of the house directly next to the Grace’s finding spot.

    [​IMG]This is the address of Grace’s finding spot. This is the house where Grace was found in October, 2009. Her mother (we assume, it was her mother) left her with 1000 Yuen, the equivalent of $175USD. We actually had a chance to question the next door neighbor. The old lady said she had no idea what we were talking about. However, our guide, John, saw her murmuring afterwards and talking to another man. John believes she was being less than truthful by claiming ignorance. We decided nothing would be gained by pressing her for further information. Traci and I had what we came for; we found the earliest place of Grace’s (known) history.

    As we were leaving the village, I prayed out loud, “Thank you, Jesus!” I whispered to Grace, “Jesus loves you very much to rescue you from this place.” I praise God that he has allowed Traci and me to be a part of her rescue. May God continue to bless us on our journey.
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  6. Gatorrick22
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    Wow, that place wasn't so clean... I'm so happy that someone like you son adopted her from that place.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2014
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  7. RayGator
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    It's nice reading such wonderful good news on TH ! One can only imagine what that precious little one will be able to do and accomplish for others in her life ahead. God bless her and all the Shepherd family.

    Numbers 6:24-26. KJV (my favorite reading aloud for this blessing.) :)
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  8. GatorGrowl
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    (Note-I do not know if they will blog today or not. They are 12 hours ahead of us so it is night time there. Grace was born with cancer and had her eye removed, she is cancer free now. So when Traci speaks of getting her back to Vanderbilt to have her eye checked that is why. Their health insurance started covering Grace as soon as the papers were first completed in China and she was present to Scott and Traci)

    From Traci this morning
    Today has been a hard day. Grace (Yiyi) has had several screaming and cryings fits. She threw up in the restaurant and seems to have an infection in her eye. We have antibiotics for it, but I am anxious to get to Vanderbilt to get it checked out. I am emotionally down after the orphanage visit but through it all see God at work. She is a brave and very smart little girl and we are so thankful that she is finally ours! We covet your prayers as we fly to Guangzhou tomorrow to begin the next leg of paperwork and appointments! Also, I could really use a salad right now! Haha
  9. g8orbill
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    the days ahead will be filled with many trials and tribulations but with your strong Faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, He will see you through-I will continue to pray for God's Grace
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    Thank you for posting all this......the pics and journaling are awesome! Please let them know we're thinking of them!
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  11. GatorGrowl
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    They did post a blog for day six and it is an interesting end of day when it appears she has bonded with her siblings in spite of only meeting them on the Ipad.

    Day 6 in Jinan
    BY CSCOTTSHEPHERDON MARCH 20, 2014

    For day six, we anticipated a much slower day. We only had one major item on the agenda. We were to visit the Jinan Cultural Center (Museum) to learn more about Grace’s province’s cultural heritage and art. It ended up being a much longer day than we planned.

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    Jinan Cultural Center (Museum)

    [​IMG]Grace had a nice laugh at our first stop in the museum. She commented to our guide as she giggled,
    “Those people don’t move.”

    [​IMG]Later on our tour, we saw these minature figurines. Grace giggled again when she said, “The people that don’t move [see my post above] must have made them.” (She has a keen sense of humor for a 4-year-old.)

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    Grace joking with our guide

    Here are a few random images from the museum.

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    Chinese musical bells (Gamelan?)

    The art and cultural heritage exhibits were fascinating and altogether enjoyable. At the same time,
    we couldn’t help but be reminded of the spiritual darkness of much of China. Our rescue of Grace is not
    merely physical, but spiritual. ”For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” Ephesians 6:12

    [​IMG]
    Early Chinese depiction of sun worship

    Our guide explained to us that sun worship is still practiced in much of China. The reason temples are almost always built on mountains was because of proximity to the sun. Our guide himself is a Confucianist. (To be clear, he has been a WONDERFUL guide. We have enjoyed long discussions about a variety of topics, including our faith.)

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    Buddha face statue

    Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism are practiced in much of China.

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    Buddha statue

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    Buried horses and chariots

    This picture shows the fossilized bones of dead horses, along with their chariots. The emperor at the time had them buried so they could join him in the afterlife. Many in China still have this belief. Now, of course, it is illegal to actually kill animals when you die. Instead, many create paper or plastic replicas to symbolize the real item, person, or animal. They believe that by being buried with the replica they will carry it with them to the afterlife.

    We are happy to rescue Grace, and we look forward to showing and teaching her about Jesus Christ. We hope, with and through Grace, others (from China and elsewhere) will recognize Jesus Christ is Lord. Perhaps, she will one day return to her homeland to share the message of Christ.

    [​IMG]
    Chinese tea

    The highlight of our day was sharing a traditional tea with a good friend of our guide. A traditional Chinese tea consists of 8 courses of small cups of tea. It was a beautiful presentation, and the tea was wonderful. After 8 courses, they asked if we wanted any more. I said, “Maybe two more.” We ended up having 16 more cups of tea (24 total)! Evidently, when I said two more, they interpreted it to mean we wanted two more types of tea. For each type of tea, they have 8 separated courses! Ha!

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    Chinese tea cup

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    Traditional Chinese instrument

    Our guide, John, is not only a tour guide! He also builds these traditional Chinese stringed instruments. He played one for us today after tea. It was beautiful! (Grace enjoyed it, too!)

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    Chinese calligraphy

    As you may or may not know, the Chinese written language is not phonetic like English, with individual letters representing sounds. Instead, it is pictorial. There are characters or symbols that artistically depict what they represent. Rather than 26 letters, they have over 200,000 possible characters! High school students know abound 8,000 or them, while those who master the language can write 20,000 characters. Amazing!

    After we shared time with John at tea and listening to him play the instrument, it was time for us to get back to our hotel. Yiyi is used to taking naps at her foster home, so we have been trying to keep that tradition for her. Well, our plans didn’t work out so well.

    We’ll spare you the gruesome details, but we had a ROUGH afternoon. Grace cried and screamed most of the afternoon. She threw up at dinner. She threw a tantrum in hotel elevator–one of those screaming, lay on the floor like a wet noodle tantrums. From around 2:00 to 5:30, it was REALLY hard.

    But, once again, it seems that every time we face such deep struggles, God provides us with hints of what life will one day be permanently with Grace. By 5:45 or so, things began to change. Grace did cry again, but this time she cried because she wanted to FaceTime (video chat) with Jordan, Iris, and Gideon. She actually got my Ipad, went to my contacts, and pointed at the FaceTime icon next to Grandma’s name. She is a smart girl! Unfortunately, her request was a 5:45 pm for us (5:00 a.m. in Paris, TN). I told her that tonight after her bath we would be able to call them. Well, she IMMEDIATELY headed for the bath. I began to get worried. If she took a 15-minute bath, the Hermans and Shepherd kids would STILL be asleep.

    She stayed in the bath for 1 and 1/2 hours! The ENTIRE time was wonderful! She played, laughed, and giggled as Traci sat by her side! Then they called me in to the bathroom. Grace wanted to show me a tower she had made of stacking cups. She was so proud! As I walked in the door, Traci would pretend to scare me, and Grace would laugh hysterically. On the way out of the bathroom, I would “accidentally” shut my hand or or arm in door. Grace thought this was hilarious, too! I went in and out of the bathroom atleast 20 times. But we were bonding!

    When she finally got out of the bath, it was indeed time to call the kids. They were so sweet talking to her, and within 5 minutes, she had fallen asleep in the bed. It was a long day again, but it ended with hope and promise.

    [​IMG]
    Grace happily asleep
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  12. HallGator
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    Most of us have no idea of the trauma this little girl is going through. The good thing is we tend to forget when we are young and the love she is receiving will smooth the transition.
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  13. GatorGrowl
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    Yes you are so right...there has not been a day gone by since Scott left that I have not cried..not just a year or two, but a good boo hoo.

    I think it is the mixture of emotions, I worry about Scott and Traci over there, the flight, the bonding, then I go through the happy times when I see a smile light her face up and see how precious she is. Then a little part of me wishes we were still living in Paris so we could be there more (but 99% of the time I am so glad we are back in Jax), but still the heart hurts.

    Then my mother in law lies in a bed in hospice and she has not eaten or drank in 8 days, she is not getting IV's either. Yet her BP is 120/84 her heart rate is good and her blood oxygen is 99%. She is basically living on morpheme, the little oxygen in her nose and will. My wife is exhausted as well her siblings. My mother in law in 92 and has been "non-responsive", yet a half world away a new life has come into our hearts....it is just more than normal emotions can bear so I the relief valve pops and tears come.

    I post these here because it is some therapy for me. I know most are not interested, but those that are give me a ray of sunshine because I can share my family when physically all I can do is pray for them. So I suppose I draw some energy from my GC friends. Relief valve pops again.

    Anyway, thanks to anyone who has sent a good thought to the kids or me. These kind words are not taken lightly, but more truthfully they replenish my soul when it seems there is so much drawing from it. I know that my problems are minor and a billion people have bigger ones, it is just that I can only feel what I feel.

    We look forward to Donna's mom being released from this this life and our being able to meet Grace (that will be a few weeks after they get home because she is supposed to just spend time with her immediate family for a few weeks).
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  14. Gatorrick22
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    Growl, my girlfriend is going to cry with tears of joy when I finally let her read this... I say let, but that's not entirely accurate, what I mean to say is that I have yet to let her in on this huge event happening to you and your family.... She doesn't know about this beautiful story unfolding before our very eyes. I cried... err... mist-ed... several times in sheer happiness for this sweet little soul that has been rescued from a likely sad future. Your son and Daughter are great, beautifully compasionate people.
  15. GatorGrowl
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    Thanks! Rick!

    Traci posted this today-- then the blog
    Today's blog! And would you believe that an American EYE doctor is here (also adopting) with our agency? She was able to give us encouraging words about Grace's eye! They were the only other family on our shuttle tonight! Only GOD could orchestrate that!

    Jinan to Guangzhou: Signs of Progress
    by cscottshepherd on March 21, 2014
    [​IMG]
    Beautiful smile

    Today we left Jinan, a city that will forever be etched in our minds. In Jinan, Grace came to us and became a part of our family (even though it is not yet official with the Chinese government). We’ve had many challenges, which we anticipated, but we have also seen significant, indescribable breakthroughs. Today, particularly, has been a day of breakthroughs.

    I (Scott) can happily report that today Grace has had no breakdowns, no tantrums, no crying, or shown any signs of sadness whatsoever. She hasn’t even seemed melancholy. Instead, she has been a bundle of joy! She has held Traci tight–snuggling, cuddling, and even kissing her on the lips!

    As we have blogged before, Grace is extremely intelligent. Her command of the Chinese language is exceptional. Yesterday, she used the Chinese equivalent of the word “colleague” to describe our guide’s driver. Our guide remarked, “Wow! She uses words only people much older than her use!”

    She has, however, been very reticent to speak English. She told our guide, “It takes much courage to speak English.” She is also pretty stubborn, in a good way. I think she sees that using our language is giving in a bit. Later she told our guide, “I will speak Chinese while in China. When we get to America, I will learn English.”

    But each day she incorporates more and more English into her speech. She says, uh-oh, bye-bye, mama, and she loves to say the kids’ names: Jodan, Idis, and Gidjen. Today, she said my name for the first time: Dada. So sweet to hear! Yesterday, she called for Momma! She also reached out to hold my hand as we walked. (She has been holding Traci’s hand since the very first day.)

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    Grace with her helium filled unicorn and Hello Kitty balloons

    This morning we all woke up around 6:30. Before we had breakfast, Grace had a blast playing with her balloons. Her fun ranged from using the balloons as pillows to boxing with them. She was hilarious!

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    Breakfast at the hotel

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    Grace’s breakfast plate and her favorite mystery fruit

    Traci and I are SO going to miss the breakfast buffet at Crowne Plaza in Jinan. It is EXCEPTIONAL–probably our favorite breakfast ever!

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    Mom, Dad, and Grace at breakfast

    Each day, breakfast got more and more enjoyable and less challenging for Grace. This morning, she didn’t leave Traci’s lap the entire time. (I took care of bringing them food from the buffet. I think Traci enjoyed the service!)

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    Grace’s picture of her breakfast dessert

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    Dad playing the piano for Grace

    After breakfast, the hotel staff allowed me to play their piano for Grace. She had only heard me play the piano for about 5 seconds at the orphanage. Unfortunately, she didn’t like it very much. She told the hotel hostess that it was too noisy! We’ll have to work on that!)

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    Dad and Grace playing with a bubble wand

    Almost every day, we all took a walk together in the Jinan city square. Grace and I enjoyed playing with a bubble wand. We went through three wands full of bubbles in five days.)
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    Grace running after bubbles

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    Magician performing in the city square

    Grace also enjoyed watching a magician who was performing in the city square. I took the next picture during the magic show. It is perhaps my favorite of our entire trip thus far. Grace shows so much joy, contentment and trust. Look at how her left hand is squeezing Mom so tightly! Signs of progress indeed.

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    Grace squeezing Mom’s neck as she watched a magician

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    At around 1:00, I went to the passport office to pick up Grace’s brand new passport. They just finished it this morning, so we were cutting it a little too close for comfort.

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    Grace’s passport

    After I picked up Grace’s passport, our cab driver took me back to the hotel to pick up Traci and Grace to head to the airport. We had been praying HARD that today would go well. After yesterday’s meltdowns, we were VERY worried that Grace would have a meltdown in the airport. Her screaming, “I don’t go want to with them. I want to go home” in Chinese as we are surrounded by a bunch of Chinese is not our idea of fun! As Jordan would say, “Awkward!” (That’s pretty much what our bullet train ride home was like, and we weren’t eager to repeat the experience.)

    But from the time Grace woke up this morning she just seemed at peace. Her happiness has continued all day, and our entire airport experience went off without a hitch. Security, baggage check, boarding, take-off, the whole thing…Grace was PERFECT!!!

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    Grace studies the airplane instructions before takeoff


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    Airline safety instructions

    As we sat on the runway, I took a few pictures of Grace with the iPad as she studied the aircraft instructions. A couple of minutes later, she held up these warnings as she pointed at the computer and the camera. Next she pointed at my Ipad. She was telling me I needed to put the iPad away! (She is SO smart!)

    After a long day, Grace ended up sleeping for most of the flight.

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    Grace sleeping on the plane from Jinan to Guangzhou

    Today, without question, has been our best day in China–a day of breakthroughs and progress. While we know we will have future challenges, we feel like leaving Jinan is leaving behind much of Grace’s old life and drawing us ever closer–step by step–to her new life as a Shepherd. We’ve already had some baby steps this week, but today was a giant leap forward.
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  16. fastsix
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    The mystery fruit is Hwa-Long-Gwa. In English, it is called "fire dragon fruit". If you saw it before it was peeled, you would know why (it looks like red flames are going around the fruit). They should see more of this tropical fruit in Guangzhou.

    One thing they haven't mentioned is congee (rice porridge). That is a common breakfast staple for kids in China, and you can put all kinds of things in it.

    If they stay in the Garden Hotel in Guangzhou, they will really like it. It's a great hotel, and they are very used to adopting families. They have a nice flower garden and water feature (waterfall and canals) in the back.
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  18. GatorGrowl
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  19. Gatorrick22
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    Growl... you (and your son and daughter-in-law) deserve so much more credit for this whole life-long experience.. I just can't press the like button enough to make my point... thankful that you shared this with us.
  20. DaveFla
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    Great stuff. My favorite morning read....

    Makes me long for a return trip to China. I have been there dozens of times, and without exception, each time I go, it gets better.
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