One of the things that Jessica learned how to do at her school in Chuxiong is “Chinese Embroidery”, so since her Gotcha Day I have had my eyes open for some of this stuff so I could bring it home to the US for her. I was so worried that we would get home and I wouldn’t be able to find this craft for her since “Chinese” is right in the description.
Finally today after our trip to the consulate to finish our US requirements to get the girls’ home. I decided it was time to venture out into China to find some “Chinese Embroidery” for my girl who I had disappointed all week by not being able to find any at the guided tour places. Jessica decided that this should be a mother/daughter trip, so we left everyone else in the hotel room and headed out. To say that things like this make me nervous is an understatement… more like full blown panic attack… so as we make our way through the lobby I ask the Lord to get me out of this craziness…all the while determined not to disappoint my daughter again and fulfill my second promise to her (my first was to get here in time). When we get outside it is pouring rain and since we did not bring an umbrella with us we have to make our way back up to the 15th floor to get one, where David answers the door and immediately groans “You haven’t even left yet.”
We finally get to the front of the hotel and jump in a waiting taxi. The driver acts like he has no idea where we are asking him to take us, even though it is written in Chinese on a card. The bellboy helps us to translate and you can imagine how safe it makes me feel that the man in charge of the vehicle is looking at us like he would rather have 2 monkeys in his cab. As soon as we pull out, I start to panic. “This was a very, very bad idea. Jesus?” I glance down at my feet and the mats on the ground have two letters stamped across them. “O.K.” “All right, I guess we can do this.” I have no idea where we are going so I am just hoping the rest of the ride that it is not somewhere to sell us on the black market or hold us for ransom.
We drove about 20 minutes and then the man points and jabbers at a large building right outside. We have arrived at the toy and gift “shop” we were looking for. Jessica and I jump out into quickly flooding streets and make our way into the building. Right away I am overwhelmed with the urge to get back in another cab and go back to the hotel… the building is hunormous… and yes, that is now a word. Six floors of booth after booth of toys, jewelry, gifts, etc. etc. etc., I had no idea where to start looking, but start we did. We walked around the first floor rather quickly and then headed to the second. Since I really have no idea what “Chinese Embroidery” even looks like, I was at a loss as store after store turned up nothing even close. Finally we saw a “Paint by Number” shop and I stopped to ask the man with my card if he knew where the “Chinese Embroidery” shop was. Of course, he knew no English except “paint, numbers, look, we have” basically selling words. He got Jessica interested in his catalog of paintings and I had no choice but to sit down beside her and wait… and wait… and wait. She wanted to look through each and every option… she was completely overwhelmed and kept saying “I don’t know.” but she also kept looking. At one point I got up and explained to her that we could go look for the “Embroidery” and then come back and pick something here. I could picture David stewing in the room with 4 crazy kids running all over the place. Jessica thought I was saying that I would go and come back for her… she was perfectly content looking at that catalog. She had probably never seen anything like it in her life.
After 20 minutes or so, she finally pointed to one that she wanted (not nearly the prettiest by any stretch, but she picked so who cares) and we bought it and were back on our hunt. I was still pretty hyped up and on high alert in this new environment with my new daughter, unable to communicate in the slightest. Our guide had written down what we were looking for in Chinese, so I showed this to a couple people along the way that pointed in random directions and at least let us know that we were on the right floor. After walking and walking and asking and pointing, we finally came to a shop where Jessica’s face lit up and she said “Mama. Mama! YES!” What do you know? “Chinese embroidery” is another name for good, old fashioned cross stitching. I almost laughed, but instead helped Jessica pick out a couple patterns and we were ready to leave. Unfortunately the person running this certain booth had disappeared and we had no idea who or how to pay. We tried to ask the woman next door, but she started saying something to us in Chinese. Thankfully there were a couple shady looking island men standing nearby that knew English and Chinese. They told us that she was telling us we would have to wait for the owner to return. So we found a couple stools and waited and waited…and waited. I couldn’t take it anymore. “Jesus, thank you so much for helping us find this “embroidery shop” safely, now could you please help us find the owner?” Then we waited on the Lord and waited some more. Finally, the men who had translated for us earlier came around the corner with a Chinese woman who took our money and gave us change… who knows if she belonged there, but I paid someone, so I don’t think I stole anything. We thanked the men for their help as they smirked that we needed it. I didn’t care… I was thankful for them.
We headed back out into the rain. Evidently flip flops weren’t the best choice for the day, I decided as I step in my 34th puddle up to my ankles. We walked to the corner to wait on a taxi. Another man walked up the same time as I did, so we let him have the first one. We waited some more… in the pouring rain… with flip flops on… and then finally jumped in a cab that stopped to let another lady out. Left again to trust a crazy, random cab driver. This one liked to weave and my girl was exhausted from the walking… and the waiting, so she laid her head in my lap the whole way back. When we arrived at the hotel 20 minutes later, I breathed a sigh of relief and praise to the Lord. I felt like people must feel when they finish a marathon. “WE made it!” I said to Jessica… who looked up at me with a pale face and made it very clear that her motion sickness had kicked in. I found myself standing next to her outside of our hotel room waiting as she spit into a trash can trying to keep from losing her breakfast. When she was done, we reached the room and knocked.
It opened to David and Kate asleep on the couch, Naomi with hands full of snacks (to keep her from screaming bloody murder, I suppose), and Jordan and Nathan converging on me for lunch, which I did not have. Because they were “starving” and David was sleeping, I had no option but to return into the weather to get lunch. I also had no choice, but to take Naomi, the screamer, and her snacks with me. I strapped her on with my sling, grabbed the umbrella and headed back out to McDonalds. I was quite proud of myself when I returned without much trouble at all carrying lunch AND dessert for 7, an umbrella, and Naomi. Piece of cake.
You would think that after 3 weeks here, I would be overly excited to get home… at least I would think that, but I have to admit that I am torn. China, now feels a bit like home… and it is home to my girls… one of which will miss it very much. So spending our last full day in China, my feelings have been somewhat bittersweet… excited to get home, yes, but also sad to leave home. I have two homes now, just as my sweet daughters. I can’t help but think that I will leave part of my heart here on Friday… not to mention, the maid service and the chefs that cook our amazing buffet breakfasts. Yeah. I’ll miss you, China.