Sunday, July 28, 2013

The China Me

Ahhhh....I miss China. I'm pretty sure I left something there. I'd better go back and check before my passport expires and after Patrick's heart surgeries are complete.

The time has flown, really, since Patrick and I landed at Will Rogers World Airport on June 27th. And just so you'll know---I don't see any reason to call that airport a "world" airport. There is NOWHERE in the world that you can get to from OKC directly. Just sayin'.

The only time I got lost in an airport, was when I was trying to leave Will Rogers. Seriously. I know it's small and tiny compared to LAX and the Guangzhou airport, but I just couldn't find the dag-nab exit door. Oh, and I dropped a suitcase down the escalator. I was so tired. It just slipped all the way to the bottom. At least it didn't know Patrick down like a bowling pin, for that I am extremely thankful. There were two men and a woman at the bottom. For some reason, I thought they were going to arrest me for dropping the suitcase. I got to the bottom of the escalator and they started asking me a lot of hard questions like, "Where are you headed?" and "Are you meeting someone?" I about bawled. Thankfully, I called Ben on my cell phone and he came and found me.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me give you the highlights of my miracle-infused trip and tell you why my goal is to live like "China Me" from this day forward.

June 14, 2013--Ben, Maisy and Moxie and I ate lunch at Ann's Chicken Fry. It's classic. I was at the airport shortly after 4. The plane was supposed to leave at 6. Both of the girls fell asleep in the van and I was wondering if I would ever see them again. Satan had pretty well convinced me that the China Southern A380 I was soon to board was going to crash. I'm not kidding--CONVINCED ME. However, I may be a chicken, but I'm the Lord's chicken, putting one little chicken foot in front of the other.... I woke Maisy up to tell her good-bye. She clasped my hand, held it to her face and wept. She didn't throw a tantrum or wail loudly. She grieved. I prayed over her, kissed her tear-streaked face and left after kissing my still sleeping Moxie. Ben hugged me, promised to pray for me and told me "You can do this. Go do it." I had never left Maisy since we brought her home in 2009, unless I was in the hospital with one of her siblings. My heart broke.

When I got to the gate, I found that my flight was delayed. Ultimately, we left 2 hours late. I called Bobby and told him I loved him. I'd already said good-bye to Abby that morning. I called Ben. He told me I hadn't been gone "that long" yet. It seemed long. I started praying for someone to help me find my way in LAX. Now, if you know me at all, you know that I am extremely directionally challenged. EXTREMELY. Nobody sitting around me seemed all that interested in talking to me. Maybe I look craaaaaaaazy. Some flight got canceled (not mine) people came and went. This one man kept making eye contact with me. His friend had left because the friend's flight was canceled. I thought the guy looked kinda craaaaaaaaazy. Guess who I sat by on the plane?? So, he wasn't actually crazy. He was nice. He was an answer to my prayer. He was the first instantaneous answer to many prayers I would pray over the course of my trip. On the flight, my new friend told me that he didn't usually talk to people on planes but that he felt "compelled" to talk to me. We talked about adoption. I told him about my fears regarding LAX and getting lost. He said, "Stay with me and I will get you through it all." You betcha!!! I've been in towns that would fit inside that airport. Holy Cow! My friend helped me get my suitcase, he waited for me. He walked slowly so I could keep up with him. We rode a bus where I had to stand up. My friend kept me from falling. Finally, we were outside on a sidewalk. He turned to me and said, "Walk around this curve. Don't cross the street. Walk against pedestrian traffic and go up. You will be in Tom Bradley International. Be Safe." I shook his hand, thanked him and said God Bless You! I never knew his name.

I followed my friend's directions and ended up right in front of the China Southern ticket counter. It was about 9:30PM. The gate was the very farthest one. I suppose that is because the A380 is so humongous it can only park in certain places. The plane took off pretty much on time. Boarding took forever. It seated 506 people. I saw people boarding who had anti-Christian logos and insignias on their backpacks and clothes. At first I was frightened by that, but, I remembered that the one sheep was just as important as the 99. I'd only called Ben 2 times from LAX. My blood sugar got low, too, while I was waiting to leave. Not exactly a great way to start a trip. Anyhoo, I was against the window and over the wing. And I PAID for that. I paid A LOT. After we reached cruising altitude there was a beverage service. NO.DIET.POP HOW CAN YOU CALL THAT A BEVERAGE SERVICE?????????? I call it torture. After the beverage service there was a meal served. It was good. And then nothing for 12 hours and 40 minutes. After a while, I needed to go to the bathroom. BAD. But, the college-age guys sitting next to me, with their huge long legs, were asleep. Now, I considered climbing over them. But, I was afraid we'd hit turbulence and one of them would wake up with me poised precariously over his lap. I'm just not that brave. Now, about 12 hours in, a flight attendant did come around offering cups of water. I wasn't feeling good AT ALL, so I really wanted a cup of water. I wanted it until I remembered the Chinese drink their water warm. Mind over matter...I drank it anyway. Two hours before landing there was another beverage service and another meal. The landing was awesomely smooth and I found a potty in the airport. OH HAPPY DAY!!!!! It was 4:18AM. My guide wasn't there. 3 1/2 hours later, she still wasn't there. I waited until 7:30 just sitting on my suitcase by the front door watching people watching me sweat. Finally, I decided nobody was coming for me. I found a taxi and told the guy I only had USD and that I'd give him $40 to take me to the China Hotel. He said it was $50. I said, "Not for me." He took $40. Before you say, "Yeah, it was probably $20", I saw the laminated conversion chart. It was $50. And, it was probably worth that. But, I was in a stinky mood and didn't want to pay $50.

I think the staff at the hotel were a little taken aback by my disheveled state. They also couldn't believe that I showed up with nothing but a small rolling suitcase (carry-on) and an even smaller backpack. It didn't help that I hadn't slept on the plane, was sweating like a brick layer and didn't feel good. The lady at the counter made sure I understood that I did not get breakfast that day and then I was allowed to go to my room. I felt a whole lot better after I took a shower and a nap. I ordered room service. My guide called. There had been a misunderstanding. Everything was cool. I slept some more. Ordinarily, I don't like to be alone at night. Yes, I know I'm a big girl, I just don't like it. However, I had such a God-given peace in that hotel room, I was never the slightest bit anxious. I read First John, one of my favorite books of the Bible, and Lamentations, another of my favorites. At first blush, you may not think that those two books have much in common. Read them again.

The next day, I went to breakfast knowing that I would soon hold my son. I would get to touch, see, smell my Patrick. The little boy that I thought had been lost to us forever. I'm sure I looked like an idiot smiling at my food. I met my travel group. They were some of the nicest people ever and all of them had amazing stories telling of the way their individual adoption journeys came about. We went to the bank. I went to 7-11, the land of Coke Zero, and we waited to go to the civil affairs office.

The civil affairs office was jam-packed. Our previous Gotcha Days for Maisy and Moxie were in Nanjing. There were 2 other families in the office with Maisy and we were the only family on Moxie's Gotcha Day. But, Guangzhou...Guangzhou was a madhouse. Patrick was the last child brought out of the little room where they held the children. He was literally shoved toward me and told to hug and kiss me. He did, but he was terrified. It was just a few minutes before he began to howl. It wasn't crying really, not crying like a secure child---a child who is tucked-in every night and has enough to eat and owns his own clothes cries. No, it was a mournful, toneless, slowly escalating howl of a child who has been shut away in darkness with no hope of ever being rescued. Who? Who did I think I was? I couldn't help him. He did not want me to help him. He moved away from me and refused to make eye contact. He cried for a Baba he didn't know because he KNEW his Baba wasn't there. I'm sure he felt deceived. Had anyone told him that adoption hurts? That it's scary and there is loss and the people in those pictures were real people who were going to take him away from everything he'd ever known? He told the assistant director he did not want me as his mama and that he did not want to be adopted. We went into another room to wait. He got as far from me as possible. I cried. I sucked it up. I prayed. And then I did what 3 years of teaching therapeutic foster and adoptive parents taught me to do. I pulled him into my lap and did not let him go. I spoke low and slow. I told him I loved him in English and Chinese. He pulled away. I had our guide translate for me. "I am your mama. I love you. You will hold my hand or we will stay in the hotel room. You must stay with me so you don't get hurt." He tried to pull away as we were leaving the building and threw a fit when I wouldn't let him run into traffic. He wouldn't look at me on the bus. It was slightly better in the hotel room. In fact, over the course of the trip, I found that when we were alone more eye contact was made, more laughs shared and more communication in general. He put his things away in the room and was very pleased to see that I had a drawer of clothes for him. He would not bathe. He would not put on his pajamas and he wouldn't go to the bathroom except once. He was very dehydrated. He was very scared. He did not like me or love me. I was just scared. I took him to Mcdonalds. He was fascinated with his Happy Meal. He didn't eat much be he did hold my hand the entire time while we walked there and back. It was the first and only silent trip we would take to Mcdonalds. By our third trip, I had become "Mama".

When Patrick went to bed that night, I let him sleep in his clothes. Tonight, he's asleep in my room (so are his sisters) wearing his Angry Bird pajamas. When I would tuck him in and tell him I loved him in China, he'd just nod his head. Now, I get "I luh loo, tooooo!" But, that first night, when he slept in his clothes and I pulled the covers back and smelled his butt because I was afraid he'd pooped his pants and been too afraid to tell me, that night was hard. I cannot say that it was love at first sight on Gotcha Day. Did I love him? Yes, I did, before I ever went to China I loved Patrick. It just wasn't that baby-talk saturated, overwhelming have to talk about them every second and every thing they do is sunshine and roses love. That night, I asked Jesus to let me see Patrick through his eyes, to let me love Patrick with his love. He heard me. I read First John again. I read about REAL LOVE. I read it until I felt it. Until I KNEW it. Until I could give that to Patrick. I read it until I could say "I will lay down my life for this child." And then, well then Jesus.....

I had to come to the point of realization that I am exactly who Jesus says I am. I was so busy planning and then second-guessing and worrying and theorizing to just be who I had to be right then. During those days in China, Jesus made me brave beyond any kind of bravery I've ever seen in myself. Jesus made me patient, so patient that at times I wondered if I was really the me I've known for 42 years. Jesus made me physically strong. There is no way I could ordinarily carry 40 pounds of dead weight (because forget Patrick actually holding on when I carried him) up flights of stairs and for several city blocks. Jesus made me steadfast, because nothing else would sustain me while visiting Patrick's orphanage. Jesus made me aware and smart and capable. I talked to him out loud while in public. I praised him at every communication and emotional breakthrough with my son. Oh, Jesus! I love you! Why can't it always be like this? Ah, and that's the point, isn't it? It could have and can always be, between me and Jesus, the way it was in China. In China, the superficial was stripped away and I was free to surrender it all. But, I had always been free to do that. Nobody stopped me but me. Even last week I said things that China Me wouldn't have said. I immediately regretted those things. After all, I didn't leave Jesus in China. I have very recently come to the realization that the things and people I think I've "lost" were blockades between me and Jesus. They were strongholds that, had I come up against them carrying Patrick's referral before me, those voices and attachments were so strong I would have put them before My Lord. I would have held to a stronghold of sin despite eternal consequences. Do I think God would have removed my salvation if I'd done that? NO. God doesn't do that. Do I believe that some day I would have had to answer for putting those strongholds before the very word of God? OH, yes I do. I have some strongholds to tear down, still. It is a daily occurrence----my dying to myself so that I can live in Him and it is so worth it!!!

I think I will continue this blog entry another day. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe Wednesday or Thursday. Please keep Patrick in prayer. He is scheduled for a heart catheterization on Wednesday, July 31st at 8:30 AM (CST) There are so many things that I don't know about Patrick's future, but I know that with our family is where God meant for Patrick's future to take place. I know that we are infinitely blessed simply because we said "yes".