Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gotcha Day!!!

This morning Marsha woke up at 5 and could not get back to sleep, so she read 3 books & James & I&II Peter, while everyone else was lazy:) Gary and the girls woke up at 10:15. We then got ready and cleaned up the room and ate PopTarts. We were supposed to meet our guide at 3:30, so we went to go eat lunch at 2:40 and she was already here. We weren't sure what to do, so Gary went back to the room to grab us all granola bars and waters. We went to the civil affairs office to WAIT.

There are fewer regulations here, so cars and bikes drive whenever they want through many of the intersections and even in the wrong lane. There are also no seat belts. We did not have to go through security or anything to get in a government building. Those kinds of things are apparently not a concern here.

At the office, we were expecting Maria to arrive at 4, so we were waiting and looking out the window in anticipation. We finally received word that the orphanage director would be late. We sat down and then continued to look at the plain white door anytime we heard a noise in the hallway. Finally at 4:45 the noise was Maria with the fostercare director and the orphanage director. We weren't sure what we were supposed to do until she handed Maria off to Marsha. We all stood around while she played with Marsha's earrings and got them out! We finally realized that nobody was coming to talk to us, so we sat on the couch to try and play with Maria----poor Gary had the video camera. When he could take the waiting no longer he put it down to join us:)

After getting Maria at the office, we had to walk next door to get pictures. They needed a picture of Gary & Marsha & Maria, but Maria was too interested in pulling our clothes and looking at the lights and the floor. They were clapping their hands and making noises, of which she could hear none of it:) After our group picture, she had to sit on the stool by herself. She then found the stool more exciting than looking at the camera. Whenever the camera came down, she looked up and then when they went to take a picture she looked away. It took awhile, but it was certainly funny:)

After pictures we walked to the store. It was more like a mall. Shopping is confusing here. You pay for things in whatever department you are in, so we had to think about what and where we needed to go in order to purchase things. They have escalators with no stairs, so that the carts can ride up and down them. Kirstie & Maria really enjoy these!

By the time we finished shopping it was 6:30 and then we headed to the van for the hotel. It's strange not putting a child in a seatbelt, but it was fun to hold her in my lap:) At the hotel at 7, we signed a ton of papers, all in Chinese, so no idea what they said. Then we went to our room. By then we were starving:)

Maria stands, but doesn't seem to walk. She also doesn't crawl very far before she falls to the floor. She mainly likes to be held. We made her a bottle of formula. Formula goes up to age 3 here. We thought we would try to get her to eat food. We have soft vanilla wafer type cookies, which she loved to suck on and then spit out. We tried Cheerios which she constantly reached for and sucked on and then spit out. She must not understand chewing and swallowing. Her reports say that she has eaten rice, eggs, & noodles. We'll try that tomorrow for breakfast. For lack of anywhere else to eat because there are no room menus, Gary walked to McDonald's for more chicken nuggets and ice cream sundaes. Maria did like ice cream after she got over the shock of the cold temperature.

The only time Maria cried was for her bath. She did not like that at all. We're wondering if they just sponge bath them here. She is still dirty, but much cleaner than before. She has some kind of rash or bug bites, so we put lotion on her, which she seemed to like. She easily layed down in her crib and fell asleep at 9pm. We were all tired and followed her to bed not much later.

What a blessing it was today. Thank you for your prayers. Maria came to us without screaming, so we are so grateful. Maybe because she cannot hear the noise, she does not seem overwhelmed with the city. We officially become a family of 5 tomorrow. Please pray that the paperwork goes smoothly and we answer all the questions appropriately. Our three girls are certainly a blessing from the Lord. We are so thankful!

Enjoy some pictures from our day!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Posting issues

We are periodically having difficulties posting, as well as commenting to your posts. We want to thank you all for following our journey and for posting. If you don't hear back from us, please know we are grateful for you!

Even though we did not get to see Maria today, the Lord has been faithful. We are certainly growing closer together as a family and we all needed the extra rest today.

We are a sight to see!

The girls were a real novelty to the people in Beijing. Our whole family was even involved sometimes. This is an album of only SOME of the people that had their picture taken with a member of our family. Now that we're in Taiyuan, we only get stared at and smiled at (people are not tourists here). We're certainly glad for the friendliness here:)

Monday in Taiyuan

This morning we met our guide to exchange our money and found out that we will NOT see Maria today. Something delayed the orphanage director from being able to meet us. We are supposed to see her tomorrow. We are of course disappointed, but we are taking the opportunity for the kids to get some homework done, while we try to figure out the money and logistics. We were hurt by the exchange rate and lost about 2%, so the U.S. dollar must be down. We'll add pictures to previous posts as time and internet allows.

Beijing was a city where many people spoke English and English was prominent on many signs, but here only our guide speaks English and very little signs have English included. The hotel staff does not understand us, so if we need anything we have to wait for our guide to come. She is also difficult for us to understand.

At 2:30pm when we were supposed to meet Maria, our guide took us to Walmart instead. What an adventure! There are people, bikes, motorized bikes, and vehicles everywhere on all sides of the road. This city is like NYC. The kids are a little grossed out by the boys and men periodically watering trees:) Walmart was large, but less selections of what we would like were available. We had to buy individual soda because they do not really sell it by the case. We bought the only kind of water they had in a case (water is not drinkable here, we even used bottled water to brush our teeth). It was also different because of all the fresh fish, etc. on ice. Much of what we buy here is no cheaper than in the U.S. and some things are more expensive, but there are also things incredibly cheap like soda, ice cream, & candies.

After shopping we went back to the room and the girls worked on more homework. Marsha rested due to a headache & sore throat (the air is very dry & smokey) and Gary worked on pictures. At 8:30pm we headed out to check out the hotel pool. Wow the pool was another adventure in culture shock. The girls wanted to swim and a helper was there to aid in the locker room, where privacy was not an issue and everyone walked around without towels. Then the girls were made to walk through the shower while I had to walk through a different door. Then we had to buy bathing caps (at least we think we had to). They had a great time in the pool though:)

After swimming Gary went back to McDonald's to get supper. We haven't found anywhere to eat, but the hotel buffet, so I think we'll have to ask the guide tomorrow if something is available. We're eating McDonald's while watching a movie on Gary's computer (the tv here is all Chinese, except 2 stations the girls can't watch).

We're still confused about what will happen tomorrow. We were told that the guide will meet us at 3:30 to take us to meet Maria. We're not sure if she gets to come with us or if we're just meeting her in order to go to Walmart to buy supplies for her. The reason we're confused is that the guide said we need no money tomorrow, but we wait for the money until Wednesday. We are anxious to get Maria soon:)

Pictures from our day!

Please continue to pray. The girls are really doing a nice job getting along and we're really enjoying ourselves as a family. Also even though there are language barriers, the people here are so kind. The work very hard to help us while we stare at them in total confusion:) At least at McDonald's we can point and hold up our fingers for "we'll have a number 2".
Miss you greatly!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

We made it to Taiyuan

We made it to the city of Taiyuan (pronounced "tie" "you" "on"). We left our hotel in Beijing this morning at 8:30am and did sight seeing and then went to the airport at 5:30pm. Then we waited at the aiport until 8:40pm for take off at 9:15. Another family had to wait until after 7, so we had dinner with them at Burger King. I never thought I'd be so happy to see a BK. We landed at 10:15, met our guide and are in our hotel room now at 11:35pm. This was one busy day and we are exhausted. We wanted to post, so that you knew we made it, but we probably will not upload pictures tonight. Although, we are trying to figure out how we can sleep in our room. We have a cot, bed, and crib, but neither the bed or the cot are that big. The room is not that large for 5 people to be able to sleep in, so this should be an adventure.

We now have the pictures below. The strangest thing about our room is the large window that is between the bedroom and the bathroom that is covered with a white curtain. You will see the view of the bathroom from the bedroom in a picture below. Also, you will see that we did come up with a way for the girls to sleep in the room. We will write again soon.

Taiyuan hotel & city

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sunday in Beijing

This morning we are headed to an international church. The service is from 9:30-11:00, then we go to the Pearl Factory, and then lunch. After lunch we head to Tian'anmen Square, the Forbidden City, and then the aiport to fly to Taiyan City in Shanxi Province. Not sure if we'll be able to call or e-mail or update the site from there. We have some trouble here in Beijing. Sometimes we cannot get to our blog. I guess it will depend on how they set up their internet service in our next hotel.

Church service, Pearl Factory, Lunch

Tian'amen Square

Forbidden City

Thanks again for all your prayers. So far we have not gotten the stomach sickness that we were told to be prepared for. I think we are eating Poptarts in our room this morning for breakfast, just to be sure our stomachs are ok for another long day.

Please pray as we meet Maria tomorrow!!

Saturday in Beijing: Summer Palace, Lunch, Great Wall, Olympic Center

Today was a busy day! The girls fell asleep within 5 minutes of laying down tonight!

We had a nice breakfast buffet in the hotel. It's a bigger buffet than we have at home. Then we drove to the summer palace. The Emperor and Empress used to reside there in the summer. The album below show pictures of our drive to the Summer palace, as well as the summer palace.

After the Summer Palace we had lunch at Yulong Friendship Shop which housed a factory, a family style lunch, and a big shop. You will see pictures of the handmade vases, our round table of new friends, and the large carvings at the shop.

After lunch we traveled to the Great Wall of China. We certainly got a lot of exercise hiking up the stairs! It was truly an amazing sight.

After the Great Wall we traveled to the Olympic Green, site of the 2008 Summer Olympics. It cost money to go inside the facilities, so we were content just walking around the park. The pictures of the outside should show you some of the magnitude of the sight.

One thing that is interesting is that the girls are quite a novelty. Everywhere we went it was crowded with Chinese tourists for the most part. I think they enjoyed the girls just as much as the sights. They smiled, laughed, and touched their hair. In addition, they sometimes pulled on the girls to get their picture taken with them. Mothers asked for the girls to stand with their little children. Also, teens asked to have their picture with them. At first, we didn't think to take their pictures as well, but after it continued to happen we took pictures of the girls with their admirers as well.

After the Olympic Center we headed back for a buffet style dinner. So far Gary has enjoyed the Chinese food more here than in the U.S. It has a less sweet taste here. After dinner we had very tasty ice cream cones a little bit like our "nutty buddies", but these were creamier and yummier!

We made it back to our hotel around 8:15pm. The guides are concerned about our girls being too cold, so they are bringing some of their coats from home for them tomorrow. Kirstie's cough seems to really bother them. The guides, Maggie and Rosa, are so helpful and kind. Anyway, Gary and I have spent the evening packing back up and updating the blog. We have to be checked out by 8:30 in the morning because we fly to Maria's province (Shanxi) tomorrow night, but we're out all day sight seeing again tomorrow.

It's been nice hearing from some of you. We appreciate your prayers.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Saturday in Beijing

Today we are heading to the Great Wall and the Summer Palace. We'll post pictures later. We are so anxious to get Maria, so it's good that they plan to keep us busy all day today. Continue to pray for safety and communication skills:) We've only lost about $8 in overpaying people, but I think we have it figured out now! Miss you all!

Arrival in Beijing

We finally made it to China after a long day of travel. We left home at 6:15am and made it to our hotel at 5:00 am your time (5pm here), so almost 24 hours of travel with approximatley 2 hours of sleep on the plane. The girls did a wonderful job getting along and doing homework on the plane. They probably have more than 1/2 of it left though.

We met one of the families in our group at the airport in Newark. It was nice to have someone to follow once we made it to Beijing:)

The hotel was afraid that all four of us would not fit into our room, so they upgraded us to two rooms that were nicer. Obviously we were not comfortable leaving our girls in a room by themselves not adjoined to ours in a foreign country. We use both rooms to get ready and let them play, but not to sleep. We concocted a bed for Macella out of two chairs and then took cushions off the chair in the extra room to make a bed for Kirstie. You'll see it it the picture album below.

I think the blogs show up with U.S. time, so just add 12 hours to see the time here.

Thanks so much for helping us get here. We miss and love you.

Some pictures from our trip and arrival are in the album below.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Syracuse airport

We're in Syracuse and almost leaving!
From 2009-03-26

From 2009-03-26

From 2009-03-26

Well we're almost ready to board for Newark. There is only an hour layover in Newark, so we won't be able to update you. Keep praying!

We're Leaving!

We're on our way out the door at 6am---heading for the Syracuse airport and then on to Newark, NJ and then finally Beijing, China!

From 2009-03-26

From 2009-03-26

From 2009-03-26

From 2009-03-26

From 2009-03-26

We're on our way!
Thanks for following our journey!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Last minute details

Today has certainly been eventful.

Marsha's mom flew in from Florida. She's spending the night with us and taking us to the airport in the morning.

Our travel paperwork arrived today, so that needed to be copied and organized. While looking through that we realized that Gary & I forgot to get 2 more passport photos. Tonight we scrambled around town looking for a place that was open for passport photos. After 3 stops, we finally got them!

The girls were sent home with all their homework. There was NO WAY there was room or the allotted weight to bring all the books that they needed, so we took a trip to Staples to photocopy the pages they would need.

Kirstie has a head cold virus with a sore throat and earache, so she is not having a fun evening, but she is still in good spirits. Please pray that she will feel well during our travels tomorrow.

We're having fun with Marsha's mom here. She took the girls to Barnes & Nobles while we worked at Staples. Look how cute they are!

From 2009-03-25

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kirstie's field trip to an old school house

Friday the 20th brought a little break from getting ready for China. Kirstie had a field trip and Marsha was able to go as a chaperon. It was so neat. The kids and adults alike were to bring lunches and dress like people from the late 1800s. Kirstie's picture below makes it appear like she belongs in an old school house.

From 2009-03-20


Monday the 23rd was a day and night of packing. We're going to look like pack mules with all 4 of us wearing backpacks and pulling a suitcase on wheels! Look below to see the fun of packing!

From 2009-03-23

From 2009-03-23

Shopping for the trip

Wow--We spent all Sunday afternoon shopping for the trip, as well as some of Monday afternoon. Finding different medicines that may be needed and guessing about Maria's needs took more time than we thought. In addition, buying gifts for the officials and nannies was a difficult task. Everything we were going to buy was made in China. We finally stopped at Bath & Body Works and Gertrude Hawk and found American made items. Wow is it hard not to eat that Gertrude Hawk candy up right now:)

We were able to buy less for the trip, as far as snacks is concerned because our neighbor was kind enough to bring us a bunch of snacks. The picture below shows Macella & Kirstie displaying all our yummy snacks!

From 2009-03-23

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I thought after today's travel meeting that we would have our exact costs, but exact costs will not be known until this coming Monday. We were still estimating that we needed approximately $16,500 and then the phone rang---we received a grant for $3500--now we only need approximately $13,000 in a little under a week. The Lord continues to show His faithfulnes, so we look forward to seeing how He will provide. A Child Waits Foundation was the only grant organization willing to rush our application due to our very quick upcoming travel. They overnighted our paperwork to their board, had a meeting, and are now overnighting a check to our adoption agency. They took care of it all within a week:) We are very impressed!

Travel Phone Conference

Today from 2-4 we have a conference call to discuss travel in China and I'm assuming we'll finally have all our final costs. It's kind of the last official step before we leave in 1 WEEK! I'll update our garynmash.com website after the meeting, so that all the costs and gifts are up-to-date. What an exciting and busy week we have ahead of us!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Yesterday was a day of family vaccinations. Kirstie was brave and actually had to go first:) We survived, but the sad thing is that they were series shots, so we have to get more when we get home. At least we'll know how Maria feels since I'm sure she'll have some to catch up on. I told Gary that we should have taken a picture of all four of our arms with our fancy band aids, but I didn't think of it in time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Practice for those new to blogging

Hello to those who were nervous about learning to blog. Just hit the comment button after this message and you should be able to type something. If you have trouble picking the type of comment, you can pick anonymous or pick name/URL and just type your name, but not worry about the URL. Give it a try! We would love to hear from you. On other messages (or this one if someone comments) if you hit the comments button you will be able to read what other people have written.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Welcome to mariashomecoming blog

Hi, Thank you for your interest in seeing our family grow by bringing Maria home from China. It has been a long journey, but God has been faithful. We leave on March 26th and meet Maria on March 30th! For in-depth information on our journey and for financial information please visit garynmash.com.

Again--we continue to covet your prayers and look forward to sharing our trip with you.