The boys have different stories of waking up in the morning. Jack, the resident alarm clock, wakes up everyone by yelling "hello!" around 6am and slapping dad on the shoulder. When this doesn't work, he turns on the bedside light. This, in turn, wakes up Elijah, who runs to the curtains and opens them wide. I am not exactly sure what happens between that time and 8 when I wake, but I am pretty sure that sleeping is not a part of it.
After a mostly leisurely breakfast in the larger, more crowded (but still complimentary) downstairs dining room, Matt and I decided to go to the Shamian Island Chapel for their bilingual church service. Non-adoption vets out there, Shamian Island is an island in Guangzhou that used to house everything for adoptions- medical clinic, US consulate, and the infamous White Swan Hotel. All of these things have either moved or are closed for renovations now, but nonetheless, every adopting family ends up on the island at some point. This, among other historical and touristy features, makes the island a hotspot for westerners- thus, the very public and very open Christian church, to appeal to them and give a false sense of security for the Chinese church, as seen by Americans at least.
The church service was really nice- almost all Chinese, very few foreigners. Every other song was in english, and both the sermon and a testimony were given with the assistance of a translator. My touch of ADD prevented me from locking into everything that was said (translators are hard to keep up with!) but I know that the sermon was solid, and the testimony, given by a girl who was probably my age, was really encouraging. She told the story of not just how the gospel came to her life, but how it came into her entire family and changed them as a whole. I thought that this was really a beautiful way of talking about the gospel- how it affected her community, and not just her individually. We also met another family, here adopting a little girl with both cleft hands and cleft feet, and the biggest, most beautiful head of curls that I have ever seen on a Chinese child. She spent the better half of the service playing peekaboo with me and handing me the bulletin, and totally captured my heart.
After church, Matt and I stopped in a few shops that were along our route home. All of the shops on the island are cleverly named after the person who owns them- Jennifer's, Lucy's, Andy's, etc, which actually makes them easier to remember. Because the hotel and many other things are no longer operating on the island, business is down and many of the shop owners are desperate for a sale- which resulted in my score of a beautiful, grade A, almost translucent jade ring for about $5. We are still scouting the perfect set of carved wooden chopsticks- but we have a few days!
Fried dumplings and milk tea for lunch, and we headed back to the hotel to watch the kids while Dad went exploring- and came back with a ( fake) Rolex and tales of explaining the gospel to the woman who sold it to him. I admire his love for the Lord and his willingness to put himself out there for the sake of the kingdom so much- what an example I have for a father! He saw a painting of the last supper and explained to the salespeople, who had no idea what it actually was, how significant the event was, and what it meant in his life. what a man of the faith he is!
While he was gone, Matt and I and the kids watched various Nat Geo documentary shows, most notably one about Kung-fu that had both Elijah and Matt running around the room throwing kicks and karate chops at each other. Those two are the sweetest pair. They fight and make up so fast- I can barely keep up! Highlights of the babysitting session include a seriously gross 4-year-old's poopy diaper and watching a show about three grown men pretending to be beavers. I don't know which was more disturbing.
After Dad got home, I decided to have a little cross-cultural adventure of my own. Right next to the entrance to our hotel is a whole in the wall nail salon that advertises an OPI manicure for 20 yuan- about $3.50. This time, my inner diva was unable to be stifled. Angela assures me that a manicure usually costs about 10 times that, and jokes that it is probably the price per finger. After she natured about the price for me, she assured me that it was in fact the price for the entire manicure, and encouraged me to check it out. Well, it might have been the mot pleasant and relaxing manicure of my life, largely because there was no awkward, forced conversation between myself and the stylist- actually, there was no conversation whatsoever! I will, however, freely admit my disappointment that no one asked me if I wanted "dee-zine" or "kritul gel" or another classic phrase from an Asian-run nail salon in America. Nevertheless, my nails are a lovely shade of red-orange and I am only less 20 yuan. I'd recommend it to anyone staying at the Shifu!
Now, we are relaxing in the executive lounge, enjoying our free appetizers and drinks. This is serving as our dinner for the entirety of our time here at the Shifu, which saves us a ton of money on food every day!
Memorable conversation from today- attempting to explain the term "redneck" to Angela. We ended up going with "that family member that would dare to open a beer during the closing prayer at your wedding"- probably accurate. This was in accordance with our conversation about people eating things that shouldn't be eaten- which lead to Chitlins- which lead to a story about a redneck member of Matt's family eating scrambled deer brains and eggs. Oh, was that you, Bobby? :)
Also noteworthy for today- remember the Pleasant Goat cartoon from yesterday? I saw him today! Walking around the streets of Guangzhou entrancing all the little children! I am so lucky.
Praying for Pack the Pavillion at church today- and for Vanessa and Mira, who have either already met, or will meet in the morning! Love you all :)
Sent with AGAPE LOVE from my iPad!