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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 2 in Taitung

I woke up and decided to head to the gym this morning. Apparently I had misread or misinterpreted the hours of the gym, and it wasn't open at 7 A.M. I'm guessing maybe people here are morning people? I ventured outside and decided to make use of the well-visible, very populated walking trail next to the hotel. I retraced my steps quite a bit, back and forth. I couldn't help but notice the majestic mountains in the background and the vivid green clumps of grass along the trail. I watched people as the ran and walked past, and others as they exercised in place. Some smiled at me while others stared. I reflected on how different our lives were, and yet how similar.
(snuggling before breakfast)

After getting ready, we headed downstairs for breakfast with Kathy, Kai, and Barbara. We weren't sure what to expect, and either we were so hungry, or the food was great, or both! I enjoyed several favorites from home while trying a few new things as well. One thing I tried was called Money Steamed Buns! While eating, one little girl kept yelling, "Hello, baby!" One woman stopped by to talk with both babies and ask how old they were. We've received gifts from the baby store we visited as well as the hotel.
(pretty close to a smile)

Soon after finishing up breakfast, Luke was there to pick us up. We had to purchase plane tickets back to Taipei on Monday. Then we headed to see the beach. The view was beautiful, and the water was amazingly clear. A nice breeze blew the whole time we were there. We enjoyed walking around and taking a few pictures. I thought about how in just a few weeks, my entire family would be back at the beach enjoying the sights and sounds. This beach was rocky, though, so no kids were playing in the surf, and almost everyone around us had on long sleeves! We found that funny, because Jeff had on short sleeves and shorts, and the rest of us at least short sleeves. From what we can figure out, they don't want their skin to be darker, quite the opposite of many Americans' goals!
(sleepy boy at the beach)

Luke dropped us back off at the hotel, and we decided to go to McDonald's for lunch. We piled into a taxi and quickly found ourselves at the fast food joint. You would have thought we were celebrities! We all agreed it was the most stared at we've ever experienced! No one tried to be inconspicuous at all. You would see them whisper, then all heads turn at the same time and stare. I think I either got used to it or was able to ignore it. We finished up lunch and walked around town a bit. We visited a grocery store and looked over some jewelry, then realized we hadn't seen a taxi pass by. As Deana says, this isn't Taipei! So, finally, Jeff decided to walk in a store and ask them to call us a taxi to take us back to the hotel. Thankfully, the shop he chose had a kind woman who had excellent English. We've all talked about how so many people here try to make us feel comfortable and welcome by speaking (or attempting to do so) our language. The children love to "practice" their English on us (Except those Deana and Luke's kids, who like to pretend they don't speak it!) In America, our view is quite different on that subject. Many feel if you come to America, you should know the language.
(one-half of our family - ahhh! that is crazy!)

(a view of one street in Taitung)

The taxi took us back to the hotel and we shopped in a few stores at the hotel, then headed back to our rooms for naps. Later that night, Luke picked us up and we ate a family-style dinner with a large group. Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of the church that Luke preaches and pastors, so it was a celebration meal of sorts. The man who helped build the church owns a restaurant, and he had us to dinner. Several other pastors were there, along with the couple who founded the church 30 years ago. Several of the staff members we have worked with during our adoption were there, and so was Tuck's birthmother.
(getting closer to catching that smile)

(according to the restaurant owner, all the food they served came from Taiwan;  I was adventurous and tried a few new things)

Tuck's birthmother held him and fed him. I wish I could explain the feeling of sitting next to the woman who has helped make you a family. The emotions run a large spectrum, from gratitude to just no concept of her ability to make the decisions she has. With the language barrier, it was difficult to communicate much. We had some conversation and took quite a few pictures. I can't help but wonder how Tuck will feel one day when he sees his mother and birthmother had dinner. I'm guessing he will wonder what we talked about. We tried to convey our love for our kids to her. We try to assure her we will take great care of her son, and how much love we already have for him. We try to give her as much time with her son as we can, feeling awkward when she hands him back to us. We have the rest of our lives with him, and she has just a few short moments. I wondered how she felt when she saw us leave with him, knowing the possibility of ever seeing him again is quite small. Thank you was the best we knew to convey our feelings, and she thanked us as well. I hope it's enough for Tuck one day.
(from left to right, you can see Wuli, Deana, Anna, Lily, Jessica, Tuck's birthmother, then me)

We've kept up with our boys at home through texts and a few attempts at facetime. We miss them terribly, and I think it's safe to say that Nash and Reed are a bit unhappy with us right now. They had little to say, and what they said broke our hearts! Reed wanted to jump through the screen and be with us in Taiwan. He told us he didn't want presents, he just wanted us to come home. Nash would speak some with Jeff, but had little to say to me. He did ask to see Baby Tuck. Will,  on the other hand, still would wave, blow kisses, and say our names. I think it's safe to say his feelings might change once Tuck is there in person. We will have to wait and see. I've never had such feelings of joy and grief at the same time. I am so ready for our family to be together. I'm so appreciative of everyone at home stepping in and doing their best to keep our boys happy and their minds off the fact we are gone.
(group shot, sort of)

Tuck is beautiful, and he has been a great baby so far. He eats well and sleeps well. He snuggles, and he smiles while doing this cute little eye-scrunch thing. His personality seems all his own, which I love. He has the biggest, most beautiful eyes, and he seems to just go with the flow. He does love for you to stand up while you hold him. I decided this shouldn't be much of a problem, because I don't sit down much at home, anyway! Praying through that about the plane ride home, though! It could make for an interesting time. He has quickly stolen our hearts, and he feels like he's been with us forever already. We can't wait to experience the rest of our trip with him and introduce him to his brothers. I can't believe God has given us the gift of another son, one we certainly didn't expect or deserve. Thankfully, God's plan is best, and we have had perfect peace throughout this trip that we were meant to be family. God has given us a gift that we hope never to take for granted and know others will be blessed by. Thank you for your continued prayers, support, comments, and love for our family. We know God has answered many prayers during this journey, and we want to make sure He receives all the glory for what He has done.
(Really, mama, you don't think my brothers can resist this face, do you?)
We are blessed, times four.
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