We woke up at 5:00 am to finish packing our bags so the bell boys could pick them up at 5:30. We finished getting ourselves ready and met the group members who were taking the train with us in the lobby at 6:15 we boarded our bus for the train station and had our pre-packaged breakfasts handed out- 2 apples, a peach, one juice, and about 5 slices of bread for each person. We all chuckled about that one but it was better than nothing! :)
Our guide Jason was kind enough to get us right to the correct gate once at the train station to make sure no one got lost and everyone managed their luggage ok- CCAI guides really are amazing! One of the many, many things that really set them apart- they really take great care of every single step of this process.
James and I with Jason, one of our Beijing CCAI reps
Zhengzhou/Will, here we come!
The smog today was the thickest it has been since we've been here, and my throat has been feeling pretty scratchy all day. I'm assuming the two are related, but I'm loading up on vitamins and airborne just in case.
The bullet train was a great experience. We paid just a little extra (still cheaper than the option to fly) for VIP seats, so we had a ton of room and had big comfy seats, and a private car with just us, another family, and one other Chinese man in it. I was shocked at how quiet and smooth the ride is, even though we were traveling up to nearly 200 mph at times.
There's our train!
Waiting for the Train
It was great to see more of the landscape of China- we saw a lot of different farm crops as well as a ton of tree nurseries. I'm not sure if it's related to the hundreds and hundreds of newly planted trees we saw all over the city or if China has always grown so many trees but it appears they are really working hard at greening up their cities. China is so much more westernized than I could have imagined, and in many ways more advanced and cleaner than any US city I've ever been to. One big difference is the landscape though. There are no small towns or even small cities here. Our entire journey here I saw farmlands juxtaposed against enormous high rises everywhere you looked.
You just can't fathom how many people are here until you see the astounding number of high rise housing developments. It's easy now for me to understand how 1/5 of the worlds population is Chinese.
The view from our hotel room- 21st floor
The Hilton in Zhengzhou- our home this week- 38 stories!
We arrived in Zhengzhou (ZZ for short) around 12, and our guide brought us back to the hotel. Then she took one member from each family group to the bank to exchange money. When I walked into our room for the first time I saw the crib all set up next to our bed for Will- I definitely choked up a little bit at this sight.
Once James returned from that trip he and I went to a local noodle shop for lunch and had a good laugh at ourselves trying to learn how to eat ramen-style noodles with chopsticks. We eventually got the hang of it and the food was delicious so I'm sure we'll be making a few trips back there during our 5 day stay here.
Shortly after lunch our group headed to the nearby Wal-Mart to prepare for the next few days with our kiddos. We stocked up on snacks and of course had to sneak in a few new toys for
Will. We recently found out that his favorite show is called Super Wings so I found a few of the figurines/toy planes to play with in the room. We came back and were so tired we wanted to go to bed right then but we both knew we'd be torturing ourselves if we did- we would wake up way too early tomorrow and then would just have to sit around and wait for our time to go and meet Will.
We finally motivated ourselves to get outside and go get some dinner, and just settled on something easy, close, and familiar- KFC. Little did I know that it was going to be so spicy my lips and mouth would be on fire, but it was still very good. It's so weird trying to order food that you're used to in a restaurant chain from the US but no one on staff speaks any English. They are always so sweet and kind to us and we eventually get our point across by pointing and using gestures. The Chinese are such kind, helpful people and the level of customer service we receive here is unlike anything I've ever experienced back home. It dawned on us during dinner that this was our last time eating out as a "party of 2" for quite a while.
Our last date night out without a kid or a babysitter. After 9 years together as just the two of us, things are really going to be different now!
We got back to the hotel room and got everything prepared for tomorrow- gift bags, money envelopes, and Will's bag- full of suckers, toys, and treats. I'm also packing a LOT of Kleenex- there will be 17 families receive 18 children tomorrow, all in one big room- I imagine a LOT of tears, from both the parents and the kiddos.
By this time, Will is on a train on his way here with one of the caretakers from Angel House. He will sleep on the train tonight and arrive into the city around 7am. Please pray for this little heart- that his fears are calmed and that he knows his mom and dad love him and are waiting for him. Also please pray for the many volunteers at Angel House who have cared for him the past 3 years- it is beyond evident how much they really love him and it's going to be heart wrenching for them to see him go, even though they are happy to know he has a family. My heart just hurts thinking about it.
Once again, I'm falling asleep as I type this so it's time for bed. Please know that around 10:00 pm Sunday night (Michigan time) we will be receiving Will into our arms forever. He is already our son in our hearts but now he's going to be with us for real. I have no idea what to expect for tomorrow but I'm so excited to see how it all unfolds.
I will try to post an update and photos as soon as possible after our "Gotcha Day" but no promises- we just have to wait and see how he is doing with everything. Have a great day everyone!