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Thanks so much for visiting us during our journey,
Paul, Beth, Tyler and Ana, Travis, Lindsey and Jordan and Sophie Ann!
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March 30, 2006
I guess dad and I are basically back on the island. We still have supervised visits, but they are longer than yesterdays. Sophie is realizing that mom is THE mom, not me (although I would like to be!)! She’s doing so well. She’s very sweet but very stubborn and strong willed!

Today we took a bus out into the country to see what the villages are like! It was very interesting. The dirt roads were rough with water buffalo piles on the side of it. There were parts of dishes stuck in the dirt, and trash. There were broken down buildings everywhere with huge piles of rubble. The housing seemed very poor: dirt floors, sparse furniture, small, crowded rooms, etc. The did have a television, stereo, and telephone, but other than that, it was poor living conditions.

We were able to see their farm lands and see some of them at work. There were a couple of farmers plowing with water buffalo. It was kind of neat.

The whole reason behind this little escapade was to show us what sort of living conditions our girls came from. You could tell the babies recognized some of the sights, sounds and smell, because they perked up instantly! It was a little bit sad.

After traipsing through the countryside, we headed back to the town for lunch which was about the same as always. When we were about done eating, we heard some loud voices. It was a couple of Chinese men trying to convince someone to drink. One man was past out on the table. I think it made our guide, Sherri, a little uncomfortable, because she explained it to us and directed us towards the door.

Later on in the hotel, dad was napping, mom was writing e-mails and I was playing with our girl. I was making her laugh a little by hiding behind the bed and peeking up at her, when all of the sudden she just got into this really silly mood. She would laugh and make a weird noise, then she would giggle at herself for making strange noises. She really knows how to ham it up when she knows someone is watching! She’s a doll!

Anyhow, it’s past my bedtime….talk to you again tomorrow from Guangzhou.

Miss ya’ll lots, Lindsey


Thanks to all who have emailed! We have enjoyed hearing from you, although we cannot respond back to all the emails. – Beth

Wow, another day has gone. Where did it all go?? I’ll tell you where it went, it went out on the bus! Over the past 6 days, my rear end has logged about 6 million miles over bumpy Chinese roads. That is where the last 6 days have gone! Actually time has just flown by. We have had a great time getting to know Sophie in her native land and experiencing a little of what life is like for her people here.

Today, as Lindsey has mentioned, we visited a local “agricultural village”. It seems each male who is farming is allowed to have about 20 acres to farm. The communal living arrangements make for a larger collective farm managed and operated by many more people. The village we were in had several water buffalo to work the ground, and at least one little Troy built crawler with a trailer attached to it. This particular village crew rice, lotus root, and some sort of potatoe looking thing that grows in the mud. As you may see from the pictures I will post, it was basic squalor. If you have ever traveled the back roads of South America or Latin America, you have seen the same poor farm folks who come to the world with nothing, live with nothing and leave with nothing. I don’t think it is feasible for a person born into this strata to leave it but with a few rare exceptions, and these being compulsory military duty, prison, marriage, death or adoption.

Our agency, America World Adoption Assoc., employs great guides here in country. They have done a great job of coordinating with this local village tour for the simple reason of getting us out of the city and into the environment that most babies are out of. Our first encounter with the locals was with a sweet 90 year old lady that met the bus. She was scolding the guides for our sudden appearance, had she known we were coming she would have put on her good clothes! As we left the pavement and walked into the village, every child in our group that was adopted perked up. The smells of decaying plants, stagnant standing water, water buffalo dung, the local garbage pile, and the community outhouse all hit one by one as we walked the trail into the village.

When we met a young woman and her little girl, Beth knelt down so Sophie could see the little girl and the little girl just hugged on Sophie and offered Sophie her bottle. It was so cute. I have part of it on video, I wish I had been ready for it. Next we met the chickens that were scratching in the garbage piles. Sophie absolutely loved them, in fact, I would be remiss if I did not get one for her… I just have to figure out how to get it through customs.

As we toured the farmers home, I was amazed, as was Lindsey, to see a phone, TV and stereo in one bedroom. In the next bedroom, there were about 20 sacks of seed rice, and a side of bacon hanging from the ceiling. The living room was complete with a compact Buddha shrine, and two smoked chickens (complete sans feathers!). They have no refrigeration, so they dry and smoke the meats to keep it. The kitchen was pretty interesting. The wok was so big it looked like you could bathe a baby in it. As I got closer to photograph it, the farmers dog let me know I was getting pretty close to the legal limit for visitors. As he looked me up and down and softly growled showing an incomplete set of dog teeth, I know I was being sized up as “the other white meat”. After the tour of the home, we met outside with the locals who were not working the fields/paddy’s for a group photo and headed back to the bus. As we walked out, I was thankful for the visit, and I was thankful that God had given me the opportunity to give Sophie a chance in life other than village life.

(writers note: If you, the reader, happen to be a mother in law, don’t unite, rally and other wise hunt me down for this next paragraph, read in the spirit it was intended!)

The afternoon was spent at a restaurant for lunch, where the food was mostly inadequate for my delicate pallet. When you stir the lotus root soup and stir up unidentifiable pig parts (waste not, want not..) your appetite can escape quickly. Beth’s mom, ever the culinary trooper, tries just about everything. After the snout/root soup, she said “no thanks” to a second helping. Everyone at our table rely on mom to be the official taster, and if she does not keel over, or suddenly go into a spasm, then it is generally safe to eat. So guys, whether or not you like your mother in law or not, (I love my mother in law!), they are at least good to bring to taste the foods. Much like the emperors of the old Chinese dynasties, an official taster is a great thing to have when your not sure if the food is safe. Long live mothers in law! So pack her up and bring her to China, it can be a great thing!

So as the day ends, I will leave you with the visions of fun foods to think of. In the morning, I will wake up to the sound of the Chinese anthem, soldiers in the square exercising and shouting in unison, and a haze hidden sun, trying to brighten an otherwise uneventful morning in which I have nothing to do except enjoy my daughters, my wife, and a western style breakfast.

- Good night and God Bless, Paul
Our Family With  90 Year Old Granny
Mom And Dad With Farmers Wifee
Daddy's Girls In The Village