Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A journey only He could write

Looking back, I'm in awe of how He has orchestrated this journey.
I sure wouldn't have written it this way. 
If it was my job to write it all out,
It would have been simple and easy. 
But that's not how God works in all of our lives. 
Oh but He is so very patient with us! 

8 months before Tessa was born, 
There was a newborn baby boy born in another part of China. 
God was so creative when He designed him.
But to his birth parents, it was overwhelming.
In the broken, He works. He worked to have him placed in a caring foster home as he waits...

A few months before we traveled to go bring Tessa home in 2014, 
We saw this picture. 

I didn't even see his chair... I saw his JOY! 
A foster brother of Tessa's needed a pediatric wheelchair, the request went out from their foster home. 
We live very close to Wheels For The World, and made some phone calls. 
Then a friend (who knew nothing about this request), came up to me at a homeschool meeting...
She said she was supposed to give me funds to go towards a medical need at our daughter's foster home!! 
Supplied!!! These funds paid for a custom pediatric chair for him and was delivered in a matter of weeks. 
We got to visit the foster home and got to see this miracle chair.
But we didn't just get to see this special chair.

We got to see where miracles happen. 
Where love is poured out unconditionally. 

Our Tessa Joy introduced us to her buddy...
And our lives will never be the same. 

This moment. 
It's where I first laid eyes on him. 
I'm holding my camera. He is holding his. 

This room didn't have space for him to use his chair, but that didn't hold him back! 
And then it was time to sing with friends...

He and Tessa just  hugged and hugged

And hugged...

And hugged...

And some adjustments needed to be made to her hair bow ;)

And that joy just pours out of him!!!

At snack time Tessa got to pass out the plates... 

It's these pictures that Tessa goes back through often,
Telling me the stories in her words. 
But mostly she asks me...
"Momma, Hudsa still no mommy daddy? Hudsa still in Chinese, no famul?"
So we pray. She prays. 
For years. 
3 years of praying. 

Our family's prayer for him has always been the same...
That he would be placed in a Jesus-loving family. 
That his life would be a testimony of God's goodness and redemption. 
That he would glorify God with his life. 

And then our prayer changed a bit.
Would God place him in our family? 
We just said yes. 

But this was a loooong yes. 

Month after month. Nothing. 
No answers on why his file in country was taking so long. 

So we just kept praying. 
The same prayer and thensome! 

And we trusted God with His timeline. 

Look what He has ALREADY done in our family!!! 

Several months ago we got some tough news from our agency. 
The answer was no. 
The door looked pretty darn closed. 
His file went to a different COUNTRY. 

Days of deep breathing. 
Going back to Truth. 

Phil 4:8 "...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, 
whatever is just, whatever is lovely...think about these things" 
This verse. 
It's gone with me through so many journeys. Always reminding me to focus on GOOD!! 
What we know is TRUE, is that he is LOVED BY HIS CREATOR! 

What is true is that God desires to see him choose Jesus, to choose a relationship with Him! 
So even with this tough news earlier this year, 
We trusted His plan for him.
We know that HE KNOWS. 

So in the middle of this time of "no"...
feeling heartbroken... but still trusting Him...
I parked across from this car. 
I think I might have laughed out loud a bit. 
Choosing to feel His joy. 

A dear friend would pour Truth into me. 
And another. And another. 

Then 2 weeks later... 
this car. this Truth. Again. Because I needed the reminder. 

It was almost humorous how often I would see his name! 
While I was sewing. When the Costco magazine showed up with "miracle of the Hudson" article.
When a local work truck would pull up next to me at a light and the company was his name. 
When I got an email from a publisher who was focusing on celebrating the life of Hudson Taylor. 
When I gave a tour of a 4th grade classroom to a family and next to me on the wall was the focus of Hudson Taylor's heart for Asia. 


Then a few weeks ago we were driving past the airport...
It's a trigger for Tessa to talk about coming home from China and how her "famul" was waiting for her. 
But this day she asked yet again "mommy, Hudsa still wait his mommy daddy? Still wait his famul?
Why he wait soooo long? Hudsa be in my famul? I ask Jesus." 

Gulp. My heart just broke again. Because I don't have the answers. I don't know why. 

But YESSSSS we can pray. 
And that's exactly what she did. Right there. 

Her prayer is heard. Every. Single. Time. 


 The details of that night I will never forget. 
Only the Lord did this. 
And He used His people!!!! 

By the next morning we had news we sure didn't see coming!! 
3 days after that we had locked in to his file!!! 
What the what?!?!?!??! 
A handful of days later we were told...
HE IS YOUR SON!!!!!!!!

Our heads are spinning. 
Our hearts are filled with awe. 
Because ONLY GOD could write a journey like this. 
And He is still writing!! 

We had our home study ready. 
But it expires this week. 
So we have to start over. 
No discounts on fees :( 
Ohhhh those crazy fees! 
But we trust Him!!

He provided every. single. dollar. we needed to bring home Tessa! 
We trust he will provide to bring Hudson home too. 

Hudson will be SIX soon!! 
He has waited sooooo long already. 
We will be going through our home study & dossier paperwork as fast as humanly possible. 
But those fees. 
If you feel you want to be a part of bringing Hudson home by giving (tax deductible) towards the fees  we would be oh so grateful!!!! 
(And you can even stay anonymous)
You can check out our AdoptTogether profile ...HERE

The faster we can get him home, 
The faster he can see the specialists that have great hope for him through surgeries and therapies. 
Because he is one of the oldest precious ones at the foster home,
he has seen sooooo many of his friends leave to go home to their forever families. 
It hurts my heart that he still will have to wait many more months. 
But we know He will give him patience. 
We know He will comfort him like He has for six years. 
We know He is preparing His heart. 

Will you pray for our Hudson?
Will you celebrate this miracle with us? 
YOU are a part of his new community!!  
Let's bring Hudson home SOON!!!! 

Monday, September 7, 2015

September...Oh how I love you!

September has been one of my favorite months for quite a while.
Here's why....
Well this guy who I love so
will celebrate his birthday this month. 
And after The Lord chose for us to experience two losses
and a couple years of infertility,
He gave us our first miracle! 
She's two days old here in her Daddy's arms. 


proof that his hair wasn't always gray as an adult. 
I ask the hospital if they could make a birthday cake, 
they asked if it was for a boy or girl, so here's his baby boy birthday cake. Oops. 
And then there's the cropping and doodling. 
Its scrapbooking at its finest. 
It's what we did. 
Circa 1998. 

So here's another reason I'm loving this September! 
The reason why I became a Noonday Collection Ambassador 
was to help spread the joy that Noonday's impact 
is truly making around the world. 
This month we are celebrating 5 years of impact! 
And we are focusing on Uganda in September. 
Look what's happening in Uganda!

Children are cherished! 
Women are empowered! 
People have jobs! 

Oh how I love this so!! 
Let's celebrate this!! 

Here's how you can join in the celebration... 

Would you consider hosting a Noonday Trunk Show? 

Our Noonday artisan partners in Uganda need YOU! 

If you purchase Noonday through one of my September trunk shows, you get a free Funky Paper Bead Bracelet or a Safari Stack Bracelet in aqua. Your choice! 
And it gets better! 
If your Noonday purchase is at least $125 (think early Christmas gift shopping) through one of my September trunk shows, you will receive a free Jalia Ombré Necklace or a  Twilight Mukisa 
Necklace, your choice! 

And it gets even better!!!
In September, all of our Ugandan line is 
20% off!!! 

And to top of how awesome September is...
ALL of my September commission is being donated! 
Can I introduce to you two precious little punkins? 

This is precious Clara, you can read more about her Here
she was born with the precious gift of Down's Syndrome and she rocks it! 
She was in desperate need of a life saving heart surgery early this year. 

Her foster sister is sweet Ruby, you can read more about her here
Ruby has her own miracle story as her life was saved by GI surgery this Spring. 
By the grace of God  both girls got the surgeries they needed,
but the funding to cover the cost of their surgeries is still needed. 
And all the children blessed to be at New Day North are in need of monthly sponsors. 
Will you consider sponsoring one or more of these punkins? 

New Day Foster Home  depends on the generosity of donors to be able to provide the care for dozens of special needs orphans.
  Our Tessa Joy was blessed to have had her life saving heart surgery while she was in their care, all because of donations.  We are forever grateful!! 

My September Noonday commission from all of your Noonday purchases this month, 
will be donated towards the surgery funds for Clara and Ruby! 

I can't wait to see what God will do! 
Your Noonday purchase in September is having such a huge impact! 
Will you consider hosting a trunk show?
It really does have such a great impact! 
Let's rock this September!!! 


Friday, March 13, 2015

It's been too long! We are going back!

There's a beautiful little piece of heaven at the very southern part of the Caribbean Sea.
I left a piece of my heart there. 
When I'm in Trinidad and Tobago, I truly feel at home! 
I have family there! Loved ones there! 
We have gone as a family (or parts of us) to love on the children (now teens) year after year since 2008 with our church team. However the last couple years The Lord lead us to fostering and adopting which kept us home. We knew that was what was best. Thankfully, Emma did get to go last Summer! 
We've been praying. 
And it's time for some of the Rohrer fam to GO!
Madelyn, Emma & I are overjoyed to go back to love on and serve our Trini family!  

The little kids that we fell in love with back in 2008, aren't little anymore! 
We miss them all sooooo much! 
I can't wait to hug them again! 

You may have seen that we lost, and heaven gained, this young man just last week. 
Our hearts ache knowing that we won't see him again until we see Jesus. 
And in that we are also incredibly thankful that Nate and I both got to know Navin in the 3 years that he came to camp while we were there. 
We had many conversations with him about his decision to place his faith in Jesus alone. 
In his family's culture, that wasn't easy for him. It was truly a leap of faith for him! 
I could have scooped him up and taken him home with me!
 (Well I actually feel that way about all my Trini loves) 
Leaving this earth at only 16 years old is too soon! 
I don't wanna miss another Summer with these amazing kids and the Singh family! 
Life is too short! 

For several Summers, I helped cook and serve food to campers and our team...

Again I hope to be serving along side my sister in Christ, Aloma in the kitchen. 

Love like a sister! I've learned so much from her!  

See all these hungry mouths?!? They are so thankful for whatever is on the menu! 

So this Summer it will cost each of us approximately $1280 to go. 
Each year, God has provided every single $ to go! 
He is so faithful! 
Here's how we plan to earn the $...
Emma and Madelyn are pretty awesome baby sitters, money that they earn will be going towards their trip! Need a sitter? They have daytime availability too! 
I'd be happy to drive them to you too! 
You can message me or them on FB to schedule them! 

God has blessed me with a part-time job that has helped us make ends meet. Just being real here folks...this family budget is T.I.G.H.T! 
So the little that I can earn elsewhere is prayerfully going to cover the cost of the trip! 
I've got a few pallet boards ready to paint. 
Here's a couple I painted last year...

Do you have a favorite verse or song lyric?
I'd love to make a custom pallet sign for you! 

I will be selling these very soon with the proceeds going towards my mission trip cost.

Over a year ago, as a family we have been using doTerra essential oils consistently. 
We are so thankful for our improved health! 
We use them in our water, baths, homemade lotions, for household cleaning, treating illness, preventing illness and in cooking! I also use doTerra hair products and skin care line. I've been blessed by how well all of us have been over this past year! 

If anyone wants to purchase doTerra essential oils, oil blends, skin and haircare, I make 25% commission on any order off my doTerra site. I would be so thankful if you would consider ordering from me here
Please let me know if you have any questions about how to use your oils :) 

One more way I'm earning the $ I need to pay for the trip...

I've been honored to be a Noonday Ambassador since last Fall. 
It's been a challenge and a blessing. 
Adoption Fundraiser Trunk Shows have been so wonderful! 
Two families have been blessed with a check from Noonday! 
So I'd love to do another Adoption Fundraiser Trunk Show soon! 

 I'll be honest with you...
It's been a challenge finding Trunk Show hostesses. 

Noonday artisan partners from 13 different countries are quite dependent on the market place that our Noonday hostesses provide. With out hostesses, this just doesn't work. 

What has happened over the past year through Noonday??
Over $20,000 has been donated by Noonday to International Justice Mission! 
Noonday artisans have been able to keep their families together, keep their children from going into orphanages, send their children to school, stop the poverty cycle, obtain small business loans, and hire other artisans! I could go on and on! 
Please consider purchasing from Noonday... (Maybe for your Easter look, Spring family pictures accessories, Spring Break look) 
I get a 20% commission on all purchases from my site. That $ will go towards my trip cost. 
You can shop on-line and purchase from my site here 

Pretty, pretty please consider being a hostess...
I'd love to share with you the BEAUTIFUL stories of hope from our artisan partners. 
Let your home welcome in some hope! 
Just a couple hours of your time, and you'll earn free and discounted Noonday! 
Let your accessories tell beautiful stories! 
Did I mention that I REALLY, REALLY need hostesses?
You can contact me about setting up your trunk show here
Thank you!!!!!!

If you've stuck with me all the way through all that...bless your heart! 
Please let me know if you have any questions about our trip! 

What we REALLY need is prayer! 
Please pray right now for the hearts of the kids that we will be loving on. 
Please pray for the unity of our team and that each member will be fully funded by our deadlines. 
Please pray for our health and safety on our trip. 
Please pray for the Singh family as they prepare for a big 'ol bunch of crazy Trini lovin' Americans headed their way. 
Pray that the love of Jesus will shine through everything we say and do! 

Love you all bunches! ~ Amber 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Day After

The Day After...
Those 3 words may prompt very different thoughts for you.
The day after a loss.
The day after a celebration.
The day after a tragedy.
The day after a birth.
What you DO the Day After is determined by what the day before really meant to you.
A day where maybe your FB newsfeed was flooded with the words
"Orphan Sunday"
Maybe you went to a church service that purposefully focused on Orphan Care and awareness.
You might have seen a video or two created to honestly wreck your heart.
The message you heard yesterday from The Word of God could have been shared to spur on the urgency of the need to care for the orphan and widow.
A heavy day. A bittersweet day. A beautiful day.

And now the Day After..
What do we do with THIS day?
The following words I type need to be determined by who I think might be reading this...right?
Maybe you have a wrecked heart..."now what?"
Maybe you are already on your orphan care journey..."I'm good then, right?"
Maybe you know your next step is A BIG ONE..."how do we do this?"
Maybe it's great to see this happening all around you...but that's where it's staying.
I could write about each one of the above. And then some.
I could give you great resources on orphan care.
I could tell you all about foster care.
I could prepare you for the adventure of adoption.
But you are smart.  You can gather info all on your own. You don't need me to hold your hand. But I sure will cheer you on, pray with you, encourage you!
What the Day After is really about is something that many don't think about.
And there's somebody that really likes it that way.
The Day After is about obedience.
God IS speaking to you about what orphan care looks like in YOUR life.
And there's somebody that wants to make you deaf to God's voice.
No one really likes to talk about our enemy.
Pastors don't like to preach about him.
People don't even want to acknowledge that he is active.
And our enemy likes it that way.
But here's THE TRUTH...
1 Peter 5:8 "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour."
Did you read that??
the devil is active.
the devil is looking.
he is looking for some ONE. not some THING. 
Children are vulnerable.
Children who are orphaned are the MOST vulnerable. period.
the enemy likes it that way.
he likes that they are forgotten.
he likes that they are lonely, hurting.
he likes that most have no hope.
he likes that they are a burden.
he likes that they are too risky to take on.
the enemy can not see the specific future for each child.
what he does know is that they EACH are a potential threat to his plan of destruction.
he is a numbers guy.
each heart means nothing to him.  he just wants more.  they are just a number.
he knows there is a potential in each child that they might come to know Jesus!
Then that Jesus-loving child of God might just tell someone else about Jesus!!
this is screwing up his numbers.
So...back to the Day After...
The Day After Orphan Sunday.
what will the enemy do today?
Here's The Truth 2 Corinthians 11:14 "But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light"
he will work on keeping you busy today.
too busy.
he will distract you today, and the next day and the next day and the next.
to the point that you have forgotten what you heard on Orphan Sunday.
to the point that you forget the heart nudge you knew meant business.
he will remind you that your house is too small.
he will remind you that you don't have enough money.
he will remind you that you are already overwhelmed.
he will remind you that what you are doing right now...
it's enough. go on, feel good about what you already are doing. it's enough.
or maybe he will tell you later is fine.  just wait until later.
THAT is what the Day After is like.
And the next day.
And the next.
the enemy likes it that way.
So what will YOU do so that the enemy won't devour ONE MORE CHILD??
You know the heart of God.
and now you know the sickness of the enemy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Your night will become like the Noonday ~ my launch giveaway!


Often I find myself wanting to do more! 
I have a feeling you do too!
There is brokenness all around us.
My heart spills out with compassion for the fatherless.
There are mommas at the end of their ropes, no where to turn for hope. 
But what can I do? I have to do something!
At this moment, I'm pouring my life into my children; my loves. 
He gave me a heart for the hurting around the world.

This is what Noonday Collection is all about! 
Satisfying the needs of the oppressed! 
I want to be a part of THIS!!! 

I am honored to now be a Noonday Ambassador!
My desire is to share the GOOD is happening!
To share what joy is coming to families as their gifts and talents are being recognized. 
Don't we all desire...
To dream big for our children and do something that brings us joy.

I will be sharing this marketplace with you! 

My children are seeing these stories of redemption too! 
I love how they are watching what Noonday is all about!
My family is seeing outside of their little world...
to be a blessing to others is service to Jesus!
Keep reading.... It gets better!!!!

So let's take a look at just one of the 10 countries Noonday is having an impact on...
The beautiful country of Uganda! 

The talented group of artisans here are a growing group of 300 who now have opportunities that they didn't have without Noonday!
 Mommas can keep their families intact
 and their children can receive educations that previously were out of reach. 
The love and care that goes into their craft is something I would like to 
SHARE WITH YOU!!! I launch my adventure with Noonday,

I would love to GIVE AWAY THIS NECKLACE to one of you! 

This beautiful piece is the "Lovely Loops Necklace"
(page 66 in the Fall 2014 catalog)
Handcrafted by the artisans in Uganda
Measures 22.5 inches, crafted with paper beads and mixed metals 
(Retails for $46)
You can step into the life of the Ugandan artisans here...

So for making a purchase starting today
through the evening of my Noonday Trunk Show launch, you will be entered into the drawing for this beautiful piece!
If you already own this necklace, or at the time of the drawing this necklace is not in stock,
 the winner will receive a gift voucher for $46.

I hope that you take a moment and take a look around my Noonday Collection website HERE
You can scroll through the on-line catalog,
Then shop by clicking on the tabs at the top of my page. 
Noonday showcases scarves, handbags, belts and home accessories as well as jewelry...all crafted by hand with love from 28 different artisan groups around the world!
Make sure you complete your shopping and order at 
As you complete the checkout process,
Make sure you are entered into my necklace giveaway drawing by
Choosing my name as your Noonday Ambassador (Amber Rohrer)
Your Trunk Show Name is: Amber's Launch
Your order will ship right to you! It will process as soon as you submit your order! 
I can't wait to see how much you will fall in love with Noonday like I did! 

There is one other REALLY BIG THING that made me fall in love with Noonday! 
So much so that you can host an Adoption Fundraiser Trunk Show for an adoptive family
and Noonday will donate 10% of the sales in cash towards their adoption!
That's a heart for the orphan!

So excited that a few sweet friends have already set up their Noonday Trunk Shows!
As a host you get to hear more about the stories of the artisans,
bring their craft right into your home, share their beautiful stories with your loved ones,
and enjoy hostess rewards.

Use your purchasing power to make a difference!
Get to know how Noonday is supporting the International Justice Mission!
Bringing justice and hope to the hopeless.
This little punkin' will be drawing the name of the winner of the necklace on the night of my
Noonday Trunk Show ~ Tuesday, September 16th.
But just ONE winner.
The sooner you place your order, the sooner your Noonday pieces will be in your hands!
Be a part of something BEAUTIFUL!
Give a gift that truly has a story of hope.
Start checking off gifts on your Christmas list!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Last stop...Guangzhou

 Last Stop! We LOVED did Tessa!
She set up her office as soon as we got settled into our room.
We unplugged the 2nd phone and she had some calls to make.
Kept her quite buzy while we unpacked.

She also found some other forms of entertainment.
 I hoped the drawers could hold 21 pounds.
Soon to be traveling parents ~ Note the hot water pot on the counter.  We weren't crazy about the location right there on the edge.  So we moved it into the bathroom where we used it most. ( cleaned toothbrushes, bibs, her plastic spoons & forks, bottles, sippy cups) 
She still takes a bottle before bed, so we used half boiled water and half bottled water = the perfectly  warm bottle.  This was on the Saterday afternoon that we arrived in GZ. The next day we were touring the city of Guangzhou (pronounsed Guh wong joe...well kinda like that)

 Sunday we all loaded on our A/C bus (glorious)...did I tell you that GZ is HOT?!!! 
AND super humid! I thought it was hot in Beijing and ZZ. Ha!  THIS was crazy sticky hot.
Our first stop was a local Buddist Temple.  It was a bitter-sweet place to be.
It was a beautifully cared for, and yet there were broken hearts there.  
They came to give their tokens of sacrifice...
 all to be scooped into a plastic bucket moments later by one of the temple volunteers.
Their prayers falling on deaf ears.
 I was told the gifts of food, fruit, and bottled juice was given to the monks.

~Jonah 2:8&9 "Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God's mercies. But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone."
 The next stop was the Old Chen House & Arts and Crafts Center.
It was totally not what I expected.
 The outside of the 'house' was covered in very beautiful carvings
 Inside was more like a courtyard with open rooms all aroud.
Many local arts and crafts, such beautiful work all around you. 
 This artist made scenes of China with ink on his hands...that's it!  Amazing!!!
There is a couple other places where I saw this kind of art. (The Great Wall tourist area also had this type of artist selling prints)
We purchased some sovenirs here for our nices and nephews with their names on it.  There were pre-made prints right behind his table, as well as other water color prints.
We also purchased a wall hanging with Tessa's Chinese name on it.  Our guides helped us communicate our order to the other artist.  They had the prints delivered to our hotel later that day.
 There were many other rooms set up like art halls, this one had huge pieces all hand woven with silk! So beautiful!!
There were many other rooms with carvings that were crazy intricate
But honestly... I just wanted to sit and WATCH PEOPLE!  I love to people watch! 
This was a great place for that! We noticed other adoptive families touring here from other agencies as well.  This was also the first experience of having Tessa use the squaty potty, here at the Old Chen House.
Oh. my.
Look at this poor child!  Its so flippn' hot!!! She already drank all of her water bottle, so Daddy shared his with her.
Off we went to the next stop... A local arts & crafts shopping center.
It was quiet.  Until we stopped in!
This is a great place for purchasing quality china sets and jade.
We purchased the boys "brother" t-shirts here. 
Tessa REALLY wanted one of the Asian baby dolls here. She kept wanting to go back to that isle!

Here she is after a long morning of sight-seeing and shopping!  I literally opened up my Ergo carrier and laid her right down. She was drenched in sweat!
While she slept and Daddy watched what ever he could find in English on TV ( which there are more options here than the previous two cities), I went down to a meeting on completing visa paperwork.
 Next day... Monday morning we took a trip to the Pearl Market.  Tessa loved to wait for the bus and hang out in the lobby with the other kids.'s the JEWELRY mall.  That's right.  This entire mall is nothing but jewlrey stores!!!
 We took a collection of taxis to the mall. This was the first taxi ride in China.  
Before we left, our guides did a wonderful job of explaining the difference in pearls and jade.
They gave us a good idea of what the costs were and that THIS pearl store was THE BEST!
 We chose the strands we wanted. You purchase the entire strand (unless you wanted to purchase something out of the case, already strung).  We wanted bracelets the the 4 girls. With the extra few pearls, they made me some earrings for free. 
 Nate is representing the look of EVERY ONE OF THE MEN IN THIS STORE.
 We found the A/C vent!  I'll be standing right here until the bracelets are ready.
Just outside of the giant mall is a little silk shop.  Our guides took us here and said it's THE BEST!
Julie and I should have made our purchases here the first time we stopped.
We regretted that we only purchased a couple things the first we ventured back ON OUR OWN towards the end of the week.  
Here we purchased small keepsake/display dolls (nice gift for my nieces), jewlery trays made of silk (gift for our older daughters and friends), kithen hot pads and coasters made of silk, a tunic hand painted for myself and some of these CUTE booties for Tessa. It really is the best place for gifts!
 When Julie and I went back on our own later in the week, this is what the other side of the mall area looked like! Crazy busy! We were so proud of ourselves for taking this little adventure on our own.  Our sweet guide gave us what we needed to get a taxi to take us to the right place and back.
That evening for dinner we all went out to eat as a agency group.  We thought we might take over the local Chinese place, but we were just a fraction of the people there!  It was HUGE!  It was just a short walk around the block from our hotel.  Here's our view back to our hotel.  That little mall right in front also had a few good deals.  Probably more, but I AM AWFUL AT BARTERING!
We did purchase some dresses for the little girls as well as some tea for my sis in law. 
Later in the week a few of us went back to the restaurant on our own for dinner.  We had no idea what we were doing this time. We just wanted to say "what ever you fed us the other night, we'll take that"
That didn't translate exactly.  Still good though :) 
 Tuesday we all headed over to have our children's medical exams. It's about as fun as you think it might be.  Can't you tell by Nate's face?
 When we first got there, we got in line to have the children's pictures taken, THAT went very quickly actually.  Then we walked around the corner to the medical rooms/hallway.
As we stood in line for the pictures, we were surrounded by locals all waiting in chairs.  I just kept looking at each face, wondering what their story was.  There were all there to start their applicaiton for their US Visas, the medical part. Did they have family waiting for them? Were parents and children seperated? For how long?  How much longer?
 Our guides again did an amazing job of explaining what this would be like.  Basically you need to do the following:
ENT, Weight & length, physical and TB test.
It doesn't matter what order the first 2 were done, just pick a line/door.
This is also were we ran in to other adopting families that I had become FB friends with.  It was a ray of sunshine to meet them here this day and get to see their little miracles!
So we picked ENT first.  Then weight & height, then the physical.
 Tessa wasn't a fan of any of this... except when we saw the doctor and his stethoscope. 
She stopped crying then, she was completely still for him.
That's my heart baby!
 The very last thing we needed to do, because she is over 2 years old, we had to hand her over to a couple nurses to get a TB blood test.  NOT FUN FOR ANY OF US.
They gently take her in to one of the rooms, shut the door. And we just wait.
She was pitiful when they handed her back to me. 
She kept lifting her arm up to Nate & she was saying "look what they did to me!!"
 In the downstairs lobby of the medical building is THIS.
A wine vending machine.  I didn't notice it going in.  
After that morning....well this pic says it all.
That evening we took the Pearl River Cruise with our group.
Some agencies have their group eat the meal on board, but our agency got alot of feedback that it's not so great and so now they have us all give our Papa John's Pizza Order and they deliver it to the dock!  Yummy!!!!  So here's the boat....
 Not this one...
That's one we got to watch go by and think how much cooler it was than ours.
Boat envy.

 Gotta love their translated signs.
'No Climbing' would have sufficed.
 We started out with a good amount of sun light still, then as we turned to go back up the river,
the building lights came on...
 This is the stadium for the Asian Games a few years back...
it was the reason all this fancy stuff was built along with river.
 Best part of the cruise is again, running into special FB friends with miracle babies!
God was very creative with both our little girls' hearts :)
 Took lots of pics of the Canton Tower for my boys and nephew who LOVES tall buildings.
The pic doesn't do it justice.  It's MASSIVE. 1,959 feet tall to be exact.

Towards the end of the cruise was a lovely little show for the kids.
A very animated clown-ish lady who juggled and blew balloons.
She was VERY fond of Ricky Martin...just so ya know.
I did step back in the shadow of the corner and had to salsa a bit during "Livin' La Vida Loca"
I just had to.
 So lets talk about the Marriot ( the China Hotel as it's known there)
We kept discovering things about it as we explored around.
Here, Tessa is standing at the base of this beautiful tropical waterfall area in the courtyard, very near the children's playground.  It's a great place for pics!!
 We took a VERY long way to the park just across the street from the Chinese restaurant that we ate at earlier in the week.  These street intersections don't have crosswalks, so we walked under the street through these pedestrian tunnels.  They seemed well lit, but after it got dark and the park closed, we chose the long way home, walking on street level.  The park was beautiful as they all are.  Not even sure what this building was, but I love this pic! If we would of had more daylight we would have explored the park more!
We didn't even notice that there was this very nice family style Chinese street food restaurant in the hotel until the day before we left.  It kinda took us a while to figure out what we wanted, but the company was great!  The kids were happy and we really enjoyed it.
The pool here is outdoor, we LOVED it!! I even got some time alone in the sun one afternoon while Nate stayed with Tessa while she napped.  It was glorious!! The hotel has a very nice locker room, it has an indoor jacuzzi room.  It was quite full of local little kids and mommas when Tessa and I discovered it, so we put it off until later. Never got back around to trying it out though.  It would be perfect for the cooler months or rainy days.
Wednesday was the trip to the city zoo.  Now, we have the Columbus Zoo and Cinci Zoo just over an hour away from us, so we have a pretty high bar.  
But what we don't have is PANDAS!
And the pics we got of these cuties walking hand in hand...

 We were all taking pics like they were what we came to see! 
They were cuter by far than any animal!
Did I mention how hot it was there??
I just was so excited to see the panda bears!!!
 And here they are.... kinda not kidding.  The bears were inside (CUZ Its SO FLIPPN' HOT) and the building they were in, we couldn't even see them...boooooo :(
So these statues had to do.  Tessa didn't mind
They also got to feed the giraffes...she was ok with it, kinda got over it quickly and wanted to move on :)  I have heard that there is an amazing Safari Zoo in GZ.  Other agency families have gone and the pics are soooo great!  We asked our agency about it.  So it's quite a drive, and it's alot more $.  Probably worth it though.  Our group has alot of little ones and our agency want to keep them priority, the heat of that long stay there would have been alot for them, plus they all had naptimes to get back to.  So in thinking of all those things, they stick with the local zoo option.  Worked for us!
 Thursday was our US Consulate appointment!!! WAHOOO!!!! 
You can't take any cameras, phones or bags in with you, so here's our pic all dressed in our red,white and blue for the VERY SPECIAL DAY!!!
We loved again, getting to spend a bit of time with the other agency families that had appoitments at the same time.  The kids got to play together while we waited. Would have made some great pics!

 We found out that morning that our agency was getting ready to celebrate their 11,000th adoption from China!  We were asked to hold up the sign to celebrate!
This afternoon we had our kids "couch picture" and the group pic.
The girls were all sitting on the couch and the boys were sitting down in front.
There were flashes and clicks heard around the world!!
That's a whole lot of cuteness!!!
We were a large group, and there were 3 other children not in the couch picture!
YET....the adoptions from China are continuing to go down:(
There are currently over TWO THOUSAND children WAITING!
Papers are ready. They are just waiting for a family TO CHOOSE THEM!!
Some of them have been waiting for YEARS!
And as they get older, they know.
They know they are missing a family for them.
They know they will age out.
They know their special need is too much.
MORE families need to GO! 
They need to PURSUE their miracle!
 So when your guide who is also the director of your agency's China office tells you "Thank you for coming for our children.  We know they will be loved"  when they tell you that...your heart is full and humble.  He then shared with us that yes, the adoptions are going down in numbers.
 It makes him sad.
It doesn't have to be that way!
 Here's our group...Chinese Children Adoption International ~ group number 2096
Julie is trying to see if her little guy will join in the couch picture... he's not a fan of this idea.

 We had a completly free day on Friday as we waited for the visas to come back.  So we headed over to Shamian Island, our guide went along too!
The statues all along the park are beautiful and I had to have THE picture with the children.
Tessa wanted no part in this!  She DID NOT LIKE the statues at all.
So much for the cute pic!
 There was a beautiful church there! And loved seeing the statue of Jesus with the children around Him.
 They were also having several weddings that day.

 It was time for all the wedding pics...he's working the classic 'foot up on the edge of the fountain' pose.. and they are doing the 'lean in and smell the bush' pose.

 Nate REALLY wanted a pic of us here with these two wasn't until we sat down that we noticed a dead bird right next to him....ewwww!
 The island had MANY shops at one time, but their mainstay was adoptive families coming and staying at the White Swan Hotel there on the island. It is currently closed for remodeling and the number of families have really gone down.  Forcing many businesses to close.:(  We did purchase several things from the little shops that were still open.  And we ate lunch at Lucy's!  Western food!! Except for Nate ordered Sweet & Sour Pork...huh??
 The Espresso Ice Cream sounded yummy off the menu.  In my mind I was about to enjoy a scoop of coffee ice cream...well this was served to me.  Espresso with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it.  Oh well, they tried.  

Last morning there!  We are now headed home!!!!
We got up super early and took a van to the Hong Kong airport.  The traffic was nothing, it was so early!  The driver stayed mostly awake and we got to enjoy our last hours in China.
Tessa did get sick just minutes after this pic was taken as we got though HK.
She's not a fan of car rides as she got sick in one of the van rides in ZZ too:(
This momma has been puked on countless biggie.  I just felt bad for her :(
 We enjoyed the beautiful views at the HK airport!!!
 Tessa did awesome on the flight, she didn't sleep well, but Nate did. ughhh.
When we arrived at the Chicago airport, it was a crazy whirlwind getting through customs and immigration.  And I forgot we were an hour off from home, so I was thinking we were missing our flight!! oops... nevermind.  AND no worries, United took care of all that by delaying our flight 3x.
We just wanted to get home!!!! I put Tessa in her best Newest American outfit and counted the minutes until we were ALL HOME TOGTHER!!!!
It was crazy hard to be away from my loves for 19 days!!!
But we are all together now! 
And I love my crazy big family!!!