Familiar Faces in an Unfamiliar City

Sunday we had rain, rain and more rain! We met Michelle and Erica for coffee after a slow morning and big breakfast at the hotel.

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Michelle knew about a mall close by so we took a taxi there and walked around for awhile. Sammy helped me pick out some “China candy” for the girls. Michelle brought this the last time she came to visit us and they each asked for a piece every single night after dinner until it was gone. We had strict orders to restock!

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Saturday Erica and Michelle had discovered a great street that had all kinds of wonderful food options. We headed there and ate lunch at a really neat Thai restaurant.

I couldn’t resist. Jason has a knack for crazy photo faces.

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Did you notice? It’s the real live Sammy wearing his very own Sammy shirt!

After lunch Sammy and Baba went to play in the rain. Lots of giggles!

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After lunch we headed to the hotel for a little downtime.

Before we left for China we tried as a family to learn a few phrases in Mandarin. We practiced along to our CD several nights after dinner. We learned things like “I am your mommy.” “I am your daddy.” “You are my son.” And the girls delighted in learning the phrase for “poop.” I even loaded the tracks to my iPod and did a crash course on the plane. In the first days with a Sammy I often whispered these phrases of reassurance to our boy as I peeked at my cheat sheet. “It’s okay.” “Don’t worry.” “I love you very much.” “You are so precious.” None of them, however, invited any kind of response. Even if they had, I assume my pronunciation was so far off he didn’t recognize it anyway! Whenever we were out together and someone spoke to Samuel in Chinese, he got very nervous and shy and hung his head, never interacting at all.

Sunday afternoon it was just the three of us with Michelle in our room. Sammy had gotten pretty comfortable with Michelle by this point and when she opened a container of dried apricots for a snack, he walked over to join her. She started tearing off little pieces and handing them to him. After several bites, she asked him in Chinese,

“Is it delicious?”

Sammy grinned and nodded his head. Jason and I both gasped. We had certainly been on the receiving end of his little head shaking “no” when he didn’t like what was happening but hadn’t seen him nod or express any understanding like he did then. Michelle asked him next “Is that your mommy?” “Is that your daddy?” Big smiles and hearty nods! By then all the adults in the room were in tears. I suddenly felt like I had an outlet to really communicate with him so I started to feed Michelle questions. “Ask him if he’s happy!” “Ask him if he is okay!” Michelle asked if he knew he had two sisters at home and he giggled and nodded again. We knew he was beginning to understand several English phrases but it was such a gift to see him relax after a week working so hard to learn what we were saying to him and communicate in his first language.

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For dinner we headed back to our favorite food avenue and met Erica for Shawarma. Yum! Sammy was quite adventurous and reached out to try the hummus. He loved it! Snickers and now hummus…this boy and I are going to get along just fine!

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After dinner we headed to 7-11 for Magnum bars, bid Erica and Michelle farewell for the evening and caught a cab. We realized as soon as we sat down that Erica had been holding Sammy’s sippy cup for us and we forgot to get it back. We had plans to grab lunch with them the next day so we figured we’d catch up with it then. At that moment we looked out the window to see a cab swerving toward us with Erica hanging out of the window waving the cup at us. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to snap a photo. It was awesome! Not only is her Chinese spectacular, the girl can hail a cab, convince the driver to catch up to us, jump out of the car in traffic and reunite boy with sippy in a matter of 90 seconds!

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One thought on “Familiar Faces in an Unfamiliar City

  1. AHHH. LOVE hearing the story of how Neal was able to communicate well with him and he was so responsive. Almost in tears over here. I am so happy for you guys. So excited for your sweet family. I think I’ll be making a special trip to E-town soon 🙂

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