As you have counted your blessings and expressed your gratitude for all that you have been given, have you ever listed the sit-down toilet as something you are grateful for? I have truly come to appreciate this taken-for-granted amenity over the past few days. While the squatty potty is somewhat of an improvement over the outhouse, it just cannot compare to the comfort and convenience of the porcelain throne we enjoy in the western world. Teri’s unfortunate prediction proved unpleasantly prescient and within less than 24 hours I was cursed to encounter a toilet tragedy which slightly surpassed the foulness factor of Christi’s incident with Lexi the day before. But let me start from the beginning…
Yesterday (Wednesday) was a LONG day. We decided to visit the orphanage in Luoyang. This had been Sophi’s home for basically her entire life. Lexi had been under the supervision of the same orphanage, but was in foster care for most of the time. While we were in Luoyang, the plan was to visit the nearby Longmen Grottoes (check out pics on Google-it’s quite an amazing site). Since the drive to the orphanage was 2.5 hours one way, we knew we were in for a long day, but we decided the opportunity to visit and take some pictures of the orphanage was worth the effort. Someday, those pictures will give Sophi a sense of where she came from.
The ride out to Luoyang wasn’t too bad. Long, but relatively pleasant. There was some interesting scenery, including the yellow river. We also saw caves in many of the surrounding hills which, we were told by our guide, still serve as homes to some of the poorer people in the area. Once we got to the orphanage, it was a sobering experience. The condition of the orphanage was pretty good. The staff seemed genuinely interested in and concerned about the children. But any time you have children without parents, it is a truly heart-wrenching experience. Christi, Jesi and Graci handed out the candy leis made by our friends in Herriman and the kids just LOVED them! They had big smiles for us.
We were able to visit the playroom where Sophi had spent most of her days. We also visited the bedroom where she slept. There were probably at least 30 cribs, all lined up and made beautifully. But the poignancy of those many children going to bed, night after night, without a mommy or a daddy to tuck them in made this a scene I will long remember. Are there perhaps a few more families who could be blessed by inviting one of these little souls to come into their home? Sophi was definitely ill-at-ease throughout the orphanage visit, but when we went into the bedroom, she really freaked out. She was very mad and howled until we left the room.
At the end of the visit, the orphanage director met with us and thanked us for adopting these special children. She gave us a nice gift (a long, hanging scroll with Chinese lettering). Then she took all of us out to a nice lunch. At lunch, Lexi had to use the bathroom several times, and it was becoming apparent that she wasn’t feeling great. After the meal we traveled the short distance to the Grottoes. There was a lot of walking during the Grotto tour, so we strapped Sophi into the hip carrier we brought. She was attached to me, and she was NOT happy. She screamed and yelped for the bulk of the tour, but I kept her strapped in. A lack of arms makes it quite difficult to carry a child, due to balance issues and her not being able to hold on at all, in addition to the fact that there is no natural “gripping place” under the arms to grab on to. So we stuck with the carrier and Sophi continued to let us know she did not like it, not one little bit.
At one point in the tour, Lexi and Jesi both had to use the bathroom. Christ took them into an outhouse-like bathroom that had only a squatty potty. Fortunately for Christi, she had a leftover napkin from lunch, so all was not lost. It was later on in the day that I had my “make-me-want-to-cry-to-mommy” moment with the girls. Everyone had gone up a huge staircase to view the largest and most famous of the cliff carvings. Everyone except for Lexi, Sophi, Graci and me. Sophi was still unhappy. Lexi suddenly asked to use the bathroom. I was going to just have her wait until the rest of the group came back down and I had some more help. But poor little Lexi started crying and was doubled over in pain. This was not like her at all. So I did what I had to do. I handed Sophi to Graci and took Lexi to the bathroom. As I walked away, Sophi was howling to beat the band. We garnered more than our usual share of confused looks. I didn’t have any wipes or toilet paper with me because the backpacks were with the group at the top of the stairs. I found myself in a squatty potty rest room with a little girl who had a VERY unsettled stomach and no toilet paper except for the used stuff in the waste basket that Christi had been forced to use the day before. What goes around, comes around, and now I am truly penitent for laughing at Christi’s plight.
The rest of the day wasn’t much better. The drive home was very long. My knee had developed some sort of problem that made it very difficult and painful to keep it in a bent position (like the kind of position you find yourself in when riding in a Chinese van that has about 8 inches less leg room than your average economy class airplane seat). By the time we got home, we were all exhausted. I was feeling exhausted and a bit discouraged and kind of gave up. I just laid down on the bed and didn’t do much else the rest of the night. My dad went and got some Chinese take-out. (True story, not just a bad joke☺.) Christi put the kids to bed. I got up when the food came and ate too much. Then I got up two hours later and brushed my teeth. Then I got up about 15 times in the night with an upset stomach. Christi had a brutal headache all night. Lexi woke up with a cough. And Sophi doesn’t have any arms. Oh, I guess we already knew that. But you get the picture. It was a rough day and night.
Today has been much better. We’re all feeling at least somewhat improved. We didn’t have to go anywhere, so we slept in, went swimming, went to dinner and didn’t do much else. We’re in much better spirits. I even returned Christi’s favor and volunteered to get Lexi Li and Sophi Bre to bed while she and my dad took the girls shopping for a few Zhengzhou souvenirs. Can’t believe we’re leaving tomorrow!
Well, I must say I am more in love with these two little girls than ever. Challenges? Many. Lack of sleep? Indeed. Unbelievably beautiful grins from my girlies? Too many to count! Random “I love you, baba”s from Lexi? Several times a day. Waves from Sophi’s toes with a smile that competes with the sun? Priceless! I am a blessed man, and my greatest blessings call me (sweetheart and) Daddy!