Friday, September 11, 2015

Graci Kate

Graci and China Mom and Dad (the foster parents she had from age 5-9)
Thought I would go kid-by-kid and update how each is doing.  We'll start with our oldest...

Sweet Graci Kate has turned SEVENTEEN!  I'm still getting used to saying that!  At the end of last year, she was awarded with the "Courage Award" from her high school.  I couldn't think of a better recipient for that award!  She has shown such courage throughout her life as she's dealt with so many challenges.  Last week, she was asked to be the youth speaker at church.  She wrote her talk all by herself and did such a beautiful job.  She talked about how hard it is for her not to be able to drive because of her epilepsy, but how she knows that Heavenly Father has blessed her so much and how grateful she is for all of her blessings.   Lots of tears from those listening as she shared her sweet testimony in Chinese. 

Graci had a fun summer that included EFY, Girls Camp, Youth Conference and two family reunions, but the highlight for her was this past week when she received some very special visitors from China!  Graci's wonderful foster parents (we call them "China Mom" and "China Dad") along with Sara (our guide when we adopted Graci and on subsequent trips to China) and her husband and daughter all came to stay at our home!  It was such an incredible experience.  During the time that all five of them were at our home, we went to the China market, Temple Square, Cascade Springs, BYU campus, Copper Mine overlook, Thanksgiving Point, and to Graci's high school Chinese class to deliver the dumplings China Mom and Dad got up at 4 a.m. to make.  (:   I believe out of all of the fun things we were able to do, their favorite activity was sitting out on our deck looking at the view and enjoying blue skies and starry nights.  

Sara and her family stayed here for five days and then went on to Chicago.  At this point, we had China Mom and Dad to ourselves and decided to brave a camping trip!!  They had never been camping before and were not sure what to expect, but they were great sports and traveled with us to beautiful Bryce Canyon.  Watching their amazement at the magnificence of the canyon and being able to see the Milky Way at night was so much fun.  Because they don't speak any English and we don't speak Chinese, communication is a little tricky!  Graci, Conner, and Cali were all able to bridge the gaps enough to make it such a great trip.  I'm so glad they still have their Chinese!   Despite them not loving American food (wouldn't even try most of it) and making "interesting" food choices (pickle sandwiches, mayo sandwiches, peanut butter and fried egg sandwiches... all after having a full spread to choose from) I can confidently say that they enjoyed their trip.  It was such a new experience for them as they had never been out of China.  Lots of tears as they left.  We are so grateful that we have maintained a relationship with these most wonderful people.  They couldn't love Graci more-- and neither could we-- so she is one very loved young woman!  (:

Graci at girls camp

At a showing of "Find Me"

Getting the courage award

At her dance recital

Riding a bull

Daddy date to Lagoon
First day of school
Our Chinese guests at Temple Square

China Mom and Grandpa shucking corn
China Dad!

Graci and China Dad eating the "light lunch" they cooked for us after church (think SEVERAL time-consuming dishes!)

China Dad was so sweet with Elli

Cascade Springs

Sara wanted to see BYU campus because of the memories she had of BYU dancers performing in China when she was a little girl

Graci and Cali love to take selfies

Bryce Canyon