This morning we woke up to another freezing day in Beijing, and we got an early start. The plan was to go to Tiennamen Square, The Forbidden City, do a Hutong Tour, and then go to The Temple of Heaven...all before catching a 5:30 flight to Guangzhou.
Well, Tiennamen Square was closed because of some council meeting going on, so we went straight to The Forbidden City. It is ginormous! Wendy, our sweet guide, told us a lot about it. There were over 1 million workers building it, and it took 40 years to build! Every detail has some kind of meaning, from the colors used, to the number of tiers on the roofs, to the location of walkways. The number 9 is really significant to the Chinese, so 9 and multiples of 9 are used everywhere. There are 9,999 and 1/2 rooms in the city. The temple for the gods has 10,000 rooms, and since the emperor wouldn't dare compare himself to a god, he shorted himself by half a room. Ha! And what is half a room??
The information was interesting, but sad at the same time. There are so many superstitions and gods, and so many lost people. What seemed like far-fetched, silly tales to me were the very things so many Chinese people believe in. Including Wendy.
We were so cold, that we were very glad to finally get through the Forbidden City. Next, we headed to a silk factory...it was inside, so we were happy to be there. We watched the tedious process of how silk is handmade...there's a woman, not a machine, who pulls the silk worms out of the cacoons. The factory then led to a door to what looked like a department store. We saw the children's section, and bought a couple silk outfits for Ayla!
Still not ready to brave the cold again, we headed to lunch. The restautant felt more like a hotel, with multiple rooms. There was a banquet going on there, so we were led to a private room to eat. It was strange, but the food was good. WAY too much for just the 2 of us though!
Then came the Hutong tour. Hutongs are narrow streets through old Beijing, where only rickshaws can drive. It is very traditional, and the homes are built in squares around a central courtyard. We were winding through the streets and then Wendy knocked on the door of one. We were invited to come inside. The man who lived there was a prefessional calligrapher. It felt really awkward walking through his home. There were caged crickets on a dresser. It reminded me of the movie Mulan, and I am sure there is a superstitious reason why they had them.
Wendy and I rode together in the rickshaw, and we had a great conversation. She knew we were in China to adopt and was really excited. She kept saying how Ayla was unlucky, but now she's lucky. I was able to open up to her a little bit about my faith. She was very sweet, but not very open. She assumed I believed in just 1 God because I was American. The talk was short, but I am praying that she will respond to the gospel one day.
We ended up opting out of the Temple of Heaven tour. It would have been outdoors as well, and we were already cold. So, we went a little early to the airport. We were finally on the flight that would take us to Guangzhou...to Ayla.
I cannot believe we are here. I am sitting in a beautiful hotel room on the 15th floor overlooking the city. There is a little crib at the foot of my bed, and it will soon be occupied...by our daughter. We are halfway across the world, in a huge city, with millions of people, but we are here to meet one little girl that God has so clearly led us to. Not by coincidence, but by His sovereign will. Not because she had a streak of good luck, but because God has a plan for her life.
I am dosing off as I write because I am exhausted from the last few days, but I am reminded of the infinitely greater lengths that God went to to adopt His children, to adopt me. My prayer is that these next few days will be a picture of the gospel, and how adoption is at the heart of it. If you know Christ, I pray you will have a fresh sense of how sweet it is to be a part of God's family. If you don't know Christ, I pray you will be drawn to the One who sacrificed His only "natural" born Son, so that you and I can be part of His family forever. Romans 8:15 says, For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Here's a few pics from today. I wanted to do more, but they are taking too long to upload. :(