(You'll understand if the first part of this post needs to be a little circumspect.)
There were no stained glass windows, no organ, no pews filled with many people, nor and understood (to us) language, but there was a somewhat bare room in someone's apartment building, some folding chairs, a guitar, and enough people. On the outside the two places couldn't have been more different, but in many ways they were very much the same. The same text, the same love, the same God. It was a wonderful experience, even if we didn't exactly understand everything that was said. When you are brothers and sisters in spirit, there is a commonality that transcends language. We made some good new friends, were given an extravagant lunch, and even spent some time discussing various educational options, particularly the one we have happened to choose. And once again, what I thought I knew about this country has been turned on its head. This group had children... many children. I spent time visiting with parents of three, sometimes more, children.
There is also an urgency to their message that I'm afraid we do not have in our comfortable Western existence. I was humbled that I couldn't say I had met someone at a bookstore and brought that person with me on a Sunday morning, which is one of the stories we heard. I was also frustrated that I couldn't speak more of the language so that I could dismiss the need of a translator to really chat with people. Stories were told, emails were shared, and we left reluctantly.
But leave we must because we were due back for a paperwork session to prepare for the girls' visa physicals in the morning. Traffic here is Guangzhou is fairly nightmarish as far as slowness and congestion. We barely squeaked back in time. Thus I was already feeling a little rushed and discombobulated when I sat down to work on paperwork. This feeling did not improve on discovering I left some important papers at home which we will need tomorrow morning. I think we have R.'s all taken care of now, but B. and A. will awake to multiple frantic messages that will require instant action on their part. Assuming technology doesn't fail us, I think we will be OK, though in terms of general stress it is ranking right up there with realizing we brought the wrong passports to the airport. Consider it a gift from me to you, my readers, so I can give my little narrative just the right amount of dramatic tension. Even-keeled happiness just doesn't make for interesting reading, Tolstoy said so. Well, not in so many words, but the gist was the same.
We also woke to news this morning that Gretel seems to be going downhill again with what seems to be the same illness that she had before Thanksgiving. Pray she improves because I hate to saddle M., B., and A. with decisions they would rather not have responsibility for, and because truthfully, the well is dry. Very, very dry.
Fatigue and an over abundance of emotion are starting to take their toll on all of us, and it will be good to go home and rest and regroup and have everyone together again. But J. and I are both torn. We love traveling and love meeting new people and seeing new things. We want to enjoy every minute of the time we have available to do those things. It's been an amazing journey so far.