melissa's story

or

Bright Eyes Comes Home

Bright Eyes

"Bright Eyes" (2:02 min play)

6/5/97

We left home at 2:30 PM to go into Columbia to stop by the bank and retrieve our crisp new $100 bills, and start for the airport in K.C.. We weren't planning on leaving that early, but I guess we must have been excited. We got into K.C. at around 5:00 PM and waited for our friend Lisa to get home (we were going to leave our car at her house).

Lisa got in a little after 6:00 PM, so after a pit stop we headed out, first stopping at a bagel place for a light supper, and then off to the airport. Lisa dropped us off at the airport, letting us know that her friend Joyce would meet us in two weeks as she had a canoe trip that weekend.

After checking our bags, we hopped on the plane for Dallas (leg one). When we got into Dallas, we started looking for some others that we would be traveling with and saw two people with backpacks and a stroller, but no little kid? So we asked if they were heading for China, and sure'nuf they were the Cassteven's (Will and Teresa). Shortly after that we met the Gough's (Lourie and John), another couple in our travel group.

6/6/97 - 6/7/97

It was now time to board the plane again and head for L.A. When we arrived in L.A. it was around 1:30 am and we had a four hour layover, so, we all decided to find Asiana Airlines and get ready for the next leg which was, L.A. to Seoul, Korea (14 hrs ugh!!). Also somewhere we met up with our other travelers the Norton's (Bruce and Susan and her father). After walking and walking and walking and walking and walking and walking (you get the picture), we found Asiana Airlines, way on the other side of the airport.

We checked in our bags, with much intrepidation, as there were signs posted that fines for over weight bags on the receiving end would be $100.00 US. Ours were borderline and some of the others were over, but no one was charged extra. We then boarded the 747-400 and headed off for the East going west? After watching the monitor for what like seemed hours and we were still just off the coast of the US around Washington state, we started to cat nap. It must have been about then that they came around with headsets for the monitor, since we never got any. We did get to watch two movies without sound; we were too tired to get up and ask for headsets. Finally, after a few hours sleep, we got up to stretch and walk around. Maureen met a woman and her husband that were headed to China and adopting using China's Children. I talked to a young guy from Canada that was heading to Seoul to live for a year, and would be teaching English. He was a political science major.

Fourteen hours later we landed at approximately 6:00 am Sunday local time (it was 5:00 PM Saturday in the Midwest as we had crossed the dateline and caught up with the sun). In Seoul we had another four hour layover, but Asiana had a nice waiting room and snack bar. Downstairs were a lot of "duty-free" shops. While walking around we noticed three soldiers walking with machine guns slung over their back. Definitely not in the US any more!! Also, outside, covered up under tarps were fighters and bombers and bombs lining the taxi ways.

The flight to Beijing was about 2-3 hours. Getting through customs there was different. We had to fill out a small questionnaire and show our passports. After going through the checkpoint for stamping our passports and checking our visa's, we then headed out into a large open area. Since we were running late and trying to drag our bags to catch up we missed the spot where they were x-raying bags coming into the country. Went right by it and both guards (soldiers) never said a word. We stopped at some doors that had crowds of people behind it. After looking through one of the doors, we spotted Lisa from MTI holding a sign that said "Dillon Intl.". We then regrouped and the men took off with Belinda (another MTI representative) to exchange $300 US into Chinese money (yuan or rmb), and then we set off for the Movenpick Hotel.

You haven't lived until you have ridden in Chinese traffic. Our van/bus was an older one without air and the windows on the front doors wouldn't roll down. So, every once and awhile, our driver would open his door to get some air up front. The fist time he did that, was when we started to pass a truck, not a big problem, but there was 2 cars coming! We were on a two lane road! Then the horns just started honking, and we just keep on going, finally pulling in just as the oncoming car did also! This was the first of many a thrilling ride! Now back to the Hotel (Yes! We did finally get there, and all in one piece). It was a nice Swiss Hotel with an indoor & outdoor pool, exercise room, and 3 or 4 restaurants.

Side street in Northern Beijing.Once we got settled in, we decided to go for a walk and do some exploring. We joined the Cassteven's and the John Gough. There were streets of small vendors - some selling produce and some clothing and other small items. Looking down a side street we saw some old, small homes/closets. They were very small and dirty with laundry hanging up to dry. We walked down to the end of the block to an intersection and tried to decide what to do. After standing there for awhile and watching the traffic and confusion, we decided NOT to cross the street but to walk back up by the hotel and go a little further down the street in the other direction.

We then headed back to the hotel to get ready for our meeting with MTI at 8:00 PM (8:00 AM Saturday Midwest time). We made the mistake of just laying down on the bed for awhile and dozing off for a few minutes and then having to get up and go to the 8:00 PM meeting. At our meeting we got to formally meet everyone and the McClurkan's arrived as they came in on a later flight straight from Detroit. We got our itineraries for the next two weeks and found out that we were leaving Beijing the next afternoon. We thought we would have a day to sight see! Scratch the Great Wall, as it takes a 1/2 a day to get there and back from here. So, we had the hotel arrange a 1/2 day tour for us to see the Forbidden City, the next morning at around 8:30 AM. After a meal (who knows if it was supper/dinner/breakfast/or what) of a pizza with ham and peppers (green and Chile), we went off to bed.

6/8/97

We met in the hotel lobby to go to the "Forbidden City". Our tour guide was a sweet college girl who spoke English quite well. On the way there she started giving us some background on the history of China and the "Forbidden City". Also, she tried to teach us some Chinese! I said tried! Well, we know now that Xie-Xie (shay-shay) is thank you, and Nin hao (knee how) is hello. She also taught us that "wo-man i knee" is, "we love you", so that we could tell our daughters that we love them. Before the tour was over she got everyone's address and promised to write us all and send us her new address, so that we could send her pictures of our children.

When we got to the "Forbidden City" Lisa went inside to get tickets for the group as we waited out in the parking lot. There, street vendors kept coming up to us, trying to sell us postcards. I finally bought one package thinking that when the next one comes "I'll just show him the postcards and he'll move on". In about 30 sec. I got my chance. I quickly produced the same postcards that he was trying to sell me, and to my surprise, he whips out four other sets, all for about 1 1/2 times what I paid for the one set. Just to let me know, I guess, that I could have gotten them cheaper, if I had gotten them from him!!!

Forbidden City Lisa finally came back and we headed for the entrance of the "Forbidden City". Inside the first court yard we stopped to take pictures, and Lisa explained that the stone flooring of the court yard was 9 layers thick!! That was so no one could tunnel in and get to the emperor! The outer court was kind of unimpressive, except for the size. It was a massive court yard, a couple of football fields big, at least. We went through several arch ways, and each court yard got a little more impressive as we went. When we finally got to the center were the temple that held the throne was, there were several large caldrons. Each covered with gold gilding, they were for holding water in case of a fire. In all there were over 100 scattered throughout the city. After walking up the steps to the temple you could see just how far we had come and how many walls, within walls, we were from the outside. Lisa then told us that the Chinese children learned many old poems and that one of them states: "If you want to see further, you must climb higher!" This sure proved the point!

In this court yard, on one side, making up part of the wall, was the living area for up to 3,000 of the emperors concubines. After passing through yet another gate/arch we were in a court yard that had lots of trees and paths. This was kind of the living area and where the children could play. It held an interesting little temple set up high on some unique rocks that Lisa said were brought in to build the temple. The rocks looked like they came from a sea shore as they had holes and points like what you would expect to see along a rocky coast. Lisa also told us that the "Forbidden City" took 14 years to build and 1,000,000 people to work on it, and that each Emperor always added to what was already there.

Temple of HeavenWhen we were done with the tour of the "Forbidden City", Lisa then said that if we wanted to skip lunch for about 20 yuan ($2.50) each we could go see the "Temple of Heaven", where the Emperors went to pray. We opted to skip lunch and do the "Temple of Heaven". After another short and wild ride, we were at the entrance to the "Temple of Heaven". The walk way up to the main entrance was a nice wide stone walk lined with trees and lantern posts ever 20 to 30 feet. Inside were several buildings where the books were kept, along with different shrines. This was also the place were the Emperor went to pray, a raised circular platform, that was nine levels up, three sets of stairs. In the center was a raise round stone that was about six inches high. This is were the Emperor would pray. The railing around the edge would reflect your voice back to you if you were on the raised stone. Only the person on the stone could here the echo.

After touring the "Temple of Heaven" we headed back to the hotel to get ready to leave. We decided to have lunch, and while we were eating lunch the bell captain came over to us and said that we had to leave, the van was waiting to take us to the airport, we had to go now. We told him that we had to wait for our guide Belinda, but he kept on insisting that we had to go now, and started to wheel out luggage. Lisa the tour guide came back through the lobby, and we explained to her the situation, but before she could get this explained to the bell captain, Belinda showed up, so we started to load up, and thanked Lisa again for a lovely morning. She again promised to write us with her new address so that we could send her pictures of the babies.

Belinda.Joe.We were off again, headed for the Beijing airport, after another wild ride, we arrived, and unloaded the bags. The next trick was to get them across five to six lanes of traffic, and get checked in. Some of the group went to change some more US dollars into Chinese money. Belinda then got our boarding passes and we checked in our bags, and headed off through the x-ray machines to get to the plane. The waiting area for boarding the plane was about 1/3 of the size for all the people that had tickets to go to Nanjing. It was also here that we met Joe Peebles, he was to be our guide to Wuxi.

Nanjing airport! After waiting for what seemed hours, we got on the plane and head off for Nanjing!! One step closer. We were met in Nanjing by someone from the Pearl Hotel, again we loaded everything up in the van and one car and headed off for the Pearl. When we had gotten checked in and settled in our rooms we decided to go down on the street and look around. We stopped at a small grocery store and picked up some bottled water and then tried to decide what to do for supper. A couple decided to go for a walk, one of the guides decided to go up the street to a KFC, the rest of us decided to go back to the hotel and eat at the Chinese restaurant. Upstairs the restaurant was busy have a wedding reception, so the seated us off in a side room. After trying to make up our minds we ordered some fried rice and vegetable, some of the guys also ordered 4 beers. Our beers came first, they brought out four bottles, about quart to quart and half each. Everyone that ordered beers said "Wait! Don't open them all! Lets just start with one or two." We next got our vegetable which looked like the leaves of broccoli! It was good though. Shortly after that we got the fried rice. An interesting dinner for nine of us and it came to about 20 rmb each or $2.50 US each. We all decided to retire for the night, as tomorrow we start off on the final paperwork. The only problem of the night was the McClurkan's had their "John" overflowed in their room, a nice memory of Pearl Hotel for them.

6/9/97

The next morning we all meet for breakfast, after checking out, as we were splitting up to go our separate ways. We decided to head back up stairs to the Chinese Restaurant, and see what was for breakfast. We were in luck! They had Dim Sung for breakfast, lots of little dumpling things with different filling, quite good. I had to pass on the split duck heads and fried chicken feet, though, everything else was excellent!

We were split up into two groups, since the Ministry of Civil Affairs office in this province was not that big. The Cassteven's, Gough's, and the Lowary's were in the first group, and the McClurkan's and the Norton's in the second. We started off on the three block walk, to the office. When we got there the Gough's went first answering questions and signing papers, then the Cassteven's got their turn. When they were finished a lady came in with a baby. melissa meeting Mom and Dad, for the first time!It must be the Gough's or the Cassteven's, but after Belinda talked to her for a few minutes, repeating something over a couple of times in Chinese, she turned to Maureen and I and said "Here is your, baby!" , This is Shan-Xia! Your baby! Boy were we FLOORED! The Cassteven's said that the look on my face was a Kodak moment! It sure was! She looked so different from her picture we had, that was taken at about 6 weeks old, but when you looked close at her she still had the same big beautiful eyes! What a doll. We started to cry and melissa did to. "Who are these strange people! And what are they doing with me!!" After all the commotion settled down a little bit, we got our turn to answer the questions and sign some documents. When the notary asked what we thought of her, Maureen told her "That she was precious!". It must have been a good answer, because after it was translated the notary just smiled.

We then went with Joe (our guide) and the lady (assistant director) who brought melissa, to a van that she had arrived in. On our way back to the Pearl Hotel we passed the Norton's and McClurkan's, but they didn't see us (too busy dodging cars). At the Pearl we got our bags and made up a bottle, and then we hit the road. On the way out of town, we were stopped twice. It seems that we were driving on a street that was off limits to a van like ours? Although there were several other vans larger and smaller than us that were not getting stopped. Must have been some kind of sticker on the windshield that we were missing? Finally we were out of Nanjing and heading for Wuxi, melissa was quietly letting us hold her for awhile now that she had her bottle, and even slept a little on the way. About half hour out from Wuxi, Joe told us that we should invite assistant director and her driver to lunch, and they agreed. In about another five minutes, she turned to Joe and said something. Joe said that this was unusual, she had decided that we should skip lunch and go right to the notary's office in Wuxi. He said that it was indeed unusual for the Chinese to skip meals, that they would stop whatever and have their meal, always at the same time.

Wuxi We found out that the picturesque city of Wuxi has a fascinating history. Around 200 BC, it was known as Youxi - meaning "with tin" - after substantial tin deposits were discovered nearby. When these ran out, its name changed to Wuxi, meaning "without tin". After winding our way through Wuxi we came to the notary office, where we met a nice young lady that took us to a brand new conference room to start on some more paperwork. We had to answer some of the same questions again and fill out papers, stating that we would take care of melissa and never abandon her. While we were doing this, Joe went to get something to eat at McDonalds for us all. And melissa started to cry! The notary went to get some vending machine food, for melissa, while we worked on another bottle. The assistant director told the notary that melissa couldn't yet eat what she had gotten for her, so she got us some water for a bottle. We finished up the paper work and the hamburgers, and headed off for the Hotel..

Holiday Inn We got to our room, which had a king size bed, and unpacked, got melissa changed and settled down. At about six we met Joe to go to the Chinese Restaurant, here at the Holiday Inn. The food was excellent, and melissa just watched the guy who filled up our tea cups (8 spice tea). His brass hot water pot had about a 4 foot long spout on it, and he would fill the tea cups from across the table. This really caught melissa's attention. He kept coming by and refilling the tea and making noises at melissa, who thought this was cool. After supper we headed back to the room. We had made plans to meet Joe at 8:00 am for breakfast and he was going to arranged renting a car and driver for the day, so that we could go to Lake Tia Hu.

6/10/97

That morning we went down for breakfast and had a variety of things on the buffet, from western to Chinese Dim Sum. melissa met Wie-Wie. He was a little Chinese boy about six months older than melissa. His mother brought him over to see our baby. Later, I saw the waitress taking melissa, so that Maureen could eat, over to visit with Wie-Wie again. I had to go up to the room as we could not find our passports. I had put them somewhere but couldn't remember where. In the elevator I met Wie-Wie's mother and she said that melissa was so lucky to get a second chance. I gave her our standard answer by then, "that we are both lucky to have each other" as, that is how we felt. After tearing up the room and looking through all the bags I still couldn't find the passports. Joe said we should get going, that we probably wouldn't need them today as the notary photocopied them yesterday.

Lake Tia HuLake Tia HuWe were going out to Lake Tia Hu, the place where the Chinese people come for a vacation. So Joe hired a car for the day for us. When we got there we could see why this was considered a vacation spot! It was just beautiful! It is a big lake, and the mist was just rising as we walked along the shore, watching the junks sail in the mist. The shady paths just twist and turned along the shore with neat little buildings, gardens and traditional Chinese bridges along the way. As we walked along carring "Miss Muffet" we decided that we needed some water to drink and some more film for the camera. When Joe and I got back there was quite a crowd are Maureen and Melissa again. Joe did some explaining to them. They were wondering how two Americans got a Chinese baby. It seems like they really don't have any concept of Americans adopting a Chinese baby, as it doesn't happen to often here in Wuxi, after they understood what was going on we got lots of smiles and approvals.

As we walk back towards the car we stopped a some of the vendors outside the lake. Maureen wanted to get a couple of tea pots that are specially made in this province. The lady at one shop was proud of her produces, she kept banging on the pot with the lid, and she stood on the pot, and had Maureen and Joe stand on it. Took one look at me and just shook her head, like I'm not going to chance it. Maureen got 3 pots, one for her mother, one for my mother and one for herself. All were about $20 US, they go for about $60-80 US in Hong Kong.

It was now time to go and meet the orphanage director and ask some questions about melissa. On the ride there I started to rummage around in the diaper bag for something and found the passports. I remembered I didn't want to leave them out on the dresser last night and knew we would be taking the diaper bag so I put them in there. We had them all along. Thank God! When we got to the meeting place we weren't sure which building to go into, as the assistant director was to meet us at the gate, but she wasn't there. So we drove around a while and finally went around the loop that the had that went by all the buildings, as we passed one building the assistant stepped out and motioned for us to stop there. We went into a reception area, and met Madam Lu the director. She and the assistant director answered our questions about melissa. Although some of them had been answered by just having her last night. We did find out that she could walk holding on to the crib and that she was eating mashed up hard boiled eggs, so she had been holding out on us.

EveryoneWe gave the director our "donation" for the orphanage for melissa, and a gift for herself and some items for the orphanage. Some cloths and a thermal scan, which when they figured out how to use it, was quite a hit. They had a little snack of watermelon for us and then they gave melissa a couple of books about the children in Wuxi and a couple of figurines, that they said "all the children in the town have." They even gave Joe a set! We asked them if they would like to leave melissa (Shan-Xia) a message as we had brought a tape recorder, so both the director and the assistant left her a message. Then they posed with us while Joe took a couple of pictures. It was time to go back to the Notary office and pick up melissa's passport. The assistant director said she would meet us there and took off on her motor bike.

notary officeAt the notary office we met with the same lady, as the day before. She gave us three sets of four documents that Joe and I looked over for mistakes and typo's. Before we could find any the Notary found where a word was clipped off in one of the documents, so she went and redid that one. After that we paid our fees and got her to pose for a picture with us and melissa. IT WAS OFFICIAL!!! melissa was ours according to the Chinese government! Then it was back to the Hotel. We paid the drive and we had found out that he had bought the car new for ~$22,000.00 US (a ford Tempo) and had to pay ~ $22,000.00 US import duties on it!! He almost had it paid off. We then agreed to meet Joe in an hour for supper, and to plan our next morning before getting the train back to Nanjing.

6/11/97

The next morning we went down to the "western" restaurant for breakfast, and we again saw Wie-Wie. Joe thought we could get a cab and just play it by ear. We needed to be at the train station by about 3:00 PM. After breakfast we found a cab, and drove down Hubin way. Hubin is the street that they found melissa on. The cab driver thought we were nuts just wanting to go up and down the street, and snapping pictures every so often. I had seen one place that was kind of a triangle park in the middle of an intersection that, on the way back we stopped at, and took a couple of pictures. Perhaps this could be a place where someone might leave a baby so it could be found?

Department store in Wuxi.Department store in Wuxi, Kids department.We then went to a department store to find a stroller for melissa (mom and dad too), as she was getting heavy and didn't like to beheld all that much, for very long. The store was quite interesting from the outside, but inside was nice. We headed up to the floor that had kids things, and found a stroller for 168 rmb or about 20 US. They brought out one in a box and we set it up and put "Miss Muffet" in it. They gave us a ticket to take to the register. The first register we went to couldn't do credit cards so they pointed us to one over by the escalator. While dad paid the bill, mom took melissa to the restroom to change her, and Joe went down one floor to look for sunglasses. After paying for the stroller I went for over to wait Mom and melissa, one of the clerks thatoriginally helped us came running over and wanted one of the slips that the cashier had given me. It seems that there are several checks and balances for the clerks and cashiers and lots of paper work. When the ladies finally got back, Maureen said that they had drawn quite a crowd in the Restroom. She had to change melissa between the sinks and one of the attendants help her hold melissa, because she like to go wild when the diaper was off, and everyone else wanted to see the unusual couple. We found Joe and told him that we were going down to the fist floor to find Maureen a new purse.

Wuxi city park, Xihui Park Then we wereoff to the Wuxi city park, Xihui Park. The park had a high tower in the center and it was a long way up to get to the tower, so we started to hoof-it up there. After stopping a couple of times to rest, we got to the base of the tower. Joe and I decided to climb up the tower; it cost us about 2 rmb (.25 cents). The tower must have been another 50 to 75 feet higher than the top of the hill. From up there you had a good view of Wuxi and the river that ran through it. Off on one-side was a blue like netting that we were told was a bird sanctuary. I took several panoramic pictures, but since it was so cloudy and hazy I wasn't sure they would come After getting back down, we asked if they had any cold drinks. A lady told Joe no, but they would send down to the next place to get some cold drinks. Again, I think the sodas cost about .75 even after they went to get them. When we had rested and cooled off we decided to head back down. About half way down at one of the rest areas, there were a couple of guy's sitting there. It sounded like one of them said Shan-Xia as we went by, but we turned around and they weren't paying any attention to us. Still wish we would have gone back and asked them if we had just misunderstood them or, if one of them worked at the orphanage.
(We have since found out that "shan xia" could also mean "down the hill")

When we finally got down, we got another cab and headed back to the hotel to pack up and go to the train station. By this time, we felt like we were getting to be experts at packing, so we cabbed to the train station and waited for the express to Nanjing. Little did we know that we are about to embark on the "Train ride from Hell!" melissa decided that she did not like riding on the train, and let us know! She Cried! And Cried! And Cried; for about 1 hour and 55 minutes of the 2 hour train ride. The country side was nice to see. Not much different than the drive down to Wuxi was, but did get to see some farmers plowing with a Yak and others with a Ford tractor. The terrain between Wuxi and Nanjing was mostly flat with some high hills off in the west.

When we got to Nanjing, Joe had problems getting us a cab. The guys that were right out in front of the station wanted to much for the trip to the Central Hotel. So, Joe finally got someone in a real small car to take the fair, by asking him if he wanted the fair, when he kept asking where we were going. While we got settled, Joe went over to collect the bags that had been left at the Pearl Hotel, what seemed to be weeks ago, but was only three days ago. When Joe got back with the bags, he said that he was going to leave early the next morning to go back to Tinjing as he had things to do at the office, for a big presentation in a couple of weeks, but he would arrange a guide, cab, or whatever for us, if we wanted to see Nanjing. Since the others were coming in about noon, we decided that we just wanted to stay in and rest, and let melissa rest after the long train ride. We thought she was just getting over-tired and upset that things were always changing and, that she wasn't going back to what she knew at the orphanage.

6/12/97

Streets of Nanjing.We got up late, had breakfast downstairs, and went back up to the room to just hang out. Around 11:00 or so we went out for a walk, just to see what we could find and to take a few pictures. We came back to the Hotel and had lunch at one of the Chinese restaurants their. Maureen asked for water, and they brought her a cup of hot water. She then asked them for ICE water and got a glass of water to drink. That night when Belinda got in we were to meet in the lobby and go out for our meal. We went a couple of blocks down one of the side streets to another hotel, which also appeared to have a radio/TV station located there, as well as a restaurant on the second floor. This was different than the restaurant in the hotels we had been staying at, it was more traditional Chinese. Belinda did all the ordering. We didn't get any exotic dishes, just some down-home Chinese cooking! A couple of the dishes were REAL good! One had some chestnuts in it that was Excellent! melissa seemed to pick this night to act up and, after a while, most of the kids were kind of antsy as it was getting kind of hot back where we were sitting.. After the meal, we headed back to the Central Hotel so that we could pack one more time and head for Guangzhou, the next to last step, before going home.

6/13/97

Streets of Nanjing, Drum tower?This morning we saw most everyone from our group, at one time or another, at breakfast. After breakfast we went up to the room to finish getting everything ready, and to get melissa changed. Since we had till 11:00 am, we decided to go for a walk. We were looking for the "Drum Tower" so we went down the street that we had gone down the night before. As we were getting to the next corner, a department store was just opening up, so naturally we had to take a look. Since they were just opening up, most of the employees lined either side of the door ways and bowed to us as we walked in. Wal-Mart you could learn some lessons here!! Naturally we had to go by the shoe department with a wife that has a 6 AAAA foot you don't pass up new sources for finding shoes, even if it is in China. When we were done cruising around the store, we finished our walk and came upon the next street corner, where the statue was? We then headed back up the street to the hotel. On our way back to the hotel, as we got to the entrance way, which was kind of off the ally way from either side street, we met the Cassteven's.

Nanjing airport, meliss and Mom.It was time to get on the trail again, we all met in the hotel lobby and proceeded to check out. Belinda came down to arrange our transport to the airport. Seems like the hotel didn't have a van big enough to take us and our luggage! After some talking, Belinda arranged for them to load the bags onto a truck and us in the van (good thing it wasn't the other way around). We were heading for the Nanjing airport, and on to Guangzhou, the last official leg of our journey. We had to make our way through the airport maze one more time, check bags, x-ray everything till it glowed in the dark and go through the passport checking at several different places. melissa let us know that flying was definitely for the birds, and not little girls! The noises scared her, the air pressure drop hurt her ears, and she couldn't see what was going on. All in all, it was a miserable flight! About half way through the flight Belinda said that the weather in Guangzhou, was not good, and that we would be going south of Guangzhou to the Hainin Island to land and wait out the storm. Ugh! Two flights for the price of one! Great! melissa wasn't going to like this, and neither were we. When we got there, we not only had to get off the plane but also take all of our carry on luggage with us! Ikes! We had an extra bag on this trip, as we could not check all of our luggage this time? One of the stewards helped me get all the bags off. After waiting in the Hainin airport for about 1 hr., we were allowed to re-board the plane and head back for Guangzhou. When we got there and loaded up in the van for the White Swan, we were all exhausted. Upon arriving at the White Swan it was to late to go get the babies pictures taken for visa's, so we checked in and Belinda formulated a new game plan. We would meet her at 8:00 in the hotel lobby, the guys would take laundry to the shop outside the hotel and the girls, and babies would do pictures. We headed up for a night of rest.

6/14/97

Maureen, melissa, and I headed down for breakfast at the coffee shop in the White Swan. After our meal, we all met at the lobby to wait for Belinda. When we were ready, we headed out! The men got dropped off at the laundry, while Belinda and the "Girls" went for pictures. At the laundry we had to count everything out and mark a slip of what we had. Will Cassteven's was the only one that came prepared and already had his done. While we were sorting things and counting, another man came in and waited behind us. Then a local guy came in and said something to the lady in Chinese. The man behind us got furious! He banged his hand down on the counter, and told the lady that if she took the local guy's stuff before him, he would talk to the hotel manager about it! What a JERK!! The lady got so nervous that she had to count my laundry at least 3 times and each time getting a different count each time. Later on, one of the other guys in our group said that the "Jerk" and told them after, I had left, that you had to be assertive with these people or they just walk all over you! Just another ugly American story, I think! Belinda came and got us so that we could catch up with the ladies, and head off to the clinic for the munchkins physicals.

Guangzhou clinc - physicals.The clinic was only about 3 or 4 blocks form the White Swan. When we arrived it was already packed, Belinda moved us up to a counter and handed over forms and our daughters Chinese passports. She then ask me to collect them and take them to the next station, while she went back to get the rest of the guys. After the lady behind the counter verified that the passport went with the forms and that everyone had the appropriate fees, she handed them to me, and a young lady at a small table began to type on each form. When she was all done, she handed them all to me, and I returned them to everyone. By then Belinda was back and we moved over to the first station of the physicals. This was where our daughters were to get weighed and measured. There were then two more stations, a cursory physical: looks healthy, has all appendages, etc. The final one was to check eyes and throat. I gave Maureen one of the sterile tongue depressors to use. While she was in there, another man was franticly looking for a tongue depressors so I gave him our extra one. When we had gotten all done with the physicals, it had started to pour like cats and dogs outside. Belinda came up and said it was time to leave and that one of the ladies at the clinic insisted that we take their van back to the hotel. Belinda sure new how to get things done, some how we were back on schedule, after the delays on the flight down, and now a ride in the pouring rain!! What a gal!

When we got back to the White Swan, Belinda told us that tonight at 8:00 PM she wanted all the dads downstairs to work on the consulate's paper work and that she would translate our medical reports that the orphanage had given us. When she came by to get the medical reports, she told us that she was going sightseeing in about 1/2 hr. so, we told her that we would come along. The rain had stopped so we all headed down the street that we had gone up to go to the clinic for the kid's medical. We stopped at a couple of places. The first was a little store that had all kinds of souvenirs, but the chops there, Belinda said didn't look that good. Next, we went a couple of doors down to "The Lady on the Stairs". Later Belinda had said, after looking at the chops there and a couple other places, that she thought her chops were better carved. We ordered several chops, and were told that they would be ready tomorrow. We later discovered that the two guys setting down under a small umbrella table at the bottom of the stairs were the ones doing the carving of the chops. We found several gifts there and were also pleased to find that the prices were cheaper here than any where else that we had gone. We then went to the "wet" market, where Maureen bought some pearls for about $8 US dollars each. It was around 4:30 or 5:00 PM so the market was closing up shop.

We decided to head back get some supper and I would get ready to go downstairs and fill out the Consulates forms. We went to the Deli at one end of the White Swan and got a couple of sandwiches, fruit salad, some cokes, and a couple of pastries. Back up in the room we kind of kicked back to relax and eat our sandwiches. We left the fruit salad for later, and the pastries looked great, but just lacked something? It was like they had no flavor. When it was time to go downstairs and get that paper work done. Maureen got melissa ready for bed, and I headed down to the business center were we all met Belinda. There, she had examples of the forms that had been sent in our I-171 packet, that didn't make any since when we got them, for us to use as guides to fill our out. All in all, there were about three different forms. With lots of questions that the examples had blank, so we left ours blank. When this was all done Belinda gave us back our medical reports from the orphanage with the shot records translated. Also, she had figured up each couples account with MTI and most of us had some money coming back. After that Mac McClurkan had the business center set up their PC so that he could send out e-mail, this was something that Maureen and I wanted to do as we had brought several E-mail address of friends back home. It was time to go back up to the room. When I got up there I told Maureen about the e-mail. It cost about $10 US for 1/2 hr. She decided, that the next morning she take the list downstairs and send out the same message all the addresses.

6/15/97

Miss Muffit trying for mom's purse!This day was kind of a "free day" since our appointment for the consulate wasn't until Monday. It also found "Miss Muffit" a lot more inquisitive, as the picture shows her checking out mom's purse. We met with the Cassteven's and decided to do a little more shopping. We had to pick up our chops at "The Lady on the Stairs" shop and we wanted to go back to the market and to also find the jade market, so we headed off. We stopped to get the chops and wound up getting several other things, one of which was a kimono for Maureen, and several T-shirts for gifts. We then went down the street to the first side street, and found an Antique store that had lots of nice things; pictures and pottery mainly. I bought 3 old coins that were about 14 century, for a gift. We couldn't be quite sure as no one spoke English except for "How Much?". We then headed over the bridge and across the busy intersection. Luckily there was elevated walk ways to cross the street traffic. We were back at the market. Now that everyone wasn't busy packing up for the night, we could see a lot of different things. There were people selling tiger paws, fur and claws included, and all sorts of things for medical purposes. There were lots of dried worms, snakes, lizards, you name it, was for sale. As we walked through the market I turned on the video camera and just held it about waist high pointed off toward one side. I didn't want to just film everyone with their knowing it, but wanted to get some of this on film. When we got to the end of the Market it Teed off in two directions, left and right. I took off to the right, and, after going about 50 yards I came back, the girls wouldn't want to go down this way. Lots of live and not so live animals and things for sale. Will and I decided to go down the way I had. We walked till we came to the next street and then came back. There were various live fish, frogs, snakes, eels, and lizards, as well as chickens. Several places had 1/2 a carcass hanging by a hook, to show how good and fresh the meat was. When we got back to the girls, they were talking to a young man, who was try to tell them were the Jade Market was. It then started to rain, so we thanked him for his time and headed back. On the way back, the rain stopped and we decided to eat a "Lucy's". The menu was quite different, there were actually 3 different menus. Ranging from spaghetti or nachos to fried noodles. I had the fried noodles and Maureen had a baked potato; the food was quite good. We went back to the hotel, as that night we were going to take Belinda out as she had to leave the next afternoon, she had found out that her father had some heart problems and had to catch the next flight to Singapore. As we were getting ready to go out that night melissa threw a fit. She just started crying and wouldn't stop. Maureen told me to go on without them. We could do nothing to comfort melissa.

Belinda had picked "Lucy's" to eat at that night, so the waiter and waitress put several tables together for all of us to eat at. I decided to be different and have a hamburger! I'm not sure what the hamburger was made of, but it wasn't a McDonalds or Wendy's burger. Not that it was bad, it just had a different texture and taste. When I got back to the room melissa was asleep, and Maureen said that after making a messy diaper she was just fine.

6/16/97

Abbey, melissa, Audry, Anna, and Katie waiting to go to America at the White Swan.The next morning we were to have our appointment with the consulate at around 9:00 am. While we were waiting to go over to the consolates we got the girls to pose for a group picture. Not sure they were ever that still again!

We were told not to bring out cameras, as one person had not heeded that warning, and was ruffed up by the guards. As we walked up to the consulate there were long lines of people waiting; it looked like we should have gotten up and out earlier! Belinda spoke to one of the staff and we walked to a side gate and went right in! We waited down stairs for a while in a little lobby area and then we proceeded up stairs, but we had to leave the strollers downstairs? When we got up to the office area they weren't quite done with the people that were ahead of us, so we went to another waiting area to wait for about 15 min. before it was our turn. We went into a room that had three desks, and sat-down to wait our turn. We went to the first desk and the lady asked for all the forms, copies of our 1040's and if we had an updated home study. She took the forms and the 1040's, made some notes and handed us back everything At the next table the lady looked over paper work and asked if we were giving melissa anything for the cough that she had. We told her Dimetapp and Benadryl. At the last table, the lady took everything and our fee for melissa's visa and we were on our way.

Mom's and Grils with Belinda befor she left.Back at the hotel, Belinda started to say her good byes to us all. We got her to pose with the babies, and got some video and still pictures of her and all of the rest of us. She also took pictures of the whole group for each of us. Then she was off to the airport to try and get a standby flight back to Singapore. We did some shopping in the stores on the first floor at the White Swan, and shot some videos of some of the carvings in jade that were there on sale. Tomorrow was the day to get the visa's, after 3:00 PM, and then we had to make our way to the airport and on to Hong Kong. We were starting to miss Belinda all ready. Bruce and I were to go over and get the visa's and make sure they were OK. We were going to met at 2:45 PM and go over a little early while everyone else got the bags loaded up and ready to go if we weren't there by 3:30.

6/17/97

The next morning we ran into the Cassteven's and McClurkan's after checking out and having our bags checked by the bell hop. We took off with them to do some more exploring and shopping. We followed Mac and Donna down to a department store, everyone was looking for baby things. On the Third floor we decided to split up and meet back at the hotel at 3:00 PM, as Bruce and I were going to the consulate I had to be back before 2:45 PM. We picked up a couple of cassette tapes with children's music. We then went up and got melissa a little dress with Minnie Mouse on it, and tried to find our way back down. Finally we gave up and just carried the stroller down 3 flights of stairs. We then headed back to the hotel as we were walking along several BMW's' and Merc's came down the road. This must have been the dignitary that was checking in to the White Swan the night after we checked in, boy were they moving!

Back at the hotel I met Bruce and we headed over to the consulate. Not being sure of who we needed to talk to, we just went to the same gate and went into the courtyard. Hope all along that someone wasn't going to jump us and beat us up. Once inside, we just asked the guy at the main desk, if we could go up to pick up visas. He just motioned us to go through the same door that we had gone through before, and we just followed the signs to the collection point. We told the lady behind the counter what we wanted and she said, "that we would have to wait. It wasn't 3:00 PM yet!" So we cooled our heels for about 10 min. and asked again, as they were making no move to go and find them. After a couple of minutes they came back with the visa's. We then had to check the spelling and passport numbers for accuracy. When they all check out, we headed out like the wind to get back to the hotel. When we got there everyone was still trying to get the checked luggage from the bell hops. After about 5 -10 min, we finally had all the bags. The next task was to get them all loaded in to the van and get to the airport. This took awhile! Seems like each on of the bell boys had a different idea on how to load up, when they were done. We were ready to leave China? I don't know about everyone else but, I wanted to get home, and I didn't want to leave. There was still so much more to see, do and experience, but on we had to go. Hong Kong the next stop!

Upon getting to the airport, we missed Belinda again as we had to make it through the airport maze by ourselves! Finding our way around wasn't too bad though. We were finally in the waiting area for our gate. We had about 1 hour to wait so we all took the opportunity to look at the gifts in the gift shops. I decided to head off to the bathroom and was amazed at how light and airy it was. The whole outside wall was windows! Quite different for a bathroom. By the time we had kind of recollected our selves, it was time to head out for the plane. Of course melissa didn't like this plane ride any better than any of the others we had taken, but several of the Chinese women took melissa from Maureen and tried to get her to stop crying. When one of the younger ladies was able to get her to quite down, she just beamed, she had done what all the other "grandma's" couldn't do.

Thankfully the flight was fairly short and we were in Hong Kong before we knew it. On the approach to land we couldn't start to see the buildings until we were around 2,000 ft. because of all the clouds. What a surprise and change from china. Rows and rows of 30 and 40 story apartment and office buildings as far a you could see, in either direction. And what a contrast, as right behind were mountains that were lush and green. We later found out that a complex of about 8-10 of these buildings housed around 80,000 people!! That was more than the entire population of our home town Columbia, MO. When we had landed and retrieved our bags, we were worked our way through customs and found out that the hotel had a shuttle that we could rent for about $200.00 HK our about $28.00 US. So we all decided to take cab's to the hotel instead and, as it turned out it cost us each about $40-50 HK, because the cabbies charged $5 additional for each bag they picked up and loaded/unloaded into the cab! After checking in we went up and after we called down and complained to the front desk that our bathroom hadn't been cleaned! When housekeeping showed up, it was harder to explain to them, than it had been to the hotel staff back in China. What the maid finally understood was, Maureen pointed to the toilet and Said, "It had something in it when we first arrived!" When she got done kind of cleaning, we just crashed!

6/18/97

The next morning we got up late and went down to the second floor and had breakfast. Maureen had fruit and French toast while I had ordered the Dim Sum breakfast. I received the rice congee, which was good, but never got the rest so, when we got the bill, we explained this to the waitress. She had to have the manager come out and what he did was take Maureen's breakfast off the ticket and just change me for mine? Kind of strange but it got the job done.

We headed back to the room and Maureen went downstairs to ask where we could find a grocery store. melissa was out of rice cereal and low on formula! After getting the directions and getting melissa ready to go, we headed downstairs and out the way the directions had said. When we had walked several blocks the way the instructions had said, we turned around and headed back to the hotel. The directions had us turning the wrong way after leaving the hotel and, after going a couple of blocks, we saw the sign for the store. We picked up some soda, water, and rice cereal, but the formula was no where to be found. Maureen asked someone and we found that it was kept under lock and key at the register? Back at the hotel we got ready to do some exploring in Hong Kong. Maureen wanted to see the Peninsula Hotel and we still had to find a gift for Jared, her nephew. Out on the street we headed in the direction of the "New World Hotel and Trade Center". Also along side the hotel was a science and cultural gallery. We found the Peninsula Hotel and walked around the outside of it, and also discovered a "shopping center". We had to take an escalator up to get to it as it was on the second floor. We just wander around looking at things from clothes to jewelry. We finally found some kids tee shirts and got one for Maureen's nephew. Outside the Science gallery we stopped and had some ice cream from an ice cream truck. At first we thought we were getting gypped since the ice cream was layered around the top of the cone and none inside of it: maybe because we were tourist? But, after watching him fill other cones, he was filling them all the same. So it wasn't because we were tourist, he was gypping everyone! We then headed back to the hotel, we ran into the Cassteven's and stopped at a McDonalds to get a couple of ice teas. It was time to go back to the hotel and get some supper.

After getting cleaned up and getting melissa ready we headed down stairs for the restaurant. After ordering, the waitress brought over a guy playing the guitar, because melissa was fussing a little. He played her a song, and she just watched him intently. When it was over and he walked away, she let out a wale! She wanted more, but he had others to go sing for. When supper was over we just headed back up stairs to watch a little TV and get ready for bed.

6/19/97

This morning, when we headed for breakfast, we saw Bruce Norton, who asked if we wanted to go on a tour with him and his father-in-law of Hong Kong Harbor. Maureen had the lady at the tour desk downstairs book us one seat, as we were going to use the Norton's extra ticket. Katie had a rough night, and Susan decide to stay in with her. We got a cab just outside the hotel, and it took us to within a couple of blocks to the pier, to catch the boat. On the way to the pier we passed a Planet Hollywood store and a bank that exchanged money. Since we had about ½ hour before the boat was to leave, I ran back to the bank and exchanged some more money as I only had about $20.00 HK on me. Also I saw a little store and got a couple of bottles of water to drink. When I got back it was time to board. Getting on the boat was quite a trick, specially carrying a stroller with a munchkin in it, but I got lots of help from the boat crew and staff. There were only about 1/2 a dozen of us on the tour, so seating wasn't a problem. Bruce and his father in-law went up to the top deck of the boat, but we decide to say down in the enclosed area. We motored over to the next pier across the harbor to pick up a few more people, and then the tour was off. We were to be at a fort at noon for them to fire the cannon; this was in reference to Sho Gun, or something. Then we chugged up the harbor, looking at the scenery and all the massive building that lined the coast. You could see that part of Hong Kong was an older style, where the building were only about 8-10 stories high, while most of the rest of it was 30-50 story buildings. Construction in Hong Kong.We went past a complex that was about 30 stories high and had 8-10 buildings and some one said that about 80,000 people lived there! That's more than what live in our home town of Columbia, MO. It's population is only about 75,000! We then made our way into a narrow channel and right in front of us was the floating Dim Sum Restaurant. Our tour guide said we had about 1 to 1 ½ hours and for us to just to meet them back at the boat when we were done.

Largest floating Dim Sum Restaurant.Our table was on the second floor, so while everyone took the stairs, melissa and I took the elevator. We were seated at a big table for the seven of us. Besides Bruce and his father in-law, there was a couple for Indiana, that was visiting their daughter in Hong Kong. They of course wanted to know if we had adopted melissa, and were quite interested to find out that Bruce of five families that had adopted. The food was excellent. We had rice congee and several different Dim Sum items, and lots of tea. After the meal, we headed back to the boat and it retraced it's path back to the piers. When we got to our pier, we told Bruce and his father in-law that we were going to find our own way back as we wanted to stop at the Planet Hollywood store. We got a couple of souvenir shirts there and then headed back in the general direction of the hotel, but along side streets. The streets were quite conested and quite narrow, but we kept following a map we had and wound up in front of a store with lots of carvings and figurines. When Maureen spotted a Malachite frog, we (I) had to go in. The shop owner showed us some of the frogs he had, but none were as attractive as the one in the window. We asked him if he had any others like that, but he said that was his only one, and that he wanted $380.00 HK for it. He got it out to show me, and said that he would take an even $350.00 for it, which was about $50.00 US. So I decide to splurge and get it. He also wanted to know if melissa was adopted and congratulated us, and her.

We were then off again to the hotel. When we got back we decided for our last night in Hong Kong, that we would do something different. We ordered a pizza! As they wouldn't deliver to the hotels I had to go and pick it up. It was supposed to be close to the hotel: with in a couple to three blocks. I headed out the door and up the street to where we had gone to the grocery store, and made a left. Sure enough there was a sign about half way down the block that said "Pizza Hut". When I got there, I found it was up stairs, on the second floor. At the cashier I asked if it was ready, and of course it wasn't, so I went ahead and paid for it. It was $110.00 HK or about $16.00 US, not bad! After waiting for about 5 minutes I saw someone bring out a pizza, and the lady at the cashiers booth took it and set it aside. I waited about another 10 minutes and went up and asked if that was mine. Of course it was, I guess she was going to let me set there as long a I wanted, before giving me the pizza. Before I left I also picked up a menu, just for grins. Back at the hotel we finished off both the soda we had gotten a couple of days ago and the pizza. Not bad for pizza, I have eaten worst in the states. On looking at the menu, we found that we could have gotten sea food pizza with thousand island dressing!! They had as many pizza's on the menu with thousand island dressing as they did for tomato sauce. We made an early night of it as we had to leave at around 6:00 am the next morning to give ourselves a couple of hours before the flight at 8:00 am.

6/20/97

Morning came early and after getting everything packed and almost ready to go, we got melissa ready, and headed down on the elevator to check-out. The elevator was so small that I had to take three of the bags down and leave them at the front desk, and them come back up for the rest. As we were checking out, the Cassteven's were getting into a cab to the airport, and the Gough's were just coming down. We caught a cab and began our journey home! One that would last for about 36 hours!! At the airport we made our way to ticket counter, after stopping and asking where we needed to go. There we saw the Cassteven's and the Nortan's so we got into another line. Checking our bags and getting out tickets was easy?? Until I looked a melissa's ticket, and found she didn't have a seat. The girl at the counter didn't notice that we had paid a child's fair for her, so she had to redo the tickets as there were not three seats together where she had put us. As she was doing that, Will Cassteven had to open up one of his bags, they had bought an alarm clock for a gift and it showed up on the x-ray! OOPS!

After getting all the minor problems straightened out, we all headed for the gate, and the endless re x-raying of carry on luggage. The two hours before the flight, that had seemed like would be way too much time, was just right as when we went down to the gate area we only had to wait about 10 min and it was time to start loading up to head for Seoul. On the trip to Seoul we had a bulkhead seat as well as melissa's extra seat. The stewardess said that she would bring us a bassinet when we were up. We thought this was going to be just fine. After getting melissa over the take off and her ears hurting, we put her in the bassinet and gave her a bottle. She almost took a nap but then discovered that by wiggling around, she could get out from under the wide strap - so much for the bassinet. The 3-4 hour flight went so-so, but melissa still didn't like airplanes!

In Seoul, we had a 4 hour layover and, since we were the only ones going back economy, as everyone else had opted to go back business class and not get a third seat, we were the only ones of our group in the regular lounge. Although every once in awhile someone would come over and talk to us and get something to eat. Before long it was time to head on down to the gate for the next leg of our trip - the 10 hour flight from Seoul to LA. At the gate we found that the flight had been delayed, as it had gotten in late and they were still servicing the plane. We were almost an hour late getting on the plane. When they started to boarding, they said that anyone with small kids etc. could board early, everyone got up and started to press in. We just politely pushed our way up to the front and asked if we could go ahead, and get on early so that we could get "Miss Muffet" all settled, along with the carry on luggage.

Time for the "Plane Ride From Hell" - melissa had decided that one plane ride was enough for the day, no matter how many more we had to do, one was enough! During the 10 ½ hour plane ride, she got maybe 5 hours of sleep, and we got about the same. Most of the time, she wanted to be walked, or bounced, while she was being walked. We made good time as the 14 hour ride over became a 10 ½ hour ride back. Amazing what a 150-170 m.p.h. tail-wind can do for you! When we landed we apologized to some of the service men that had sat around us: one of whom kept trying to distract melissa by waving at her over the seat. They all said not to worry about it, that's what kids do - amazing for such young men!

Two down and two more plane rides to go! Now the task was to get from one set of gates in LA to the other and this time, we took the shuttle. When we arrived at our gate Maureen had just enough time for a quick change of the Munchkin, and we were off again. As we were boarding the plane, someone from behind asked us if we had adopted: an older gentleman and his wife. It seems like that were from Britain or somewhere in the UK, as things were starting to become a blur. Another exciting plane ride to Dallas/Fort Worth: at least melissa thought so! You could only give her so many bottles in a day and we had been trying to save them for the take off's, if at all possible. The sucking helped with the ears but not entirely, because she still noticed that we were going up again, and let us know that this was not her favorite thing to do!

When we arrived at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport as we were getting off the plane, we heard someone say "This must be one of them!" The Cassteven's had a welcoming committee at the airport! Their social worker and some friends and relatives were there to greet them, so we got a few congratulations as well. It was here that we would part ways with our traveling partners, the Gough's, and Norton's were to head to Tulsa and us on to K.C. We said our good byes to the Cassteven's and the Gough's , but didn't see the Norton's, so we headed on to our gate for the final leg to this wonderful saga!

As we were hurrying to the gate, we passed the Norton's waiting for their flight. We stopped for a few minutes to wish them well and Susan's father, gave Maureen a big hug and told us to take care of that "little girl". I think he had fallen in love with all 5 little girls while he was in China, I know he sure adored little Katie! It was time to hit the dusty trail again and get to our gate. We made it with about 15 mins. to spare before we could board, so I went back to an ice cream shop to get some ice cream and a couple of drinks. We were both hot, tired and thirsty. When I got back melissa just watch me eat my ice cream; the first time she had ever showed any interest in our eating. She was even to the point of licking her lips when I took a bite. Could it be? Would we get her to start eating? I offered her a bite, but she refused with the usual shaking of the head. An emphatic, NO! Although she didn't seem to mind the ice cream that I had gotten on her lips. This episode would be repeated over and over again for the next 3 weeks before she actually would finally take her first bite for us.

This leg of the trip seemed to be the worst, melissa was tired and worn out from being up and all the crying she was doing on the planes, but she wouldn't go to sleep and cried most of the way to K.C. Since this was a smaller plane, there was not as much room to walk her up and down the isle without being in someone's way. Also, we were getting quite tired. By the time we had landed it would have been 36 hours of traveling with only about 5 hours of sleep, and lots, and lots of stress. But we could hold out as we were almost to K.C. There, a friend of Lisa's (our friend), Joyce, would meet us as Lisa would be out of town, but was letting us use her house to crash in. We were ready. When we could get off the plane, as we were way in the back, we saw Joyce. She recognized us because of, you guessed it, melissa that, and probably we were the people that looked like we had just been half way around the world in ONE day? It didn't seem possible, but it was, we were almost home. Joyce told us that she was double parked and would go out and drive around the terminal circle until we could get our luggage and meet her at the curb.

After waiting for 20 min, and being one of only about 6 people left at the carousel for the luggage, we headed over to the US Air desk and asked if there was any more luggage. Nope that was it! Where did our bags go! After checking the claim checks, they located our bags in Nashville! Lot of good that did us! We had been in the same clothes for 36 hours! Somehow, the baggage checker in LA interpreted "are the bags check all the way to K.C" to be they need to go to Nashville! They said at the airport, that they would deliver the bags to us when they came in, at home, but we wouldn't be there! We were waiting for Maureen's parents to come in to K.C at 3:00 PM tomorrow. We gave them Lisa's phone number and told them to hold the bags if they came in before 3:00 PM as we would pick them up. Of all of our traveling in China and all the stops and transfer; not a bag got lost. But, set one foot in LA and Oh Well! We were to tired to complain! We crashed at Lisa's and got everything straighten out the next day.

Sisters! Melissa and Miriam.Life was good, and getting better! melissa is a constant source of energy, entertainment, and her and her older sister Miriam (who is 15 1/2) have become best buddies. If Miriam is around, Melissa would rather go to her than either Mom or Dad. It is nice to see a family bond together!
 
 

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:jlowary@Wuxi-US