Monday. What'd you say? 

Today was a bit of a treat for us. We got to sleep in a little which lately for us means slept in too long. We ate our usual breakfast which is usually broken up at the half way point by a certain someone needing to use the boy's room. Usually this wouldn't be a problem but picture your 2 year old niece or nephew climbing up to use the big kid potty and you'll know what we are dealing with. Back to breakfast... we ate and successfully executed the snag and borrow. Knowing that we were to pack "snacks" for our activities today we prepped Benjamin to grab some Nutella packets from the buffet so we could use them to make sandwiches on bread that we purchased (Hey we're not animals) at the local super market. Ben snagged his hazelnut happiness and I somehow "borrowed" a knife from my table so that we could spread the Nutella and Peanut Butter with a real metal knife rather than plastic or toothbrushes. I promise that the knife will magically reappear into circulation later in the week, but for now it is in a secret location. 

After making our dutch lunch we hopped on board the bus with a few other families and headed off to the Chimelong Safari Park and wouldn't you know it, moments after getting on the bus we were told no outside food is allowed in the park. (If you own an echo say "Hey Alexa, play sad trombone" it works) Thankfully my otherwise black and white wife had the idea of moving the sandwiches from the big compartment to the middle compartment of the backpack. I did so and with every intention of not showing a blessed thing, I dutifully complied and showed the gate agent the big compartment containing water and a few candies. She poked around and sent us on our merry way. Kristi's cleverness for the win. 

We were told that we puny Americans could only manage to see about 1/2 of the park in the 4.5 hours we had to visit. This seemed rather insulting to us so we crammed in everything we could. A safari on wheels, dinosaurs that spit water in Ben's face, scare Joshua, and neon lights to boot. We saw Koalas, snakes, Pandas, Lemurs, a Monkey or two, a peeing baboon (Thanks Rafiki), and a ton of other stuff too. Josh and I also saw the men's room half a dozen times. You do not have to wonder if we are keeping him hydrated... 

Ben had a blast, Kristi and I enjoyed it, and Josh... well... I'm not sure he likes animals that much. He did seem to like the Giraffes at one point, and he showed curiosity here and there, but during the safari he kept telling Kristi "no". I tried to show him the Koi but he didn't enjoy being placed inches from their swarming teeth either. He did enjoy being used as a human "pong" as Ben and I shot him back and forth to each other in the stroller, but that could have been late afternoon toddler too. If you have a toddler you know what that means. If you don't, borrow one for a day and see what I mean :). 

Over on the Facepages Kristi has a post of Ben with a girl whose name is Nicki. She's 11 and is diagnosed with CP, some cognitive delays, and some vision issues. The thing I notice about people with "special needs" is that they are often more aware of those around them. Nicki (I'm told) spent a lot of time with the babies and toddlers when she was in the orphanage and so she spent the first half hour or so trying to hold hands with Joshua or give him kisses. We let her push Joshua in the stroller and she loved it. She had a job and she did it incredibly well... perhaps even better than a certain 6-year old I know. Somewhere in my gallery below there is even a picture of her with Josh and Kristi (When did Josh learn to flash a peace sign?). All in all it was a great day at the zoo followed by a quick trip to the supermarket and (gasp) night two of noodles. We hit up a Chinese restaurant under the Irish Pub (See I DID FIND CHINESE FOOD AFTER ALL) which was a surprisingly good find and likely a place we will return to.

I did take a few pictures today, hopefully they show up in the gallery below:

Today I made friends with an 11 year old girl (Nicki) who has a label in China, but to me is as sweet and wonderful as as any other 11 year old I know. I also met a girl named Arianna (???) who is bound to a wheel chair and suffers seizures. She and I were exchanging papers and playing in the van on the way back from the park. Arianna is the 4th adoptee for her mom and dad, and at least the 5th in the extended family. Yesterday a boy named Jacob was about to sit on my lap and later we had a high five moment and he is 10 or 11 out of 11 other adopted kids. There are also two friends who were adopted as the younger siblings of 24, 22(?), 18 years old biological children who look and act like brothers. That was just in the last two days... last week we met Cameron Junior who is a two and a half year old who has 1.5FT of large intestine and is on a strict diet. Cameron also happens to be a happy bright eyed little guy who went home with some great parents.  So if I add it up, carry the one, subtract the seven, I get ... 7 kids that I've interacted with in the last week who are going to a new home. Each one of the 7 has a "health" issue that makes them unique. Each one of them is a living breathing human being that we've been blessed to have been able to spend time with. 

For my house Kristi heard a distinct calling early in 2016 and it took until April for me to hear the same thing. But we both heard clearly that we needed to adopt. So we did, and many of you reading have supported us in our journey which we will be forever thankful for. I do have one favor to ask though and no this isn't about adoption #2 for the Van Dyk's (that comes later). No, my favor is to ask that you consider doing one of the following things: 

  1. Seek out a child that you know is hurting and ask to spend time with them for the sole purpose of listening. Don't try to fix a thing, just listen. 
  2. Pray for the kids who need homes, the wives who are busy doing the paper work, and the dads who are dragging their feet. Pray that they all meet up together in a new forever family. 
  3. Spread the word. You don't have to adopt, but perhaps you know someone who is thinking of doing so. Send them to us, we don't bite. Hard. 
  4. Pray for the mothers who saw no other way than to give their baby away for adoption or to an orphanage.

That's it. You don't have to do much, but I'd suppose if we all did a little something we could make a big impact on the orphans who are waiting for parents to call their own. 

Thanks for reading, I'm off to bed. 8:30am departure for the consulate tomorrow. We have to convince the US and A that we will be good parents.