Hi all! We can't thank you enough for your Facebook comments, blog comments and emails! We had a great day today! We started out having breakfast at our hotel and them we came back to the room to Skype with my mom and Hailey. Dispute MANY technical difficulties trying to get Skype set up at my mom's before we left, we were able to connect without a problem. It was so good to see our Haily. She was sweet as ever and was so funny when she said "See my feet!?!?!?!!!" as she showed us her foot. We asked if she would sing us a song and she chose to sing Jesus Loves Me for us. It blessed my heart beyond measure to see her sing to us and hear her voice sing those sweet sweet words. After her song she wanted us to hold her and reached for the computer. I'm not sure she understands that we can't actually touch her although we would love to. Also, every time we have attempted Skype at my mom's house we have just been in the other room. Maybe she was confused and thought we were there. At any rate, it made us feel so bad and we will need to assess if Skyping with Hailey often is a good idea or not.
After that we met our guide in the lobby to drive to the Great Wall. Our driver was waiting with the most beautiful and pristine 15 passenger van. We were riding in style and we loved it. Angela told us that Gao (our driver) had purchased the van within the past month. As we were rolling along buses and other cars would come very close to us, but Gao never seemed worried. I remembered from Korea, that it is normal to get so close to other vehicles in the tight, "free for all" style streets of other countries. The next thing we knew, a taxi trying to cut into our lane collided with us and added an 8 foot scrape down the side of Gao's new van! We were all totally okay but felt so bad for Gao. He jumped out to deal wi the taxi driver and reemerged a few minutes later declaring him "crazy"! The police were soon on the scene too. The taxi driver refused to admit fault, so we all headed to the police sub station (portable building under the highway) nearby. Angela said they could pull up the video of the accident because EVERYTHING inChina is recorded. Goa and the taxi driver would need to go to a different office to have the video pulled and reviewed, so he called in his brother in law to take over. We waited about an hour and a half for our new driver to come for us and then we were finally on our way to the Great Wall. Our new van wasn't nearly as nice and now we were about 2 hours behind schedule, but we were all in good spirits!
We went to the Mutianyu section of the wall. When Chris and I were here in 1999 we saw the Badaling section, so it was nice to be at a part that was new to us. We took a cable car up the mountain to get to the section of the wall. Then we could choose to go one of 2 ways- the very flat way or very steep way. We choose the steep way and headed out. The boys weren't even phased by the very steep steps that we needed to traverse to get from one guard post to another. Chris and I did very well too. All those hours of marathon training seemed to help prepare us for the challenge. The steps varied as we walked. Some were only a few inches in depth and others were over a foot in depth, so it was a challenge. We loved the wall and so did the boys. We got to the end of the approved section and then we ventured down a trail that led to a guard post that is in its original condition. We could also see portions of the wall that were also original, so that was cool. The first part we walked on was restored in 1984, so it was cool to see some of the original area. When we came back down, we were able to take a toboggan down a long aluminum chute and we were all very excited!! As we approached the ride, the lady in charge shut it down because it was raining. It was just sprinkling, but she said any drops required them to shut down. The boys were so disappointed and to be honest, I was too. So we decided to wait it out. About an hour and a half later and after many mixed signals from the ride operators we were on a toboggan and ready to go. The ride was about 5 minutes long and was so fun. Travis rode with me and Chase rode with Chris. We all loved it and we were so thankful we were finally able to do it.
The van delay and the toboggan delay made it impossible to also see the Temple of Heaven today. We will try to work it in another day, but if not, that's ok. We know the boys will remember the toboggan ride longer than they would remember the Temple of Heaven, so if we don't ever get there, we are good with that! It was now 3 pm and it was well past lunch time. Angela said Chinese restaurants were closed between 2-4, so suggested we grab McDonalds. That was fine with us.
Then we began the nearly 2 hour drive back to the heart of Beijing. We stopped at a place to shop for about an hour. I scored a Coach purse - I'm sure it is real. Chris got remote control helicopter and both boys got a leather wallet that they were wanting. Chris was fabulous with the bargaining and we all had a lot of fun. Then we were off to the much anticipated KungFu show. Angela said it was the best in all of Beijing. The Show started at 7:30 and we were all so tired. The boys fell asleep before the show and woke up for the show. Travis made it through the entire show, but Chase fell asleep with about 5 minutes left. After the show we headed back to the hotel. Angela knew we were too tired to go to dinner so she ordered us pizza from Pizza Hut and brought it to our hotel for us. It was very interesting pizza and wasn't the same as the Pizza Hut in the US. At that point, we didn't care, it was food. We got the boys fed, showered and in bed.
Tomorrow we are heading out early to go to New Day Foster Home. They are a Christian run orphanage outside of Beijing and we are so excited to go and see their facilities and see what the Lord is doing there. Our friends, the Pflukes are adopting Joshua who is at New Day so we will get to meet him and deliver hugs and a care package from his family. In August a family traveling to Hannah's orphanage did the same for us and it was such a blessing to us. I knew we wanted to do the same for another family, so it is so exciting for us to get to go meet Joshua. I'm so thrilled that we will meet him now, but one day see him in San Antonio with the family God has for him. It will be a joy to meet him now, but to also watch him grow up in the Pfluke family. God is just so so good!
Well, that is about it. We are still struggling with adding pictures to the blog. We need a VPN in china to access sites like Facebook and blogger. The VPN on Chris computer isn't allowing him to access sites. The VPN on the iPad is letting me access blogger, but the iPad will not let me add pictures to my blog posts easily. Soo, until we totally untech savvy people figure it out, I can't give you all the pictures I would like. I will add some to Facebook, so check that out to see more.
Well, I think I'm going to go and post this now. I don't have the energy to retread it for errors, so please forgive typos and anything that doesn't make sense.
Blessings to you all from Beijing!
Amy, Chris, Travis and Chase