Friday, March 10 - Early Adventures

by Kristi Van Dyk

We last left you all at the airport, awaiting our first flight to DTW, having been miraculously moved earlier so that we could stress less about our connections.


Consequently, we had 2.5 hours or so with which to explore the Detroit airport. We found a Chick-Fil-a, mostly because we love them, not because anyone really enjoys chicken for breakfast. We let Ben walk (many times) across the moving sidewalks (which were endlessly fun for him), and then we walked through the psychedelic tunnels and found ourselves near a Starbucks.


Everyone enjoyed their drinks with the sunshine streaming in through the windows before heading back to board the plane. 

Our friend, Julie, had been telling us how amazing it is to fly Delta. We experienced that with our flight changes, but the in flight service was phenemonal. Ben got wings, and loved the Sky Kids entertainment sections very much. He played most of the flight. We were also fortunate to have  a seat open and all of us had more than the typical space to spread out. Ben laid down sideways and managed a good four to five hour nap mid flight. I'd dare say his parents slept far less, but it's a gift to us that he had a chance to rest.

After deplaning we managed to practically sail through customs and baggage claim. Our guide was incredible; we hardly had a chance to scan the room for someone before she was running to us with our passport photos in her hands. She let us take a break, and while we were gone, she met Ben. By the time we got back from the bathrooms, she knew more about our family than one could ever wish in five minutes. She was very impressed with Ben, and his ability to communicate. I say that with some pride but also because I wish my fellow Mandarin moms could see what this ability did to everyone we met. I know hid buddies could do this too! Our guide said in Beijing there is a lot of tourism but not a lot of locals see foreigners, so a blonde haired, blue eyed boy is a novelty. Then, to hear him chattering away in what she called native-like Mandarin was too mind boggling. People stared everywhere we went. She herself had never seen someone so young be so proficient. She has a five and a half year old son and says Ben speaks close to the same way he does, if not a little more confidently. As parents we couldn't enjoy nearly as much as Ben did because he understood it all. But I was so proud to watch not just how he engaged the people but how confidently and quickly he adjusted to culture. To the close proximity of people, to the lack of line waiting (one really does just charges into the elevator at will) and even the crossing the streets in which pedestrians are very aggressive. Our friends has to pull him back often because he would just charge headlong into the street like the other bikers and pedestrians. Ben didn't have time to wait for his slow poke parents. He even made a correction to the directions because he knew we how to get back to the hotel better than we did. 

Once our guide has us checked in and settled in our hotel for two nights, we got a WeChat from some friends of Yingpu's (the kids teacher), who lives near Beijing. They took us (on Yingpu and ChenYan's treat) to a western style restaurant so Steve and Ben could eat hamburgers. We were terrible company because we were so tired, but Ben did great! It was so nice, before we embarked on journey to other provinces, to have some burgers. We would never have been able to find this place ourselves. It was a gift to have trusted faces help us navigate this busy city and to meet some other believers here in Beijing and learn about their lives. One of the friends spoke no English, so Mabel and Ben served as interpreters between us. Ben would often forget to tell us what was said because he was so involved in the conversation. By 8:00, we regrettably, had to return to our hotel. We were exhausted from the journey and needed sleep. By 8:30 our room was snoring away. 


Today's agenda, is the Great Wall of China. We are told that we are exploring the wall at the "most beautiful and most famous" point. We are all very excited for this part of the trip. 

Thanks for all of the prayers. We have been so blessed by them.