China Part 6: A Weekend in Longyan and Zhangzhou

AGCI just returned from China! Our team just returned from a two-week stay in China. Continue following our posts and learn more about how we’re advocating for China’s orphans!

From Tiffany Williams, China Program Director, 9/21/15

We spent the night at a hotel in Longyan on Friday night, and then on Saturday we took time to rest and sightsee in Longyan. We met Lilian for breakfast, and then she and Kiersten met briefly with the director of the Longyan orphanage again to follow up after the visit on Friday.

Longyan 1024x683 1Lilian was kind enough to stay with us this weekend to translate for us in Longyan and Zhangzhou. When they returned, Kiersten, Victoria, Sarah, and I took off on foot to explore.

We headed out of the hotel and over to a local mall to walk around. We were quite the spectacle, and we got many stares and points. A few people tried out their English on us to say, “hello!” We are the only foreigners that we have seen here.

It was about lunchtime when we arrived at the hotel and after a week of Chinese food, we decided to try a local Korean restaurant where we were served raw meats and veggies to cook at our table. Sarah used to live in Korea and wanted to try it. It was delicious!

Afterwards, we continued on foot to an outdoor market, where local people had many local fruits and seafood for sale. It reminded me of a Chinese version of our Saturday market. We went in to a local tea store and looked around at tea sets and pots and purchased a few items in there. Kiersten was on the hunt for bubble tea today, and we finally found some in a local café.

Then, we stumbled upon the most beautiful park, with bridges, ponds, beautiful flowers, and lily pads. There was also live Chinese music and songs.

We had noticed a beautiful temple on the way in to the hotel on Friday. We visited it after the park, and learned that it was a Buddhist temple. We put away our cameras out of respect, and entered the temple to observe local monks in the temple and the local statues that are prayed to, given tithe to, and incense is burned. There was a Buddha in the middle, with two statues to each side that looked like guards—they were so big. You could feel that this is a very sacred place to the local Chinese. I had never seen anything like it.

Afterwards, we walked back to the hotel. I am not sure how we found our way back, except that Victoria has an exceptional memory and sense of direction! That evening, I enjoyed Skyping with my family back home and packing up to leave for Zhangzhou in the morning by train.

After breakfast on Sunday, we met Lilian in the lobby and headed to the local train station in Longyan to take the high-speed train to Zhangzhou. When we arrived, we were picked up by the driver of the Zhangzhou orphanage, who took us to the China Overseas Hotel. There, we checked in and had lunch with some of the staff of the Zhangzhou orphanage.

After lunch, we had a rest in our room, and then headed over to the orphanage to meet the director and the children. There are around 70 children at the orphanage; about half are under age 14.

The orphanage director wanted us to examine many children that afternoon. We were taken to an upstairs room where we saw the children. At first they were all in small, short bamboo high chairs. We asked if we could examine the kids in a more quiet room so they took us back to one of the bedrooms for the exams.

We were able to see Jenna, who does not yet have a family. Jenna had just returned to the orphanage after spending some time in foster care. She is so precious!

Later, they took us to another part of the orphanage, where we met some of the older children in school. We encouraged the staff to finish the paperwork for some of these children as well. Several of the kids that we met are currently not eligible for adoption.

I asked about one little girl, and they said her special needs were too serious and they would not complete her paperwork. She was four years old. I asked if I could hold her, and she just cuddled right in to me. They said that she could not walk, and that she had some hearing loss, and possible mild autism. However, I took her hands and put her on the ground and she walked holding on to my hands. She was so smiley and happy and loved being held and cuddled. Sarah held her and examined her and remarked what a sweet girl she was. Sarah noted that if she did have any form of autism, it was likely due to institutionalization. We believe she could thrive if she had the consistent love and care of a family.  I asked the orphanage to please reconsider and complete her paperwork for adoption so that we can try to find her a family. We are now hopeful for this to happen.

After the examination time, they took us to a wonderful seafood dinner! We had clams, snails, crab, fish and shrimp with noodles and rice and fruit. Tomorrow, we will head by train to Fuzhou to meet up with Gongzhan and Rocky. The Internet didn’t work well so we took an Internet break and rested and walked around the city. We look forward to seeing Fuzhou tomorrow!