Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Boat People

I went and had a pedicure the other day. Don't get the wrong idea, I have had exactly three pedicures in my whole life. I like them, it's just I don't care about my toes that much. I'm not very detailed orientated, so if I'm going to get "work" done, my eyebrows usually take priority. Our friend Cindee was visiting from California. We stopped by Industry Tattoo to see if Nick could throw a couple of Daisies on our necks. They were booked  so we ended up next door getting pedicures.....Cindee's treat. :)

 We were happy to find out that we were the VERY first customers. I was secretly envious Cindee was first. I love being the First at things. Instead I was third. Autumn was before me too. There was one lady working. We told her we were not in a hurry. I was just happy to sit there and chat. I realized I had parked in the ten minute parking spot so I hopped out of the chair, dried my feet and ran outside to move the van. When I came back in there was a guy waiting there to do my pedicure. His name was Dave.

We all had fun talking. Both of the employees were from Vietnam. Usually I sit in those places and I wonder what they are saying about me. I just know they are making fun of my outfit, or my eyebrows...haha. But Dave refused to leave us in the dark. Every time they would speak Vietnamese he would translate for us. I just knew she was telling him my laugh was loud and annoying, but what she really said was
"The new brushes were in the back room. "
We found out that she had come to America alone at age 12 and had married at 16. Dave looked at her and asked her if she was a Boat Person. She said "No." I asked what a "Boat Person" was. He looked at me sideways and said....

"Google it."

I asked him to please, please tell me what they were. My toes faded into the background as he began his story. I was leaning forward so I wouldn't miss a word of it. He told me that in the 80's Vietnam was not an easy place to live. He said people couldn't do business and were starving. He asked me if I knew what the word "Embargo" meant. I nodded slightly, hoping he wouldn't ask for an exact definition. I told him my Dad fought in the war and still struggled because of it. He looked me right in the eye. He told me to NEVER EVER ask my Dad about things. He told me to just let him be.

He said thousands of people tried to escape by boat to the United States. He said he lived in the city. He had never been near the water. But had tried and tried to escape. After twelve times he got caught and put in prison for one year at the tender age of fourteen. He had determination. On his thirteenth try, he made it out.

I wanted to grab his shoulders and yell, "Tell me more!" He looked at me very serious and said,

"My story would amaze you."

Well! That was too much. Cough it up, I told him. He joked and said I would have to come back to hear the rest. I told him I would get a whole set of fake nails if that is what it would take. Cindee explained to him that I liked to write and a good story was too much for me to bear. He put my right foot up on the towel and started on my left. I hate my toes. They aren't cute. I apologized for that fact. And for the fact that my legs were hairy. I didn't shave that morning. I didn't know I was going to get a pedicure. He waved me off. I guess he had seen a lot. And my ugly toes and hairy legs didn't phase him in the least.
This man had really lived......

He talked quietly.... When he got on the boat there was a mean man sitting there. He took every one's food and water before they stepped aboard. This boat wasn't made of steel. It was a canoe. A canoe built for 70. But there were 141 people in it. He was alone. No family. No friends. Just a fourteen year old boy, about the face the whole ocean by himself. That's how bad it was in Vietnam, he said. And thousands upon thousands perished trying to reach our shore. He told us about one woman who was a sole survivor in her boat. They found her barely alive, floating on a piece of wood with the leg of a man next to had sustained her long enough for them to rescue her....55 days.  But they sent her back, afraid she would want to continue to eat people....after all of that.

It took his boat six days to cross the ocean. He pointed out how lucky he was it didn't take longer. Or that they didn't get lost. He looked at Autumn and told her to imagine the scariest movie she has ever seen. Then take that feeling in her stomach and times it by 100. He said the water was BLACK it was so deep. Then his eyes widened and he asked her if she had ever seen a fish FLY??!! He said it was just wrong. Fish shouldn't fly!!! And when the sun went down it was terrible. It was so dark. It seemed like forever before the sun came back.

Throughout his story I kept asking him the same question over and over.


But he wouldn't answer me. He just wouldn't. I told him I was so angry they took his water bottle. Cindee reminded me there were no water bottles back then. I then asked him if it was TORTURE being surrounded by water and not able to drink. I asked him if he found water the second he hit land. I posed the question about his thirst in every possible way I could think of.
No answer. He wouldn't go there.

He finished my pedicure with my promise of two things.
1) I would read about the Boat People.
2) I would come again.

Yes and Yes! If Dave risked his life crossing that ocean, the least I could do is allow him to paint my nails. In fact, I felt honored.

 I now look down at my toes and do not lament their lack of cuteness. I don't admire the nice color of polish I chose.

I think of my son Beau. I imagine taking him to Bellingham Bay and putting him in a rugged canoe. I imagine taking all of his food and water and pushing him into the current. Praying he finds his way to the other side. What would the chances be that he would survive, and what would he have to face either way? How could things be that bad that someone would risk that? What kind of strength did it take to endure that?

I don't know...but I admire the Boat People. I am sad for those that didn't make it. I am thankful for those that did.

And as for flying fish....I hope I never have to witness that one.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Introducing Havensong.....

I am trying to properly form the words that are in my heart. I have been waiting for five years for our little girl to come home from China, but she has been in my heart much longer than that.

I had the privilege of spending a lot of time with a dear family while I was in High School. They had adopted the sweetest, most beautiful little girl from Korea. I was so taken with her. Her smile melted my heart, and her adorable laugh made my day. She was a blessing to everyone around her. I truly felt that there couldn't be anything cuter in existence. She even had a birthmark shaped like a tiny pink heart. I loved all of the fun times I spent with her and her family. I knew that I would one day also adopt.

Our paper work was logged for our adoption on September 13th, 2006. As most of you know, China adoptions have slowed down for various reasons. This has resulted in a very long wait. Rules were starting to change, and our paper work was starting to expire. I wondered if this would ever really happen. I began to question things. But I felt God had put her in my heart so long ago, and she had been tucked safely there all this time. Just as snug and cozy and real as my other children were in my womb.

We made the decision to switch to the Special Needs program. Our agency had become certified in November to represent special need children so we had a new option. I got a call from our agency while we were on Friday Harbor in the San Jaun Islands. We were sitting there with our friends eating ice cream by the water. I didn't know that after that phone call my life would forever change. They told us about a 7 month old little girl who was available. She was on the Special Needs list because she was very small. She was measuring in the less then 5%. They asked if we were interested. We asked them to send her information and her photo. I marched into a store that same minute and bought a charm necklace with the kids' names on it, including Haven. I felt she was the one. I just knew it. I wasn't even afraid to hope. That's how sure I was.

We didn't receive her info until the next morning. When I saw her serious little face in the photo I got chills. She was so cute. So small. So mine.

We didn't know her name yet. We were waiting for that still, along with her medical file. Autumn and I have a book we like to read. In the book is a Chinese girl named Song. I always thought I would love it if our baby could be named Song. It sounds so pretty. When the director called to say he sent the file I told him how happy I would be if her name could be Song. That it would mean this was the little girl God set aside. I clicked the file and it said

Song Zihan

I couldn't believe my eyes. I knew that despite the fact that the timing of this was a bit overwhelming, that she was for us. I laughed out loud all day. Is God really THAT GOOD?

Evidently He is...because we said yes. China sent the pre-approval in four days. We received the official referral today. I told the kids to watch out for the Fed Ex truck because I HAD to take  picture of the them delivering the package. I was doing dishes when Chase and his friend, Wes came running in with the letter.

"NOOOOO!!!" I yelled and grabbed it. I lept down the steps to stop the driver. She stopped and climbed out of her truck.
"I need a picture of you! Please!" I said.
She looked skeptical.
"You are sort of like the stork!" I explained.
"Well, not really the stork, but maybe like the ultra-sound guy" I went on...
"Not that women don't perform ultra-sounds..I didn't mean that..." She nodded.
"You have just brought me my baby from CHINA. She is in this envelope!  And I think I am supposed to take your picture with it....Thank you!"

I took the picture and she told me she understood. She said she delivers real little babies in a box to In Vitro parents. She said she even says hello to two of them on a regular basis because they are now three and five.

I promised her I would bring Havensong out to meet her. Oh...I forgot to tell you! We are going to keep both of her names. We just made it one. I think it is beautiful! And she will be here next month....

And I have tears streaming down my cheeks just thinking about it....

Havensong...  <3


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Well, they ARE Walla Walla onions!

We all know that Burgerville is the best fast food money can buy. When I say this people like to throw in their two cents about  how In-N-Out burger is way better. I just shake my head in amazement. I then ask them if they have ever had a Burgerville cheeseburger with extra spread. They say No. I just look at them sadly.

I like that Burgerville uses range fed beef, raised with no antibiotics or hormones. They compost their waste products. They use 100% wind power for all their chains and headquarters. They allow bicyclists to use the drive through window and their slogan is "Choose Fresh, Local, Sustainable. Choose Burgerville." I don't know how they do it, but those cheeseburgers have a unique taste I have yet to see duplicated or matched. Their veggie burgers are amazing, and that is a rare find.

But high quality comes at a price.  I took my brother-in-law there a while back and when they told him his total, he asked where the white table cloths and candles were. Still, when I am in town, I never miss it.

Scott took all of the kids to see a movie the other night. Jodi and I found ourselves alone so we decided to go get Burgerville. We each ordered a cheeseburger basket with onion rings. We also ordered my nephew two cheeseburgers. It came to $20.00. I thought she read it wrong. We got to the window and I asked her how it could possibly be that much. She just glared at us. I asked her if there were diamond rings included. She said it was $3.00 more to upgrade to onion rings. But they are just onions I pointed out. "WELL, THEY ARE WALLA WALLA ONIONS," she told me. I told her I have grown onions out of the ground and they are not that rare or priceless. Jodi handed her my debit card. She tried to take it from her but Jodi held on. They had a little tug-of-war before Jodi gave in. The manager came over to oversee this little transaction. I asked if we could get less onion rings to bring down the price. He said they were $1.50 per ring! So I took two off. He walked away angry, the girl helping us couldn't figure out how to change the order. "Oh just leave it, I don't want to be high maintenance" I said.(haha) While we waited Jodi told her how sorry we were for making her feel responsible for the high price of onions. She admitted  to us it was a daily hurdle to explain to people why Walla Walla's were so expensive. It got old, she told us.

When our order came out it was missing onion rings. The manager said, "You said you only wanted THREE not FIVE!" I calmly told him we didn't want to be difficult, so we left it as is. He stomped off with his tongs to collect four more rings. "Don't worry," she said. "They are HUGE!"

I told Jodi that they couldn't be THAT expensive. Jodi suggested we swing over to WinCo to see how much they were per pound. Just for kicks. We marched over to the onion display. $1.28 per pound. Each onion weighed about one pound. Just as we could get a lot of rings out of one Walla Walla.

We were taking pictures of me and the onions when  a guy strolled up with his plastic bag. Other people were wondering what the big deal was. You usually don't think of Walla Walla onions as something exciting. We stopped and stepped aside so the guy could get his onions.
"No go ahead," he told us.
 "No, no, go ahead, I don't want you to watch while I get my picture taken with these onions," I said.
I then went on to say that we had a really good reason for doing this. He said he was sure we did. He then started choosing his onions. "You know, these are the best onions you can buy," we told him. He smiled. I then went on to tell him the WHOLE story of our Burgerville trip and how we came to be here, taking pictures for my blog. I told him to google MY KITE DREAM and he would see it was the truth. I asked if he wanted to be in the picture. He said, "Don't involve ME in this." It was too late. Jodi snapped a picture while I was expaining away.

We laughed about it all the way home. We told Scott and my Dad about it. All we got were courtesy laughs. We were told, "I guess you had to be there." But we didn't agree. We thought it was hilarious. My nephew told us were were strange. Jodi asked him, "Who would actually go take pictures with onions at WinCo?!"

"Nobody," he said. Well, there you have it. That in itself is funny.

Oh, and the onion rings really were worth it.