Well, we're home! I'm feeling the effects of jet lag tonight, but here's a quick update. I hope it makes sense! Our last evening in Guangzhou we went on a dragon boat cruise of the Pearl River with some other Holt families. It was amazing and one of the highlights of our trip. The boat was beautiful, and our guide made arrangements so that we could sit on the top deck. The buildings and bridges are all lit up, and we cruised past Guangzhou Tower, which is the tallest building in China. The lights on the tower change color and it is so cool to watch!
Wednesday morning we packed everything (again), spent the last of our Chinese money, and ate lunch at the Deli Shop near the White Swan hotel. They have amazing ham and cheese buns -- we ate them two days in a row! We met our guide at 3:00 and drove by the US Consulate to pick up Amelia's passport with visa on the way to the train station. Praise the Lord that it was ready on time with no problems. We got to the train station plenty early and waited with our guide. She was very helpful with buying our tickets, arranging for a porter to help with our luggage, and telling us what to do when it was time to board the train. We had to go through customs and immigration since we were leaving mainland China for Hong Kong. The train ride was pleasant, and we arrived in Hong Kong around 8:00. Another guide met us at the station, helped us with our bags, and had a van to take us to the Regal Airport Hotel. Wow! This was by far the nicest hotel we stayed in; too bad we were only there for twelve hours. The rooms were huge and it smelled fresh and clean -- a nice change after the musty feeling of our hotel in Guangzhou.
Thursday morning we walked from the hotel through an enclosed walkway to the airport. We had decided a couple of days before to purchase a ticket for Amelia, and the very helpful United agent moved all of our seats so we could all sit together. We are so glad we had that extra seat, because Amelia slept about half of the fourteen-hour flight in it! Once again, it was L-O-N-G, but everyone traveled well, and we made it to Chicago! As soon as the plane landed, Amelia became a US citizen. We had to go through immigration, customs, hand over her visa packet, go through security, and Mark had to check in for the last flight because of some computer error in Hong Kong that wouldn't let him check in for both flights at once. We made it to our gate with just enough time to grab some dinner. All three kids slept on the flight to Peoria.
What a welcome sight it was to see many family and friends there to greet us! We are so thankful for our church's orphan ministry and for the support we have had all along this journey! It was a blessing to be met with signs, balloons, hugs, and smiles from so many people! We got to our own sweet home around 7:30, approximately 24 hours after beginning the trip. Amelia loved exploring the house and even climbed our whole staircase by herself. She evidently had not seen grass before, as she resolutely refused to walk on it and cried when we tried to set her down in it!
We are so grateful to the Lord for how smoothly everything went during our trip. We had NO problems at all with travel, connections, finding our various guides, any paperwork, or sickness. Praise God, and THANK YOU to all who prayed for us so faithfully! It was a great experience, and now we are happy to be home again!