We leave tomorrow for Hong Kong. It's hard for me to believe that this leg of the journey is winding down. Mixed feelings for sure. China has been an experience. For a guy that is not what you would call "well traveled" it has been a baptism by fire. I've been looking out my hotel window at the lights of GZ (while eating a hot-fudge sundae for McDonald's LOL) and sorta saying my last goodbyes to a place that is a contradiction. Here (in China) you can walk out of a modern mall with all the trimmings- From Rolex to Levis and in 2 minutes be walking down a street that is like a scene from the movie Chinatown. Clothes hanging out to dry on rusty wires dangling above cobblestone streets filled with shirtless men gambling and smoking cigarettes. Carts of strange foods served on a stick. Steam rising from dilapidated manholes. An endless symphony of horns blowing, mandarin speaking, exotic music flowing from old dirty radios, and worn rubber bike tires taking a beating from the uneven pathways. This place is a photographer's shangri la. My Canon has taken a beating while here, but has pulled through. I could never capture the beauty of China, but I would love to have the opportunity to shot here again. It is amazing. A photograph waiting every couple of minutes. I have stood on the Great Wall and looked over the vast hazy mountains, walked the streets of Old Beijing, watched Buddhist pray to their idol in the temple of Guangzhou, visited Olympic Park, and been immersed in a culture that few westerners will ever have the opportunity to feel, smell, and see. The tour of the XX orphanage was life changing. I photographed what I could, but honestly, it was almost too emotional to shoot. I don't think it is a stretch to say that the conditions at our animal shelter in Corinth are more sanitary. It is hard for me to come to terms with the fact that my precious daughter had spent he life there. I wish all the children could be adopted. I truly believe that if people could only have a grasp of the conditions there, more children would gain families. But my photographs can't capture the unbearable heat and putrid smells. If anyone out there is on the fence about adoption, I hope you will realize the priceless gift that is yours to give to a child that has no hope. When I was walking through the crib room taking shots I saw someone from our group holding a tiny baby that was already blue. That moment wasn't made for photographs but prayer to God for this child. I didn't take a picture. I'm sure that precious soul is now with our Lord. At another orphanage, someone from our group looked into a crib only to see a deceased child. It could have been GiGi in that crib. I'm sure that we will never be the same. In a perfect world, I would love to travel to orphanages and try to capture the children in photos that would bring awareness and help children to be adopted. There are children all around the world that only want a family, life, and love. Maybe someday this what Niki and I will be able to do. Until then, I can use my words to advocate for these orphans, but as they say 'a picture is worth a thousand words'.
It has been an exhausting experience and I'm running out of steam. But we would do anything to hold GiGi. It still feels surreal that we are in this place and have our daughter. Thanks for keeping up with our story. I hope to write again soon- Phil