Stromberg's Adoption Dream

The journey to our little girl in China

Archive for the month “January, 2014”

On to Zhengzhou

Lars here. Apologies for the delay in posts. We’ve been traveling, searching for internet connections, and planning for our big day tomorrow.

After an awesome (and wicked spicy) hot pot dinner last night we finally had a reasonably normal night of sleep for the first time on the trip. We packed our bags from the days of being tourists in Beijing and set our sights toward the real reason for our visit. We said good bye to our dear hosts in Beijing – our tour guide Alice and our CCAI host Cecelia. We’re very thankful for them.


We flew from Beijing to Zhengzhou, another big city but not as flashy. After meeting our new hosts and settling in to to our new hotel, we traveled to Walmart (yes, Walmart) to get some final needed supplies. After one more meal, our 6 couples headed back to get some rest for the big day tomorrow.

And of course, my sweet wife created a beautiful space in our room for dear Lydia. In about 12 hours, she will be in our arms, and we can’t wait. We look forward to sharing photos and video tomorrow of the big day. Thanks for the constant prayer. We feel it!


The Very Big Wall

Today we awoke to another beautiful, sunny day. We layered-up and prepared for our ‘hike on the Great Wall’ as our CCAI reps called it. A hike, how nice, I thought. We arrived at the section of the wall we would be climbing. We were told we could go right or left. Right would get us to higher elevation quicker. And being my mother’s daughter, I went with the view. Always go with the view. So right, we went. And about five minutes into the ‘hike’ I thought, hmmm, now where is that inhaler I brought with me? Hmmm…back in the hotel room with the rest of the pharmacy of ‘what-if’ medications we lugged half-way across the world. Onward I climbed, stopping to rest and get some water along the way. We met tower after tower, climbing to the top of one. Well worth the effort. And will we feel it tomorrow? Oh, yes, we will be hurting. But oh, the views!

20140111-221642.jpg20140111-223415.jpg20140111-223509.jpg20140111-223649.jpg20140111-223743.jpg20140111-224001.jpg<img src="" alt="20140111-224018.jpg" class=" alignnone size-full” />20140111-223928.jpg

And Coffee to celebrate our climb!

After our ‘hike on the wall’, we toured a copper factory nearby and learned a bit about traditional Chinese copper-work and firing techniques. It was in many ways a tourist trap, but the artistry was pretty amazing and we enjoyed watching a man make paper-cut artwork and even purchased a couple pieces for Lars’ office. We ate lunch at the store/factory, which was more like American Chinese food.


Then I was thrilled by a little addition to the itinerary. Earlier in the day I had asked the CCAI reps if we would be able to participate in a traditional tea ceremony. I wanted to learn more about tea and it’s place in Chinese culture, and I figured it was worth asking. So I was excited when the reps posed the addition of a visit to a local tea house to our itinerary for the day. The group was up for it and it was a beautiful experience. We learned about Oolong tea, Jasmine tea, Puer tea and Lychee black tea. The ceremony was truly an artform and the tea was wonderful. In truth I doubt I will ever be able to make the tea like the tea house lady did, but I did learn which teas were my favorites, what their health benefits are, and at what temperature they should be enjoyed, etc. Very interesting.


We also visited the Olympic ‘Birds Nest’. And then finished the day with an incredible acrobatic show. Talk about sensory over-load! Today was FULL! I feel better acquainted with Chinese culture for-sure, but whoo…we are exhausted. Beijing culture is BIG and fast. BIG buildings, big apartment complexes, big traffic, big malls and hotels. Lots of lights and neon and hustle and bustle. But, honestly amidst the BIG-ness of it all, it feels very safe here in the city center. We have walked to restaurants at night and people are out and enjoying weekend-life, doing their corporate dance/exercises in the parks and enjoying good food.

Beijing is a fascinating place and if/when Liddy asks about it I will have much to tell her. So glad for a culturally FULL day like today.





We ended the day enjoying Chinese hot-pot dinner. More on that later. And now, our bags are packed ready to fly out around noon tomorrow. We are headed to Henan province, to Zhengzhou the capitol city, where we will settle-in to our hotel and prepare the room for Lydia’s arrival. Pray us on, to safe travels and a peaceful day of waiting. It will surely be a long day. One last day without Lydia. Just one.

To try or not to try?

Good Saturday morning from Beijing. This is Lars.

Last night, we had the opportunity to stroll the night market just blocks from our hotel. This market consists of a long block of food vendor set up under canopies with steaming grills and hot pots and skewers of raw food waiting to be cooked. Oh sure, there is chicken, pork, Peking duck, fruit and some sweets as well. But that’s not really why you go to this night market. You go for the scorpions, snakes, eels, spiders, sea urchins, and unmentionable animal parts on a stick.

Most of you know me as an adventurous eater with a deep respect for food and it’s role in culture. Over breakfast last morning, I was asked by a fellow adopter, So you’re going to be a daring eater right?. I answered Absolutely. In my adult life, I’ve hardly ever turned down food served to me, no matter how unappealing, and when visiting another culture the idea of eating at McDonalds makes me feel like an ugly American (though I’ll bend on Starbucks). So when this gentlemen John order two scorpions on a stick popped one in his mouth and offered me the other I was conflicted. It is clear that much of the market is tourist driven, locals don’t eat here. It’s more novelty than anything else. And I was imagining how happy Katie would be if I was retching the next two days because I ate dirty China street food. I declined. John ate the other. He’s the man. White flag.

Trying new things is a value to me, one that I desperately want to pass on to our children. An adventurous spirit is a beautiful thing. Well, some might say that this whole adoption is a crazy thing to try, something that will upset everything in life, something that has incredible unknowns, something that is so very foreign to the norm of life. Well, they would be right, but Katie and I have parents who taught us adventure, abandon, and radical obedience to God’s movement in their life. Katie’s family sold the house and moved to Africa because God had put it on their heart. My parents took new moves and jobs without assurances of success because they felt led. So here we are, carrying on a legacy that we pray will define generations of Stromberg’s as well.

We are certainly trying something new, and in order to be fully present for this crazy adventure, I’ll pass on the scorpion.



First Day in Beijing


Lars and I woke this morning, enjoyed a fairly American breakfast at the hotel and then headed out for some site-seeing. Here we are standing just outside Tian’anmen Square. Our guide was helpful as she shared some Chinese history and pointed out the various buildings surrounding the Square, including The Museum of Chinese History and The Great Hall of People.


Our next stop was to enter the outer gates of the Forbidden City. We walked and walked, surrounded by beautiful buildings established in the 15th century, during the Ming Dynasty. Incredible rooflines and stone streets and wonderful bronze statues. The city seemed to go on an on.








Lars and I under the ‘couple tree’ in the Emperors Garden.

What an incredible palace/city. Lars noted that we should try to view it from googleearth to try to understand the magnitude. We learned about various emperors who lived there, including those that came to power as small boys. Incredible stories. I was trying to remember all I had learned in Asian Civ. back in college. ūüôā

Then it was on to lunch. We went by rickshaw! A lovely way to travel. The alleys were filled with clothes drying, parked mo-peds and men playing cards. We arrived to a local family’s home. They use their living room as a restaurant for extra income. We enjoyed, spicy peanuts, garlic shoots, dumplings, bamboo root, pork meatballs and rice of course. It was delicious.





We have had a great day! We are getting to know the other couples in our group and tonight we will have dinner together and then explore the night market. Scorpions-on-a-stick here we come! Maybe…

I am thrilled to be here. I keep leaning over to Lars and saying, “We are in CHINA!” I can hardly believe the day has come. And though I’m very thankful for the couple days of site-seeing, and body-clock changing, I am ever so aware that Liddy is going about her day, a mere one hour plane ride, and two hour train ride from where I sit right now. We are so close. Three days Liddy, three short days! How I can love someone so much, someone I’ve never met, is amazing to me. But I do. What joy!

Are you ready?

Good morning from Beijing, Lars writing here.

We’re all taught from a young age that there are no dumb questions, and as a lifelong learner, I believe that this is true. But I have, however, been asked this question no less than two dozen times in the last 72 hours: Are you ready? And my first thought was, Well that’s a dumb question.

No, I’m not ready. Sitting on our hotel room, looking out the window at the most other-worldly place I can think of, trying to grasp the magnitude of these moments in the life of our family – no, I’m not ready.

But, to be honest it’s not in my nature to be altogether ready. I’m a responder, an in-the-moment king of guy. I’m not lazy, I prepare. But I’m not given to being detailed. It was Katie who packed most of our bags, who filed most of the paperwork, who thought through each moment. She is most certainly as ready as one of us could be.

My attempts at readiness are scattered and random in life. Oftentimes when I speak publicly, it’s from an outline with just enough information to have good content and appropriate space to go down another path in the moment if necessary.

So if I’m not ready, what am I?

One of my favorite musical artists Teitur (Faroean artist born Teitur Lassen) recently released his fifth major album entitled Story Music, a collection of folksy, random stories set to rather dramatic and complex music scores. The first track has the following lyrics:

Hopeful. I’m always going to be hopeful. Hopeful, that’s all, I am.

Sinc I first heard that track, these simple words have resonated with me. No, I’m not ready. But I’m hopeful. Maybe hopeful is all that I really am. I’m hopeful for holy moments half way around the world. Hopeful for whatever reaction my new daughter has to Katie and I. Hopeful that, in the end, God will superintend all of the details, upset our life, and change us all when we are unaware and unready.

Today, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Tea in a local home, slaying jetlag. More later


Landed in Beijing

We landed! After what ended up being almost a 15 hour plane ride, with very little sleep, we are here. The sun was setting as we landed and by time we got though customs with all of our bags (hurray!) it was dark. The CCAI representatives for Beijing are two wonderful ladies, one a professional tour guide and the other taking care of all CCAI arrangements.

We have met all but one family, and they are all lovely. Two couples from TN, one from Kansas, one from South Carolina and one still coming from FL. We are anxious to get to know them better.

Once we settled into our hotel, we went to a noodle restaurant and enjoyed a little dinner. We enjoyed some yummy dumplings, and watched the chef make noodles. Fascinating! Boys, it was just like the noodle shop in Kung Fu Panda. ūüôā And it’s true, that authentic Chinese food is nothing like American Chinese food. Different, but very good. Tomorrow, we will venture beyond dumplings, maybe we’ll go to the night market and try scorpion on a stick…maybe.

We’re off to bed. Trying to catch-up for our lost day in the sky.
So happy to be here. One day closer to meeting Lydia!
God is so good!


China Here We Come!

After a whirl-wind Christmas season that included all my family in town, multiple live-nativity Christmas Eve services, A great Christmas Day with Family, A memorial service to celebrate the life of my Grandpa Peterson, my Birthday, Tea at the American Girl Doll store, and a lovely day at Cov. Harbor with friends, the email came through. ¬†It was THE email. ¬†The ‘you can go to China and bring home your daughter’ email. ¬†I was in a store with some girlfriends, and hadn’t checked my phone in at least…5 minutes. ¬†And then there it was on the screen.

CCAI- Travel Approvals Received- Please Read & Respond!

I stood in the store, trying to read, as I was shaking! ¬†I cried. ¬†(of course) And then called Lars back at camp. ¬†I woke him from a much needed post-holiday nap, he was thrilled! ¬†We saw there were two options for when to leave Option 1 -January 8th And Option 2 – January 15th, depending on when they could schedule our consulate appt. Lars said, “Option 1!”

I replied to CCAI’s ¬†email, “Yes! Option 1!!!” ¬†That’s literally all I wrote. ¬†So flustered.

We got back to camp and told the boys. ¬†We were all giddy! ¬†Albin said, “Mom, I feel a thing in my throat. ¬†Like I want to laugh or cry or sumpin’. ¬†Maybe it’s God working in my heart because I’m so excited about Lydia.” ¬†Yep, Alby, it’s called, “getting choked-up”. ¬†Too precious! ¬†We had a lovely night with the kids and our friends playing games and having great conversation. ¬†We got up the next morning, ate some breakfast and got on the road home. ¬†Just as we were headed to Walmart, (to buy a changing table pad for Liddy) we got another email. ¬†This one said,

Consulate Appointment Confirmation!

AHHHHH! ¬†It was official. ¬†We would leave the 8th, meet Lydia on the 13th, have our consulate appt on the 23rd and return home the 26th. ¬†Wow. ¬†This was really happening. ¬†We went into Walmart, I found the changing pad I wanted…and some bottles, and some cups, and spoons, and, and, and…. ¬†Oh, my goodness! ¬†I responded to CCAI and our courier for Lars’ visa, which we had to wait to submit because of his occupation… ¬† I called family and our travel agency.

The rest of the day was a flurry of phone calls and emails and finally in the late afternoon, the tickets were booked.

This is happening! God is so good!  We are coming Lydia, Mommy and Daddy are coming!

Post Navigation