Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City
Today was full of tours and history lessons. First we visited Tiananmen Square. Our guide explained that the name means Heaven, peace and gate but most of us have very different thoughts of what Tiananmen Square represents.
We then walked over to The Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was the home of past emporors. Construction began on the building in 1406 and it took 10 years to complete. Twenty four different emporers lived in the Forbidden City until it was overthrown in 1911. In 1925 it was opened to the public as a museum. Just outside the main entrance is a large picture of Chairman Mao. He was the first president of China. Our guide explained that the people here look see him as God. Many keep his picture in their home or cars for protection and blessings. The first thing that came to mind when I heard this was the commandment that says "Thou shall not have any other Gods before me" but of course the people here are not Christian and Bibles are not allowed.
Yesterday on the bus our guide was explaining how the population control policies work. She explained that a woman must get permission from the government to get pregnant. This permission sometimes takes 6-12 months to be granted. We asked what happens if the woman gets pregnant before the approval comes through or if she is single and she quickly said "you get rid of it". Wow...I haven't heard our bus so quite since we have been here. I think we were all in shock at how casually she answered the question and how acceptable abortion obviously is here. She said unwed mothers are just not heard of. I think we will all hold our babies a little tighter when we get them. Thank God Brea's birthmother loved her enough to choose life for her. Every child is a miracle and a blessing but somehow hearing those words makes us feel doubly blessed.
We had the opportunity to spend some time talking with a doctor from the UK who is here working for 3 months for the International SOS hospital. One of the many topics that came up was HIV and Aids in China. We were curious about the number of infected individuals since this is such a huge city and they are obvious "ladies of the evening" readily available. (We even got a business card under our hotel room door last night!) We were shocked to learn that the hospitals and doctors are required by law to report any patient who tests positive to the local police. The authorities then give that person 4 hours to leave the country. We asked where they are sent or go and he said "anywhere but here". We also learned that in some Chinese hospitals it is not uncommon to reuse supplies including needles which means something as simple as a flu shot could put you at risk. You'll be happy to know that the International SOS operates using Western standards and only uses sterile supplies that are disposed of after one use. I know it sure made me feel better.
I going to include a few pictures of everyday life here in China. One of which is of ladies dancing with fans. This group of ladies was doing this in the local park last night as their work out. We came across them as we were coming home from Silk Street. It is our understanding that this is very common.
Tomorrow is Gotcha Day and I must admit that Danny and I are feeling a bit like kids on Christmas Eve. We can't wait to hold the baby that we have waited so long for. Please pray for an easy transition for her. She has probably never seen Americans before or even a man before (most of the orphanage workers are female) so she will obviously be very frightened. Life in an orphanage is not what anyone would choose for a child but it is all that Brea has known and she will go through a grieving process so the next few days could be tough.
Goodnight from Beijing, China!