Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sweden, Here We Come!

Summer plans are starting to take shape, and it's very promising indeed! I am taking a risk in some ways by making such a confident proclamation. Regular readers have no doubt noticed that we don't always end up going where we say we'll go. But I suspect that the trip idea/actual trip ratio for most travelers is anything but 1-to-1. for us I think it's about 3/1. Still, the odds of us taking the trip I think we're going to take this summer are pretty good!

Proposed Itinerary for the Globetrekker Heritage Tour, made possible in part by the Volvo Overseas Delivery Program:

+/- June 14: fly to Goteborg, Sweden to take delivery on a Volvo (model TBA...Volvo of Charlottesville is sending brochures for the S80, XC90 and Cross Country wagon).

amorphous itinerary from then on: tour the area around Sunne, Sweden where my great-great-grandfather Nils is from. Possibly meet distant, distant relatives. Drive down to the crossing to Copenhagen, tour Denmark, where John's Oma was born. Visit Kiel, Germany where John's Opa was born. See a bit more of Germany, work our way down to Antwerp, visit friends there, scoot up to Amsterdam/Mijdrecht to visit friends, and then go home and enjoy the rest of the summer.

In retrospect, I'm so thankful that we just couldn't settle on a car or any summer plans last fall, and I'm glad we didn't settle for a car that we weren't truly excited about. The stars have aligned and now our purchase of a second vehicle is going to make a great trip possible! Cue the celestial choir! Let's hear it for paying attention to a gut feeling.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Happy Year of the Rat!

from John, Louise, JieJie & MeiMei Globetrekker

the picture is of the character "fu" which means happiness and good luck. At the lunar new year, it is hung upside down (as above) because the expression "upside down" in Mandarin sounds like "is coming."

Monday, February 04, 2008

On a More Serious Note: China snow & ice

Hi all,

First, let me say the four of us are doing fine, no major news compared to what I’m writing about. JieJie is looking forward to her 6th birthday party, which will be in a party room at our area’s Children’s Museum and will have a “dog” theme. No particular dog, just dogs in general. MeiMei will try her hand as Official Photographer with a disposable camera, which we’ve found to be a very effective thing to have the Not-Birthday-Girl sister do. (JieJie’s b-day is March 9th).

Now to the news. You may have noticed news items here and there about the terrible, terrible winter China is having, the worst in 50 years. Snow shut down the port of Shanghai a few days ago, one of the busiest in the world—and at the same latitude as South Carolina! Beijing is dealing with terrible road conditions, snow and ice, with interruptions in food supplies and power. To make matters worse, millions and millions of people are trying and trying and trying to get home and see family during the upcoming Lunar New Year, a ten-day-long period beginning this Thursday that for many people represents the only time during the year when they can take off from work and make the long trip home by bus or train. Imagine being a migrant worker and leaving your wife and children with your parents, going to the city to find work, and the desperation of knowing that if you can’t get home now, it will be another year before you see them again. Lunar New Year is like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Easter (spring festival) and the 4th of July (fireworks!) all rolled into one, and there are usually parties and feasts every day. A week or so ago, the Guangzhou train station was mobbed with 800,000 people all trying to get on trains that weren’t running because of the snow and ice and power outages, and the police were called in to quell the panic. The government is now urging people to stay put as they release emergency food stores to stave off a looming humanitarian crisis.

And the orphanages have been impacted. Because of the snow, many of the caregivers—who also care for the elderly in these “Social Welfare Institutes” for the young and old—have long ago given up on their new year holiday. And because of the unpredictability of travel, many are staying 24 hours a day at the SWI.
Because of power outages, water pumps are not working and the orphanage staff
are carrying water by hand in addition to all of their normal duties.
In one instance, the local government allowed the fire company to supply water with trucks because the situation was desperate. Many of the buildings in the more southerly locations don’t have heat, because they don’t usually need it. At an orphanage where my friend’s daughter was cared for, three babies in fragile health have already died, despite the best efforts of the nannies. What we have heard from Fuling is that the rooms in their new building all have heat, but that many people in the surrounding areas, including some families of the nannies, are suffering in the cold.

We hope and pray that the weather warms and the situation doesn’t get any worse.
There IS something you can do, however.
You’ve often seen me mention a group called Half the Sky Foundation, and they are on the ground in China delivering supplies like diapers, formula, and heaters to orphanages in need. Our adoptive families group is going to set up a donation bucket at our New Year party this Sunday night to collect donations. If you would like to donate, or would like to see more information about the number of orphanages impacted by the severe winter storms, here’s a link to the Little Mouse Emergency Fund.

Please help!

You can search FTJ for past posts, e.g. China info...