You'll have to pardon me if this post turns out to be a dead end, but I think we are onto something here. We had always planned to return to China on a Heritage Tour (through Lotus Travel) in 2012. After all, we just finished adding onto our house, we've had some amazing travel adventures, far more than we think we even deserve, and were going to just stay put for a while.
Inevitably, conversation with John turns to "where do you think we'll take the next big trip?" and at first it was summer 2010 we were talking about...15th anniversary trip to Mackinac Island perhaps?
All of a sudden, though, there we were at dinner, over yummy stir-fry, talking about our 2012 trip to China, where we would go (Beijing/Chongqing/Hainan Island/Shanghai) and John suddenly says "you know, we could go next year over Christmas."
And you know, it feels right. JieJie will be 8, MeiMei 7. Old enough to start to understand, young enough to listen to Mom and Dad a bit longer. We would leave at the end of our university's exams, the girls would miss some school but not much, we would celebrate Christmas in Beijing ("would Santa be able to bring the gifts there?" is JieJie's main concern), go to Chongqing long enough to see the city and each girl's orphanage, then have some downtime on Hainan Island, which is supposed to be just beautiful, and finish up in the excitement of Shanghai before returning home to the spring semester. Yeah, it means we give up that between-semester recuperation time, but this is something we have known we would do for a long time.
So...I think it's time to start looking into ways to raise funds for each girl's orphanage so that when we visit we can bring a proper gift...believe it or not, there are still children's homes that lack proper water filtration systems for the water they use to make formula. Can you imagine the difference between boiling all kinds of water to make all of those bottles, vs. simply turning on a faucet? We simply can't show up empty-handed, but the first thing to do is ask what the most pressing needs are at Fuling and Liangping so that we are truly able to do some good.
But is it possible that a year from now we could be looking at applying for visas for a heritage tour to China? I'm quite excited at that proposition. Oddly enough, was just reading an article in The Atlantic about air pollution in China, the gist of which was yes, it's bad; you'll get over it ; worry about something more important. Just need to lay in a stock of Throaties for Beijing--that was some of the worst air I've ever breathed!
I'll keep you updated..