They were so thrilled to see that he can walk and run, and had him walk around to show them his feet. When they last saw him (he was about one year old) he still had not had surgery, so they were so happy to know that he was doing so well.
Many people made sure to be at the orphanage when they learned to Eli was coming. He made a strong impression on them when he was a baby with his big personality and his belly laugh! The assistant director came back from a meeting and she ran over to hug him. She was the person who handed him to us seven years ago on this exact day, June 23rd!!
The director also came, and shared some details about the day Eli was found.
We shared gifts and photos with everyone and Eli and Em played a song on the piano for the group.
We wanted to look around the orphanage (officially the Hepu Children's Welfare Institute) and visit the kindergarten school, but there are strict rules about visitng and the director said that we couldn't go into the other areas. We saw a few older children around the place, but no younger kids. They told us they have about 30 kids there right now, most with special needs. We were able to drive over to the Foster parents home and meet their son, who lives with them with his wife and son. Eli got his wish of riding on a scooter in China, since his Foster father took him for a little drive!
We then asked to take everyone to lunch and had the best meal we have eaten on our trip so far!
Eli loved getting to know the grandson and he and Em were playing around with him after our lunch. He was so cute and was talking with all of us and dancing/galloping around he room.
We wish that we had had more time to stay in Hepu and look around, but our guide and driver had to get back to Beihai, so we left around 3:00. So we said our goodbyes and got contact information with everyone. We were able to get connected with the assistant director and hopeful their son on We Chat, which is a great way for us to share photos and information.
Back in Beihai, we hit the beach to collect shells since we had heard that a typhoon was coming! The waves were really rolling in at that point, so we dipped our feet, collected shells, and drew a huge crowd, who took photos with us. Tom and I were both approached by at least 15 people. It's funny and totally overwhelming. We have been here for three days though, and have not seen any other Caucasian people, so we realize why we seem so strange! Two other cool things we came upon on our walk, were the boats of the Danmin people, who had pulled them off the sea for the typhoon we imagine. Amazing handmade boats, with scraps of great old wood. So beautiful! I could hear several people pounding and repairing down the row. I got some shocked stares here for sure!
The other cool thing we saw were cows, grazing in the park, just roaming free! We don't know who they belonged to, but there they were nibbling along the path.
The kids have a huge shell collection now, and we happily made it back before the huge downpour. The typhoon was very mild here and we are happy that we will be able to make our train and plane back to Beijing this morning.
Eli is very much at peace to have met all of the people who cared for him and to have seen the area where he came from. He has been a chatterbox since the minute we left and processing lots of information. We know this place will hold great memories for him until we visit again.