Saturday, August 28, 2010

From Caffeine Free Diet Coke to Ling Du.

Today is Elisabeth and mine's one year Chinaversary!  We left San Francisco a year ago today with our hearts in our throats, tears in our eyes and excitement in our hearts.  Paul followed a few weeks later, after taking care of some house details in Missouri.
As our plane flew over Shen Yang and I saw the lights of the city, I felt fear.  I thought "We have made a big mistake."  I wanted to turn around and go back to the familiar and safe.
Yet year I woke up at 4AM with our sweet little foster baby and now at 10:30 PM am up waiting for Elisabeth to get back from a leadership retreat in Tianjin, I know it was not a mistake.  Our Father has been with us through and through.
It's been a year since I have driven.  A year since I have been in a Target.  I have been in a WalMart once! In the last year, I have gone from zero Chinese to being able to have simple conversations.  When a someone asks me a question, more often than not, I know what they are asking me. I can read 3 out of 5 characters on the worship powerpoint at fellowship.  I just sing the ones I know!
 Paul's Chinese has improved dramatically- I will never catch up to him.
I've seen Elisabeth grow and thrive at a new school with new friends.  She has shown  a maturity that amazes and is just so fun to be around.
I've seen our family grow closer.  I've seen fatigue and culture stress make us snap at each other and have unreasonable arguments.  I've learned to bargain and to understand prices.  I've adapted to drinking Ling Du (Coke zero) instead of Caffeine Free Diet coke.
We have made friends here- Chinese friends, foreign friends.  People who will be friends for life.  People I respect and admire more than I can even say.
I've seen cruelty here and self centeredness.  I've seen generosity and kindness.  There are days when China feels like magic and days when I think I'll go stark raving mad from the bureaucracy.
Many days I want to speak Chinese but I don't want to learn Chinese.   The time and energy spent learning language is enormous!
I discovered this poem on a blog and I love it!  It's by Mary Oliver.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

We've been given this "wild and precious" life here and I am so thankful.  I am so thankful for all who make it possible for us to be here.  I am so thankful for those who follow us, read the blog, send us notes, come and visit us.  I am thankful for the privilege of serving and living here. I am thankful for the One who called us to this life, the message that He has and the privilege of living here to serve him.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Happy Chinaversary! Elisabeth mentioned how you all came one year ago while we were in Tianjin. She also was remembering being in the airport one year ago when you first arrived in Shenyang. :)

I totally understand the desire to know Chinese but how difficult it is to actually learn and study it! It's my forever conflict here.

Your work with john is incredible! I couldn't believe how much better he looked the other day when we were leaving for the retreat! Great job! The father is so good.

Elisabeth was great at the retreat. She stepped up in a great way and it was awesome to see their team bond and grow closer through their sessions and team building exercises. You must be very proud of your daughter!

I look forward to getting to know you and your family better during Year Two! :)