Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Smiling.. It's My Favorite!

Smiling... It really is my favorite. I have seen how far a smile can go here, and it can carry a lot of weight.  I am hoping I can put into words just how much it means here.  There have been several times where a smile across the room has pierced my heart.  I do not know how else to explain it.

A couple of days after moving into our apartment, I had the opportunity to meet our next door neighbor.  There is a grandmother, a young couple, and a precious baby boy probably around 6 months old living there.  I was so excited that there was a baby next door because I felt for sure that baby could give me something to talk to the couple or grandmother about.  Anyways, this particular day,  I was hopping off the elevator coming home from a very tiring day at work, and the door to our next door neighbor's apartment was opened.  The baby was sound asleep in the grandmother's arms, but she ran to me with the baby.  I wasn't really sure what was happening or what  I should do, so I started telling her how precious, cute, adorable, etc he is.  Of course, I was speaking in English... she doesn't speak any English.  So, she did what she knew to do and spoke a long saga in Chinese.  Who knows what she said, but we both smiled big as she pushed the sleeping baby towards me.  I feel confident this is only the first of many conversations we will have.  I cannot wait to see how the relationship may develop out of two people who cannot understand one another, but can most definitely smile, and a pretty adorable baby.

This past week, I was walking out of the bookstore, and across the way, was a lady sweeping up the garbage in the mall.  I was pretty much doing my own thing, and when I looked up and across our eyes met, I smiled at her, and she slowly allowed a smile to creep upon her face.  What I don't understand about this smile is it did something to me... I have made eye contact and smiled at many, many other people, but there was something about this woman, something that shook me.  I cannot explain other than it was Him reminding me yet again of His purposes.  It was almost as if she is a "sister" and she knew I was one too, and we connected, and it was encouragement for my heart; or maybe it was something else all together.. but it was different. It was very similar to the lady that smiled at me from across the bus. There was just something more there than a smile.

So, I cannot speak Chinese, I am working on that, but I can smile, and a smile speaks all languages and many words. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Our "Little" City

So, it has been three weeks since we said goodbye to family and friends, boarded our plane to San Francisco where we would train for four days, being loaded up with all kinds of cultural information along with Word study and then boarded yet another plane which would begin our journey to what we now call our home.  When we arrived here, we were greeted by a few other "foreigners" (that is what we are called here) that we have so enjoyed getting to know and walk through this transition with.  It's nothing to be walking down the street and people pointing at you saying, "Foreigner" in Chinese.  We spent the first few days here exploring "our little city" of around 10 million people.  It is actually a city cut into three cities divided by the rivers that run through it, slightly bigger than Oxford.  We were pleasantly surprised by our apartment. It is pretty spacious and rather nice actually. We live a 5 minute walk to our school, but a 30 minute bus ride into the city. Cody and I both immediately had a very strong desire to learn the language. We know it will be challenging, yet so rewarding. We realize that to effectively be among the people, we must know their language.  Plus, it would just be really cool!  We have had some small victories since we have been here and we celebrate those.  Things like taking our first taxi or bus ride by ourselves, making quite tasty macaroni and cheese and alfredo from scratch.  These small things are what helps us to push forward and to continue to adapt to life here.  They may seem very small to you all, but to us, while living in an unknown land, they are everything!  With that being said, I have experienced a couple of  days of homesickness, days that would be much better if I could just go home. However, I know that is not the answer.  One particular morning, I begged Him to remind me yet again why I am living on this side of the pond and He did. We were riding the bus into town that morning and there was the most adorable, precious little ones sitting next to me. They would just smile and smile at me. Their smiles went straight to my heart. We were headed to a local fellowship, and it so warmed my heart to hear the people singing " I Surrender All," with everything they have.  These two things were all I needed to know my purpose, to feel it in my heart again, to be refreshed with the task before us.  Monday morning, we had to go to the hospital for a check up for our job.  It was very interesting to say the least.  I was a little concerned when  I received my paperwork that said we would have to visit the department of surgery and the department of internal medicines.  They sounded pretty scary to me, but actually they were just blood pressure and height and weight!  We were given strict orders not to eat before we came so I nearly passed out when they took my blood. All in all though it was not too bad of an experience.  We left the hospital and reported to work for the first time. Since then, we have spent the last couple of weeks sitting through meetings, writing lesson plans, and decorating classrooms. We have definitely had to make adjustments in just little things like cooking as I mentioned earlier or transportation, or the language, and I could go on.  We have chosen to celebrate and embrace those differences though.  And through them, I have already been learning :
1. I must rely and trust others to survive here. 
2. I am helpless. I cannot do it on my own.  I must lean on Him. 
3.  Even when not much around me is familiar, I have a Father who knows me and my heart better than I know myself.  He cares deeply for me and He promised that He would never leave me nor forsake me.  He has promised that He has gone before us and prepared the way.  He promised that He has great plans for us.  And I will choose to cling to His Truth.  I was reminded of His great love and desire for me when one evening I was desperately wanting to talk to my family. I could not get the internet to work. I tried and tried.   I asked Him to please fix it so that  Icould communicate with them because I wanted to so badly.  He gently reminded me that He wanted to talk to me.  I was blown away that He would want to talk to me as much as I wanted to my family. I am so thankful to have such a personal Father. 


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Life as we now know it...

I know all of you out there have given up on the whole blog thing with us, but don't give up just yet.  We had some troubles getting internet set up in the begining, then a vpn, but all is well now (for the moment) so I can actually blog.  I feel like there is so much to say and I don't even know where to begin.  We absolutely love Wuhan.  We love the city, the people, our home, and our school where we will be working.  We truly feel blessed to be here, and we absolutely cannot wait to see all that is in store. I guess for the first post I'll just tell our story in pictures.  Hopefully, I can post more later. 

This is our last night in the States. While we were in training, we stayed at the Home of Peace in Oakland, CA.  Above is us outside the home, and below is us in San Francisco after our last Mexican dinner for a while!

Here's our new home! This would be our very tiny kitchen!

The rest of the apartment is rather spacious though.  These pictures were taken on day one in the middle of cleaning so it's nothing too cute or fancy.. yet! 

Our bedroom with the pretty bay window.

This is us with one of our teammates making homemade pizza... Yummy!

Our apartment complex.. we live in a "gated community" with guards and everything! Pretty Sweet!

Our bus cards get us anywhere we need to go.  We are about a 20-30 minute sweaty, crowded bus ride away from the city though.  Some how though I love the bus rides.  I love to take in the people, making the babies smile, and check out all that is happening around me.. including the traffic which is craziness!

Here we are riding the bus on the way to our first Chinese Opera! It was quite an experience, and rather enjoyable for the first 1 1/2 hours, but by the 2nd hour, we were all tired of loud clanging things, and ready for bed!

Well, there we are loving life in China.  I will post details later! 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Day One Down... Many More to Come!

I decided to pack Maeli and Staci instead of clothes. I figured I could always buy clothes in China, but those two are irreplacable!

Our flight to San Francisco!

Here I am standing with ALL of our luggage waiting on our ride at San Francisco airport! It sure does take a lot to move to China!Everyone was staring at us as we kept grabbing another piece of luggage off the baggage claim.

We've had a long, exhausting day. It was hard to say goodbye or "see ya later" like I like to say, but we have been blessed. We are so excited to see what he has in store.  We've already learned so much at training, and know there will be much more to learn.  Here's a PRAISE! Cody was supposed to have to go to Hong Kong in October to get the correct visa in October, which was going to be pretty costly, and for some reason, he was given the correct visa in the first place! YAY! 

Thanks for your love and support. We are so grateful for each of you. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sometimes life just throws you a curveball...

I've said that very statement quite often over the last week.  It began last Thursday morning when we received word that Cody's grandmother died in a car wreck. She was going to turn 80 years old next month. She was a woman of faith, and I am confident she would've been one to lift Cody and I up a lot over the next year. However, now, she has a great view and can be among the crowds around the throne upstairs cheering us along as we run the race here on Earth.  We were really blown away when we received news on Wednesday that Cody needed one more class to graduate. Cody had checked with the Registrar's office back in June, and he was told everything was good to go.  Unfortunately, that was not true.  I know that through circumstances like these I can truly say, "his power is made perfect in my weakness."  Connections were made that afternoon, that allowed Cody to start a class the next day in order for him to still graduate in August.  My mom had shared our news with her co-workers to ask them to be lifting us up in this situation, and then that evening, Mrs. Peggy decided to go McDonald's of all places, where she ran into a couple from our fellowship.  Mrs. Peggy told them of our situation, and we found out that their daughter helped a former student with a situation very similar to this one.  She is the Assistant Dean of the Engineering department, and was Cody's advisor when he was majoring in Engineering.  With her help, Cody will finish his class, and we will have his diploma in September!  This is not at all how we planned this week... I'm taking a break from packing while he makes a coffee maker for his Engineering class... You know, sometimes life just throws you a curveball.