Sunday, August 16, 2009

Returning to China for those whose home country is elsewhere must always have strong sensations associated with it. There are smells and sounds and sights that are so particular to this place and can overwhelm you with their reality when you are flung back into their presence. For me these past two weeks, they included some of the following: the sound of a xiao (chinese flute) being played by an elderly man as I ran along the ocean path early one morning, the pungent odor of feces and garbage accentuated by the oppressive heat as I walked to the store, a mini van slowing down to my walking speed and following me for several minutes simply in order to stare at me- a waiguoren (foreigner), fresh steamed vegetables and jiaozi with rice for dinner!, the smiling face of our ayi and her genuinely delighted hugs and kisses for the kids upon our return, pushing my cart through hoards of sweaty crowds as I fought with pushy old ladies to get my vegetables weighed at the grocery store, a broken air conditioner.

But for all the beautiful, easy, convenient things I miss about life in the States, there are many things I love and appreciate about the people and pace of life here in China. I love the simplicity of our schedule and the close fellowship we share with our friends. I love the cheap food and the fact that I'm forced to make many more things by hand. I love the friendliness of the people and the way they love children and the fact that I feel safe most of the time. I am grateful that because life is not easy for so many around me, it forces me to think about my own life and the life of others in a different way.

The days continue to resume a bit more normalcy and routine. Riley started school last week. Sadie began sleeping through the night again. I was able to stay awake past 7:30pm. Chinese lessons start again in a couple weeks and I'm reinvigorated to start studying again. On our flight back to China, after finishing a bowl of yogurt, Riley looked up at me with his empty bowl and said "Mom. meiyou (meaning " have none"). My Chinese is back!"

I don't know the secret to contentment, though I did read a great book on it by the Puritan Thomas Watson once. He had some excellent pastoral ideas, but not the magic potion:) There is something simple about doing the thing before you that you believe God has given you to do though. And for us, that is being in this place. In spite of all that is not ideal (is there any ideal place though really?), I continue to find peace and contentment here. It's almost surprising to me and maybe even moreso that it continues! So, the return to the Far East is bagged. I'm glad to be back and ready to embrace the ridiculous humidity, obnoxious stares, and funky smells. I think it helps that I snuck back a few goodies from Target too. Here's to being content wherever in the world it is God places you.

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