Perhaps you've gotten the idea from my most recent posts that I'm utterly dreading returning to China. But I surely can't ignore all the blessings that await us on the other side of the ocean. While the leaving is hard, it would be foolish of me to get lost in that. How providential it was for God to send a few sweet reminders of that over the past few days.
I'm sad to say that I haven't done the best job of keeping in touch with my local friends in China. I'm a bit afraid that when I contact them when we get back, their response will be, "Becky who?" Or I suppose it will be more like "Who Becky?" since in China, the family name goes first. Perhaps I'm just a distant memory to many of them now. So it was very encouraging to receive an email the other day from one of my best friends, Lisa. She was my first friend and won me over by telling me I looked like Meg Ryan. Not even remotely true but endearing nonetheless. When I told her we were returning soon, she called it a "Christmas miracle."
I also wandered across an old blog post I wrote last February as we were preparing to leave. It made me remember that I really did like my China home, my China friends, and my China life. It is a good thing to be returning to. Here's what I had to say all those many moons ago:
So I'm leaving China now with a somewhat heavy heart. Sure, we're looking forward to family, friends, Jason's Deli, Blue Bell, and the convenience of American life. But when I think of China life now, I don't think of the difficulties that it often includes. I think of the people & places that I love here.
Friends like this who welcomed Kevin into their home almost every week since we arrived here and who patiently helped him improve his Chinese. And who gave our kids their first "hong bao," which is a red envelope with money inside that children receive during Spring Festival.
Friends like this who used to bless me by helping me out around the house but now bless me by loving on my boys and giving me an crate of dozens of apples shortly before I leave the country. (Fear not...we managed to eat them all!)
Friends like this who make my babies smile.
Friends like this whose enthusiasm & animation about life are infectious and who can replicate American pizza pretty darn well.
And friends like this who will sit on my couch and really share their life with me. It's an amazing thing when hearts can truly connect across culture & language.
I'm thankful that I captured those sentiments because it's so very easy for the pessimist in me to control my thought life and cause me to dwell on the difficult things of trading American life for China life. So in order to stick it to pessimism, here are a smattering of other things that I'm looking forward to in my Big Chicken home:
- Regaining a more focused purpose to our lives
- Welcoming the intellectual resistance that operating in a second language brings
- Reconnecting with local friends
- Hosting & having people in our home
- Showing off my kiddos to our local friends (my fruit seller friend will be especially pleased!)
- Having routine & rhythm again
- Buying my produce without wincing from sticker shock
- Channeling domesticity again
- Wearing winter sweaters (because it can't seem to stay below 50 here for more than a week!)
- Attempting again to make my concrete apartment home
- Rejoining our small community of people who are your friends, coworkers, and family all rolled in one
- Listening to 80's music with Brad & Amy
- Staying up way too late playing Ticket to Ride with Brandon & April
- Sitting on my couch at night after the kids go to bed and chatting with my husband
- Listening to the neighbor man pee every night while I'm trying to fall asleep (I know it sounds weird but even though the walls are thin, it's still a sound of home)
It's not often that you're in a position to completely rethink and rework your life. How will I work? How will I parent? How will I spend my free time? Who will I invest in? This move back to China is affording us that exact opportunity. While it's a little overwhelming to think that Kevin & I are going to have to think through, discuss, and generate answers to all of those questions, the prospect of it is still exciting.
So it seems our Christmas present this year is going to be a new stab at life. What a fabulous gift to receive! May it be to God's glory!