There is a Chinese phrase that we typically say umpteen-million times per day that directly translates "slowly, slowly come." It's basically the Chinese version of "Rome wasn't built in a day." Regardless of what language you're speaking, that adage has certainly been true for us the past three weeks as we've been adjusting back to Asian life. Here are but a few examples:
- I have a snazzy new smartphone now. OK, it's neither new nor snazzy but it can text Chinese characters, which my old phone could not. So I've been trying to expand my reading & writing vocabulary by experimenting with texting. My dear, patient househelper is usually the recipient of my feeble efforts. I am most certain it gives her & her husband stitches of laughter every time her phone pings with a new text from me. Like when I wanted to ask for green beans but accidentally ask for an iron. Or when I meant to tell her that I'm not sure if we have enough food for lunch tomorrow but put the character for grass instead. Among our many weird quirks that she's getting used to, I'd rather not add a supposed propensity to eat household appliances and meals fit for cattle.
- Speaking of our househelper, she speaks incredibly fast. We have a good friend here who once took the trophy for being the fastest talker in the East, but our new househelper has certainly snatched that title from her. I can't tell you how many blank stares I've given her recently. Then she says it again and I try again to understand & respond. Often times, our exchanges end in her giggling and calling my Chinese "cute." Cute?!?! I did NOT spend years of intensive study to be labeled "cute." But I suppose it's better than being labeled a dumb egg, which is what elementary kids call the slow kids in their class.
- Kevin has not been spared from transition faux pas either. When attempting to settle a bill with a local friend, he tried to give her 26 rmb instead of 260. For the sake of her wallet, she made sure to clear up that misunderstanding!
With all the mistakes permeating life, it's been so easy to feel exhausted and somewhat dejected at the end of the day. I already did this language thing once! I was already over the communication hump! Now it's gone! Two steps forward, and one giant leap back.
But God was so good to encourage me as I was reading the account of Noah this week. All those cheery Sunday school songs have duped me for years into thinking that Noah built a boat, got on the boat, waited out the rain for 40 days, and then happily returned to life as usual. Far from it. It did rain for that long, but then he had to wait as the earth dried. He sent out a raven. Still wet. More waiting. He sent out a dove. Still wet. More waiting. Waiting, waiting, and more waiting. He waited for nearly a year and then was finally able to disembark.
Noah was simply called to wait. Perhaps I shouldn't say simply because there is nothing easy nor simple about waiting! Instead, I find that waiting contentedly is one of the most difficult disciplines of life. So maybe I'm called to wait and live in grace until life's rhythm returns to again. Buckets of grace, Kevin says. Slowly, slowly come, China says. I think I'll try to start listening!