Regarding Transitions…

“Before you go, will you teach us… ?”

Two years ago, this time seemed very far off and possibly beyond our reach. How did we manage to journey long enough down this road of language learning to be ready to leave our language school, our first launching pad? Did we really learn all the things? Can we truly say we speak Mandarin? Can anyone ever fully speak a second language though? It seems to be a never ending task of tweaking and perfecting. Absurdly, my teachers are confident that I have reached the point of being sent off on my own to continue the learning, out in the world, haha! (Mark, being a native Cantonese speaker, graduated over a year ago and has been patiently waiting for me to hurry up. *smile*) So in just six weeks we will be waiting for my final exam results and packing up the apartment – preparing to start a new chapter,  in a new city and province, in Southern China. The place we have told you about, you’ve shared our hopes and dreams and joined with us in our vision for helping people while learning about them and their culture. Sanya, the beautiful and tropical place that we’ve longed to plant our roots in, where we hope to live for many years to come, with a new and one day thriving business that brings light and love to all who enter!

But in order to get there, we must first leave here. Xi’an has been a place of growth for our family. It has held many treasured memories of firsts and friends that became family. This giant city (twice the size of Sitka, AK, the largest city in the USA) has been a place of learning, both language and culture, as well as some harder life and spiritual lessons. And it’s also been a difficult place, so very overwhelmingly so at times that we could hardly catch our breath. The kind of place that forces you to hold tight to those that will still love you when the fires go out and the flood waters fade. We have learned to be brave and strong and to love our family fiercely. Thankfully, we have also learned to be gentle and vulnerable and to be more lovable when others come alongside us… In the midst of these reflections, my thoughts are interrupted by the pressing needs. Packing, organizing, purging, cleaning, studying, grading, doctors (oh so many doctors this year!), translating doctor reports, newsletters, work reports, charging the scooter, buying groceries, cooking, bathing, etc, etc. 🙂 How does one simply pack up their whole life and family and start fresh in a new place, in a foreign country… all over again?!

This is our ‘normal life’ friends. Although we hope this is our last BIG move for a long while, we have grown accustomed to it over the last eight years. Eight years of constant transition. What I know for sure about it is, we must leave well in order to start over well. Our race isn’t over, but our time in this place soon will be. So how do we manage that time? It starts with preparing our hearts and our spirits to say a lot of “See you later”s to dear friends, neighbors, classmates, and teachers that have become family. This can take a lot of prayer and it can hit you by surprise when the ones you least want to leave start to, as great friends will, become excited for you. They ask you questions and talk about a time when you will be practically on the other side of the country and doing new things. They want to hear all the plans – and all you can think is “But then I won’t see you every single morning. Maybe not for many months… or even years! I will miss you dear one!”

That’s about how my week was going, rather by the book so to speak. Then came the new line of questions I had never prepared for. ~~ “Before you go, will you teach us more about raising kind and helpful kids?” “We want you both to help us with pre-marital counseling while you’re still here, do you have time?” “Maybe you can write a book or come back sometimes to teach *Word & *Truth classes?” “I can gather some friends, I think it’s very important that you give us a marriage seminar. How about after the holiday – but before you move?!” ~~ You see, most of our language teachers like to ask us questions during class. Things they really want to know, but also to get us to answer in Mandarin using new vocab and grammar. We never expected that they would miss those talks or that those conversations were much more than curiosity about the foreigners’ ways. Yet, over the months of daily classes, some of our teachers have really poured out their hearts and in turn we have shared ours freely. Not only will we miss those precious moments with these very dear ones… but we desire to grant every single request we possibly can before we make this big transition from the big city (Xi’an), to Sanya (Which is SMALL by Chinese standards, but still about the size of Jacksonville, FL (the 5th largest city in the USA by landmass).

And how to finish well? We are choosing to be purposeful and loving in how we prepare ourselves, our kids (their transition stuff is a whole other post full!), and our dearest friends for our departure. Between the travel, phone calls, emails… amid rental agreements, class time, grading papers and doctors… we have scheduled time out of packing and studying for special lunch visits, game nights, play-dates and even a friend’s wedding. We have plans to take our kids on one last adventure trip with friends during the upcoming school break (although not together – half of us are going north and the other half south). And yes, we will teach a marriage seminar, we will counsel other friends in preparation for their wedding (which we hope to come back to attend next year!), and we will take time to pray and fellowship with many more beloved ones that have become our “China family” these last two years!

Maybe after the move I will think about writing that book. Let’s start with just getting back to writing here on this blog once a week. Or even once a year, that would be good! Guess I don’t have to tell you what being a full time language student and homeschool mom living in China has done to my “free time” or rather, my “writing time”. *grin*

 

-JK

 

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harmony with Language

We’ve been in language school for almost six months now. Here’s a video to give you just a taste of how we’re progressing. 🙂 Mark introduces his song for our language school’s Culture Expo, he sings the first verse/chorus in his native Cantonese, then singes the rest in Mandarin. He’s learning so fast! Of course, my lessons are a bit slower since I am learning it all from scratch, reading/writing/speaking. I will post more on that later, lol. Enjoy the video!

-JK

Hope & Homes: Baja Update

My construction trip in Baja California, Mexico was a fruitful & challenging experience, thank you for your prayers and financial support that allowed me to go. The trip was very successful; our team of 90 people was able to build three homes in the week we spent in Mexico. It was touching to see how grateful the families were when we handed them the keys to their new house. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to be God’s hands and feet by working for and alongside these people to build a home for this family. I have learned that sometimes the people with the least resources are the most generous. The Martinez* family has lived in poverty for years, their 10×10 one room shack, with no indoor plumbing, has housed all 5 of them for the last 2 years. Yet, they purchased & cooked a delicious “Thank You Meal” for the tam working on their house (30 ppl) during the time we were there. Generosity in the midst of poverty. I hope to also live in a way that overcomes my circumstances.

Above is a picture of my team in front of the house we built for the Martinez* family. Their new home is about four times larger than the old shack & has plumbing for a sink in the kitchen (with built in counters) & a shower. (The toilet is in a brand new outhouse, also built by our team.) The home we built also has 2 bedrooms & a living room, as well as electricity/lighting fixtures. Each team member had a different skill set, some built bed frames, others hauled in new mattresses & still others set up lighting, door frames & windows. I mainly helped with framing, roofing & painting. Once we had a paint brush in the hand of each worker (when other projects were done) the walls were finished very quickly. It was great to have a team of variously skilled workers, to provide a comfortable home for our new friends.

On the last day of our trip, Pastor Scott Hagan (our leader) stood in front of the new house & gave a message of hope in JC, which someone translated into Spanish. The entire neighborhood had gathered there to listen. Many of the people responded, and we were privileged to lead several people into the Family. Praise the Lord!!

Thanks to all of you who contributed for allowing me to go to Mexico. Through your gift, you helped build these homes in Baja California and you helped bring hope to people who needed it. #hopeandhomesbaja #epeditionbaja


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-TK {Tryston Kwong, guest blogger for #TeamKwong}

*names changed for privacy

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T w/ P. Scott Hagan in Baja California.

It was inspirational to me that Mr. Martinez* & Pastor Scott Hagan (above with me) worked right along with us.

Only a few of us had the courage to conquer the mountain, but the view at the top was totally worth it.

Only a few of us had the courage to conquer the mountain, but the view at the top was totally worth it.

enough is Enough

~~ We didn’t fall off the planet!! Although you probably thought that based on the lack of posting & updating here. Sorry friends. — We’re still in the USA, & we’ve been on the road a lot. Like every, single, week. LOTS of driving. LOTS of miles. And LOTS of great new friends & new team members too!! It’s a joy & privilege to share our story & our journey with people every week! But between the epic, 6week long #k6eastcoastadventure in our trusty minivan, homeschooling 4 kids & all of the chaotic moments of #movingnotmoving that seem to come with our time in America… we have been neglecting this blog. *sigh* Thanks for your understanding & especially for your constant prayers that keep us trucking along on these long road trips! Anyway, in an effort to get back to this – we not only have today’s thoughts, but also a new newsletter coming in another couple days. Be sure to sign up at the bottom of this post. 🙂 ~~
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After an encouraging & somewhat challenging phone call with one of our directors/mentors yesterday, I had another good jolt upon opening my email this am. Try drinking your coffee, thinking about the huge mountain in front of you, feeling you can climb it well – but only if you continue on in the ever so careful, slow & steady pace that has so far kept you from falling off the cliff… Then try reading the following (from yet another mentor on our journey) & see if you aren’t ALSO challenged to get up & get going – faster, stronger & with deeper drive & purpose to just “Get ‘er done!”… So grateful for the mentors that Father has given us. Without them I might still be in bed sleeping, instead of working diligently to reach the flag at the top of the mountain!! There is much to do if we are going to get back HOME to our precious China before the end of the year… More coffee please!
The fulfillment of desire is conditional on the intensity of the desire to fulfill it. When we want something enough, we will move heaven and earth to obtain it. We’re all guilty of saying, “I don’t have enough time” or “I don’t have enough money.” {That simple modifier, enough, makes all the difference.} The truth is, we seem to find the time and the money to do or buy what we really, really want.
 
“Before we can be filled with the HS, the desire to be filled must be all-consuming. It must be for the time the biggest thing in the life, so acute, so intrusive as to crowd out everything else. The degree of fullness in any life accords perfectly with the intensity of true desire. We have as much of Father as we actually want.” -A.W.Tozer
-JK
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Prayer Flags on Wuzhishan Mountain.

Prayer Flags on Wuzhishan Mountain.

Painting a child with wine to avoid ghosts at the Nanshan Mountain scenic zone.

Painting a child with wine to avoid ghosts at the Nanshan Mountain scenic zone.