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*





do the Good you know you ought to

We all need Godly mentors in our lives. Some of ours live across the world from us, but they still manage to encourage, challenge & inspire us through their deeds & words… even if only in an email. These words did all of that & more tonight:

“Our primary motivation is not the needs of people; it’s obedience to Christ. And as we work out obedience, let us remember the tremendous need. Scripture says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (James 4:17, NIV). We must actually do good, or we are in rebellion against God.” -GM

Earlier today we had a chance to do exactly what we’ve been trained & called to do, right here in this city that we call home. It was a big day! It was exciting to see what God can do with our willing obedience… Mark & Kam Gee, who run ICA Manna together, have worked for months to pull off today’s event. With about 40 volunteers, we took 300+ people (elderly & immigrant families) on a tour of some older/colonial areas of Hong Kong, then treated them all to a traditional Pun Choy banquet with a very special message. Many of the special elderly friends & young immigrant families that we serve/visit weekly were there. Please pray with us that lives have/will be eternally changed by the love of the Father they received today.

What a time we had! 300 people are a lot to keep track of on a tour & then feed, but we did it!! Seems so much bigger than last year’s Pun Choy event… PTL! I’m sure there will be good news coming from all the response cards we collected too. The boys & I enjoyed helping out today. I’m proud of everyone that helped out, but especially proud of my amazing husband & the entire ICA Manna team. A huge thank you goes out to our dear friend Nigel who bring such tremendous vision & passion to everything we do with Manna. What a pleasure it is to work towards Kingdom goals with a man after God’s heart like Nigel. He & Mark are two peas in a pod, for sure… they were cut from the same cloth & raised in opposite circumstances, only to be united in purpose at such a time as this!

When Mark got saved, it was the direct outcome of our Pastor challenging the church to read the Bible by going through one chapter a day for 30 days in a row… Now here we are, 9 years later & still being challenged by our mentors. Still reading the bible every day too – we just started doing a chronological reading for the first time this year. What’s more is that we’ve become mentors too & we love every minute we spend pouring God’s love into the lives of others, because we know how it continues to help us when our mentors do the same! If you don’t have a mentor who challenges, encourages & inspires you to fight for your faith & dig deeper into the things of God so that you can DO the good you know you should… WE challenge you to PRAY & ask God to bring you a mentor like that!