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*





the first 3 letters are… “DTC”!! {5k+1}

We finally did it friends!!! We first saw our little girl’s face on Dec. 22, 2012. We asked China to match us with her file on March 18, 2013 & now we have gotten more than half way to bringing her home…

For those of you NOT in the International Adoption world… “DTC” stands for Dossier to China! It means that we have officially ‘turned in’ all of our ‘homework’ (documents) to the Chinese government folks that will complete our adoption approval!! It’s taken forever to get this far, many documents, homestudy papers & Dr. visits… not to mention all the postage & weirdness caused by us being in Hong Kong right now! Even though it seems like this has been the big goal for over a year, it’s really just the FIRST STEP in a long list of things (& letters) that need to get checked off before we get the big “TA” – Travel Approval to go get our AnnaBelle! And the FINAL LETTERS will be “CA” – Consulate Appointment… the date we finalize all her travel papers to enter the US as a new daughter/citizen!

So… the first three letters that get us to our sweet girl (& the sweetest letters I have heard – so far…) are indeed –


I’d love to stay & write more – so many awesome & crazy busy things are happening in our lives that I haven’t had time to share with you yet… But alas, no rest for the Kwongs, must pack our bags!!! THEN we can rest… in Thailand next week! We’re heading out tomorrow for some meetings next week & then a few days of medical appointments. We’re very broken up about leaving the cold, crisp jacket/scarf weather of Hong Kong & having to wear shorts on the beaches for a week… crying non stop over it really. Can’t you tell?!

Anyway, in case you were wondering what all is next for the adoption – this graphic ought to make it all just as clear as mud for you. From what we (or anyone else) can guess (bc it’s ALL a guess with this thing) – we should be given Travel Approval (TA) to bring AnnaBelle home sometime in April, meaning we will probably actually have her in May. Praying it goes a little faster because we’d really love to be with her for her 5th birthday on May 1st! {We’ve just completed step #7 & now are waiting for step #8 to happen… I think we have some ‘mini steps’ in between that aren’t listed too.}


Please continue to pray that Father directs us to His perfect provision for our final funds… He’s provided over 75% so far – we only need the last $9,000 that we will take when we travel. (For all the government/orphanage/guide fees.) {You can help!}


where is HOME?

We spent the 4th of July here in HK preparing for our one & only official Homestudy visit for our adoption paperwork. But we DID manage to grab a hot dog & a cinnamon roll at Ikea – plus I made some “4th of July mini-cupcakes” for the kids a few days in advance… forget that the only sprinkles we could find were Christmas colors! LOL – But that’s just life living overseas & we love it! Good, bad & ugly, we know that we are right where we are supposed to be. So we celebrated in little ways with each other (not many other Americans nearby or in our ‘circle’), we called a few friends & we watched a couple movies that remind of us ‘our USA home’ this week. – Turns out the kids LOVED ‘the Three Stooges’! 🙂 Anyway, many people from both sides of the world ask us, “Do you miss home?” & another hard-to-answer question is the even more frequent “Where are you from?” – My answer is either “It’s complicated…” or the below, which is much LESS complicated!

As world travelers, expats & TCKs… Our home is wherever God plants us!

We have been transplanted several times.

Each time we experience some homesickness for certain experiences & people we love.

But when God does the planting, he always surrounds us with exactly what/who we need in every home we’ve had.

There have been lonely days when I thank Him for reminding me that He is our closest friend.

As well as amazing friends/adventures we never would have if we hadn’t trusted Him & left our ‘home’.

One day we will all be in our ‘forever home’, our eternal home in heaven.

Until then…

Home is in the center of God’s will.

Happy belated 4th of July Friends/Family!!!

We are blessed to be US citizens. 4 of us born into it, 1 (soon to be 2) of us ‘naturalized’ into it. We celebrate the Freedoms & Privileges that come with being American. This is a day that we DO miss being with friends/family & enjoying our traditions of BBQ, pools & fellowship – BUT we are grateful that those very freedoms give us the opportunity to share love & hope with others all over the world! With much privilege comes much responsibility my friends. We pray we use ours wisely…

Sacramento - Our 'USA home'

Sacramento – Our ‘USA home’

God Bless America! ONE OF our ‘home’ sweet ‘home(s)’!!


feeding five on $10

So I’m working on our latest newsletter – don’t forget to use the link in the sidebar to put your name on the list… While taking a break to have dinner with the family, I was given yet another chance to “JUST TRYYYYY” some new foods. Tonight’s choices were Rock Sea Bass in soy sauce with chives & maybe the 100th possible form of Bean Curd (Tofu, which is pronounced “DOfoo” here).

I will admit that I’m getting braver in these private taste sessions. I much prefer the snickers of my own 4 guys to the hot glare of a table full of 10 locals/strangers who think it sooo very odd that the foods I won’t eat are the ‘normal ones’. To be fair, I suppose it IS rather quirky, considering how I have no issue with gulping down a nice hot bowl of Red Bean Soup (a local dessert actually made with big red beans boiled in a sort of sugar water), traditional Shark Fin Soup made with real Shark, or even gobbling up a serving of ice cold Jelly Fish tentacles… I don’t even have a problem with an occasional bite of intestines & I certainly won’t turn down a Bubble Milk Tea! So ok, this ‘eating ministry’ thing works on the weird foods, I guess it IS the rather ‘normal’ foods that I never liked as a kid that still give me grief (& Mark because he has to order other stuff for me). But I’m working on it!

Which brings us back to tonight’s dinner! Verdict is………. I actually LIKED the fish & was fighting off the kids so I could get more. Not exactly because I loved it, but more out of hunger. You see, I found the fish was actually ‘not terrible’ & in fact, it was better than the chicken we got – so sad when a restaurant actually manages to ruin a chicken of all things?! Anyway, the Bean Curd did not make my list, but since there are still 100 more forms to try, I won’t give up on it altogether just yet.

The best part of dinner turned out to be the price – The beautiful Bass was actually LESS than $10 US! Amazing!! Here’s a picture of the YUMMY fishy… the boys had fun peaking at his brains & finding every last bit of meat on him. – Now I’m off to get one last cup of tea & then get this Newsletter finished. 🙂