Tenth Year Reflections

Ten years ago this summer, we moved to China- 10 people, each with two seventy pound suitcases, a carry on bag, plus rather abundant “personal items”. We almost made “The Beverly Hillbillies” look classy! Our luggage contained everything from a frying pan, to bath towels, to spices, to silverware, to toys, to bleach. Yes, bleach. All of that goes to show that we really had no idea what was available in China and what was not. I admit to taking a lot of static for the bleach in the ten years between now and then. A confessed cleaning product freak, I couldn’t imagine living where my house wouldn’t smell clean! Neither did I imagine what a spilled bottle of bleach would do to my wardrobe, the spices, or the luggage.  Sigh. 

Doing the math on the above, we arrived in China carrying over a ton of “stuff”, schlepping it across the borders from Hong Kong into China through sheer muscle, determination, and stubbornness. Almost ten years later, we have enough “stuff” to fill an apartment and most of our muscle has either moved out or atrophied. (Why is it that stubbornness isn’t as easy to get rid of as muscle?) We have lost all three of our parents who were living when we moved, but we have added three daughters-in-love and four grandchildren, with a fifth on the way.

We’ve learned a lot of things since we’ve come to Guangzhou among which is that we can buy bleach in China. We’ve learned to find comfort in the smell of rice cooking in the rice cooker. We’ve learned to carry tissue packs in our purses at all times. We’ve learned to appreciate the melody of Mandarin Chinese spoken around us with its musical tonality. We’ve learned the economy and joys of public transportation. We’ve learned how to use squat toilets without sacrificing our footwear. We’ve learned that chopsticks can fix almost anything. Most importantly, we’ve learned much more about the sufficiency and beauty of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Since He is the preeminent One, we want to give Him glory in our first home page blog post.

We came to Guangzhou expecting that God would use us here- and we hope He has. But much more than that, we have seen Him use China in us. Leaving behind the things we know and moving someplace totally unfamiliar in language, culture, and living conditions is humbling. Gradually selling one’s house, then selling one’s business thereby losing one’s stable means of support is unsettling.  Having children living half a world away is heart wrenching.  Yes, and we praise God for all of those things! There is a lot to be said for having some of the props knocked out of our lives.  Is it easy? No. Is it comfortable? Nope. Abraham Lincoln once said, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have no place else to go.” Peeling off comfort in layers, does cause us to recognize the frailty of our flesh and to appreciate our sovereign and powerful God who is the same yesterday, today, yes, and forever.

One of my favorite Scriptures passages is: 2 Corinthians 4: 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. … 16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Unlike the early disciples, we are not being delivered up to death day by day! But in small measure, we have experienced some hardships we had not previously faced. These things have helped us focus our gaze on Christ, to meditate on the eternal rather than focus on the temporal, and to see the beauty of the Lord more clearly. And those are very good things.

Therefore, when people ask us what the most amazing thing God has done since we moved to China, we say that He has shown us that His grace is, indeed, sufficient, and that His power really is made perfect in our weaknesses. As many who have gone before us, we have found Jesus faithful, able, and enough.

We still have a lot to learn about God’s faithfulness and about China; there are certainly many things I’ll never understand about both. So far it’s been quite a journey! We’re very glad we came and are looking forward to seeing what God will teach us in the future. Who knows? Maybe He will even help us to understand why our neighbor yells like Tarzan every evening!

 

12 thoughts on “Tenth Year Reflections

  1. This is a beautiful post! And that is A LOT of luggage!!!

    You have a wonderful story to share, and I can’t wait to follow along, and maybe even meet you someday!!!

    God bless you!
    Diane
    http://www.mylifeingodsgarden.com

    (If this is a repeat, I’m sorry! I thought I posted a response, but it did not show up, so I figured I lost it!)

  2. Love this :) I can FEEL the truth in these words. We will be in Guangzhou for the 3rd time for an adoption, hopefully next month :) Not sure where you live in GZ but would love to meet you…we have some future interests in living there and would love to talk to someone who has done it :)

  3. Holly, we live in PanYu south of Guangzhou. It is near the area where adoption agencies sometimes take people to the safari zoo or the ChimeLong Circus. As much as we are able, we open our home to adoption travelers who want a Western meal one night while they are in our city. Stay in touch and let us know when you are coming and we’ll see what we can arrange! Would love to talk over your future plans to see if we can offer any help.

  4. dearest Sis,
    you just keep getting more precious as the years go by. this is a delight. thankew for a refreshing spot to fellowship together in Christ Jesus. well done! i love you, marilyn
    p.s. looking forward to hearing from your girls. = }

  5. Love your blog and look forward to following you all even more. I look forward to being able to pray more specifically for the children you will advocate for here. I would appreciate your prayers for me today at 3:00PM as I have a job interview. Please pray that if this is not where God wants me that I do not get an offer. Thanks!

  6. Awesome! We do serve an incredible God who never stops loving us or teaching us what He wants us to learn. Thanks for sharing this with all of us. I look forward to more in the future.

  7. A part of our hearts will always be in China:) Thank you for the blessing of sharing a piece of China with us! Your stories are fascinating and humorous:))) We will be following your journey, Friends.

  8. Thanks, ladies, for your prayers and interest. Today we had an Orphan Camp at a very nice facility outside town. It was such fun. I’m sure Joy will post more about it as soon as she gets her photos downloaded! Stay tuned.

  9. Dear friend…I laughed…I howled…I gasped at the picture of the PILE of STUFF (visuallizing the lovely “clean” smell of BLEACH)…look at the 2nd picture of your lovely and GROWING FAMILY (you need an update…ahem!)…subscribed to the feed so I don’t miss ANY POSTS! SHESH…why didn’t you guys do this blog 10 years ago! LOL…
    Just kidding….I always look forward to the newsletters! I would print them out and read them a few times in the tub…never wanted to read online because I tend to skim and wanted to savor every story, every iflection and visualize being right there with you! WRITE ON friend! WOW on the picture from your HOUSE!

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