“Making Ourselves at Home” at The Fountains by Grace

For the first several years we lived in China, we had no place to hang out with friends after church – no place to have a family retreat. Sporting facilities were inconvenient or expensive. Since some friends of ours opened the Fountains, a community center, we are much more able to “Make ourselves at home” (their slogan) in Guangzhou.

Each Sunday after church, some of the congregation shuttles over to this facility for a nice lunch, fellowship, and fun. One of my favorite things to do is to join sixteen to twenty others in a game of Ultimate Frisbee on the large, lush, green field. Most of the people have never played before but others are more experienced.  Ultimate Frisbee is an active game so everyone gets plenty of exercise!

I know you might take a big green field for granted, but we don’t! Here is the only place we know of in GZ where we can play Ultimate Frisbee!

After playing Frisbee, I sometimes buy a slushie for 3 yuan at the newly developed  café. Designed like a Starbucks, the coffee shop has colorful modern art on the walls, cushy couches and chairs scattered around the room, hard chairs and tables in the center, and the cashier’s counter at the front. The sell frappuccinos, mochas, espressos, pearl milk tea, smoothies, and cakes. Many people gather there relaxing and talking for the afternoon.

Here is my beautiful sister in the coffee shop after most everyone had left for the afternoon!

Other popular Sunday entertainments at the Fountains include checking out and returning books in the library; roaming around outside; watching a movie; playing ping pong, foosball, and air hockey; or sliding down the hill on toboggans.  Sunday afternoons at the Fountains are some of my most enjoyable times!

The game room has 3 ping pong tables, foosball, and air hockey.

Hope and I are intent on our game.

One Friday a month we attend Home School Meet Ups at this community center. Once we arrive, we get some water and head to the movie theatre where we give presentations on previously decided topics. Some of those topics have been on drama and poetry; machines; special needs and handicaps; plants and medicine; and once we had a science fair.

I didn’t get the lighting just right on this, but at the last Meet Up Hope gave a presentation about Cerebral Palsy including pictures of how much our foster sister, Abby, has progressed.

When the presentations are finished, we go down to the cafeteria to get lunch, which usually consists of hot dogs, fruits, sandwich items, and veggie sticks. Afterwards we have forty-five minutes of free time, which I usually spend in the library. Next, we have art classes, followed by reading time in the library. The books read are on the topic of the day for the Home School Meet Up. We end with a team sport such as football (although Americans call it soccer), a foosball or air hockey tournament, or a game like “Capture the Flag.”

Lunch at the Home School Meet Up

Free Time

Art Room

Organized Sports at the Meet Up

The Fountains is one of my family’s favorite places to stay for a weekend with Jeremy’s and Jason’s families (our older brothers). We rent several rooms, each one sleeping two or more people, at the Guesthouse.  The Guesthouse has a Western-style kitchen with a dishwasher, an oven, and a garbage disposal, all of which most Chinese houses don’t have! It even has a clothes dryer! It’s almost like a quick visit to America. We feel so spoiled when we stay there, but the cost is less than $10 a person making it very affordable.

Relaxing together, we might play a game we borrow from the game room; talk and pray; have discussions; play an outside sport such as croquet or Frisbee; or play with my niece Angela and my nephew Caleb in the children’s play room.

Serious Game of Croquet!

Lala’s and Caleb’s favorite thing to do in the kids’ room is to have pretend tea parties. Sitting around the table, they daintily drink their tea while “eating” fake food.  Angela, being half-Chinese, will give Caleb a fish head to “nibble”. In America you might think, “Ew, that’s disgusting!” but here that is the favorite part! After they finish their tea party, Lala “washes dishes” in the pretend sink and puts them away. 

When we stay at The Fountains as a family we usually reserve the movie theatre one night. After dinner, we pop corn and borrow a movie from the library. Then we sit in the comfortable chairs and watch a film on the big screen! We try to pick a movie that all of us, down to Lala and Caleb will enjoy. 

On Sunday mornings, we take a shuttle from there to the church, making it more convenient to worship the Lord together. Afterwards, we return to the Fountains for the Sunday afternoon meal and activities. We are thankful for such a marvelous place to have a family getaway.

Though there are many things that we can do at The Fountains, our number one choice is the library! About twelve thousand books in the English language line its shelves. It is rare to find this many English books in one place in China so this is really a great blessing for us. One of the best things about it is that we can borrow schoolbooks there, which saves us time and money. Another nice thing is that it has free wifi and computers available for use. We can also check out CD’s, movies, puzzles, games, and educational resources. 

From time to time, our family goes over to help organize the library. The last time, we browsed through books, which had been donated to see if they were suitable. Then Faith entered them into the computer, put bar codes on them, and categorized them. The library is so great that even working in it is fun!

Though none of these things may sound that exciting to those of you who live in America, these experiences are uncommon here so are special treats for us. We are very thankful for such a convenient, comfortable, and exciting place to go. It really does live up to the slogan “Make Yourself at Home” and makes our lives in China happier!

 Here are a few more pictures of special places at The Fountains.

Sometimes folks kayak on this little manmade stream.

Others prefer taking a stroll on the footpath or having a little picnic.

The younger ones love the playground! Notice that this is an oasis among the high rise buildings in the back ground!

Or have water fights in the wading pool…

But what I want to know is- how can I possibly “make myself at home” without standing on the toilet seat???

So long for now!


13 thoughts on ““Making Ourselves at Home” at The Fountains by Grace

  1. Girls,

    These glimpses into your lives in China are just delightful! This facility looks so modern and almost out of place with much of what we saw while visiting there. I’m so happy you shared, and so thrilled you have such a place to enjoy.

    Grace, you and Hope both have fantastic writing skills. It’s a joy to read your “work”. It is so difficult to imagine you as the young ladies you now are…when you were so little the last time I saw you in person. I love the work you’re doing with Joy at the orphanage, too.

    Keep up the good work! I’m looking forward to your next installment.

    • Karen, I have to confess that the girls read their pieces to me and I type them in. If they did it themselves, the spelling and punctuation wouldn’t be quite the same! But this is definitely progressing their writing skills. Thanks for being a faithful reader and commenter! I’ll show this to them tomorrow and have them respond themselves.

  2. I really enjoyed reading the blog entry on The Fountains. Maybe it would be interesting to interview some of the people whom you meet at The Fountains — many nationalities and many backgrounds which adds a lot to the “texture” of the experience. Even among the home school meet up “crowd” this would be so interesting. The Fountains’ greatest treasure is the people whom come here. Including The Dexters

  3. I just love reading the Dim Sum writings! I’m curious — is the Fountains only for expats who live in Guangzhou? Can expats living other places in China go? Can Chinese nationals go? Can travelers from abroad go? Thanks.

    • Sherrie, the answers are: no, yes, yes, yes, and your welcome:-D Anyone is welcome to use the Fountains, but we hope it won’t get too well known or we’ll be out of a home away from home!

  4. I loved reading your article, Grace. The Fountains look like a very special and fun place to go with your family and homeschool events. I would love to visit it!

    Thanks for writing this so that we can know more about your life in China.

    • Have been missing you and Abby! Still remember the Easter we had with you all at the Fountains! Love you, too, Grace

  5. What a nice review! The pics help bring back many wonderful memories of our last year in China. Was just thinking last week what a blessing the little slice of heaven called “The Fountains” was for us! The Jourdans

  6. We spent the afternoon at the Fountains with Rachel and Caleb and Ruthie in the spring of 2014.
    It was a wonderful place, and the fellowship was awesome! I truly enjoyed looking at all of these pictures and saying “We were there!” “We were there!”

    We hope to visit again on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday while we will be there to adopt our daughter’s best friend.

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