Wow. This week has been full of new, exciting, hard things!!
Last Saturday Gracie left for youth camp…in a city so far away that it required an overnight train ride and a flight to get there. I have decided that 10 is just not old enough to be gone for 8 days this far away! I am, however, so thankful for the women that stepped in and became her mama while I couldn’t be. She cried daily at first (we facetimed once and were only able to text other than that), and knowing my baby wanted to be home was so hard. BUT, I know it is times like that that grow you. And grow she did. In spite of seeing an ugly side to friends (or not so much), she saw His face while she was away. She came home and at the first opportunity, before we even made it into our building, she, in a super fast voice, said, “Remember when I was 6 and I asked Him into my heart? Well, I didn’t really understand what it meant to follow Him and now I do”. I think so often we rely on a magic prayer to get us into heaven, when in reality, a magic prayer has nothing to do with it. Gracie finally realizes that following Him and counting the costs of what that means (loving HIM more than family and places and things) is what He wants of us. I am such a proud Mama. It is my prayer that she continues to grow in her faith and that her life story will always have moments that say, “Remember when…I didn’t know what it truly meant then what I understand it to mean now” because that will be evidence of growth in Him.
While that is definitely the best news of our week, we also have other praises! We made our way downstairs to the common area at 8pm a few times this week for a water show where what feels like thousands of other people attend. The littles met some new friends, and seeing them playing with local children just makes this feel more like home. They were unable to communicate with words, but with their smiles and a tiny bit of help at first from me, they made friends. Friends that planned to meet up again at the water show to play the next night. I loved it! This also means that I met two women (I can’t figure out if they are the new friend’s grandmas, aunts, or mamas) who I got to attempt to talk to. I will be honest, it didn’t go great. They didn’t understand my Chinese and I didn’t know enough to try another way to get my questions across. It was rough. But somehow, we arranged another meeting for the girls, and the next night they were waiting for us with smiles.
I also ran into a young mama with an adorable daughter that I scored a phone number for. Unless you live in this world of language learning, you won’t fully appreciate getting the phone number for another woman, but know that that is a HUGE praise. She could be a person with whom I begin to practice with and share with and just have a relationship with. Exciting!
We also had one of Cameron’s friends over for dinner. He met this guy at lunch one day who invited him to play baseball with him on Sundays. Cameron, being the sports lover that he is, decided that he would go each week to try to foster some relationships with locals. He met another guy while at practice, who began to text him frequently. Cam invited him and his family (he has a wife and young son) for dinner. They came Saturday evening, and to my great surprise, because the man has great English, and his Chinese may be the clearest I’ve ever heard, the wife spoke no English! So, the wife and I sat on the couch while the men were grilling and tried to talk. It was so hard. Painful at times, really. For two long hours, we tried to communicate. At one point, right before a dinner of burgers was served, I asked her if she liked American food…Cam had talked to the man beforehand and we were told they all liked Western food…so imagine my embarrassment when she replied with a big fat NO. Well, great. I felt like the hostess with the mostest. It all ended fine and hopefully we will get another chance to visit with them, even though the wife couldn’t have had a great time, and we can redeem ourselves by taking them our for Chinese food. Ha!
I also start with a new tutor tomorrow. It is my current tutor’s wife, and I am SO nervous. I don’t like change (wrong life I’m living), but this change is scary. I understand my tutor, and he understands me. No one else understands me…so it will take some time for her to get used to my way of speaking Chinese. Before that happens, it will be slightly awkward and difficult for me to even try to speak. I feel like a fool, y’all. It is much easier to botch the language with a stranger than it is with someone who will report my shortcomings to leaders…just hard. I am here to learn and my learning is for Him. I keep repeating this over and over in my head, but my head has convinced me that I am definitely a low aptitude language learner. Someday, I hope, I will get the hang of this musical language.
So, that is our busy week in a nutshell!! I am looking forward to another week of nightly water shows with all my little duckies this time. We are also counting down the days until Mama arrives…12 more days!! She will be here for 5 weeks to play with the girls while we learn (and to visit me of course). We are so excited for someone we love to get to experience this life we are now living!