Wednesday evening my neighbor friend, whom I have been meeting with every week for a couple hours, came over with her 8 year old daughter to play. They speak no English, and since my Chinese is super limited, we usually have a very interesting time together. Ha! This time her daughter and my girls played a dancing game (this girl has some moves! She rocked it out and blew them away.) while we chatted on the couch. Before she left she asked if she could watch my girls for me the next day, while I was in class, so all the kids could play. I have such a hard time letting my girls go with other people because, well, because three kids are a lot of work! And really, I just never know what Ellie is going to do… Knowing they were just 3 floors down, I agreed and the plans were made. Well, noon Thursday rolled around and I hadn’t seen or heard from the girls since they left at 9, so I texted my neighbor that we were done and they could return home…but they never came. This could very well be because I texted her in Chinese, and my language is incorrect a LOT. Misunderstandings happen frequently. So, about 12:10, I headed down to get them and see what was going on. Turns out they had been spoiled all morning and had no desire to ever leave…
She wanted us all to go eat lunch together. I have to admit my hesitancy here. My neighbor is very well off…and she is picky. She doesn’t eat like most people here. She doesn’t eat like anyone I know. I mean, she doesn’t eat locally because it isn’t hygienic. She doesn’t eat city chicken because it has hormones added. She doesn’t eat beef unless it is Japanese beef. She pays almost $1usd per egg because they are healthier, and her grocery budget for the month is nearly $1600usd. We eat out daily in restaurants that are so small you can’t really call them restaurants. They are dirty. Roaches have been seen in most of them crawling on the walls or floors and Cam watched the owner’s wife of one of our most frequented places stomp on a rat in the kitchen (don’t worry…she killed it). I did NOT want to take her to the food street on which we normally eat. So, I told her we would go but that the places where we usually eat are a little bit dirty (understatement there). I wanted to prepare her, you know? Well, looking a little nervous, she said she wanted to treat us to hot pot instead. Ummm….well…I knew my girls wouldn’t like it. It is an acquired taste that I have yet to acquire, even though I really really want to like it! It is basically a pot of boiling chicken broth with some spices in it that you boil meat and veggies in. We had mushrooms, ham (like the kind that comes in a can…you know, the kind that looks like cat food), quail eggs, potatoes,meatballs that were still red in the inside and that you don’t really know what kind of beef they are made of, strips of beef that were curly, tofu, tofu skin, and baby fish. Luckily, the squid she ordered didn’t make it into the pot! Because my girls weren’t eating, I had to eat A LOT. And y’all. I was gagging inside. Did I mention the honey covered rice cakes and tortilla-like bread? I ate the bread…gluten and all. I think it saved me more than once. When it came time to eat the fish, I asked her how to eat it. She looked at me like I was crazy and said to eat it. So I did. I bit it. In half. Ummm…I ended up with a mouthful of bones that I had to pick out. She decided to demonstrate the proper way to scrape my teeth down the spine of this little fish to get the meat and not the bones. Apparently my aptitude for fish eating is nonexistent because I got even more bones when I tried it her way.
She kept apologizing to me because my girls barely ate. I kept threatening and bribing my girls to eat so she would stop apologizing. They tried. They really did. They tasted everything and didn’t make noticeable bad faces at anything. I was irritated that they couldn’t suffer through it by eating a little more and proud of them for giving it a chance all at the same time.
Finally the meal was over and we headed home. I was breathing a sigh of relief and thankful I had on stretchy clothes because I ate double what I normally eat. By this time, my head felt like it would explode from trying to pull up all the Chinese words I have ever heard in order to converse with my friend, but it wasn’t time to call it quits quite yet. While I was gathering my girls bag from her apartment, her daughter disappeared.
I found her in my house.
So, I called my neighbor back and asked her if she wanted to go ahead and come over for tea since the girls wanted to play more. Keep in mind that the girls can’t really communicate. She speaks Chinese to them and they speak English to her. Neither understand the other, but they find common ground just being children. It’s quite amazing really.
So, my neighbor came over and my tutor happened to still be at my house (her fiance and Cam meet to practice language, so she stays too). Turns out Father had arranged this time long before we knew it would happen. I introduced the two ladies and they were off! My neighbor told my tutor that my kids were really well behaved and my tutor replied that she thought it was because we are believers.
The doors were thrown wide open with hinges crashing through windows and barriers turned to ash.
My neighbor said that her daughter is anxious and she wants her to have peace. She desires for her to believe in Father but she doesn’t know the Way. At this point, my mouth wanted to fall open and tears started to form.
This is the reason. This is why.
It makes every single sacrifice worth it. It makes the hard days worth it. It makes the trials seem trivial. And it was happening on my couch, in my living room, with two people that I have come to love in such a short amount of time. Seeds were planted over the next hour, and I am hopeful with a hope that comes from above that there will be a harvest in due time. While we are waiting, please join me as I “water” my neighbor’s seeking heart with petitions to the Throne.
It was certainly a praiseworthy day, fish bones and all!