Sunday, July 25, 2010

One Down...

(on the plane on my way to China for the 1st time...crazy eyes)

Today is my 1 year anniversary of moving to China. I arrived here on July 25, 2010 sometime in the morning, a Saturday I think, feeling a little crazy from sleep deprivation. I have no doubt I looked a mess. I remember very clearly what the airport looked like, the drive to my apartment, the unexpected beauty of Qingdao and more specifically my apartment. I remember where I ate that night for dinner and who I hung out with. It was the first time I tried bubble tea (Taiwanese) and ate dak galbi (Korean). My feet were raw and blistered from my mishaps in the airport the day before (read here) and we walked a couple miles to and from dinner. Honestly, I think the thing I remember the most, it is literally almost palpable, was how overwhelmed I felt. I knew so little and had so far to go to even survive. In China and in my job.

Today, I think was a great picture of how far I've come in this last year.

This morning, I led worship at my fellowship. That is a BIG deal. Ask anyone who's worked with me closely in music and they know what an idiot I become on stage. I forget words and what comes next. I'm not a great public speaker, I talk too fast and my words get all mixed up. And yet, here I am, choosing songs, working on the flow, finding Scripture to read, bossing a band around, and leading people in worship. Now, I love to sing on a worship team. I love the involvement of corporate worship, hearing the congregation sing familiar songs so loudly, watching them raise their hands or bow their heads or close their eyes as they sing or cry or whisper to God. It is an intense and beautiful thing. I love singing harmony with other people and making up our own music. And I love it when everything clicks- the sound, the band, the words, the fluid motion of worship. That is a great thing. But, I do not enjoy leading. Well, that’s not completely true. I’ve co-led for a couple of different teams and I really enjoy that. I get to give input, help choose songs, sing lead sometimes, but I’m not responsible for the entire service. I love being in that position. Leading, however, is totally different. I map out the songs, how many times we do a chorus or verse, when someone prays or reads the Bible, what songs are chosen, how the band sounds…if I mess up, it’s completely noticeable (something that happens often but it’s just who I am so I deal with it). There's a lot to think about and keep track of, especially up on stage. I know I’m coming across as completely un-Spiritual. Many of you are reading this and thinking “Where does the Holy Spirit fit into this? Is it really all about you?” And my answer is “No, it’s not about me at all.” That’s the thing. If it was about me and my abilities, honestly, every time I led, it would be a major disaster. Things would never come together. Songs would get all mixed up, words would come out wrong and I definitely wouldn’t come in on the right key. But every week, things come together. Songs go (mostly) smoothly. Notes and beats are usually right on track. And people are actually able to focus on the real reason we’re there, to sing and pray and listen about who He is and what He’s doing for us. I say this completely outside of myself. It absolutely has nothing to do with me. God has me doing this truly terrifying thing, something that a year ago wouldn’t have even crossed my mind to do. Seriously, it was never even a thought in my head until about 6 months ago to ever step into this kind of position. And here I am, doing it. I love that I’m learning and being stretched in an area that I’m passionate about. Today’s praise and worship was fun and worshipful and most importantly, I think God was glorified.

Okay, so after fellowship, a few of us went to lunch together and then decided to go to Computer City. Computer City is like a mall but instead of having all different types of stores, it only has electronic stores. You can get just about anything your electronic loving little heart desires. CC is where I bought my iPod Touch last September and since a couple of my friends were wanting to buy one, that’s where I took them. Now if you’ve read my last blog or so, you know I’ve been taking Chinese classes for the last 4 weeks. I’ve gone from about 150 words to 400-500 probably. Well, the last time I was at CC getting my iPod, I knew about 4 words. Literally. A friend took me, one who had only been here a year but has a great grasp of the language, and helped me bargain for mine. And here I was a year later helping friends bargain for theirs. I wasn’t great, and thankfully the guy we were talking to was so very patient, but we were able to understand each other and a plan was made (we weren’t able to buy because they didn’t have any in stock so instead we made a plan to meet in town tomorrow to buy them…such is China...that arrangement is even harder to get across than just buying the dang thing). Anyway, it was a proud moment. In fact, I think I hi-fived a couple of people afterwards. I, of course, have SO FAR to go in my language study but it was exciting to be able to something as unimportant as that. You English-speakers living in English-speaking countries, you have no idea what it’s like to live in a place for a year and not EVER be able to communicate with someone properly. It gets very frustrating. And to know that it’ll be another 2-3 years before I’m even able to really have a decent conversation…arg.

Anyway, today was a good “full-circle” day to celebrate my life in China. I’m still happy to be here. I’m still in love with the country. I’m still sure this is where I’m supposed to be. After all the crazy and wonderful and extremely difficult things I’ve done and been through this year, I can’t wait to see what God’s preparing me for in the future. The unknown…it’s exciting and oh so terrifying all at the same time.


Kayla said...

Love this!! Way to go on purchasing the ipod!! I remember buying them 'under the escalators' not that long ago :) Sniff, sniff! Proud of you! Love you!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! On a year. On being able to communicate. On leading the worship. On trusting God and doing what He wants and expects you to do. An amazing day and an amazing year, Jen. I'm proud of you.

And I wish you were home. Just one more year!

I have loved your last several blogs. They have been very informative and interesting. I'm sorry I can't do justice to them in this short response. I have to leave now to go to church.

Aaron just told me that a co-worker in her 40s and her husband were in a terrible motorcycle accident yestday. He broke his back and she has terrible injuries and may lose her leg. Please pray for them.

We love you and will write more later one place or another.

I have a grant-writing class Monday and Tuesday. Hopefully it will be interest.

Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

I so look forward to reading your interesting blogs. Has it only been a year since the going away picnic in Horn's back yard?

Your life is changed for ever. And God is preparing a wonderful Christian lady for an important job.

When a missionary goes to the field the first year is spent learning the language and culture. Of course you aren't on the mission field but sort of. You are learning about the Chinese people in your daily walk. Your first year was sooo busy you just didn't have time to learn the the language. P___ing this will be a good year for you.

By the way do the Chinese people have a good sense of humor?


Anonymous said...

When I said God was preparing you for an important job I didn't mean your current job wasn't important. In today's world many people are call to the mission field and go, but some can't deal with the hard ship of living away from family and problems they face on the field. I understand this past year was a challenge.

Jen said...

Anonymous, who are you? I think it's funny that you wrote out the "m" word but put a space in "praying". :) The "m" word is much trickier and probably should be left out. If anything, refer to it as "the field". :)

And I knew what you meant about God preparing me. I feel the exact same way. And it almost seems like it's in the direction of some little town in the middle of nowhere in Western China. No money, no real toilets, no comfort zone...who knows? It's all exciting.