Sunday, July 31, 2011

Au Revoir Old Pal

I will miss fast internet and carpeted floors, 
little doggies and palm trees.

I will miss having conversations with the bank teller
because he speaks English and enjoys small talk.

I will miss Walmart, Target and Walgreens.

I will miss easy grocery shopping, drive-thru Starbucks, 
and the Rocky Mountains.

I will miss parents and brother and friends.

I will miss Barnes & Nobles and cheap Shampoo.

I will miss the freedom of going where I want to go 
when I want to go there.

I will miss listening to Christian radio any time I want to.


I will not miss engine lights, car problems or gas prices.

I will not miss sleeping on the cot in the living room or 
living out of suitcases.

I will not miss leaving tips or paying food tax.

I will not miss commercials, crappy TV or American 

I will not miss complicated technology, having everything 
at my fingertips, or the debt crisis.

It took me about 2 weeks to re-adjust to America, but adjust I did. It's hard to live in dual realities so I kind of had to forget about my life in China and be all here. I gained back my ability to spend money, eat out, enjoy movies on cable, the freedom of driving. But I can't wait to get back to my five flights of stairs to my apartment, walking to a restaurant for dinner, no TV, and overall simpler life. 

Thanks for the all the fun America! See you in a year or two. 

I leave you with...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

THE Road Trip- Thank Yous

This trip was made possible by the following people:

My parents- thank you so much for letting me take your good car away from you for 5 weeks only to return it to you with broken parts that needed to be fixed. I REALLY appreciate the sacrifice you made in letting me use it and the money you've spent to fix it. I recognize how big of a deal it was to trust me with it for so long a journey.

The C's, Z's, M's, P's, and O's- thank you so much for opening your home to me. Thank you for taking care of me, making me meals, giving me a bed to sleep in, spending extra money on me. Especially the M's. Two and a half weeks is a long time to put up with me. Seriously.

My friends in China- thanks for praying me through.

THE Road Trip- Part Deuce

I learned a few things on this trip.

1. I still don't have it all together. I'm not above making poor choices, needing to ask forgiveness, having to learn from my mistakes. I hate to learn things the hard way. But sometimes that's the only way. Hopefully, they are lessons I only have to learn once.

2. I have a lot of people all over the country that really love me. Not just because I'm the "fun one" but because they value me. That...surprised me. I mean, I love them. I appreciate them. I wanted to see them. But it blew me away, the effort that was made by many to make sure they saw me. People took off work, cancelled plans, drove hours back and forth every weekend, came home from college, bought me gifts, made me meals, worked out special plans, let me choose how/what/when/where, paid for movies, dinners, gas, coffee, wrote cards...loved on me. They loved on me the way I needed to be loved. 

3. I hate cars. More specifically, I hate car problems. If you've known me long, you know that I've had some HORRIBLE car experiences. I had about a year while living down in Florida where my car was in the shop at least twice a month or more. I've dealt with blown engines and transmissions, broken radiators (helped change it myself), more flat tires than anyone should ever deal with (I popped three during my first month after I got my license), oil leaks, car accidents, broken windows and trunks...needless to say, I've been scarred for life. Anyway, the day before I left South Florida, the car (which up to this point had been perfect) began doing crazy things with the oil pressure. After a mini-freakout, a tow, a good look-over, and an oil change, I was back on the road with the assurance from the car guys that everything was fine. But it wasn't. The car continued it's craziness for the rest of the trip with a hope and many prayers from me that it wasn't anything serious and that I wasn't ruining the car by driving it for another 3,000 miles with the oil light on. Long story short, I got home and it wasn't anything major. Praise God. But after living with a knot in my stomach for two weeks every time I turned the key, I was glad to give it back to the parentals. 

4. Friends are friends forever if the Lord's the Lord of them. Remember when you thought that was the best song ever? Seriously though, this trip has reconfirmed that when you have a spiritual bond with someone, it just makes it easier to pick up where you left off. There's something about having God in common that makes things like time and distance inconsequential. 

5. Saying goodbye is always hard. In some ways, saying goodbye this time was harder than it was the first time. I think it's because I really don't know when I'll see many of them again, if ever. I'm not sure if I'm coming back next summer and when I do finally return, I doubt I'll do the US tour again. Things change, people move, people change...who knows. And that makes me sad. Really sad.

6. I love my life in China. If you've read this post, then you know that one of the most FAQs is "How's China?". I was probably asked this question or some form of it at least 200 times on this trip. A little irritating but also helpful. Being asked the same questions over and over helped me to really figure out how I feel about my life in China. To process through my thoughts, feelings and experiences from the last two years. What did I figure out? My life in China is awesome and I'm super content there. God has provided for me in every area of my life, in the big and small things. He has blessed me so much more than I deserve. And honestly, I can't wait to get back to it. 

There's more to add but I'm still working through it.

THE Road Trip- Part A

Over 6000 miles. 31 days. 19 states. 5 homes. 2 hotels. Every person I've ever met. Stops: Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Home.

It's about 6,400 miles from Loveland, Colorado to Qingdao, China. If that gives you any perspective. 

Indianapolis- Went to my old church and enjoyed some incredible worship. Twice. Had great conversations with people from my old Bible study. Sat and talked about ministry and life with a fellow worship pastor. Stayed at the only hostel in the state of Indianapolis. Went to a friend's wedding. Saw friends from China. 

Toledo- Spent time with a couple I used to work with in Florida. Treated like royalty. Shopped. Ate good food. Hung out with some sweet dogs. Rested. Enjoyed a beautiful back yard full of trees and flowers.

Virginia- Stayed with a family that I used to work with. Taught their kids (who are now grown...yikes!) These boys will probably rule the world someday. Or be rich and famous. One or the other. Staying with them felt like family. They're salt-of-the-earth kind of people. We laughed a lot. Set off fireworks. Went putt-putting (I won by the way). Ate fresh fruits and vegetables from their amazing garden. And home-made ice cream. HOME-MADE! Got to say good-bye to sweet little Sarah-dog. 

Florida- Moved in to a house, worked with her, taught a couple of the sons, great friends, like family. I had a lizard for a roommate. Celebrated the 4th with them. Laughed and played a lot. It was like being in my own home. Love these people. Got to see a lot of people. Sang at church a few times. Met friends for coffee, found closure, talked about moving to Africa. Went to the beach and the pool. Got a bit of a tan. Ate delicious Cuban food. Game night with my game-night friends. Lots of lunches and dinners with good people. Great conversations, hard learning experiences. Saw some good movies. Listened to great music. Read some interesting books. Sang with some of my favorite people.  Slept in, stayed up late, kept really busy. Karaoke, dancing, laughter, fun. Saw old co-workers, best friends, favorite people, a healthy church, my pastor, students, "family", new friends. 

Alabama- One of my best friends from college and former roommate when I lived in Indianapolis. Shopped, ate, talked, reminisced. Got to know the new husband a bit better. A time of catch-up.Another friend, a mentor. A delicious lunch and laughs about my Scarlet Fever. A short but well-worth-it stop.

Tennessee- My old roommate from Florida. Knows me better than most people. I'm the most ridiculous version of myself with her. The biggest one-upper I know. And I love it. Went swimming, grilled out, hung out with Diego dog. Again, a brief but fantastic visit.

I'm a quality-timer and this trip was filled with a lot quality time with some of my closest friends, with people who've made some of the biggest impacts on my adult life. A lot of laughter, reminiscing, deep conversations, a few tears, reaffirming of the bond of friendship, some growth and some closure.  

I spent most of my time exhausted. It's just a lot of work to do all that talking and soul searching and working out of things. Necessary and truly uplifting but hard work. I've learned about myself that I'm a closet introvert. I know this may surprise many of you but it's true. I love people. I love building relationships. I love getting to know new people. But I must have time to recharge or I just become a dud. And I'm afraid that by the end of my trip, I was a little less outgoing, a little less shiny and sparkly. When you're with other people literally 24/7 (except the 100 hours of driving...which also wore me out), it tends to take a toll. But the truth is, I wouldn't have had it any other way. I'm so glad I got to see every person I did, visit every place I went to, spend as much time with people as I did. Yah, it was tiring but I don't care about that for my sake. I just felt bad for those that weren't able to see the normal me. 

Maybe if I ever do this kind of trip again (yah right!), I'll go in the opposite order.

To be continued...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Top Ten FAQ's About China

1. "How's China?"
China is awesome. I love my job and the people I work with. The city I live in is beautiful. I've got great friends. God is teaching me lots of things. Yep, I'm really happy. If you want to know more, feel free to ask something a little more specific.

2. "How's your Chinese?"
You would be embarrassed for me if you knew how little Chinese I actually knew. I'd like to say it's because I'm around English speakers all day but... I can get around town, shop, use very basic sentences. That's it. I have the goal to greatly improve in my language skills this year. 

3. "Have you gotten a Chinese boyfriend yet?"
*Blink* *Blink* No, as a matter of fact I have not. 
"No Ching Chang Chong in your life?"
No, I have not found me a...Ching Chang Chong.

4. "Do you miss home?"
Well, because I've moved so much in my life, I don't really have a home here in America. China is my home and I'm quite happy there. If you mean, "Do I miss America?", my answer would still have to be "no". I miss the people. Of course I miss the people. And I miss some of the conveniences like pre-made salads and sandwich meats but as a whole, I don't really feel homesick for America.

5. "When are you moving back to America?"
When I moved to China, it was with the intention of forever. I sold almost all of my earthly possessions and have no home to move back to. That being said, if God moved me back that'd be great. But at this point, I plan to stay overseas and specifically China for an undetermined amount of time.

6. "Have you eaten dog?"
No, I haven't eaten dog. I probably could find a restaurant in my city that sells it but I choose not to. The Chinese actually love dogs as pets. And they pamper them just like Americans do. I've seen dressed up and toe-nail painted dogs all over the place.

7. "What about cat?"
No, no cat. As far as I know, the Chinese do not eat cat. They eat donkey, horse, cow, lamb, probably some goat, pig, chicken, and a lot of tofu. But no cat.

8. "What do you do in your free time?"
Good question. I spend a lot of time at Starbucks, working and talking. I go see movies, eat out with friends, walk around town watching Chinese people watching me, shop at markets, read books, travel...mostly the same stuff I would do in America except with a twist. The movies have Chinese sub-titles, the food's mostly Asian, I'm stared at, I have to barter at the market and so on. Oh yes, and I watch ridiculous videos on Youtube like this one and this one.

9. "When the Chinese speak English, they can't say words with the "L" sound in them, can they? You know like in "The Christmas Story" when that family goes to the Chinese restaurant for Christmas dinner and the Chinese waiters sing Deck the Halls and pronounce the "Fa la la la la la la la la" as "Fa ra ra ra ra ra ra ra ra".  Isn't that true?"
Um, well, they do have a hard time saying the "L" sounds's not really that noticeable. And most of the Chinese people that speak English work very hard to speak it correctly. I mean, there are at least 3 sounds in the Chinese language that I struggle with saying. And they are very gracious with my attempts. So...I guess I just don't even notice it when they struggle with some of our sounds.

10. Are you taller than all the Chinese people?
Well, it depends on what part of China I'm in. Anywhere west or south then yes, I'm probably a foot taller than most of them. But in my province and northern China, the people are much taller. I'm probably the average height of the men there. Which is nice. It was unexpected. I was sure that I would tower over everyone there. Yay!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I'm only blogging to let the world know that I am actually alive (and by "world" I mean the 13 of you that actually read this blog). I'm in the middle of my 5 week-long road trip across America so life is crazy. I've driven 3100 miles and crossed 12 states (big ones) so far. I am now resting comfortably in South Florida among people that are almost family. I've even unpacked my suitcases. 

My stops thus far have included Indianapolis (and Wabash)/Indiana, Toledo/Ohio, Amherst/Virginia, and now Hollywood/Florida. I'm here for two more weeks and have grand plans that include lunches and family dinners, BBQs and the beach, ladies night out and game night, church and helping with worship and maybe a trip to the Keys. And anything else I can fit into my time here.

I've been so busy and tired. It's a lot of work to drive so far, talk so much, and then leave again. But it's been absolutely worth it. And it's not because I'm doing all of these amazing things. It's because I'm seeing all of these people and it's so totally normal. Comfortable. Like we've never been apart. Now, that's a sign of a good friendship. To spend years away from each other and still pick up where you left off. I've been able to do that in every place I've visited. 

I'm very happy. I'm happy that I'm getting to love on and be loved on by amazing people for two months. And I'm happy that at the end of July, I get to go back to a place that I love, where there are people that I love and that love me. 

When people ask me "how is China?", I usually respond with, "It's awesome." and then go into something about how good God has been. And then I feel that I have to explain that I know that God is always good, regardless of my circumstance but that the last year has been this amazing time of growth and tangible goodness in my life. And then the person that I'm talking to usually says something along the lines of, "I can tell that you really mean that. Your face just lights up when you talk about China".

It's true. It's great to be here among all of my friends and family. But I'm so glad that I'm homesick for China and my life there. It's a good sign to be so content here (yes, I know, it took a couple of weeks to get there) and still deeply miss there. 

I promise to do my best to keep you posted on life. I actually have several blogs partially written or in my head that I just haven't posted yet. Maybe I'll get around to them...