Monthly Archives: March 2009

Little Victories

Some of you know about my good friend, Lisa. She was my class monitor last year for my self-sponsored class and asked if we could study the book out of class because she wanted to “learn stories.”

I’ve been thinking about her and have also been asking many of you to keep her in her thoughts also, as she has been on the fence for a long time about her beliefs and seems to be seeking out a greater truth. She had a bad experience in her past involving FG cults and had been struggling to accept any sort of belief system, but was still seeking, albeit not actively.

Last week, she came to my house for my first study group and admitted to me afterward that she didn’t like the group setting and that she would prefer for us to meet one-on-one “just to have dinner, and not to always study” because she had a hard time opening up to new people. This is a big part of Chinese culture and “guanxi”– Chinese people take their relationships very seriously and it takes a lot to build guanxi with new people. I told her that I was glad that we had developed guanxi with each other I looked forward to deepening our friendship, but I was also sad that it seemed like she wasn’t as interested in learning more.

This week, she didn’t come to our study, so I shared with my other Chinese friends, Pearl and Bernadette (who’s also my Chinese teacher) about my concerns about Lisa and how I had been hoping Dad would really speak to her heart. We all lifted her up, but when I saw Lisa this morning in class, she seemed more aloof and distant than ever before. I was so sad that I could be losing an important and valuable friendship… but Dad works in amazing ways!

Today, Lisa called me and asked me to meet her downstairs for a moment. I had no idea what for, but when I came down, she smiled and said (in a very cute, Chinese type of way), “Look at my hair!” She’d just gotten back from a hair salon where she cut and permed her hair. Lisa is about 30 years old this year and her new hairstyle suited her age a bit more and I could tell she was really excited about it. More importantly, in Chinese culture, changing your hair symbolizes a significant change in your life. When I expressed that we’d hoped that she had come to our study group, she told me that with her haircut, she hoped to start a new chapter of life where her outlooks are different and she would be more open to new people. It was so amazing to see how quickly Dad answered our request for a change in Lisa’s heart. Here’s a picture of Lisa from last semester boiling some dumplings at my house. Please keep her in your thoughts!

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A Few Words About My Mom On Her 50th

n579364333_1210334_7648My mom just turned the big five-oh on March 13th. About a week ago, I asked if she was planning to celebrate in any way and she simply said, “No, I’m too tired.”

If this response came from any other woman turning 50, I would have assumed she might be bit wary of hitting a significant adult rite-of-passage… much like the ones faced by women turning 30 who still have a long list of unchecked items on their “To-Do Before I Turn 30” list (I’d know… I have one such list myself). But it quickly occurred to me that my mom just isn’t that person. In fact, my mother is one of the first women who coached me in the beauty and elegance of a woman who ages gracefully– without lipsuction or Botox, but with dignity, integrity, and acceptance. She’s one of the first women I know who took a stand in a changing generation of women who seek to be “somebody” by saying that she was proud of who she was… a loving mother and housewife. That, in fact, there is much more honor in her role of raising and supporting a family that would quite literally fall apart without her existence than is acknowledged in our day and age. My mom was the first one to tell me that making straight A’s were worthless without effort and a C earned over sleepless nights of conquering theorems and vocabulary words I shed tears over was worth more than a 4.0. She has bravely endured more than I think she realizes in terms of being the youngest daughter of an immigrant family struggling to make it in an unforgiving United States and has carried over those 50 years of experience seamlessly.

There are a few things I often poke fun at my mom for, one of which is her characteristic laugh. It is loud, piercing, and when you hear it from the other room (or city), you know for sure it belongs to her. Once I hit the tender and rebellious age of 13– right when you realize DON’T want to be like your mother– nearly every one of my relatives told me that my laugh sounded exactly like my mom’s. At first horrified, I tried to change it and do everything in my power to rebel against turning into my mother. Today, I laugh with my whole body and yes, it’s really loud, piercing, and you can hear it throughout Beijing. I know exactly where it comes from and I’m proud of every part of me that comes from her.

My sister once brilliantly said, “Mom has conquered the delicate balance between being a disciplinarian and a friend” and I couldn’t agree more.

So today, even if she doesn’t celebrate because she is “too tired,” I want to celebrate all the reasons WHY my mom is tired. At an age where many women are looking forward to retiring (although I wouldn’t doubt for a second that my mom daydreams about one day setting up home in Mexico, her favorite place in the world), my mom works tirelessly to raise my brother, organize family vacations, check in with extended family members, take care of her often-unreasonable parents, develop new friendships and be involved at her fellowship, and the list goes on. I miss her everyday, and even if she’s not celebrating her birthday, I am so thankful to be blessed by her and hope she would be blessed today and every other day by a Father who smiles upon his good and faithful servant.

I love you, Ma. Happy Birthday!

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Things that I’m Afraid of in China & Other Stuff

I was just realizing today that I’ve completely gotten over fears that I had when I first came to China. Things like accidentally eating dog or getting lost in Beijing seem trivial now… but the things I’m ACTUALLY now afraid of now that I’m 6 months into my stint seem completely ridiculous… but here they are anyway:

1) Getting the wretched Asian woman pancake butt. Yes, folks. Of all the things that could happen to me in China, this is the one that tops the list. I may not be proud of any of my physical aspects, but the sheer existence of a rear end in China is something to be appreciated. I would be really upset if I lost mine.

2) Slipping on the squatty potty and falling in. I’ve seen how those things are cleaned. Or not-cleaned.

3) Throwing up in a taxi. It could happen more easily than you think… I almost ALWAYS get a little ill in the taxis in BJ and given how crazy the drivers are, sticking your head out the window to barf could mean you end up at your destination decapitated.

4) Trying clothing on in a shopping center. Clothes at regular chain stores where fitting rooms are available are usually really expensive, so you are better off buying clothes at a giant market where you have to bargain. The fitting rooms there consist of a shower curtain and the worker’s ability to hold it up while you struggle to try change in their tiny booths. I’m wary enough of just being told, “We don’t have GIANT sizes that would ever fit YOU!” So the thought of dropping trou and having a skinny worker girl’s ability to hold up a thin curtain being your only saving grace is EXTREMELY scary.

In other news… things are going well. I’m really starting to appreciate this city more and more and am making lots of friends who are fun to explore Beijing with.

Dear, dear Dana Weld recently left our team in China to go back to the states. I won’t go into how much she is missed here because it would take forever and I have two classes to prepare for! But here is a link to a Facebook album with photos from her Farewell Party.

Dana, we miss you and we love you so much! Beijing experienced a HUGE loss when you left!

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/album.php?aid=2200169&id=6715783&ref=mf

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