Friday, February 20, 2009

Two Homes, Two Lives, Two Worlds

The week before we went to the US we had the treat of seeing our friends Mark and Lynn as they came to adopt their precious daughter Paige.
Leaving Hong Kong airport at Spring Festival.
Abbey wore her tutu throughout the trip home.
Enjoying the beautiful California weather. Goodbye long underwear and heaters!
Big smile because Auntie Cynthia is passing out cupcakes as usual.

Both Abbey and I are assimilating our new reality. Somehow going to the US for Spring Festival and coming back to China made us rethink the words like home, school, church, family, friends. We have to clarify all the time which side of the world we are talking about. Our lives will never be the same. It's so funny to hear Abbey talking all the time about Hong Kong, Shekou, and Shenzhen...trying to blend all that with our life in the US. She definitely has a global perspective.
We had a bit of a bumpy re-entry into China as Abbey got sick the day before we left the US and eventually ended up with acute bronchitis. I've also had conjunctivitis and just today a massive migraine. We've been readjusting to how hard simple things can be like getting groceries, communicating with people over repairs or problems, and battling mosquitoes at night. We've also been appreciating again how simple our life and routine is here and how very thankful we are for having this year together.
We had a fantastic time in the US, meeting with those we love from morning 'till night, eating lots of yummy familiar food, and shopping at Target. Being at church was so incredibly refreshing. We also took care of all kinds of business getting our teeth cleaned, taxes done, immunizations, restocking medicines, registering for preschool, visa paperwork, and so much more. Our trip back to China was made so much easier because my mom came back with us. It would have been so hard to say goodbye and instead Abbey is thrilled to have her Laolie here.
Last night we were able to have Donna and her girls stay with us as they head back to work at their foster home in Henan. It was really great to be able to share our experiences and learn from each other. Abbey was thrilled to have three more girls in the house. Donna helped me to understand how cushy I have it here in our lovely apartment with access to more western goods. She is doing an amazing job overseeing a houseful of little ones with special needs, being a single parent, and adjusting to the challenges of living in China.
Abbey's day care had a special get together luncheon our first day back so that Abbey could see all her friends. It was so wonderful! Thank you Tina and Dan.
As if having a party for us was not enough, they also let us stay in their home for a week sleeping in the comfiest bed on earth and eating all their Trader Joe's groceries.Uncle Bob and Ashton make awesome forts. It's especially fun with a flashlight.Fun with Michalea, Luke, and Carolyn.
More fun with Laura, Penelope, and Phoebe - they rock! We loved every moment.
When you are very tired from partying with your friends find the nearest closet and go to sleep.
Feeding Derica's new pony. Abbey had her first donut at this play date - chocolate with sprinkles.
Our dear friends the Bland's had a mouth-watering Mexican feast for us with a houseful of our Shepherd's House friends. It felt so good to be with those who have been with me since I first stepped foot onto the yellow brick road. Abbey was so happy to be with Madison again.Pizza with teacher Mary and teacher Christine. Did I say we love our church?
Slumber party with Aisi and Breeana! Thank you to our Jonathan and Michelle for all your love and friendship.

Lindi and Amir treated us to our favorite Sharkey's Mexican food and Billie took us for a long awaited In and Out Burger. Joanie made us lovely quesdilla's and tortillia soup. Sorry to talk about food so much but it was such a fun break from rice, rice, and more rice. We love spending time with all our dear friends!

Oh, and our friend Kelly asked what was important to bring back to China with us. Tons of otc medicines and vitamins, birthday party supplies, a huge box of Goldfish crackers (you can get them in China but it costs a fortune), lots of clothes for Abbey from Target. Oh, and smoke detectors and makeup. Many of the comfort items we would love to have there we realized we can really live without for another six months and it will just be a huge treat to indulge when we have them again - like magazines and books in English, craft supplies, and good quality toys. Oh and also for Kelly, you will be happy to know that we got Abbey her very own real Disney princess camera and she is loving taking pictures!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Living Between Two Worlds
I have had many moments since we arrived in the US of feeling we are in a dream and will be waking up any moment in China. It's been such a wonderful time but somewhat surreal. In two days we head back to our other life, and I miss that life as we miss this one when we are there. Some of the things that shocked me upon arrival in China have now been shocking in the reverse here. It's all the little things...
  • There is a lot of cotton on the q-tips here that I once thought we needed and now realize you actually don't, it's a luxury
  • There is toilet paper in every bathroom here and I don't have to check my purse all the time to make sure we have some. I see that as a true need, but no one in our other world does
  • My sister told me to use a paper towel last night for Abbey's napkin and it seemed so wasteful to use that huge piece of paper when we are used to having a very small, thin tissue
  • The refrigerators here were my first shock here and I continue to remain in awe of the size of them and the incredible amount of food in every home. It's awesome to see so many things we know and do we pick, where do we start?
  • We've been sleeping on an incredibly soft bed and just giggling each time we crawl into it, we will be back to our 3/4" mattress soon. Hard as a rock.
  • The trash cans here are gigantic. At work and at home in China they are all smaller than a little bucket, I fill mine up at work about every 20 minutes. how is it that as an American I create so much waste? especially paper.
  • Media assaults and insults here. I was sitting behind a van last night at a traffic light (strange to be driving after 6 months) and this guy had mounted a flat screen to the back window with a slideshow of girls in bikinis with motorcycles. One thing I love about China is seeing nothing like that! Nothing like that on tv, NO magazine covers at check out stands, I mean none...they aren't even sold in grocery stores, convenience or discount stores.
  • I tried to go see a movie here, big mistake. My last movie was Cheaper by the Dozen on Christmas day several years ago. I attempted to go to Slumdog Millionare. Closed my eyes through the trailers and walked out doubled over and bawling 15 minutes into the movie. I can't take it...way to close to our home and heart in China. The begging and poverty is too real to me now.
And the big things...
  • Struggling with survivors guilt that I am free and that as a single mom school teacher here, I am actually one of the richest people on the face of the planet. What I am I doing with all that I have? I am astounded at the result of one US dollar in China. So little can go such a long, long way . I keep thinking of Schindler's list and how he grieved at the end that he had not done more, thinking with a few thousand dollars the lives he could have saved. Every dollar that is spent I am seeing children's faces, who in the world is thinking of and caring for them as a parent would? He is. More than ever I am convinced that He is a Father to the fatherless. When we allow Him to work in us for adoption or orphan care we get the honor of feeling His heart pulse through us. It is so near and dear.
I want to share a link with you to Emily Chapman's blog to see Maria's Big House of Hope. I am so thrilled to see them yarping as they assemble the cribs. And to think that there is now a hospice filled with love to usher children as they head into eternity.

While I'm at it I might as well link to Chinese Starfish too. She is opening up another foster home with nine new cleft babies, how wonderful!

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