Picture Update!

Life has flown by in the past couple weeks.  Here are the highlights (actually, these are just the pics I had of life.  Ha!)

  • update 3I was missing my friend in Chengdu so decided to try out some sushi for lunch.  We made it Texas style with avocados, hot peppers, and cream cheese.  It was fabulous (due to my really great teacher)!
  • Cam showed off his grilling superpowers and grilled us some salmon (the picture is the next day leftovers).  He really takes our dinners to the next level, and I am so thankful.
  • Cupcakes.  Because we needed something with sprinkles after a failed dinner attempt (read about it below).
  • update 2My hair seems to have developed waves in this humidity.  Makes me miss my mama and her curls.
  • We went on our first fast train ride to the capital of the island.  My seat buddy was this adorable bookworm that stole my heart about 12 years ago.
  • I made a new friend at an old friend’s house.  Charlie.  He cuddled up with me and was snoring in no time.  I am definitely a dog person…and this little cutie was awesome!
  • update 4We rode a bus for the first time in Sanya.  And we may have been riding with chickens…not definite but definitely possible.
  • Saw a rainbow at the beach on a drizzly day.  It was magical.  So was the sweet tea I was drinking.
  • Ordered ICE!!  After 20 months of not having ice, this is like a little cube of heaven in my mouth.  That huge bag was delivered to my home for only $1.60
  • update 5The dinner failure?  It was jiaozi.  That friend I was missing?  She taught me to make this too, but apparently her student was paying attention.  Or maybe there was a language barrier… When we made it together…it was amazing.  When I made it without her?  Wow.  The meat was good…the wrapper was too thick and a little slimy.  There were multiple reasons for this.  One is that my stove top won’t get hot enough to keep a rolling boil in water.  So by the time the meat was cooked, it had been in the water too long.  Just gross.  The other problem was that after we spent an hour wrapping them, we failed to separate them with flour, so we were left with one big glob of…mess.  Better luck next time I suppose.
  • Ellie is still unable to eat chocolate of any variety without wearing it.  She will outgrow this, right?!?
  • update 6Chocolate chip cookies really do make the world a happier place to live.
  • The homeschool books arrived, and it brought me to my knees.  I sat there and looked at those books feeling overwhelmed and incapable for days.  I finally started reading through the teacher guides getting a handle on 2nd, 4th, and 7th grades.  We started school a week and a half ago and still love each other.  They are learning and enjoying the process (for the most part).  There have been a few rounds of tears, LOTS of silliness, laughter, lightbulbs glowing, and moments when this mama was the proudest on the island.
  • update 7Look at the city view!  It isn’t my city, but rather early morning in the capital while we were there.  If you look closely, you will see glimpses of the grime that define this country.  Far away, it appears dreamy, but up close, you really see life.  And that life isn’t one that values cleanliness.
  • On the train ride home we had four seats that faced each other.  I propped my legs up to read a teachers guide while Faith watched a movie and munched on snickerdoodles.  We were all tangled together and happy as could be.
  • Faith.  Give the girl a free moment and this happens.  She has so much creativity that she can’t help but to leak it out wherever she goes.  This one was one of my favorites.  Such a cute little pirate.  Good thing too because she may have interrupted my nap with this adorableness…

update1

  • Gracie got a late birthday present from Mush (Cam’s grandma).  It was late because of us, not her. 😉  Gracie had really been wanting this little backpack and has carried it all over the place.  It’s perfect!
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Unexpected Answers

Yesterday, Father proved His faithfulness once again and taught me a lesson in the midst of it!  Cam and I have been taking advantage of the non-polluted air and beautiful scenery by jogging in the mornings and following that with a swim.  We have about 20 months of laziness to make up for.  I have honestly never sweat so much in my life!  This humidity is something else.

When I got to the pool, there was a woman there.  My first thought was that it was inconvenient.  I didn’t want to share this gigantic pool with anyone else (selfish heart sin coming out).  So, I started in on my laps, ignoring her.  After I had swam for awhile (and was sufficiently exhausted), I started to have a conversation in my head.  You see, it takes a lot of courage to start a conversation in another language.

Will she understand me?

How do I start?

Will I understand her?

What if I say the words wrong?

So, I took a deep breath of bravery and on the exhale asked her if she came swimming often.

She smiled at me.

A smile speaks so loudly to a frightened heart.  My racing heart immediately calmed and we began a conversation.  She is married with two kids.  She stays home with them.  She lives right outside our complex and was there waiting for her teacher to come give her swim lessons.

He Chinese was so clear…without all the local dialect messing up her pronunciation.  I could understand her, and for the most part, she could understand me as well.  It was such a relief.  Such an answer to pleas I have been uttering.  With the limitations on my time due to homeschooling and simply living, I have asked for a friend who lives conveniently close.  I asked for someone whom I could understand.  I asked for someone who understood me (what I really mean is for someone who will take the time to figure out what I am trying to actually say…talking to someone who is just learning the language is VERY difficult for the listener.  They have to make a lot of inferences, and it has to be exhausting!).  I asked for someone friendly.

He is faithful.

The lesson in the midst of this that struck me so hard was this:

Had I not stepped out in obedience, in spite of my insecurities, I wouldn’t have allowed Him to prove His faithfulness.

It took me making up my mind to start a conversation.  He had equipped me well, yet I was still hesitant.  He knew He had a blessing waiting in the wings for me, but He was giving me a choice to accept it or reject it.  If I had chosen to get out of the pool and head home, without ever greeting this woman, I would not have received the answer to so many pleas I have asked.  I would have continued on in ignorance, wondering why He hadn’t given me the friend my heart so desires.

I have a date with this new friend on Monday morning at 8am at the pool.  Please ask that she not forget the time, that the Enemy will be far away, and that His light will shine forth from every word I utter.  And baring my sin nature once again, ask that my attitude be like His.  Monday is the day we start school in our home.  I am nervous and terrified of this beginning and having a date the hour before we are “scheduled” to begin causes a bit of anxiety in my heart.  He has proven His faithfulness and will continue, but my flesh sure gets nervous!

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