Monday, April 11, 2016

A Farewell to China

At this very moment I am sitting here on the couch as 5 Chinese men are in my living room assembling boxes to ship all my items home. Home has always been America, however for the past 2 1/2 years this has been my home. China has made me feel so unfamiliar and uncomfortable at times I have had to work extra hard at making my house feel like a home. Because we are so far away from family, the individuals that we have gotten close to have become our Shanghai family. Which makes this whole process of moving back seem extremely bittersweet. 

Let me take you back to my flight leaving LAX to move here. I was a freaking wreck. I had been crying for 3 days straight with nerves and apprehension of taking this big step into a new country and culture that I didn't quite understand or relate to. I was 16 weeks pregnant, nervous, scared, unsure and I couldn't stop crying because I wasn't extremely excited about this new adventure. 

Of course, Peyton thought this was a great opportunity to capture this Kodak moment and I am kind of glad he took this. It reminds me that although we sometimes think things are difficult and testing all our limits, we end up growing and progressing because of them. Little did I know at the time that all of those apprehensions and fears would be worth it and I would grow in ways I never would have in America. 



There have been so many good times and happy memories that we have had here in China. Holidays were especially hard here because China does not celebrate a lot of our traditional holidays. At this time of the year I would get especially homesick as I watched family and friends through social media celebrating Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Cesar Chavez day. (But seriously, I truly missed that holiday.) The holidays ended up being extra special because we made a big deal out of them to compensate for us not being home for them. We searched all of Shanghai to find a Turkey (that cost 1/2 our months salary) we bought insane amounts of fireworks, we celebrated Christmas 2 months out of the year (because we wanted to!) and we introduced one another to family traditions. 








Another thing that kept my heart happy and my smile big was the all the girl time! I looked forward to those lunches for one another's birthdays, date nights, craft nights, baby showers, pedicures, playgroups, girls trips, etc. If any of us were having a Shanglow day we reached out to the group threads for support and scheduled a girls time ASAP. This is also where I really discovered the power and strengths of girlfriends. We all love our husbands and our children but sometimes all you need is a girl to give you sympathy, encouragement, or a pep talk. And all of these can be done over a cinnamon roll. These friendships were essential here and I wish I could put all these lovely ladies in each of my suitcases. 



















And the kiddies! Can't forget them. They have become so close. We have watched them connect, play, fight, hug, learn and grow together. I don't know what Samantha would've done without her friends. 











Another memory is date nights...Having Ayi every Saturday night has given us the opportunity to go out without Samantha and enjoy seeing Shanghai. This involved great restaurants, adventures and often group and double dates. We are going to miss our weekly date nights so much! 

And sometimes we even go to North Korea on our date nights!










I can't talk about living in China without mentioning the experiences that we have had here. This place is unlike any other place. There is always something happening. I have loved living in the heart of the city where the skyscrapers never sleep. Everyday I see something new and I am constantly surprised or intrigued (and sometimes shocked) by the things that I see or witness. It always gives us something to discuss around the dinner table. "You'll never believe what I saw today..." "And then the taxi driver said..." "When I went to the market..." These daily adventures kept us on our toes and made the experience all the more fun. 















For the record, Samantha has no idea who this man is...and I don't either. 













 We have had an amazing time here in Shanghai. We have been fortunate enough to travel to destinations where we learned about cultures we had never heard of and were able to enjoy the Lords beautiful earth. We met people who enriched our lives and made our experience here fulfilling and enjoyable. I know I am excited to get back to an easier way of living, having a car to drive, being able to speak English and moving back to family. But, with the difficult times, I have learned of my individual strength. I can roll with the punches, adapt to new cultures, experiences and handle trials. I am positive that coming to China was not a coincidence. The Lord knew that I needed to grow and learn how to handle change more effectively. I will forever be grateful for this experience because it showed me a different way of life and it stretched my perspective. 

 The Chinese men have now officially finished packing up our belongings and we are getting closer to heading back to America. As I walk around my empty house I am flooded with memories that will stay with me for a lifetime. I am leaving China, but Shanghai will always have a sweet spot in my heart, right there next to all the people we have become friends with.




So, Zàijiàn  (再见) Shanghai! We will miss you--

 Thanks for letting us call you home.