Friday, April 25, 2014

Easter Blessings



The beginning of celebrating Easter arrived 10 days before when we received the Easter-birthday package from my Aunt Linda filled with yummy Easter goodies and new shirts for the kids.


I started curing my own ham for the first time five days before Easter, thanks to curing salts gifted by a friend here.


Jacob got to share about Easter in class since it is a national holiday, but that's another story coming up in our newsletter.  If you don't get our newsletter, and would like to receive it, please private message us your address!


Homemade Resurrection eggs.


On our way to our first seder service


No new Easter garments this year, but their hearts are shining bright!

"Let your beauty be that of your inner self"


Coloring eggs



The ham turned out great, yay!  Kristalyn brought yummy yeast rolls, her famous sugar cookies, and two friends!  Our future teammate, Erica, brought a cheesy delicious potato casserole and a salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette.  The rest of the meal included Granny's recipe for deviled eggs, refridgerator pickles, cornbread salad, broccoli casserole, veggie tray with spinach dip, and coconut pie.


The crew, minus Jonathan, who arrived after the picture was taken.


Friends plotting on where to hide eggs.  Erica brought some extra plastic ones filled with candy, much to the kids delight!


Kristalyn enjoyed finding challenging spots to hide them.  Though she is highly intelligent and a great critial thinker, she is also full of grace and gave lots of helpful hints, one of the many things I love about her.  


Xavier was happy to just watch and play with one egg.


Ephraim found 26, and Eden found 25.  That extra one fed the competitive spirit in Ephraim, and Eden cheered him on, using her gift of encouragement.


What usually happens when we try to take a family photo:  Mass chaos!!


Adorable baby belly


Showers of Blessing:
Easter package of fun yummy treats from Aunt Linda
Friend sharing curing salt so that we could have ham!
Students enjoying the real Easter story with joy
First time to attend seder service
Coloring eggs
Friends that feel like family and new friends
Chubby baby bellies
Friends that enjoy my kids
Being here because He is risen!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Harps


Harps in China!
There are several little places around our apartment complex that we shop from. We have The Fruit Stand,  The GZY store just outside our gate, and "Harps."  While walking to this store one day with Ephraim, I realized that we had nothing to call it.  We couldn't read the Chinese characters, and so Eph and I nicknamed it Harps to make it feel more like home, although it is nothing like our Harps in Locust Grove.  Here are a few pics from a little store we frequently go to.



This is where we buy our Fresh Eggs
Packaged Noodles
Nuts, Seeds & Dried Products


  
Fruit and Soy Sauce
Fresh Fish but we don't buy it

         

Friday, April 18, 2014

31 in China

Monday was my 31st birthday.  I woke up to purple sweet potato pancakes with homemade syrup, "bacon," and scrambled eggs.  Eden made me a cute banner that said Happy 14th Birthday, which she later changed to 31st!  My teammate, Kristalyn, made me a lemon cake with key lime frosting, since I am missing key lime cheesecake.  The best part was the Chinese writing. She got me adorable coffee, tea, and sugar canisters filled with: coffee, tea, and peanut butter m&ms.  Eden and Ephraim took the remains of her wrapping paper and wrapped up things from the kitchen like crackers and a snickers bar, and sang Happy Birthday to me in Chinese. A Chinese friend cooked me a lunch of pork and garlic shoots, pork and green beans, and eggs and tomatoes.  She also bought me bananas and a roasted chicken for my birthday, such a kind and generous soul.  Yesterday, as part of my late birthday since Jacob wasn't feeling well that day and since he was teaching most of the day, we went out for Indian food for the first time, enjoying naan, dal, and chicken tikka masala, such a treat.  While we were in that part of town, we picked up Xavier's first official walking shoes. So, what is different about this birthday?  Well, for starters, I feel like I've aged five years in that last one.  Seriously.  There are often adventures here, but many of them come out of difficulty.  I am closer to Father than I have ever been, depending on Him daily for strength for battles not against flesh and blood.
I hang on to the truth that "all things work together for good for those that love Him."  I've always "known," but now I really know that He knows the deepest parts of my heart, and that I can cast all my cares upon Him.  He REALLY hears me, and He REALLY  answers.  Only He can calm my anxious heart.  He loves me genuinely and specifically.   For my birthday, He blessed me sweetly and specifically.  The candy I have missed most in China has been Reeses and Peanut butter m&ms.  In the last month, Walmart started carrying mini Reeses cups, and my teammate brought me PB m&ms.  I was out of eye liner, and my Aunt sent me some in a package, which also included a letter from my Granny who I have been really missing.  Ephraim needed new shoes, and a friend gave us two pairs for him right before we were going to buy him some.  The canisters my teammate gave me, I had seen in a shop, and thought to myself how cute they were, and how I would like to have them.  I said nothing to no one.  This shop was across town.
In a city of millions, with thousands of tiny shops, what are the odds?  Xavier has been taking his time to walk.  I was sad not to be able to get him "squeaker" shoes like someone had given us for Eden that encouraged her to walk.  We didn't discover the shoes were squeaker shoes till we got home with them.  Jacob saw a round piece of plastic on the side and thought maybe it was the defect that kept them from being exported.  Nope.  They squeak.  All these things are precious little gifts to remind me of His love and how well He knows me.  The evidence is all around us.


Showers of Blessing:
Squeaker shoes
Cake with Chinese writing
Favorite candy
Indian food
Cute cannisters
Adorable mistake my daughter made about age
Shoes for Eph
Gifts from the heart
A Father who loves me sweetly and specifically.  He knows how to give good gifts.



  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Baby Talk

     I'm not sure about you, but one of my favorite stages of development for babies is when they're learning to talk.  For the first year of their precious lives, they are soaking up thousands of words and sounds.  Those words and sounds begin pouring out like a river of baby babble and gibberish after one year or so.  Xavier has spent more than half of his short life in China.  He primarily hears English from Sarah, myself (Jacob), Eden, Ephraim and our teammates.  However, he also has been exposed to a lot of Chinese sounds for the past 8 months.  We have a dear Chinese friend who comes to our house often.  She love Xavier so much!  If I'm holding him when she comes through the door, he'll start jumping up and down in pure excitement for her to hold and love on him.
     Xavier has been crawling with great speed, trying to keep up with his brother and sister for a few months now.  This past month we've been really working with him to start walking.  Our chinese friend especially enjoys walking him around the apartment.  As she walking him around she says, "yī--èr--yī" in Chinese which means "1--2--1".  He has heard these sounds "yī--èr--yī" several hundred times from our dear friend.  One day this week as I was walking Xavier around, I thought I heard him say "yī--èr--yī" but I didn't believe my ears.  A few moments later, I heard him clearly say it again!
     Tomorrow, Sarah and I begin the journey of learning Mandarin from a tutor.  Although, we don't soak up the sounds of new language like babies.  We both desire to communicate in the heart language of our new friends and students.  I know I'll have lots of babble and gibberish coming out of my mouth that doesn't make since.  All this babble will one days form a language that will allow us to communicate with our wonderful Chinese friend and students in their heart language just like Xavier's babble will one day let us have wonderful conversations with him one day very soon!
    Please enjoy this video of Xavier's "Baby Talk".