Friday our friends Mark and Kim, Nate, and Samuel came from Harbin to visit us. They took a 2 hour train ride, got turned around in the station tunnel, found a different light rail than planned, took one light rail, got off half way through, got on another light rail, and walked five minutes to our apartment. What lengths do your friends go through for you? That trouble alone made us feel pretty special. They brought us a giant loaf of Harbin bread, which they claimed was the small one, and a bar of Russian dark chocolate. We went through orientation together in Colorado and Beijing. We are going to miss them, as they are moving to Shanghai.
Xavier and Samuel spent some time together, but they are both used to playing with older siblings, not as much with kids their same age.
Since Nate is a special friend to Eph, Ephraim suggested we have Ugandan food for dinner that night. We had Ugandan chicken stew, matoke (steamed smashed bananas), gnut (peanut) sauce, rice, irish potatoes (with Indian spices), and coleslaw. We enjoyed chatting with them in the evenings when the kids had gone to bed, and LAUGHING. It's been a while since I've laughed so much. I knew I would while they were here. They are sooo much fun. I'm always sure to experience something new with Kim. Who else would I join in the community exercise circle with!
The next day, we packed a picnic lunch and headed to Nanhu park. We found a space in a group of trees with a smaller audience, and chowed on pb and j's with Harbin bread, chips, nectarines, and revel bars (a chocolate oat cookie bar that was a favorite from my childhood).
The toddlers were getting restless, so Kim and I headed home while the guys took the older kids on a paddle boat ride. Heading home sounds easier than it is. We had to walk and carry our toddlers along with several bags halfway across the huge park, no small feat. Then we caught a cab, and realized halfway through that I forgot to get the keys from Jacob.
Thankfully, Kristalyn had a key to our house. I left Kim at the gate, walked to Kristalyn's apartment, and climbed the 4 flights of stairs with Xavier in tow. Then we headed to the apartment, and ...the key didn't work. We gave up and walked to the coffee shop. We were halfway through my coffee and Kim's coconut almond milk when the guys showed up. We then finally made it home. Realistically, Kim should have been annoyed with me at this point, exhausted, and frustrated, but this event didn't harm our friendship. She just laughed and said, "It's just part of living in China." She was patient, encouraging and full of endurance. I love her for it.
That evening we made the 45 minute walk (again due to toddlers) to Goose Island, one of the kids' favorite places, mostly because it has two ziplines over a small pond with 2 rafts to ride on.
Ephraim enjoyed his time with Nate so much. They were a good match for each other when it came to games. They both like to make up rules as they go along. Eden was impressed with Samuel's vocabulary, and thought he was so adorable.
They left shortly after lunch, and we missed them right away.
Showers of Blessing:
Friends willing to go the distance
Harbin bread and Russian chocolate
Reminiscing my childhood while observing my own children
Patient, loving, enduring friends
The way Xavier plays with my hair when I hold him
Our mornings now beginning with Rise and Shine and This is the Day