Five years ago this past week we had our last day of regular doctoring work in the US.
We had given notice to our employers six months prior, then started the grueling process of telling our long time patients that we were leaving.
Yes really, China, can you believe it.
Around the same time we emptied and sold our house, moved our family of five in with Saints Rick and Mel for six weeks and said more good byes to everything familiar and comfortable in Very Small City, Ohio.
Our dear neighbors and colleagues thought we were crazy.
“You mean you’re just going to sell it all and start over?”
Well here we are, all cozy in a 3 bedroom apartment in an 8-million metropolis, with triple bunk beds, no car and neighbors on all sides, one more child and this completely new definition of normal.
What I buy at the market, how many laps I ran, and the fact that our kids are not wearing enough long underwear when the weather is in the 70s is everybody’s business.
Our life is simpler.
The laundry hangs in the alcove to dry and the dishes are washed in the sink.
Shoes, zippers, bike chains, and rice cookers are fixed for pennies around the corner.
Our patient load is lighter.
We mostly eat dinner together as a family.
Our life is infinitely intense.
Much of our schedule operates on a last-minute basis, and a last minute text changes everything.
We avoid getting run over by buses, scooters and cars on sidewalks.
We wonder if we’re being ripped off, if the meat is really beef and how about the pesticides on all the perfect produce, then our cash lifeline (i.e. ATM card) gets sucked into the machine so hubby has to call the helpline at 10 pm and try to do it all in Chinese.
He needs his passport in order to get it back, and has to do so within 3 days, oh but the passports are all at the police/visa office for the next two weeks.
Life is not comfortable most of the time.
[Although there are moments, like when Oldest Daughter and I went with a Chinese friend and her daughter to hot springs for a day this winter. Ahhh.]
Language is still often a challenge in more complex settings, and the more I read modern Chinese history the more I realize how all my initial assumptions and interpretations of circumstances and motivations fall short of the mark.
A phone call, a visit, a brief conversation–and yet another heart-breaking story is seared in my memory.
This ill baby about to be abandoned, that woman with bruises from her husband, another medical disaster, that difficult conversation, this child of mine, that air pollution, and will our visas be renewed again this year.
So much at times that my heart is too overwhelmed to blog and write–I am emotionally exhausted, and I’m not quite ready to write, not sure if it’s appropriate.
I go to bed drained, and wake up facing more unknown dramas.
And somehow, still, filled with peace and calm, feeling richer as a couple, as a family, in our community, knowing that this is our place.
I catch a glimpse of the great paradoxes that are part of the Good News:
In giving up, in releasing our tight hold on our present and future, we gain far more.
In giving, we are enriched.
When we acknowledge our weakness, He moves in with strength.
And I realize, yet again, how the precious moments snatched in the mornings with Bible and notebook are my lifeline, my strength, my source of courage and guidance through the obstacle course that is today.