Life

“Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know so extraordinary a God.” -Jim Elliot

Shopping

Shopping in China is always a challenge, but add 4 kids dangling from each of your appendages and it makes it even more fun. 

Today we grabbed a few things, mostly yogurt, from the store. But the boys were most excited about getting super hero tissues. Tissues are very important here (I’ll have to post about that another time), so, might as well have as super hero tissues. 

Meet our Solar Water Heater

 …at least the digital mechanism that controls it. We’ve never had anything solar powered before. So when I went to take my first shower I was a bit frustrated to find that that it was only at 78 degrees. Surely, that’s not hot enough for a shower, I thought. I turned the water on and turned it all the way to hot just to be sure. Nope, no hot water. 

So, my first day in my new apartment I’m not able to take a shower after traveling for 24 hours. That’s a problem. And since I couldn’t find my deodorant, it was also a problem for everyone else. 

I pushed some buttons and hoped it would be hotter when I came back later. 

Nope. Still not hot. But at this point I absolutely had to take a shower. So, I just took a cold one. Brrr. 

Afterwords, when it still wasn’t reading any hotter, I called the person who used to live here and they told me that 78 was plenty hot. Oh, yeah, it’s Celsius here. I went back and turned the hot water on. Still no hot water. Then, I turned it the other way. You know, the way for the cold water. And sure enough, it was hot. 

Yep, I took a cold shower for nothing. 

Breakfast Takes too Long

For the last two mornings I’ve made breakfast. Eggs yesterday and pancakes today. When I make food, it usually takes a long time. I’m just not as familiar with cooking as my wife is. But the last two mornings took about twice as long as usual. All our stuff is in disarray. I’m not good at finding stuff in the first place, let alone when I literally have no idea where stuff is. And then, when I think I do know where something is, it turns out JK has already moved it to a new location. 

And if one thing is true about jet lag, it’s that when it’s time to eat you’re starving. But in the end, breakfast worked out pretty good once we were eating it!

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The Summer of ’17

The last 2 months have been pretty crazy, with lots of driving, visiting with family, and too many activities to list here.

It’s good to be back home in China, but it doesn’t quite feel like home yet. Over the summer we moved…or rather, we were moved, while we were gone. We moved to a different complex. It’s a great place that’s a bit closer to the school with lots of area for the children to run around, but our apartment is going to take some time getting set up.

Looking back at all the pictures from our trip, we fell blessed to be able to spend so much time with everyone. Thanks to all who made the effort to hang out with us!

Biking in the Big City

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Today we rode our bikes to fellowship. This is the second time we’ve ridden there on bikes since Lucas learned how to ride his bike. The first time we went, it was pretty much without incident. This was the farthest Lucas had gone, so he was understandably slower and got tired. But this second trip was a bit different. We had several incidents. All three of the kids crashed from youngest to oldest.

Driving in Tianjin is crazy. We’ve learned the basic biking rules of the road of a big city in China, but there are bikes, people, cars, and scooters everywhere. The good news is that cars seem to be well aware of all the bicycles, so they do well to maneuver us. Bicycles have been a big part of their culture, especially in the past. However, they’re probably not used to a procession of 6 foreigners on 5 bikes. Nonetheless, we really haven’t had too much of a problem with cars. Our biggest issue is with bikes and motorized scooters coming the wrong way on our side of the road. There is usually enough room to go around them, but it just means that you have to be aware of the traffic all the time.

Micah

Micah, especially, has caused a couple of freakout moments from the perspective of the oncoming scooters because he waits until the last second to move out of the way (something which we’re addressing). He was the first to go down today, but it wasn’t because of another vehicle. He ran into a pole because he was distracted talking to mommy about needing a water break. It wasn’t bad, but his knees hurt a little from the spill. He was a bit out of sorts this morning, so the fall seemed a bit more dramatic than it really was.

This is Micah’s rendition of what happened.

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Lucas

Lucas, being the newest to riding a bike, has the most trouble keeping his eyes forward. I’m often reminding him to look ahead and not at his feet. Still, this incident can’t really be blamed on not paying attention. He ran into a motorized scooter carrying 3 people (husband driving, wife in the back holding a baby). The speed was quite slow for both Lucas and the scooter, but still it was kinda scary. Lucas hit the other driver’s leg and did a face plant into his arm.

I saw the whole thing from about 3 bike lengths back. It was a very busy section near a market entrance. There were bikes and food carts, pedestrians, cars and scooters everywhere. Jacquelyn was leading the procession and went left around a lady. Lucas went right. Because it was so busy, Lucas just couldn’t see the scooter behind the person. His reflexes are still a bit slow at this point, but he did try to hit the break.

There was a pretty big scene. The driver stopped and several other people surrounded us to make sure he was ok. One man in particular really made a big deal of making sure he was ok by helping Lucas to do exercises and stretches until he new he was ok. Surprisingly, Lucas never cried and jumped back on the bike ready to finish the trip. We were almost there by that point.

Here’s Lucas’ rendition of what happened.

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On the way home Anna also had a crash. Hers was the most surprising and the funniest. Anna is a pretty good at bike-riding, so we really don’t have to watch her too closely. I was leading the pack this time so I didn’t actually see it, but she apparently ran smack-dab into the back of a parked taxi-cab. When I turned around the driver of the car was talking to Jacquelyn and Anna and gruffly just waved them on.

She didn’t really do any damage to the car, her bike or her self. Initially she wouldn’t say how it happened. She said the taxi just appeared out of nowhere. But later on in the day I was able to get her to tell me what really happened. She was not paying attention to the road because she was watching her own shadow. I cracked up laughing about this because it made me remember when I had done that very thing when I was about her age. In my instance I ended up on top of the truck of the car and in a bit of pain.

She’s also blogged about the experience here.

And here’s Anna’s rendition of the experience.

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Playing Chess

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The other day we went to a friend’s house and my children discovered a Lord of the Rings chess game. Anna pulled it out and asked me to remind her how to play. I coached her through a game and she did quite well. I had taught her the rules some time ago, so it wasn’t brand new.

However, what I didn’t expect was Lucas to, first of all, be interested in the actual rules of the game, and secondly that he would stay focused enough to stick with it. I mean it is Lord of the Rings themed, which is super fun, but throughout the entire game that I was coaching Anna, I was noticing that he was following along quite well.

On the way out the door, our friend decided to just give us the game because they didn’t really have an interest in it. So, as soon as we got home, Lucas and Anna played a game together. What impressed me the most was that Lucas not only understood the rules without me actually directly telling them to him, but he also understood the concept of sacrificing a piece to be accomplish a different objective. That seems like an abstract concept to me.

Later, Lucas and Micah wanted to play a game, too. Micah really just liked the Lord of the Rings pieces and wanted them to fight. It was a bit frustrating for them to play together because they kept calling to me from the other room saying, “Dad…he’s not playing right!”
Or, “You can’t do that!”
“Yes, I can!”.

On one such occasion Lucas came in and was trying to give me the full description of what was happening. I bent down and said, “Lucas, Micah isn’t really ready to play this game and really just wants to pretend fight with the pieces.” Lucas immediately nodded his head, ran back out to the room and completely switched modes to just making up rules and fighting with the pieces. I thought it was a pretty amazing transition.

At this point, both Anna and Lucas really need some coaching, but I’m very impressed at their interest in this game.