For me, it’s
traveling and meeting people from other countries. Parts of myself came alive that I never knew
existed until I lived in China for five years.
New skills, talents, likes and dislikes emerged that made me feel like I
had been a stranger to myself up until that point. I used to be so immersed in Chinese that I
would wake myself up at night speaking it.
Now that I
am back in the states, it feels like many of those aspects of my personality
are now lying dormant. Like a part of
ago we attended our first dinner sponsored by a Christian organization, but
held for international students from the nearby university. With my daughter on my hip, I snaked along
the three 20-foot tables that showcased everything from fried chicken to ma po
dou fu. We joined my husband and
three-year-old son at one of about 25 tables in the large church gym, settling
down with our plates full of the foods of the world. I spotted some Asian faces and after noticing
they were speaking Chinese, encouraged them to sit with us.
I held back
on revealing that I, too, could speak Chinese—partly so I could give them the
chance to practice their English, partly so I could eavesdrop on their
conversation before they knew I could understand. When I finally did use Chinese to ask them how they liked the food, they immediately turned from being shy and cautious to being
animated and full of warmth.
My son, on
the other hand, who had never heard me speak so much in Chinese, looked
terrified. It was as if someone had
inhabited his mommy’s body and taken over.
“Are you speaking English?” he asked, horrified about what was
happening. I tried to reassure him by
explaining that this was Chinese, another language, but he continued to look
skeptical and begged me to stop.
to getting the chance to speak Chinese again, God gave me a bit of a nudge that
night through a divine coincidence. In
China, I lived in one of the lesser known provinces in northwest China. Many Chinese had been sent from the populated
east in the 50’s to develop this desert area of China, but it was far from a
well-known travel destination. By
Chinese standards, the capital city where I lived was considered small. And so I was shocked to discover that out of the
1.4 billion people living in China, I had sat next to a man who was from the
very city I had last lived in before leaving China. Some may call that a
coincidence, I call it a tender touch from Jesus Himself, reminding me that He
At the end
of the dinner, my husband leaned over and whispered to me, “You should invite
them over to make jiao zi!” When I
mentioned it to our new friends, they all answered with huge grins on their
faces that they would love to.
So two of
the men and one of their 5-year-old sons, Tu Tu, came over last night to make jiao zi (Chinese
dumplings). We chattered away in English
and Chinese and my son and Tu Tu zoned out watching cartoons. Seeing them sitting together on the couch
made me smile—because before marriage I had always imagined my future children would have Chinese friends.
I’m glad my husband had spent some time in
China, because he wasn’t shocked when they asked how much our rent was for this
place. However, he wasn't aware that culturally, our friends wouldn’t eat the
snacks we had placed out unless we practically forced them to.
As we bid them
farewell, my heart was skipping in a way I can’t explain except that I know
some of those dormant aspects of my personality were allowed out of hiding for
And this morning, my
husband told me I had been speaking Chinese in my sleep again.
activates your soul?
some areas of your pre-kid life that might shock your children?
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Labels: China, divine coincidences