Monday, August 24, 2009

Hard Good-byes

It has been a couple of months since we arrived in Utah. We have now bought a house, and will be here to stay. We are so excited to be here with family, and we miss China terribly. It's definitely bitter-sweet. Before we left, I asked each of the family to write down what they would miss about China. I thought it would be interesting to see the different points of view we each had. Here is what they wrote...

Eli: I will miss the McDonald's across from the school. I will miss my friends. I will miss Dong Jiao (our housing compound), and the playground at school. I will miss the bamboo forest behind my house. I liked going to Beijing, the Xi'an warriors, and Yellow Mountain with my family. My favorite was the Great Wall of China. I will miss Nanjing International School. I will miss Jiang, our driver.

Jay: I will miss the language and being pretty much the biggest family in Nanjing. I will miss the International School. I will miss my friends at school. I will also miss the forest behind my house. I will miss Chinese food, and writing Chinese characters.

Caitlin: The things I will miss most about China are:

*My life style. The way people treat me. How they ask if they can take pictures, and how they tell my Mom how pretty her kids are.

*My school-Nanjing International School. I am going to miss the way my school is the size of 460 people from pre-school to grade 12. I'm also gonna miss the people in my school. The people in my school are great, how they are from so many different countries how they have so many different life styles different from me. And how close we are to pretty much everyone at my school.

* I am going to miss my home~ how I live in a compound and feel pretty safe with all of the security cameras and all of the army men marching and shouting at 6:00am every morning. I am gonna miss how the cleaners come and change our towels and sheets every other day.

* I am gonna miss Ayi Wan and Jiang, too. Because they really brought a different experience to our China experience and how we could get around places as fast as a crazy roller coaster. And having all our laundry clean and dry and folded before I get home from school.

* Last of all I will miss the people of China. Even though they push, spit, and burp unexpectedly, they are great people. I love how they walk around in their pj's, how they always smile at you when you walk past. They are great and I love them with all of my heart!

I will miss China, and miss my life. I think I might call this my real home. I love China always and forever!!! :-)


Dear China

I love everything from your exotic landscapes and lands
to the Chinese locals building with their hands.

Your loving people who are strong-willed and loving,
though sometimes in lines and small places there is much pushing and shoving.

From your ancient history to your city lights,
to the pirated dvd's which is wrong but feels so right.

To the busy ally streets with the little old ladies,
and the bargaining that turns no into maybes.

I will always love your adventures you've brought,
and the things I have learned, that will help me a lot.

Four years already. Wow. There is so much to say. It has been an adventure from the moment I stepped foot in China. I looked out the window of our car and the first thing I saw was a truck-load of pigs. China has been an exciting experience, and I'll miss everything from the people, to the city, to my friends, to the adventurous vacations we took, and even the smells (well, some of them). To say the least, China has helped me develop into what I am today. It helped me have a more international outlook on things, and now I have a home outside of home. I love China and I feel extremely blessed to have grown in so many ways here. Four years have really flown by, and I will remember and cherish these years forever. I will miss Sneaky Sneaky (Jiang, our driver), my friends, the city, Ayi Wan, vacations in tropical places, the Chinese language, and all the love the Chinese people have shown us. I know it is time for us to end this little adventure, but have no fear. I am coming back to visit my China soon enough, of that I am sure.

Love, Coli


China! I am so glad I was able to live there. When I found out I was moving there, I thought for sure it would be just like the movie Mulan. When I got there, I was surprised that it wasn't, it was much different. But over the course of four years living there, I learned to love the country. I love the people, I love the food, I love the language, the culture. I learned to love our school and everyone involved, being part of an international community has opened up a love of traveling, and I wonder if I will ever be the same. I loved the experience of getting to know the country and opening my mind to the world around me. If I could take anything away from what I learned while in China the would be:
-The church is true everywhere. The spirit is the same in a little branch with 30 people as it is in a ward with over 200.
-The language. I will always try to keep my knowledge of it, and practice it, its such a unique, amazing thing to have in my life.
- The love for the country. The people, and the culture have become a huge part of my life, and i will never forget it.
-The closeness I gained with my family. We got to know each other really well being isolated like that and we were always there for each other and made China our home.
I would go back any day if i could and am so happy I was given the opportunity. As we move away, it is really sad and will take some getting used to, but I will always remember my experience as a good one and I will never forget it!

Mike: Things I won't miss:

*A good weather day defined by being able to see one's shadow.
*Hacking, spitting, chewing, etc. in all places, and all times.
*Being wary of anyone carrying a little child with a split pair of pants- in sidewalks, subways, grocery stores, shopping malls, etc. (watch out, you may get hit!)
*The chaos of the streets.
*Being stared at wherever I go.

Things I will miss:

*The natural beauty of the land, and the ability of the Chinese to flow their gardens into it.
*The sincere kindness and care shown by the same people who hack, spit, etc.
*Watching the attentiveness and pure joy on the faces of parents and grandparents when they are with those dangerous, but cute little children who wear split pants.
*The chaos of the streets.
*Feeling likes, even as I'm being stared at, that this is right here, right now, my home and that I belong here. I will miss that most of all.

Since it's always hard to find individual photos of Mike and I, I put one of us together.


One evening a couple of weeks ago, while Mike was still in Michigan working, I was feeling so homesick for China. It hurt so bad. I sat down at a computer and sent him an email with all of my feelings... It was very therapeutic. Here is what I wrote.

OK, I'm getting ready for bed now, but I was just looking at the address to send the money to, and I saw Han Kou Lu, and I just started to cry. I miss China. What if we can never go back? And it won't be our home. It's such a part of me, but it will just go away. I loved the streets and the people and the villages, and my mountain, and speaking and listening, and the parks and the old men and the old ladies,and my heart babies. And Wan and Jiang, and our little branch and our adventures and my lake. I miss the crazy signs and the people swimming in the winter and running in dress shoes and playing their instruments and singing at the top of their lungs. I miss our hikes and our bike rides. I miss Zen and even bad chinese food, and the trains and the stinky taxis. I miss the funny ways they fix things, the women hiking around purple mountain in high heals and riding their bikes in dresses and high heels sometimes even in formal wear. I miss the curious people amazed by our five children, sometimes sneaking photos but mostly not sneaking. I miss how everything took longer, and never worked out the simple way. I miss bamboo trees and Chinese gardens. I miss Chinese doors. I miss motor scooters carrying families and tvs and furniture. I miss bicycles carrying families and TV's and furniture. I miss streets where you can buy pet chipmunks, and grocery stores where you can eat pets. I miss how everyone is involved in every one's business. I miss massages!!! I miss bottled water and hard beds and my wok. I miss decent rice (imported from Thailand,of course). I miss good Indian, Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese food,and French food all for cheap. I miss exploring Asia. I miss going to 4 different banks to pay the bills. I miss my children feeling comfortable going ANYWHERE in China. Really, anywhere in Asia. I miss the children getting to know other cultures and embracing the world, loving people because of their differences. I miss my children seeing what poverty really is. I miss my girls having opportunities to really serve there sisters and brothers at orphanages. I miss having to stand alone in our beliefs. I miss our together time. I miss those beautiful brown faces, and big smiles. I miss their ingenuity, their hope, their "cleverness". I miss them always thinking they knew what it was we wanted. I miss them talking so loud you always think they are angry. I miss them arguing,and then smiling and laughing the next minute. I miss tailors. I miss the children being huge fish in the small NIS pond. I miss them playing every sport and being involved in Student Council, and being leads in the school plays. I miss driving on sidewalks and on the off-ramp, and off the on-ramp and around everyone. I miss honking at police cars, buses, cars, pedestrians, cyclists,and everyone else. I miss how excited and proud everyone was for the Olympics. How excited and proud they were to beat the US. I miss the breathtaking scenery and incredible man-made heritage things. I miss the "hua to fa" (flower hair- the name Jiang and I came up with for the fancy male hair-cuts). I miss Chinese New Year, and the Moon Festival, and Sweeping Day. I miss the Dragon Boat festival. I miss that beautiful hazy Nanjing Blue sky. I love China.

So, I guess it's impossible to put everything into words. China changed me. I'm scared to lose the things that are so special to me. I don't want it to be just a distant memory. I pray that the things I learned in China will stay with me.

China has been a huge growing experience for our family. We will miss our little branch and the friends we made there so much. We will also miss all of the other friends we made both Chinese and from all over the world. We are so grateful for the growth we have had, and pray that we will use the lessons we have learned to live better lives.