Friday, February 1, 2008

Word of God, Speak...

A year ago today, we were out the door about 3:30 am, on our way to the airport for the adventure of a lifetime! I’ve been so busy today, but, even so, in the back of my mind, I’ve been re-living that day…the hectic last-minute packing for six people, barely sleeping an hour the night before, piling the suitcases and carry-ons up in our living room and trying to avoid eye contact with Jon, pulling out our passports as we checked our luggage “through to Beijing, China” and grinning at each other with the realization that our much anticipated journey was underway! Then there was the rush through security where Mickey temporarily lost his boarding pass (heart attack!) and Grandma Dotty got busted for having liquids in her carry-on (in her defense, they were actually a bundle of gifts for the orphanage that she forgot had liquids in them)! As Jon ran with her back to check the carry-on, I remember him calling out, “Go ahead without me if we don’t make the flight!” YEAH, RIGHT! Like I’m gonna leave for China with three kids…without HIM! Thankfully, he and Dotty made the flight.

The legend of our number of suitcases grew, as with any good "fish story", each time Jon told the tale! After our luggage was checked, we gathered for a group photo before leaving.

I remember watching the excitement on our kids’ faces as our plane took off for Newark…their first flight ever. I remember meeting some of the other AWAA families in Newark, exchanging hugs and referral pictures during our layover. I remember worrying over Mickey on our flight to Beijing as he began to run a fever and wouldn’t eat or drink. I remember looking out the window of the plane at the starkness of Siberia. I remember the crowds in the Beijing airport and the long stares as our group of American families paraded behind our guide toward our bus. Then there was the combination of panic and adrenaline as I watched a taxi careen toward me and my mother-in-law as we exited the airport and I suddenly and very clearly understood everything I’d ever read about taking your life in your hands, crossing the street in China! That night, I remember the looks on my kids’ faces as we visited our first Chinese store and they saw items for sale that were, to say the least, eye-opening. I remember the frustration of trying to use my international calling card to call my Mom and feeling completely cut off from everything I’d ever known…and then collapsing on the bed in our hotel room, sleeping soundly and waking up to a day of meeting more of our America World family of friends, especially those we would be traveling with to get our babies! It was a day marking the beginning of a "mountain-top experience".

Top photo: the mountains of Siberia.

Middle photo: taken at the Beijing airport.

Bottom photo: "fresh" food for sale at the Carrefour in Beijing.

A year later, my day has been somewhat dramatic and exhausting, but not nearly as memorable or exhilarating. We went to bed last night, expecting to wake up to several inches of snow and ice (recipe for a snow day) from a storm that our city has been bracing for all week. We rented videos and stocked up on junk food, filled the cars up and readied the snow blower. Alas, we barely got a dusting, and the temps warmed enough to melt the ice that covered the roads overnight. Talk about a let-down! I don’t know who was more disappointed…me or the kids…to look out the window early this morning and realize there would be no snow day! I have to admit, I love snow and the idea of being snowed in! I love curling up with the kids in front of the fire with hot chocolate and a good movie after they’ve littered the kitchen with wet boots, coats and gloves! So, after I got my grumpy kids off to school, I took my grumpy self to work, only to find that the term “Freaky Friday” had taken on all new meaning. I had an employee quit without notice the night before (a new job came through sooner than anticipated), two more call in sick, one that had to leave early, two more coming in late due to weather delays in outlying areas, no heat in my nursery and my server down so that I had no way to get any significant work done all day! Oh, and Abby ended up staying home sick and I had to leave work to take her to the doctor! It has been a day, not spent on the mountain-top, yet not in the valley, but somewhat in the shadows.

Not exactly a winter storm...nowhere near 8 the distance, you can see Mickey and his friend Regan returning from a fruitless sledding mission.

That said, I am extremely thankful for my blessings. It’s hard to be too overwrought about an inconvenient day when people in China are suffering so much right now, due to the extreme weather conditions there. A year ago, we were days away from traveling to sub-tropical Guangzhou, complete with 80 degree temps and plenty of sunshine. Today there are hundreds of thousands of people stranded at the train station in a 30-40 degree cold rain. My heart goes out to the migrant workers stranded and without a way home for the upcoming holiday. Many of them only get the opportunity to travel home once a year. Many of them only get the opportunity to see their children once a year, having left them with family members to seek factory jobs in the big cities. I cannot imagine living in a world where I only got to see my children once a year.

Line for train tickets in Guangzhou, February 2007, just prior to Chinese New Year.

Crowds in excess of 500, 000 wait after trains out of Guangzhou are cancelled, January 2008.

Update: This link will not allow you to view all 12 slides...until I can fix the error, please go to this link, scroll down and click on China snowstorms.

So what’s the deal with the title of this blog? As I was driving to work today, I was mulling over my grumpy thoughts, wondering how some days I feel so out of sync with God’s plans. I turned on a station I rarely listen to, and the song by that title was playing. It was one of those moments I knew God had planned for me. I needed to be reminded that, whether I’m basking on a mountain top or wallowing in the shadows, He’s with me and I need to remember to let His words “pour down like rain”, to “be still and rest in His holiness”. Thanks, God, for today and for the indelible memories I have of a year ago today. I will never forget the impact this experience has had on my life. I am looking forward to savoring every memory of that journey over the next couple of weeks.

p.s…if you’d like to hear the song, here’s the link…but don’t forget to go down and click the volume off on my Christmas day slide show!

1 comment:

Kristi said...

Wow! You wrote some of my thoughts about this day last year so well that I'm tempted to just "borrow them" on my blog tonight. Can you really believe that already a year has passed since our journey across the world began?
And yes, my heart is still in China and I am praying for thousands in places not prepared for the cold...