Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The cabinets are falling... the cabinets are falling!!

One of the best feelings in the world is coming home. Home gives us comfort; it surrounds us with familiarity. For us, coming home means returning to our little apartment in China. Walking through the door of our apartment in Yanji at eleven o’clock at night was awesome. We couldn’t wait to reacquaint ourselves with our place. K and R were squealing and running around like it was Christmas morning and they had an entire apartment of new things to discover. K knew that it was our home and that all of his stuff was here, but he couldn’t for the life of him remember where it all was. I’ll never forget him urgently asking us where his playroom was. A good friend of ours had prepared our place for our return and it was wonderful. The adrenaline was high as we enjoyed our return, but it was soon gone. We all slept through the night in our own beds…a nice change from hotel rooms!

The next few weeks were filled with meeting friends and washing the ton of clothes, curtains, sheets, and blankets that got eight months of coal dust on them. Our feet were literally black from the dust that came in through the window cracks. The weather was surprisingly nice for the first few days…we thought we had been blessed with two good winters in a row. Haha…what a joke. We’re not sure it’s gotten above freezing since. The poor kids have resigned themselves to wearing snow pants outside, even when there’s no snow to play in. They need the extra warmth…the wind here really does cut through us like a knife. I was watching some of the people in town on my way home and I noticed that most of them don’t wear hats. I’m wondering if they have some innate ability to ward off cold. It’s that or they don’t care if their ears fall off one piece at a time from frost bite.

We’ve all had coal-dust-dry-air-and-temperature-change-induced colds. It’s been great. We had to break down and get a humidifier again…the last one was covered in grime. We didn’t think it’d be good to shoot grime into the air where the kids breathe it in. Hmm… There’s an idea! I picked out the one that best fit R’s qualifications. It’s the flimsiest piece of work. We don’t give it more than a few months before it breaks. We compared it to what we thought an equivalent humidifier would be in the States and we’re thinking it would total around $2. Well, maybe we can say it would cost $5 since it has a water level gauge. High tech, eh?

The night that we returned R hung up the phone from talking to a friend and turned to me. She said “the landlord’s niece is going to America in a few weeks and she wants to practice English before she goes.” We both rolled our eyes because we thought that with all the work we had facing us here it would not be fun to think up lesson plans. We went to dinner with them all, though, and had a really pleasant surprise. Her niece is 27 years old and is nearly a professional classical pianist. She has a job waiting for her in a big Beijing University, but she wanted to do a little traveling first, hopefully finding a different option for work somewhere. We had some really nice talks about lots of things that were important to us and some things that she should/shouldn’t do when she’s in the States. Even though we dreaded meeting her and teaching, it actually turned out that we learned a lot about Korean and Chinese culture. It was definitely a blessing! It helped that the landlord’s son also came to our house with her niece because he was able to tell his mom that the cabinets in our kitchen were definitely falling down and that if they weren’t fixed soon they would probably fall off the wall. Now our kitchen stuff is spread out across the apartment and we're dodging it with each step. Yay! We're hoping that the kids don't slam the refrigerator door shut one of these days and cause an avalanche of spice bottles and baking supplies. We're keeping our fingers crossed.

All in all, we’re confident that this term will be a fruitful one. I've been in meetings this past week with the other english teachers. I found out who my students will be and I'm looking forward to my classes. Please be thinking of our favorite country to the East. They and their “brother” country have not been getting along well. The Great country is going to have to choose a new leader soon, too. Please hope that our Boss will provide a leader that is more open to Him and the Book. (As an aside, which isn’t really just an aside because it’s so awesome, when 2008 ended our budget was in the black. What a huge answer to our thoughts!)