Wednesday, January 2, 2013

the end.

It took every ounce in my body to push myself out of my little apartment that morning last June. Two of my teammates even had to holler for me from the elevator as I squeezed my roommates again and took in one more glimpse of 'home.' Tears formed as I walked that long, familiar route from building A-7 to the taxi at the bottom of the hill. And as soon as the taxi door closed me in, the tears steadily fell as the driver drove me one last time through my mountain city.

photo by the lovely anna molteni

As I sat on the plane waiting for take-off, I desperately texted all my student friends reminding them how much I loved them. Just to make sure they knew. As the plane carried me two hours to my next destination, the tears continued. (Even to the point where the flight attendant felt the need to bring me tissues. Bless her.) The finality of it all was too much to bear that day.

And it still is today, in January, almost six months later.

The grieving and the mourning of my "life in Asia" continues on in the depths of my heart.  I still find myself tirelessly holding onto every person, place, word, memory as tightly as I can -- desperately pleading for it to not slip away.

Tonight, as tears rolled down my face yet again, I said to myself with a somber bitterness, "I just don't want it to end." And almost immediately, Jesus responded. He whispered, "But it's only just begun."

"It's only just begun."

Indeed it has. For those sweet precious girls I humbly watched step from darkness to light, their new lives of eternal hope and joy are just beginning.

And I'm hoping and praying and begging God that He won't see an end to their new lives in Christ. That they will continue to mark each day as daughters of the Most High, ambassadors for Him in their cities, schools, work places. That they will surround themselves with edifying brothers and sisters, marry God-fearing men, and raise their children to know the Truth.

Though physically for me, things are more final. The reality is that I live in Atlanta, Georgia. The reality is I'm not a part of that community I loved in the country I made my home. The reality is I don't get to walk alongside my new sisters daily.

But there's a greater reality. The reality is that God did not leave that country when I did. He is there, He is real, and He loves my friends way more than I ever could.

I humanly see things in beginnings and endings, but God doesn't see it that way. He is a "big picture" God, always and infinitely working (John 5:17). There's no stop to what He's accomplishing here.

So thank You, Lord, that I'll never know where my two years in East Asia really "end." Because like  You said, "it's only just begun."

Sunday, December 9, 2012

if perfect were a day...

if i could have dreamt up my last day in my beloved asian home, i don't think it could have been as perfect as this day was. every minute of june 19, 2012 couldn't have been filled with more JOY and LOVE and HOPE! 

kelsey and i started the day walking around one of our fave campuses with two of our "sisters." 

photo collage credit to kels

then, i spent time at the medical school with my friend lee. we had a great "heart-to-heart" and she also enjoyed driving my scooter. hah!

two of my good friends invited me over to their apartment for a lunch they prepared just for me. it was so delicious and made me feel so loved. 

i went to "sunny block" and said goodbye to some people and places that i spent SO. MUCH. TIME. with/at over the last two years.

i made my last visit to my VERY favorite campus and enjoyed time with my besties at our favorite tea shop. we laughed a lot, but shared a good bit of tears together as well.

kelsey documented one of my last rides on my scooter. still scary. 

our crew got together at our favorite restaurant for my "last supper." it meant so much to me!

of course i had to say goodbye to this special school and one of our dear sisters here. 

i stopped to take some pictures of the "rich and powerful city," also known as my home sweet home for two years. i loved living in building A-7! so many sweet memories among these high-rise apartments.

we ended the night at chris and anne marie's place...where we watched probably five (or more) episodes of survivor together. it was a sweet night of laughter and normalcy. just exactly what i needed.

i don't think i'll ever forget that day. God lavished so many blessings on me that my heart was fuller than it has ever been. thank you, Jesus, for such a gracious and generous gift of farewells and closure, and immeasurable joy. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

"your leaving month..."

when may turned to june, "lasts" started happening and life became more bittersweet. one of my closest student friends said, "i don't want it to be june. june is your leaving month." those were hard words to hear. but, gosh, did we have fun! here are some of the things we did:

kelsey and i went along with the summer auburn group to one of our favorite cities. i really enjoyed being with these college students and getting to know them more! this trip also gave me the opportunity to say good-bye to several friends and places i have come to love there over the last two years.


photo credit to kelsey

in order to bring back to america a part of my beloved asian city, i went to a local artist and bought two paintings he had done of the cityscape. he painted me one in watercolor right on the spot and i chose an oil painting (behind me on the left in the picture below) from his gallery. so thankful to have these treasures for my future home.


kelsey, hughes and me in the "old town" of our city. 

how wonderful it was to witness the wedding of two good friends here in asia! the ceremony was incredible and so worshipful. i am excited to see what is in store for them in the years to come.

haviland, me, and owen at the wedding! 

about a week before i left, i made sure to go visit my friends in the other part of our city. we ate at our favorite "corner" restaurant, and i also stopped in to say one last goodbye to my "hair dresser." it was such a fun afternoon with sarah and sam!

i also got to spend a whole lot of sweet time with my student friends -- including seeing the hunger games at the movie theater, studying, hanging out on campus, eating at our favorite restaurants, and lounging around at my apartment together! it was a bittersweet "leaving month," but definitely more sweet than bitter. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

our days in may.

celebration. it's the one word that comes to mind when i think of our days in may. they were filled with so much celebrating and so much joy.

over the may national holiday, kelsey and i got to travel to another city with a student friend to celebrate the wedding of two of her closest friends! it was such an honor to be a part of this special day.

we celebrated cinco de mayo with our american friends in the city... 
mexican food, mustaches, and all!

 our crew "celebrated" the opening of a new restaurant within walking distance from our apartment complex. of course, it was coined the name, "steak 'n shake," due to their incredible (yet confusing) aprons! but do not be fooled -- strictly noodles sold steakburgers or fries!

i absolutely celebrated the reunion with my dear friend haviland, who was with me throughout my first year in asia. i was immensely blessed by her presence, as she led the auburn summer group for the last six weeks of my year.

together with all of our other friends around the region, we got to celebrate what we have experienced throughout the year and prepare for what was ahead over a weekend away in a beautiful lake town. (we actually went there last year, too.) we had a great time exploring a new place, and i'm thankful i got to start the transition process here with lots of friends around me.

we also celebrated two new additions to our "family!" we threw a joint baby shower for cat and chelsey...both due in the summer. 

lastly, our crew celebrated the year together with our annual DXCies awards night. it was such a fun night of reminiscing over all that happened throughout the year.

photo credit to anne marie :)

a is for april...and these other things!

auburn friends!

our friend, will, works in another city over here -- and he came to visit us for easter! so happy to have him!

affirmation and alleys!

our crew got to "get away" to another part of the city for a weekend of bonding over yummy food (i.e. papa john's), affirmation time, and bowling!


playing tennis with these friends was a fun afternoon, especially with all their hilarious exclamatory phrases -- aya! wah! ioh!




somehow, my roommates and i ended up adopting (more like fostering for a short time) these cute canines! though they were a handful, we loved their company!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

this world matters.

"the message of the resurrection is that this world matters! that the injustices and pains of this present world must now be addressed with the news that healing, justice, and love have won....if Easter means Jesus Christ is only raised in a spiritual sense -- then it is only about me, and finding a new dimension in my personal spiritual life. but if Jesus Christ is truly risen from the dead, christianity becomes good news for the whole world -- news which warms our hearts precisely because it isn't about warming hearts. Easter means that in a world where injustice, violence, and degradation are endemic, God is not prepared to tolerate such things -- and that we will work and plan, with all the energy of God, to implement victory of Jesus over them all." 
{n.t. wright}

He is risen!
happy easter from the orient!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

the world is a book.

i'm pretty positive i got my "wanderlust" (my strong, innate desire to rove and travel about) from my mom. at a young age, my mom and dad were taking me and my sister places to see and do and experience. of course, coming to asia was the will of the Father, but i still have to give credit to my mom who taught me that there is much more to this world and God's creation than little ole atlanta, georgia.

i was really, really excited to have my mom come visit me a couple of weeks ago! she got the full china experience with eating authentic food, riding public transportation, going to language class, buying groceries at the outdoor market, and hanging out with my friends. it meant so much to have her experience the things i do, taste, and see on a daily basis. i'm so thankful to have had the chance to show her the place that will forever be in my heart.

the "old town" in my city

a river boat cruise

the great wall!

i saw this quote the other day, and it reminded me of my bookworm, jet-setting mama! mom, how blessed we are to have "read" so many pages together. 
i can't wait to read the next one this summer!

‎"the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page." (saint augustine)