Our family got to spend 4 days in these mountains along with several friends and it was delicious medicine for our citified souls. Such Grace! Green grass, wide open, happy blue skies, fresh air... no bother at all that it smelled like all the animals that belonged to the nomads with whom we stayed. And we found it the perfect way to go, to travel with this small pack of friends, such kind, fun, loving helpers for us and our kids! Our kiddos were downright spoiled...
The yurts we stayed in were only about two hours away from the capital city and the area was a popular tourist destination. We were deeply grateful to find a way past all the crowds, to be led to this small group of families who live here in this tiny valley for seven months at a stretch and host only a few visitors at a time, just us for these days. Their livelihood depends on tourism income and our joy was magnified greatly in our time with them... so sweet for both of us! Great times playing with the kids, praying for these friends and sharing meals and talks and walks. Mostly, this was R & R time for us and we certainly were refreshed. So, so grateful.
Here we've studied the majority language in this country for 3 ish years and have been working on studying a minority language for 1+ year now... and then these dear Kazaks that hosted us, they speak a language all their own! We could come close to communicating with them using the minority language we're studying (they're pretty close) but most of our communication with them was through our minority friends that travelled with us or through the eldest girl (white jacket in the pics) of our new nomad friends who spoke the majority language that we feel fairly comfortable with.
Our dear language tutor-friend who travelled with us to help out with our kiddos was a joy to have along. In the pic above she's looking at photos on her camera with that sweet "older sister" who we all loved. Joy (in the green pants) left her Book, in this language, with Norchan (white jacket.)
Norchan also told Joy how she collects 10Y (not quite $1.50 US) from every tourist car that parks near their valley. She saves up all her earnings from all summer long and she pays for her own elementary school fees with this. Leftover she normally has 2Y per month. That's about 35 US pennies. Earning her wages is extremely important to her, since that's her only ticket to school.
TWO YUAN leftover.
I wish I could somehow convery how precious, admirable, delightful this girl is... She's got this book now and we pray that it will be powerful in her life, ring truth and love in her ears, her heart, her family!
Joy was pretty wiped out for the hiking that we did (as were the kids!). I asked her before if she had ever been to the mountains and she said yes. But after we arrived she told us she had never been on dirt paths... always, only sidewalks. (That's the norm in China.) We spelled out clearly for her that she had only ever been to parks than... This is The Mountains! :)
Oh these kids... such sweet, spunky, fun kids!! These two are 4 year old twins.
The guys that travelled with us were working in various roles to help Matt with start-up research for Silk Road Ecotours... which we are super excited to see finally getting off the ground!
This little guy, Birick, is six days older than Vivi (who is worlds cuter than this picture lets on...)
Above is Birick's bed that he would be strapped down to most hours of the day and night. There's a little trap door for bathroom business and he's kept totally warm inside, wrapped up like it's his own little cocoon. Also, no possibility of him rolling into the stove in the yurt so long as he's strapped down in his little spot. I can see how the system works for them... Vivi was sadly often either too hot or too cold for our nights there!
Our last day there, all these friends (a few different families represented) attended a wedding in town. Here they are getting all dressed up. Their gift for the bride and groom was a large container of fresh milk.
oh may these friends know the True Lamb!
As is customary, we got to witness these friends slaughtering a lamb for a meal (not a baby like this cutie.) I could not stomach it (stayed in the yurt) but I'm trusting-hoping hard that my kids will be only stronger for their viewing...
I've written far too little, far too lacking... nothing that adequately communicates our joy in meeting these friends and enjoying their valley with them for these short days. There are More aspects than can be shared here. It was all sweeter than can be put in words... we are exceedingly grateful.