Tuesday, September 10, 2013

a drive in the country

We have been exceedingly blessed to own a vehicle for over five months now and we've enjoyed the perks almost everyday in getting around our city....  but I realized that we haven't enjoyed it at all enough yet in getting out of the city.  That was one of the main reasons we wanted it!   There's just been too much going this summer!  Sunday morning I realized we've only left the city once in the five months that we've owned this van, so we decided to take off that afternoon for a drive.  It was a treasure of a time... sweet memories made for our crew, together, in the beautiful country where we live.  Such. a Gift.  Thank You, Lord.

Who cares about traffic... I know.  Dumb.  But how about the double yellow line to the left of this white Corolla and the cars still headed the same direction on the other side of it?  The way of it here is to flow like water.  I will say, we were a bit of a grumpy crew after sludging through this for a little while.  But just about ten minutes later we felt released from the thick gridlock of city-ness...

We meandered for a while till we found ourselves near the base of Cui Hua Shan.  My chinese characters are pretty poor so I'm not exactly sure which Cui this was (it could have meant something else), but it sounds to me like Crispy Flower Mountain and I like that name so I'm going to stick with it.  There was a quaint little touristy area at the trailhead.  

We decided we'd hunt for one more place to play before we returned home from Crispy Flower....  

and we found this sand spot...   I don't think we did any damage, but these mounds of sand and gravel were not in their pristine, untouched form when we left!

(and there was nothing pristine about our crew when we left here either!) 

 -hide and seek in the corn field behind the sandhills-
Vivi & I were sure Daddy wouldn't be able to find us behind our camouflage but he's just too good!

I still need to tell a more worthy story of God's deep work of healing in my heart for the culture difficulties I've struggled deeply with for the first six years of our time in China (we just passed the seven year mark!)  That post is coming... I feel very new, very different in my heart on most of the issues that "shredded me" just last year.  But for now I will just share one point where we still feel the huge difference between our culture and customs and the local ways....  Picture Taking.  

Only two times on this outing did I mention to people, "oh thank you, but no please... the kids really don't like having their pictures taken."  (Nor do any of us like them being pulled on the arm by a group of giddy, chatty teenage girls- or grandmas either- who just want to pet our kids' heads and talk on and on about their blonde hair, blue eyes, white-white skin.)  There have been some times when mentioning this as we enter a new place is my attempt at crowd-control because we can gather several dozen people like a wall around us in a minute flat if the crowd climate is right.  Sometimes I wish I could just say, "Thanks folks, but we just want to see the scenery here, ok?"

Yes, I know we look as foreign as space aliens, but we're not.  We understand all that's being said about us even when it probably wouldn't occur to our onlookers that it's even legal (or possible) for anyone else to speak Chinese.   We're standard humans here...  blood, pulse, breath.... all the same.   If you'd like to talk to us, that would be great.  We have names, we can speak with you, we can dialogue and that would be sweet.  But we cannot pose for another picture, sorry.  

And then I turn inside out, pure hypocrite.  I want to take their picture.  I want to snap my kids and I want to get portraits of some local faces too if they smile approvingly when I ask gently, if it's ok with them?  What does this look like to the mob of adoring girls that I just turned away from posing with teary-faced John?

There are a dozen pokes and prods and cellphone photographers every hour or so yanking on my kids when we're out in public and the sheer numbers of it turns me off.   I'd like to excuse myself with the impossibility of our family conforming to so many people's desires for a smile and a pose but each cell phone in my kids' face belongs to an individual that Christ died for and it's just not easy.  I think there will always be tension and I guess there really should be... there is no easy way out.

(Nobody warned me of the depths of heart-ache possible in motherhood when you try both to honor Christ and His word in sacrifically loving people and try too to care for and protect and love the little children entrusted to you.  Motherhood hurts and it's grace again and again to realize anew more of my need for my God, His wisdom, His grace, His strength.)

I'd like to be able to justify it like this:  Would you please not take pictures of my kids because there's over a billion of you and it feels like just about that many want to take our kids pictures every hour.   So... no please, if you don't mind. But I still want to take pictures of you, if I may?  There's not so many people that think your regular lives here are as stunningly photo-worthy as I do and, terribly humbly, may I ask, may I please, do you mind?

And I just don't feel like it works.  Either end of it really.  Instead, I want to try to let photos be taken of us as much as we can manage, as graciously as the Lord alone can enable us for.  And, on this drive, I passed by another hundred photos that I just didn't have the nerve to snap because.... photographing people is, I feel, intrusive, and it really should be done ever so sensitively and only with approval.   When there's time to chat friendly with someone, I am so happy to get a portrait if I can... and when I do, I'll count it gift.

And so... there's the sad story for why I have far too few pictures of local beautiful faces on our blog.

A few weeks ago I took this picture about ten minutes from our house- middle of the city.  
When I was done, this grandma instructed the cutie here, "You know what to say to the auntie 
for taking your picture"and she said it....
"Thank you."  

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