Tuesday, April 22, 2014

our new city

Words are just not adequate to tell of our wonder and joy of finally being here…  The Lord has worked wonders to bring us here and we count this grace towards us as a magnificent joy and privilege.

Some pieces of life here…

We arrived to a warm spring… and then it snowed 4 days later, mid April.  

Mountains hoover in close around us

Street side butchers, with their next (still live) meat, abound

The Lord has given us all friends here already- English speaking friends- and many cute local friends, especially for our kiddos! (happy praise!)

Potholes:  driving here is just as chaotic and thrilling and video-game-ish as in our last city, except with the added bonus of vehicle-eating potholes.  This ups the challenge level…. and slows the speed :)

Music and Meals that we love…

Fresh bread and loads of fresh fruit available downstairs from almost everywhere 

Learning to live with two times…  The majority go by Capital City Time.  The minority group go by local time.  2 hours different. 

We are not in a new country, but the culture feels so super different here….  like this is the place we were made to be.  Tears of gratefulness and wonder at the Plan Maker...

These photos do no justice whatsoever to the beauty around us but I've just been distracted with all the crazy chaos of moving….   I'm super eager to share more pics here as they come!

the ride...

I love the perfect imperfection of this shot….  At our first lunch stop just after we pulled away from our dear church community and launched into this journey. This pic was meant to introduce "Brody" The Road Trip Owl.

Right after he mentioned that he and Joel traded one of their shoes after church this morning (they had the same shoes but Joel's are a bit older and a bit smaller and now they have equally awkward "pairs" to remember each other by).  
easiest baby carrier ever….  oh how we love these two!
we got stuck behind one of these for one of the 45 tunnels in our first two days on the road.  It happened to be one of the longest tunnels (probably at least 8 or 10 km) and we got to go 20km/hr with him….  I can't remember ever feeling so claustrophobic in a tunnel before!
peace in the back seat

Literally:  The Great Wall Mouth
This is it.  We recognized the patches of wall we saw alongside the freeway and knew it must be this (the town we stayed in that night is famous for being near the last fort of the great wall) but we never expected we'd drive straight through it!
passing by
and he said he didn't fall asleep...
oh this girl!  What a treat she is!
Yipee for an earlier finish than we expected this day!   Got to feed pigeons at a park in town to celebrate a quick day on the road:)

The last and longest day we decided to pass up our planned stop and push farther towards our new city.  So exciting to come into the cultural lands that we love...
And we got to spend the night at this cool lodge that is being managed by one of Matt's old language tutors.
What else do you do in the desert for a wiggle break?

And about two hours after this stop…. we arrived….

Friday, April 11, 2014

safe.... and still needy


Thank you so much for praying for our move.... for the good byes and the road trip.  The Lord really couldn't have made the journey here any sweeter.  We did have our share of all the normal bickering, but we had a surprisingly smooth ride for the 5 days we spent on the road.

We got to see some spectacular friends along the way, drive through a slice of the Great Wall (really! who would have thought that such history would be chopped up for a highway!?), see a few roaming camels, days of desert mountains, and only one late night of driving (China-side friends, believe it when you hear that there are reasons to avoid night driving here!  Think hundreds of brights shining straight into your eyes and old semi trucks with no lights at all... clutched fist, constant-prayer driving I tell ya!)  All this, and then we arrived into our new city with an armed crew of comedian, friendly soldiers to welcome us at a checkpoint on the highway. 

Now that we're here, I have made two beautiful local friends already and our kids have made one too!  But we're feeling even more of the pinch of crazy desperate need for grace from the Lord!  For all the good work we've moved here for, we've narrowed down the area we want to live in and there are absolutely zero apartments to rent there.  (There's been a rumor here of a new tax for owning more than one property and most of these apartments were bought as investments by landlords living elsewhere.)   Also, as foreigners we aren't allowed to have a mortgage from China to buy here and as far as we know, international purchases aren't allowed from stateside mortgages either....  Meanwhile, the six of us are in a hotel room beggingly eager to unpack toys and homeschool books and more sleep diapers (that are nigh impossible to find on the ground here) and have our own place to host our new friends and wash clothes!

The Lord knows all these things... and we're grateful for your prayers with us too for wisdom and for His provision and leading.  Tonight, we don't know what to do but simply to beg Him for wisdom and guidance for His way to go...  Should we persevere in searching - waiting for a place to rent or maybe throw out our plans for where to live (this could be His way of redirecting us?) and/ or  should we pursue international lenders that might finance such a purchase?   Lord, lead us for your glory!

Thank you dear friends for standing with us in prayer!  

More news (and photos!) soon...

Much love,
the Ks

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

so many people to love // the hard good-byes

Good-bye morning ride to school group, precious neighbor girl and little brother we all love too
 (and on this day, John's best buddy joined in for the last special ride and Isaiah and Marian hopped on the back too.)
And…. good-bye coolest ever, Trusty-Rusty three wheeled electric bike. 

Good-bye sweet Chinese teacher who stepped in during our 6 week need for a teacher….  she's a gem!
Good-bye adorable girls who all played as Marian's ballet students (for her to recap all she learned from the amazing you tube- homemade ballet camp she got to participate in several weeks ago.)

A few nights back, I talked with a good friend of mine about how this move is affecting our kiddos, and I looked up to see Isaiah playing alone with toys while his buddy was in the living room.  Not normal. These two are pretty inseparable.

So when it was time to go, I mentioned to Isaiah that he could tell Jaden how much he loved him.  It didn't even take him a second to think it over.  Isaiah went straight up and told him, "Jaden, you're one of my best friends" and then he broke down in tears and heart ache.  (And both mamas did too.)  Jaden, being the fantastic seven year old that he is, wore those words like a Congressional Medal of Honor, his whole face beaming….. but then he slipped into saddness with us too.  

We've talked about how the Lord loves His people and how getting to see how much we'll miss people, is a way of seeing how much we love them.  It's also been sweet to talk about how good it is to express our love to friends as a way of helping ease our sadness and bring joy into the middle of our grieving.  Friends to love really is a gift we can celebrate!  God has given us his people to love and we can love them a bit like he does because His love is so lavish!  Getting all wrapped up in the love of God is such comfort, like a healing balm for our weary hearts. 
Good-bye precious house-helper and good friend….  This woman loves the Lord so dearly.  She was John and Vivi's first Chinese teacher in our home on the mornings I had language class too.  
Good-bye precious, precious, precious friends.  We love you guys! 
Good-bye Tuesday afternoon "Sports" crowd of cool and crazy kids.  What a joy to have spent these afternoons with you!

Good-bye Coach Matt….a hug from all the sports kids
Good-bye…. Nope.  So glad the six of us are moving forward together!  I am praying lots that the Lord will mark this move in our kids hearts and lives especially (as well as Matt and I) to be a time where they deepen dynamically in love for the Lord, for the lost, and for each other….  Oh for grace for this!
There are so many precious pictures in my head …treasured people, delightful moments…. The sweet teachers at art school, the preschool teacher who read aloud for bilingual Story club at our house years ago,  who taught each of our kids at preschool since then.   The lady whose bracelet was smashed when our little buddy (who we were babysitting!) hit her in his early days of bike riding… that neighbor who told us she'd rather buy our apartment to rent to us than let our landlady sell it to anyone else!  oh… and our fruit and veggie vendor friends who I haven't even told yet that we're moving….  

And even in the midst of all these tears, there has been great joy too…..  Matt and I celebrated TEN years together and I have no idea how I've ever been so blessed as to get to be his wife. (The line from Anne Bradstreet comes to mind:  "If ever wife was happy with a man, compare with me, ye women if you can…")  Since one of the coolest families in the world, who happen to be our very own dear friends, moved into our building a few weeks ago and offered to watch our kiddos, Matt and I got to steal away for an overnight together.     #purebliss.

Then my man turned old….  37.   He told the kids he should get a cane for his birthday but no one followed through on it.  John asked me last night at bedtime if I would still be able to talk when I'm old?  We discussed the possibilities and then I asked if he'd finally be able to listen when he's old too?  Then John brought it all home with the bottom line, "At least, mommy, Daddy will be old before you."  Yep that's right.  He's going to get there three months before me.  (Good thing!)