I know well that I run the risk of sounding super complainy and totally unspiritual, but I'll just shoot straight with you: China is very hard for me to enjoy a lot of times, and I don't know if I've ever felt refreshed, rested after any "time off" here. We're here for the people but sometimes we get worn out and need a little pause to the action, the translation, the continual adjusting of perspectives. We enjoy sitting across a table for good conversation and knowing and sharing hearts with friends here. But we don't enjoy being a public spectacle simply for being foreign, my heart sinks for every pile of trash, and my nose scrunches and my skin crawls anytime anyone (especially us girlies) in the family has to use a public bathroom.
But our kids are getting bigger and this seemed like a summer worthy of adventure. Little did we know our dear friends who are especially drawn to a mountain minority group would plan a bike trip to be among those people... in this spectacular scenery.
the ancient mountain fort of Tashkorgan
Sadly, the biking was too heavy duty and the "ride in the van alongside the cyclers" option was of no interest to our girls, especially Marian, who was confident she'd be car sick the entire week.
It felt really unfun and totally undesirable to go separate ways for a boys week of adventure a short flight to the south and a girls week a day's train-ride east... but that's what we did.
The beauty on the bike is one of my best friends here... love this lady and love her love (His love) for the precious Tajik people.
Studly boys.... Isaiah is so grateful to have such a tight group of young men to be with in our city.
And these two.... I get teary even thinking what to write about my husband. He's too great a gift to me- generous with encouragement and affection and he serves us so kindly. And this John Timothy? What a joy.... he's super committed to his buddy Noah J (who just broke his leg rollerblading! So glad he made it through the bike trip before he got couch duty for the rest of the summer!)
God's promise. My treasures.
Our kids' former Chinese tutor, friend to many of the friends on this trip, went along for this journey too. And I think it was while everyone was gathered for devotions one evening that she came running in, announcing "彩虹, 彩虹!!!" My boys didn't even know the whole story, but I heard from others: she had decided after earlier rains she'd love to see a rainbow and she prayed for exactly that. And when it came- doubly so, in radiant brilliance- she just about came undone and spilled over with the joy of this evidence of God's promise... and answer to prayer!
I can't hold off any longer to tell you how blown-away grateful I am for the friend who shared his talent with us in these photos. Josh, of www.farwestchina.com, is over-the-top in his collection and quality of talents. Matt really loved connecting with him on this trip and I am crazy thankful to get to appreciate and keep in our family record all the beauty he so fantastically captured of their time.
Josh has a drone... and our John is pretty starry-eyed over that flyer, just like I am over these photos!
The photo above and below are from another friend who I think snapped these on an iPhone! The bikers were so excited to "stumble upon" a game of ___ (I forgot the local name but they call it "goat" in English, which is not a very accurate translation- just descriptive of the game.) These two teams of horsemen are all after the goat carcass, and whoever gets it to their team's goal first wins.
the Central Asian version of polo (upping the tough-guy-ness, minus the country club)
The first and last day of the trip they were in the biggest city in these parts.... the cultural capital of the people group we love. Such a great place, such great people!!
We are so glad our boys could have such a great experience, with their dad and their dearest friends, seeing the richness and depth of beauty in this precious people. May you plant deep in them, Father, a compassion and perseverance like your Son when he came so far to reach us. And please stoke into flame in their hearts affection for you and ambition to serve the least reached and the most needy.
And.. here's a video of their trip that Josh also put together.