Thursday, July 9, 2015

Changes Ahead

When God opens a door, sometimes He opens it really really fast!

With decisions made in one area, on Monday, we started looking for a new apartment. We texted a friend who has lived in China long enough to know more local customs and a lot of language, and asked if he would help us. He put us in touch with a student of his (he's a university professor) who had helped another family in the past. All of this started around 1:30 PM. The student asked for our apartment specifications, and by 4:45 PM had called us saying there was one that matched what we were looking for, and set up a time for us to see it that evening.

The apartment was nice, fit our main needs (like in a building with an elevator - I just can't imagine hauling two children plus their stuff and groceries up and down stairs as it's difficult enough with one!), was under budget, and decent enough that we'll only have to buy a few furniture items. We saw a lot of apartments in the area in our search last year, and this one was pretty good for the area we're in.

They wanted us to decide right there and then, saying if we didn't take it, someone else was prepared to, but we wanted some time to talk and think, so told them we'd call them later that evening. It happened to be in the VERY same building as our friend who had been helping us, so we called to ask his advice. He arranged to see it himself later that evening, and communicated more with the landlord as he could speak and understand Chinese. After some more back and forth, he put a down payment down for us.

It was 9 PM. 8 hours after we started looking in earnest, we had an a new apartment. After a long season of doors closing one after another, we had to laugh at how fast this one had opened! Granted, we had been talking about finding a new apartment for months, but were still amazed at how fast things moved. Everyone always told us finding housing moves very quickly in China, but our friend agreed we may have set a new record!

The next noon we visited the place again, went through some specifics of what we'd need, like bars installed on some windows that just opened easily in the clothes-drying balcony... With a toddler-monkey we weren't about to take any chances living on the 14th floor! We also got permission to paint, with the understanding that we may need to paint it back to white when we move out if they don't like the colors we choose. After 2 1/2 years of living in rented spaces with paint all one color, we are pretty excited at the thought of making this one a little more homey.

There are also other positives: the washing machine has hot water capabilities, which after a year of only cold water washing, during which towels molded and I had to stop using cloth diapers partly due to the stink that retained after no hot washes, I am pretty thrilled about! The windows also feel like they're a lot better sealed than our current ones - at least there was only one that I could feel a little air from when I put my hand up next to the edges, whereas almost all of the ones at our current apartment let in some air. So, I'm hoping the house will retain heat a little better so that this winter won't be so so cold inside!

Though it's not one of the changes we originally thought more ideal, we are excited too that God has a purpose and a plan for us being where we are. And, He has answered a huge prayer and desire of ours in terms of putting us closer to some community. Though we still feel the huge distance we are from the church we're members of, we will be living in an apartment complex with two other Christian, American families that God has recently given us more and more opportunities to connect with. Living this first year in China mostly isolated has driven home the importance of Christian fellowship, which can then inform and give energy to other outreach.

So, there is new energy and drive as we prepare our new home. Tomorrow I'll meet a Chinese friend (also living in that complex!) at our new place along with a painting company. With labor pretty cheap in China, Ryan busy with work, and it being 'nigh impossible for me to paint with Hadassah, we decided it would definitely be worth it to hire out the job and get it done before we move in. Later in the day we'll meet someone there to install the bars.

Through this whole process, we're reminded on how dependent on others we are over here. Though it is annoying to our independent spirits sometimes, it can be good at forming connections. And people, friends old and new, continue to be so helpful and generous with their time. We are blessed.

 Hadassah seems to love our new place. While I measured beds and windows yesterday to prepare to find what we need, she ran all over the place, checking out the rooms and furniture. She loved finding a closet with a door she could slide open and closed to play peek-a-boo with! She recognizes that it's in the same complex as our friends (one of whom has a daughter just 5 days younger than her) so spent some time standing at the window pretending to wave and say "hello {name of friends}" over and over.

There will be some work, like trying to tie together the colors of the above living room - it was pretty certain that the owners didn't want us to change the look of the walls too much, so we'll be leaving the orange and using their couches. But it's really fun to have a new place to dream about... my brain has been going strong with ideas for things since Monday night!

The first year in China was hard. I've heard it almost always is, in whatever place you go, especially over seas. But there were some things that made it more difficult to settle in, starting with my dad's discovery of cancer (which, praise the Lord, is currently all gone through chemo and surgery, and we are praying stays away!) and continuing through a long, cold, lonely winter. Adding another child made us also wonder whether this was the place for us. But with the decision made, we are going to do our best to really make this a home. I waited to buy many things, not wanting to waste money if we were going to use them for just a year... It got kind of ridiculous as things broke or wore out and I refused to replace them, not knowing where we'd be month to month. So, this time we are going to invest a little. Yes, we're still trying to be wise, and buying as much as we can used, but it feels good to work on really making a home.

We're looking towards other, smaller changes too. After over a year of hauling water, having to go out to get it rain or shine or air pollution, or go thirsty if we ran out while waiting for a storm to pass or a daughter to wake up from a nap, we're going to look into getting water delivered to our door. We're also giving ourselves permission to order a little more from the easy, online, expat grocery website, especially after discovering that they can give official receipts that fit the "food reimbursement" category Ryan's work provides. I'm still going to continue missing having water pressure to wash food and toothbrushes (filling bottles to pour over gets old!), but you can't change everything. :)

This feels like a fresh, new start. And it's pretty exciting to be preparing a home for TWO little girls this time! With one of the rooms already painted a pale pink, we can't wait to make Hadassah a fun toddler room and a sweet baby girl nursery. God is good.

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