Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The perfect days before we leave...

Community. It's amazing. It's the thing I thought would make us leave China early - the lack thereof, that is. But now, it's a huge part of life here. Something I will so miss when we do leave.

It's the day before we fly to America for three weeks, and it's been the most stress-free day-before-travel ever. My friend offered to watch Hadassah in the morning while Ellie napped, and then also invited us over for dinner. I got to pack for two hours alone in the morning, and then the girls naps overlapped another two hours in the afternoon to finish this and that and clean up. Even the refrigerators are clean! And then - no dishes tonight!! My friend has given me the extra gift of sleep, because usually I am up really late on just-before-flying days. But now, it's 8:45 PM and my feet are up. I'm done packing. Wow.

It's such a blessing to have close friends here. Someone who has been open and real with me, allowing me to bless her in her moments of need (severe morning sickness has plagued her, so I was able to bring them meals almost weekly for a while). And now she knows me enough to know what will bless me. And it has. Facing 21 hours of travel, it feels so good to have had FOUR HOURS to myself today to pack and get ready. Because pretty soon for an entire day I'll have my sweet baby on me in some way! ;) Often I only have one hour if that without a girl awake during the day, so four hours has seemed like bliss, though I must admit I missed having my chattering little helper around in the morning.

This spring has been amazing. The weather here has been gorgeous lately. Not hot, just perfect (even a bit cool at times!) and the last few days the AQI has been low that I've had the windows open and the breeze going through. It even smells good! In my book, May and October definitely win the "best months in Shanghai" award!

But the community has been even more amazing. We just finished up a study of the book of Mark. 5 of the 6 ladies a part of it live in our complex. One of them made an amazing celebratory lunch on the last day. And while I still really really want a back yard somedays, being able to just walk 5 minutes to get to her place from mine is really so convenient. There is beauty and blessing in apartment life. I didn't know I would ever be able to say that with certainty, but I am convinced of it now. Definitely would prefer a house one day. But for now, we are so blessed.

The weather has put everyone in a good mood, as we've been able to get out more. And Hadassah and Ellie are playing together all the more, which is so sweet to see. Though Hadassah often can't understand why Ellie keeps trying to grab the book whenever she tries to read to her... ;)

They were my packing buddies yesterday after naps. And when Hadassah said "I'll put my arm around her and you take a picture," it's not something one can refuse!

With the weather so beautiful, yesterday Ryan took off a bit early to get out and enjoy it with us in the late afternoon. His stomach wasn't doing well so work wasn't happening much anyway. We seem to have pinpointed it to mushrooms... He can do them in the states just fine, but almost every meal here with them has made his stomach messed up. But he was still an amazing Daddy despite the pain!

Dassah got to explore and try to befriend cats (who all ran away) since we rode our bikes to campus.

This little one loved watching her big sister feed crackers to the birds.

She's my baby, growing up so fast, and I love her so!

Dassah also got to feed the fish. It was so funny whenever one would grab a big piece and go racing across the lake with a huge pack of fish following as quickly as they would go!

Beautiful, perfect days? Pretty much. This is the Shanghai I want to always remember...

The willows beside the water...

The particular twist of this tree trunk... God has made an amazing world.

Dassah was literally jumping for joy!

This little munchkin has mastered rolling and prefers sleeping on her tummy now it seems. And it seems to have made her naps longer, which is wonderful! My goal of getting her to a four-hour routine (2 hours wake time, 2 hours nap) has finally seemed to be reached for good, just a few days before we completely switch her days and nights and mess her all up. *sigh* But at least I know what she can do, and as I have to wake her up during the new day, I'll know what to aim for. Facing lots of missed sleep ahead, but it's worth it. And these last few perfect days, filled with sunshine that dried my laundry and fresh air filling my house and beautiful blue sky to roam beneath have given me strength to face what's ahead.

Prayer is appreciated. We leave at 12:20 PM our time on Thursday, which is around Midnight for you folks in the states. We'll have 3 flights and finally arrive in Montgomery around 9 PM CST on Thursday. But, I'm ready. God is so good.

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