Monday, March 20, 2017

Last Saturday in Shanghai

How to spend your last Saturday? At goodbye parties, of course! Two of them, to be exact. We felt very loved.

One of Ryan's co-workers gave the girls these Chinese dresses. I will enjoy having this picture and these dresses to remind ourselves of how big our girls grew in China.

Now, of course with young kids it came with a price tag. Ellie decided (of course!) to wake up at 5:45 AM on Saturday. So she was in quite the daze at the lunch party. Then fell asleep in the stroller on the 15 minute walk back. Made the transfer to her bed, but woke up 45 minutes later NOT happy. I managed to get her back to sleep holding her (I was desperate, knowing what was ahead!) but she was still really tired as we taxied to our next party. For an hour. So wiggly! Then we got home late. And party food isn't the greatest for a one year old. I was planning to pack more, but had ended up holding a sleeping baby. ;) So either the food or lack thereof seemed to upset her digestive system, so she woke up scream crying at 10:30 PM after a later bed time (another 45 minute taxi ride home!). She thankfully went back to sleep, but woke again at 5:00 AM. Oh and Hadassah woke at 3:00 AM to use the bathroom. Needless to say, it was an exhausting Saturday! Just keeping it real...

But, looking back, I know we'll remember the love. We truly have been loved these last three years in Shanghai, and have loved many...

The first party was organized by E. Oh what a blessing this woman has been. She shares my love of cooking and organizing events, and is so so sweet. She's saved the day for me many times, calling the wuye to come and fix broken things in our apartment (and even going shopping to find the new part for us!), setting up water delivery for us, setting up bill paying through AliPay, and being just a phone call away when I need help translating what someone is trying to tell me.

She arranged for the rental of a beautiful garden and event spot on campus, and gave each person something to do, while she arranged the food,

The kids enjoyed all the fun spots to hang out...

 Dipping things and hands in the water...

 A treasure hunt to find balls to trade for suckers and special toys...

And we all enjoyed talking and lots of smiles!

The food was delicious - a good blend of Western and Chinese!

Ellie's always happy with a banana in hand!

 Then there were pictures to say goodbye... This family was our first neighbors and will always remain close to our heart. We will definitely stay in touch with them and hope to see them again, whether they visit us in America (perhaps even this summer!) or we come back to China. I saw "Beauty and the Beast" with Y Sunday night, and in the taxi ride home reflected on how she is truly a "bosom friend" and like a sister, and she said the same. We will so miss them.

 And oh I can't imagine daily life without this woman. She has shown me what it looks like to live in authentic, Christ-centered community with another mom. We share wechat messages to encourage and commiserate throughout the week, take our kids on outings to campus or play places, and can always count on the other to pray if we're just having a hard day. I will so miss her.

 This family is always so sweet and joyful when we see them out and about around our apartment! J always greets us with a smile an effort to communicate though he speaks little English and we not much Chinese. And F was a part of our study of the Word for half a year. We will miss their smiles.

 Speaking of smiles, this one did a great job smiling through all of these pictures! Not easy for an active 3 year old who wants to always explore! ;)

 E and her daughter C... Always a joy to see them on the playground and participate in lunches there or their help with parties we put on. E always came early or stayed late to help clean up. She was a true neighbor too, sharing my love of cooking and swapping recipes or borrowing peanut butter... I had always wanted a neighbor like her, and have thoroughly enjoyed the past two years. I will miss having her so close.

 These co-workers of Ryan have been friends since the first month we arrived in Shanghai. They've invited us for special outings, be it to see a train themed restaurant, a waterpark, or all the way to MoGanShan. And after working at Ryan's company for a while, he left to devote his time to a full-time to a Taobao business. Not everyone can say their daughters are models for a Chinese towel company! ;) But we've been happy to take pictures for them as needed, as they have always been so so giving to us. We will miss their sweet friendship and generosity.

We may leave China, but our daughters will continue helping sell towels on Taobao! ;)

 This family. The memories... We first connected to them through them being former college friends of someone at our church in Iowa. They helped advise us on things to bring to China, and helped us find both of our apartments. We ended up even living in the same building as them in our current place! It's been so nice to have friends just an elevator ride down. We've been inspired, encouraged, and challenged by their heart for reaching out, devotion to learning language and culture, and authentic parenting. We will miss their friendship and their community.

 As Hadassah would say, "I'm so attached to D & A!" We've only known this amazing couple for just over a month, as they've come to start their China adventure just as we're leaving ours. But it feels like so much longer. From dinners to praying and sharing to them babysitting - much to Hadassah's delight, with Ellie's feelings were much like her face here! ;) Though we've known them for such a short time, their impact will last and we plan to stay in touch! We will miss their sweet kindness and realness.

S & D have been our regular friends for play dates and studies of the Word. We've learned about parenting and kids together as her daughter is just a few weeks younger than Hadassah. We've explored and laughed and danced and played. S was always full of fun ideas and snacks that Hadassah couldn't wait to try. We will miss their exuberance and always ready attitude.

 Oh these goodbyes are hard. D remarked that finding a friend you can just talk to about anything is hard, even for them with other Chinese. And yet, we've found it in each other.

Then it was the home-ward walk from campus - one of our last times! - for naps before our next big party...

This one was put on for us by church friends. It meant traveling downtown, but they made it a time of joy. It was especially nice to see some friends who were part of the original gathering (we moved with the church plant last September) and catch up on their lives. We've seen God's faithfulness displayed in so many ways through these people.

This picture captures some of the great people we will miss. There's G & M, who was like a grandma to my girls and always ready to share ideas of her latest felt project and ooh and ahh over mine. She is a kindred spirit in the creative realm, and we plan to keep emailing each other our creations! D has the best Scottish accent - I always love hearing him read Scripture or hearing him sing out strong in the congregation. He and his wife have welcomed us into their home multiple times on a Sunday afternoon when we tried to stay downtown for lunch and naps. The same for C and his wife... And they've even traveled out to Minhang a time or two which is extra special!

B organized the party and J hosted. These ladies serve the church in so so many ways, untiring and with such sweet joy. I will miss their example.

Just a few of the great men Ryan has been blessed to know and engage as they spur one another on. As Ryan said in our goodbye remarks on Sunday morning, these churches have lived out the "one another" commands in Scripture so so well. We will truly miss them all.

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