Sometimes inspiration doesn’t inspire when you thought it would. The photo below I took this past spring on one of our ventures to the mountain areas outside the city. At the time I was just trying to capture the interesting … Continue reading
It’s not often that we can take a picture of our kids without interruption, but in Beijing – it’s still China.
So here is the story. I wanted to take a quick photo of the kids, sat them all down on a fence and tried to back up and get them all in the shot…
when I turned to adjust my position, I decided just to keep shooting. I was not trying to make some new Guangzhou friends, but I did.
More to come on our quick Beijing trip.
Written by Kristin:
Where to start?
Zhang Xuan, our “old Ai-yi” (as Malia calls her), got married. They’ve been officially married since January, but recently had a ceremony (of sorts) with a reception in her husband’s hometown. I’ve been searching for ways to describe Chinese weddings.
- Old traditions mixed with new Western movie influences;
- Centuries of history finding their way in modern expectations;
- Traditionalists versus new generation practical thinkers.
In this specific case it was mountain upbringing versus city stardom. We caught a glimpse of the dynamics when country people and city people are together. One determined to not be looked down on; the other making fun of the outhouse (pictured below).
Personally , the most amusing part has to do with our children’s budding standard of what weddings should be. It is quite different from my own.
No candlelight. No soft music.
No ushers. No bridal party.
No slideshow from baby to engagement.
RATHER every wedding
- must have fireworks,
- must be loud and LOUD,
- must have food, food, food, food, food.
- Wedding procession must have black cars (like a funeral procession…hmmm).
We were invited as part of the bride’s family. Xuan does not have family of her own and the van load of people traveling together contained friends she was raised with and a few classmates. All the years she worked for us I heard her talk about this handful of people. Despite the winding roads, I felt an “awe” moment being part of a group that esteems this young lady enough to go the distance for her wedding. Sounds strange, I know. Through Xuan’s life few people have gone out of their way to accommodate her. It was a special time and she deserved it!!
Chinese weddings are a mix of planned well in advance and leaving to last minute details. The groom’s family provides everything, even the bride’s dresses; plural because the bride wears a white dress for the ceremony and a red dress when greeting the guests and drinking shots with each table. (Xuan never saw the dresses until the day before the wedding.) Providing for everything is their way of welcoming the bride into their family. In most cases the groom’s family pays the mother lots of money so she can live comfortably without her child.
The night before the wedding phone calls were made back and forth between the bride’s passe and the groom’s entourage setting the starting time for the next morning!!
“What time should we be ready?”
“What? That’s too early. Can’t be ready before 10am.”
And the bargaining went on. The final time was agreed for 9:30am.
9:30 came. The kids and I were waiting in the hotel room with the bride and her family. The bride sat elegantly on the bed waiting for her husband. Kevin was outside with the groom and his entourage. Around 9:30 we heard fireworks in the distance and excitement sparked through our group. The groom was on his way!
A few more minutes and more fireworks, we knew the groom was now at the hotel entrance. (The whole incident reminded me of a story in a good book about wedding guests waiting for the bridge groom.) Electric excitement!!
The groom knocked at the door. The bride’s helpers didn’t open the door. It was an ordeal, let me tell you.
“Who is it?”
“What do you want?”
“I’m here to get my wife.”
With the door still closed at some point all of us in the room received a red envelope with money inside; especially the children. The groom and his family were paying us for information. What information? Just a minute, I’ll tell you. Eventually, the groom, and his helpers, and his family, and the camera man, and the MC/host for the ceremony burst into the room. Four men carry four gifts (vodka, cigarettes, tea leaves, and candy) and gave the gifts to four women on the bride’s side. Thankfully, I received the tea leaves and not the vodka!
Next, the groom needed to find the bride’s shoes. (Cute pink shoes that Zhang Xuan picked out herself.) Thus the need for money. He asked all of us in the room to help him find the shoes. No one helped, but we still kept the money. They were well hidden. One darling pink shoe was under her dress. (We didn’t get a good picture of the shoes. Sorry.)
Jump ahead to the actual ceremony. The groom’s family hires a company to MC/host/provide the atmosphere and romance for this event. Complete with glass lit dance floor (no one dances), twinkle lights, music, unity sparkler candle, etc. I say provide romance, because it does feel a little unnatural and fabricated. The company’s marketing line could be:
“Instant wedding ceremony; just add people.” OR
“Your day, our responsibility; just show up” OR
“We provide the lights, the cameras, and the action; please be there.”
Despite the backdrop falling over during the reception (CRASH, Kaboom!!), the van brakes WAY overheating on the way down the mountain (the driver was not well experienced with mountain driving), and getting terribly lost ten minutes from our house (Sigh. Please, next time listen to the foreigner in the back seat when he tells you he knows the way.) it was a memorable experience that we wouldn’t have missed for the world.
Here’s a 8 minute video for you visual learners, only if you’re interested.
My desire the whole time in seeing these people in that place was for an awareness of personal relationship with the Creator to spark in their hearts. That I’m aware of, the five of us plus a friend were the only people the whole weekend who know J-man. The harvest is plentiful…
Have you ever heard anyone say, at the end of their life, “I wish I had spent less time with my children” ? I recently heard an older friend of mine already mention (in his 50′s) the regret for not spending more time with the kids when they were young. I have never met anyone that told me: “I spent too much time with my kids”. I am guessing that a person like that does not exist. At least I hope not. So…spend time with the kids today. It’s biblical.
It’s what a good father will do. More importantly it’s what your Heavenly Father wants to do!
Be a kid, ask HIM to read you a book. Then listen.
Make sure to check out the cranes in the background as well.
Ok, I have decided it is time. (Kevin writing here ) Time to write again. But not just write, but rather encourage and brag about my wife. There is no special reason, it is not her birthday, not our anniversary, –just because. She is amazing. I want to encourage her and bless her. Without her help, strength and love, this family would cease to exist. Inspiration came from navigating through recent photos and seeing the beautiful giving person that of my best friend, Kristin scattered throughout my Pictures folder. I decided, that all these photos need be in one place—they tell a story. A story of sacrifice and giveness. Yes I just created a word.
So here goes…this is a photo post with the specific intent of honoring my wife.
> I am amazed at the time and passion my wife puts into teaching the children. She delights in giving them ‘hands on’ opportunities that to most people would appear impossible in our situation. If living in the states, it would seem so easy to go into the garden and teach the kids about growing—but here in Eastern lands, we begin in the market, buy the soil—yep buying dirt, then seeds, then working magic in the bathroom shower in order to keep the house clean. Ingenuity.
> Kristin spends much more time with the kids then I ever could. She is always finding time to be a mother to them. Hugs and kisses—even in the most stressful times. She is showing love even when none is returned. More than that, she finds time for other kids as well. Many times watching Caleb, one of Kian’s good friends.
> No matter what time of day or night, Kristin is there serving. Whether it is serving watermelon to our ‘drop-in’ friends or making a full-fledged meal for the family, she does it as 2nd nature.
> Recently, over the Easter season, Kristin attempted, might I add successfully, to make these awesome deviled eggs. It had been years since we have had these so it was a very welcome treat. But whether it is a simple loaf of bread or a turkey meal with all the trimmings, no one leaves hungry.
> In recent years it has been very difficult to get out and about with young children and no personal vehicle. However, Kristin has been able to adapt to this kind of life more than one would ever expect. Whether its bus, taxi, walk or subway, she moves with the flow. A trooper!
The BEST friend.
> Most of all I am ever impressed at the friends she is able to make. One of her best Chinese friends is a neighbor that lives in our same building. We have mentioned her in a recent newsletter. The photo above says so much…them both carrying/pushing bikes/scooters is exactly how this relationship began. Through the kids. Children provide wonderful opportunities and open doors in reaching out. This is a random evening just going out for a walk. Chatting about life and building relationship. This is how it is done. May we all learn from my wife’s’ example. This relationship has blossomed over the last year allowing for deeper and deeper conversation. May the HS continue to work.
But may I quickly remind you that we both are very REAL people–not superhumans.
Recently, in the midst of life, stress levels began rising to levels that both of us were uncomfortable with. To deal with this, we took off an afternoon and evening. Canceled everything from the schedule and had a family outing. No real purpose other than to spend time together. After dinner I forced the kids to pose for a shot–below was the best I got.
May you have a wonderful day. Be Encouraged!
~kevin for eac.
Hi, friends! This is from Kristin. Signing on to add a few recent thoughts. We have lots of material that we could be and would love to share on here, but don’t. I haven’t written a newsletter in about three months. The spring edition will be coming out soon with recent happenings and new pictures, so look for it!
In the past several weeks I’ve been enchanted once again by the story of Esther. Enchantment IS the right word. I love that story! A simple person in a position “for such a time as this” saves a whole people group. I did a little bit of research and read that Esther may not have been in the palace of Xerxes for long. 2, 3 years? Maybe a little longer. Did she die? Fall from favor? We don’t know and it isn’t important. With some friends we’ve been looking at Jn the bptist and how he completed what we was asked to do by his late 30′s. For him when his Cousin came around he knew it was time to move on; “he must increase, i must decrease”.
Two thoughts: First, i’ve been asking for an esther generation to be raised up. Not just one person, but a group of people with an attitude of humility and sacrifice to do what it takes for their people (ethnically or adopted) to know Truth. The second part is asking for those in influential positions now to have the humility to see the future and adapt even if it means moving out of the spotlight. The “Peter before” book (a directly translation from Chinese), unit three, section 8 and 9, sets a standard for how we are to treat others (live in harmony, by sympathetic, love, be compassionate and humble, don’t be nasty if treated nastily, bless if you want a blessing; my version). SO MUCH easier said than done.
Here is something that I shot this morning to inform many of you in how pollution is actually made in the country. This is on a very practical level. At least they take the night off from working like this.
Video can be found here.
We have been doing some crazy things lately. In Thailand recently for some sun (of the utmost necessity) and now we are getting back to the real schedule since Chinese new Year is finally winding down. I begin teaching very soon.
But for now, I simply want to brag on my wife. She is amazing! On our way back from Thailand she and the 3 children continued on to Xi’an (home) leaving me in Shanghai where I flew to another province to meet some teachers that are working in another city. I spent 3+ days there encouraging them an sharing in their work. So my wife has been single parenting it for the last several days. For that–she is awesome! … among other things as well.
In ADDITION, I was going through some of our recent photos and realized that Kristin took a photo of Malia that I think may be one of THEE best photos on my computer to date. For one simple reason. Clarity. It is an amazingly clear photo of Malia holding one of her new Thailand toys. (which she DID NOT bring home)
I present to you: FROG.
Now to try this with the kids.