It got pretty hard toward the end. All the construction noise, the boys scared all the time, my eye, the chaos, feeling terribly lonely, having insomnia and taking sleeping pills the last two nights... It was even harder not to give up when the end was so near. So I made a list of all the lessons I've learned these last 12 days.
1) My protection lies in God, not in James.
2) I really learned to enjoy the boys' company. I knew that losing patience and being selfish was not an option unless I wanted to lose my sanity. In that mindset I found myself enjoying their presence, taking solace from their hugs and kisses instead of just looking forward to bed time and nap time.
3) Walking through loneliness makes me more aware of God's presence and interest in my life.
4) When I kept my mind on what is true, and not on my fears, I was able to really enjoy myself
This passage kept me going: Ephesians 3:16-20
"I pray that from God's glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love... Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more more than we would ever dare to ask or hope."
That said, here are some interesting shots of the boys' and my last evening alone. We discovered that the droopy willow trees make perfect "fishing rods". Just the right flexibility and length. This has provided them with a way to play at the pond in our complex and I got some pictures of Ari looking very Huck Finn-ish. I am happy that they have not yet realized the other potential for these rods... as whips!
We also spotted the strangest looking three wheeled vehicle I have ever seen. Perhaps even stranger than the (bike? tryke? in training for unicyle?) was seeing the 10 year old boy riding it.
We got back to our gate in time to witness the changing of the guard. Our complex probably has close to 30 buildings and there are probably close to 20 gates. Each gate has a guard stationed at it. We first saw the changing of the guard on Jude's birthday when we almost collided with uniformed guards marching in formation with a leader shouting orders. When they reached a gated the new guard would step forward from the group. The new guard and the old guard would salute each other and their commanding officer and they would all spin, military style, to march to the next gate. It all looks very commanding and formidable until you realize from watching them that they have very boring jobs. I suppose the "Changing of the Guard" gives them a tiny bit of ceremony and excitement.
There are two other jobs we've seen widely around that look even more boring than the guard (even though I know there is more). One is the people who walk around with a broom and a dustpan and sweep the streets and sidewalks. Trust me, there is NO GARBAGE lying around in Beijing (at least the parts I've seen). I see at least 4 or 5 of these individuals walking through our courtyard a day wearing fluorescent green uniforms. The other day I saw a man leap out into busy traffic with his broom and dustpan to sweep up a piece of garbage that I couldn't even see! He barely missed being hit!
And finally, there is the bus crew. Its one thing to drive the bus, but its another to be the unfortunate individual who sits, yelling out the next stop and telling people to get off the bus. Especially when there is an automated system that saying the exact same thing, word for word. I rode a bus the other day, where this person must have been trying to create excitement for herself. She was yelling at the top of her lungs and talking so fast that I could hear her gasping for breath. Simultaneously she was physically pushing all the standing passengers, of whom I was unfortunately a part. I practically had to sit on some strange man's lap on the crowed bus to get out of her reach.
That's all for now, but you can feel relieved that the next post will probably be written by James!