Jess Speaking: Greetings from the Mainland! It took us a full two weeks to come to a simple solution that outsmarts the "protective" mechanisms in place here! A big thanks goes to our human proxy and good friend who is doing the work for us!
The last three days involved the following:
1) We welcomed another family to China from Chicago and seen them on to Chengdu. They have three kids, two of whom are the boys' ages and they were all able to play together.
2) We were surprised on Friday when Aiyi arrived and put down on the table a tiny cage (about 2x3 inches) with two baby chicks in it. She paid 2 kwai for them and thought they would make good presents for the boys. Hmmm... I won't say I was happy to think that we had just been committed to raising two baby chicks to grown chicken size in our enclosed third floor apartment. It is also possible that James and I enclosed ourselves in another room (after having put the chicks into a slightly larger temporary home with some water and cornmeal, a rock and some leaves) to have an unpleasant, married couple discussion about what to do about these chicks. After all, our apartment did not come with a build in chicken coop.
3) We were relieved the next morning when we saw that the chicks had died overnight. One drowned in the 1/2 centimeter of water that we gave them and the other flopped feebly around the bowl rasping and eventually just stopped moving. They must have been barely hatched before some man decided that he needed the two kwai their sale provided for his own needs. I confess to feeling sorry for them (but I also confess that during that unpleasant married couple discussion, I was trying to convince James that the most merciful thing we could do was throw them out the window onto the concrete as hard as we could!). I know, I'm a brute! But the alternative in my mind was giving them free reign of the house and leaving cornmeal around the house so that they could cluck around and beat the boys with their wings!
4) We lived through the whole family (minus James) being sick. Jude woke up vomiting one night and proceeded to wake up every 20 minutes after that. The next afternoon it was Ari's turn. There was no fever, and it seems to have been some random episode. We have no idea where it came from. I meanwhile came down with a bladder infection. I know, no one wants to hear about this (just like no one likes to read descriptions about parasites). So I'll suffice it to say that I was in extreme pain all weekend, somewhat feverish, and drank about 4 gallons of water and 2 gallons of cranberry/pomegranite juice, and eventually self prescribed amoxicillin.
5) Between cleaning up vomit and spending most of the day in the bathroom, I got to think about the fact that I was missing one of my best friends since childhood's wedding this last Saturday. Since I didn't even have the benefit of sleeping through it (having to use the bathroom all night long), I became quite homesick.
6) James and I spent most of Sunday strategizing for his book trilogy that he started so many years ago. For those of you who have read the first book, the whole thing has been overturned and reworked. We are both very excited about it!
7) I started teaching myself Debussy's Clair de la Lune on my new piano. I have always hesitated to learn classic and well known songs (Moonlight Sonata etc), because everyone knows what they should sound like. Then they can all hear my mistakes as I learn. But I have decided that I do not care and my neighbors can criticize me in Chinese all they want. I have always enjoyed these songs and I think I'll enjoy playing them even more than hearing them.
8) Monday morning finds us all healthy and in fairly good spirits and thankful that God gives us the strength to get through these kinds of weekends!
Last weekend after I got back from Cambodia, I had two days to learn 6 songs for my first Sunday of playing piano at the International Church here. It is mostly hymns, but I have never played hymns before. I can play a lot of music, but I find the hymn style to be challenging to play well. I have done a lot of accompaniment in the past, but usually had more than two days to learn and perfect. Well, I didn't perfect and made a lot of mistakes. I was tempted to be horrified. The perfect accompanist should play so well that no one notices her/him. But I was certainly noticed! Better next time!
James was laughing as I was practicing because one the songs I was learning was the classic Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow). He said that anyone listening to me would think that we were constantly taking church offerings in our apartment.
More next week...