August 07, 2010

Reflections: James, Town Picnics and Landslides

James, our family forerunner, has gone ahead and bicked every bit of hair on his head (okay, he still has eyebrows and eyelashes). I think he is pretty handsome and he pulls is off well. The boys will also get shaved sometime in the next week, and I will follow suit. What is that famous saying? The family that goes cone-head together stays together? Okay, maybe that one isn't so solid and steadfast, but here is one that is a real gem: Husbands, tell your wives from the earliest days possible in your relationship that you think she should shave her head. Tell her frequently, even if she looks at you with a slight amount of irritation or even offense! Here we have one wife who is so happy for her weirdo husband harping on her about this since the day they started dating. Is it so hard for me to believe now that he may not care about my bald head? Not at all!

A husband of noble character who can find? He is worth far more than rubies. His wife has full confidence in him and lacks nothing of value. He brings her good, not harm, all the days of his life.

I realize that this was written about the Proverbial woman, but I think that it is equally as applicable for a good husband. Obviously this is not a test that someone designed for James (and I certainly do not view it that way), but if it were, he would be passing with flying colors. When we found out about Krang, one of the first things that James said to me was that in a strange way he was grateful for this opportunity to prove himself as a human being. The Chinese talk about life hardships as eating bitterness (chi ku), and now after six years of eating sweet fruits, we get to eat bitterness together... it is an honor.

From the beginning James has been very straightforward with me that he wants me to be straightforward with him. Let's feel what we feel. If there is something that you are thinking about, chances are it should be talked about. The result is that he has created for us a very intimate and beautiful place where we have safely talked about very "dangerous" (dare I say explosive and highly charged) things together. It has also highlighted how much we think alike. I can't even imagine how hard this would be on us if we were married to someone who refused to ever think about something that was not "positive", refused to talk about unpleasantries. What pressure we'd be under!

Additionally, he has provided for me a picture of how Jesus is to me as a lover. The book the Song of Solomon talks constantly about the Beloved and her Lover and how they meet each other in a private garden filled with exotic scents and smells that no one else has access to. Others can smell the garden and they can gossip about them, but they don't truly know what the two of them share together. I feel that I have gained this both in James and in Jesus.

I don't really sleep well these days. My nights are a maximum of six hours because inevitably I wake up in the middle of the night, thoughts alive. I am learning that at this point it is futile to try and sleep, so I have been getting up, journaling and reading my Bible until sometime after the sun rises. I have learned through these times that whatever I blog about on here and whatever I talk about with others, Jesus is jealous for my private thoughts and for my private time. Right now this is not something I have a choice about. There is so much happening right now and so much on my mind that to NOT get up drives me crazy. But whatever I lose from a few hours of sleep, I gain back in a growing confidence of his love for me. Like James and I, we have our own private garden, incredibly safe, where dangerous things happen.

This weekend in my hometown of Landmark, Manitoba they are celebrating a Friendship Festival (community activity weekend), and it has been a fun thing to get involved. This town is less than 2000 people (someone correct me if I am wrong). The boys have been so excited by it! This used to be the type of thing that I snubbed my nose at, being so small town and all that, but I suddenly realized that there are tons of Hollywood movies that focus on plots about small hick towns and their quirky ways. Why would my hometown be any less interesting to the wide variety of people reading this than Reese Whitherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama?

I took some videos of the boys enjoying themselves on the dance floor, screaming as candy was thrown to them from the parade and gaping at the daring dirt biker, but apparently they are not compatible to this computer. You are all missing out. Ari dancing on the dance floor to You Ain't Nothing but a Houndog is a sight to be seen! You would think that this kid has been watching dance movies or professional dance-offs or something like this, but for the life of me I can't figure out where he picked these things up! He turns his face real mean and contorts it into strangely appropriate and very rockstar like faces. He jumps wildly in Jimmy Hendrix like guitar moves. He even got down on the floor and pulled a few coffee-grinder like break dance moves. This kid does them all! When the music got slow he turned ballet on us! He did not get that from me! Jude was much more content to jump up and down, but he did so for an hour straight and his hair was dripping with sweat by the time he was done.

I want to post a link to a news story happening in China. This story has been ongoing since a few weeks before we even left. I have been struck again and again from our experiences in China just how often and how long lasting the Chinese people seem to be called upon to eat bitterness in their lives. There are so many earthquakes! There are so many landslides! Always there are sudden, pointless and terrible tragdies and that is only a portion of the greater, harder lives that so many of the people I have met lead. The Chinese people are so complex and dynamic and I never want to lose my appreciation for the way that they live their lives.

You can find the story here.

At our MCC orientation, we were taught that as overseas workers we were going to wittness unbalanced power relationships in our own lives that would unsettle us. We talked about it in great detail. How do we as workers accept this? How to do we deal with it? I never expected to see it played out like this, in such a personal way. While I was being medically evacuated from Beijing with doctors and ambulances, medicines and more than enough money, we were watching this very landslide story play out on the news. I was reading about it in my hospital room in Beijing. While we waited for our flight out of Beijing we saw it on the TV's. Perhaps the contrast of it at the time was mercifully spared by medication. Thousands of people wiped out in landslides while one powerful foreigner is evacuated for having a Krang. I have talked to so many Chinese people with stories like these landslides and as disconnected as I am/was, my heart breaks for them. They are not being pulled out.

If you were worried (or maybe relieved) that you may never read about China again on this blog, don't be. James and I have discussed, that while the emotions related to our sudden evacuation from China have been postponed by our more immediate concerns, they have been by no means supplanted. I mourn having left China, and it is all going to come out yet. I have so many letters to write, so many goodbyes that were never said, so many memories that have not been processed.

Its all coming... just wait for the deluge!

Heres a little humor to leave you with. Looking at the picture of James at the top I decided that he destinctly reminds me a certain well-known and well-loved cartoon character: Lumiere!


welcome to egypt said...


Margie said...

I enjoyed reading about your adventures in China. Jess i want you to know we are praying for you and your family. You are beautiful inside, and out, hair or no hair.

Cindy said...

Jessica and James, thank you for sharing so much with us. We think of you often. The family portraits are wonderful, and I hope you'll update the collection with the bald-headed version. :)

Anonymous said...


Larissa said...

I love our little town picnics!! :) Wouldn't have appreciated them though until living in large cities and then moving back. Now, I hear ya, movies are made about them cuz people are intrigued with the quirkiness of small towns! :)
Looking forward to seeing a picture of you with no hair!
And, praying for you and your family.

derrydown said...

Your family is the best!!!!

You know that James played Lumiere in the school play at ISPP, son't you? He was so convincing, I overheard some parent commenting on that wonderful French boy who played the candlestick!