Lately I feel a bit like my life could be that show, “The Amazing Race.” I have only seen the show a few times (reruns on Asian TV when we were traveling) but the idea seemed to be a sort of gigantic scavenger hunt with many challenges thrown in, where working together as a team is really important. The clock keeps ticking and the teams can’t make up for time lost; they just have to keep on trying to do better during the next portion of the race. Our life has looked somewhat similar lately! The clock is ticking on our leaving date: only 13 days! We are trying to use our time well and accomplish each day’s tasks, but it’s taking all of our combined effort and energy to do so.
It’s strange, because I don’t remember feeling so pressed for time before we left the States initially. That might have been because we didn’t have two children! We also had quite a long time to prepare and leaving was literally leaving behind lots of precious people and things and venturing out into the unknown: a huge adventure! Now the tables have turned: instead of venturing out we are returning to the familiar. And yet, so many things have changed in the past three years! The most obvious, adding two daughters to our family where before there were no children, has been a huge change. Welcoming our daughters into the world, caring for them, praying for them, seeing them grow, playing with them . . . all of that has changed our lives and our family drastically.
But John and I have also changed. We’ve gotten used to the crazy traffic, the low prices, the smoggy air. We eat Asianese food pretty much every day. We speak Asianese every day, and sometimes I dream in it! I am also happily accustomed to my house helper making lunches, doing my laundry, mopping my floor, and washing my dishes several times a week. I also can now tell the difference between 3-4 different types of Asianese rice. (They truly do look, smell, and taste different!) I have even grown to like some types of fish (which is served whole) and seafood, which I never thought would happen. [Though, as a sidenote, yesterday I was at the grocery store and wandered past a section of seafood—a huge display of octopuses artfully arranged on a pile of shaved ice. Oh my, the slimy squishy yuckiness of it all…rest assured that I was not tempted by the sale price or the “attractive” display!]
I hope it doesn’t seem somehow ungrateful or anti-American, but I have recognized lately that I am sad to leave for so long. We will be gone from our home here for seven months, and I am a little sad to have to say goodbye to friends, stop eating yummy Asianese food, and be away from our home for that long. It is kind of like a chapter of our life is ending, since we plan to move from this apartment when we return, which is a little sad. On a lighter note, I even feel a bit concerned that I will miss the food so much that I have been asking my house helper to tell me how to make certain foods so that I can try to make them in the States. Actually, I am SURE that I will miss the cheap prices on fresh, fresh vegetables, just as an example, yesterday I bought a package of two red and two yellow peppers for about $.60 USD. You can’t beat that!
On the other hand, there are lots of things I’m looking forward to about going back for awhile. Topping the list is seeing family and friends, and introducing everyone to our daughters. I’m so excited for Clara Anne and Chloe to get a chance to spend time with Grandpa and Grandma Roelofs and Grandma Wind. We also are truly excited to share with many of you the wonderful things happening here on this side of the world. Other random things we’re looking forward to: eating at Cracker Barrel, taking road trips (of which we have several planned!), which means driving—something we haven’t done for 3 years! I am super excited to take Clara Anne to the library to choose some NEW books to read (boy am I tired of reading the same books to her over and over! I think I can recite some of them. In fact, she can recite some of them!). I’m also eager to do some shopping in a land where I am a normal size and not the extra-extra-large gigantic size that I need in this country of thin, willowy Asian people. My cupboards also need some restocking so it will be great to just go to the grocery store and be amazed at the variety and selection! And one last thing: speaking English! Hearing English spoken! Everyone else speaking English! Though I will truly miss speaking Asianese (I do think it is a beautiful language) and I feel glad about how much Asianese I can speak, I am really only at an intermediate level and so still only understand about 60-75% of what is spoken to me, and that’s on a good day. So it will be truly wonderful to be able to hear, understand and communicate freely.
Well, I started this blog talking about being pressed for time, and now here I have sat, writing for the last 30 minutes. So I shall conclude and go do some packing, or something more productive, since the clock keeps ticking! Good night!