Friday, July 1, 2011

A Close Call With Reality

There’s no way around it. As a foreigner living in China, I will always have attention drawn to me~simply because...well for one, you can see my white skin and blonde hair glowing from 100 yards away. Secondly, I am almost always taller than the average male here, not to mention that my blue eyes are like the blinking lights of the old K-Mart blue light specials. It’s twice as bad in the countryside. You might as well bring a blue smurf into the center of town because the locals’ jaws literally drop as you walk by. You can feel their stares continue to blaze into your back long after you’ve walked away. No matter how hard I want to live my life inconspicuously here, it will never happen. For the most part, I have grown accustomed to these things and they usually don’t bother me. Sometimes I even forget how different I am and I get careless. That was the case today. It’s been really hot here, so when I’m home alone in my own apartment I strip down to the least possible amount of clothing I can wear and still have time to throw on a presentable cover up just in case someone unexpectedly knocks at my door. This afternoon I was really hot and tired and wanted to try and get in a quick nap before heading off to my part time job at the pre-school. Unfortunately, I ran out of bottled water today, so I called the water delivery people to come and exchange my empty bottles for full ones. I knew it would take them a few minutes to up to a few hours to get here, so I grabbed the jugs out of my kitchen, stuck the coupons in the top of the bottle and prepared to put them outside my door for an easy, impersonal exchange. I opened the door and snuck out to the stairway half naked quickly attempting to put the bottles in their usual spot of exchange. I guess I must’ve been in too big of a hurry because I dropped one of the jugs and it went thumping down the stairs to the landing of the apartment below me. After being in and out of China for the last 8 years I should’ve know better, but I just wanted to get that doggone jug, put it on the steps and get my nap started. I scampered down the stairs, scooped up the jug and just as I was turning around a big gust of wind blew through the open window in the stairwell. I was horrified as I watched the door to my apartment slowly start to swing closed. I’m sure you’ve seen similar scenes in the movies, where a disaster unfolds right before the eyes of the only person who can stop it and they are just inches away from prevent the inevitable. The panic was intense! In my mind I was doing the slow motion scream, “NOOOOOO!” realizing that if that door did indeed close, I would be locked out of my apartment with nothing on but a T-shirt and skivvies! A foreigner in China dressed (or not dressed) like this would certainly cause an uproar...not to mention a probable spot on the nightly news highlighting the promiscuity of foreigners in China! In my desperation to save myself from such a fate I made a dive for the door, willing to sacrifice my fingers and my body to the cement stairs, rather losing all my dignity and taking the walk of shame to my neighbor’s apartment to ask for help. Thankfully, I was able to grab the door just before it slammed shut. Now as I sit here recalling the event and writing it all down, I really do have to laugh. Seriously! Can you imagine the stories in my neighborhood about the crazy, foreign lady with the pink bikini underwear? Good Lord, that would’ve been embarrassing! Thank you God for your grace...especially, when it’s hot, I’m tired, and a little impulsive!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older, but lately I’ve been really appreciating my dad more and more. When I look back on my childhood, I can honestly say it was pretty darn good. Back then, most dads were the primary bread winners and moms either stayed home and took care of the kids, or had part time jobs. A dad’s role was to bring home the paycheck and take care of things around the house. By the standards of the day, my dad was awesome! He worked really hard to provide for a wife and 5 kids and I never, ever remember going without things that we needed. The cars were always taken care of, the lawn always got mowed, and never once did Dad come home late after work because he was drinking at the bar with his buddies! Every Sunday (twice on Sunday) and every Wednesday without fail we were in church. Although there were many times I complained about not being able to do the things other kids did on Sundays, it was good for us kids, and taught us to value God, family, and taking a day of rest. Dad went above and beyond what a lot of fathers did for their kids. He attended our sporting events, took the boys hunting, saved like a mad man so we could all have a college education, and took us on a family vacation each year. After 50 plus years, we still go to Minnesota every summer to spend a week together fishing and having fun as an extended family with our own kids...and their kids! So many traditional family values have gone by the wayside in today’s world. Some dads don’t take any responsibility for their kids, while other dads are single parents through no fault of their own. Dads are pulled in all directions to be more and give for while being marginalized by society as a whole. As a result, many have forgotten what it’s like to be men, to be leaders in their families without being tyrants in doing so. Was my family perfect? Heavens no! I probably complained more about my dad and his ways of doing things than any of my siblings; but at some point, I grew up and realized that my dad was my dad. He had his ways of doing things and that was not going to change. He had his way of loving, even if it wasn’t what I could understand at the time. He had his way of disciplining and as much as I hated having the fear of God (and my dad) put in me, it was probably what kept me out of a lot more trouble than what I got into. The Bible says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, and I reasoned like a child, but when I became a man (or grew up) I put away childish things. (I Corinthians 13:11) It took me a lot of years to realize I was a pretty lucky kid, and I had a pretty great dad. We often express our emotions toward our moms, because~well, they’re moms, and we can do that. Dads usually only get appreciated this one day a year. I know my dad won’t always be here with us, so there’s no time like the present to say the obvious. Here’s to you, Dad. You’re an exceptional man and I’m thankful that I’m your daughter!


Life is Fragile~Handle With Prayer

I was pretty shook up yesterday when I came up on an bike v. electric scooter accident while walking home from school. The woman was lying on the ground, unconscious, and bleeding with dozens of people standing around her watching and only one guy holding her head against her backpack. The first miracle was that she was wearing a helmet, which was trashed and at the side of the road next to her. I ran as fast as I could toward them and told someone in Chinese to call the police and the hospital. Fortunately, in this day and age everyone has a cell phone. I tried talking to her as she came in and out of consciousness, but every time I got eye contact her eyes would suddenly roll back into her head and she would be gone again. I didn't even know if she could speak English, but I knew that no one else standing around could. I went into crisis mode. The police and ambulance arrived quickly and several passersby helped paramedics put the 28 year old foreigner into the ambulance. I hopped in the ambulance and frantically dug through her backpack hoping to find some ID so I could at least know her name, where she was from and maybe even who to contact. I was so relieved to find her UK passport with her name on it. She obviously had a serious head injury and since we were near the SOS clinic for foreigners, the ambulance took her there first. Another miracle~she had once been a patient there and they had all her emergency info on file! The doctor jumped into the ambulance and I got out. They took her to the Number 1 Hospital immediately, and that's all I knew. All I could do was pray and hope that she would be OK.
This morning the principle of the school where Ashley was teaching called me, thanked me for helping and said she was she was stable but had a broken cheek bone, and a head injury with some bleeding in her brain but they thought it would eventually absorb. She was still in and out of consciousness and didn't remember anything. They were planning to move her to Beijing, but needed to get a statement from me for the police report. As I walked into the 16th floor ICU I was met by her boyfriend, 2 other friends, a translator, and a police officer, all who looked concerned and wanted to know what happened, so I filled in the blanks. As is typical in Chinese hospitals, Ashley was in a big room with 6 other critical care guys and had all their family member in there, too. The guy next to her had just died an hour earlier. In spite of her condition, I was thankful to see Ashley looking more coherent than the day before. At least she was able to open her eyes and talk a little. After giving the police officer my statement, I went back into the room and asked her boyfriend if I could pray for her, and I did.
As far as I'm concerned, Ashley is lucky to be alive. The helmet saved her life, the SOS clinic records made treatment and notification of her significant others possible, and the guy that accidentally hit her didn't just run off like most would have after injuring a foreigner... All miracles! I am sure this will be quite a recovery process for this young woman, but I keep praying that she will recover and that she will see the hand of God in this incident, protecting her from what could've been sooo much worse. I normally don't wear a helmet when I ride, and hardly ever think about walking everywhere in crazy traffic. This has been a wake up call for me, too! We never know what today will bring. We focus on our daily happenings, our petty troubles, or our dreams for the future when the truth is, we aren't guaranteed a tomorrow. We only have today, and that's all; so let's make sure we live it well, and have our eternity settled. It's the only thing we can guarantee ahead of time.