Hello dear friends!
Well what a ride these first 3 weeks have been, let me tell you. It feels more like 3 years, to be honest. To give you an explanation first off, I’ve been locked out of my e-mail accounts since I got here and only just last week have I tentatively gotten access into one of them, thankfully the one that allows me to blog here!! Seriously SO thankful it was this one, because I was aching to write to you all and share what’s been going on!
Since landing in China 3 weeks and 1 day ago, it has been some of the busiest, most pressurized and hardest 3 weeks of my life, haha. I know some of you have been picking up on that and sending the sweetest messages and hopefully following along on my journey through Instagram! (check out the sweet feed on the right of this page!) There have been so many firsts, including going through my very first earthquake, just a baby 4.3 one, “suddenly, I am on a boat! this is unexpected!”; it’s been a whirlwind of events to put it mildly.
I hit the ground running and have been shooting SO MANY pictures/editing/delivering/running all over campus/memorizing 55 kids’ names and faces!/learning a whole new workplace/schedule/town and not until 6 days ago did I actually do anything normal like laundry or write an e-mail or sit down with no immediate work deadline (oh wait, that was today). For all my photographer friends: it was like shooting a wedding and delivering it in one week instead of 3 months. HAhahaha. SO CRAZY, to say the least! Holiday weeks are busy times here, especially Chinese New Year festivities! The work load is heavy but Kingdom-filled, and I’m grateful to be needed even though it’s a lot!
A quick art picture with my parka on and laundry strapped to my back. (2.17.18)I landed in China expecting an immediate emotional connection of “I’m Home”, and although so many things here are the same, so many more seem different. I didn’t immediately FEEL “Home” for the first time in China, and wow, it tripped me up so badly. For the first few weeks, I vaulted from “this is so amazing here!” to “what on earth have you done, moving to another country for 6 months, you are CRAZY.” hahaha. Oh my.
According to a fellow American friend I met here who also lives in China, this….is normal. But I didn’t know it was normal. So I spent a lot of time freaking out. (surprise, surprise) China is really big (again. shocker), so if you think Shaanxi is Alabama, and Hebei is New York, (both 13.5 hours from each other) add in the different cultures, food, landscapes, (not to mention people and my China kids) then you’ll have a better perspective of how thrown off I was to arrive here when I was expecting B-City.
And not until my dear friend Martha showed up VERY unexpectedly for a visit (the very best gift ever for all time), and I physically walked China’s lands with her again, and introduced her to some of the kids here and watched her love them did it actually feel as if this could be Home too. What I came to realize through many conversations about not comparing the two places is that God did an amazing work in B-City, and will do an amazing one here too. It doesn’t lessen the beauty or the emotional connection or the way B-City will always feel like Home to me. I was called here to Shepherd’s Field for an important reason, and I know Who called me, and I will wait to see and know how He will use me here. A few days ago I sat holding the hand of one of SFCV’S little China warriors who hasn’t been feeling well, and as I was praying for her healing and singing over her, I was compelled to write this down. I had just turned on “I Am Not Alone” by Kari Jobe, a song that has carried me through loneliness and loss, and as I sang along, I wrote this: “I am not alone. You will go before me, You will never leave me. The Jesus Who called me back to China and made a way for me across the seas is the same Jesus Who will walk with me every day into every room. He will continue to pour out His love through me because I go in His name. I am not alone.” The SFCV staff and all the people here have been so welcoming, honest and kind. The walls in the Inn are covered with Scripture and encouragement and stories and I don’t think I’ll get it all read in 6 months, but there is so much here that is full of beauty, even in winter, even in loneliness, even in trials, even in fears, there is beauty here.
There are sparrows that remind me that God sees me, there are magpies being raucous, reminding me of Colorado and to laugh, there are strong winds that rustle the bamboo to remind me we are not alone, and there is a greenhouse that feels like instant Florida when you step inside it. There is hot water, warm rooms at night!, and comfy beds to snuggle into. Children’s laughter rings out here and you only need to step into a house to be accosted by hugs and smiles. The sweet ayi’s laughter floats up to my room every morning as they get off shift and greet the day. And best of all: Spring is coming. It has been hard here, not because this is a hard place, but perhaps because I threw myself headlong into this work in China and didn’t consider fully how much the Enemy does not like me being here. My friend Edwina said “talk about confirmation that you’re where God has called you to be!” which is by far the best perspective I could ask for.
Because it’s been one thing after another, non-stop. My prayer warriors have been getting hit up, day by day. My parents overloaded with texts. From e-mails to health issues to realizing “oh hey, everyone at SF isn’t just like you and that’s good and you all have to work together at your different jobs” which everyone probably realizes at some point in this kind of work and hey, JM, you’re in it.
I’ve also just discovered there’s someone here on staff who DOES like hugs, so she will be getting ALL my stored up hugs from now on. 😉 So guess what? China is nothing like Florida. More than you even knew.So in the midst of these trials, I did what I’ve learned to do, I cried out for rescue to my sovereign God and yes, I’m here to tell you: He was there, and He provided for me. Every step of the way, every day, every hard thing, every trial, every tired moment, He was beside me, He was behind me, He was before me, He was there, and His love provided for me. In more beautiful, astounding, tangible, needs-met ways than there are spaces here to say. The God I trust will not fail me nor will He ever fail me. He is my Jehovah Jireh, the God Who provides, and His love for me will take care of me all the days of my life. It’s a promise that will not end, and wow, it’s a powerful one.
Power is something I’ve been hearing 24/7 since I arrived in China; I’ll tell you how. Fireworks by day, fireworks by night. Gunpowder popping and exploding constantly. A nice little worship walk, it’s so peaceful out here…..*explosions 15 feet away and I can’t hear anything for the next 10 minutes, it’s fine*. “Chinese New Year”, I’ve said hundreds of times while rolling my eyes and sometimes pulling the pillow over my head at 2am. I love fireworks at night, even after 3 weeks of it, I still look up with a little smile on my face (it’s an everlasting wonder why). You realize Who is the powerful one when all you feel is weak and needy. It’s not you, it’s the One Who hung the planets in space and who created everything from nothing. And that powerful Gospel love that God gives His people and gave me a China love and a love for orphans is the same love that fills these people working here. It burns inside me, in every room, for every child. It’s a powerful, explosive, cannot-be-contained love, and I want to be pouring out more of it every day, since more and more every day I am humbled at my little human love, spent so easily and quickly. I need Jesus love. I need long-term, showing up when it’s hard and continuing to spill out when I want to hold in-love.
Jesus, how I need you.
6 days ago, I wrote these words: “God loves beauty and even on the really hard days, He is still giving us good things. I was so encouraged by these verses this morning, especially that line “He will not forsake His saints.” He will not allow us to fall, He upholds us by His righteous right hand, our steps do not slip because we are kept by Him.”
“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For WITH YOU is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Oh, continue Your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!” – Psalm 36:5-10
“I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsake or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and His children become a blessing. For the Lord loves justice; He will not forsake His saints.” – Psalm 37:25-26, 28
He has not. He will not. Though my little place in China feels like I’ve moved to the dark side of the moon some days, there is a light here, all day, every day, and it won’t go out. It won’t flicker, it won’t fail, it won’t dim and it cannot be extinguished by famine or drought, neither harmed from arrows by day or terror by night. It will always burn, a comfort for us, steadfast, never changing, never failing, never losing ground, never covered up, never put out. It is fueled by a powerful victory that can never be undone.
For it is He. He is the Light of the World, and He is calling us to be at Home in Him. Abide. Dwell. At Peace. “God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” – Psalm 46:5
Oh, how His love provides for me. – JM