Making Home in China — Susan

God has taught me how to create home, even in a foreign country. When we first arrived I felt pretty helpless as a homemaker. Basic tasks of a mom, like getting a meal on the table and having laundered clothes were huge tasks. I didn’t even have a washing machine! And it’s not like I could just drive down to my local Sears and find my favorite brand.

Providing a meal for my family was a monumental task, since purchasing familiar ingredients like deli meat, cheddar cheese, Romaine lettuce, ground beef, breakfast cereal, etc. were either not available or too expensive (like $10 for a box of Shredded Wheat). Once I did find the places to shop, next I had to get used to the idea of NOT having my own vehicle to drive there, load my groceries into and bring home. I had to learn to get a taxi, say the name of the store and trust that I was going to be driven to the right place.

I shop at a store called E-Mart which is a Korean owned grocery/retailer. Although they mostly carry Chinese food items, I can purchase necessities like milk, bread, flour, sugar, etc, and some imported items.

After shopping for my family of seven, using the provided, small shopping cart, I make my way to the checkout. My cart stacked high,  I get lots of stares from Asian faces.  I begin to unload onto a small conveyor belt, like in your local grocery store; but with a few big differences.  First I have to bag my own groceries with bags that I bring from home (or pay for plastic ones), second I have to pay in cash (Chinese RMB) and lastly, do this with very limited language ability. Spending from $50 to $75 American dollars means that I have to carry over 500 Chinese RMB with me. By the time I have made my way through the shopping, payment and bagging process, my stress level is pretty high. Now I have to head back down stairs to the street level and find a taxi home. I hope to get a driver that will take me to my apartment gate door, which will help tremendously as I attempt to get my 5 – 8 bags of groceries up to our 8th floor apartment.

In His providence, the Lord has sent me new friends to help in my transition. I met a wonderful (kindred-spirit) friend, with excellent Mandarin language, who has accompanied me many times on shopping trips to E-Mart. She has also helped me learn to make homemade flour tortillas, French bread, pizza dough, sour cream and more. God has given me peace, as I have gotten more familiar with the routine of shopping. In my exploration of our city, I have also found other places to purchase Western-cooking ingredients. Although we do love Asian food, it is nice to have a special meal of lasagna or chicken enchiladas occasionally. I’ve grown in my ability to live through change. The Lord has given me confidence and peace as I am out and about in my neighborhood. I’ve learned that wherever God places you, He will equip you to make it your home.

Below:  Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas made after Sean came home from a training trip to the States with a block of cheddar cheese…Yum!


Chinese National Holiday Outing

Today we took a bike ride out to the shopping center where I do some of my grocery shopping.  There is a sub sandwich shop along with some other eating places in this area.    We ate lunch outdoors and some of us ordered Kimbap, while other had sub sandwiches.  The day was very nice with blue skies.  From this particular shopping center one can see the TV Tower, a very large icon in our city.  See the TV Tower in the distance (below).


The Chinese people are currently on a week long holiday for the 60th National Celebration and the Autumn Moon Cake Festival (which is held at the Autumn Equinox when the moon is full).   There were many locals out celebrating and also vendors out selling their wares.  For the kids there was a carousel, moon bounce and little mini-cars to ride around in.  Maddie and Megan took a spin.  I call this the “Alien Car”.


Notice the Chinese couple in the background (below).  This is how most passengers ride on the back of bikes!


Jessie also joins in the fun.


I tried to get this car (below) for the girls…I thought this one pretty hilarious, notice the “flailing” arms on this car’s character

(See Jessie and Maddie in the background).


Maddie and Jessie share a seat at the lunch table.


Interesting Ice Cream Dessert…this has fruit cocktail on the bottom, with a scoop of mocha almond ice cream, topped with a “fake” whipped cream, sprinkles, a sugar wafer cookie and a gummy lifesaver on top.    All this for 10 kuai (appr. $1.50)


My First Fall Camp

Fall Camp is a three day trip made for the Middle School. Since I’m in 6th Grade this was my first Fall Camp. It was great. We are all put into different cabins with one or two teachers. We played many games and had lots of fun. The theme for our Fall Camp was unity. We played many games around that theme. The first night you’re in camp we play a night game where all the 8th Graders catch the 6th and 7th Graders. Fall Camp is all about your House winning. You are put into a house when you first come to Middle School and you stay in that house till you Graduate from Middle School. There is House one, two, three, and four. I was in house two. During Fall Camp Houses get points for different things in the end the points are added up to a winner. House two got in 2nd place! We also had free time where you could ride bicycles, do go carts, and paddle boat around the river. Most of the time I was in free time I played around with my friends. I can’t wait until the next Fall Camp!


A Day Off – China’s National Day

I’m a foreigner feeling especially foreign today; oblivious to all the excitement.  Today in Beijing (about two hours drive from here) China is putting on a Grand Military Parade, probably its biggest in modern times.  Our neighbors have been following it all on TV, just like we Americans follow the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.But our family has scarcely left Apt-801 even thought the weather was extraordinary sunny and clear. After an all-hands effort cleaning bathrooms, folding laundry, and re-arraning the living room, we settled down to some games (Taboo, Apples-to-Apples, and Risk).  For an early dinner, we ordered pizza.I like that our teenagers are not bored hanging out here. (Nothing like my teen years.) They even played hospital for a while, very comical with much laughing and later setup Megan’s play table with snacks and watched three episodes of Little House on the Prarie! [unbelieveable… and don’t tell them I put this on my blog!!]