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!