Friday, August 26, 2016

Lunching with the ladies

Playing an ice-breaker game before we eat lunch.
I'm back overseas, but while I was away, some of my American friends had left. Returned home! Imagine that! 

Other American friends have been gone for the summer. So I decided I need to find some new expat friends. I love my Chinese friends, but it's helpful at times to be able to talk to people who relate to your background and upbringing. 

I went to the international church in town last week, and they announced a women's potluck luncheon the following week. So I went. It was held in the home of a couple who are here on an "expat package." I suppose that most foreigners here are on that type of support package. That means they generally have a huge, expensive multi-level house with a yard, a full-time maid, a chauffeur at their beck and call, and for those who have kids, tuition paid to attend the international school in town. All costs are covered by their employer.

For the luncheon, we met at a villa. It is unlike any other kind of housing in this country, so it really stands out.

It was a far cry from my usual life, but it was fun anyway. The lady of the house was humble and said it wasn't really her house, they were just tenants. One lady said she didn't like having a driver because she misses her independence and the ability to come and go as she liked. 

These particular ladies really seem to have no idea how the rest of this country lives, but it is their reality. It's certainly not their fault they have an easy life.

The pastor's wife, from South Africa, told me she was raised a Baptist, and they always had potlucks in South Africa. I laughed. Isn't it the same in the U.S.? She quickly realized that asking people to bring dishes of food in this country was rather inconvenient. A few had carried their dishes by subway, a few by foot. I brought mine across town by e-bike. The rest got their food there by chauffeur-driven vans. 

I met ladies from the Philippines, Brazil, South Africa, other parts of Africa, Germany, U.S.A., Malaysia, Taiwan, and I forgot where else. 

The Chinese government doesn't allow Chinese to attend the International Fellowship. Only foreign passport holders are allowed to attend. Many foreign Christians live in this city. Who knew?!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

First haircut in two years

It takes a long time to grow hair back after you lose it all. It was finally getting long enough to look normal, but was a little bit uneven. I needed a trim.

I read another cancer survivor's account of growing her hair out for over a year, only to have a careless hairdresser cut off all her progress. She was devastated. So to avoid the same thing happening to me, I had to choose my hairdresser carefully, and had to be able to communicate with that person well.

I found one. My hairdresser, a Chinese young man with the English name Steven, listened carefully and is helping me with my plan to grow my hair out. He trimmed it, gave it some layers in appropriate places, and decided a few highlights would make it look better. 

It was nice to save money on haircuts for the last couple of years, but it better to be back among the normal people who have to pay to get haircuts!

And, by the way, I would also choose baldness over cancer and its consequences. Some people make too much of their hair, letting vanity take precedence over fighting cancer with all of one's strength. Having hair again feels nice, but it is not everything.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Random Summer Summary 2016


You know it is hot when you have to travel to Thailand to cool off.

The heat index got up to 126 degrees Fahrenheit one day here where I live in the Middle Kingdom. Most evenings the heat index has been at least 100 degrees. Not every summer is this hot. For instance, any summer I am not here, it is not that hot. It wasn't that hot here last summer.


I am not in this picture and I did not wear a swimsuit, so don't be wondering which one of these Russian exhibitionists is me. 

Some day when I am full of energy, I will get the good photos off of my good camera instead of just showing you my phone photos.

Honestly, while in Thailand I saw the beach for about five minutes every day, usually just before the sun set, but I wasn't at the beach much. 

I have been on three trips this summer. I have been to Taiwan, Thailand, and a desert area of China. I did fine on each trip, but when I got home from the trips I had trip recovery issues. Maybe when the weather cools down, I can recover more quickly. My health still drags me down. 


One day near the end of Ramadan, on one of my trips, I was out in a public park and the Muslim lady above invited me to her house for dinner. She was very friendly and insisted. I told her I would visit her house, but I wouldn't eat because I'd already eaten dinner. I got there and she started cooking, because she didn't believe I'd really already eaten. I wasn't really planning to eat her food, and she wasn't planning to eat it either because she was still fasting. So finally we just took photos and laughed and talked about things. Here she is at the sink washing the food she planned to cook for me. Her hat is what Muslims wear. Sometimes they wear scarves, but the purple hats are easier to throw on. 

She told me that her husband was staying with their daughter for a few weeks, because he wanted to eat and his daughter would cook for him. So this lady was willing to cook for me but not for her own husband.


One day, in my own city, I went to eat at a Muslim restaurant. The Uighurs who work there are very conservative, cover up with scarves, and are very unfriendly. You can say hello to them and they won't even acknowledge your existence. People go there to eat because the food is good, not because they want to be acknowledged as human beings. 

So imagine my shock when I went to the restaurant one day and one of the women came over to TALK TO ME. She wanted schooling help for her children and thought I would have information to help. Her husband came over and we exchanged contact information. I texted a Chinese friend to say I was at this restaurant, and that Chinese friend wrote back asking if they were being mean as usual. I wrote back and said "NO, WE ARE FRIENDS NOW!" My Chinese friend thought I was being sarcastic and didn't believe me! Haha.

I've been back several times. The last time I was there, a torrential thunderstorm came up. The sidewalks became rivers. I had to stay at their restaurant a really long time. I thought I could chat with them more, but they were busy running the restaurant. 


When a mild break in the rain came, I ran across the pathway to a coffee shop and hung out until the storm ended. It was one of the most beautifully decorated coffee shops that I've ever been in.


I felt bad that Mimi was home alone during the storm though. Poor dog child.


Besides going to the doctor for appointments, these are the sad little highlights of my summer so far. Thank God I've been able to do this much!

I've tried to write blog posts more often, but the internet always seems to cut out when I have time to write. Thanks to the Great Firewall of You-Know-Where, I have to use a VPN to write on this blog, and VPN slows down the internet and doesn't work at all sometimes. I do the best I can with what I have.

Please pray for good health for me and my family (my parents in particular). And, as always, please pray that cancer stays away from my body forever, please.