I realize I’ve never told the story of how we got to China.
There’s more to it than can fit in one post, of course, but last night a good part of the journey kind of came full circle. You see, back in 2009 when I was searching for a city in China to meet foster mothers and study foster families and was shooting off emails to anyone I knew who had any connection to China (and fretting about taking a trip to an unknown place where I knew no one!), a friend of mine came through with a list of close to forty names of friends who might be helpful.
And I sent practically everyone on that list an email, but as it sometimes goes, I got only a few back. One was from a family that had lived in Nanning a few years ago, and the woman said she knew foster families. We started corresponding by email, and I’ll never forget how she called me up out of the blue in March of 2009 and said, why don’t I just go with you, why don’t I take you to meet my friends?
We met up with she and her husband in Nanning for the first time in June of 2009, and true to form, she introduced me to everyone she knew, people who would become my research contacts, my tutors, my trusted friends. And many thanks to she and her husband’s introductions, when it came time to choose a place to do my research, a place for my husband and I to make our home for the next two years, there was no question in our mind that Nanning would be the right fit.
We camped with our new friends and their four kids in August of 2009 in the states and moved here the following one. And last night, our friends who played hosts to us in Nanning that first summer had the chance to return to Asia for a brief trip, and share a meal at our apartment in China.
We filled them in on the adventures of our lives over the past two years here: our experiences traveling in Yunnan and meeting with minority Christians, the ways in which my research with foster families has unfolded and grown, and the countless learning experiences in faith and culture we’ve shared in this place.
We teared up as I recalled the way this woman, who has become a lifelong friend, embraced my project as her own three summers ago, marching around the city and in her limited Chinese asking everyone and anyone whether they knew foster mothers. She inspired me so much, teaching me what it truly means to be bold and serve others and trust God.
Our friends prayed for us as we prepare to leave China, and we had a chance to thank them for their commitment and goodness to us. I told them how my friend who’d emailed me all those names awhile back recently reflected that she’d almost failed to include their family’s information, fearing they’d be too busy or wouldn’t have any connections to China.
And when I think on God’s intricate plans, I know there are none more excellent. It was so meaningful to hear their blessings prayed over us last night, people who in so many ways are responsible for the success of this journey. And while it will be bittersweet to leave this place, the foresight of God to bring these people into our lives across the distance and over the years reminds me that God has been and will be faithful in this and every step of the journey.