Tag Archives: Nanning

The Embodiment of Hope

Today I’m over at Grace and Hope for Children’s blog, writing about my experiences working alongside their organization in China and the hope that their staff and the foster parents they support bring to children, their communities, China, and abroad.

I’ve written a fair bit about my research with foster parents on this blog, but without the support from folks at Grace and Hope none of it would have been possible!  They’re a great organization that are supporting the work of foster care in China, which is so important.  You can learn more about their organization via their website, or you can read the post below and click over to the blog to finish.  If you’re joining us from Grace and Hope today, thanks for your support of foster families, and I hope you’ll enjoy browsing the blog for other posts about China, foster families, and faith.

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Nanning
Farmers on the outskirts of Nanning’s modern skyscrapers in the Guangxi Autonomous Region. All photos by Evan Schneider.

Nearly three and a half years ago I came to China hoping to do dissertation research with foster families.  I remember vividly the first few moments in the Nanning airport, where my halting Mandarin got a pungent taste of Southwest Guangxi’s linguistic plurality and thick Southern accents (yep, there are Southern accents in China, too!).  I remember not only this cacophony of languages upon touching down in Nanning, but also the pervasive smell of mildew, the sea of e-bikes stretching across the broad avenues, and my first forays through neighborhood markets searching for foster mothers alongside a friend who swore they could be found.

I met not a single foster mother that first summer.  Instead, I met many people, all Chinese, who told me, emphatically, that they did not exist.  Our research design is open-ended in anthropology, meaning that we spend a lot of time in the places where we study and live, and we often expect even the topic of our research to change along the way.  People who I met in Guangxi apologized obsessively for the “backwardness” of their region, and urged me to go somewhere of real importance in China.  Chinese professors of anthropology wondered why I wanted to study foster mothers, rather than the Zhuang minority culture, for which Guangxi is famous.

But oddly, for some reason, it never occurred to me to abandon the project.  I had this strange, absurd, yet resilient hope that foster mothers were out there somewhere, and that they were worth studying and worth knowing.  So my husband and I moved to Nanning the following summer, on a wing and a prayer.  And then finally, in March of 2011 in an unassuming concrete office, buried in the middle of the city, and through a roundabout network of friends and acquaintances, I was introduced to a small NGO staff who told me they supported hundreds of families in Nanning and thousands outside of the province who took orphaned and abandoned children into their homes.

Their name was Grace and Hope.  That April, in a nearby city orphanage, an elderly woman with a kind smile told me how she’d started foster care projects in Guangxi in the early 1990s out of necessity, poverty, and concern.  Guangxi, it turned out, despite the naysayers, and in no small part due to Grace and Hope, was at the center of a disperse, yet expansive foster care movement.

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The author with members of the staff of Grace and Hope for Children in China.

Keep reading at Grace and Hope for Children

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Two years in China

Nanning at twilight!
Another image of city life in China.

It’s been two years of life for my husband and I here in China.  We’ve traveled to the mountains of Yunnan to visit minority churches, explored the ultra modern city of Hong Kong, explored, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Egypt, and the UAE and hosted our families and friends. He’s completed two years of teaching college-level English and I’ve finished two years of fieldwork with foster families.

On Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam.
In Tahrir Square, Cairo, on the one-year anniversary of their revolution with our friends Ben and Emily.
With a foster baby in Guangxi. Photos by Evan Schneider.

More than anything, as I look back through the past years, I’m astounded not only by the breadth of these experiences that I will carry with me, but also God’s provision and faithfulness.  

If you have time I invite you to check out the following posts which weave their way, highlighting some snapshots of our two years here, describing some of the highs and lows of research, faith, cross-cultural immersion, and our life.

From 2010

August 2010: Abide in me…  {thoughts on silent prayer in a city of 7 million, spiritual growth, and freeing oneself from distractions}

September 2010: Journeywoman  {on security, brokenness, and culture}

December 2010: Equipped by the Spirit (Yunnan Reflection #2)  {reflections on my first trip to Yunnan, and the tension between the need for theological training and the equipping work of the Holy Spirit in the Yunnan countryside}

From 2011

May 2011: Hunan Headlines: A Mix of Sorrow and Hope  {personal and professional reflections on the baby-selling scandal in a county in Hunan, which made international news}

July 2011: Church Renewal from Below  {thoughts on Richard Rohr, cross-cultural exchange, and Chinese solutions to Chinese problems}

August 2011: A Taste of Vietnam {evangelizing for one of my favorites, Vietnamese coffee!}

October 2011: Come on ride the train {snippets from a typical road trip to Guilin}

November 2011: Like a child  {reflections on fieldwork with children, disability, and faith}

December 2011: The Best Things about Winter in China {bundled up babies, chestnuts roasting, and hot pot, of course!}

From 2012

January 2012: Cairo notes: from the rooftops {a reflection on our first few days in another land}

February 2012: Thanking God for the woes  {on the beattitudes, justice, and God’s call}

March 2012: 72 Hours in Hong Kong {highlights from a weekend trip}

April 2012: Some Easter Thoughts from China {on Christianity, tomb sweeping, and culture}

May 2012: Consider the ravens, consider the blessings {on understanding, cross-cultural relationships, worries, and of course, blessings}

July 2012: Pinching myself {reflections on leaving China and savoring the little things}

 

 

 

 

 

Where did May go?

Yes, I know it’s already the fourth of June, but I’m stunned.

May seemed to just fly by…what do you think?

For me, May highlights included:

A view of the countryside in South China.
Evan and I on Halong Bay.
A photo of me and my grandparents from spring 2008.
  • A myriad of foster visits
  • Perhaps my last trip to the countryside to see the disabled kids who are thriving there in foster care
  • A visit from dear friends and a jaunt back to Hanoi and Halong Bay, Vietnam
  • The passing of my lovely Grandfather
  • My twin sister’s seminary graduation (it really feels like just yesterday she started her classes at Denver Seminary.  Congratulations, Julie!  Now both twins graduated from seminary: praise God!)
  • Our fourth-wedding anniversary
  • Experiencing God’s blessings, grace, and joy!
Photo from my seminary graduation in 2008….
…and the twin’s this May. See the resemblance??

And looking forward to in June:

A taste of Vietnam

Ben, Emily, and I sipping on Vietnamese coffee in the loft of Cong Caphe, Hanoi.

There are some travel locales that just linger in your mind, and for me, Hanoi, despite its rough-around-the-edges-24-hour-hawker-identity is one of those places.  

And the taste that lingers with me is that of the Cong Caphe I brought back in humble brown bag sacks.

I mentioned in an earlier post that the first taste of Vietnamese coffee was a revelation, the bitter strength of the brew cut by the sticky, sweet and condensed milk.

There are many places that claim to do Vietnamese coffee in China, but hardly do it justice (in fact this was something that made me outright suspicious of every coffee shop we saw with umbrellas emblazoned with the Trung Ngyuen label, the same one that has let me down so famously here in Nanning).

And so, the next best thing to a return trip to Vietnam (which we hope to do next year for our anniversary), is a cup of home-brewed Cong Caphe, with sweet milk out of Chinese cardboard cartons and some sugar.

This morning’s breakfast: wheat bread with butter and honey my husband brought from a beehive in Yunnan, a fried egg, and you guessed it, a cup of Cong Caphe.

A lovely way to start the morning, if not a mite short of a revelation.

Photo Taken by Evan Schneider, Courtesy of Ben Robinson.