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China is a living, breathing paradox. It’s new, but old – massive, yet personal. It’s city, yet oasis. It’s lush, but concrete. Sweaty, but not always hot. At times, just walking down the street feels like one, giant contradiction.
IMG_5054 IMG_5055 IMG_5058We woke up this morning and immediately checked our email. The Consulate communicates early, and I appreciate that. We ripped off that “No visa today!” bandaid, and moved the heck on with our day.

Today, we crossed the street, which, by the way, involves a massive, underground tunnel system and lots of stairs, and turned into a large park located very close to our hotel. The fact that there is a park here just feels funny. The buildings here are so tall, and there is so much happening ALL THE TIME. You could miss this park entirely, because there is just so much else to see. There are walls around it and buildings blocking it. And, since we can’t read any words on the signs, we could easily have walked on by. But, make no mistake, this place was massive, acres upon acres of lush, green trees, bushes, and a grass-like covering. There were lakes and bridges. This giant oasis was just waiting for our handful of families that needed a break. It was a breath of hot, thick, slightly fresh air. Ahhhhhhh.

IMG_5018IMG_5020IMG_5021The banyan trees!
IMG_5027IMG_5033IMG_5041This park, the one you can’t quite see from the outside, that you just might miss if you’re not looking, the one that feels out of place because it is surrounded by a bustling, tall cement city, the park that’s actually not that hard to get to, you just choose to enter through the gate is FULL OF LIFE.

There are women, much older than you might imagine, on public, elliptical-like machines, working out in the heavy heat. Rows of cement ping pong tables hosting games for all ages. The oldest generation formed groups of five and six to play what I can only describe as a hacky sack-ish sort of game, tossing what appeared to be a small orb made from metal disks with some sort of tail that clinked with each tap… I’m not really sure. I am sure that the woman with the salt and pepper hair in the green shirt had the fanciest moves, spinning and twisting with each kick. There was Tai Chi, which is beautiful to watch, and an amusement park with rides and games. Families walked with their children, three generations frequently in tow. IMG_5047IMG_5061Daily life presenting pictures of real truth. I can press through my concrete jungle of a world, stealing glimpses at life through gaps in the wall, or I can enter in and be renewed.

You know C.S. Lewis says it way better than I ever could in his sermon, “The Weight of Glory”:

If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desire not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, we are like ignorant children who want to continue making mud pies in a slum, because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Messing around in the concrete jungle when I could be promenading around a lush lake. Beauty in the center of a mess.
IMG_5062Nestled in the center of chaos and uncertainty lies unfathomable peace. It’s free. Let go, and walk in.IMG_5072IMG_5078Bubbles bring friends. IMG_5079Tonight we had dinner with friends from Colorado. Just over one year ago, we met an amazing couple that has adopted many times over from China. They were gracious and shared their story with us and encouraged us as we decided to start our own journey of adoption from China. Through the months of planning and waiting, Wendi encouraged me, educated me. Also, during that time, they started their journey once again to bring home their 11th child. And, as God would have it, tonight we sat overlooking this city of Guangzhou together. We introduced them to our new son, and they meet their new son tomorrow. If that is not bringing things full circle, I don’t know what is. I guess we’re free to go home now. God’s mercies are new every morning. Bring on that visa!