She is on a flight coming from her connection in San Francisco en route from Shanghai as I write and I am seriously so dang excited.
She has been living in China for nearly five weeks.
(For how she made the decision to head on this adventure, click HERE.)
I knew this would be a good opportunity. She did too. We both had the most peaceful feeling about her going. But I had no idea when we dropped her off at that airport all those weeks ago the depth of how great it would be.
Every text and FaceTime from her has been literally filled with light.
She has learned and grown more than either of us could have imagined, and I cannot wait to hear more.
I expected a lot more homesickness and tears. It’s hard to be away that long! And to miss all the stuff she missed. And yes, there was a little homesickness here and there. But honestly, I think these guys made all the difference:
That’s her “team” that included our awesome neighbor, one of Elle’s best friends, another kid who went to her high school who is solid and pretty amazing, and two other girls she hadn’t met before who she has grown to love as well.
I think it also made a huge difference that Kevin (Dave’s business partner), was their “boss.” And he is as good as they come.
I want her to tell the story, hoping she will do a guest post to tell all about her experience over there when we get her back. But until then here are a few of the pictures she has sent.
I adore this girl of mine because for many reasons but I’ve been so grateful this summer that she’s so good at details and talking. We have FaceTimed almost every day…at least for the first few weeks.
Everything from interesting foods she’s tried:
To the great things she was learning from her team:
To the cute kids she’s been working with:
(teaching English and helping in some summer camps)
To the side adventures of exploring.
And the adventures of never-drying laundry 🙂
(Technology is pretty amazing for staying in touch, I tell you! So weird that we could be face-timing her in some tiny village in China as we drove down some random freeway in California for instance.)
Check out the size of this hail they had one day:
These guys got to go to church in the same branch where we used to go when we lived there and it was so fun for her to see some still familiar faces in the congregation.
She has tried all kinds of new things:
…and really started liking seafood.
They went to Beijing one of the weeks (when they had a break from teaching) and explored.
They even got to go to the Chinese Disneyland one of their last days.
I cannot wait to hear more details in a matter of hours.
I knew I’d miss that girl, but I had no idea the gravity and depth of that missing! There is a giant hole without her enthusiasm and huge smile and willingness to help around here. We’ve been counting down the days since we got home:
(Bo is pretty excited to get her home too 🙂
And the day has arrived.
Hopefully she’ll pop up in a post soon to tell all the details.
Until then we’ll be hugging her up and listening to all her stories…and trying to help her get over jet-lag to be ready for school on Wednesday! Ouch!
What an amazing opportunity for Grace! I know you can't wait to hug her neck!
Your mini-me! So funny how you two look exactly alike. Looking forward to her post.
Can't wait to hear About it
I don't want to derail this post- because it looks like Grace had an amazing time! And I can't wait to hear her details. But I wonder if you would ever consider doing a post about the community (insular?) nature of your church. Your kids have had amazing opportunities to travel- but not necessarily with a diverse group of people. It seems that most of your travel is attached in some way to your church. And your children (and most of your family members) have chosen to attend church run schools. And every single member of your family and extended group (at least as it appears from the outside) are also members of the same church.
This is in no way a bad thing- I find it fascinating! I just wonder if its purposeful to have almost every single aspect of your life be tangentially related to your church? Do you prefer it that way? How do you get diversity integrated into your lives?
Again- I hope I'm not derailing too much. Please feel free to delete this comment if you feel like it takes away from the excitement of your post.
Her kids go to public school.
A public school with a close enough to walk to LDS seminary building. Correct me if I'm wrong but do the LDS have a parochial school network for elementary and high school like Jewish day schools and Catholic schools? I'm not being smart, I just don't understand what alternative she would have to a public school that would surround her kids with other LDS kids. If you want your kids taught values of your faith along with math it's a private parochial school. And even those allow kids of other religions to attend. They just get a theology class during the day. For college her kids have attended church runs schools and despite going to other college her siblings have for the most part managed a semester or two at BYU for some reason.
She turned 16 a few days before leaving. I'm glad she was a bit sheltered/protected since she wasn't in college like the rest of the kids. I think the most interesting missions for the kids would be in smaller communities in the US in states that do not border the ocean or another country and are east of the Rockies. They have already been to so many places. I hope she had a fun summer.
I don't know… I'm not LDS. I just remember her posting they were in public "neighborhood" schools because I was a little jealous her kids could walk/ride bikes to school. I have to drive mine 😂😂
I believe RHrad was referring to BYU when they said "chosen to attend church schools" in the original comment.
RHrad, that's a great question, and also an interesting observation. Much of what we do is related to our church life. I think it's the same with any religion, when you are engrained and fully involved you are bound to find numerous opportunities and friends and find much of what speaks to you right in that circle. But it's not so great because it doesn't give a big-picture perspective when you're surrounded by so many who think and do like you do. It makes it easy to close off from so much goodness because being where you are is an easy place to be. Growing up I always had a desire to raise my future family in a place that was removed from Mormon culture, not because I didn't like it, (I love my religion!) but because I felt like it would be good to branch out and learn more from others. There is so much goodness in the world! I also wanted to SHARE the goodness and light that my religion brings to me. But here we are in the middle of quite a strong Mormon culture. It just so happened this way. We love to be close to Dave's family and so many good friends and this is where Dave's business is so we are blooming where we're planted. But I do always feel a pull to branch out. Sometimes I'm better than other times. Maybe that's why I love blogging so much. I love to hear perspectives from all kinds of backgrounds and I love that so many come here to this blog. I'm so grateful for those around me who don't share my same religion who offer so many great insights and strengthen me in so many ways whether here in cyberspace or around me in social circles.
This is something I've been thinking a lot about…always do. So I think it warrants a whole blog post at some point. I'm getting my act together this year on blogging, I have so many questions waiting for answers, so I'll be back!
It is fine to live in a very LDS place and be LDS. The question was why when you do send them out you still keep them in the LDS world? This has been true for all adventures including the charity tourism. Instead of especially for youth and girls camp and BYU sports camps and trek and church history tours why not just send your kids to a nonrelgious sleep away camp? Or maybe you and your husband are just more comfortable with your kids being in places where you have had a personal reference and those are LDS connected places?
Hey kms, my answer was kind of hidden above, but I mentioned that when you are engrained and fully involved in your church culture, things like this just come up and are so easy to join. Not everything we do is church related, to be clear, this experience in China for one was certainly not a church thing. The kids Grace went with were church members though, which just so happened that way. And yes, for Dave and I that feels comfortable because when you send your 16-year-old away, or any kid away for that matter, it's good to know the kids she will be with. You're right that it's great to have a personal reference. Because of our church, we know a whole bunch of people who have started some pretty cool organizations that we get to benefit from knowing about. We are lucky! That is not to say that there aren't wonderful organizations outside of our religion that do the same, there are two local non-LDS-run organizations here in the desert where we love to volunteer whenever we can that we really enjoy as well. I don't know anything about non-religious sleep away camps, so our kids haven't been involved that. But I'd like to know more!
Did Grace do this through a program or through contacts your family had? I know some people who would be super interested in a program like this! Thanks so much!
This opportunity came through Dave's business partner who is Chinese and starting a new company helping kids learn English. We feel so lucky she got to do it, especially being so young. She definitely rose to the occasion and learned so much. Hoping she can post soon!
What a FUN summer experience!