Sunday, April 09, 2006

what!?! 29 already?? I glanced at my doctor's computer screen as he was talking. Lots of yellow and green Chinese characters on a black screen--a list of patients for today, I surmised. One column had ages--again, surmising. I scanned the column quickly . . . 45, 70, 67, 29, 80, 19, 22, 54, 31 . . . I didn't see 28. Hmm, maybe I surmised wrong. Maybe they are numbers of something else. So, I went back to paying attention to the doctor and our conversation. He goes to write out the prescription on the computer and clicks the line with 29. I glance to the left of the 29--sure enough! There is MY Chinese name!! 29? What!?! How can that be!?! My 28th birthday was only yesterday! But, the form for the medical records was "gotten" from my official government health insurance card so 29 is my "official age." Then I remember . . . "oh! that's right, many Asian cultures count the time that we are spent being woven together in the workshop of the womb as a year of life." Now I am in a state of shock. Thursday I was 27. Today I found I am 29. I thought I had another whole year before I had to contemplate turning 30. Guess not. You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. (Psalm 139: 13-16, New Living)
a real foreigner Friday, I ate breakfast at McDonalds. I actually took my Bible and my Living Beyond Yourself study with me. I went to the second floor (yes, McDonald's here are multi-story complexes). The A/C and lights were off. But that was ok--it was nice and quiet and there was plenty of light streaming in from the windows. I had the whole second floor to myself. About 15-20 minutes of enjoying the aloneness and quiet. The manager came in and turned on the lights and A/C. She also asked me to move to the side of the restaurant because . . . a preschool was coming for a field trip. So, within 5 minutes my quiet second floor was filled with the laughing, squeals, and high pitched chatter of four and five year olds. Mixed in to this was the continual repeating of the word "wei gou ren" (which means "foreigner" or literally "a person from an outside country"). I just choose to ignore them--cute as they were. After McDonald's, I went to a bookstore to get a few items. And guess what!! The same preschool kids were all piling out of their school's vans at the same time right there at the bookstore! They kept repeating "wei gou ren," so I smiled and even gave them a little wave. A small group of the brave ones approached me. "Hey, did we just see you at McDonalds?" "Yes." "Why are you here now?" "I am going to buy some stuff." "Oh. Are you a real foreigner?" "Yes, I am a real foreigner." "Really? You are really a real foreigner?" "That's right. I am really am a real foreigner." "If you really are a real foreigner, could you say something to us in English?" I said something simple in English, and then told them to go stay with their teacher. As I walked into the bookstore, I couldn't stop smiling for a full five minutes. They were just so cute!

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