Thursday, July 23, 2015

What China Taught Me about Being Still and Counting My Blessings

Last December, my father invited me to accompany him to China. I  wasn't sure if I wanted to go until the week before I flew out. You see, for him China was an opportunity to attend a conference. For me, it was a chance to explore a country and continent I had never ventured to. I wanted to wander and see all the sights  I read and heard about over the years. When we arrived at out hotel in Shanghai on our first day, I was excited to be a "Shanghai girl" for a week and go sightseeing. However, I eventually realized that my trip was not going to go as planned. We weren't able to do any exploring on our first day in the country. Our second day was spent traveling almost five hours to the Chinese countryside cooped up in a car with 3 other people (2 of which were rather unpleasant). I was miserable to say the least. 

Around 10pm, we finally arrived at the resort where we would spend the next few days and it was absolutely beautiful. The Chinese countryside is honestly one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I have ever visited. It does not suffer from the magnitude of the pollution associated with China's big cities which allows for clean air and star visibility at night.The beauty of the place helped to lift my spirits. We were also treated to a very tasty and bountiful dinner. However, there was one big problem: the place was freezing. The resort was in the mountains and was clearly meant for summer retreating with its large open spaces. We ate dinner bundled up in our coats and scarves. However, things got really bad when I got to my room. Like the rest of the resort, the room was beautiful but extremely cold! The heat was broken and I had to to sleep in all my clothes, two pairs of socks, and two coats just to barely get warm. To make a long story short, I basically spent the next few days freezing and I did not enjoy my father's conference. To make matters worse, I  didn't get to explore much of the area or take very many pictures.  As the days progressed I became infuriated. I was stuck in a place where I wasn't happy with people I could barely communicate with (most of the Chinese could not speak English and I don't know Mandarin). I had no internet or phone service so I wasn't able to talk to friends and family back home or browse the web! I was so busy counting all my misfortunes, that I almost forget to count my blessings and thank God for the opportunity to experience a part of China:

1. The people at the conference were so kind and loving. They did their best to make sure my father and I were always comfortable and treated us with the utmost hospitality.  

2. I enjoyed plenty of traditional Chinese food which was both healthy and tasty. 

3. I made connections with people. While it was hard to communicate with most of the Chinese at the conference because of our language barriers, we were able to hug, sing, smile and communicate by deciphering what the other person was trying to say. 

4. I saw the beauty of the Chinese countryside; the people, the farms, the plants, the culture-I saw it all and I am so grateful for that. 

5. I spent my last day in China in Shanghai where I was able to buy some beautiful souvenirs for friends and family on Nanjing Road. If you've been following me for a while, you already know that I love to shop! Nanjing Road is the main shopping street of Shanghai (comparable to Time Square).

China taught me that sometimes you have to be still and accept the situations life places you in. While China was far from the ideal vacation, it was necessary. Looking back, China reminded me about the importance of gratitude. I was well fed, in good health, in warm company, and was able to experience another part of the world. Next time you find yourself in an undesirable situation, I challenge you to count your blessings before you open your mouth to complain. If you do that, I guarantee that you'll probably feel bad about wanting to complain in the first place. Then, you'll be open to learning whatever God and life wants to teach you while you're in that situation.   

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