I will open this post with what is quite possibly one of my favorite moments to happen here in China. And it all started like this… My wife recently discovered a toy store here that is absolutely amazing. It has tons of imported toys and in the back of this huge toy store is a sand pit and about ten small homes that form a mini town. It is a great place to go and let your kids play. So, we went to this particular store to find a toy for Joshua’s birthday present (Sydney’s best friend). But, when we arrived the store was totally gutted and a handful of employees were walking around tearing down signs and shuffling piles of garbage. We sat there dejected for a few minutes, totally bummed that this toy store had closed. We walked around for a bit and even let Sydney play in the sand pit (one of the few things still awaiting its destruction). But what had started out as a devastating loss began to slowly show its true colors of opportunity. My eyes fell on a simple plastic bench and instantly I thought “that would be great for the kids”. After bartering the price down quite a bit we ventured off to see what other goodies we could find. I stood in front of a massive pile of broken and discarded toys and then noticed at my feet a Spiderman outfit. I picked it up to joyously discover that it was an ADULT SIZE COSTUME! Now my mind was running at a million miles a minute with all the potential that I held there in my hands. A man walking by casually said “I will give it to you for free” and then another employee ran off into the back to grab me a BRAND NEW ONE! My words are a mere sliver of the emotion I felt in this one moment. Then I thought “what about my friend Chris?” so I grabbed another outfit. “Oh, and what about my brother who’s coming back soon” so I grabbed yet another outfit. Ahhhhh. After we rummaged through all the piles of toys and bartered the price down enough we came away with; a plastic kitchen, a big plastic bench, two Soldier dolls (which will now spend their existence as princes and boyfriends of various Barbies and not their original design of army men), a big Nemo fish pillow, a plastic walking toy (to help kids learn to walk), 2 Christmas candle holders (random… I know), a table for the girls room, an air cannon (which at 7 feet away will violently ruffle your hair and at 6 inches away will take your eyebrows clean off your face… ok I made the second one up), and most importantly 3 ADULT SIZE SPIDERMAN SUITS!!! Did I not tell you this was one of my favorite memories??? And we got it all for only $15USD!
Another revelation I’ve had of living overseas is that it’s not always good to know what people are saying… Sometimes it’s better just to live in ignorance of what people around you are saying. Obviously, this is just on a few occasions, but I had one of those this past week. In the past when I didn’t know as much Chinese, if someone would approach me and use Chinese, I would just nod my head in agreement and mumble something like “Alright, don’t eat the fish here on Tuesdays, sounds good!” with no real clue about what was being said. But now, we understand so much more and can’t avoid the occasional hurt that comes with it. So once this week before class started I was surrounded by students grabbing at my hands and giving me high fives and what not. This is normal. But at one point a kid starts saying “Pang”, which means “fat”, while talking about me. Now you might be reading this and thinking, “Matt, maybe you heard him wrong, Chinese is a tough language and it could have been something else” well if you are thinking that, thank you, your kindness overwhelms me. What I left out in telling you this (and seals the deal that he was calling me fat) was that as the student was saying “fat” he was grabbing my fat stomach. I feel sad inside. OK, I wasn’t hurt that bad (since this isn’t the first time a Chinese person, in front of others, has called me fat), but it was one of those reminders that I can speak the language and can’t hide behind my pretty foreign face.
OK, that’s all for now.