Wow, my mind hurts with thinking about where to start in explaining everything that has happened over these last two weeks. It’s impossible for anyone to understand the memories I have made, the love I have felt, the experiences I have had, the friends I have made, the things I have seen, the humbling that has come over me. It’s like a mission, you want everyone to know what you have felt and learned, you want everyone to understand the memories you have made, but no one ever will, they just can’t, because they haven’t lived it. I wish so badly that all of you were here at my side experiencing this crazy adventure with me so that I could share this new love I have gained with all of you, so that I can share with you my fears, my nervousness, my tears. So I can share with you my happiness, my extreme excitement, my joys, my change of heart. I want you to feel everything I am feeling, I want you to feel the friendship with Christ that I have kindled, I want you to listen to my thoughts. Maybe someday, but right now my heart is just so eager to release everything that it has inside of itself, but it’s impossible to do so. I think that is the hardest part about being here, is my yearning for everyone else to know what I am going through, and realizing that they never ever will.
Alright, so China…. I have NO IDEA WHERE TO START OR WHAT TO TELL YOU ALL. IT’S IMPOSSIBLEEEEEEEEE. Ughhhhhhh. Ok so I will do my very best to give you a quick recap of everything that has happened in the past 2 weaks-ish… I've seen poverty that I never could have imagined, I have seen how insanely blessed I am, I have smelt smells I never knew existed (and never hoped to know haha), tried foods that I never knew were foods…. seen some of the most influential locations in our world's history, met the most beautifully spirited people, and seriously been changed just in the two weeks that I have been here. I am a completely different person than the one that left Idaho 2 weeks ago. I feel like I have grown so much, become so independent, become more brave than I ever though I could become. At the same time, I feel that I have become younger, smaller, I feel very lost here in the most populated country, getting lost in the madness, and wondering how there is a plan for ever single person here on this earth. I don’t think you can gain a sense of how insanely many people there are in this world until you come to China. You feel so small here, it’s very scary, I have never felt this. I hope you can grasp the things I am trying to tell you, I feel so bad that my words will forever fall short of describing these organic feelings inside of me. They are very contrasting feelings though, ones of intense fear and a sense of losing identity, and ones of realizing the power that I have through Christ and a completely new view and appreciation for life and this world. I can't even imagine how much I will grow in the next 4 months looking back on how much I have grown in these last 2 weeks. To go along with my words on fear, I need to share with you a scripture that was shared at church yesterday that has really helped me to feel comfort (church yesterday is a whole story in itself, anyways). The Gospel become soooo much more real when you are living in a world where it is strictly forbidden. The gospel has become my best friend here, because it is the ONLY familiar friend that exists here. The Gospel has always been important to me, but I can’t even how extremely important and VITAL it NEEDS to be when you move to China. If you leave the gospel behind in America like you have left everything else behind, then haha you are seriously dead meat. There is no survival in that case. Anyways, the scripture is D&C 122:7. There are so many things here that scare me, so many things that are way bigger than you, so many things out of your control, so many restraints, so many new ways of life, so much misunderstanding with the language barrier, you feel very scared. After reading this scripture I sat back and analyzed my situation. I thought to myself, “Julie, have the very jaws of Hell opened after thee?” No, they definitely have not, despite everything here that has gone wrong, and hangs over my mind in fear of what could go wrong, none of them are even close to anything that that scripture describes. And even if they were, it would be just fine, because those things (this is my favorite part) are all for my experience. Haha I seriously love that. All of these scary/new/big things that I am going through are just good things to give me experience:) I will be JUST FINE. Also, one of the head guys in the program who lives in Nanjing shared this in his testimony, “The worth of souls is great in the sight of God. It’s silly to think that the Lord doesn’t have a plan for all of His Chinese children. He has it under control. It’s going to be ok. I have a hard time struggling with the pain that I am unable to share the Gospel with these people that I love so much, but that is the wrong attitude. It’s going to be ok for China, it’s going to be ok for me, it’s going to be OK. “Men are that they might have joy.”” I really loved what he said. I thought it was awesome.
Alright, so maybe you want to know some actual events that have gone on over here in the Mainland, rather than just all of my thoughts. I will do my best to cram in as much as I can and to share with you some of my favorites. Here are a few things I have learned: Christ can find himself into any country, no matter the government, I have learned that having a home the size of a car is more common than not. These people sell beautiful arrays of homemade goods and fruits out on the street, but if you look deeper into their stores, you realize that there are antique bunk beds along with their whole life's possessions draped in the back. These people spend their whole lives selling from morning to night, and living in these hole-in-the-wall homes/stores. It's insane. I just can't even describe what it has done to me. I have learned that if you want to feel like you are popular, haha just head on over to China. EVERYBODY stares at you, EVERYBODY tells you that you are beautiful, EVERYBODY wants a picture of you, EVERYBODY wants a picture of their child (because they all only have one child) with you, EVERYBODY wants to practice their English with you, mostly just children on that last one though. The younger generation are the ones that know English, it’s really cool actually. I’ve learned why the country of China is so successful, it’s because they give ZERO of their money to their people, they are unimaginably poor. I have learned that the “taxis” that are on the back of an old man’s run down bike are all around, the best way to go. They are the most peaceful ride in town, are the cheapest, and you help them that much more with their life’s income. I love those “taxis”. I have learned what it means to sacrifice in order to attend church on Sundays. Yesterday I traveled from my city, Yangzhong, to Nanjing in order to attend church. Just go ahead and guess how long it took me to get to church… you are probably wrong. I left at 5:30 AM in order to take a taxi, 2.5 hour long bus ride, another bus, and a subway to make it 5 minutes early for 10 o'clock church. When the whole day was done, I left my apartment at 5:30 in the morning, and returned back to it at 5:30 at night. It was an amazing experience. It made church that much more great. I have to go to church each Sunday here. I don’t think I will make it if I don’t. I have no idea how I managed to go that far and find my way to church in a completely new country where I don’t speak the language. I have learned that once you look past the dirt and smog that covers this country, it is absolutely gorgeous. Beijing resembles, at least to me (and just about 50 times the size) Boise. It’s a beautiful country. It is so so so green, has beautiful buildings that are so rich with architecture covering it’s aged soil, is full of people that have been through more than I ever will, and a language that is an art in itself. I have learned that fireworks can be launched at every hour of the day, and ARE launched at every hour of the day. I have perfected my squats beings as the only way to relieve natures call is to do simply that, use a squatter toilet! Yay. I have learned that bathrooms here don’t provide toilet paper, soap, or towels, so make sure to bring toilet paper, and DO NOT flush it down the toilet, it doesn’t work out too well… I have learned that EVERYTHING in America is overpriced. I just spent 2 weeks in one of the largest cities in the world, that trumps New York, and with buying souvenirs and everything, only used about 200 equivalent in American money. I have learned that there is not one bad driver in the US, NO ONE drives like a Chinese person. If you want to feel like your life is about to end during every second, then hop in a car in China, you won’t understand that statement until you have experienced it for yourself. I have learned that the phrase ‘public bathrooms’ really does mean ‘public bathroom’, people just go wherever they want! I have learned that you won’t survive in China if you are a picky eater, and if you manage to barely survive, then you will manage to annoy the heck out of Julie Dumas. If someone puts food in front of you, you eat it. I have learned that you do not sit on any sidewalks, curbs, or anything to that design. You will be eaten alive by disease infected bugs, or else you will be sitting where someone has peed. I have learned that spitting in public is only an inappropriate gesture in America. I have learned that the entire population of China is obsessed with karaoke. I have learned how truly great the Great Wall is. I have learned that China is literally, a world in itself. The people here are unaware of what is going on in the rest of the world, are unaware of a lot of the history that they have been built upon, are unaware of who Mao actually is and what he actually did, they totally idolize him here. I have learned that squinty eyes that become even squintier with a smile will make any day a happy one. I have learned that my life will never ever be the same. I have learned that I am a completely different person than I ever thought I was. I have learned that life is NOT THAT HARD. If you have been raised as I have in a beautiful environment of warmth and prosperity, and find yourself complaining, then DON’T. You will never go through what these people go through. I have learned to love more. Learned to suck it up more. Learn to smile more, because it might be the only smile people here will see that day, I have learned that no matter how greasy your face is, no matter how big your sweat marks are, no matter how smelly you are, no matter how unwashed your hair is, you are still stunningly beautiful to the entire population of China, and that’s a lot of people. I have learned to learn, to be open, to not judge, to observe, to capture that moment, you know which moment I'm talking about, every moment. I have learned that I forgot what cigarette smoke smells like, I really can't tell what does and doesn’t smell like smoke anymore, maybe because everything does. I have also realized one thing, one very big thing- I have realized that I have only been here 2 weeks and that I still have 4 months left, oh the changes of my being that are to come, bring it on.
I love life, I love the Chinese people, I love eating with chopsticks, I love separating myself from the luxuries of the 1st world, I love dumplings, I love riding on makeshift "taxis" I love squinty eyes, and I love China!
P.S. to anyone that made it all the way to the end of this thing- I totally ate a snake, a scorpion, and a seahorse. The seahorse was the hardest to struggle down my throat haha. I have the best videos ever of it. So invigorating, such a rush.