Our Last Christmas in China… ?
Two days ago, we suddenly realized that we have NO REAL GUARANTEE that we are staying in China for another year. Justin is about to finish his teaching certification, so we are free to join a new school. Of course, the goal of getting the certification was to join an well-established school which supports families living abroad. Our current school has been good to us for a number of years, but they don’t cater to family-needs. We have no family health insurance, no travel allowance for Elijah and I, and no contribution to our monthly rent. These are just some of the benefits that certified teachers get at International Schools. Before we were parents, we knew that if we wanted to continue living an expat-lifestyle, we would need to get certified. Many people ask if we will “return home” once Eli needs to begin school. The answer is no. This will not be a deciding factor for moving to The States. International Schools, often American-based in curriculum, offer an amazing education for children.
“When will you move home?”
We often get asked, “So, when will you move home?” The truth is that we ARE HOME! We are home whenever we are together. We are home where we live, work and settle into the community. We are home in Qingdao, and until we leave for good, we really do consider China our home. This might be difficult for some people to understand, but that is okay. We don’t quite understand why people would live an unhappy stressful life, battling to pay bills and living from pay check to pay check every month. But hey – we all make our own paths, and choose what we want out of life. Right now, this is what we have decided is right for OUR FAMILY.
We assumed that after Justin’s current teaching contract ended, we would move onto a new country. There was no doubt that we were going to leave China in the middle of 2017 (at the end of the school year). However, over the last few months, something seemed to stir inside us and we began to feel like we just were not done in China. I can’t quite describe this feeling. Only those who have lived abroad for a number of years, and often in a few different places, will completely understand. There’s this surge inside you… a feeling that often goes against everything that you WANT TO feel. Something that just says “NO, I’m not ready to leave yet”. We aren’t sure if God is trying to show us that we need to stay here longer, or that we are scared to leave this place where we have lived for so long.
Whether or not we stay in China, depends on two big factors. Both of those factors are COMPLETELY out of our hands. We can’t change or influence them – we can only wait. We can, however, make a decision NOT to stay in China and then those other two factors will cease to matter anyway.
Where am I going with all of this?
Well, after Christmas we suddenly realized that we were not quite sure whether this was our last Christmas in China or not. It is SO WEIRD to think that we might be in a new country next December. We could be in one of our home countries. We could be right here, in this very same apartment. We really cannot say right now. In a way it is a little nerve-wracking to think that we would have to pack up, sell, and give away so many belongings. But then at the same time, it is exhilarating to imagine going to a new country, with a new language, new food, and new traditions. This is what we LOVE, and yet, it suddenly seems just as big as moving abroad from our home countries. Because, as I said, this IS HOME. Moving from China would be exactly that – we would be leaving home to go somewhere new!
Where will be be living next December? I have no idea, but just in case we are no longer living in China, here are some cute (and silly) Christmas photos of us from 2016…