A dear friend and colleague is transitioning back to the States this week. I first met Cathy in 1995 and knew we’d never be friends because she was so kind and thought the best of everyone. She embodies grace and sweetness in ways I never have and (most likely) never will. Sigh. Oh, and she talked about her four nephews all the time. It was obnoxious. I thought she was a pathetic single woman who gushed about nieces and nephews because, well, she didn’t have kids.

That is until my first niece was born and I became like a pithed frog about that baby; and then about them (all, irony of ironies, four of them girls). Guess what, you can be a fool for someone and it doesn’t mean you’re pathetic, it just means your love flows over.

Cathy has modeled more than “good aunting practices” — most recently how to mourn the untimely death of one too young — she has modeled the love of her shepherd. As she prepared to leave, I asked Cathy the following:

When did you first come to China? 1992

How many places have you lived? 6 ish – counting the summer in Lhasa
And where? Xining, Beijing, Changchun, (Summer in Lhasa), Qinhuangdao, and Zhengzhou. {For those who aren’t the familiar with Chinese geography, Cathy has basically lived in every corner and in between.}

Roughly how many students have you taught over the years? 730 – estimate   (counting both Chinese student I taught English and foreign students I taught Chinese. Note: Cathy is bilingual and a great teacher.)  Just FYI – I have had 156 teammates over the years…

What’s one Chinese word that will stay in your vocab? 耶稣 Yesu (Jesus)

{And this answer, ladies and gentlemen, shows the character difference between us I was mentioning earlier; that, sadly, is not the first word that came to my mind! See the end for my word.}

What are three things you’ve seen change over the years? (don’t have to say much about them)?

  • ration tickets the school gave us to buy oil and rice
  • Wal-Mart
  • Taobao (Chinese amazon, of sorts)

Name one student you won’t forget. Why? Gabby- She’s among my few friends here in Zhengzhou, and she is my dear sister.

Name two dishes you will miss. I will dream of di san xian and my Changchun baomu’s carrot, onion, and egg jiaozi. {Di San Xian – three treasures from the earth: potatoes, eggplant, and green pepper. Baomu is a house helper. Jiaozi are dumplings. Good choices!}

Any parting words are you get ready to start a new chapter? Ecclesiastes 5:19-20  🙂

Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.

My life in China has been that precise gift from God, “China” will always be a part of who I am – from the prayers I will continue to pray for people I dearly love to the Great Wall’s worth of stones of remembrance I have collected – I  will continue to commune with my Father about this place, and these people with thanksgiving for all He has given during this time and with hope for all He will continue to do in years to come.

{Cathy, thank you for this snapshot. We will miss you. I will miss you. My life will have more 麻烦 — mafan– without someone as competent and delightful to work with as you have been these past five years, when we really got to know each other. Hassles (mafan) doesn’t even begin to touch on it. You are a gem. The Lord before you, behind you, and always beside you.  祝你平安. Love, Amy}

What question would you like to ask Cathy? Answer one of the questions I’ve asked her (you can be living anywhere in the world!)