We have been in Beijing nearly two weeks now and slowly our life here is taking shape. The apartment is pretty functional now – needing some aesthetic tweaks but we have many of the things we need for the tasks of everyday life! This week is for settling into work and establishing some rhythms to the day/week. It is surprising how quickly things feel “normal” – I have probably taken a taxi less than half a dozen times in New Zealand but it is a feature of most days here. In Hamilton my bike had 21 or so gears and thanks to my dodgy wrist I rarely rode it. Here my “flying pigeon” has only one speed and the handle bars are curved and there is no pressure down through my wrist and although the traffic at times seems mad I’m a happy bicycler in Beijing! You can’t cycle too fast or the pedals just spin! Beijing is a flat city which definitely helps.
We heard news today that a Hamiltonian friend died and her memorial service was on Sunday afternoon. She was a member of Andrew’s congregation, a real character who showed us enormous kindness when we we first moved to Hamilton. We prayed the Kontakion for her this evening, or at least Jim Cotter’s version of it. It begins like this: “Give rest O Christ to your servant Judith with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting”. The response is “We go down to the dust, and, weeping o’er the grave, we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia”. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.
And that, my friends, is a slither of our life here. All the ordinary of making food, and wrangling printers and modems and technology and beginning work, and doing the dishes. And the awareness of distance. Of hearing news not as it happens. Of having our feet on a different piece of land. Of knowing we are far away from people we love but also they are close – in our hearts, on our minds, on our screen through the magic of Skype and email…
And here’s a wee glimpse of us and our trusty Beijing steads outside our apartment building!: