Friday, September 29, 2006

I want to ride my bicycle

Since I don't have a car, I've been rediscovering the "joys" of bike riding. I had only been here a couple of weeks when I realized I would need a kid seat for Bonnie. Only in Asia can you get something like this! Here's a picture of a bike that I found on the internet. It has a kid seat like Bonnie's. If I had a digital camera, I'd take a picture of ours, but this is close enough. The first time Bonnie rode in it she said she felt like a princess getting into a carriage. And I guess I felt like the horse!

Seriously, it's not that bad. I hardly feel her weight at all. When she's not with me, I use her little seat to carry groceries and stuff. Some people have another seat on the front of the bike that they use if they have two kids. Even though it's illegal, if you're a mom with no car, what else can you do? Most families can afford two cars, but they can't afford two parking places! So many young mothers (not as many nowadays as a few years ago) have to tote the kids on a bike with a seat on the front and on the back.

I have another bike that's parked at the other school I teach at. It belongs to the company we have a contract with and that's the bike I use to go to an English lesson at a car research and design company every Monday. (More on that another time). I love riding the bike in the middle of the afternoon to the lesson. It's a really nice break in the day and gives me time to transition from teaching the kids to teaching adults.

Riding back in the dark, though, is not so fun! The roads in the area meander around a river and there are several intersections where five or more streets meet. It's hard to know which way I should go since there is really not a "straight ahead" choice and the streets in Japan have no names. The first night Yumiko and I rode back from the school we got lost several times. At one point we were riding on a sidewalk that was overgrown with leaves from trees lining the side. I had to ride along, whipping them back with my head as I navigated in the dark (with no light on my bike). I couldn't help calling out, "abunai" (danger) as I macheeted my way though the urban jungle. At the same time, I was laughing at how silly it all would look to an American -- and probably most Japanese people, too. I have since found a better way to get back and memorized where to turn, but I'm not looking forward to this 15 minute bike ride at night in the winter. :( When I lived in Japan before, I got a car before my first winter, so I've never had a to ride a bike or even walk very far in the cold. Should be interesting.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Discovering the story within the covers

One week ago, my baby became a seven-year-old young lady. As we looked through her scrapbook together, I searched for baby Yang Yang in my daughter Bonnie. Yes, I could still hear that baby laugh when Bonnie was amused. I could see the look of innocence when she slept -- as always -- on her side with feet stretched out. And, thankfully, she still needed hugs from her mama.

When she was a baby she was like an unopened book. I could see the cover -- had some idea of the subject of her life, but the adventure began after I started reading. And I'm barely through the first chapter. What else is yet to come?

In a year she will be eight. When I was eight years old, my dad and brother died in "the" car accident. That tragedy was tatooed onto my life permanently. I'm thankful that Bonnie's "tragedy" occurred when she was a baby and when she is eight she will be covered with love, be certain that she belongs and know that even if something terrible happens, God will never leave her or forsake her.

Yes, we talk about these things. Since she has only one parent, she naturally worries about what will happen to her if I die. I did the same thing. I will not lie and tell her, "Oh, I'm not going to die." I know better. I do tell her that most parents don't die and I'm not planning on dying any time soon. But she already knows from her birth history that God has been with her from the moment she was conceived and He has taken care of her.

I have told her the story of baby Yang Yang over and over. Yes, there are some parts that are harsh for a child to hear -- but what is the point of ignoring them? Instead, I choose to put my own "spin" on them, avoiding the mistakes grown ups made in explaining my dad and brother's deaths to me (or more to the point -- avoiding the subject altogether).

Through it all, there was love.
*The love of a man and woman who wanted a family.
*The love of an expectant mother nurturing her unborn child.
*The same love that moved the mother to save her child's life by giving her up.
*The love of a heavenly Father who had chosen a mother in America for that child before she was born (I sent my papers to China 8 days before Bonnie was born).
*The love of a foster mother who took the orphan into her home and raised Yang Yang has her own, knowing she would never be called "mother."
*The love of my family and friends around the world who welcomed Bonnie with joy.

People who see Bonnie and I together often comment on how much we love each other. Because I didn't feel loved as a child, it is a priority to make sure Bonnie does. Although she was an orphan, she now has a family -- not only me, but good friends who have taken on the role of grandparents, aunts and uncles. She has proof in her life of God's love and protection through times of lonliness and abandonment.

Every novel has a theme. So far, Bonnie's story is one of love. I continue reading day by day, year after year. Can't wait to see what the next chapter will bring.