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!)

Leave A Comment

  1. Bonnie Wilcox June 25, 2012 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    I was an aunt for more than ten years before I became a mother. Being a ‘fool for love’ was a great joy and a great honor!
    Thanks for the “Cathy-questions.” What a wonderful gift to have a relationship that continues to see understanding.

  2. Ruth June 25, 2012 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    Cathy – How do you think about ‘face saving’ in Chinese culture as it relates to Chinese believers in Christ? And how do you talk with a Chinese believer who is afraid to appropriate all that He has for her due to losing face?

    • Cathy Caldwell June 26, 2012 at 10:23 am - Reply

      Every culture has their version of “face” when it comes to losing something after making a decision. Be patient and keep walking with your friend and sharing Truth:)

  3. Gayle Wilson June 25, 2012 at 11:48 pm - Reply

    Amy, my word was “dongxi” – what was yours?

    Cathy once came to babysit our kids – she came dressed in comfy clothes so she could get down on the floor and play with them. Never forgot that. Fun, gentle, conscientious.

    • Cathy Caldwell June 26, 2012 at 10:13 am - Reply

      As I remember we did interactive movie watching for part of the time. Alyssa was Cinderella and I was all of the other parts:) – All her very creative idea. Love your kids, Gayle! – Not kids so much now:)

  4. Loren Pinilis June 26, 2012 at 1:17 am - Reply

    That talk of Chinese food made me really hungry :)
    So glad to hear someone highlighted who has served the Lord so well. You guys are doing great work out there. On a mildly related note – I want to learn Chinese. No strong desire as of yet to live overseas, but I would like to learn the language – and who knows how the Lord will use it.
    What books/resources do you recommend for me to use to learn?

    • Cathy Caldwell June 26, 2012 at 10:30 am - Reply

      Chinese Pod is a website that many folks have used with great success. Most of the books I used are no longer in print:) “Boya Chinese” is a series of books used here in China by most universities who teach Chinese. I believe it is available through Amazon.

  5. Erin June 26, 2012 at 1:33 am - Reply

    Cathy – what are you most looking forward to in the next chapter of your life?

    • Cathy Caldwell June 26, 2012 at 10:15 am - Reply

      I am going to begin studies to become a chaplain and am looking forward to that journey. Of course I am also looking forward to spending time with my nephews and all of my family:)

  6. Amy June 26, 2012 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Cathy, thank you so much for answering my questions and for replying to comments. Once again, proving you ARE a gem. Eat some Di San Xian today :)

  7. Dolly@Soulstops June 26, 2012 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    your title caught my attention at LL’s blog…thank you for sharing Cathy’s story…so encouraging to read…I have never been to the land, where my ancestors are from…Nice to meet you, Amy, and Cathy…best wishes to Cathy as she studies to become a chaplain.

  8. Cathy Caldwell June 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    Thank YOU, Amy:) You are a treasure, dear friend! Miss you!

  9. Jen Miller June 27, 2012 at 2:00 am - Reply

    “Mafan” would definitely be my word – I think I still use it daily even though no one around me knows what I’m talking about!

    • Amy June 27, 2012 at 6:16 am - Reply

      Gayle pointed out another one … dongxi. Also I like ‘shenma’

  10. Joy June 27, 2012 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Thinking of Cathy as she is somewhere over the Pacific right now.

    Thanks for posting this, Amy. Cathy’s faithful service in China will continue to bear fruit in the lives of her students, local friends and colleagues on many campuses, the 156 teammates and uncountable others (like me) within the organization family, and precious community friends from her neighbors to the vendors in the marketplace.

    My first memories of Cathy also involved the beloved nephews! I hope to meet some of those guys with Cathy some day! My son Daniel has always reminded Cathy of one of them. :-) Being just a state away now, I do hope we can connect on this side of the pond.

    Parting words for Cathy ~ Go Blue!

    My China word is mafan, with dongxi a close second.

Related Posts