Welcome to Day 5 of China and Amy Anniversary Week here at the Messy Middle.

Though China and I didn’t exchange vows, lo those many years ago, what has occurred is a long term relationship where we have both developed, changed, thrived and experienced some dark days. Here is a brief look back over twenty years:

For better

China: The top of the list must be the growth of the church! The urban unregistered church didn’t really exist twenty years ago and now it is thriving in many places.

Amy: I have developed in many ways. Here’s just one, twenty years ago I wouldn’t have envisioned getting an MA in counseling and wading into heart and soul muck. I have seen redemption in ways I never dreamed possible.

 or for worse,

China: Like us all, you’ve had some dark days with financial troubles, unemployment, and let’s not forget the traffic in Beijing.

Amy: Thankfully I can only recall one time when if I had a ticket, I would have left and NEVER looked back. When I lived in Chengdu the pipes in the building I live in were all replaced … without moving me or my teammate, Shelley, out. My bathroom was used as the “receiving shoot” for all of the pipes for the six floors above. Construction went on about eleven hours a day, there was no running hot water for three months, I had another flair up in my butt boil and had to have surgery (without anesthetic) on my behind and needed to soak my bum in a small tub three times a day (30 minutes a time). To make matters worse, the only available toilet was in my laundry room and one morning I had to kill two mice caught on sticky paper before I could go to the bathroom. Sometimes it’s good we don’t have a ticket out! I’m glad now that I couldn’t leave.

for richer,

China: Oh the economic growth you have experienced! I don’t think either of us envisioned the housing market, educational opportunities, and private cars (see above: Beijing traffic). Well done.

Amy: I remember that first year as my salary changed from “a real job’s” to less than 10% of that of a public school teacher in the U.S. (my job before). I’ll admit that every now-and-then, I laugh when I look at my salary and wonder what my experience, two MA’s and the leadership positions I’ve held might be bringing in. But China, dear China, you have helped broadened my definition of a rich life beyond a mere dollar value; something I can’t put a price tag on.

 for poorer,

China: OK, I’ll just say it. You’ve lost a bit of your innocence. With all of the cars, cell phones, hustle and bustle, you seem to have (at times) confused busyness with importance.

Amy: See above :)

 in sickness

China: We’ve made it through SARS, H1N1, and several food scandals and we’re still here!

Amy: Alright, this might sound a bit ridiculous, and I do love you but: bacterial meningitis (complete with relearning to walk, dress, read, and write), five surgeries (and much embarrassment, frustration and tears) over those butt boils, infected saliva gland (that seemed to go on forever!), two car accidents (one quite serious and my back has never been the same), carpal tunnel that turned out to be tendonitis, and your air pollution eating holes in my corneas.

and in health

China: Life span extending! People getting taller with good nutrition! And we’ll always remember you hosted the 2008 Olympics!

Amy: Oh yes! The good days far outweigh the bad. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally. Health, health, health.

to love and to cherish;

China: I know you mean it when you talk about the difference between politics and people. As we like to say to one another, “Politics is for the politicians, we ‘LaoBaiXing’ (old hundred names/common folks) get along.” I love your practicality.

Amy: I cried those twenty years ago. I didn’t know one could cherish a place so different from the one was raised, but I do.

 from this day forward until death do us part. We both know we’ll never be the same whether I’m here or not. You have opened yourself to the outside world (at times kicking and screaming) but mostly, very, very willingly. And I have opened myself to you. We are linked until death; and I’m glad.

We’ve had our up’s and down’s. I am all the richer for having walked your land, spoken your language, eaten your food, loved your people, seen myself as I never could have without your lens, and seen God through your eyes.

I love you,

愛 梅

Ai Mei (as you know me)


During Amy and China Anniversary Week we have gone back to the beginning, heard about China from two people new to China (Sarah and Lee) and relived the first summer in Hefei.

Leave A Comment

  1. Janet August 31, 2012 at 6:14 am - Reply

    I love this, Amy! Thanks!

    • Avatar photo
      Amy August 31, 2012 at 6:15 am - Reply

      Thanks Janet!

  2. Loren Pinilis August 31, 2012 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    Wow, your description of “for worse” was wild. I couldn’t imagine having construction going on in my bathroom and having to kill mice to use the bathroom – wild stuff! Of course, it kinda reminds me of the place I lived in college, haha.

  3. JoDee September 1, 2012 at 1:26 am - Reply

    I have loved walking through the past15 or so of these 20 years with you!!! It has truly been a ride, and I am so glad you are one of those people in my life who truly get what it means to give your heart to another place. I am richer for having gotten to walk part of the journey with you, albeit from afar! 20 more???! :)

  4. […] have been unbelievably blessed with good health AND had awful experiences. This summer a friend asked me why I won’t consider Lasik surgery. After some of the medical […]

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