(There’s more to say about our time at the retreat, but if you’re interested in hearing more please write me an email.)
For the first part of our time in Chengdu we went to a retreat. Heather and I were excited to be together as a family and to make memories with the kids. When we registered for the retreat we found out that our registration included meals at the conference center buffet. This excited me. I forgot, however, that it was going to be a Chinese buffet. Although some of us in the family like Chinese food, some of us don’t, and can be picky about it. The first night we were trying to have a conversation with some friends and convince our children to eat something, anything. Caleb started eating a dumpling and then he threw it up while simultaneously melting down. Huh, I guess this buffet won’t be the blessing I thought it would be. Our kids (minus Lily) spent the next five days eating mostly white rice and watermelon.
I did end up finding a small store on the conference grounds. I scoured the shelves desperate for some snacks to keep us alive through the next 5 days. I saw some Cheetos and as I examined them I realized my flavor options were chicken and beef. Both great meats, but not my first choice for Cheeto flavor.
Our retreat staff informed us that the fine for picking a flower on the property was 50rmb ($7.50). Yikes! This could get expensive knowing my kids!
After a few days at the retreat Sydney feel into a pattern of crying each time she left her kid’s classes. This was because each day they had a raffle for a toy and she continually lost. However, the last day she won! The staff told me they contemplated rigging it, but didn't, and fortunately she still won. For the record the toy was Spiderman. Who knew an 8 year old girl could be filled with such joy over a superhero.
After days of struggling with the Chinese food offered we received a little blessing that came in the form of sweet and sour chicken and french fries. I couldn't have been happier.
Our last morning at the retreat and we noticed some evidence that a rat had been in our room. Awesome! As Heather was packing us up to go I went for a stroll. I walked past a van with half a butchered pig laying in the back of it. Normal, right?
We headed back into town because we were still spending five more days in Chengdu. Our time at the retreat went really well. We came away refreshed and encouraged. And the timing couldn't have been better for our family.
Quotes from our week:
(When describing the bathroom situation)
Me: “Aubrey it’s a squatty (potty), which you love.”
Caleb: “Come on Daddy! Are you coming on??”
(It smelt like a campfire as we were walking outside)
Matt: “I love that smell.”
Then in unison we both said“probably garbage” then we both laughed
Our next post will be about the second part of our trip where our kids were offered free beer, we saw the pandas, and Lily went to the dentist.