It’s a new season, and we are beginning to plan to be farmers! So much happens every month, but we’ll try to summarize it.
We were supposed to have two interns come work with us from September to May, but now we don’t know when they are coming for different reasons. Because of this, we decided to not renew our lease on our office where I teach and we hold events. Rent for the office costs a lot each month, and with me being the only teacher, it was too much of a financial drain to keep it.
Plus our family is going back to the US from December to February, so the office would likely be unused from December onward since we are moving toward the farm upon our return back to China.
So we are in the throes of moving everything from the office out to the farm. Thankfully we have chairs, whiteboards, books, a projector and other things that we can now use at the farm that were being used in the office.
Help on the Farm
Even though we are sad about losing the office, we are excited about the next step. Now we are focusing all of our energy on setting up the farm. Construction finished 2 weeks ago on the dorm and dining room. And this week we had a team of 43 Chinese university students out to clean all the soot and dirt off the walls, paint the inside of the dorm, and clear an existing trail to the top of a big hill. Completing the trail took 6-8 people working for 3 days – that’s how overgrown it was. The trail is finished, and the dorm got halfway painted. Everything is looking so much better!
Our Chinese assistant, Celeste, grew up on a farm and is really excited about starting to plant flowers, vegetables and raising chickens. I have given her some resources on growing things organically, so we want to figure out how to make that work with the supplies we can find here. If anyone has any good websites or ideas, please let us know! We are fairly new to all of this and find it quite exciting, yet a little daunting.
So we still need more local and foreign teams to come help us paint, plant, clean, pull weeds, etc. to get everything ready to open. Please let us know if you want to come with a team!
The Visa Saga Continues
I went to Australia the beginning of July because there is a Chinese embassy there, a good friend I could stay with, and I had to leave China in order to get a sticker saying I could get a work (Z) visa. I got the sticker after four days without a problem. But when I got back to China and our family went to the police to obtain said visa, they refused saying there wasn’t a page to put it on. There are three pages in the back that looked fine to me and our accountant, but they said they couldn’t use it.
So we had to quickly mail my passport up to the nearest embassy in a different province just to add pages. Ugh. Other foreigners here have had the same issue because the pages aren’t clearly marked. Anyway we were down to the wire because I only had 30 days from receiving the sticker to register with the police. It seems to have worked at this point, but it’s so stressful to have your passport out of your hands with strangers, friends of friends, and in the mail-which isn’t always reliable here. But all of our passports are currently with the police in our city and being processed. The year and a half “part-time job” of getting a work visa is almost done. And yes, we will celebrate when our passports are returned and we are officially Chinese residents!
The Van Saga Also Continues
We went recently to buy a used van because we are going to the farm much more, and after a four-month wait we FINALLY got a parking space near our building. The car salesman went to the government office to have the registration put in our name, but he was told he couldn’t do it because of (you guessed it)… our visa! So again we are waiting on life and conveniences because of paperwork. We are overjoyed to be near the end of the visa and van wait so we can get on with life. We are sure there are much more fun and useful things to fill our time. 🙂
Daily life here is usually fine and normal, but the reality is that we are still foreigners in a different country with a difficult language and different ways to get things done. It’s in times like this that the constant daily stress we have learned to deal with becomes very magnified, and issues like the van and visa cause us to realize how, well, different things are here and how flexible we have to be. It’s also a test of our character and faith, but it’s good.
As I mentioned we are all four coming back to the US to visit family and friends from December to February. It will be our first time being in North Carolina in four years. We are excited to see family and reconnect. We booked our flights to San Francisco, but don’t currently have enough money to get all the way to NC. Last time we checked, each ticket is between $550-620, which would be about $2500 for our family. It’s very expensive because it’s the Christmas travel season. We would love help getting ALL the way home, not just the West coast. You can donate money below if you are interested in helping. And you can also donate American Airlines, USAirways, or British Airways miles (which are part of OneWorld network) to us if you are able. Please email us for our frequent flier numbers.
We also need a place to stay in Redding and San Francisco, and possibly in NC. Finally, we will need a car or van in NC and CA. Please let us know if you can help with any of these things. We are excited to come back, but not sure how a trip of this magnitude will all work out. Thank you in advance for your help!