my curly blonde

This is the last Sunday blog post I will write with Rachel sitting in the desk next to me. I can’t believe she’s leaving this Thursday. I can’t believe it has been nearly three months already. The “90 day visa” that we thought sounded like an eternity is approaching the time for renewal. Suddenly, I’m realizing just how much time is left without this Rachel that has been such a foundation for me.

Rachel, you’ve taught me so much. I’ve learn so much about love, beauty, compassion, adventure, and so much more. 

“Make the world beautiful.” You said that in literally every class you taught, didn’t you? You have encouraged these students to look at the world around them and see people who are hurting. And then you’ve helped them understand how to love those people. But I have had the privilege to see you do that same thing outside the classroom, and outside the school. All those friends in the market, the beggars on the street, the many people who have gotten pictures with you, the random people you met outside the church, they have all seen bits and pieces of the great love that is in you. That love touches people, and with each person it touches, it makes the world more beautiful. 

 We’ve done so many crazy things together. So many. We’ve started writing them down, and at three full pages we’re nowhere near finished yet. All those walks through Xidan, just happily going into any shop that looked appealing, all those beautiful ideas like eating a meal with a beggar that turned into reality, all those funny looks we’ve given each other when we knew exactly what we were both thinking about something. Like all those times you say something is your favorite… You have invested in me with all those deep questions on the subway, with trying to understand my peculiarities, putting up with my sarcasm, listening to my rants, and everything else. We thought we knew each other at the beginning of this trip, but we had no idea what a comfort could come from just being together for three months. Thank you for how you have faithfully given me so much love.
But then you turn around, and I see you pour out that love on everyone else around you as well. You took Class 1, the class that everyone said was completely non-responsive and not smart, and you transformed it into your “sunshine class” by bringing the sunshine of Love inside. They run to you and love you so much now, and put on a whole party just for you. They felt true Love. 

Or remember the time you spent hours walking around the Heavenly Temple with just your student, Sarah? She has been different since that day; happier, and more secure. She felt true Love. 

You spent so many afternoons working with Tina and Rose in Class 6 as they taught their favorite Chinese pop song. And now they feel so special and valued because they felt true Love. 

All the time you spent talking on the phone with George, or sitting and talking with him about whatever you could think of on the weekends, came only out of Love. I know that what he saw in Jimmy, he sees in you when he feels that true Love. 

And of course there’s Sally, who walked in literally as I was typing this, who we’ve both decided is an angel. You saw something so beautiful in her from the very beginning, and you invited her to drink tea with you. Now, I know she loves you so much because she felt the true Love in you.

There are so many other stories, so many other people, so many moments that I can’t recall as I write this, or that I am completely unaware of. 

You taught me that “love is giving yourself.” And when I think of that, I think of you.
I will miss you so much, my dear friend. I will miss singing harmonies in the school showers, discovering how much we like our least favorite foods, listening to you laugh at yourself and then follow it up with “typical Rachel moment,” making you do silly things like swing dancing in Tiananmen square, eating three green tea ice cream cones between the two of us, sitting next to you while you journal and randomly look up and spout out some brilliantly deep thought, teaching the students songs with your ukelele in class, or taking a character quality that seems to have no potential for a lesson and making it wonderful. Who will go buy vegetables from GuLi? Maybe I’ll have to start a cucumber diet like you. 
The more I write, the less I feel like I have actually said. Let me end simply with this: Rachel, I have seen true Love in you. Your story has made mine better. You have made my world more beautiful.
I love you!


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