Monday, September 19, 2011

Estelle: A Love Story

This post is not about the fabulous British singer who sings about American boys.  It is, however, a simple love story.

A few months ago, Jason and I started toying with the idea of getting an electric bicycle.  We had been living sans wheels for quite some time, and with summer fast approaching, the idea of zipping through the city instead of slowly trudging through the grueling Beijing hot smog started to seem more and more appealing.

We started checking internet classifieds for a second-hand dian dong che (electric bicycle) and hoping that we'd find one that hadn't been used too much and was the right price.  Often times, we came across ads for two-seater battery-powered pedal bikes.  Truth be told, they are not pretty.  Clunky and made mostly of cheap aluminum-like metal and often emblazoned with the image of some sort of infantile mascot (they like sheep here, for some reason), these bikes are long associated in my mind with the post-menopausal aunties I see picking their grandchildren up from primary school.

Even though I felt too foolish to verbalize it, I had a secret hope that the moped we found was of the fake-Vespa variety popular amongst over-privileged Korean students in Beijing.  It felt stupid to do so, but even when I prayed at night about whether or not a moped was waiting for us in our future, I asked that it would be one that wasn't an eyesore and would help me fulfill some silly fantasy of being like Audrey Tatou in Amelie, zipping around Paris on an adorable little Vespa, arms wrapped around the torso my Chinese-American version of Nino / Matthieu Kassovitz (with obvious, glaring differences, of course.  I mean, c'mon.  Who are we kidding?  Paris vs Beijing?).

"I know that if it's your will for us to buy this scooter," I'd pray at night, "then you will prepare the perfect one for us.  Even it may not be the one I have in mind."

Well... he is good.  He dresses the lilies of the valley, he gives the birds a home, and he prepares Beijing's most adorable, perfect scooter for us.  Estelle (my moniker for our perfect Chinese fake Vespa) was put up for sale late one night, and we were the first to respond to the ad.  Not only was she the most perfect scooter and in our price range, but Estelle's previous owner was an amazingly sweet Indonesian man studying Chinese on our very own campus.  Like all things pre-ordained and blessed, obtaining Estelle was easy, joyful, and beneficial to all parties involved.

So while you may have thought that this love story was going to be about my love for Estelle, it is more about the amazing love of a Father who provides and fulfills our every need AND desire.  I think living in China has often made me jaded to the idea that God actually wants to give us all that we desire and more.  But in my blindness and self-satisfying tendencies, I fix my eyes on what I can't have (easy access to cheese, open roads, trees, and clean air) instead of simply asking and receiving.

Thankfully, with His grace and through these small acts of love, I don't have to be a slave to what I "have-nots," but I daily have the joy of receiving all that I need, and more.

Estelle has changed our lives.  I know that sounds a little dramatic, but I guess if I compared it to having a car in downtown LA and not having a car, you would see how it would open up so many opportunities and save a ton of energy.  Plus, whenever I take Estelle out for a trip to the veg market, or to meet a friend, or to drop off my dry cleaning, I don't just enjoy the feeling of being a Chinese version of Amelie, but I am reminded of how deep the Father's love is for me.

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