Blog > China: Where I Met God, My Wife, and Many Friends
China: Where I Met God, My Wife, and Many Friends
By Jonathan Nesvig – ReEntry Coordinator
On the way to China for the first time, I sat next to a Mormon and a Christian. Throughout much of the 12-hour flight, they talked back and forth about God. It was at that time that I realized I had no idea who they were talking about. Although I grew up in a Christian home and went to church regularly, I still did not understand what Christianity was all about. I was a “practical atheist,” meaning, although I professed belief in God, I lived as if God did not exist in everyday life .
I arrived to Xiamen, China in 2009, and I was surrounded by a community of people that actually believed God existed and lived that way. In addition, I became good friends with a Chinese Christian brother who helped show me what it’s like following Jesus even in the midst of hardships and challenges. My time with him began a journey after college of learning much from my Chinese brothers and sisters and learning about God’s love for the nations.
Meeting My Wife
Xiamen, China is also where I met my wife, Rachel in 2009. We were classmates at Xiamen University. We enjoyed playing basketball, going to KTV, eating delicious Chinese food, learning Chinese, and walking around Gulangyu Island together. At that time, we were just friends and classmates enjoying our time in a foreign and unfamiliar country. After spending 4 months in Xiamen, she returned to California to be a teacher, and I eventually returned to China in 2011 to teach English in Shaanxi.
In 2014, Rachel came back to China to teach in Lanzhou. A few months after she arrived–I was in Baoji and Rachel was in Lanzhou–we began dating. On a cold and damp February morning, having just arrived in Baoji to visit me after a 6-hour night train, I took her to McDonald’s at six in the morning and asked her to be my girlfriend! Rachel, of course, was shocked and sleepy, but eventually I got a yes, and the rest is history! We then decided to move to Sichuan and a couple weeks after being there, we got engaged (picture below, with Chinese dancing aunts around us). Again, we celebrated with McDonald’s! 6 months after that, we got married in February 2015 in California. Not only did China help me know God, China also helped me meet my wife.
Meeting Many Friends
What I miss most is all the friends I made back in China (besides the food, of course). I miss talking and practicing my poor Chinese with the Chinese aunts (aiyi’s) and uncles (shushu’s) and grandmas (nainai’s) and grandpas (yeye’s) that sat and walked around outside my apartment complex. At times the nainai’s would scold me for not wearing enough clothes in the cold. They even made sure that I was wearing my long johns when it was cold outside. Or they’d tell me to eat more food when I was too skinny in their eyes. Further, they made me food! One of my favorite nainai’s, Grandma Li, invited me over a few times for home cooked noodles and then taught me how to make them for myself. She did not fool around in the kitchen. I won’t forget her (pictured)!
Though I’m no longer living in China, thanks to Wechat, I can remain in contact with many of my friends. Back here in Minnesota, we get to be on the welcoming end as students come here and we get to be a part of the exciting things God does when people study in another country. In addition, as ReEntry Coordinator, I can still travel back to China to see the students who’ve been involved at HCC and enjoy China’s delicious foods with them.