Wednesday, December 24, 2008

John's travels into Eastern Christmas.

Big Buddha Statue, Lantao Island, Hong Kong

So John arrived on Dec. 5th and we have been very busy ever since. It's been so great getting to spend time with him over here and showing him what my life is like. I was really busy these past weeks finishing up my classes for the term and preparing for Christmas. We decorated the apartment and it looks really great. I showed him all around my city, to the lovely market, and to church. The sisters gave him a warm welcome of course. 
The second week John was here we went to Hong Kong for three days which was an amazing trip! The weather was perfect and traveling around down there was not difficult at all. We took a plane to Guangzhou then a train into Hong Kong. We stayed at an Oh so interesting Hostel and took ferry boats to other islands. We went to Disneyland just for the heck of it and we saw the Big Buddha statue and found this remote beach where we walked all around. We saw a random yak on the beach (only in China) and we also came across this restaurant  right on the beach where we sat and enjoyed the sunset and ate western food. Delicious! 
This week we had a Christmas party at the house. John cooked enchiladas. I made taco sauce from scratch. We had salsa, chips, and fruit salad. I also made a chocolate cake and Ann sent us a lot of Christmas candy. It was a great time!
Then we skyped for christmas with our families today which was hard to be away but a blessing in itself to have that technology. My dad got me this super fabulous necklace with our family crest on it! How awesome is that?!? (if you're reading this you should be jealous). Mom got me a great new watch. John got me Lost season 4 so we've been watching that today. Good Christmas. But I do wish I was at home.
Tomorrow John and I will travel to Beijing for the weekend and then he will leave and I will continue on to Mongolia again. Pray for me it's insanely cold there! I don't do well with cold. 

Disneyland Hong Kong

Teaching together in Changzhi at a Middle School

Buddhist monastery, Lantao Island, Hong Kong

Secluded Beach we found :-)

Christmas Dinner Party. Enchilada's cooked by John

Below is the gift the sisters got John and me. It's mittens that we can wear together to hold hands during the cold days! TOTALLY USEFUL! 

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thanksgiving meets spiritual giving

So last week I was going to cook for the sisters and I was really excited about it but I was also really exhausted from the week and these American's in my town invited all of us to dinner at this nice restaurant so I decided to go there instead with the sister because he was going to have turkey, and they'd never had turkey before. It was a bittersweet day. I was busy with class and it was great to be with my friends, but it was different. The first year away from home for Thanksgiving. I missed it. 
Thanksgiving Dinner!

Cold, but pretty Mashed potatoes

Vera, Eve, and Me

Thanksgiving Toast!

I knew coming here would be a different experience for me. I felt closed in before I left. As if I was in this sealed up box. That the me I was suppose to be was outside the box waiting for me to connect with it but I was missing it. I was holding myself inside this place and not allowing growth on any level to occur in myself. The me I was called to be, the me I was suppose to be outside the box, waiting, was dying. I was letting this happen. Coming here, being in this place, being with myself, breaking out of that sealed up box has been this enlightening experience. It seems for this whole change to occur in me, for me to become the woman the Lord wants, and needs me to be I had to completely leave everything behind. Anything that could possibly keep me in that box, I had abandon. What a wonderful gift, to come to this place, to begin to become this person that I always knew I was called to be. To know I am being used as his tool. To realize that maybe I'm not called to be his voice but his feet, his hands. To know I am called to do, to go, and show all of the graces that have been given to me by the gift of this place, this opportunity. Pure undeniable gladness. 

John will be here tomorrow night. I'm excited about showing him around and letting him see my life here. I think it will connect us more if he can tangibly know the place I am in when I tell him stories. We're going to travel some while he's here and spend Christmas together. I'm excited about all this. Then after that I'm going back to Mongolia for a short time, hopefully, and then it will be time for the spring festival. I'm still not sure what my plans are for that time. We'll see! 

Side note: this is the funniest misspelled bag I've ever seen!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Time well lost.

So it's been over a month since I've written on here. Which is somewhat pathetic. So my reasoning behind this is that the first half of this time away literally nothing happened. I went to work, I ran in my tiny shoes, and I watched TV online, and frantically cleaned my apartment in preperation of my mom's arrival. THEN My momma came!!! I was so excited to have her here, though I did run out of shiny things to entertain her with but she still said she had a good time. During her first week here (which was the last week of October) We took a night bus to Xi'an to see the Terra Cotta Warrior
Which was a really fun experience. 
The first week she was here Kelly came over with her boyfriend and they cooked us authentic Chinese dinner, and the next day the sisters took us out to lunch at the noodle shop where the nice lady made us a special dinner from her hometown which the sisters and I thought was delicious but mom probably would have prefered a cheeseburger. (Just be honest) ;-)
Mom and I also spent the first week of her visit seeing the booming city of Changzhi, it was cold but the weather was still really pretty. 

After seeing pretty CZ sites mom had to go "teach" at the medical college where it turns out she was giving a big lecture to over 500 students. SURPRISE! 
The second week of her stay I had a halloween party for the sisters and Jenny. Which was really fun. I laid out a bunch of stuff for them to dress up in and I cooked spaghetti and we watched I am Legend together, which was the closest thing to a scary movie that I had. 

The final weekend of her stay we went to Beijing together where we did super fun shopping and I may or may not have yelled at a lady for grabbing my arm and pulling me. She wouldn't let me go otherwise! It was a justified response. We traveled around the city and saw the Great Wall, where it snowed!! First snow of the year and I saw it on the Great Wall with my mom. Good memory.

Mom left and that was difficult. But her visit was wonderful and I am glad we had that time together. I hope she enjoyed herself too. I think she did.
These past two weeks I've been kind of lazy. I ran a little I read a lot and have taken on an extra class on the weekend. Also I started my Chinese lessons finally. So I have two classes a week. It's a long road.
John will be here in two weeks! Next week I'm going to try to cook thanksgiving dinner for the sisters. I made a little list of foods I think I can learn to cook by then so we'll see how that goes...
I can't believe I've already been here for almost 5 months. It's gone by really quickly. What will happen when it's all gone? What will I do? Who will I be? I've found myself asking many questions about who I am in this changing image. I see my purpose here and I see God's hands at work all around. What a blessing to have these questions. 

Friday, October 17, 2008

The warmth of Autumn

Week two of school down and it's going really well. The weather actually warmed up this week so Hai Li and I went to the park with another girl. It was a beautiful perfect day for the park. We played around and climbed on some rocks and we saw these nice statues and rock carvings. Then this old man let me fly this really cool kite, which when I told my dad he totally trumped by saying he flew a plane but whatever I'm in China... still cool. haha
I had some highs and lows this week. Teaching college is slightly different from preschool... who knew!? But in some ways familiar, I was becoming frustrated with the students speaking over top of each other while students were trying
 so hard to speak in English. So
I prayed for this on my walk to class yesterday. When I got to class it turns out the band w/ the 20 large drums, trumpets, and a gong were practicing right outside my classroom window, which are stuck open. I laughed really hard at this because it felt like God was like "don't you think you're focusing on the wrong things". haha So my frustrationsubsided and when the practiced stopped but the students still persisted to whisper loudly in class I just ignored it. I still find this instance rather humorous though. 
This past month I've been doing morning devotion time. Before this I was trying to do devotion in the evening but my schedule is so different in the evenings I never know when
I'm going to be home or how distracted I'm going to be. The mornings have proven to be the best time for this. It's a strong way to start my day too. Before anything just focusing on God, it's nice. Some mornings I wake up with frustrations or distractions and taking that small time to focus on what I should be focused on all day long is a great way to ease those misgivings. It strengthens me and I like that. However, one thing I am missing out on I feel is fellowship time. Sometimes I come upon passages and I want to talk about them, discover what others hear from it. Sometimes I feel I'll read a chapter and specific verses jump out at me and I have no one here to tell me what parts jump out at them. Religious fellowship is something that I am missing out on here but I'm not sure how to remedy that. Maybe instead of remedying that I should just focus more on the blessing of having this quiet time for myself and God and listen more to how he can strengthen me now and work on fellowship later. 
The school is having a big celebration tomorrow. The 50th anniversary of the school. They've decorated the entire campus and it's so pretty and full of energy! I'm excited about all the festivities tomorrow. However they are hindering me from a mountain run that was scheduled but it's ok, the mountain isn't going anywhere. and neither am I.
MOM GETS HERE IN A WEEK!!!! I can't wait to see her! I want to show her my city, and we're going to see Beijing together! I'm so excited. I hope she doesn't get bored here though haha. I've been counting down the days for over a month now! I'm so excited:-)
Ok thats all for now. I will post pictures of the celebration later on. 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mail Mania!!!

I just received all my packages for my birthday today!!! How exciting. I got this totally awesome Widji hoodie which I of course wore out to lunch today, and this great Buckaroo's t-shirt! Which I didn't wear because it's cold, but I still love it all the same! I was so excited when I opened it. Rufio/ Merle you guys are awesome... whenever you read this know that. Peanut, Rufio's letter told me you said you could eat pizza with Chopsticks... you shouldn't lie to people that way, Asian's are very honest people and you are giving them a bad name by lying like that;-).
Thank you for your prayers guys I really appreciate it, it's very uplifting. 
Mom sent me some jeans that I desperately needed. Here's the best part, the jeans were too small for me in America and they are too big for me here. Yay Chinese food + walking everywhere! 
Emily sent me Vanna White yarn.. which I will make everyone I know lovely scarves and yeah, I'll try to teach myself how to crochet, i hear it's easy... someone told me that in three cards onetime... who was it??? hmmm
Ott sent me this crazy heavy/expensive package full of grandchild hygiene products! yay!!! However I may or may not have caused one of the packets of laundry detergent to explode which seeped into the m&m's that I tried to eat later... not the best snack. The office season 4 was in there, along with Walden a book I will attempt to read but probably will never finish;-). Emily has high hopes for me though. Also many other delicious treats were in this box (popcorn, granola bars, etc.! yay!!!) 
Thanks everyone for the amazing gifts, it makes me feel so connected to home, and less isolated from everything. Time to go watch the office before class
Oh yeah, I taught my first official class today, it went great! This will be a busy year. 

Saturday, October 4, 2008

National holiday week

So my first week back in Changzhi has been quite busy. I came in Tuesday night at around 11pm. That was after my 8 hour layover in Beijing where I decided to venture out into the city, alone. So brave! I went into downtown and shopped for a few hours and found a Subway Restaurant!! yay! I ate it with such joy. 
Anyway On wednesday morning I went with Jenny to a Chinese Wedding which was exciting. It was so different from our weddings. Usually the bride wears red but many traditions are falling to the wayside just like in America, so the bride wore white. Lots of fireworks, confetti-cannons, red everywhere. You first go to the Grooms and pick him up then take him to the brides home where he must pass red envelopes of money under the door until her friends finally let him in then we have to hunt for the brides shoes and if we don't find them the groom must carry her to the wedding. Then we drive to the wedding a different way than we came from. The wedding is usually in a restaurant, but this one was in the courtyard at the grooms home. The groom must carry the bride to the isle while his friends heckle him and push them and spin them around. People shoot silly string at them and throw confetti on them. Good times! Then once they get to the alter they walk down a red carpet and have confetti cannons explode everywhere. Good times. They do all these little things together on stage then they kiss and we go eat! 

Then On thursday I went to the mountain with Hellena and Dangdang and a friend of theirs Christina. We saw the pretty gardens, and village built in the mountain. We saw another temple. Then we went to this huge statue thats built in the mountain for the God of Agriculture. 

Tao symbol


Resting in the mountains 
The temple in the gardens of the mountain.

Ok while in the mountain we found these games you could pay for kids to play and this was one of them! Built on the side of the mountain. Ironically this was the safest one! The kid gets in and holds on to straps that are inside...ummm no thanks!

Friday I went shopping in the market alone and bought some necessities for the house. Lets just say my apartment is now going to be called the cave because it is so cold in here all the time! Even when it's hot outside. What is up with that??

Saturday I went to the post office and mailed my absentee ballot... yes even from China I can
 vote. Yay! Then for dinner I went to this friends grandmothers house and she taught me how to make dumplings... I'm horrible at making dumplings. I've decided you must actually be Chinese to be able to perfect the art of dumplings.

Church today and my first official day of class tomorrow. Yay! Hopefully that will go well. I only have one class in the morning so thats good.