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. 


Statue.
Tao symbol

Fall

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

video
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. 

Friday, October 3, 2008

Camp Shamineau




Hello faithful readers! So instead of attempting to post a million pictures on here of Inner Mongolia I'm going to post the link to my facebook photo albums and you can see the pictures for yourself. here they are..

This album is full of pictures of the area that surrounded camp but the pictures do not do it justice. This place was literally the most beautiful place I have ever seen, I continued taking pictures while I was there and never captured what I wanted to. 
If you'll notice in the beginning all the trees are Green, then they turn Yellow, and right before I left they all fell off. I was there at the best time.

These are pictures of my friends that I made while there and the students doing different activities. 


These are more pictures of the people at camp and fun happenings. 

We taught at a teacher training program where middle school and high school teachers would come and practice their vocabulary, pronunciation, and learn about the culture. The teachers would stay for one week at a time, so I helped teach one week then lead two other weeks of separate classes. The last few days we were there we had an international school from Shanghai come. Teenage angst is my favorite! First of all let me just say I have no sympathy for a 15 year old in Shanghai living in a place where he gets American football on his television ok!? haha anyway Ruth mainly worked with them and she did a great job. 
The camp was located about 3 hours away through the grasslands from Hailaer, the only other city closer to us was a city about 2 hours away that I cant spell so I'm not even going to try. We were about 15 kilometers away from the Russian border, and when we climbed the hill beside camp we could see it, so that was fun! 
At night when the clouds broke the stars stretched the entire horizon. It was like being wrapped in a blanket, as Ruth put it. You could see every star in creation and you could vividly see the milky way. You know when we went Canoeing in Canada a few years ago with my Dad I was disappointed I didn't see the Northern Lights, this made up for it. Though I still want to see the northern lights sometime. 
Ok I should go run and stop eating potato chips haha. 
God Bless!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Grace


There are concepts of Christianity that I blindly believe and unfortunately do not take the time to truly conceive them until they directly effect me. Knowing my heart before I can hear it's needs is the particular topic that I want to discuss here. I believe, and have lived God knowing my needs, and desires of my heart long before I am aware of what I should be asking for. This experience at the Shamineau East camp in Inner Mongolia brought this all to light for me. 
I was nervous about leaving Changzhi even though I was very bored and becoming lonely here at times. Still, flying into the unknown again is never a simple task for me. I was in constant prayer to the point of fear when it came to my travels to Hailaer. I was sad about leaving my new friends on my birthday, about being away from constant interaction with my family and friends in America. Now I see that what I was truly sad about was the loneliness that was beginning to creep into my lifestyle here, the melancholy lifestyle I was living while waiting for work to begin. God knows this, he knows what our spirit is actually asking for even though we confuse it for something completely different. Displacement. 
I cannot even begin to describe how beautiful God's miracles have been for me this past month. First of all Inner Mongolia is the most beautifully serene place I have ever seen in my short lived life. Being in that place made me feel so elated. I was flushed clean by the spirit. I finally broke. Those feelings I mentioned in the previous post of starting to feel God break walls in me, those walls shattered and a new me was created in this place. Sometimes I think our hearts become calloused and our spirit may be trapped within these rough, cold walls; but here I became warm again. I wrote, and ran everyday. I prayed, cried, and took every breath slowly just to become apart of this place. These hills that appeared to have Gods finger strokes imbedded into them from the beginning of time. 
Thinking this experience was the right choice as I drove, thinking that was enough of a blessing to fill myself, expecting to need or desire nothing more than this, but I was wrong. This is the part where I emphasize God knowing our hearts and desires before we do. I hadn't realized how desperately I was longing for peer interaction.  That this loss, this adjustment was the thing making me so exhausted mentally and physically. Then I met Ruth.
Instantly when Ruth came into my life I felt at ease. I felt comforted, that I belonged somewhere, and that somewhere was in her company.  It's like God heard both our prayers, then he heard both our hearts and said 'Ok ladies for three weeks I'm going to give you someone to laugh until you cry with, to be sarcastic with, to pray with, to lose your voice from singing really bad pop music with, to run with, to BE with... no strings attached, nothing in return, nothing fake, no effort, just friendship take it and go.' Nothing has come to me so simplistically in my entire life. 
Shamineau became a sanctuary for me. It was so beautiful, I had time to be alone, time to read, time to run, time to be with people with my same sense of humor in person! It was a place of comfort foods, and religious connections. It was a place to fall in love with people who don't even speak the same language as you. Something I needed to learn, true love languages of people. The realization that love infrequently is spoken though words.
I feel that there is more I should say here, more things I should describe but I feel Ive reached the most intimate of this time. I will go back there, and I am am strengthened by my experience. 

I will sing to the Lord all my life, I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 
-Psalms 104:33