Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

It's done. The #1 item on my mental bucket list has been crossed off: spend Christmas in another country.  I never thought it would happen, but it just did and it was an incredible thing.

The American group is still here.  I actually didn't see them at all today (I'll explain my day in a bit).  They've been doing camp, loving on all of the students, and getting the full Chinese experience.  Every moment I get to spend with them is such a blessing.  They couldn't have come at a better time.

I have been so overwhelmed with love this week.  It has been unreal.  On Friday, when I arrived at English Corner, I had a room full of about 100 students chanting my name just for simply walking into the room.  I felt like Bieber performing at a mall.  It was the most overwhelming feeling ever.  I think I looked absolutely terrified.

On Saturday, the group went up to the farm with us.  I (all by myself, in Chinese) ordered jiaozi and baozi for us.  I ordered it a day in advance and told her I'd come the next day at 3 to pick it up! AND IT WORKED!  Haha.  I was so proud of myself.  We had a great time playing games and eating good food.  Santa even showed up for a bit!!


Sunday was a marvelous day.  10 1/2 hours of pure greatness.  I met my girls at 9 and we walked to the service we were going to attend.  Everyone was so welcoming.  I understood a bit of the message.  My girls understood the majority, if not all of it.  By the end they were singing along.  Afterwards, we grabbed a quick lunch and I was able to talk to them and ask what they liked, disliked and what they're overall opinion was of it.  I'm anxious to dig a bit more when we meet on Thursday.  After that we went to the place the performance and dinner would be, but the time changed so we had around an hour to spare.  We went to the park and ended up going in this 'haunted house' that's inside of this huge monkey looking thing.   It was terrifying!  My throat hurt the rest of the day from screaming so much.  It was so much fun though.   Then we took some pictures.  Self-timed jumping pic: nailed it!  I love our little photo shoots.

By 1, we headed back to the performance place and that went on for a while.  Some singing and dancing happened.  Mostly it was just a great chance to talk and be in the presence of all that Christmas is about.  I met this sweet 83 year old woman who kept coming up to talk to me.  I asked if I could take a picture with her.  She's about 4/6" maybe.  I had to bend down so low to get closer to being her height.

Other villagers I got to 'talk' to!  I love these people!
The dinner was absolutely delicious.  I love Chinese food.  It's insane how often I crave it.  I could live off of baozi I think.  I've had it every day this week and I still want more!!!

Once it all ended my girls wanted to go shopping.  So we ventured all around the city and got to spend more time together and have some fun.  I adore all of them.  They are just so sweet.  The city at night reminds me a bit of SF.  Just lights and hills and lots of people.

[This time of year, it's customary to buy apples for people you love/appreciate.  The word for apple and for peace are very similar in Chinese (ping guo & ping an) so to give someone an apple is to wish them a peaceful year.  Well, I got about 9 on Friday from my tutoring students and I ended up with a total of 37 as of last night.  INSANE!  Good thing I like apples!]

My tree on Friday night. 

My tree after the party on Christmas Eve.
All around town they have these stands where you can have them wrap your apples up in tissue paper or gift boxes.  Christmas decorations were finally put up everywhere.  I've been told they are really Spring Festival decorations,  but they put them up in time for Christmas.  Trees, lights, Santas, signs that say 'Merry Christmas'.  It finally felt like Christmas here, even if it didn't come until 2 days before.

I came back to campus and there was dancing in the big quad so of course I jumped in on that.

Christmas Eve

There was a big Christmas party Monday night for the foreign language department.  I was expected to dance so at about 4 I did a 2 minute piece in 20 minutes and spent the next few hours panicking.  It went extremely well though.  I had a little 4 year old out there with me and he calmed me down/stole the show.  It was a blast though.  I received about 20 apples last night.  I was just speechless.  We played games, participated in traditional dances and did some classic Christmas carols.  All in all, it wasn't normal Christmas Eve, but it was a beautiful night.
My absolutely beautiful 'sister' Helen (find out about her further down!!!!!!).


I was nervous about today.  I was worried I'd have some breakdown or something.  I woke up, got ready (looked adorable too) and then headed up to the farm.  I spent the day w/ the Ls.  The girls and I played Just Dance 4!  It felt like being home.  We played some other games and watched Dumb & Dumber.  HA!  Around 7 we went to the other side for a staff gathering.  So my Christmas dinner was Chinese barbecue.  Grilled zucchini, mushrooms, beef patties, and best of all, chicken gizzards.  Christmas I'll never forget!  That's for sure.

I am so incredibly blessed.  Being home for Christmas next year will be nice, but being here was something I will always remember. The reason we celebrate is the whole reason I'm out here and if I lost sight of that, a tex from my student sure was enough to bring me back.  One text from one of my girls today was enough to make every single day out here worth it.  I'm positive I have another sister here, a sister who I may not see again in this life, but will spend plenty of time with in the days to come.

Merry Christmas to all of you at home!  Don't lose sight of the beautiful gift we've all been given.  I may not have opened any presents today, but I have never felt more thankful and loved in my life!

1 comment:

  1. Merry Christmas Hailey, sounds like you had an interesting one!

    Stay safe, keeping you in our prayers,

    David Cushman