Sunday, March 31, 2013


I've been meaning to post for the past week about some of the fun things that have happened.  I got to meet a 93 year old woman and make jiaozi at my boss's house and later that night ended up at a huge wedding reception.

Last night they had a singing competition on campus for the Foreign Language Department and I got a formal invitation.  It's a cultural thing for them to practically force their guests to do some kind of performance so my American neighbor, along with a student of ours, somehow managed to get up on stage in front of who knows how many people and 'sing' a song.  They tried to find the music to go with it but I'm pretty sure they had the wrong music.  It was kind of a huge mess, but if you know me at all then you know that was a HUGE accomplishment for me to get up on stage, with a microphone, and sing in front of anyone.  I survived.  It was interesting.  There are bigger things to write about at the moment though.

I woke up early on Friday to go climb the big mountain in town.  I had a skype call with a lovely lady at 10:30 so I had 3 hours to get there, climb as much as I could, get back, and shower.  I made it probably 1/3 of the way up and just sat down and had an awesome few minutes with the Father.  It's hard not to be moved when you're overlooking the whole city while listening to music about the Father, a few days before the celebration of such a significant event.  It was perfect.

Even though all of that fun stuff has been happening, there is only one thing occupying my thoughts right now and that is what happened today.  I wrote about it in my last post not knowing if it was really going to happen, but it did!  My brother and sister were dunked today.  It was my first time dunking anyone, and for it to happen here and with them was... I can't even describe it.  I listened to them explain what it all meant to them before it happened and I was a wreck on the inside.  I sat there biting my lip so I didn't burst into tears - happy tears, the absolute best kind of tears.  After it happened they both hugged me and told me how much they loved me and how happy and thankful they were.  Later, my 'sister' was dancing around and I asked her if she was ok, in a joking way, and she said she was just so excited.  [And sitting here typing this, thinking about it all again, I just had my little release of the tears.]  

There are a million things I want to say but I can't think of any way to say them right now.  Flskdjhasldhgl.  I'm just ecstatic.  That's about all I can say.

Happy Easter everyone.  Be more than thankful for this day.  I know I am right now.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Jo's Birthday

I've been really happy the last few weeks.  Being back in school has been really good for me.  My schedule is perfect, my students are great, my tutoring is enjoyable, things are just dandy!  Every other Sunday I get the chance to hang out with my friends from the high school and it's always the perfect ending to my weekend and a perfect start to my upcoming week.  And for a few reasons, today was probably better than the usual hang out Sundays.

My beautiful friend Jo turned 18 today.  She's the girl I met in the summer of 2010 during my first English camp out here.  We emailed occasionally, I wore the ring she gave me every single day, and a few months ago I saw her for the first time in over 2 years.  Since then, we talk regularly and hang out when we get the chance.
She invited me to her birthday lunch which was held at a Dai restaurant in town. [Dai is one of the many minority groups here in China.]  The whole camp group when there in 2010 and I hadn't been back until today.  It's a beautiful restaurant.  I love the Dai culture.  Today I made a huge connection.  The Dai people have their own language, like many minority groups.  I've been told that it's similar to Thai, and today I realized that Dai and Thai sound similar too!  Their food is somewhat similar, and the overall feel of the culture has many similarities.  I just love it!

We had a super, incredibly delicious lunch.  I got to see several of the students that I had during that first camp, and made a new friend today.  Jo is one of the sweetest people I've ever met.  She goes out of her way to make me feel comfortable and to tell me how thankful she is for me.  I adore this girl.  This was another day I got to spend celebrating someone I could have possibly never seen again.  These days are the ones that I really realize how special this whole opportunity is.

These ribs were better than ones I've had in America. Yeah, I really just said that. 

The REALLY exciting part of the day came after.  Jenny met up with me and we spent a few hours together.  I showed her where I tutor.  She didn't even know that area existed. I showed her a restaurant I love.  She didn't know about that one either.  We went back to my apartment and had really great conversations.  She told me about how she knows what she wants to major in when she goes to college.  She said that so many of her friends don't know what they want to do, they just want to do something where they can make a lot of money.  Her response to them is that she knows she only has one life and she wants to do what makes her happy.  Money doesn't matter if she's truly happy.  Ah.  I just love this girl so much.

In the middle of all of our conversations, I brought up the possibility of her getting dunked for the Father.  I don't think I've ever seen her so excited about something before, with the exception of the time she because our sister.  She said she's been reading all about it and has wanted to do this for a while now. I am almost jittery with excitement about this happening.

I have a small group starting up on Thursday.  It's round 2 with 2 of the girls from last term.  I'll find out this week if the 2nd one will be starting up soon.

BIG things are happening here.  I'm still trying to wrap my mind around all of it.  I'm feeling so blessed and lucky and overwhelmed by all that I am a part of right now.  It's too good.  And the time of year that it's all happening couldn't be any better.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fun Days

I had a fabulous weekend.  The L girls came and stayed with me Friday night.  We ate at our favorite American/Italian/Mexican place (the Teach for China hot spot), watched a movie, and made plans for Saturday.  Dance dares were the main item on the list.  If you've ever seen Ellen Degeneres then you know what I'm talking about.  If not, basically you go up behind some random person and dance awkwardly behind them.  The goal is for them not to catch you in action.  We're all very white and the usual stare targets so this wasn't the easiest.  It was a blast though.  Here's our lovely project thanks to A.

We then went on a tour of the new grocery store. Yes, a tour of a grocery store is an exciting thing to do on a Saturday for a group of girls here.  We happened to discover a new 'fast food' place.  They had chicken burger things, decent fries, these awesome sweet potato nugget things.  It was a great find!!! And super cheap.  A plate of jiaozi or a bag of nuggets is about the same price.  That's a good deal to us.
These are the flavor options you have here in China. They tend to be... interesting.

I showed the girls these Avatar statues that are just hanging out inside this arcade thing by the grocery store.  I hadn't realized before that the lady statue was not appropriately covered so I made sure to fix that.  A few young boys - probably about 10 years old - just followed us around, which made taking these pictures really awkward.  We're used to being stared at so we just ignored it.

New Chinese boyfriend.
Then the highlight... STINKY TOFU!  Street-side stuff people!  Technically park-side, but still the same.  I gave the guy a 5 and he started filling up this bag.  Apparently you can get a lot of stinky tofu for 5 RMB.  'A' told him I only wanted a bit and then when he was about to fill each piece with lajiao (fiery hot evil spices), we both freaked out for a second and told him no.

I felt very Chinese after this experience...
The verdict: stinky tofu is not all it's cracked up to be.  I've been told that the stinkier it is, the better it tastes.  This stuff didn't reek like the stuff a little further up the street.  Maybe I'll have to try that next time.  Obviously it wasn't terrible enough to make me swear off of it for the rest of my life.  Now I get to really cross it off my bucket list at least!

After all of that fun stuff we walked around town and headed up to the farm.  Once the van dropped us off, some of the workers were heading up to take the garbage so they let us ride the weird little truck thingy up there.  Thank goodness it was a short ride.

That was my fabulous weekend!  I'm done with my college teaching for the week already and now have tutoring to get to.  Tutoring last week was so much fun.  I'm excited to see those kids again.

Last thing: I just had lunch with our newest sister and another really close friend of mine who met with us every week.  The 3 of us will be meeting together every week for studying, dinner and whatever else happens.  Thank the Father for that!  I can't wait to continue to build my relationships with them and to help strengthen them.  Next item on the to-do list is to meet up with the 3rd year girls and see which ones of them would like to meet with me.  Hopefully I'll have an update on that by this weekend.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lack of Lanterns & New Term

Chinese New Year is all done.  The 2 week 'celebration' has been over for a while, I just have been slacking.  Part of the reason for not posting about the closing of Spring Festival is the lack of stuff to post about.  The Lantern Festival closes out Chinese New Year and I had it so built up in my head.  A friend of mine in Northern China got the experience I was hoping for.  Things here were much calmer. Families got together to have a final big dinner and a few people lit lanterns by the lake.  Nothing too huge.  I'm still glad I was here for it.  There were more lanterns on Chinese New Year's Eve.  That was pretty cool.

My favorite brother turned 18 the other day.  I was so excited to get to see him for a bit his weekend and give him his gift - Taylor Swift's new album.  He loves her!  Getting to be here for the birthdays of my 2 favorite people in this country has been such a blessing.  That is a huge thing I'll miss when I leave.

Since then, I've just been anxious for school to start.  This week I was saved from my boredom... a bit.  I started the new term on Monday.  My schedule is pretty awesome.  I teach at the college Monday through Wednesday and I tutor Wednesday through Friday.  I have 2 night classes this semester, but I'm actually excited about that.  I have my 3rd year students for those 2 nights and they requested more movies, so movies will be happening almost every Monday night I think.  Tuesday will be a mix of discussions and skits based on the movies.  As of now, I'm not tutoring on Saturdays.  I'm a little bummed about that, but at the same time it means I have a weekend.

Remember last semester how I graded over 120 papers a week?  Then I said that I would never do that again?  Well... I lied.  Sort of.  I'm giving the freshmen 5 writing assignments throughout the semester.  The good thing is that they have to do them in class and they can't be longer than half a page.  So it won't be too bad.

For entertainment value: 
Monday was the first day of the new term.  I was so happy as I walked to my building - I walked into the wrong classroom and then realized I was in the wrong building on the opposite side of campus - and the happiness just skyrocketed as I saw this girl walking in front of me with this hairstyle I'd never seen before.  Ladies & gentlemen, I introduce to you 'The Fancy Mullet' or 'The Sting Ray'.  I'm feeling the second name.  The picture doesn't show it the way I wanted.  Either way, how fantastic is this?  It's the beauty of long and short hair, all on one head, without going full on mullet.

That's really all that's happened in the last week or two.  It's nice having people around and students to catch up with.  The only downside is the really loud people in the street at night, but it's college so whatever.

On Monday I should be getting in touch w/ the girls who I hope to start a new small group with.  Be yarping about that.  There are 7 of them that I think may want to come over.  Also, I should be meeting up with our new sister soon.  Yarp that she wants to continue to meet with me, one-on-one (or possibly with another girl).  My schedule is perfect to allow more time for things like this.  I just hope the Father has been moving in their hearts and wants this to happen.

I'll let you all know if anything interesting happens soon.  I hope it does.