Saturday, March 31, 2007

Fasting Farewell

Although I was not raised in an environment where Lent was observed, I began to appreciate the meaningful reminders behind this tradition while in college, as I observed the lives of friends. For about three years now, I have chosen to sacrifice something for 40 days to focus my mind and spirit on the grace and love given for me 2000 years ago.

Being here, however, I completely missed Ash Wednesday and the beginning of this season. Even though it is sometimes easier to rely on my Savior in this environment, there are still the every day details, responsibilities, and happenings which often distract me from focusing on Him.

Therefore, so that I may more fully understand and give thanks for the sacrifice given on Good Friday and the joy of Easter morning, I am choosing to spend this next week in deliberate prayer and fasting. Although food is typically the item most often chosen to give up because of the constant pains of hunger which force one to physically and mentally, not just spiritually, rely on Him, the internet is something I have grown even more reliant upon.

So, for 7 days, from Palm Sunday until Easter, I will not be checking my email, reading blogs, posting here, or doing anything else on the computer except accessing files for work. In addition to that, I will be limiting myself to one meal each day, without meat, and only water or tea to drink. (The tea isn't really that much of a treat to me anyway, although I have begun to tolerate it more.) I haven't actually participated in such serious fasting since my sophomore year of college, so I'm praying for physical strength in addition to a spiritual renewal. I understand that fasting may not be the best fit for everyone, but I hope that you too may find some way to re-focus your life on Him this week.

Until the tomb is opened....

Friday, March 30, 2007

Winning Quotes of the Day

Fridays are particularly interesting days at work. Since most public schools let children out early on Fridays, there are droves of early children who come into my office just to watch me breathe. Sometimes they watch so closely I can feel and smell their breathing. I don't mind hanging out with children, it's pretty much what I do. But when I'm trying to work on preparations, it's a little difficult to have multiple shadows asking questions and telling me things. Today, however, instead of being mostly annoyed, I was quite amused. Why, you ask? Because the memorable quotes just kept coming! Here are a few of my favorites:

"You have blue eyes."
(I actually have hazel eyes that could be called green only on a good day and this is about the 10th time a student has told me this.)

"I want to watch you pee."
(I was indeed being followed to the bathroom when I decided I could wait.)

"You are very tall and thin. Are you a model?"
(Why, yes! Didn't you see my front-page layout in the flier?)

***So I've been trying to link an old post entitled "Covergirl" to the word 'flier' for about 30 minutes now. But since I have to use a secure search engine just to read my own blog, I can't figure out how to copy that page's address without including the search engine's information, and it doesn't work as a link through the secure surfing page. So, alas, you'll just have to be smart enough to find the archived post I'm referencing.***

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I Could Be The One

I don't typically hate a song. And I try not to laugh or poke fun at anything that's an artistic expression of someone's feelings. At the same time, however, I rarely listen twice to a song that I don't care for, hence not allowing feelings of despise to enter into my heart and thoughts of demise into my head.

Well, avoiding repetitive music is quite impossible in a small work office where 6 co-workers are addicted to learning at least one new English song a week. Their ambition would not be a problem if the songs they chose had interesting rhythms, intricate harmonies, or marginally good lyrics. Unfortunately, the latest one they've chosen to blast repeatedly from the poor quality office computer speakers has none of the above.

The tune is catchy but that can only be considered a good thing if the song is actually one you want stuck in your head for the rest of the day. I also think that the artist could have an acceptable voice in other potential songs. However, I loathe this one so much that I doubt I will ever attempt to find other samples.

I'm sorry if the following offends anyone, but when you listen to this song 18 MILLION times, you start having such cynical thoughts. If you really want to debate the quality of this song, you too can listen to it for five hours a day, four days straight. Then, and only then will I listen to and respect any argument you wish to present.

I Could Be The One
Donna Lewis

I could be your sea of sand
(I don't know why people think sand is so romantic. It's messy, sticky (especially when wet), and it's harder to purge from any vehicle, towel, sandal, or head of hair than Christmas tree needles which can still be found in the car carpet, wedged in the hall floorboards, and underneath the living room carpet IN JULY!)
I could be your warmth of desire
(Object of desire? Desire that brings you warmth? Warmth that you desire?)
I could be your prayer of hope
(Isn't praying actually an action verifying your hope - hope in a being that is listening to your prayers?)
I could be your gift of everyday
(Does this mean that a gift is daily given? I do like Christmas presents and birthday presents, but I think that the excitement of gifts would diminish after awhile if distributed daily.)
I could be your tide of heaven
(I can't even begin to dissect her meaning in this line.)
I could be a hint of what's to come
(If her brilliant lyrics are a hint of what's to come in the rest of her album, I'd rather not listen to the following songs.)
I could be ordinary
(Who wants to be ordinary? I want to be special, particularly to 'the one'!)
I could be the one
(Could she?)

I could be your blue-eyed angel
(What if someone wants a brown-eyed girl?)
I could be the storm before the calm
(Um, I think she has this backwards.)
I could be your secret pleasure
(If I'm someone's pleasure, I'd like him to have enough love, excitement and respect to make his happiness publicly known.)

I could be your well wishing well
(Are there sick wishing wells? If a well is sick, can you get a refund on your wished-upon coin?)
I could be your breath of life
(I'd rather not trust my ability to breathe and therefore continue living with anyone short of God.)
I could be your European dream
(Is a European dream better than other dreams? She's not singing with a British accent, perhaps she's learning French or German....)
I could be ordinary
(If she really wants to continue being ordinary, she could at least make up an interesting analogy like Jell-O and Creme du le from My Best Friend's Wedding. She could be Jell-O.)
I could be the one
(She's NOT convincing me.)

I would lie here in the darkness
(Does she think the darkness can hide her ridiculous words?)
I would lie here for all time
(What about when she has to use the toilet?)
I would lie here watching over you
(Um, creepy.)
Comfort you
(With THIS singing?)
Sing to you
(If she sings everything with the raspy voice she uses in this line, no thank you, please do not EVER sing to me!)

I could be your worry partner
(I think I'd worry MORE if she were my partner for anything.)
I could be your socialite
(As long as she leaves her microphone at home...)
I could be your green-eyed monster
(How can she be a green-eyed monster and a blue-eyed angel simultaneously? And who wants to have a personal green-eyed monster anyway?)
I could be your force of light
(Is this a Star Wars reference?)
I could be your temple garden
(The end of this song would be more peaceful than any garden in any temple, palace, monastery, or white-picket-fenced-in-cottage.)
I could be your tenderhearted child
(In light of being someone's 'one' shouldn't she want to be the carrier and bearer of their tenderhearted child?)
I could be ordinary
(If bad lyrics are ordinary, then yes, yes she could.)
I could be the one
(Not if this song is her means of persuasion, she can't.)

Will I ever change the journey?
(If her journey is her writing career, I hope she does.)
Will the hushed tones disappear?
(Does she have ghosts whispering to her, or is she finally taking notice of all the grumbles and gossip her music evokes?)
Oh little Rita
(Who's Rita?)
Let me hold you
(She didn't say please.)
Oh little Rita
(I'm really confused. Is she Rita? Is she hearing someone else call her small? Is this her child she's calling? Or is she actually singing to another girl?)
Let me love you
(If she loves anyone, she'll stop singing this song.)

I could be your leafy island
(I've heard of sunny islands, exotic islands, secluded islands, secret islands, white-beached islands, 'Survivor' islands, but leafy islands?)
I could be your thunder in the clouds
(At least thunder would drown out this song!)
I could be your dark enclosure
(So this song IS supposed to cause me to want to crawl into a deep dark hole!)
I could be your romantic soul
(Is she trying to suggest the romance of having a soul mate, destined by fate?)
I could be your small beginning
(Is that why this is so terrible, it's her first attempt at a musical creation?)
I could be your soothing universe
(Not with her singing, she couldn't.)
I could be ordinary
(You'd think she could at least find a less ordinary /plain /mundane /standard /normal /every-day /common /run-of-the-mill /average /simple /regular /usual /typical word for 'ordinary'.)
I could be the one
(No comment.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Puddle, Puddle, On The Ground: Who's The Fairest One Around?

I went swimming today. Well, my shoes did anyway. My poor Diesels swam through lakes of melting snow, turned from treacherous ice to puddles of slush by the warmth of the sun. Because of this, my perspective of the city has recently been narrowed to a view of my feet as I navigate the slippery streets.

As I voyaged through and around the reflective surfaces of such puddles, I became more attentive of the architecture in the surrounding roofs. These puddle images made me wonder: what would a reflection of my soul show?

Would it be possible to see beyond the ripples started by my tears? Would there be sunshine of joy streaming through my sorrow, from my saving source of sacrificial love? Does a soul even reflect one's mood and feelings? Furthermore, are the connections of relationships, in which we place so much importance and value, visible in our souls?

I'd like to believe that others have made a deep enough impact in my life to be seen in my reflected soul. I regret that some have left scars. How would such scars visually effect one's soul? Are they a Do Not Enter sign? I'd hope that I have affected other's lives in a positive manner so as not to leave scars of pain but rather shimmers of hope and love upon their reflected souls.

At first I visualized these relational reflections as separate doors along a hallway of time. Each door displaying a name plaque; some covered in dust, some proudly polished to shine, and others gouged beyond recognition with intentions of forgetting. But then I realized that even in reflections, relationships cannot be categorized into rooms contained with a door. For I have often tried to close and lock a door, to forget the existence of the soul concealed beyond that destroyed nameplate, only to have that soul, that memory, that mistake haunt me as a ghost.

Since souls are so intricately interconnected, I soon replaced my door analogy for another. Just as the puddles I waded through all day reflect the buildings which have windows which reflect people, so too I think would a reflection of our souls contain other reflected images. Images of other's souls. And now I'm lead to imagine a fun house of mirrors which lead one through a maze often paralleled with life in which there are dark corners reflecting reminders of our darkest fears - our mistakes, amusing distractions reflecting this fallen world in which we live, and the unmistakable sunlight signaling the fun house exit reflecting the hope of the light of the world carried always in my soul.

Current Addictions

  • Sunflower Seeds
  • A chicken and potato dish from a nearby restaurant that I've frequented at least thrice in the past week.
  • Springball - a game on my phone
  • Alliteration
  • Re-arranging furniture
  • Pepsi (sorry dad)
  • Linda Eder
  • Crocheting scarves

Thank You Snow

The snow I awoke to on Saturday was more influential than I could have imagined. On Saturday morning Woody and Sherry planned to leave on a flight for Beijing. When I left for work at 7 I thought I would return to an empty apartment, lonely for their company that I've grown to love and treasure. Additionally, that morning, John and Mary along with the three girls (interpreters) set off for Cook Qiao's wedding in Yimin.

When I returned home for lunch at noon, to my surprise I found Sherry and Woody lounging in the living room! Their flight was delayed, pending notice and as we waited they told me the news of John's party. Apparently the snow hit even harder outside the city, for all highways were closed to traffic and John could see nothing but drifting, swirling snow as he drove towards Yimin. They were stopped multiple times by the police, each time convincing them that John's four-wheel drive truck could manage the treacherous roads. After arriving at the wedding three hours late, they discovered they were ahead of the bride and her party! We later found out that the wedding did indeed take place that day, just about 5 hours later than originally planned, guaranteeing a day to be remembered forever.

At 1 pm we learned that Sherry and Woody's flight would not be delayed a few hours, but rather canceled and rescheduled for Sunday evening. Although they were a bit stressed over how this unexpected stranding would alter their duties in Beijing and Tianjin, we were all happy to spend one more relaxing evening together. And relax we did! All three of us shared a randomly-point-to-the-menu-to-order- and-pray-for-something-palatable dinner and then Sherry and I went and had our nails painted. For about three US dollars I received a very nice French manicure that has lasted thus far without a single chip! When I take the annoyingly large amount of time to do this for myself at home, I undoubtedly ruin a nail within 24 hours. After this little indulgence we returned to our apartment for a night of singing songs and studying.

Sunday brought about more fellowship as we attended a morning meeting, ate an early lunch and then played some Yahtzee. When we finally bid each other farewell on Sunday afternoon, I was even more reluctant to see my two wonderful 'grandparents' and house mates leave. I am grateful for all the time we had together learning and growing and I am hopeful that I will again see them this side of heaven.

But until then, I'm alone again.

What do you do when your hair's had a party and there is no proper copper coffee pot to ease your morning blues?

I spent the majority of the morning writing lesson plans and researching songs and finger plays to use at work. During this time I found some wonderful gems on Rhapsody. My favorites were by a band entitled Trout Fishing In America.

My hair had a party last night,
It must have got into a terrible fight,
Cause when my head hit the pillow it was looking all right,
My hair had a party last night.
My hair had a party last night,
When I lay down everything was all right,
It started out friendly but there must have been a fight,
My hair had a party last night.

Early in the morning, I get out of my bed,
The birdies are singing outside.
There's waffles on the table and a cold glass of milk,
I got a warm, happy feeling inside.
I can't wait to go to school and I love myself,
I'm the captain of the football team.
The alarm goes off and I hear mom yelling,
And I realize it must have been a dream.

My hair had a party last night,
It must have got into a terrible fight,
Cause when my head hit the pillow it was looking alright,
My hair had a party last night.
My hair had a party last night,
When I lay down everything was all right,
It started out friendly but there must have been a fight,
My hair had a party last night.

I pick up a brush, pick up a comb,
I look at the scissors but I leave them alone.
There's a lizard that lives in the rocks by the sea,
This morning that lizard looks a lot like me.
I try to wet it down but it only makes it worse,
The cowlick in the back is a family curse.
I pick up a cap and I put it on my head,
And wish I was dreaming back in my warm bed.

Say this one 3 times, fast!

All I want is a proper cup of coffee.
Made in a proper copper coffee pot.
I may be off my dot but
I want a proper coffee in a proper copper pot.
Iron coffee pots and tin coffee pots,
They are no use to me.
If I can't have a proper cup of coffee
In a proper copper coffee pot,
I'll have a cup of tea!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Cat Nip

There's nothing like waking to a fresh fallen snow.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Tuck In, This Is Not Rubbish!

There's just something about a British accent that always causes me to pause ever so slightly, sigh, and savor the enchantment of it all.

I had lunch with a man from England today. He recently started working at the college and we were introduced through my friend Lynn who works with him. I think Lynn is worried that I am lonely, especially with Woody and Sherry leaving tomorrow. She also expressed concern for James but he assured us both that he rather prefers his solitude. So much for a Settler's partner. He did mention something about night clubs though, so I may need to draw on my sister's dancing enthusiasm for an evening to experience the night life here in Hailar.

Changing focus now: I found some amazing pictures on the internet today. It's so interesting what you can stumble across when you're just looking for some simple visuals to accompany a new song you've created. Many of the photos I got lost in were of abandoned buildings and houses. Their inspiring beauty, along with the warmer weather may lead to another batch of pictures coming your way!

Thursday, March 22, 2007


What do you get when you fill a banquet hall with a hundred Chinese men?
~Lung Cancer

What do you get when you fill a bath house with 20 Chinese women?
~A very uncomfortable cultural experience for one very white foreigner.

And So It Goes

Have you ever had a song that you haven't recently heard, sung, or had any real reason to recall just pop into your head randomly?

This song reminisces back to high school Chamber Choir. I had to use Google to remember all the words and I've found I like the lyrics much more now than I did then. I suppose that's what experience will give you - an appreciation for songs of heartache.

In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along

I spoke to you in cautious tones
You answered me with no pretense
And still I feel I said too much
My silence is my self defense

And every time I've held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose

But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break

And this is why my eyes are closed
It's just as well for all I've seen
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows

So I would choose to be with you
That's if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break

And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows

~Billy Joel

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Who says girls can't fix things?

Our printer at work broke today. Before I could understand the problem, the girls had ripped open the machine and started taking pieces out, washing them and fussing with the parts. I had no idea if they had done this before or knew what they were doing, and when I asked they assured me that they would call someone. Would: future tense. They hadn't yet actually consulted a technician who could identify the problem and talk them through the solution process. After they had removed half the printer guts, a phone call was made. Fortunately, following the reinstallation of all the parts, the printer still worked! Unfortunately, the problem was not fixed and every document continues to print with a 1/4 inch vertical line at the left of each page. At least they didn't make it worse!

Trust No One

I feel a little bit like Mulder except that I really have no interesting or significant secrets to conceal. Although I am currently able to continue posting, I can no longer view my own blog page. My site, along with all other blogspot blogs and xanga blogs, has been blocked from my viewing abilities. All of the xanga blogs have been blocked for about 2 weeks so I'm guessing their status is permanent. I'm hoping that this annoying blogspot censorship is only temporary. More likely, however, I have lost the privilege of following your daily lives. Perhaps I will have to resort back to the old-fashioned email method...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Faith Restored

Have you ever had a relationship where you are constantly thinking about the other person, daily supplying them with words of encouragement and love, generously offering them simple gifts to remind them of your adoration, only to receive nothing in return but complaints, requests for more sacrifices, and worse yet – neglect. This is pretty much how my relationship with my Father appears. Yesterday, although receiving many personal reminders of His presence, I still trudged through the day with ungratefulness for what I’ve been given, with bitterness over not receiving what I selfishly felt entitled to, and with a general negative outlook on my life.

When I finally committed to correcting my attitude and attempted to recognize His blessings given that day, I realized all the moments in which he was present, trying to demonstrate His everlasting love for me. His provision was in the package, which finally arrived from my parents after about 6 weeks of fraternization with foreign postmen. His beauty arrived in a soft morning snowfall, generating giddiness in my weary soul. His joy was illuminated in the sheer delight of my coworkers as they received my gift of motivational stickers (which were included in the mysteriously late package from my parents.)

Father's mercy was also given through a musical miracle. After a few hours of trying to figure out how to make my CDs (which thankfully arrived from Tim on Saturday) work in my computer, (I unknowingly burned them as protected files) a patient friend appeared online to talk me though the steps towards melodic success. I can now listen to any music that I have ever bought, owned, or ‘borrowed'. More importantly, I can finally offer some gifts of worship music to thirsty friends.

I am learning to look towards Father for the attention, adoration and affection that I desire and have previously found in other relationships and conversations with friends. And whenever I finally remember to turn towards Him, He never disappoints me, welcoming me with open arms and restoring my endurance for this temporary life and renewing my hope in His promise of an eternal future.

Monday, March 19, 2007

It's Only A Day Away

The sky this morning seemed unsure whether it should snow or rain; so it decided to sun instead. (Yes, I did just knowingly make sun a verb.)

A friend was recently inquiring about my mood and health, knowing that Hailar is in a perpetual winter, and no doubt thinking such winter skies would be as dark and dismal as Minnesota's bleak winters. Ironically, here one needs to wear sunglasses and long johns simultaneously. The only days in which it does not sun (at least I'm being consistent...) are those in which it snows. And since snow is to me like can nip is to a kitty, I am energized even more so when clouds appear.

After a day of sun, the clouds returned tonight with determination and the snow began to fall. So although there may be little hope of warmth in the near future, I am blissful, knowing that the sun will come out tomorrow.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Knee Time

So there's an epidemic of scarlet fever in a nearby town....and I supposedly haven't been vaccinated against such things.

Friday, March 16, 2007


My eye is twitching, I have a headache and I have to be up early tomorrow morning.

One can't be happy every day, right?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Popcorn Salted With Tears

Well, I just finished watching my third Janette Oke novel-inspired movie in the last 24 hours. And while I'm a bit overdosed on the 'warm fuzzies' I do have to admit that this series universally touches women's hearts.

Last night my friend and translator P. chose the movie Love Comes Softly from a dozen titles and although I had recently seen it during my Spring Festival boredom, I agreed to watch it for a second time. Little did I know the women I work with would choose it again this morning! Since the series has a subtle spiritual story and is tasteful in its sappiness, I didn't mind too much at viewing it once more. There's actually something beneficial in multiple viewings or readings of entertainment that provokes a pensive state. And with the second presentation I had the opportunity to watch the girls' reactions and responses to the touching tale. I know that it has already inspired a seed of thought in one of my colleagues.

Tonight P. excitedly returned for another visit with me, and the second film - Love's Enduring Promise. There are actually four movies in the series and since all these women are devouring these films with joy and tears, I have a feeling I will be blessed with an opportunity to springboard into serious spiritual conversations. I will also probably end up watching each film at least twice so I think it only fitting for you to join on the fun too.

"Just remember that God has written His own story for you. And it's not the feelings of your heart that it should be based upon but rather the thoughts of your heart that you need to hear. That inner voice that tells you that this man will care for you no matter what, that he'll want to kiss you when you're old and gray, tend to you when you're sick, honor you."

"And if the thoughts of my heart say yes, he is the one?"

"Then you should trust your instincts and pledge your heart to him, because a man like that is as rare as a diamond in the rough."

Love's Enduring Promise

Although I would have never chosen a Hallmark-type film as my means of reaching out to people and explaining the only real example of grace and unconditional love, I am excited to see yet another facet of God's amazing authorship.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Left, right, left

Despite logical belief, I am finding through experience that it is actually safer to cross the street against the light here in Hailar. It is the habitual assumption of safety and trust placed in the 'green-means-go' light that increases danger and brings a response of utter shock as cars continue their paths, fully intending to maintain their speed, straight towards me.

I sometimes wonder if breaks even exist in Chinese cars. While the lack of breaking usually results in a smoother ride, it also means I am wincing every 50 feet as we come inches from hitting a passing biker, slow much too slowly for a light, or swerve around helpless pedestrians. Although the lack of breaking may be an adaption to the icy roads, I remember similar driving this summer so I am not convinced by such theories. Such avoidance of the left pedal also creates a noisier environment as cars clear a path for themselves with their horns as if to remind the world "I have no breaks or refuse to use them but unless you want to find out which, you'd better move!"

As I daily cross these intersections I wonder how our spiritual lives may be similar to the dangerous streets I cross. Although I have been raised with the belief that I will be kept from harm as a follower of Christ, such ignorance threatens to hinder me from fully serving the surrounding community on the streets I daily walk. As C.S. Lewis so simply explained in his classic children's Narnia novels "Safe! Aslan is not safe, but he is good." Just because the world has given me the go signal, assuring me I will be safe if I am moving forward to Him, crossing the road is never safe (especially when there is a chicken involved.) Although God wants every good thing for me, He does not promise a life without danger. I am reminded of Jesus' example of prayer as He thanked the Father for being with Him in the valley of the shadow of death. He wasn't kept from harm! The dangers weren't eliminated for Him! He simply did not go through danger alone.

Although the thought that we are not alone in times of struggle is a familiar message that is heard often, I think we are less likely to ponder the origin of those struggles and dangerous roads. I would much rather think of danger and discipline as evil attacks, however, it is actually the most loving Father who will ruin His child's pleasure and comfort for a brief moment so that he or she may find true and everlasting joy and peace.

So how do we eliminate some of the dangers in the intersections of life? Look left and right, recognize evil for what it is, and keep walking towards the beaconing light (even if the world is screaming at you that it is red.)

Miss Me?

The Little Things I Miss

  • pop-top cans
  • familiar cell phone rings
  • TLC channel
  • my bed (ok, that's a big soft comfortable thing....)
  • inside jokes
  • hugs
  • hand soap
  • doors that don't have glass panels
  • round doorknobs
  • Red Box runs with Julie
  • school supply rooms
  • solid colored textiles (shirts, sheets, towels, etc.)
  • friends who spill more than I do (I love you Trin!)
  • music I recognize and can understand
  • going barefoot
The Things I Know I Will Miss
  • food
  • hospitality like I've never known
  • flavored milk
  • walking
  • the people I work with
  • vegetables that taste good
  • the amusement of confusion
  • snow
  • meat at every meal
  • Jane's Laugh
  • Polly's smile
  • corner grocery stores
  • Lydia's gentleness
  • conversations with Rose
  • dumplings
  • blue skies and sunshine daily
  • the innocence of girls
  • bing (food, not Crosby)
  • grasslands
  • dedicated students
  • 2 hour lunch breaks
  • "It's my pleasure"
  • British accents
Things I Will Never Miss No Matter Where I Am
  • long underwear
  • metered on-ramps
  • car horns
  • public urination
  • the effects of alcohol
  • squatty potties
  • communication struggles
  • men who won't step up to the plate
  • smoke
  • lukewarm coffee
  • lukewarm followers of my Father
  • divorce
  • men who spit in public
  • the lack of street signs
  • being stared at
  • bad chocolate
  • over zealous heaters

I've Never...

For those of you who remember this wonderful youth group game, you might rejoice in knowing I've introduced it to about 5 groups at work so far! Here are a few of my favorite quotes from this weekend's games:

I've never eaten people.
I've never met God.
I've never been to the girls' toilet.
I've never been fat.

Overall, instead of making me feel depressed and rushed to catch up with my friend's experiences as I once felt, this game made me aware of how privileged I am and reminded me to be thankful for the many opportunities and experiences I have been blessed with thus far. And while my nature is to continually desire something more, I must never forget what I have been given.

I have unfortunately been given a large abrasion and bruise on my forearm from playing this game...

Congratulations USA!

You are now only 13 hours behind China. Keep trying and you might catch up! Or perhaps wear yourself out and have to fall back again....

It's 9 pm on Sunday in the USA (Central Standard Time) and it's 10 AM on Monday here.

Home is a little closer now.

Friday, March 9, 2007


When I was asked a few days ago if I would mind having a picture of myself in the new advertisement for work I didn't realize I would have the whole front page to myself!

I arrived at work today to seen an enormous stack of fliers with my face plastered on the front. My first thought was "Yes, I completed something from my list!" (Later I realized that modeling wasn't on there but it should have been and I seriously debated adding it so I could then cross it off.)

After that diva moment, however, I became more pensive. While I understand that an American's presence is great P.R. I felt a bit awkward about it all, especially after I searched the rest of the flier only to find three more pictures of me working and an absence of anyone else. So although I work with six other amazing people who have dedicated themselves at this job for many years and will continue to work here long after I have left, I am the sole representative of this group.

And with that humble realization I began to think about all the potential instances when I may have been the sole image of Christ or the particular representative remembered in regards to a religious experience. It's one thing to be responsible for how an organization looks and is remembered, but the immense responsibility needed for representing Him is more than I want. And yet, I have committed to His P.R. project. I, along with many others, daily claim to be followers, but I wonder, are we intentionally aware of the examples we're giving others to follow?

Honor for Estrogen

Yesterday I enjoyed potentially the best holiday after Christmas and Easter. The international holiday celebrating women was such a positive, refreshing experience. Unlike Valentine's Day, where the social pressures make you feel as though you've failed if you are single yet again, Women's Day does not require you to have a man in your life to feel loved. Unlike New Year's Eve, where the expectation is an evening of new beginnings (again with a significant other), Women's Day is a pleasant reminder of the glories and struggles of women alone that have indirectly influenced all of us today. And, unlike Mother's Day, during which I yearn for the joy of such responsibility, Women's day only requires me to be that which I was at birth: female.

Such simple acceptance is not easily found so I caught myself thinking often yesterday of God's abundant grace as He invited everyone to enjoy His holiday gift. Although I know this international day of recognition for women was not created to give glory to God, isn't it wonderful how it can?

I chose to honor the women here in my life with flowers and phone messages. I was blessed in return with gifts, an amazing dinner and much fellowship. I am beginning to appreciate so much more the power and importance of female friendships!

What's in your stomach?

Working until 8 every day has led to some pretty interesting dinners thus far.

Monday: nuts, raisins, and an apple
Tuesday: coffee
Wednesday: leftover diced chicken
Thursday: Bing (amazing bread with some type of flavoring on the inside), celery and cashew dish, cold vinegar vegetable dish, peppered chicken, and Russian potatoes.
Friday: coffee marshmallows (not coffee and marshmallows, that's actually the flavor)

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Rain Check

I'll have to give you all a rain check for a real blog posting. My brain only seems to think of witty things to say as I'm walking to and from work. But when I sit down to write my great ideas........nothing. Perhaps I need to get a tape recorder. I'm getting used to the staring anyway so it couldn't get that much worse if I was talking rapidly into a microphone while walking down the street.

Shiny Dime

Many Function Implement of Keeping Family Cleanly

Any guesses as to what this lovely product is?

Monday, March 5, 2007

An Eventful Day

I found my chapstick!

I bought a chicken. Well, actually Mary bought a chicken, but I was there watching the man cut the head and legs cut off. It was gross. I'd be a vegetarian if I liked vegetables.

I nearly ran into a guy with a gun today. I couldn't see well since my scarf was up to my eyes due the the sudden cold snap with an extra gust of wind. I was about a foot from him when I noticed his gun. Now this wasn't a hand rifle. It was an automatic, many-rounds-per-second gun. Apparently there was some money being transfered to a van. It looked official so after the initial shock I wasn't too worried.

Another friend is engaged. Congrats H and S!

I actually found a satisfying comforter and it came with sheets to match! This is a huge deal, people! Every time I have found anything remotely close to being something I could stare at for another three months and with which I could be sufficiently warmed, the store either doesn't have it for a twin bed, or I can't find suitable sheets to go along with the ok-I'll-settle-for-this-one comforter. Well I didn't settle today (not on the comforter at least.) I'll grace you with pictures later since it must be washed before use.

I ate three bowls of my cereal concoction today and I felt sick all evening. Perhaps the milk here really is the same for my stomach as the milk in America.

Woody and Sherry returned!

My second group today was so rowdy and low in their English ability that I had to resort to the old 'lights out' trick. It worked for about 10 seconds until I got a bunch of cries in Chinese for what I assume to be 'turn them off again!" I may need to prep a little more for this group.

I had my first official guests tonight. I just love playing hostess! I think all enjoyed the wonderful evening of conversation, games and laughter as much as I took pleasure in preparing it all.

The kitchen floor looks much better without a dirty tarp coving the beautiful hardwood floor.

Tonight is silent. The firecrackers are no more. In peace I can sleep.

Friday, March 2, 2007


China does have cereal!

....if you take the individually wrapped wheat cookies and smash them into little pieces (or let the books in your backpack do the work) and pour milk over them. They taste quite similar to Kellogg's Honey Smacks and although I can't remember a time when I actually bought this cereal myself in the States, I can foresee this becoming a favorite 'western' indulgence while I'm here. (Second to my heavenly Dove bar indulgences, of course.)

Shoveling Out

Although I have not been experiencing any snow, it seems as though the entire Midwest (and MN in particular) has been dumped on. We have actually been having a warm spell here with temperatures high enough to start a symphonic dripping. And, unlike last week, I have been walking in and through it all as I traversed the streets to work again.

This week began with a welcoming of responsibility as I again returned to work. Although I am sure in another few weeks I will be craving some vacation time, I am overjoyed at having something to do. And in an effort to connect more with the women I am working with, I have invited them all to join me once a week for games, movies, or just simple chatter as we unwind from work, practice our English and get to know one another. I do not yet know if this will have the makings of a book study, but I hope that whatever it becomes, I will be building relationships.