Friday, April 27, 2007

Stomach Ache

I ate both donkey meat and silk worms for the first time tonight.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Sports Dance

I made up another song. And this time I created the melody too. At least I think I did. How do you copyright a song? How do you know you're not stealing the melody from some long lost tune that your soul can remember without your brain knowing? With so many songs created in the history of this world, I have to wonder, is it even possible to create something new? Are we not by now simply just rearranging the works of past inspirations? Watching Mona Lisa's Smile twice in only a few days leaves me to wonder: What is art? How do we know something is real and not a copy? And can a copy of the original still be art?

Whether it's an original or not, the students at the camp may be rocking out to my Sports Dance song, if only I could accurately write down the rhythm and melody...

Monday, April 23, 2007

On My Own

The Carlsons have left Hailar to return to the States for their son's graduation party. Until John's return on May 12th, I'll be the only American in this city. I'm trying not to let this thought scare me. I'm attempting to remind myself that I don't see them that often anyway. I'm forcing myself to not be lonely. I'm struggling with the idea that even when I return to the states I'll be alone. I'm failing as I sing this song.

On My Own
Les Miserables

On my own, pretending he's beside me
All alone I walk with him 'til morning
Without him, I feel his arms around me
And when I loose my way, I close my eyes and he has found me

In the rain the pavement shines like silver
All the lights are misty in the river
In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight
And all I see is him and me forever and forever

And I know it's only in my mind
That I'm talking to myself and not to him
And although I know that he is blind
Still I say there's a way for us

I love him but when the night is over
He is gone, the river's just a river
Without him, the world around me changes
The trees are bare and everywhere the streets are full of strangers

I love him but every day I'm lerning
All my life I've only been pretending
Without me his world will go on turning
A world that's full of happiness that I have never known

I love him, I love him, I love him
But only on my own

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ghost Rider

Are those gloves or oven mits?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Do I Look 80 To You?

I may be clumsy, but I am NOT a grandmother. And since I have not been over the hill, had a hip replaced, nor have I signed a social security check, I would like to not be treated as though I have a closet overflowing with cotton turtle necks decked in tacky holiday designs and flowers! (Was that just my grandmother, or have others shared that experience?)

Last week, exiting a second school I am now weekly visiting to promote Shamineau, I fell on one of the five flights of stairs I was descending. This really should come of no surprise to anyone since I often trip over my own two feet, sometimes even with a hot cup of coffee in my hands which then spills everywhere. However, it seems to have alerted the administration at this school of my early retirement, since now I can not do ANYTHING for myself. As soon as I arrived this week, my bag was stripped off my back, my coat removed for me, and my scarf and mittens pried from my body. I understand being hospitable but this was a little much.

Then, as if undressing me wasn't enough, when I went to remove some materials from my backpack, I had two other sets of hands taking things out as well. The microphone was again put on for me, which is completely awkward for a girl by the way, and I didn't even have to open the bottle of water which is always given to me. The rest of the time I was there I at least experienced the freedom to walk around the room and talk with the students. However, when I tried to move a chair, a volunteer swept in to rescue me from such a chore. Leaving the building was probably the most dramatic. I had an entire host of helpers surrounding me, all the lights in the stairwell were flipped on (I think this was the main problem last time) and the death grip one of the teachers had on my arm will most likely leave a bruise.

I'm beginning to understand what a Chinese emperor may have felt. While I am extremely grateful for all the hospitality, generosity and assistance from all of the people I meet here, I sometimes want to scream "I'm Miss Independent!" and then just be left alone.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I was more than a bit bored this evening. I tried to sleep, but I couldn't. So what do you do when there's no one to talk to, you don't feel like reading, you've watched every movie in the house at least twice, and you have no TV? You google your sister!

Although you may think you know Special K, do you know this version of her?

"K. S. used to be big in horror films...She was well qualified for it, after the age of ten she sold her soul to the devil."

"K.S., once queen of the lesbian vampire scene and star of a million schoolboy fantasies..."

"We don't find out enough about K." except that she does "spring up, undead and effortlessly, eternally E-cupped, from a puff of thick black smoke."

Who writes this junk? I'm fairly confident that this book will NEVER grace my bookshelf.

Further searching led me to some comments praising the music of at least two Venezuelan music CDs, that I'm quite certain were written by my non-fictional sister.

She may or may not have volunteered for Casa De Esperanza.

She qualified for the AP Scholar Award by completing three or more AP Examinations with grades of 3 or higher. (I know this to be true because I qualified for the same award that same year. Smarty Pants was always nipping at my heals...)

An administrate supervisor of the Riverside County Department of Health in California - nope.

She could be a third SEI teacher (whatever that means) in room 23 at Amesti School in California. This school is dedicated to their bilingual community. Someday, perhaps, this could be her.

A fifth grade teacher in Union Community School District, Iowa?

An elementary teacher at Redrock Central High School in Lamberton, MN?

What's with all the teachers named K.S.? Either there is one other K.S. out there who's been teaching at a lot of different schools or you're cursed into the teaching profession if your name is K.S.

Then there was some government page from Utah County listing all the party details for a K. I was more than a little confused.

On page 5 of my search I actually found a clip from her blog! And when finally finding the sister of present day that I know and love, I stopped surfing google. For today, anyway. YOU may be tomorrow's subject...

It Rained Today

This one's for Linus:

Like April showers on the slick cement
When I consider how our light is spend
Keeping the candles inside the cathedrals
Hold on tight, don't go into the night
So full of evil, evil

Rain, rain, don't go away
We need you this dry and dusty day
Rain, rain, don't go away
Though some may say, "please go away."

Like the April showers on the slick cement
And the roads once straight have now become so bent
Weaving through the trees of vain security
Rounding round the hard rocks of hard mortality

Rain, rain, don't go away
We need you this dry and dusty day
Rain, rain, don't go away
Though some may say, "please go away."

And the sacred cows feed on the green
While the least of these are dying in the streets
And they're crying...

Rain, rain, don't go away
We need you this dry and dusty day
Rain, rain, don't go away
Though some may say, "please go away."

Caedmon's Call

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

100 Insights ....or 100 things with which to waste your time....

This post was inspired by Trin. Some of these took a lot of thought, others are silly fillers; but altogether I think they accurately represent me.

1. I dislike cartoons. Not only do I despise their violence, but I also find them boring, pointless, and a tremendous waste of time.
2. I could watch home improvement television all day long.
3. I want to design my own home, inside and out, drafting the architecture, painting the walls, and choosing the curtains. Anything that I can do, or learn to do without breaking something, I want to do with my own two hands.
4. I do NOT have a green thumb. I have killed every plant I've ever tried to keep alive.
5. I fear that my ability to care for plants may be a reflection of my ability to raise future children.
6. I want a whole slew of children. When I was a young teenager I wanted 15 children. Although I've adopted a more realistic view of this matter, I will never set a limit on the size of my future family.
7. I am always conscious of my height. I despise being tall despite all the beauty stereotypes surrounding stature.
8. I have a habit of slouching. Perhaps because I want to be shorter. I hate this habit and am trying to change it.
9. I love alliteration. It comes naturally to me (perhaps a few too many children's books and songs?) and I often find it difficult to avoid.
10. I habitually apologize for everything, even when I'm not sorry.
11. I worry what others will think of me. I also want those around me to be comfortable. These characteristics are probably contributing reasons for my constant apologies.
12. I abhor indecisiveness. I would rather be apologized to afterwards for a mistake than wait forever while a decision is being avoided.
13. I have an extremely difficult time saying 'no', especially to a request stemming from true need. It doesn't matter whether or not I have any confidence in my actual ability to assist, I will try to help anyway.
14. As a child I wanted to be a ballerina, an ice skater, or an actress.
15. I now secretly wish to be a designer or a photographer.
16. I miss playing the flute regularly although I still loathe the competitive field of music.
17. I want to inspire someone, someday, to write a song about me.
18. You will have a hard time convincing me that I'm an adult; I still feel closer to an awkward adolescent most of the time.
19. I have always wanted the length of my hair to reach my waist. Living in China has only reinforced this desire.
20. I am a daydreamer. I often find my mind drifting from its present task to Neverland.
21. I have never verbally or physically fought with anyone other than my family. I think I am afraid to yell at others out of worry that they will leave forever.
22. I have a fear of being left.
23. I think that part of my yearning to travel is out of a curiosity to know who will miss me.
24. I have slept in a full size bed since childhood. When sleeping in a twin bed, I have on multiple occasions found myself on the floor or awoken myself when smacking the wall. I like my space when I'm sleeping and I do not sleep as well if my freedom to move, roll, turn and/or kick is restricted by bed size or another's company. Nor does such company sleep well (sorry Li'l Sis!)
25. I have given up attempting to step out of the academic shadow of my younger sister. She is much smarter than I.
26. When I am nervous I can't sit still. I will fidget with anything around me.
27. I don't like leading in a group of adults, but if no one else will step up to the plate, I feel it is my duty to speak.
28. If I ask you to leave, I really want you to stay. I'm just testing you to see if you have the strength to handle my tears.
29. I'm hyper sensitive to most smells, especially distasteful ones.
30. If I dislike a food, it's most likely due to the texture rather than the taste. And I gag easily.
31. I hate canceling an appointment. Even if I am too busy, tired or ill, I will make every effort to withhold a social engagement.
32. I can't cook. I pretend that I want to learn, but really I would be completely satisfied never having to cook anything, ever.
33. I love to bake. I love almost anything sweet and, even more than consuming sweets myself, I enjoy sharing such goodies with friends.
34. My favorite children's author is Patricia Polacco. I cannot, however, read her books aloud for an audience (even children) since the majority of her stories make me cry.
35. I have cried more when reading simple children's stories than any adult novel I've ever read. There's something about the simplicity and rawness of emotion in children's books that is absent, hidden, or complicated in adult writing.
36. Shopping will almost always cheer me up: unless I have no money to buy things and then I just get depressed.
37. I secretly wonder how many people would attend my funeral and what would be said about me if I died tomorrow.
38. I wish I could have lived 100 years ago as a Southern Belle.
39. Despite all the blessings I grew up with, I do not look back at my childhood as a happy period of my life.
40. I wish I could paint or draw, rather than simply photograph the visual images that so often capture my eye.
41. The inability to live two lives, have two careers, make completely opposite choices, and know the other side of things frustrates me.
42. I sometimes think that I am only following the role others expect me to fill. What choices would I make if there were no expectations of me?
43. Part of me wants to be an Edina soccer mom, having lunch at D'Amico & Sons, driving an SUV, and entering my maid-cleaned house in Better Homes & Gardens.
44. I will NOT home school my children.
45. I sweat a lot.
46. I have had plastic surgery. I was five and it wasn't for shallow aesthetic reasons.
47. If I am not immediately good (or at least moderately proficient) at something new, I typically quit.
48. I have no motivation to exercise.
49. I have only a few friends I still communicate with from junior high and high school. I have no friends from before 4th grade with whom I have kept in contact.
50. I wish my family had more family and cultural traditions. I'm often tempted to create a few, especially for my future family.
51. Every Christmas morning I sing "Happy Birthday" to baby Jesus in the nativity scene. There's usually a donut and a candle involved.
52. I still bite my nails when I'm nervous - especially during movies.
53. I love to crochet. I think it calms my nerves.
54. I will never again crochet a scarf for someone I'm dating. EVER. There is statistical proof that crocheting or knitting a scarf for your guy will make him your guy no longer. Ask my sister and all of her roommates. I am so sure of this curse that I wouldn't even make one for my husband after marriage. If you want a scarf from me, you'd better be satisfied with a friendship.
55. I hate the zoo.
56. If I wear my hair curly it typically means I woke up late. Either that or the humidity has taken control of the curl beyond the ability of my straightening iron.
57. I scar easily. And by easily I mean that if there's a surface scrape on my hand, it will most likely turn into a scar. For that reason, I hate the sight of my hands.
58. I only like to drive when I'm alone. Otherwise, I'd much rather prefer to hand the keys over and be chauffeured.
59. Whenever I get the hic-ups, I always have three separate spells of them during that same day.
60. I love the smell of campfires, and I will avoid washing any jeans or sweatshirts that hold this scent.
61. I also love the smell of boy and if borrowed from a guy, shirts or sweatshirts will also be delayed from a washing.
62. I still have hope of learning the piano again some day.
63. I can be both a night owl and an early bird, just not at the same time.
64. I get most of my work done either early in the morning or late at night.
65. I am extremely inflexible physically but with my schedule I like to have spontaneous changes.
66. I could spend hours looking at pictures of people I don't even know and even more time if someone is narrating the scenes for me.
67. Sunset walks on the beach are nice, but a walk through warm rain is even better.
68. I don't particularly care for food. There are things I enjoy the taste of, but if I could go through life without hunger, I wouldn't miss eating.
69. Since I don't like food, I will not be impressed with a fancy restaurant, high prices, and unpronounceable menus. Such establishments actually make me extremely uncomfortable as I try to remember where my elbows should not be, assess whether my attire is suitable in the surrounding company, and eat slowly enough to appear as though I'm too weak to hold my fork.
70. I am terrible at remembering names.
71. I also fail miserably when learning other languages.
72. Despite not understanding other languages, I want to travel; a lot.
73. I cannot take a short nap. A nap for me is at least an hour of sleep. Perhaps this is because it takes me a long while to relax enough to fall asleep.
74. I hate doing the dishes. It's even worse when there's no hot water to do them in and the rag smells of mold. My strategy is, instead of cleaning two dishes at a time, let them pile up and do them all at once while listening to something uplifting. I sometimes excuse this strategy with a valid complaint about the wastefulness of soap when cleaning dishes one at a time, but really I just don't like cleaning them.
75. I enjoyed the janitor job I had for a month so much more than I expected.
76. More often than I should, I get lost in the 'what ifs' of the past. Where would I be now if I had played in the orchestra in H.S.? Swam more than one season on the swim team? Not gone to private school?
77. I've been cheated on twice; by two separate guys I've dated.
78. I've dated four people, five if you count emotional dating.
79. Here in China, where women typically marry the first guy they date, I feel even more used.
80. Fiction books are my favorite books to read. Ones where you can get lost in the protagonist's life, pretend it is your own, and escape your troubles for a while even if you are just trading them in for new ones the character has. It's always easier to solve another's problems anyways.
81. I despise reality television.
82. Even though I don't want to, I can get hooked to a soap opera.
83. I'm a sci-fi fan.
84. During high school I had a very unhealthy addiction to The X-Files.
85. My eye twitches an abnormally excessive amount. And it's only my left eye.
86. I've never enjoyed reading the newspaper.
87. Most magazines make me sick. Except for Better Homes and Gardens. Then I think of my grandmother and my mother and my house-to-be.
88. Even though it's a twisted, odd, and grotesque movie, there's something that I like about The Piano. (Not to be confused with The Pianist which is also a disturbing movie due to it's incomprehensibly accurate depiction of history.)
89. I don't like politics. I typically don't understand such things and the more I learn only causes me more despair over the lack of change I could ever cause.
90. I'm sick of thinking about myself. A list about one's self is a lot harder to compile than it seems. Writing it has made me aware of how self-centered I am.
91. Although I have an abundance of patience for children, I have none for ignorant adults.
92. I have fractured the same arm twice.
93. I like dancing when I have a good partner who wants to dance with only me. Otherwise I feel clumsy, ungraceful and undesired.
94. I worry often of how I will support my parents and how soon that day may come.
95. I get migraines when I'm tired.
96. I have a migraine now.
97. I often wonder if we'll ever learn the effect each person passing through our life has had on us, and what effect we've had on others.
98. I worry that the positive impact I am striving hard to leave on other's lives will actually negatively affect them.
99. Coconut added to anything almost always improves it; especially if that something is chocolate or coffee. I miss Caribou Coffee.
100. I despise letters, emails, and even text messages with poor or absent capitalization and punctuation, not to mention an abundance of spelling errors. Proof-read people; out of respect for your reader, take the extra minute it takes to reread your writing! (And with that said, I'm going to look back over these 100 things to make sure I haven't made any mistakes! If you find one, I'll gladly fix it!)

Move Over Mozart!

For those of you who think you have chosen your favorite song of the week/month/year, you had better take a look at this gem and reconsider.

Actually, this is a song for which I wrote the words, but the tune must be credited to the Allards with their original song Great Machine. Students here are not interested in such great construction equipment because it simply does not exist. They are, however, learning about clothes and weather, so in an effort to combine these two themes, I created a song. It may not grace the top 10 list of the week, but my students sure do like it!

So, in case you were beginning to think I wasn't doing anything on this side of the world, the proof of my work is below.

The Weather Song
To the tune of Great Machine
by Peter and Ellen Allard

The weather now is cold
The snow is falling fast
So cover up your nose and toes
Outside we'll have a blast

Boots go on your feet....
A coat around your shoulders...
A warm hat on your head....
A scarf around your neck...
Mittens cover up your hands....

The weather now is wet
The rain is falling down
We go outside and splash and laugh
With puddles all around

Galoshes go on your feet...
An umbrella held in your hands....
A rain slicker jacket....

The weather now is warm
The sun is shining bright
We all can go outside and slide
And play with all our might

Sunglasses shade your eyes...
Sandals keep your feet cool...
Shorts keep your legs cool...
A t-shirt keeps your arms cool...
A dress keeps the girls cool...

The weather now is cool
The leaves are falling down
It's fun to play outside all day
And rake them off the ground

A wind breaker jacket...
A rake held in your hands...
A shirt on your arms....
Jeans on your legs...

In No Particular Order

It's about time for some more random facts about my life.

I'm not wearing any long johns! I actually haven't been for a week now and I'm not sick or cold at all! I am, however, noticing that I could use a new pair of jeans that fit.

Last week I bought a bunch of yarn and have completed about 10 phone covers. These will be gifts for my new friends here. The rest of the yarn will go to a blanket as soon as my mother sends me the pattern. (Wink, wink; nudge, nudge; that's a reminder, mom!)

There was a sheep tied up outside a restaurant near where I work for a few days. This evening, he was gone. Someone had a fresh dinner.

There's a large Russian market downtown that I finally visited this past week. From there I bought some Russian ornaments. They're super cute soldiers with a string to pull that moves their arms and legs up and down. I'm really hoping they won't break in transit.

I made dumplings again with some girls from work. Perhaps I will learn to cook yet!

Also at the Russian market I found the most amazing wooden bowls. I didn't buy any (yet) since they were a bit more expensive but if I don't return to purchase them, I will definitely return to photograph them. The bowls wouldn't be able to hold your cereal and milk, but they could be used for salads, fruit, or decorative stuff. There were also some multi-sectioned platters which would work great for veggie snacks. Anyway, the amazing part was the the bowls were collapsable! Each bowl was made out of the same piece of wood, but then cut into rings (circles if the bowl was perfect, ovals and other contours if the bowl looked like a pear or what not) which could be pressed down to lay flat. Some of the bowls even had a handle, making them into a basket. I really think I will go back and buy one because not only is it useful, but it's a piece of art, and it'll pack well in my luggage!

In May, I am going to travel east for a week to visit five fabulous friends!

There is a baseball sized bruise on my tush from falling on the stairs. It's still a chore to bend over and I haven't sat comfortably on the couch since.

There's a coffee shop I've been introduced to that's just down the street. While I would pay up to four US dollars for coffee in the states, I find it difficult to pay 16 RMB (about 2 USD) for a gourmet cup of coffee at this store, especially when I can eat a typical delicious and filling dinner for only 3 RMB. So while I enjoyed the atmosphere of the coffee shop and relished in the lack of smoke that is overwhelming in every other public building, I doubt I will become a regular customer.

After having it for about a month now, I finally figured out how to capitalize letters on my phone when storing names and sending text messages!!!

My arm is sporting a new red purse. It smells like leather although it may not be. Whether or not the leather is genuine, I'm just excited that the price was less than 6 US dollars!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

He Is Risen Indeed!

A few years ago, my sister and our friend Jewels and I created an exciting Easter tradition. Since we were all in the cities without family, we spent the entire day in fellowship, attending as many services as we could cram into the morning, eating dinner together, savoring an Easter cake, and then attending an evening service too! Our theory was, if Easter is a day of celebrating, why just attend one party, why not join them all! That year I went to four services; one a sunrise service at 6 am.

Although missing my friends and family from the states this year, I continued the tradition and attended three fellowships on Easter morning! One meeting was at a small location near the college, one in a larger building with the Carlsons, and the last was a more intimate fellowship which focused on studying the reasons we celebrate Easter. The meetings filled my Easter basket with joy beyond Cadburry eggs.

A less traditional Easter basket.

Who wants an Easter basket with eggs inside when you can have a cage with a live bird instead?

Oh sisters let's go down,
Let's go down
Come on down
Oh sister's let's go down,
Down in the river to pray.

Um, that's the street, not the river.

Christ Is Risen!

He Is Risen, Indeed!

I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart.
I will enter His courts with praise.
I will say this is the day that the Lord has made.
I will rejoice for He has made me glad.

A Scented Saturday

My curling iron smelled like syrup this morning. I nearly burned my nose as I savored the scent with a longing for the sweetness of syrup with a side of French toast. The aromas of the afternoon were unfortunately not as pleasant.

Although Cor might advise you to find the source of a peculiar smell in your house, I argue against ever looking for the origin of a foul smell when you're walking down the street.

For about a week now, I've been taking an alley shortcut home from work. Each night I have experienced an unpleasant smell, but with the cover of night, nothing unusual was noticeable. On Monday, however, I took this route to work, therefore walking the alley in the light.

Although I should have known it is always unwise to look anywhere other than directly in front of your feet with the lake-sized puddles spring in Hailar brings, experiencing the odor again, I began to this time seek the cause. What I found was a dead rat and some human feces. I also walked away with a dripping wet shoe from the puddle I didn't observe quickly enough. I'm still trying to convince myself the puddle was just melted snow. It seems that Cor isn't the only one with sewage problems...

Via Dolorosa

Good Friday

Down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem that day
The soldiers tried to clear the narrow street
But the crowd pressed in to see
The man condemned to die on Calvary

He was bleeding from a beating
There were stripes upon His back
And He wore a crown of thorns upon his head
And He bore with every step
The scorn of those who cried out for His death

Down the Via Dolorosa, called the way of suffering
Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King
But He chose to walk that road
Out of His love for you and me
Down the Via Dolorosa all the way to Calvary

A Scholarly Morning

I finished a book. Shocking, I know, but after two months I finally read the last page in the book intended as a month long experiment. Surprise Me by Terry Esau challenged me (and other readers) to daily pray “Surprise Me” and be open to the response. Although I ‘m still processing everything I am learning from both this book and other experiences, I have realized that my intentions, my expectations, and my plans are far from pure of heart in service to my Father. And while I may not yet know the details of His plans, or ever know His reasoning, I am learning to listen.

This Thursday morning I also finished a second book! This one I only started a few weeks ago so I am improving. I found Dorothy Sun’s story in Clay in the Potter’s Hand intriguing and inspiring. Although I have always found history interesting, I haven’t had the desire to study any particular period of time. However, now I am thoroughly fascinated with the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

After finishing these two books I had a private service with my computer and some archived sermons I had downloaded. Listening to Cor and Steve made me homesick but also challenged me. I left for work with more questions than answers. Am I leaning my ladder on the right wall? Am I worshiping this life? Where do I need to trust Him more?

I received an unexpected surprise while at work which immediately forced me to trust Him. A call from John informed me that there was water pouring down into the store below my apartment so I should immediately return home to check the problem. With visions of a sea of water awaiting me, I rushed home selfishly praying that my most treasured things were not ruined.

When I arrived , to my relief there was not a drop of water to be found. A few workers came shortly after my arrival, seeking the source of the water leakage. They poked around at radiator pipes, inspected the sinks and then searched the balcony. In the end they decided it was just melting snow. It was at this point that we realized the water was not poring into the store below (as had originally be described to us) but rather had been dripping for a few days.

As my heart rate returned to normal I was reminded how great my Father is. Had there been water everywhere, He would have provided. Had a fire destroyed everything, I would surely have been offered assistance from the many friends He has already placed in my life here. With all the past reminders and evidence of His provisions, graces and goodness, why can I still not fully trust Him?

They're Watching

On Wednesday I visited another school to help recruit more students for Shamineau. I arrived from work out of breath and very warm when I was immediately escorted up four flights of stairs to a medium sized classroom (Chinese sized which is already smaller than American rooms) to find it packed with students. There were about 60 or 70 students awaiting my arrival. I quickly emptied my bag of the materials I had prepared to use in my talk but before I could begin introductions, I was suddenly surrounded by three teachers who started attaching a microphone to my shirt and explaining that the students needed this to hear me.

Now, I have never liked microphones. I avoid using them if at all possible. Furthermore, any experience I have had with a microphone in China has included an immense amount of eardrum bursting feedback. So I strongly objected to their forcefulness of miking me but against three Chinese women, I had no hope.

As suspected, wearing the microphone severely limited my ability to walk around the room and interact with the students, not only because the the screeching sounds emitted by the speakers when I entered an apparently touchy zone, but also because I kept getting caught in the cord from the microphone on my shirt to the box in my pocket. I had to be very careful when acting out 'swimming' 'marching' and 'hips', which were essential elements in the songs I had prepared.

The longer I spoke, however, the better the teachers became at catching and preventing the feedback by turning the volume down. So by the end of the hour I was only moderately annoyed at the unnecessary technology.

That is until I entered the headmaster's office. As I stepped in her office to reorganize my materials and pack them away into my bag before leaving, I saw on her computer monitor many children rearranging their chairs and chatting with one another IN THE CLASSROOM WHICH I HAD JUST LEFT! Apparently the microphone was used, not with the student's hearing and understanding as a priority, but rather so that I could be clearly heard for the video recording! I don't want to even think about who will view this video in the future and what I may have said and done while unknowingly being recorded.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Where Is Your Treasure Stored?

Tuesday morning I awoke to more snow again! It thankfully stopped some time in the night, unfortunately heralding in the sun. The sun began shining at about 5:30 this morning, becoming strong enough to wake me by 5:56 AM. I need to invest in some thicker curtains. I fear I may return to the states with the schedule of a senior citizen: in bed by nine, up at five!

Having woken so early, I had time today for some more photos. On the fifth of April (Thursday) Chinese celebrate a traditional holiday to commemorate the deceased. Entire classes of students will visit the tombs to sweep them clean. Families will burn piles of money for their ancestors to use in heaven. In preparation for this holiday, there are carts everywhere piled high with imitation paper money.

These pictures cause me to consider all the possessions I'm meticulously storing up, spending piles of money on, which will only turn to dust in the end along with my own flesh. Why are eternal treasures not so easily seen and urgently sought after?

Satisfying My Fans

I'm not sure I could actually call them my fans since they pretty much support me in spite of everything, but my parents have been begging me to post some more 'puddle pictures'. Apparently they think this theme is ingeniously creative. I think they missed the complaints about my wet feet...

"The trees are bare and everywhere the streets are full of strangers."

Palm Sunday

I had an opportunity to visit a friend's home today. Pollyanna works for Shamineau and has become a close friend of mine. She accompanied me this morning, helping translate lyrics and such. After our meeting Anna invited me to lunch at a nearby restaurant and then to view the room where she stays. She lives is a dormitory style building near the college campus. Although she recently had two roommates, she now is living in a room alone. This room is adjacent to three other rooms, the tenants of which share a bathroom with her. Anna has no access to a stove, so she must eat all her meals outside of her home.

As the picture portrays, the furnishings are minimal and unadorned. The photo fails, however, to depict the enormous amount of mold visibly growing from floor to ceiling on the right wall. My lungs begged for fresh air as my eyes surveyed the sight of such a health hazard.

I am always flooded with conflicting emotions when I view such drastic living situations. I despise the pride in me that considers, even in an attitude of helpfulness, other's homes substandard. I try to control the longing in my heart for superficial comforts that festers from nanny jobs in Minnetonka. I fight the urge to demand justice and equality between these two extremes.

A friend recently reminded me that although many Americans wonder how people in China and other countries can live such poor lives, we fail to notice that the majority of the population is happy and content. I am often blessed by Anna's happiness. I pray that I too can develop such an attitude of contentment and find my joy in eternal things rather than those of this world.

Alive and Well

Although I failed at my fasting from food, I ended up taking a longer hiatus from the Internet than expected! Now that I'm back, however, I look forward to sharing all the blessings I've been given since I last posted.

As I attempted to focus on Christ's sacrifice this past week, I intended to sustain myself with only one meal each day. Already on Sunday, though, it became clear that such a plan would hinder much fellowship with many of my friends who so often spontaneously request a meal date with me. And since I feel fully lead to focus my time and energy on relationships, I did not want to alter such friendships with potentially offensive religious practices, which would be difficult to understand.

I did, however, refrain from any Internet activity not directly related to teaching. I didn't even access the Internet at my house for fear I would be too tempted to peek at my inbox. Therefore, you can imagine my surprise when I excitedly attempted to shout "Christ Is Risen!" over the phone to my parents on Easter Sunday but instead was greeted with a message telling me the phone was not connected. The problem-solver in me then tuned to my computer, hoping to send them a message over the Internet instead, where I also found a lack of connectivity. Apparently God wanted me to focus on communicating with Him instead of home just a bit longer.

The week of Internet fasting prepared me well so I didn't panic, figuring it would be a simple fix and I could wait until then patiently. Well, it is now Wednesday and my patience has been pushed to its limit. I am so grateful to finally communicate again. So to honor my thankful spirit and celebrate the endurance of my patience, I'm going to reward myself with some catch-up posts. Enjoy!