Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Answered Prayers

Yay! I finally heard from the orphanage yesterday and I begin my volunteer work next Friday. They want me to volunteer every Friday afternoon and all day on Saturdays. I am really thankful that all this has worked out and am ready to begin spending time with the children. I am also hoping I will have the opportunity at some point to sit down with the director and ask her questions about orphanage administration, since opening and running an orphanage is something I would love to do someday.
On Friday night, Dee and I went to a contemporary service at church and were asked to speak about Thanksgiving. Dee talked about the origins of Thanksgiving and I shared with them about what most families do today to celebrate. We also shared with them the one thing we were most thankful for this year. Later in the evening, we divided up into small groups and each person shared why they were thankful. It was so amazing to hear some of the stories and to hear them talk about how their faith in God has increased because of situations they have faced. The most touching story was from a girl who was about my age. She had lived for a long time in an old basement apartment with few windows and no electricity. She found it very difficult to find time to read her bible because she worked long hours during the day and when she got home, it was too dark to see. She began praying that God would move her to a different location, and a few months ago her prayer was answered. She has recently moved into a new apartment with both windows and electricity. She is now most thankful to God for the opportunity to read her bible whenever she wants. That was just one of many, many stories I heard about how God has made necessary provisions for his children over the past year. It showed me once again how God truly does tend to his sheep!
On Sunday afternoon, Anne (another teacher) and I traveled to the fabric market where she helped me pick out cute fabric for some new winter clothes which we then took to the tailor. I found really beautiful coats and dresses from Bloomingdale's, Lord and Taylor, and Nordstrom websites and the tailor assured me that she could make the exact clothes. I could seriously get used to this!!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and thank you, thank you to everyone who sent me holiday greetings!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Gobble Gobble

Happy Turkey Week to everyone!! The weather is cooling and winter is beginning to arrive. Well it is still in the 70’s but it feels more like the holiday season and for that I am thankful.
Before I tell you about my Thanksgiving, I must share one gross story with you. So breakfast cereal can be somewhat difficult to find here, and when I find kinds I love I just snatch them up. Last week I was at the supermarket and saw what looked very much like Cheerios. They came in about 6 different colored boxes, so I bought 2 different ones hoping that maybe they were different yummy flavors. WRONG!! When I got home I opened the first box. I tasted it dry and it was very similar to a barbeque flavor. Thinking it might taste better with milk (it seemed like a good idea at the time) I poured some in a bowl. You can use your imagination to figure out how disgusting that was. After dumping the cereal in the trash I opened the other box. I thought to myself, “This can’t possibly any worse than the first box.” Wrong again!! These Cheerios were covered in FISH seasoning!! I think that seafood might possibly be the absolute one thing in this world that never ever needs to be combined with breakfast cereal. But it is common for Chinese people to eat fish for breakfast, so why not combine a food they really love with the first meal of the day. Let’s just say from now on I will be sticking with the imported cereals.
Now on to a more appealing story, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast on Saturday night with about 15-20 people, some foreigners and some Chinese. We began the evening by saying one thing that made us most thankful over the past year. I am most thankful for my wonderful parents who have been so supportive and encouraging over the past year as I have traveled so far away from home. I know that God gave me one of the greatest treasures in the world when He blessed me with my amazing mother and father.
At our Thanksgiving dinner, we had all the traditional dishes, including stuffing that someone had mailed from the States. We didn’t have turkey (because you can’t find it here) but we did have chicken and duck, which was very yummy! Some of the people there had never before experienced a thanksgiving meal (being that the pilgrims and Indians didn’t make it to this part of the world) and it was fun to share our holiday and traditions with the Chinese people who came.
I hope you all have a wonderful week with those you love. Remember to tell your family and friends how much they mean to you and enjoy all the blessings we have been given by the One who deserves all our thanks!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Just Truckin' Along

Sorry about the delay in updating. I found out that the Chinese government has put a ban on blogspot, so for the past 2 weeks I have been unable to post anything and have tried to find a way around all the mess. Well, there is nothing blogspot can do about it and so I was left with 2 options. Set up a whole new blog, or email all my updates to my mother who can then post them. I really didn’t feel like setting up something new and then having to inform everyone at home about a new blog address. So my wonderful mom agreed to post updates for me every week!! She is so great!!
Ok, so over the past 2 weeks here are the new developments. I spoke with the woman from the orphanage and found out that I will be able to volunteer there on the weekends. I will be going with another group of university students, but I am not sure when I will begin. I must first meet with the head of the orphanage and am waiting to hear from her. I have found that sometimes things take a little longer to get accomplished here and I am learning to go with the flow and practice patience.
Speaking of going with the flow, we have had a change at the university, which will affect my teaching over the next few weeks. One of my group members had to return to Canada and now we are short one teacher. Until a replacement teacher can be found, myself and my other group members will have to pick up her students and possibly teach extra hours. It isn’t a huge deal because her students are learning the exact same material as mine, but it does require some flexibility on the parts of the teachers and administration. They are hoping to find someone within the next 2 weeks, but nothing is guaranteed. So for all of you out there who have ever wanted to teach abroad, now would be a great time to try it!!
Classes just get better and better every week and I love watching the progress my students have made so far. I am amazed at the dedication these students have and I am so proud of them.
I’ll leave you with a funny story. Last week I ran out of coffee beans (which is tragic for me) and had to find a place that sold them. I went to a little coffeehouse that is right off campus and decided it would be the perfect time to practice my Chinese. So I confidently went into the store and thought I knew I all the right words. Except when I got in there I realized I didn’t know the word for coffee beans, only the word for coffee. So I shaped my fingers like a small bean and then began making whirring coffee grinding noises. The sales woman got a real kick out of this and then I realized that there were coffee beans sitting on the counter behind her. So I began pointing to them and said, “Wo yao mai (insert pointing here).” Which means I want to buy ________. But the confusing thing about Chinese is that many words sound the same, you just change the tone and it changes the whole word. Well, buy and sell are the same word (mai) only you change the tone. I was using the wrong tone and kept confusing her, because instead of saying “I want to buy coffee beans.” I was saying, “I want to sell you coffee beans.” She was really kind and patient and after several minutes, she finally understood what I really wanted. Someone once said, “Making mistakes simply means you are learning faster.” If that is true, then I am a whiz at learning and should be fluent by the end of the year!