Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Christmas time has always been one of my absolute favorite times of the year, and being in China hasn't changed that one bit. For me Christmas is a time to celebrate the most wonderful gift of all, the birth of our Savior, but it is also a time where I look back on the past year and reflect on the joys and blessings the year has brought.
God has granted me the opportunity to live in 2 countries (3 including the States) and serve him in ways that I never dreamed would be possible. Both experiences have been rewarding and have taught me a lot about the power of the hand of God. There is such a joy and peace I find in living and working here and I know that peace comes directly from the Lord. Yes, there are definite moments of struggle, loneliness, and feelings of discomfort. But it is in those moments when I must rely on the Holy Spirit to strengthen me and remember that God has brought me here and will be with me always. I think of Isaiah 49:16, "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands." God hasn't just written me into the palm of His hand, he has engraved me which is a mark that will never vanish. He has all my fears, joys, weaknesses, everything permanently imprinted into His hand. Amazing Love!!
I was able to visit the orphanage last Friday and found out that things are a little different than I expected. After visiting, I am not sure that this particular orphanage is the best place for me to volunteer right now, so I am meeting with World Vision again tomorrow to find out if there is another orphanage in the city where I might be able to work. My main concerns are the amount of time this orphanage requires that I volunteer as well as the lack of interaction I will be able to have with the children. My prayer is that I will allow God to direct this opportunity and I will not become a backseat driver. If this orphanage is where God needs me to be right now, then I know I will find joy in the work and God will work out a way for me to manage both school responsibilities and the volunteer work.
I have taken some new pictures of campus and posted them on my pictures sight along with a video of my students. I taught them The 12 Days of Christmas this week and they had a great time singing and doing the motions. The picture quality isn't great, but it is still really cute. So turn up your volume and enjoy their singing!!

Merry Christmas to all!! God Bless You!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Trading In the Old For the New

"Realize that you must lead a dying life; the more a man dies to himself, the more he begins to live unto God."
Those words from Thomas Kempis have been circulating through my mind all week. How difficult it is for us to give up our habits and old ways of life and accept the new creation which Christ desires for us to become.
The bible study I am currently doing has allowed me to see certain areas of sin and struggle in my life that I was either not aware of or had worked hard to ignore. Through reading God's word, participating in this bible study, and asking God to make known to me areas of weakness, my eyes have been opened more to how important it is for me to die to myself and my sin and allow God to dwell in me and make me new. I knew all about grace, but I wasn't fully living in it. I continued to tie myself to certain laws and rules instead of relying on God's mercy and grace to deliver me from the law. God does not ask me to give parts of myself or only that which I am comfortable giving. He asks for everything and will accept no subsitutes. Dying to old habits and selfish ways can be difficult for me because I often have a hard time with change, even if it is change for the better. However I know I cannot be the woman God truely wants me to be unless I am willing to surrender my ways and adopt His ways.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." Ephesians 2:8

Prayer Requests
**Complete surrender to all that I cling to
**My work at the orphanage which begins tomorrow
** A Christmas project I am involved in with a very poor, deaf school in Guangxi Province
** A new friend who is searching

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tis the Season

My Charlie Brown Christmas Tree!!
Well it's that holiday season and believe it or not, Christmas has made its way over to China!! I was in Wal-Mart last week and there was a huge Christmas display right at the front complete with trees, ornaments, and Santa costumes. Christmas music was playing all throughout the store (and not the horrid songs like Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree) but the good stuff like God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Silent Night. I almost couldn't believe my ears. On Sunday, Dee brought me a Christmas Tree and Don and Karen gave me some garland for decoration. It is nice to still be able to experience a little holiday cheer but not be bombarded with all the commercialization that exists in the States. Our school is allowing us to take the 25th and 26th off to celebrate Christmas if we choose. I am hoping that my dad will figure out how to get me hooked up to a live broadcast of our Christmas Eve service since it will be noon on Christmas Day here. Isn't modern technology great!!

Last Saturday we had a school dance for all the freshmen. I told all my students that I would be there and they all said they were eager to see me dance (for those of you who have seen me dance you know it is quite interesting)! This dance was very different from what college dances are in the West. All the music was from various time periods and we got to do the waltz, the jive, and the cha-cha. I got to dance with a couple of students and one of the other foreign teachers who is an excellent ballroom dancer. I think his toes must have been quite sore because I kept stepping on them. The whole time we were dancing I kept saying, " Oh sorry. Oh sorry again." The students were fascinated when they would see me dancing and it reminded me of how I felt any time I saw my teachers doing non-teacher activities. They suddenly realize, "Oh yeah, she's a real person and doesn't live under the desk in the classroom." It was also fun for me to see them outside of the classroom and in a different environment.
It is hard to believe that there are only 6 more weeks in this semester. I guess it really is true that time flies when you're having fun! Our CEO has already asked teachers to make a decision about whether they will stay on for next school year. Please pray with me as I make this decision. I am fairly certain that I will renew my contract, but I want to be sure that staying here is what the Lord is leading me to do.
Happy Holidays to all!!