Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Busy as a Bee

So I know it has been FOREVER since I posted anything so I'll catch you up with what's happened in my life over the past several months. I returned home on July 21 after I finished my year of teaching in China. I miss China a lot (especially certain foods) but am thankful to be home. I enrolled at BTSR (Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond) and moved to Virginia after spending several weeks settling back into life in the USA. It was weird going back to Greenville with my parents not being there (they moved to South Dakota), but I received lots of love from friends and my church family.
I love living in Richmond and my classes are going very well. I'm learning a lot both in and out of the classroom. I've also started 2 new jobs which are going very well. One is at an adult literacy center. I work 16 hours a week answering phones and working in the office. My other job (although I think of it more as a blessing than a job) is as a youth minister in a small church. I started this past Sunday and am confident that the Lord is going to do amazing things with this youth group. I have really enjoyed getting to know them and am anxious to see what opportunities for ministry and service both within the church and community will open in the future. So between being a full time student and working over 30 hours a week I keep myself pretty busy. But I love every minute of it!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Fly on the Wall

Last semester I was sitting in church one Sunday listening to the choir, and I thought to myself, "How fun would it be to join the Chinese Church choir!" Well this past Sunday, the pastor approached Dee and me and asked if we would like to join for the remainder of our time here. I immediately jumped at the chance and was super excited for this possibility. They gave me a copy of the song and I was going to have my Chinese teacher translate it for me into pinyin (Chinese words using our alphabet) this week (which I forgot to do). So last night I went to my first rehearsal (Dee was sick so I went alone) and as soon as I walked in the room, all eyes were on the foreigner. I timidly said, "Ni hao," and the women just continued to stare. Finally, one came over to me and started speaking very quickly in Chinese. I understood some of what she said but didn't know how to respond. Just then a woman began dragging me to a chair and pointed for me to sit. We got out our songs and began rehearsal (which is nothing like choir rehearsal in the States). Luckily the first song we sang was Hallelujah so I had no problem with the words. However, I soon realized that I had taken a seat in the wrong section. I am an alto if ever there was one and I was sitting with the first sopranos and they were hitting notes I didn't even know existed in music. I was too shy to move so I just opened my mouth and tried to appear as if I were singing. After about 15 minutes of rehearsal we went upstairs to join the men. We began practicing the other song (which I never got translated) and I hoped that the first time around I could listen to the song and figure out the words they were saying. Well, no such luck. The two women on either side of me were I guess anxious to see if the foreigner knew the Chinese words. Instead of looking at their own music as we sang, their eyes were definitely on me. Then one of them began silently cracking up as she watched me make up words (that were in fact not real Chinese words but rather just gibberish sounds I was making) when we got to the part I didn't know. All in all, it was definitely a memorable experience and I learned my lesson to be more prepared next time.
This past week I met with a group of friends to study and discuss the Word. We had a wonderful time together and I really enjoyed being able to talk with them about my first love. We agreed that we would like to make this a weekly activity. Please remember this weekly time together in your prayers and I will share more about it when I return home this summer.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

This BIG, WIDE World

Ok, let me just start this by saying BEIJING IS AWESOME!!! If you ever get the chance to visit, you absolutely must go. It definitely ranks among one of my favorite big cities in the world. The history and culture that this country has is incredible and mind-blowing. I returned at 1 am this morning from an 8 day trip with my parents, Dee, and Anne. We got to visit the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, and a few ancient temples. I think the coolest thing about my trip was that I got to zip-line off of the Great Wall. I actually have a video of that as well as lots of pictures and other videos that I am going to post on my picture site this week. One video you must check out is the commentary of our encounter with the Chinese police. Yes, we were interregated by the police and our trip to the Great Wall was delayed by 2 hours because of some legal issues with our tour guide. Just check out the video and you can laugh along with our misfortune!
In other news, classes start back again tomorrow and we now have only 11 weeks of school left. Classes are going extremely well and I am also thoroughly enjoying the Sunday night class I teach. The students in that class have a very wide range of English ability as well as knowledge of the Bible. Some have been believers their entire lives, while others are hearing the gospel for the first time. Please be in prayer for this class and the students. I know God is continually at work in their hearts and each week I cling to the beautiful promise that God gives us in scripture.

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it." Isaiah 55: 10-11

Sunday, April 01, 2007

In a Nutshell

Wow! So sorry that it has been 2 months since my last post. I have been crazy busy and a lot of new stuff has happened. I will spare you all the boring details and just hit the highlights.
First of all, I went home for the month of February to be with my family. It was so great to be home for a while and it really gave me renewed energy as I started the 2nd semester. I was able to be with my grandmother (who is doing better) and spend some great time with my family. I will say that one of the best things about being home was waking up each morning in my extremely comfortable princess bed. Oh how I miss a comfortable mattress!! I was also able to visit several seminaries during the month. For those of you who don't know, I have decided to not stay a second year in China and I am coming home to begin seminary hopefully in the Fall. I have decided which seminary I want to attend and am now waiting to hear back as to whether or not I have been accepted. All in all I had a great month in the States, but was ready to come back.

Our second semester began on March 9th. I went into the classroom on the first day and told my students how excited I was to be back and asked if they missed me. Needless to say, they did not share in my joy of being back but I know in their heart of hearts they were glad to see me, even if they did mask their excitement well!

In addition to teaching at the university, I have recently started participating in 2 new ministries. One is teaching English at the local church on Sunday nights for the advanced English class. The teacher who was teaching last Fall had to return to his home country, so I was asked to step in and take his place. I started last week and enjoyed it so much. These students are at the same level as my students, so I can do a lot of the same lessons with them. But the really exciting thing is that I am able to use the Bible as a textbook because it is at the church. It is both thrilling and challenging at the same time. Many of these students are not believers and so they are hearing the gospel for the first time. My prayer each week is that I will allow the Holy Spirit to speak through me so that they might come to a clearer understanding of who He is. So often I get so excited about sharing the gospel that I want the person to make a decision right there on the spot, but get discouraged when they don't. God has to remind me that I am only His vessel and that He will be the one who changes them, not me.

The other ministry I am involved in is taking food to a very poor school outside the city. I and another guy went for the first time this past week and bought fruit for 108 children and then distributed it among them. When we arrived at the school, they were all lined up at the front gate in two rows and began clapping for us as soon as we stepped out of the car. It was so beautiful to see how joyful these children were over one apple, pear, and banana. All of the children have some sort of disability (blind, deaf, cerebral palsey, or down syndrome) but tried so hard to thank us in any way possible whether it was through sign language, a smile, or touching our face. We talked to the headmaster before we left and asked if we could come back every Thursday. It was a little frustrating because he indicated that he just wanted us to send money, but Scott told him that we would not donate money but we could buy anything the children needed. I don't know when we will be able to return again, but I know that God will open doors as He sees fit and will find some way for us to continue helping these children, even if we are unable to personally visit.

Prayer Requests
  • Sunday Night English Class
  • Classes at Guangxi University
  • Fusui School
  • Future plans for seminary

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Vacation Time!!

The semester is finally over and it is time for a long, extended vacation. We don't start our next semester until March 9th, so I'd say that is a pretty great break! Not a whole lot has happened over the last several weeks, but the most exciting thing is the temperature has shot back up and today I was in short sleeves and was still hot. I love the weather in this city. I don't know if it will stay like this but from what I have heard this is very unusual weather. for this time of year.

Today Dee, Anne, Anne's husband Mike, and I visited the People's Park in the city. It was so much fun and incredibly huge. We canoed, visited a fort, and I got to play in a bubble on the water. There are pictures on my pic site where you can see exactly what the bubble is, but you get in this giant air bubble and then walk on water (or rather fall on your tush several times while attempting to walk). It was a great workout but very difficult to maintain balance. After I got back from the park we had a staff meeting where the Chinese staff gave us our New Years gifts (a 10 kg. bag of rice and 5 liters of cooking oil). Being that I don't use oil nor do I particularly care for rice I thought it was quite humorous. Luckily there are lots of people on campus who would appreciate these gifts so I will have no trouble giving it away.

Please remember my family this week in your prayers. My parents are scheduled to come in 2 days but my grandmother has recently been hospitalized and it doesn't look good right now. She has been unconscious for several days and the doctors are unsure of what else they can do for her. My dad is really struggling with whether to come or stay and have me come home. I just ask that you pray for his wisdom and comfort as his makes his decision. Also pray for our family as we are probably preparing to say goodbye to my grandmother in this life. I was praying with my mom about this situation last night and was just reminded of how much God has blessed my family with 4 amazing grandparents who have loved and supported me through my life. I am anxious to see my family whether it be here or there and as much as I would love to come home, I must leave it in God's hands and take comfort that whatever decision is made will be for the best.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Rest Easy, God is Near

I want to begin this post with sharing a way that God most powerfully touched my heart this past week.
Last week for the first time since I have been here, I began to have doubts about staying an additional year. I love my job and I couldn't ask for better students, but the lonliness has finally set in and at times I wonder if I am really making a difference here. Whether to stay or go completely consumed my thoughts on Thursday and as I settled into bed that night I just prayed that God would send the Holy Spirit to comfort my heart and grant me peace. I read My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers every night and the title of Thursday's reading was "Why Can I Not Follow You Now?" The following words reminded me that God was near and He does indeed hear us.
"When God brings a time of waiting, and appears to be unresponsive, don't fill it with busyness, just wait. The time of waiting may come to teach you the meaning of sanctification or it may come after the process of sanctification has begun to teach you what service means. Never run before God give you His direction. If you have the slightest doubt, then He is not guiding. Whenever there is doubt- wait. ...... Wait for God's timing and He will do it without any heartache or disappointment. When it is a question of the providential will of God, wait for God to move. ...... There is now only One who directs the course of your life, the Lord Jesus Christ."
I do not know where I will be next year or what I will be doing, but God does. He not only knows but He will also lead. During His time on Earth Jesus promised his people, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you." John 14:27 I can rest easy knowing that the peace of Christ is upon me.
Funny thing happened last week, which many of you will not be surprised at given my track record with hairstyles. So I went to get a haircut and had a really cute picture to take with me. I took my Chinese teacher Bunny with me so she could help explain what I wanted. I showed them the picture and they said, "Oh sure we can do that. But we need to perm her hair first." Of course my response was, "OH NO NO NO NO!!" They continued to insist that I get a perm because everyone here has perms. After arguing for several minutes I finally just threw my hands up and said," Ok, fine whatever." They began cutting my hair and I noticed that it was beginning to look a little like a mullet. I began to get a little worried but I just kept telling myself that it was only hair and it would grow back. Once he finished cutting it, it actually looked really cute and not so much like a mullet anymore. Then he proceeded to perm my hair, which took 4 1/2 hours. Once it was all finished, it didn't look that bad and I actually really like it. It isn't really curly, but it does feel a little like straw. The perm wasn't really necessary because I can achieve the same look with a curling iron, but I have realized that people here do what they want to do and not always what you tell them to do. I guess when in China, do as the Chinese do!!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy 2007!!

Yay! 2007 is here! I celebrated the end of 2006 with teachers and students at a New Year's Party that the students hosted. They performed songs, skits, and dances for all the teachers and then we had "free dance" where we got to dance with them. We did the Cha-Cha, Tennessee Waltz, and some line dances (but not country western line dances). It felt a little like a middle school dance because the boys were on one side of the room and the girls were on the other. You would watch the boys sheepishly ask girls to dance and then when dancing they stood a foot apart from each other. There is such an innocence that is refreshing as I watch the way they interact with each other.
My Christmas was also wonderful and I didn't get as homesick as I thought I would. I talked to my mom I think about 6 times, and I know that helped me as much as it helped her. I had to go up to the school Monday morning to give something to the students and as soon as I walked in they all said, "Merry Christmas Miss Lori!!" Several of them gave me Christmas cards and I received 2 boxes of chocolate from the school. I was also able to share with my students why Christmas was special to me. After returning from the school, I slipped back into my snowflake pajamas and was able to watch the FBC Mauldin Christmas Eve service live through the Internet. It was such a worshipful experience and I just cannot express how touched I am that so many people worked hard all day on Sunday to arrange that for me. After watching the service, I curled up on the couch and watched a Christmas movie. It was such a relaxing day and was exactly what I needed.
Tuesday afternoon I went with Dee's family to the Yiling Caves. It was so incredible. We went on a tour of the park first and were able to experience a little Chinese culture. There were all these interactive stations where you could get an idea of how hard people in the country must work to carry food and make it themselves. Unfortunately they do not have the convenience of t.v. dinners! Then we went on a tour of these underground caves. The best word to describe it is magical. I felt like I was in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Unfortunately my camera wouldn't take good shots because it was so dark, but I am going back with my parents and will hopefully have a new camera by then.
On Tuesday, I got a special surprise from many of you back home. My mom kept saying, "Check your mailbox." When I finally did, I had the most wonderful treat waiting for me; 16 Christmas cards from friends in Mauldin! For anyone who has ever spent a lot of time away from home you know that emails are great, but handwritten cards are twice as nice. I am reminded of the Phillippian church and how they supported and loved Paul. FBC Mauldin you are my Phillippian church. "I thank my God every time I remember you." 1:3