1.01.2014

Paul Bunyan in Wuhan


Lately, Wuhan has begun a new hobby. This hobby could be a fine thing if done in the proper place and at the proper times. However, neither of these requirements have been met.  Deforestation. That's Wuhan's new hobby, or so we have deduced. In the past month, Elise and I have watched, horrified, as trees have disappeared. To see the shocking transformation, just look back to the pictures in this post to see what the view from our rear balcony used to look like. These pictures are what it now looks like. (Go ahead, click the link. The rest of this post will wait.)


Okay, now that you have had a chance to pick your jaw up off the ground, we shall continue. Trees, gone. Bushes, trampled. Gardens, turned over. All for sport. It was a terrible thing to watch as these workers used large backhoes to take down trees and land them right on top of the old ladies' gardens. They were out there frantically trying to harvest their small crops, and then, without even an "ALL CLEAR!" shout, the tree was falling and they were running, scattered.


Those were slightly tolerable, because they happened in the afternoon. However, that is not common practice. Apparently, the best time to cut things down and chainsaw is around 6-7am. And, remember, these things are mere yards outside our window! Also, the main road by our apartment used to be lined with absolutely huge, gorgeous trees. Then, one week, they were deemed unacceptable, dug out, and trucked somewhere else. Now we either have large slabs of concrete where they used to be, or large, LARGE holes. The whole street looks so much more cold and industrial now instead of like our own little boulevard.


But not everything has to go. Apparently this building made the cut because they started to take up these shingles and re-paper under them. So, why an over 100-year old tree needs to go while this shack stays, I cannot know. But, all I can do is warn this building not to get too comfortable.


These trees were either old enough or dead enough to make the cut. Or, perhaps they will chop them early tomorrow morning.


This used to be the site of a five-story tall tree. Now it is merely an old deserted building that you can look straight into.


When we moved in, we couldn't see any of this. Now we can. However, funny thing about seeing and hearing. If you can see a construction site clearly, that means it is also that much easier to hear it. This site is being worked on 24 hours a day. Imagine our joy.


However, we are not so bitter to have lost our love for this place. There are still many things to be thankful for, such as our high of 63 degrees today! It is a beautiful way to start 2014!


In the midst of all this construction destruction, we are reminded over and over again of the passage: "And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth....Instead, they were longing for a better country - a he@venly one. Therefore Gød is not ashamed to be called their Gød, for he has a prepared a city for them."


Peace be yours this new year!

9.11.2013

A Place to Hang our Hat(s?)

With every new season of life comes changes. With a new married life, comes a "new" apartment! Elise and I stumbled onto this place with the help of our great friend, Myto, and, after a little persuasion, the landlady decided to rent it to us.

Weeks of scrubbing and bleach later (you do that all on your own in China! No need to clean before you leave an apartment!), the apartment is inhabitable and decorated! 

In true Chinglish fashion, "Welcome you to our home!"

Bedroom: as seen from the door

Bedroom: as seen from the window seat. 
Someday, there may be pictures in all the frames!

Thank you, Brian, for the wedding present of an LED Chinese flag that bounces to the music.
If you forget to turn it off at night, it will cause great confusion.

Again, from the doorway, just to show that there are cabinet all above the door.
It makes me feel like walking into an RV every time. Take that as you will.

Dining room/entry way.
Those lights are like spaceships. They have red and blue LEDs on them.
I think the previous owners had epic dance parties.

The apartment seen from the guest bedroom.

Guest bedroom.
No, there is no one sleeping there. Those are merely extra blankets and pillows hidden.
Really.

Living room. All around the top are crazy, insane, blue lights. Again, dance parties.

Formerly a shrine to Mao. Now a shrine to HIM. Thanks Beth and Joan for the beautiful plaque!

Pink couch. What it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in comfort.

Our own personal home theater! Easily attaches to our computer to get things other than Chinese soap operas.
Cleverly hidden behind the inconspicuous, white wall is a blue and yellow rope light that FREAKS OUT when you turn it on. Many days we have come home, switch on the light, and ran back into the hallway in fear.
Again, dance parties.

Apartment as seen from the rear balcony.

Rear balcony view to the left.

Rear balcony view.

Rear balcony view slightly to the right.

Rear balcony view all the way to the right.
No, we don't live in the countryside.
(But sometimes we feel like it. A Chinese funeral has been happening in our building for approximately four days. We are ready to stop being woken up by firecrackers. However, it has been immensely fun to play the game: Name That Chinese Funeral Tradition! For example, an unanswered one, "Why are all of our apartment numbers covered in red paper? Stay tuned.)

Kitchen. Definite pros and cons here.
Pro: It's bright, cheery, and fairly roomy.
Con: The cabinets fall apart and don't go all the way to the floor. Secondly, our sink sometimes to not be a sink. Don't worry, in this case, the floor takes over the job.

View from the back of the kitchen.

View from the front balcony to the right.

View from the front balcony to the left.
c.f. Chinese funeral traditions
View from the front balcony straight out.

View of the guest bedroom from the front balcony.


Bathroom and wine shelf.
Yes, you read correctly.

Bathroom/Washroom/Laundry room

Self explanatory.
And, for the more observant among you, yes, there is a shower. It is around the corner. However, due to the tiny size of the bathroom and the unexciting-ness of it, there is no picture.

However, all jokes aside, the apartment is very wonderful and has already been a tremendous blessing to us. We are so excited to use it to glorify HIM and teach more people about the Truth!

8.09.2013

Wedding



There are many things do when you come back from China after being there for 10 months. The list never actually gets smaller. However, sometimes, the list gets much longer, for instance, when you bring your fiancé back with you and get married.


 The day was amazing, beautiful, and so much fun. We feel so blessed to have been able to celebrate HIS love for us and it's expression through our love for each other during the wedding celebration.


Before long, we will back in China and ready for another year of service. We are excited for the chance to continue to Serve while living abroad together. Stay tuned for updates! 

In the meantime, enjoy these pictures from the day!



4.25.2013

Blossoms



A legion of flowers, a choir o'erhead,
A gathering that will all soon be dead.
Individually glorious, an irreplaceable gem,
A marvelous outcropping on every stem.

A spectrum of blossoms that whirl through the air
that quiver and shake with many a care:
How best to stand out, to triumph, succeed
to attain lasting glory in so mighty a breed?
Fall first or last is clearly a way
of the multitudes that labor throughout the day.
The brighter the petal, the higher the fame,
The taller the branch, the better the name.
The sweeter the scent, the attraction is firm.
The longer the bloom, the lengthier the term.

But the number, the sheer vastness, forces a bow,
"I'll work, I'll struggle, I'll sacrifice now
To make a name for myself, to be the brightest bloom,
To stand firm in the face of every doom."

While the wind shakes the branches, flowers twirl and dance,
Underneath, an army of students off to class prance.



4.19.2012

Chinese Krispy Kreme

Do you know what I am obsessed with but don't talk about half as much on here as I do in real life? Food. Especially delicious ones.


Meet 馍 (a.k.a. 馍馍, 馍馒头, mó, mómó, mómántou, or, fried-bottom steamed bun). I know, the English just doesn't do it justice. I generally keep things with the name "fried bottom" away from my palette, so I prefer to use the chinese words!

They are the Krispy Kreme of China, and here is why. You know those glorious moments when you are driving in the motherland and you pass a Krispy Kreme shop? Your stomach growls, your mouth waters, and your eyes desperately search for the sign that says "Hot Now!"? Well, the same things happens with these little guys.

Basically, they are just your standard, run of the mill white bun. However, the magical people of China take them, and fry the bottom of them in a sort of cylindrical pyramid that spins, thereby heating each bun to the perfect amount of crispy while keeping the top still soft and succulent. As soon as the lid comes off, the line forms and people will fight to get them while they are hot. If you are lucky enough to get in front of all the old men with surprisingly pointy elbows, if you are able to fight through the old women with sacks of vegetables, if you are able to get to the front and hand her your 1元 ($0.16) note, you are rewarded with not one, but two of these delicacies. 

This week, I ate them three days in a row. I'm unashamed.

馍. Just one more reason to live in China.

3.26.2012

A Child of HIM

This past Friday, one of my best friends, Lior, turned 21. On his 21st birthday, what better activity than to be be reborn into HIS family? At least, that was his thinking. It was an amazing and humbling day. After study, with tears in his eyes, he gave this testimony:


Thanks, all of you guys, for being here for me on this very special day! It means a lot to me! Thank you so much, all my friends.

On this very day, my 21st birthday, I was baptized, the washing of rebirth and renewal by the HS, through which I'm marked as a saved child of HIM. So, now I want to say some things to thank HIM and to thank my friends.

Actually, it has not been a long time since I first heard about HIS words. I began to study the Book last year, mid November, at Jonathan's place. At that time I was totally an ath-ist; I didn't believe in His existence. I thought the Book was no more than a mythological book. It was like a fair tale for me. So, I started studying the Book thinking things like, "Hmm, maybe it would help with my English and help me understand more about the western culture. I can try, I mean, at least it would not hurt me." That may not sound like a good beginning. But, at least it started. Because of this, HIS words melted my heart!

I remember that, after the first study, Jonathan introduced his friend Jolie to me, who is now also a good friend of mine. She told me about her story: about how HE influences her, helps her, and has always been there for her. I was deeply touched, but still didn't really believe in HIS existence because I didn't feel Him. She encouraged me to keep studying, and I did. I kept going to study, twice a week, and going to chrch every Sunday. Through those means, and with the teaching of my Chr-stian friends, I learned a lot about Him and the Book. My f@ith got stronger every time I studied His words. So here I am, through baptism, a child of HIM. Through this s@crament, my sins are washed away. Through this means of grace, I received the s@lvation and eternal life that our merciful G-d offered me.

I'm not sure exactly when the HS opened my heart and came in. I'm not sure exactly when I started to believe there is a G-d who is so gracious that He sacrificed His one and only Son for all of us. Sinners. His enemies. I'm not sure when I started to turn to Him for help for all the anxieties and uncertainties that I had. In any case, now I  feel relieved and happier because I know He already has His plan for all of us. There's nothing to worry about.

However, I AM sure that it was Him that gave me the words and strength to talk to my mom about my faith in Him, which was really hard. It was so difficult that at first my mom thought I would kill myself someday. There were many times that we both wanted to quit, but through His words, my mom began to understand and believe that He won't lead me a wrong way. I AM sure than it was him that gave me the strength to fight against the devil when I was in a very hard time, which wasn't a long time ago. I AM sure that He is so gracious and loving that He forgave all our sins by sending His Son to suffer for us so that we have eternal life.

Besides a merciful L-rd, I am also blessed with so many great friends. Thank you all for helping me walking in the Faith. I want to give my thanks especially to Jonathan, my best friend, for all those hard, sad, happy, and joyful moments. You were always there for me, helping me, encouraging me, accompanying me, comforting me, telling His words to me, and helping me walk with Him. What you have done means SO much to me!

At last, I hope the friends here who still don't believe in Him will not resist the HS, but believe that He is always there for you and believe that He loves you! You CAN feel His grace. And for those study buddies, I hope that you can all keep studying His words and let your faith be strengthened.

And there is one thing that all of us should do, tell everyone about His awesomeness and let more people feel His grace! He is the perfect G-d that gives us a peaceful room in He@ven.

3.19.2012

Kids


Meet Bruce. 6 years old. He is energy in child form. He is happiness in a small package.

Bruce went to Kindergarten in America for one year and his parents are phenomenal at practicing English with him at home, therefore, his English is pretty much spot on with an American 6 year old. He is loved by all, even if he exhausts us every time we see him.

At kid's study this week, it was just Bruce, a girl named Emily who is a few years older, and myself. To get ready for the coming holiday, we were going through the events of H-ly Week in study. It was time for J-sus to be tried and put to death. That was our story. It is so important, so I wanted to make sure they fully understood. We went though the whole story, about how He appeared before Pilate, he was innocent, yet he was killed in the worst way. He did it all for them. For little Bruce. For little Emily. I could see it in their eyes that they were understanding. They knew that he could have gotten out of it all, but he didn't because of love.

The story was over and we always teach them a few words and then have them draw a picture to show their parents and explain the story. This week, Emily's picture was amazing. There was a fairly lifelike J-sus dying. Then she asked, "Were the people around happy or sad?"I told her how His mother was very sad, but His enemies were very happy. It didn't take long until there was a better Mary than I could draw kneeling next to to him and a Roman solider with a large grin on his face looking at Him. I was amazed at her skill.

Because I was so enthralled with her picture, I hadn't been watching Bruce. I finally looked over at his drawing and I saw a pretty good J-sus dying. Then, next to him, was a man with one small eye and a second larger, black eye. 

"Bruce, who is this guy?"

"Pirate. Pontius Pirate."

It took everything in me not to laugh out loud, but I held it back because I didn't want to embarrass him. I explained it to him and he responded,

"Aw, man. I was going to draw a boat!"

Oh, Bruce.