Bless The Country

Last week, a typhoon hit China. It was close to Wenzhou where I am at. Luckily, it turned hours before it hit the city, however, other cities in China were not as lucky. In Wenzhou, we had high winds and quite a bit of rain. There was no flooding and object flying around. After the threat of the typhoon had passed, I went back to work, and practically forgot about it.

Yesterday, I went to a small fishing village located on an inlet that leads to the ocean. I had been there the week before when the typhoon was just beginning to approach China. At the time, there were several shops along the warf where the boats were stationed. Yesterday, the shops were gone, completely destroyed by the wind and rain. In fact, there was still so much water in the inlet, that at night, when the tide comes in, it floods the beach again and fills it up to the point, where it looks like just another lake.

In Fuzhou, a place where Hidden Treasures Home, a home for orphaned special needs kids, is stationed, flooded. The water came up to about mid-calf. The small town in Fuzhou is used to a lot of rain, but this was more than they could work with.

I might not have been affected, but others were. Please continue to pray for this country and it’s people. They need the knowledge and wisdom revelation of the Lord’s love for them.

One thing I have learned since I have been here is that, the Chinese who are christians, rely on very little to believe the existence of God. When I was in Fuzhou, God said to me, “I love each and every person here. I tell them that every week. The continued revelation of my love for them is all they need to keep worshiping and loving me. Why then do you, does your country, need to lay out a new fleece every day to know my existence? Why do you need to see a miracle to love me?”

That hit me hard.

One of my students was showing me a bug bite on her arm, and I noticed a bruise right below it. I asked her if that was a bruise, and she said, “Oh yeah! My mom got mad at me and she–” she imitated her mom poking her in the arm repeatedly. I had two reactions to that. The first was: How could a mom do that to her child? The second was: Eh, Chinese culture. I hardly thought about it because my student laughed. It wasn’t until later when I thought about it more.

I tell you this story because I want to show you how disguised love is here in this culture. I have seen it displayed and expressed a hundred different ways. I’ve watched one mom coddle her two year old daughter, and I’ve seen one student who is constantly picked up from school by his sister, and I’ve heard one student say he has no choice in what boarding school he goes to in the U.S., and I’ve heard one student say she is majoring in Law because her father told her to, and I’ve seen a grandma feed and teach a five year old everything he knows, and I’ve heard a parent yell at a student for not listening in class. Finally, I’ve seen a student with a bruise on her arm, given from her mother.

I don’t know the why behind any of these. I do know honoring ones parents is crucial, and I know parents want their kids to do the best they can in school. The word love is hidden under the word respect and honor. The act of love is hidden under the act of correction and punishment.

It is no wonder that all a person here needs is the knowledge of Jesus’ love to know he exists.

For I so loved the world that I gave my one and only son that whosoever believes shall not parish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

I have never heard someone say, “I love you” here.

When God says it to me, I know I feel all warm and fuzzy and loved. I think to a person in China, hearing “I love you” is a miracle. Isn’t it sometimes the same way in America?

“I love you.” Let that roll off your tongue.

I can’t say that in the classroom, so I say, “I am so proud of you.” I don’t know if my students know what that phrase means, but I tell them that everyday. I’ll get close to them at the table, make it a one on one conversation, and say, “_____, you are so smart. I know you are, and I want you to show me. I am so proud of you.” Before they even displayed anything to be proud of, I was proud of them. I’ve seen it change several students in a matter of two weeks. Students who wouldn’t sit still or listen to me, I would tell them I was proud of them for sitting still for five minutes or for listening to me for five minutes.

My mate May, is my hero. I tell her everyday. She helps me with everything whether it is shopping, changing the class schedule, learning the names in class, translating, or cooking. I’ve said, “I love you” to her once, and she didn’t reply back, but now when we go anywhere, we sit together, she hugs me, and we talk comfortably. So that she isn’t uncomfortable, I say, “May,” at the end of the day, “you are my hero.” All she says is, “Oh, okay.” That is enough.

This country needs love. Above all, this country needs God’s love. Displays of God’s love. Words of God’s love. Gifts of God’s love.

This typhoon was just another eye opener for me.

I hope it is for you too.

Please continue to pray for them and for me.

么么哒。

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Speeches

At the end of every week, my students have to give a speech on something they did that week in my class. Since we just finished a week, we also just finished a round of speeches/presentations. At the end of class some of the students folded their written speech into a paper airplane, took it home, or gave it to me. I thought I would share a couple of the speeches. You can laugh and be in awe of my students just as much as I am. [Be warned: I have a a lot.]

TITLE: Dumplings

Dumplings are traditional Chinese food. They’re very delicious and healthy. They can make people strong.

If you are not Chinese, I can tell you how to make it. First, you make rice become flour. Then use some flour to make some wraps and pinch them until they are very thin, wow! Dumpling peels. Next, you put some meat, chives, cabbages, and eggs, and you can make a raw dumpling. Finally, you can cook them or stir-fry them, now you can eat the delicious food.

Many years ago, only Chinese could make dumplings. But now, many people can make all dumplings. They can make a lot of different kinds of dumplings like Dim Sum, Ravioli, Gnocchi, tortellini and Samosa. There are some cheese in it.

The dumplings can be many shapes. You can make it like rooster, Nian and football. They are very beautiful.

In Spring Festival, you can eat as much dumplings as you can. If you want to eat raw dumplings, Yes you can! But you mustn’t eat too much. If you eat too much, tomorrow, you well have stomach ache.

By, Simon.

This was probably the best written speech I had. Simon is from DT Club (Elementary-ish) and is moving into DT Elite (Middle School-sh) and has never learned (from DT) how to write. This was his first time as far as we were aware. I was so proud of him.

TITLE: Apple

We did a funny experiment called APPLE. Miss Beth is the greatest teacher in the world, I think. She use learnt plays idea to teach us APPLE.

Ding-Ling, Ding-Ling!

“Study time!” Miss Beth said.

“Hooray!” Everyone ran into the classroom. We looked at Miss Beth, and Miss Beth looked at Miss Beth.

“Hen, Hen.” Miss Beth took 25 cards and said, “Today we are going to learn about apples.” Then, she gave us her cards. We read her cards and spelled them. It is different than DT Club. DT Club is just playing and playing. That will be a bit bored.

I think have one day, I will go to DT Elite to enjoy my life.

By, Tiger.

Tiger is both a performer and a studious student. He never plays the games in class, but instead pulls out his other homework. I often have to make him STOP studying so he can relax and be a kid. When he gave his speech, he said a lot more than what was written. He acted out the whole thing and tried to change his voice to mimic mine. I absolutely loved how he told the story of what happened on his first day in Elite. I’m happy I got to be his teacher for that.

TITLE: None.

On Monday a “blonde chick” teacher is standing in front of class. That teacher surprised me because she is so funny, everyday she give us a surprise. But my favourite day is Monday. She teach us gravity.

We go to DT Club yard to play this game. and we drop balloon on Miss Beth’s nail hat. After this game Miss Beth is all wet, be we are happy.

By, Coco.

Coco is my best friend (although we haven’t gotten to forever yet). We play tickle wars (and I lose). She is so sassy and fun to talk with. What’s particularly funny about this, is I tried teaching her the American slang use of the word “chick” (referring to a girl) and she used it as an adjective rather than a noun. I laughed so hard. I also accidentally taught them the British spelling of the word favorite. It just didn’t look right without the ‘u’ in it.

TITLE: None

The first time I saw Miss Beth was Monday. I was so surprised to see a Michigan state person teach us English. Her hair is Blonde, eyes are blue. She is a beautiful woman.

On Monday we played a game called gravity, in the game uses water balloons to fight Miss Beth if you wanted to fight Miss Beth. You needed to klimb the ladder and say “gravity!”, and you could fight Miss Beth.

This is the best game I ever played.

By, Tina.

Tina is a twin, and she and her sister are the cutest. I think it’s funny how she said they “fought” me with water balloons. All they did was drop them on top of me. Haha. (Also, I don’t know if she actually did spell “climb” with a ‘k’ or not.

TITLE: A New Game

In this week. I met a new teacher and new friends in my class. We played a new game. I know a very famous scientist, Sir Isaac Newton. He found gravity. We played a game about gravity.

There’s a nail cross the hat. Our teacher Miss Beth wear the hat and sit under the Ladder then put the waterballons down. The balloon explode. The water came out.

This new game are very fun. And we learn a lot of things.

By, Kimiko

This speech warmed my heart more than anything. This class is SO quiet, so I’m happy she made new friends. I’m having such a hard time communicating with this class. They don’t talk to me and they don’t talk to each other. I’m thinking about just having a day where we don’t learn anything, but just hang out. My sister just sent me a bunch of conversation starters for them. I even brought in a music playlist to have a dance party while we cooked and ate dumplings. ALL THEY DID WAS SIT AND STARE AT ME. I was like, “Girls! Come eat.” They just sat there like they had never seen chopsticks in their lives. But a few them stated in their speeches that they were having fun. Hopefully I’m doing something right. Before I start everyday, and before I start every class, I ask God to help me teach them like how Jesus taught his disciples.

TITLE: None

On Tuesday, Miss Beth told us to use apple to make a story like this: There is a man, and his job is to sell fruit. He has a fruit stand. One day, a beautiful lady wlaks by. She buys an apple and falls in with love the man. Soon, they get married. But, the lady has a baby apple. The apple is big and red. The lady and the man grow the apple. Next year, there isn’t an apple tree, but there is a lovely girl. She has black hair and white skin. Everyone likes her. The lady gives the girl the name “SNOW WHITE”.

By, Amy.

An activity I had the kids do in class is take all of the apple vocabulary words (26) and try to draw a story using all of the words. This was one of those stories. (I cannot tell you how often they made Snow White and Sir Isaac Newton get married. Haha.)

TITLE: None

One Tuesday Miss Beth help us draw a fun story. Our picture is one day snow white, is make a apple juice apple pie—And snow white is find one worm and she go to a fruit shop by a seets (<– seeds), make a new farm. A five years ago, (I think it’s supposed to be five years later) Sir Isaac Newton come, and one apple is down on the His head, and He find the Snow White say, “The apple is down my head.” Then the snow white pick a apple give a Sir Isaac Newton, They are happy! These day we are happy, and the Miss Beth is happy too.

By, Mike.

The stories are so crazy! Mike is such a good kid.

TITLE: APPLE Slices

Monday was a fun day, because we ate apple slices! Miss Beth is a really good teacher. she gave us 27 apple slices. each person got 3 apple slices, and we had chocolate and peanut butter. It was so sweet like a candy apple! I put in my mouth. It was delicious and little bit salty, but I like it, because I like chocolate and peanut butter. I like apple slices every much!

By, Koya.

Koya is a hoot. The chocolate she is talking about it Nutella. Most of the students didn’t like the Nutella or the Peanut Butter or the Caramel they had to dip their apple slices in. It was either too salty or too sweet. I’m happy one of my students liked it!

TITLE: Planting Apple Seeds

On Tuesday we plant apple seed. Plant seed need special thing, that is moss. We put apple seeds in moss, and put some water in moss. When all thing done, we will put all thing in a bag.

The last thing I will tell you is this teacher is so fun.

By, Claudia

Claudia is one of my favorite students! I met her before summer camp started and she won me a stuffed animal from a crane machine. She is one of two students who wrote about preparing apple seeds for planting.

TITLE: None

My favourite things in the lesson was eating the “Dumpling”.

In the Dumpling sauce was ‘olive oil’ ‘garlic’ ‘onion’ ‘tomatoes’ ‘salt’ ‘pepper’ ‘spicey pepper’ and cilantro. We ate the “Dumpling” with chopsticks, it was so good!

By, Joshua.

“Spicy Pepper” is cayenne pepper. (Also, I just realized I taught them how to spell spicy wrong…. oops.) Eating and the water balloons was everyone’s favorite activity.

TITLE: yesterday

I am so excited because we make dumplings! It so delicious. dumplings have many different kind. You know dumpling is my favourite food many teacher love it too! JT like dumpling very much! How can we make dumpling? First we make some jams. We take olive oil garlic onion tamatoes salt pepper spicey pepper and Cilantro poot all together and cook it. “Smell so good!” children said. Then we cook dumplings. Now most excited time start. Now we eat dumplings! Great! All the childen are happy! I did not eat dinner. My got! So delicious! Have a good day!

By, Sam.

Sam is so funny and his spelling errors might be funnier. Let me lend you some translations: Tamatoes = Tomatoes. Spicey Pepper = Cayenne Pepper. Poot = Put. Childen = Children. I’m happy he tried though! There was a lot of words he crossed out on his paper until he found the proper spelling. He never asked me how to spell anything (which is probably wise) and tried it on his own. I’m so proud of him.

TITLE: fun day

Every day. In the evening I will go to DT elite summer camp. I love Miss beth’s class. Because it is fun!

In Miss Beth’s room we made apple trees. ate dumpling….. I loved making Indian Curry Dip. because it is so so so yummy!

I help May put Cilantro in the Indian Curry Dip. Selina helpped May put tomatoes in the Indian Curry Dip! and many people put in many things: olive oil. Garlic. Onion. Tomatoes. Salt. Pepper. and spicey pepper.

“Oh!!! it is delicious!” I said, I like Miss. Beth’s class! It is fun.

By, Alice.

Honestly, the more I see ‘spicy’ spelled as ‘spicey’ I cringe and feel ashamed. Haha. Alice is sweet. I’m happy she enjoyed eating. That’s everyone’s favorite thing. They love it when I tell them we’ll be cooking in class.

Finally, here is the last one. The ALL TIME favorite activity.

TITLE: “GRAVITY!”

In this week, we do a lot of things. but my favourite just have one. it is — gravity.

That day we are talking about apple, have one and is “Sir Isaac Newton” so Miss Beth talk the deed of Newton, but somebody didn’t know gravity, so teacher let everybody to go garden and do this experiment: one teacher sit on a chair under a ladder, wear a raincoat and a cap with a nail.

So teacher tell me get a waterballon climb on that ladder, and let water balloon fall and shout “GRAVITY!” so fun!

That was amazing! I hope we can do more experiment like this at next week.

By, Oscar.

Oscar is another favorite student. He is always talking and disrupting class. He makes the hour fun, that’s for sure.

While all of the students wrote about similar things, it was all from their perspective and so cute. One girl, Ada, described the water balloon popping as a water flower. And Leslie winged his speech without writing anything. He was so nervous but did so well, and at the end of his speech, unsure of how to end it he said, “And finally, our teacher Miss Beth is very beautiful. Thank you.” Then he rushed to his seat. I think I had three students who didn’t give a speech because one of them had a broken ankle, another was in Hanzhou for the week and didn’t have anything prepared, and the third got really sick to his stomach thinking about standing in front of everyone. All in all they did well, and I was/am so proud of them.

Lesson Planning, Cooking Fails, Climbing Mountains, Tower Sight Seeing, and lots and lots of shopping.

Really, I think I should have just titled this “A Little Bit of Everything” or “I’ve Done it All.” I think those are perfectly acceptable short blog post titles. Do I use those? No. Who ever wants to use such clickbait titles. *cough*literally every smart blogger in the world*cough* Hehe.

SO! *turns and whispers to myself* “What have I been doing lately?” “Ugh, this is why you need to write a blog post every week.” “Okay, but I don’t, so what did I do?” “Well…, what’s the first thing in your title?”

Honestly…, I’ve only planned one lesson, and camp starts Monday. *insert two laughing cry faces, a legit crying face, and one more laughing cry face, then add #mood just to stay culturally relevant* (Wait.. Is “mood” still a trend in the States?) *facepalm* #BIGmood

Yeah. So a part of the lesson planning is cooking though. So the kids I’ll be playing with and “teaching” (It’s more important that they have fun while speaking English. I only teach until I lose their attention. Haha.) do an activity everyday, and most of those activities are cooking. One thing my Mate and I are trying to do is cook a dessert dumpling. So far, it’s failed every time. It has tasted good every time, but when we cook the dumplings, they all burst open and the fruit filling spills out every where. So that was a thing. Everything else I think my Mate has tried has been successful. I go in to the club tomorrow to work on some experiments and do some more cooking. I’ll let you know how that goes.

As for climbing mountains, Yes. I did climb to the south peak which was the highest peak of 华山 (Hua Shan Mountain [literal: Hua Mountain]) HOWEVER I freaking did it like a boss because I had a sore throat and didn’t cry once. Although, I was also super dehydrated. Oh yeah, and my blood sugar dropped. *waves hand in dismissal* Eh. I’m alive still. In all seriousness though, the mountain was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. All last week I was in Xi’an on vacation. I saw this beautiful Chinese dance performance; saw the Terra Cotta warriors. I even saw these beautiful towers called the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower. Everything had such a beautiful story and history, but nothing compared to those mountains. Looking over the edge of the south peak, being above the clouds, breathing air that wasn’t tainted by pollution, and just existing for one moment drenched in sweat with my calves screaming at me, and my lungs practically pushing it’s way up my esophagus (I was coughing a lot), I felt like the Tower of Babel was pointless. Why waste the labour on building, when one can climb a mountain. I think that’s as close to Heaven as I’ll ever need to get before I die. It was refreshing. For a moment, it was like I saw what God saw when he created the world, and let me tell you, it was good.

I briefly mentioned the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower. Those were beautiful, and told a lot of Xi’an’s history. They were tall and beautifully painted. I took a ton of pictures but non on my iPad or Computer that I can share. *sad face* However, when I was at the Drum Tower, I got to see this beautiful music performance. It was wonderful. I love traditional Chinese music.

As for the shopping… let’s say I’m out of money.

STORY TIME:

I’m walking down the Muslim Quarter of Xi’an where all the shops are. I see this beautiful set of Panda chopsticks. I, obsessed with pandas and chopsticks, run forward excited. The lady of the shop sees me as her pray and jumps forward, ready to strike. I suddenly realize my mistake in showing too much interest in her wares, and worry that I won’t lower the price any. She says, “You like? Forty-five kuai. Just for you.”

I cringe inside. That is far too much money for just a pair of wooden chopsticks–no matter how beautiful they may appear. I can by anything in her shop off of Taobao for way cheaper. I can feel my smile fall and walk away.

“Wait!” the lady yells. “For you, forty.”

I wave my hands at her. “No, it’s okay. I don’t want to buy them.” What a lie. She knows I want them.

“Fine fine. Thirty.”

“No! Really, I don’t want them.” How much must I lie to this predator.

She waves a paper fan at me. “Just for you, twenty-five.”

“Thank you, but really, I don’t want them,”I continue to shamelessly say to her.

“Fifteen!” She yells. “Final offer.”

I look at the beautiful box. I ponder if I should actually get them. There is no need to feed my collection (or addiction depending on how you look at it). She continues to insist that the offer is just for me, as if I know she doesn’t say that to everyone. “Fine. I’ll take it.”

I walk away a happy customer.

THE END.

I did so much bargaining like that. I loved it! I ended up with a pair of chopsticks for me and a friend, a keychain for my sister, a new glasses case for me, a bottle opener for my father, a thimble for my aunt in Indiana who collects them, two Chinese children’s books, and a Terra Cotta Warrior coin for a friend. I loved all the shopping I did.

After shopping, on Friday, I couple of my friends and I wandered into this beautiful park. We found a place with a bunch of lotus flowers, and took a ton of pictures. We sat down in this beautiful pagoda/gazebo where we were able to sit and listen to the birds. It was a nice place to cool off from the sun. It was especially nice when a man came in and played the Chinese instrument that only has one string. The whole thing was like a fairy tale. I didn’t want to leave.

Then we took a plane back to Wenzhou, and I ended up not only with a cold but also an ear infection. So here we are, present day. I’m tired, taking as much garlic gel capsules as possible, and just chillin’. (I say that after I had a super busy day today.)

I took a taxi to a Starbucks to meet one of my Chinese professors who is visiting China for a couple weeks. We got to go shopping, got our hair washed and styled (NOT cut), then we went to Wenzhou University to advertise ORU. I made a lot of new friends, but with the ear infection, and my body trying to repair itself, I was exhausted and ready to cry by the time dinner ended.

Tomorrow, I’ll have most of the day to chill, and just mentally prepare for camps.

I thank God everyday for supplying all of my needs and bringing me here. His timing is perfect. I’m still reminding myself of that about several things. But really, this place is home to me. I love Wenzhou, the city, the food, and especially the people.

Prayer Request:

1. I’m actually still working on financial aid and student loans with ORU. It’s hard to do form China, and it’s even still hard for mom to do from Michigan (because ORU is in Oklahoma). Please pray that everything gets worked out quickly and smoothly without any stress or hassle.

2. Please pray for healing! and for continued health in my body and everyone else I work with. (Especially DT right now, as he is experiencing pain from a kidney stone.) Please pray that everything is cleared up by Monday when camp starts. We have an awesome God. I was nearly crying in pain on the plane from the cabin pressure and the infection, and the Lord reminded me how he healed the guards ear that Peter had cut off. God was like, “You’re not even attacking me! Haha. Of course there is healing blessed to you.” It has been given, I have received it, and now I wait for the manifestation of it. I am calling it into being as though it already is.

3. Camp! We are expecting failure. I’m new. I’m not going to be perfect. Please pray that the failure is fun though. “Whelp! These dumplings failed.” *takes a big bite* “But it’s still delicious!” I say as all the kids look at me oddly. Please pray that things are Safe and Fun and IF the kids learn then great.

I can’t think of anything else at the moment. I trust that you will follow the leading of the Holy Spirit as he guides you while you pray.

Thank you for your continued support. I really appreciate it.

再见!

List of weird things I have eaten in China:

  1. Cow’s neck
  2. Pig’s brain
  3. Some sort of bug
  4. Spicy Mango (not “weird” per se, but my Host gave me a weird look when I said it.)
  5. Scorpion! (Okay! Funny story with this. Eating Scorpion was like the one thing on my bucket list to do in China. So I get the opportunity to do so, and it just taste like cajun popcorn. Wonderful. THEN, the guy who sold it to me and my friends, was like, “Pay me twenty bucks, and I’ll eat a live one.” So we paid him, and MY DUDE ATE A FREAKING LIVE SCORPION. Then my Korean friend allowed a scorpion to run on his hand. I ate one, but I wasn’t adventurous enough to touch one.)

Yup. Bye!

Dreams Do Come True

Do you remember my first blog post, when I mentioned my goals? I really achieved maybe one of those short term goals, and I really haven’t achieved any of the long term ones. HOWEVER, I am one step closer. I still have a year of college to go until I graduate, which also means I have a year to go until I move to China, but I can proudly say that I am writing this in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China. I am interning at DT Club, having the time of my life. I have laughed a lot (admittedly gotten angry a few times), and successfully haven’t cried yet (though, I did want to at one point). The Lord has rested his hand on my shoulder and lead me to here. It is not a mistake, it is a fulfilled dream.

Shall I lead you through everything step by step?

“Elizabeth, I am incredibly interested in your life and what you’re doing. I love living vicariously (mostly boringly) through you and what you write, but I am busy. I do have a life outside of the few blog posts you remember to type out. Please, do try to keep it short.” (I’ll admit, I imagined this with a posh upper state New York voice.)

Fine. Short it is.

The plane ride was fourteen hours. I took the whole flight with a stranger who quickly became friend and soon roommate. We sat in a McDonalds in the Shanghai airport laughing and crying while trying to play card games for nine hours. We arrived in Wenzhou shortly after, and leaving the airport, stepping outside the doors onto actually ground, not another tiled flooring was like stepping through the door to my house after a fourteen hour car ride from Oklahoma to Michigan.

You know that feeling, surely. You’ve been sleeping in a hotel bed or one of those springy cabin beds at camp for a week or longer, and you can’t wait to get home to your bed. You walk through the door of your house and all you can think about is sinking into the memory foam under your cotton sheet and allowing your head to fall into the three pillows and five stuffed animals lining the headboard. At the same time, you are so excited to tell your family about your vacation that you don’t want to go to bed. You don’t know what to do so you kind of talk in circles and you don’t even know if your awake anymore. (No? Just me?)

That’s what it was like.

Everything I had ever seen in the dramas, been told by my teachers, and dreamed of for three years seemed to collide all at once, and everything I had prayed and begged God for, eagerly seeking after, was real.

That night, my new friend and I were thrown into meetings and work. DT didn’t waste time introducing us to classes and getting us teaching. I experienced little to know anxiety, pushed myself into stores alone so I could practice my Chinese (since I can only talk to the students in English), and enjoyed every minute.

Funny stories:

1) A girl leaned close to my ear and whispered, “Is your hair made of gold?”

I said, “Yes! It’s blonde.”

“Your hair is so pretty. I like gold. It looks like my dog.”

2) I kneeled down in front of a table of girls working on their discussion questions and asked, “Do you guys need help?”

“Yes!” the girl in the middle said.

“What is it?”

“Is your hair real?” All the girls leaned in. (Because blonde hair is so real, it’s important that they know.

“Yes, it is.”

They all gasped. The middle girl said, “It’s so pretty!”

Needless to say, my day was made both times.

What else should I tell you about?

Even now, my host family here are speaking in Chinese (Wenzhou dialect) to each other. I love it though. This is all the exposure I have been craving, and I am now receiving it.

“Did you experience any culture shock?”

Not really! I was a little surprised that they don’t flush their toilet paper. It’s taken me the week to get used to that. (OH MY GOSH IT HAS ONLY BEEN A WEEK.) I’ve been doing a lot of lesson planning, and trying to get my homework done too. I have loved the crazy, maniac like driving. Crossing the road is like a hit and miss. (Hopefully miss. I would hate to get hit.) I have really loved every second. Like I said: It was instantly home to me, and there has never been a moment when it hasn’t felt that way.

Here are some pictures. If you want more specifics let’s create some dialogue!

We were so tired after all of the plane rides! It was exhausting, but we powered through smiling, laughing, (and sleeping).

This was my first 包子steamed bun. It was delicious. Although my kids made fun of me for eating it before dinner, since it’s a breakfast food.

Here are some of my kids and I. I have no idea where we’re at. They gave me a tour around Wenzhou. We got on a bus, got off and ended up here and played some fun claw machines. (Also, I am guilty of talking to them in Chinese. But they talked to me in English, so it’s okay, right?)

Here is a night city view from my friends apartment. (It’s not that good, but it’s what you get. Although, the view from my new place is MUCH better.)

Here is this lake a few of my friends have been swimming in everyday. (I have not. They swim laps, and I like to float.) It is by far the most beautiful place I have been. It looks like a blue lagoon of sorts. (I think this is the first place I also heard someone call me a 老外 foreigner.

This is where I had 火锅 It was delicious delightful food. Also, I ate pigs brain! I ate a few other things too, but I don’t remember much. I was too busy drinking have a container of apple cider and two bottles of water. (I only ate from the spicy side.)

End of Junior Year

I’m sitting here drinking a blueberry iced tea (my new favorite drink) eating a blueberry muffin that is definitely not gluten free. (Dang, I sound like your stereotypical college girl blogger.) For the sake of the blogathon challenge (which I ended up losing), I was going to recap the month of April, perhaps I still will, but then I realized that it isn’t just the end of April, but it is the end of the semester, the end of my Junior year.

To recap: At the end of the last semester, I labeled it as the worst semester of my life. Now, at the end of this semester, I can say this was the best semester of my life. Partially because I don’t remember much from Freshman year, and partially because it was genuinely a good semester. For example, I realized the other day that I didn’t cry during this semester, except for the one time I called mom about Spanish. It was a “I didn’t cry because I don’t cry” but more of a “I didn’t cry because nothing gave me a reason to cry.” And trust me, I was stressed out enough several times to cry, but I would take deep breaths and remind myself not to worry about what I can’t control because ultimately I know God is in control.

Monday (April 30) I had four exams. I didn’t finish them until 8:17pm and I didn’t get back to my room until 8:30pm, dropped my stuff and went straight to Walmart. When I got back I looked at all the money on my desk, counting and recounting the coin, and said, “I don’t know how I’m going to pay for this weekend.” I could feel my chest tighten, I was beginning to see all red, and then I just shoved all my money–cash, card, and coin–to the other side of the desk and said, “The weekend is five days away. For now, Lord, I praise you. You got me through today. We did all the exams. We did and for that I say Hallelujah.” I sat down and started watching TV.

Even now, I’m done with all my exams, and I am still expecting favor from the Lord on grades. He is good.

And my God will supply all your need according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

I came across this verse in the beginning of the semester. I don’t know exactly when, but I know it was early on. I read that and wrote down all of my needs in the margins of my Bible. I wrote them as close to that verse as I could get them. Today, I have crossed off every single one.

Praise the Lord, for He is good.

Dream Treaders by Wayne Thomas Batson – Book Review

Wayne Thomas Batson is my favorite YA author. He weaves Christian virtues into his books so well, one would really have to look for them to find them. Not to mention he wrote a pirate book, and that right there had me hooked, but he also talks with his readers. When I first read his books, I stalked his blog and e-mailed him, and he always replied back to me. To this day there is an interview on his blog that I conducted with him for a school project. Anyway, that’s my spiel on the author. Now time for this book.

At first I had a difficult time getting into it, mainly because I didn’t have the time to dedicate to it. Once I did though, I fell in love. The story is about Aiden who can, as the title denotes, tread dreams. He is one of three Dream Treaders and his job is too make sure the dream scape doesn’t mold with reality. If that happened, no one would be able to separate the two from the other. In short, the world would go insane. So here is Aiden, an appointed Dream Treader from basically God himself, and then there is a group of other kids who have some how (through a sciency way) learned how to walk in their dreams. This is bad. This creates bad things. Now, not only is Aiden trying to prevent dreams from becoming reality, but now he has to try and convince these other students to leave as well. Should we add more to his plate? Probably not, but Batson did. The other two Dream Treaders have been kidnapped by our main antagonist: The Nightmare Lord. (He’s evil. Stay away.) No one has ever been able to get close to the Nightmare Lord, but Aiden did, and Aiden cut off his horn. But now, Aiden has to take down the Nightmare Lord for good to save his allies. He might just have to do it alone, or he might just have to ally himself with the same students he’s trying to get out of the dream world, and it all has to be done before the clock strikes twelve.

Honestly, there is so much good character development. Like I said, once I began making time to read the book, I couldn’t put it down. The plot line moves along nicely, and I never felt bored with the development. I recommend this for any age to read. Probably not younger than eight, but upwards of that is good. It really brought me to think about dreams: how to work them and what they mean. Trust me when I say, this is a book you need to pick up.

Prayer is Grievous

Prayer

I want to encounter this idea that prayer is grievous.

Thursday night I went to this dance performance. There was one dance that was about prayer. It was beautiful and I cried. In this dance, there are four girls passionately praying. They are pouring everything they have into sending up incense before the Lord. Every so often in the dance a girl would “pass out” and the other three girls would pull her up and they would continue praying. As I watched that, I felt the Lord just speak to me, “Prayer is grievous, but despite that, it is the most important thing you could do.”

When I heard that, my reaction was, “Grievous? Lord, I think you’ve got the wrong word. Prayer is a battle. It’s where we fight. I mean, come on. Use a word that actually makes people want to pray. Grievous? Lord, I’ve been to funerals, and grief isn’t pretty.”

What did he say back? “Neither is battle. In theory, fighting sounds great because it’s a call to action, but when people start to bleed, they back down and leave. Prayer is grievous.”

I still didn’t think that was the right word. But as I’ve been praying about (not grievously,  I might add), I am realizing that God couldn’t be more correct. (As if God could ever be wrong.)

I am reminded of the most grievous prayer prayed in the Bible:

And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olive; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if though be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow.

Luke 22:39-45KJV

There a few things I notice in this:

  1. I have never prayed so hard that I sweat let alone sweat blood.
  2. I have never seen an angel come minister to me in prayer. The Holy Spirit has revealed things to me in dreams and given me clarity and revelation through scripture, but I’ve never actually seen an angel.
  3. WHAT A LAZY BUNCH OF FRIENDS HE HAS!, but I must admit, I’ve fallen asleep on Jesus in prayer too.

What grievous prayer that was for Jesus to pray. He knew he had to die for my sins, and yet being human, he still asked God for another way, yet being fully God, he still asked for the Father’s will to be done.

I know how I pray. I either pray for only my will (98% of the time) or I’m only praying for God’s will, which isn’t bad, but I don’t tell him the desires of my heart. I’m either telling him to give me everything I want, or I’m saying that the wants he has put in me he doesn’t care about.

Let’s look at Anna:

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscour and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38

Honestly, if I was married for seven years and then lost my husband, I would not have remained that faithful to God. Heck, I get upset about a little thing and I tell God I’m gonna take a break from being a Christian for a day. There are absolutely times I don’t want to live in the Joy of the Lord. There are times I don’t want to be slow to anger and quick to listen. I’m not saying Anna didn’t have those days, I’m saying the Bible says she didn’t depart from the temple. Me? I go to the prayer tower and take a nap. Anna? She is fasting and praying night and day.

I’ve never dated in my life, and I’m having a hard time trusting God to fulfill those needs that a man is meant to fulfill that I’ve never experienced before but crave. Anna was married! Then he died, and now she marries her life to God, the temple their house. I’m not Anna, but boy is she a role model.

Let’s take it back a little further.

And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is they faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

Lamentations 3:18-25

Here’s a little background to Lamentations if you don’t know what’s happening in Jerusalem: mothers are eating their babies due to starvation, their armies are destroyed, everything has been taken from them, and Jeremiah has the audacity to say God’s mercies are new every morning let alone their souls are humbled?

How many times have I chosen the Valley of the Shadow of Death? How many times have I chosen to quit when I couldn’t see my salvation? Honey, it’s not about what we see, it’s about what we hope for by faith (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is our evidence of what we cannot see, and by God, Jeremiah was believing a lot of things he didn’t see.

Now to Genesis:

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day…. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, they name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel (Penuel): for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

Genesis 32:24, 29-30

How grievous of a night it must have been for Jacob to actually wrestle with God. I mean, I fight God a lot, but I’ve never seen him face to face. I’ve never even heard an audible voice.

Also, I wonder if anyone called Jacob out on his comment of being alone. I believe that just goes to show that in our most mountainous situations, God is with us whether he is comforting us or wrestling with us.

Now, to Abraham. The Lord is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.

And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

Genesis 18:23-26

Ya’all! Abraham talked God down to ten! Who wants to risk a bargain with God? (I mean, I do it all the time, but it never works.)

I get this doesn’t look grievous. “Elizabeth, you’re getting off point.” OKAY, if you found out, your only living relatives were going to die, your most beloved brother (although Lot was Abraham’s cousin) was going to die in fire and brimstone, would you not also grieve? The significance in this though is that Abraham drew near to God. A voice echoing from the heavens, and Abraham drew near. I don’t see that a lot in the modern age. I see people who hide and shut down. It’s time for our people to become a people who draw near to God.

Guys, it’s all over the Bible. Most of Psalms is a grievous prayer.

Save me oh God for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep water, where the floods overflow me….But I am poor and sorrowful: let they salvation, O God, set me up on high. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 69:1-2, 29-30

Look at Judges. People even got petty with their prayers, what with Gideon testing God with a fleece. The audacity people had in the Bible.

  1. Jesus politely asks God for a way other than the cross, and sweats blood.
  2. Anna marries her soul to the temple of God, whom she did not yet know was walking the earth.
  3. Jerusalem is dying, still declaring hope, and on occasion blaming the Lord for their own sins.
  4. Jacob just doesn’t care and full on wrestles God. (Even if he didn’t know it was God right away, who just randomly decides to wrestle a stranger on the mountain?)
  5. Abraham draws near to God and bargains with him.
  6. David is always going back and forth between praying for salvation and thanking God for it.
  7. Gideon has the guts to test God.

How do you present your requests? Have you yet married God, and dedicated yourself to the Gospel? Is the Lord your hope even when you can’t see? What’s your Penuel? Where’s your blessing? Have you drawn near to God? Have you seen your salvation? What’s your fleece?

Prayer is grievous, but

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Matthew 5:3-12

Prayer is grievous, but the Lord is faithful and does not break his promises.

Language Number Three (Four?)

david-monje-565450-unsplash

As most of you know, I love learning languages. In high school I learned American Sign Language. In college I designated Mandarin as my minor. Last spring semester, God told me to take Spanish my Junior year of college. Here I am, now, second semester of Junior year, and I have never been more motivated to study it, BUT it hasn’t always been that way.

Last semester, I honestly treated Spanish as a joke. (Now, before all you Spanish lovers get at me, God has really changed my opinion of Spanish.) I never studied for my quizzes–failed all of them. I never studied for my exams–miraculously passed all of them (except for the final…). And I did decent on all of the homework. I think I passed the class with either a C or a B. I don’t remember.

This semester! I came into this semester so ready to fantastic in Spanish and do just as good on the quizzes as I did on the exams last semester. I was ready to be a winner. And I was on the quizzes! but on other things? NOPE. BIG FAT NOPE. I failed so horribly that I cried to my mom and my Spanish professor after almost every exam. I wanted to drop the class and never come back to it. The reason I didn’t drop the class was because I believe God told me to take it.

I was conflicted though. I have yet to get an exam grade above a 68. (And trust me when I say it had dropped drastically low at one point.) Then I was talking to a good friend and he pointed out to me the end of Hebrews chapter 11. The entire chapter is the Hall of Faith, and it is telling us readers all about why people of the Bible are considered faithful. It gets to the end of the chapter and it basically says: Oh yeah! And there are like a million other people we can’t name, but they’re faithful because they were beheaded, set on fire, and crucified. (stated in my own words.) My friend was like, “That sounds horrible! But, they’re considered faithful because they were obedient. What do you want to be considered faithful for?” I knew instantly that I couldn’t leave Spanish class. I had to push through.

That didn’t stop me from constantly asking God for revelation though. I was always praying about it! Then one day, God was like, “Look! I need you to have a steady foundation in languages so that when your books are translated, you can assure that the gospel themes are not translated out of them.” I was amazed and have worked hard after that.

I had two exams this week and my final is next Monday. The first exam this week was an Oral Exam and I got an 84. I’ll let you know on the second one when I get the grade back, and I’ll for sure let you know about the final.

That’s been my journey with Spanish. I love it.

It’s Killing Me

I feel like Alice falling down the rabbit’s hole, and it is a long way to the bottom.

The lady in front of me is tall. Her hair is white from both age and stress. Clearly, at this moment, she is the rabbit. Although, these halls are so familiar, I feel that this is my hole. Everything from the waiting room to the computer in the small alcove are all mine. I have them all precariously placed on the ledges of my hole, distant memories begging to be reviewed. Everything is about to crumble.

I see me, about seven, twisting and turning in the green and gray patterned chair, stalling on the next math equation my uncle is begging me to finish. I’ve been doing school in the waiting room for so long; I’m tired of playing with all the toys set out for kids ages two to five. Aside from my sister who is too young to care, I am the only one who hasn’t been allowed to see Grandma. I have been told what she looks like, but I can’t imagine her with tubes hooked up inside of her.

I want to drink the elixir that makes me shrink. If I could disappear I would, but I turn right, following the rabbit’s quick paced steps. To the left is that computer and straight ahead is the nurse’s station. To the left of the desk are two halls I’ve been down a hundred times. I close my eyes and remind myself to breathe. I don’t remember drinking any shrinking potion, but now it feels like my lungs can’t or won’t expand to their full capacity. Now I want to eat the cake and grow. Right now I would give anything to grow to climb out from this place.

We are at the nurses station. Please, turn right.

We turn left.

Please don’t take the right hall.

We take the left.

I am led into the ICU. There is no secret key I have to retrieve or keyhole I have to climb through. The rabbit steps right up, and the doors open at her presence. The place smells heavily of antiseptic. I want to tuck tail and run.

“Here we are,” says the rabbit.

I wish we were late.

I see me in my black turtle neck. (I hated that shirt.) I pause in the doorway, not sure if it is safe to walk in. There’s the tube in her throat, and she is barely aware of what is going on around her. None of the descriptions mom gave me before could have prepared me for this moment. The moment my lungs stop and my heart can decide whether to speed up or to slow down. I’ve skipped to the end of the book, and before me is the jabberwocky.

“Hello, Grandma,” I say. She turns her head toward me, and she moves her mouth, and a frog croaks instead. I grab her hand, and rub my thumb in circles. Her skin is wrinkled, bruised, and feels like velvet. I look up and smile. “I love you too.”

“She was t-boned,” the rabbit says. “This is her second time being in a coma, and she doesn’t want to be revived. She doesn’t want to fight to live.” I muster my strength and respond back in a controlled voice. The conversation is short. It is clear I am eager to leave. The trauma of being in the hospital for eight years struggles to resurface. The memories try to cave in and burry me alive.

I am relieved once I leave the rabbit hole, this not-so-wonderful land

Let’s go back….

Elizabeth:

It’s a little to get sappy, but I was just thinking back on the summer we graduated. Summer of 2015. Honestly, that has so far been the greatest year of my life. I was motivated and doing things. I was routinely taking my vitamins, running outside (almost) regularly. We went on our first vacation by ourself in another state. That summer I was so happy. I took on the world that summer. We both did.

I dunno. I still am. I still can. But now, I just feel a little less motivated.

A lot less. Everything has fallen so perfectly into place, even with the hardships. I’m so thankful for everything God has done in my life. He has blessed me so much, and I know Hew will continue to do so. But now I don’t feel like I have anything to work hard for. The world has already been conquered. There is no Sherif for me to fight, no poor to give back to. Naturally, I want to si I’m lost, but I’m not. I know what God has called me to, but I don’t feel like there’s much to do if, anything to reach that now.

I’m just kind of really restless.

I want to go back to 2015 and feel that rush of excitement and success as we go down the highway in your sketch van with John Farnham and Ed Sheeran blasting through the speakers. If just for a moment, I want to feel that rush again.

~~~~

Abby:

I get that. I dearly miss that summer with all my heart. But it’s normal to feel restless. I know that’s a cliche thing to say that doesn’t help much, but it’s true. Feeling restless doesn’t mean you don’t still have adversity to face and opposition to conquer, it just means you’ve gotten used to it. You’ve gone through the training period, like in all those movies where the hero trains, and is finally ready for the battle. You’re ready now to face what’s been planned, so look forward to that. There is still so much unknown and I’m very excited to see how you excel in everything God throws at you.

No matter what age you’re at, it’s easy to feel restless. I think what my friend said applies to all of us. There is still so much unknown that God has yet to reveal to us for us to adventure into. Don’t give up.