Featuring Author, Rebecca Hogan

Rebecca is my minnie-me. She’s a fabulous person, and a great writer. In fact, here is a poem she wrote in Chinese.

百合

漂浮 在 静水中

船将推动水面

波浪

上下 摆动

雾气

随着 太阳上升

湖上的一个清橙。

Here is the English translation.

Lilies

Floating atop still water

Oars

Pushing through the reeds

Waves

Bobbing up and down

Fog

Rising with the sun

A morning on the lake

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我回来了!I’m back!

*three spotlights spin around the room*some ominous person on a microphone begins to introduce the main speaker* Ladies and gentlemen! For one night only! Put your hands together! A thirty-five hour trip with sleep! Adventures to laugh at from China! The One! The Only! Elizabeth! Willsea! *the spotlights land on me, struggling to step off of my skirt*naturally, I stumble and fall*with a quick recovery*

Hello! I am returned from China, and the reverse culture shock is real. Did American English always sound so rough? Why is everyone tall.. and white… and not staring at me? Wait.. No one wants to take a picture with me because literally every other person is blonde. Woah, I can understand everything around me now. WHY DO WE DRIVE SO SLOW? I totally missed trees. Ugh. Tulsa is so dry. Where is the humidity? Now that I’m awake at seven in the morning, what do I do with my life? What do you mean I don’t teach school today? What do you mean, no fried rice for lunch!

My first meal back was an all natural American breakfast from IHOP. The Split Decision. Eggs over easy on hash-brown, sausage, french toast, and pancakes with a glass of two percent milk. Regular and blue berry syrup. One full stomach.

Also, I got my phone fixed…. really, I just got a new phone.

I’m happy to be back in America. I already miss the mountains, the humid hot weather, the food, and the driving in China. I miss hearing Chinese. It’s weird to be able to eaves drop on literally every conversation now. This small simple things are what I’m missing the most in the twelve hours I’ve been back in the US.

What am I excited to do now that I’m back? I can’t wait to give everyone their gifts. I am so excited to just be able to give people everything. The whole world if I could.

I’ll be hopping places the whole week, until I move into the dorms on Sunday. Then I’ll settle in and get ready for School. Until then, I’ll be busy seeing friends and finishing registration.

The spring semester was good. This summer was good. This fall semester will also be good.

Dear China

Dear China

You became home and brought me family with black hair, slanted eyes, and skin like honey.

Not sun kissed, tan, or yellow.

Much prettier people in a much handsomer culture.

Umbrella covered religion blanketed in wet air.

“Get out of the sun so you don’t turn black!”

Likewise, “My mother said black is beautiful.”

Somehow sassy and saving my face at the same time.

A million stray dogs and a cat without an eye.

Long twelve hour work days, sleeping on an ugly pink couch, waking up to curious eyes.

“Is your hair real?” “Yes.” “No it isn’t.”

Boating after storms, KTV on a beach, and tickle wars.

Water fights and losing because my whole team was made up of double agents except for Justin.

Yogurt for breakfast.

Fried rice for lunch… and dinner.

Eating whatever DiDi cooked on the weekends.

A spunky two year-old who never wore pants, and called me grandma, auntie, and big sister all in the same day.

Failing at Chinese.

Failing some more.

Finally I said “date milk” correct.

Gaining a little confidence.

Failing again and laughing super hard.

Adventures day in and adventures day out.

My dearest, I never knew what you would bring me,

This land that began with the yellow emperor,

And I have not been disappointed.

Scorpion,

Terra Cotta Warriors,

Music,

And friends.

Dear China,

Until next year.

Good bye.

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

Terra Cotta Warriors

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. Evns. 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 onerything had such a beautiful story and history, but nothing compared to those mountai 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.)

BREAKING NEWS

manos-gkikas-422953-unsplash

*Trips on the red curtain as I move to take center stage* Quickly catches myself and straightens the imaginary crown on my head. *waves fancily* “Hello my lovely readers and strange narrator. Here is a quick recap of what has happened since we met.” *crickets from the empty audience* “Haha! Of course I’m not really going to talk about the past three months. More like the past week. Let’s get started.”

This is week has been disorienting as heck. I had some intense spiritual battles Monday and Tuesday night (nightmares and dissociating) and I’ve been scared to go back to sleep since. So what have I been doing? Binge watching Parks and Recreation. *naturally**as one does* ALSO I–the healthiest person alive–have a cold. I feel betrayed by my own body. It’s kind of annoying, but whatever. It’ll end soon.

I’ve barely been getting my posts up for the blogathon, but I have done them. I think I have missed one day. If I’m wrong, correct me. I’m not upset about it though. I’ll be happy to buy Tae dinner. Which, speaking of Tae, he redesigned his blog! Go look at it! I’m about to go do that. He’s amazing and if you’re interested in travel, you need to read what he’s writing about.

I finished another book. (It’s actually a book I bought last weekend on my birthday.) The book is Ryan Higa’s How to Write Good by (you guessed it) Ryan Higa. It was actually really good and inspiring. I’ll put a review of it up eventually. I’m about to start another book Autumn Princess, Dragon Child by Lian Hearn. It is the second book in the series The Tales of Shikanoko. Look forward to another beautiful cover.

Monday will be the start of dead week. (It’s crazy to think I have two weeks left before I move into this most beautiful mansion.) Surprisingly, I’m not stressed at all. I know God has things under control. As I keep reminding myself, His ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. Already two classes have ended. I’m studying hard for Spanish, and I should be studying more Chinese. Things will work out. I trust God.

Keep me in your prayers as I will keep you in mine.

I love you all! 么么哒!

I was tired. Okay.

kortnee-greenfield-471589-unsplash

I have been so busy this weekend, it never even crossed my mind to put up a blog post yesterday. What was I doing? everything.

My parents were in town for my birthday. They drove down from Michigan, and spent Saturday and most of today with me. It was a lot of fun. We went to IHOP for breakfast, and then while they went to visit family I went to this ladies conference at church. They picked me up and we stopped back at University. I was able to walk them around the building where I take most of my classes and show them the library. My TULSA Best Friend met us by the IT desk to say hi, then we went to Barnes N Noble. It had been a while since I was in there so I felt like I could cry. I got two new books.

“Elizabeth…. Why? You aren’t reading the ones you already have.”

Yeah, your right. But I will read these ones, and hopefully it will get me into reading more books. I’ve been in a horrible reading slump, so I think this will help me. I’ll put a post up about the books soon.

After Barnes N Noble, we went looking for Goodwill. Unfortunately, we didn’t find it. Instead we found this place called “Quality Thrift Store.” It had a lot of nice clothes. I think I got around eight shirts for $50. On top of that, I found out that every Sunday their clothes are half off, and every Monday their clothes are $.99. Long story short, I think I found my new favorite place to shop.

Once we checked out with my clothes haphazardly thrown in a bag (the cashier didn’t even fold them), we went to this restaurant called “Louis Bar and Grill.” Not gonna lie, I was a little worried about the place on the way there. We drove through this really sketchy town, and the outside of the building was poorly lit. The sign was nice though. It was this lit up, cursive sign. So we parked and went inside. The place was crowded. Packed. We told the lady there were three of us and she told us that it would be a bit of a wait. We said that wouldn’t be a problem and all went to the bathroom. The moment we came out the lady was like, “Father.” **Not really. She called my dad’s name.** We were seated, and they brought our drinks, and brought our food. Everything was done in a timely manner, and it was actually really classy. The waitresses were really nice. To top it off, they had gluten free crust for their pizza! Then we went to Walmart, and I got pants. **Yay! PaNtS!*

So that was that. And then today they went to church with me, which was a lot of fun. We went back to Walmart to get some other things, and then they left. They took some stuff from my room with them too, because I didn’t want to have to store it over the summer.

All in all, this was the best birthday ever.

Thank you to all the people who were a part of it and made it good. **Insert sweet emoji** (Because I normally avoid my birthday.) So this was special.

Swimming with Sharks

In this moment, the world is engulfed in dark blue. Giant leathery creatures cut through the water observing me just as much as I am observing them. I watch them in wonder, at times face to face and at other times, through the lens of my camera. These sharks are powerful. I watch as their bodies ripple when they turn and the fast movements of their fins. Toddlers are running back and forth all around me, screaming the delight that I am feeling but not vocalizing. There is one girl talking loudly to her father about random facts about these massive sharks. A part of me wants to listen and learn, but the rest of me just wants to watch.

The light hitting the water breaks apart and shoots everywhere giving the place a more majestic feel. There are times when the light touches the rocks on the bottom of the tank, and they look like gold doubloons. These white sharks are only guarding their treasure, I tell myself. These sharks have stories, and I want to know them. I want to know what battles they have fought and what scars they have earned. I read on a sign that the people who clean the tanks have to wear a chain mail so that they do not get hurt. I look at the sharks in wonder. I am captivated.

Somewhere in the tunnel is a family speaking Spanish. I am distracted from the fantasies I am creating. I look around me and notice how surrounded I am. Everyone is talking loudly, pointing their flashing cameras at the sharks. The flashes light up the otherwise dark room. I squint my eyes and cringe; I feel small and trapped. I glance at the sharks and nod my head in acknowledgement of their condition then I leave the tunnels. My swim with the sharks is over.

Covered in Snow

I Remember those years covered in snow,

Coming inside red faced with a Rudolph nose.

Icicles hung from my cold fingers,

and Jack Frost was biting my numb toes.

I hissed when mom rubbed my stiff fingers under warm water, and

I sniffled, curling my toes in front of the space heater.

 

I remember those years covered in snow

Coming inside and peeling off layers of snow suits and snow boots and

Dad’s thick alpaca socks.

The zipper would always catch on my coat, then

I would run to the kitchen and separate the marshmallows from the Hot Chocolate, and

I would let the warm drink thaw my insides as I settled into the couch.

 

Yes, I remember those years covered in snow.

The Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Hearn – Book Review

I am so in love with this book right now. I just finished it yesterday on the way back home. I started it in the car, and I finished it in the car. Haha. Reading like a beast. (Is ‘Lolz’ appropriate in a book review? Asking for a friend.)

Emperor of the Eight Islands was so well written. I think the only thing I didn’t like about it was the character development was slow and almost non-existent. I get that it is one book in a series, but I expected more. Another thing about this book, was each chapter switched between point of views among the characters. It made it semi hard to keep track of everything, but I did it.

The Emperor of the Eight Islands is about Shikanoko and basically the abuse he went through to become what he does in the end of the book. This poor kid is basically left for dead in the mountains by his uncle, is then found by a sorcerer who binds him in one place by a spell to make him “Shikanoko,” and allows the kid to basically be raped multiple times for the spell to work. (Let me tell you, this woman who “rapes” him is horrifying. Whatever you do, don’t trust her.) Then he ends up working for the King of the Mountain. Then he ends up working for Kiyoyori (He’s cool) and then he ends up with the Prince Abbot who he leaves in the end. There is so much that happens all against Shikanoko’s will, and he just goes with it. He’s just like, “Whatever. As long as I can kill my uncle, I don’t mind being forced to become the most freaking powerful sorcerer ever.” And in the end, he’s still as immature as if he never learned anything the past year and a half or however much time passes in the book. But, despite the immaturity, he’s still cool, and I seriously love the kid.

Look, if you don’t read this to get to know Shikanoko, at least read it for the beautiful cover. That’s honestly why I bought it in the first place, and I’m happy I did buy it. The book was good, and so well written I was taking notes in my head on what I can learn from the writing style. I really recommend you read it. Please do so. Let’s all talk about this book together. I would love to hear what you think about it.