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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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.

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.

My Forest

I am really pushing it on this one post a day thing.

Here is a poem I wrote at three in the morning back in December of 2015.

 

Green dollar bills

Silver nickels

Copper pennies

Rusted leaves

Dying trees

Where soul isn’t currency

 

I sold my heart for a little bit of love

And I traded my mind for little bit of trust.

All I had left was my soul

Covered in dust

Blackened by bruises

Hours of untamed lusts

Hidden in corners

Covered by night

Untouched by light

Breathing

But not living

Hoping

But not dreaming

Slowly

Losing

Sanity

 

outdated

over-rated

Just say it

Metal buckets

Molded books

Fraying shirts

Ripped hems

Muddy boots

Broken hearts

Shattered glass

Shredding statements

To pretty nothings

 

I am nothing

Not worth keeping

Not worth selling

Not for petty green slips

That forfeits morality

pays for pleasure

gives a sense of stability

making for silence

That creates cruelty

 

No longer

I will not listen to your kisses

I will not bed on your roses

I will not willingly lie to cover your inconsistencies

I will not compromise my worth

For your sake of guilt

That you built

On zero monetary value

 

Take your green bills

Silver nickels

And copper coins

Ruin your leaves

Kill your trees

But sure as hell stay away from my forest

I grew it from broken pieces of mismatched hearts

I watered it with mismatched blood types

And I built it with scattered dreams

Cracked trust funds

And my own damn hands

 

I’ve already lost my heart

And I’ve already lost my mind

I will not lose my soul

It cannot be sold

I will fight with desperation

Searching for restoration

Grasping for redemption

In a place of desolation

 

It’s not pretty

But it’s all I’ve got

And I will fight for everything I have

With everything I have

I will fight

Empowerment

I was at the gym last night, and went for a 20 minute run. I had just come around the track and finished a lap when three other girls were just getting on, and as I passed them one of them clapped and said, “Keep going! You got this!” That pushed me to run just a little bit further.

That’s not the first time that has happened to me at the gym, but let me tell you, it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should: from me toward other people, and from other people toward me. In fact, I should be hearing it from someone at least once every time I’m there, whether it is directed toward me or not. I know some people go to the gym with headphones and use that time to get alone and to think, but I hear groups of friends there all the time, and instead of encouraging each other, they tease each other and make heavy competition, as if that’s going to make a person work harder. I get a little competition is good, sure, but sometimes a person needs to know they’re doing well or that they can do well. Even my sister and I, while competing, always encourage the other saying how good she’s doing or by telling the other we’re proud of her.

With that in mind, I want to challenge you to encourage someone today, tomorrow, and this week. Whether it is at the gym or at Walmart, let someone know that they’re doing a good job, that they’re beautiful (you too men), and that you believe in them. Sometimes that is all a person needs to keep going.

Fairy Houses

Little houses sitting on church windowsills

Housing little dreams

Kept clean by little fairies

Hanging little wishes in the coat closet

Nailing little prayers above the fireplace like its Christmas

This is where I live

Hoping someone hears me whispering my dreams down the chimney

Wearing my wishes like dresses from the met gala

And listening to my prayers on tape cassettes while drinking Huā Chá by the fire

This is where I live

Dropped between reality and imagination

Impossible

Treasure Hunting

I was out in this place called Brick Town the other day. I was with a group of my friends, we had just gotten done with a retreat, and decided to go have some fun and take pictures. While we were there we came across some wonderful murals. This was one of them, and when I was filming it for my snapchat story, I saw this guy and waved to him. When I saw him I wanted to take a picture of him in front of this wall. When I was on my over to him, I just had this thought of “I found the treasure.” I didn’t think much of it, asked the guy if I could take his picture then I prayed for him, and walked away. A couple of my friends had seen and patted me on the back. I was flustered because I didn’t think much of it, and it was awkward for me to be praised like that. I didn’t do it for recognition. Even now, I’m not telling you for you to praise me. Rather, Matthew tells us not to let our left hand know what our right hand is doing. The Gospels tell us not to be like the pharisees standing on the street corners proclaiming what we have done. I actually prayed a lot about whether I should just delete the photo instead. But as I was thinking about it, I was reminded of this thing I know several churches do called ‘treasure hunting.’ A group of people or several groups will gather and pray. Sometimes they will get an image of a person, a place, or a small word from God and then they will go out and look for who God is leading them to. As I was thinking about that concept, God just whispered to my heart, “He’s my treasure. You found my treasure.” This really spoke to me because I was beginning to get upset at myself for not asking him for his name. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if it was a man or woman at first. I didn’t go out planning to pray for someone or take pictures of strangers. I didn’t pray about it before hand. I didn’t ask God to lead me to someone. This whole thing was spontaneous to me, but as I prayed about it afterward and thought about it further, I realized that it was exactly what God had planned. You don’t need to set a specific time to go treasure hunting. In fact, it should be a lifestyle. Everyday, as christians, we should be intentional about finding God’s treasure. So many people are buried, and we are meant to bring them to the light. Who knows what treasure you will find today. It’s all about intentionality. Live Heaven on Earth, and love with the love of God, and you’ll see victory and miracles everyday.

Welcome to 2018

I’m not going to bother much with a recap of the year. You know most of it by now anyway. I made new friends. I lost old friends. I made even more new friends. I cried. I laughed. I learned a lot from God and my school. In the end, here I am still alive, still kicking, ready for more.

To be honest, I haven’t done much planning or vision casting for 2018. I’ve been focusing on spending time with my family and enjoying them as much as I can. My plan was to just roll with whatever comes my way, continuing to love God and grow closer to Him. Since Thanksgiving break, I just came to the conclusion that I only want God’s love and I just simply want more of Him.

Therefore, the resolutions I quickly came up with are mostly abstract and can be interpreted however an individual wants. Please feel free to join me in them if you do so desire.

1. Learn the daily act of worship.

As I was praying about this, God said, “Keeping your room clean, is a good place to start worshiping me daily.” It brought me to the question of are my actions worshiping God?

2. Pray for a specific person every month.

I got this idea from seeing a post somewhere that said to pray for my future husband for 21 days. I thought that was a good idea, but decided to take each individual month to pray for a specific person. January will be for my future husband and then February I will pray for another friend.

3. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12(KJV)

Out of this passage, I understood that for me I need to love everyone, study to be quiet, do my own business, work with my hands, and walk honestly toward everyone.

4. Chinese – I don’t necessarily know what this looks like right now, but that’s alright. I have a page idea for my bullet journal to help me learn more Chinese.

5. There is a fifth resolution, but I’m not sure what it’s suppose to be. A friend recommended I make it “To drink more tea.” I figured why not, so I’m going to try to drink more tea this year.

What are your resolutions? If you need someone to help you stick to them, just let me know. I’m here. As the cliched saying goes, this will be your best year yet. God is always with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. I’m always praying for you all, my dears.

With much, much, much love, Elizabeth from 2018, new and improved (or about to be).

Trust is an ongoeing decision.

Before I type anything to make a new blog post, WordPress tells me, “Share your story here….” My story about the last two weeks is long and really isn’t worth sharing. There is probably a lot I could tell you, but rather I am going to leave you with a short encouraging note.

Do you all know the sotry in the Bible about the disciples on the boat in the middle of the storm while Jesus is sleeping? Well, I feel a bit like them. I’m shaking Jesus’ shoulders, begging him to wake up and stop the wind and waves. What does he do? He turns over and says, “Nah, you should take a nap too.” I say, “Great! We’re gonna drown.” (And because Jesus is funny,) He says, “The only way to walk on water is by looking at me.” I reply back sassily, “That’s like combining to different Bible stories, but okay, whatever.”

There is always an end to a storm, whether that is Jesus stopping it or whether that is us tying ourself down to the rail so we don’t get blown off the ship while the storm rages on and eventually peeters out. We pray that the storm stops before it can get really nasty, and sometimes Jesus does “wake up” and calm the wind and waves. A lot of the time, though, we think God is late. We went through the front of the storm, the eye of the storm, and now we’re in the worst part, the tail of the storm. However, God is never late. His timing is always perfect. What we might call premature, is on time. What we might call late, is on time. 

In each part of the storm (the beggining, the eye, or the tail) it is our choice to trust God. Sometimes we have to choose it several times in the beggining, several times in the middle, and several times near the end. Trust isn’t a one time decision. It is ongoeing. We choose to choose it everyday. 

You can tie yourself down and freak out, or you can nap. And think, even if the ship does go down, you can still walk on water if you look at Jesus.

“Dude, if the ship is going down, I might as well go with it. I don’t want to live through a storm anymore. End it while I can.” Harhar. Sure, but you’ll never know what you could have had if you stuck it out and had a little faith. God doesn’t allow us to travel through stormy seasons just so he can have fun watching us struggle. He wants to watch us grow, and with growth comes rewrad. Who knows, maybe this is the rain you need to water your dry ground.

My advice? Choose trust.