Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Random pictures

I don't have a lot of time to write a lengthy report this week, so you'll have to content yourself with pictures -- and imagine the rest!

Ying Ze park is our favorite place to visit. Full of people, life, and adventures, it is a place we never leave without a few more stories to journal about!

Enjoying brownies and popcorn from home.
Thank you, Mr. Brad and Mrs. Jane!!

Trixie's smile greets us as we enter the school!

It was another full week of classes.

We went to a music store on Sunday -- and it was so fascinating to see the wide variety of instruments, and get to play around on some familiar and not so familiar ones!

Playing a Chinese harpThe place to get the best ice cream...

...the one thing that tastes like home!
We were able to do a little more sight seeing...This is just one picture out of 400 that I took that day!

After seeing buildings like this all over, it was fun to finally climb one similar to this one!

Taking pictures

...of people taking pictures!
(My total count is over 2,000 by now...)

The Chinese are so excited to get their pictures taken with Americans. Such darling children!


On Thursday night we were able to have 10 students over to our apartment...

They love seeing pictures of our family and friends...
we love looking at them, too! [grin]

Another game of spoons!

This week we celebrated our half-way point -- less than a month now until we are home again!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Learning and growing in Taiyuan

It has been a good week in Taiyuan. Class schedules have changed since the last update -- Rachel has to get up at 5:30 to be out the door by 7 for class at another school. A stretch for her night-owl tendancies! And Kori's kids classes for last week were cancelled, meaning she had lots of free time on her hands; more time to think of home and get homesick. For me -- I have a couple days where I have 90 minute classes back to back (with a short supper break in between) so I have to be ultra-ready and hit the ground with my feet running before classes even start. And Noah has had to write all of the material for his classes, which has really pushed him! We are all enjoying the new challenges.

Mealtimes are always full of fun conversations. We are never sure what we are going to eat, and then we love to compare notes and share the latest classroom stories. The most recent one: Rachel asked her class why they wanted to learn English. One of the students reply was so sincere. "I am glad that I have learned English just for the opportunity to meet you and get to know you better." The people here are so sweet!

Our most recent fun event was on Saturday night. We invited all the other teachers over to our apartment for an American supper and games! Shopping, food preparations....and once again, some big surprises. As we began cooking the meat, the propane ran out. A hurried trip to the school to figure that out. Then 45 minutes before they were expected to arrive, Noah was out running errands and Kori was teaching a class so Rachel and I were trying to finish the last preparations and clean up. As I began washing the baking dishes, the plumbing under the kitchen sink broke and dirty water went EVERYWHERE!!! It was so wild!

...cooking in the kitchen...

They were very fast at learning how to play spoons...

they really got into it!

Down to the last two!

And then some Animal Wamp!

Several of our fellow teachers (some had to leave early for evening classes).

We are hoping to be able to have the students over on Thursday evenings, which would be a great way to get to know them better!

And I celebrated my 22nd birthday this past week as well! Instead of a bouquet of flowers -- I received a bouquet of sports equipment! Yesterday we all finally had some time off, so to the tennis courts we went. So much fun to get out for some physical exercise!

Chinese tennis...gotta' love it!

Everywhere we go we seem to attract attention! Here a crowd gathered around us as we were looking over some Chinese handiwork.

And that doesn't even begin to tell you everything that has happened since the last update....but it at least gives you a glimpse into our week over here. [smile]

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I love my sister!

Monday, July 07, 2008

The many faces of China

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Update #2

"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news."

That verse DOES NOT mean 'beauty' literally, as we've been experiencing the dust and dirt of Taiyuan this past week! Lots of walking! Even going barefoot in our apartment isn't clean as the coal dust makes our feet black. We've quickly learned to always wear shoes or flip flops...and had some good laughs when *someone* left the apartment in their bright pink house slippers... and was locked out of the room for more than thirty minutes. (I'll give you three guesses as to whom that *someone* was!)

And we thought our floors were clean!

We have found the people here to be very kind and friendly. While the language barrier has made communication rather difficult, it's great to know that smiles are a universal language! This sweet girl happily skipped over to our table to say "hello" and her mother quickly followed, taking the opportunity for a photo shoot.

Westerners are a very rare sight in this city, making us celebrities of sort. People stop what they are doing to watch us walk down the street, often calling out a cheery 'hello' -- only to turn to their friends and chatter away in Chinese when we reply! We have become accustomed to the curious stares as everyone turns to watch the "foreigners".

In fact, after only a week we found ourselves in their shoes -- turning to stare as we sighted a couple Australians crossing a street corner!

Our most unique experience this week came in the form of a trip to the 'market'. With refrigerators a rarity here, most people buy their produce fresh daily, so fresh produce is a fairly common sight. Our good friend, Darrell, took us to a large marketplace to purchase some needed items on Monday afternoon. As you can see, fruits and veggies of every kind were piled high, creating a very festive and colorful scene.

While much of the produce was familiar, they also had many varieties of fruits, veggies --and these mushrooms -- that were new to us.

And of course, this part of the market was very unique as well -- fresh fowl, butchered while you wait! Mmmmmmmm!!
Home Sweet Apartment! Yes, this week we moved from three small hotel rooms to a very spacious, practical apartment. After stopping by a department store to purchase towels, bowls, kitchen utensils and other small household items, we are officially settled into a second floor apartment.

We greatly appreciate the flexibility this gives us -- as well as the practical blessing of allowing more space for our morning devotions and prayer times together. The Lord has given us an incredible blend of personalities, strengths, and camaraderie on our team. We are so grateful for each other! We are currently working to memorize 1 Peter 1 together and have had many simulating conversations -- stirring one another on to love and good works!

Hearing from home is a major highlight of our days, and we are grateful for the fairly open access to the internet here! With 13 hours difference in the time zones, our best opportunity to webcam is in the early mornings -- if we don't have classes.

And a happy July 4th to ya'll! Celebrating in a different country was quite a bit different this year, but we made our own festivities by listening to patriotic music, waving our little flag, and praying for our country. We were also thrilled by the fact that our jetlag has finally worn off and we are officially sleeping through the night again! What a way to celebrate! [smile]

Classes have been going well. We are learning more than the students, I'm sure. We've had several children's classes, as well as university age and above. At first we were taken back by the difficulties of communicating and teaching in a different culture. It continues to be a growing process as we prepare, pray, and learn! We'd appreciate your prayers!

The smog lifted a couple days ago -- and we discovered that Taiyuan is surrounded by mountain ranges! What a beautiful view!