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!


Anonymous said...

It sounds so interesting!You must be having a wonderful time!Thanks for the update.I'm praying for you.

Missy said...

Thanks for the update! You sound like you are adjusting well to all the newness, and are having a wonderfully, blessed time! I really enjoy the pictures, they help so much in visulizing what is going on. I am wondering how the teaching works exactly? What is your average class time like?
With love and prayers,

Anne said...

I can definitely relate to all the things you are going through Bethany! I spent last summer in Thailand and can remember the stares, the fresh fruits and veggies, the celebration over *finally* sleeping through the night, the patriotism felt on July 4th being in another country... yes, this post brought back fond memories! Enjoy your time.... it will go by too fast:o)

Anonymous said...

Wow! Those feet are really black! I hope your new apartment is somewhat cleaner! I'm am guessing that *someone* is Kori. Please reveal who *someone* is soon!
Happy (belated) 4th of July! Oh, and happy (early) birthday to you, Bethany! Please post more soon! You are in our prayers.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update Bethany. It was SO........ fun to talk to you on skype last night, and to see you on web cam! I had such a good time getting to visit with you all, and I must say Kori's "poke, and high five" ciriculum is a popular way to bring a laugh to our group now!=) Yesterday, today, and last night wasn't the same without you, and we miss you! Please be praying, because this morning Ruth tried to load all Anna's fourth of July pictures off Anna's memory card onto her computer, and it got all messed up, and now we wonder if we've lost all the fourth pictures!=( This would be SO..... sad, so please be praying that the Lord would be merciful, and allow it to work when we get home! It was SO..... fun getting to interact with your family in a "new" way this year, and I wish you, and Rachcel both could have been here! But I know that you are following the Lord's will, and I'm So... happy that He has given you this wonderful oppurtunity to serve Him in a new way! Praying for you!

Love, and Miss Ya!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update Bethany!! We're really enjoying the pictures, as Noah hasn't sent us any yet!!
We've been praying for you all!! Thanks for taking care of Noah for us, he looks and sounds great when we get to talk to him!! If you want to make him feel at home, pull his hair (not too gently!!) and tickle him. :)

Ryan H said...

Thanks for keeping up updated, Bethany! I was somewhat amazed at how closely the streets, apartments, and markets resembled those of Russia....

Keep shining for Jesus!

Anonymous said...

How nice to hear from you again Bethany! It all looks and sounds so exciting! The children are so precious...what an impact you must be having there!
Looking forward to your next update!:)
Praying for you all!

Ladygreen said...

Hey! thanks for the update. It's great fun hearing about all you're doing in China. I'm praying for you!
It was fun seeing you on the webcam in Seward Friday! I didn't say "hi" but I was there (about the time Charissa said hi)...
Have a great time!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting another update! May the Lord keep blessing you!


Anonymous said...

Oh... and Happy 4th of July!!

Anonymous said...

I love reading your updates! It's so great to get a glimpse of what you're up to.

May God continue to bless your time there!


Anonymous said...

I am very thankful that you are able to keep in touch with we Americans via blogging. I was going to miss it very much!
I am in Montana again. This time with 9 of my siblings snd my parents. It is getting late (I am sure you are up and about out there!) so I'd better get off- I am downloading pictures from part of the trip!
lots of love! God bless!

Anonymous said...

Hurray! Another update from our China travelers! :-)

Thank you for taking time to tell all the little culture differences and adventures that you all are experiencing. I know you are busy. The market is the most fascinating to me. I know you said the the fowl are prepared while you wait, but do they do cows that way too? And seafood? And I am so glad that your camera is working so well! :)


Unknown said...

What a wonderful update! I'll continue to keep you in my prayers and pray that God would continue to help you learn to minister to the people.

Ruth Ann said...

thanks for the updates!! :) you're definitely in my thoughts and prayers are for you that y'all would do what He sent you there for. :)

Love you!!

Anonymous said...

Love the pictures! keep them coming!

Anonymous said...

You know Esther Derby. I am her sis, Bethany.
I love the pics!

Love, Bethany Derby

Anonymous said...

Interesting pictures, especially the one where the floor was *supposedly* clean! :D
Thanks for the update :)