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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Time of The Roller Coaster!

Hello everyone, for those of you who follow my blog, I am sorry I havn’t been very faithful in writing lately.  I don’t have internet access at my apartment right now, therefore when I do go somewhere with access I use that time for talking to my family or checking fantasy football.  I know, fantasy football is a bad excuse.  I hope you are doing well!  I hope this season is one of joy and excitement of good things to come.  If it is a season of testing and hardship, then rejoice, for trials and hardships are our friends, says the Word.  They refine us, cleanse us, and bring us to a better understanding of His love and compassion for us.

Aubrey, Sydney, and Lilly posing for the camera!
We (Matt, Heather, Sydney, Lilly, Aubrey, Caleb, and I) have been in Xining for about two months now.   It frankly has been a roller coaster.  One that only those of you who have lived in a country similar to China can fully understand.  I can tell you how feeling out of control because of the huge language barrier is very frustrating.  Having very little control on the situations at hand leaves you feeling angry and vulnerable.  Being in a culture so alien to you, at times makes you feel lost and alone, even if you have people around you that love and care about you.  These are a few of the things you might feel when doing what Matt and Heather have been doing for the last two months. 

Matt and Heather recently started renting two apartments, that both have front yards.  Yards in China are about as common as a snow storm in June!  These aren’t American sized yards.  They are bedroom sized yards.  None the less, it is amazing for the kids to be able to go outside and play in the dirt yard, soon to be grass!  On one hand it is a miracle they have these two apartments.  On the other hand, it has been a hard fought battle getting them ready to live in.  They were just concrete shells.  Finishing a house using your mother tongue in your native land would be hard.  In China, I would put it around extreme pain to a nightmare, depending on who you are.   They are now living in their new apartment, and it really is great!  Great things take persistence, patience, and hard work, among many other things.  The good news is I have heard that hard times grow us and perfect us!  But it is not easy to have the right perspective during seasons of trial.  That doesn’t mean we don’t try to see the situation through the correct light.
Some guys I found on the side of the road shooting bows!   Pretty awesome!

I have been teaching English every weekend since I arrived in Xining.  The job has been really great.  I don’t believe I am a natural teacher, in this setting at least.  But I have improved and sharpened my abilities to teach.  This has been another growing opportunity in my life.  Recently it has been very hard for foreigners to get a work visa in this area of China.  The company I work for was not able to get me a visa, so I will have to get a student visa.  I am happy about being able to continue to study.  My Chinese is quite terrible. 

One of the classes I teach!  Very cute kids!
We all will face trials and hard times in our lives, some more than others.  My dad always would tell us when we were growing up, “it’s all perspective”.   He really could not have been more right.  During every trial, hardship, and difficult season we have the ability to choose to see with the right perspective.  It definitely is not easy, but it will change the outcome, I believe.   I can’t say I have had the right attitude recently, about my situation, or about Matt and Heather's.  He wants to use these difficult times to shape us and grow us.  The sad part is, if we choose to see things from the perspective of our human eyes, we will not grow, learn, or change, at least not for the better.  Every situation will shape us to some extent, for good or for bad.  If we allow Him to change our perspective from worldly to heavenly, we will grow towards Him, towards love, mercy, grace, patience, and peace.  I need to live as the Word teaches, that these trials we go through, when we so often say why me, are our friends.  We should endure them with gladness, knowing that they are there to grow us, and make us more like Him.  Thanks for reading friends and family! Until next time. 

The Fam! Besides me of course.

Matt doing his best to make if over the speed bump with a Chinese style wheel barrow!

One of their yards before we cleaned it our and planted grass.  It was used as a garbage can!

Chinese guys cleaning the head and legs of a cow, they will eat just about every part! 

Matt and Caleb having a ball!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Coming Home to China!

Hey everyone, it has been awhile.  I hope everyone is having a good transition from the scorching summer heat to the chaos of the new school year!  I have recently made the journey back to China!  I am very excited to be here!  If you don't know already, we are all about to move to a different city.  In about three weeks we will be moving to Xining!  Xining is a city northwest of Xi'an, about 12 hours by train.  It feels weird starting something new, Xining, but at the same time entering into something that is the past, Xi'an, in some ways.  The past has been amazing, and the future looks very exciting!

Sydney, Aubrey, and I
Well I guess I will give you an overview of my eventful travels home, could you hear the sarcasm in my voice.  So I will tell the truth, I wrote this post yesterday, but it was a lot different.  I wrote about how I hate the process of traveling, and why that is.   The post mysteriously disappeared though, I think I wasn't supposed to post it!

Lilly and I longboarding!
I flew out of Denver to Seattle, where I had a 16 hour layover.  It really was a blessing because I got to see my big brother Nathan!  Whom I had not seen in about two years.   It was really nice to reconnect with him. From Seattle I flew to Beijing.  The flight was only eleven hours, but when you take sleeping pills that won't put you to sleep it isn't too pleasant.  I felt like I was hung over, I really don't know what that feels like, for about five hours.  I would walk to the bathroom, bumping every Chinese person on the way there.  It was out of my control friends, don't judge.

Caleb rocking the scooter!
I only had one hour to make my connection in Beijing.  In a airport as big as Beijing, one hour is  not enough time.  I had to wait to pick up an over sized bag, that took awhile.  Then when I got to the transfer hall the attendant kindly told me that I was in terminal one, I needed to get to terminal two.  Let me tell you, that put a big smile on my face, ha....ha.  It was only a fifteen min walk with 150 lbs of luggage, even for a strapping young lad like myself, ;), it was draining.   All for not as well.  I missed my flight by roughly half an hour.  The big Guy put me through some stress when the lady told me that there wasn't any other flights out of Beijing that night.  He changed her mind though, to seconds later she told me there was a ten o'clock flight I could get on.  In the end it all worked out.  He works out everything for the good of those who love Him, right friends.

I made it safely to Xi'an, happily greeted by my brother Matt.  It felt great to be back in Xi'an, no sun in all.  It has been really chill since I got back, I have just been lounging around, helping with the kids here and there.  It has been nice to see the friends I left here!  All the kids are cute as ever, Caleb is my new best bud.  We sleep together.  He loves to talk to me at 5:30 in the morning, he is so cute though I allow it.  I guess that is all friends, thanks so much for taking the time to read this. I appreciate all the support you have given me!  Until next time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Journey Home and Transition

Hello everyone, it has been awhile since my last post.  To be honest I don't remember when I last posted.  For everyone who doesn't know yet, I have returned safely to my home of Rapid City, SD.  It has been pretty crazy being home.  I will touch on the journey home and the transition process of coming home.  I will try not to bore you too much.

Before leaving China there were a whole lot of feelings going through my mind.  As you would suspect I was very excited about coming home and seeing my parents and all my brothers and sisters who are stateside.  I am very close with my family and I missed them all while I was gone in the far away land of China.  On the other hand I was very sad leaving China and my family and friends I had made there.  It wasn't a fun feeling to have.  I don't want to sound dramatic, but it hurt to think about the people I would be leaving for 8 months.  I know that God is in control and he loves my sister and brother in law and there family more than I ever could, and can help and care for them better than I can.  None the less it was still hard leaving.

My flight flew out on the morning of the 29th of Dec.  I always get nervous before flying.  I feel for good reason, but others tell me that everything will go alright.  I am a very good at risk analysis, because I always look at what could go wrong, not what might go right.  I was expecting something to go wrong with my ticket or something else with the travel home.  The morning of the flight I woke up at 4:45 a.m.  I felt a little hung over, not because of drinking, because I hadn't been sleeping well.  That didn't slow me down though.  I quickly got up took a shower in our 35 degrees bathroom, then carry my begs downstairs so they were ready to go.  I clearly should have stretched, I about threw out my back carrying my begs.  I have a bad back, and it was just too early to carry  a heavy beg in a rush.  Bad way to start a 26 hr travel home.

We got to the airport at about six thirty, my flight flew out at eight o'clock.  We get up to the counter and the man takes my passport and starts putting in the important numbers he needs to put in.  Then he tells me to wait a minute in broken English, and walks to a different counter.  Not a good sign, and when he didn't come back within the first ten minutes, even worse.  It was about 7:25 a.m when this lady came up to me and communicates that there is a problem with my ticket, we call this a self fulfilling prophesy, something like that.  So I am fairly upset at this point, not that it helped at all. So long story short I had to buy another ticket from Xi'an to Shanghai, it wasn't the end of the world.  I made my flight, that was all that really mattered.  I was sad that I had a broken hug of a good bye to my dearly loved brother Matt.  Thankfully we will meet again

I guess I won't go through all the stories of my travels home, there wasn't anything too exciting that happened.  I made it home with no other major problems.  It was a very happy reunion with the fam.  I surprised my little sister Regan, who had a basketball game that night.  I hid myself  behind strangers, who thought I was some creepy drug dealer, I am guessing.  During half time I waited til the team ran back out and yelled her name.  She was pretty stunned, she looked right past me for a second or two.  It was fun to surprise her.

I have been home for a week and a half.  It has been a very fast transition, because there was no other way. My sister Heather said that I will feel like that year I spent in China never happened.  She was right, I do feel that what happened in China was only a month long.  It is a crazy feeling.  My parents have twin six month old babies that they are fostering right now.  So there hasn't been a lot of time to think or process the year I spent in China.  These babies are amazing, and my parents are just as amazing for taking care of these kids.  I am more than happy to help, it just has expedited the transition.  It has been amazing  being home.  Sam, Selah and Ethan have changed so much.  I will be missing my China family and friends very much.  It might be awhile before I blog again.  Be patient friends, until next time.  

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Tale of the White Ping Pong Player

Well this time it hasn't been too long friends. I bet your happy you get the pleasure of reading another one of my amazing blog posts, that always seems to brighten your day, ;).  This is a fun story of me going out to visit some of my Chinese friends.  Who go to a university that is like forty five min. out of town.  I hope you enjoy it. I sure did.

So I leave my house at 8:10, really early in the morning, not really.  If you know me, you know that I always plan for detours and bad things to happen when I plan how much time I will need to get somewhere.  In China that is pretty difficult, at least for an ignorant foreigner, who doesn't know the ways of the land.  So to get to the New campus, which is where I need to be, I first need to get to the old campus that is in the city of Xi'an.  I know before hand that I have to take the 106 bus, and let me tell you, this bus is no fun.  Guaranteed  every time this bus will be packed to the limit.  The China limit is about 50% higher than what westerners would have in mind.
This is the infamous 106 bus,  I don't lie friends.
I get to the bus stop, and wait for about ten min.  I realize once I get on the bus that yet again it is packed, but not full, haha.  So I am thinking that this bus is full, but at every stop a herd of Chinese are chasing the bus down to get on, and Chinese don't mess around when getting on a bus.  The will do whatever it takes to get on a bus, especially in the morning.  I once saw a guy who shouldn't have ever fit on the bus, I mean he was being pinched by the door.  This man stood there for like 5 min, while the doors tried to shut, on him, for five min, then finally they closed.  That story really happened.  So I stood on the amazingly comfortable 106, that was sarcasm, for about 45 min feeling like a livestock animal in a semi trailer, I am just guessing that the animals feel pretty uncomfortable, so did I.

I make it out to the university safe and sound.  My friend Pei Hao, that is pronounced pay how, who's English name is Paul, met me when I got off.  When I first met Paul I gave him that English name, and he thought I said poor.  He told me he didn't like the name poor, I said no no, it is Paul, it is a good name.  That was amusing.  After getting off the bus we walked to the gymnasium to watch some ping pong matches.  My other friend Nai Fan was reffing one match.  The matches going on when we got there weren't to exciting, so we decided to go get some hitting in ourselves.  I have fallen in love with ping pong since being in China, and rightfully so, being as big as it is here.  I actually am not too bad, for a white guy, I take that back, Germans are really good, for an American.
A more competitive match. good stuff. 

After lunch we went back to the gym to watch some semi-pro players!  There was doubles going on when I got there.  For those of you who don't know, doubles is just two on two.  It was very entertaining to watch, these players were so good.  After watching the matches for an hour or so, Paul and I went back up to pong some more.  While we were playing, these two girls started watching us.  I am not for sure if that was because we were so pathetic or because I was white, haha, but really.  One of the girls builds up the courage to ask Paul if she can play with me, and he says yes, he should have thought twice about that.  I just think that we are going to gently hit the ball around, I thought wrong.  I hit one back to this girl that was just a little too high, and she murders it, I peed my pants a little. This girl ends up being ridiculously good, and half crazy.  Every time I hit one back a little high she would make me pay, and if it hit me, it hurt physically and emotionally.

By the end of the day I had played four plus hours of ping pong, but it was so much fun.  Hanging out with Paul and my other friend Nai Fan was a blast.  I met Paul and Nai Fan during the Sunshine Camp that I did this last summer.  The relationships we have are truly the most important parts of our lives.  We must never take anyone for granted.  Relationships are gifts, and they must be our top priority.  Live life in the moments that you have friends, we never know when it all will end for us or them.   I hope you enjoyed my story, I enjoyed writing it.  Until next time.

This is Nai Fan about to smash a back hand shot. 
This Nai Fan's teammate on the ping pong team. He was amazing too!

This is another friend and Me ponging it up on the official courts, oh yeah!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Living out of Abundance+Funny China Story!

Hello everyone, it has been a while.  Like we say in China long time no see, and that saying did come from China,  no jokes.  To start off I hope everyone is doing well, living out of the abundance of your heart, easier said than done though.  Life is such an interesting thing.  How it circles around us and so often feels like the same situations happen over and over again.  Even though time is moving and everything around us is changing, it feels the same things happen over and over.  It is coming to a close, my first year in China.  It has been amazing, challenging, joyful, growing, testing, it has been real life.

I first want to tell a short story about my new found obsession.  I would guess most of you know that ping pong is huge in China, but it is probably bigger than you would imagine.  So since being in China I have started playing ping pong and loving it.  The other day I wanted to get out, so I went to the ping pong shop to look around and maybe play some pong.  I started to hit with the owner of the store, and after ten min or so an older Chinese man came in.  The owner said something in Chinese that I didn't understand.  I was guessing that he said this guy was a coach.  So I was like nice, I will hit with him.  He started to give me advice that I only understood by his hand motions and facial expressions.  Then this 80 year old Chinese man came over and started grabbing my arm and yelling at me, again I didn't understand.  I knew he was telling me to relax my arm, because he was grabbing it and shaking it violently.  By the end the coach had stood behind me and grabbed both my arms to help me understand the technique, he needed to do this because I was a not so smart white skinned non-ping pong playing foreigner, I didn't hold it against him, no matter how uncomfortable it was.  He helped me for about an hour and a half. It was a lot of fun, and he really helped my technique.  Ping pong is so much more technical than it looks.

Recently, for many reasons, I have been thinking about life and how we were meant to live.  Not just breathe and go through the motions, but to thrive.  The word thrive might throw you off, I don't mean thrive by the world's standard. I am talking about thriving in the way that we were meant to.  I recently have been wrestling with thoughts about giving and sacrifice.  I sometimes feel sick inside and don't know why.  Maybe it is because I half know what to do, but the thought of it scares me half to death.  Looking around at the world and understanding that there are so many who have nothing.  I have soooo much, yet what do I give up so that someone else can live.  I recently watched a video that talked about living with abundance, not scarcity.  Not abundance in what we have, but abundance in how we give.  It doesn't say in the Book, "it is more blessed to give than to receive" for nothing. It is a revolutionary truth, that I don't fully live.

I don't write this to make people feel guilty.   I hope it opens my eyes a little more to what true life is.  To understand the reality that the life He meant for us is often not realized, because of different reasons.  Fear is a huge one, I believe, especially in  my life.  We must live out of His love, grace and provision, not our strength and wisdom.  Unless we fully surrender to His love and live out of his hands, we will never thrive in the blessed life He has for us.  Because when we let go of control and fear, He moves in ways we wouldn't imagine.  This is when, I believe, we truly live like He meant us to, out of the abundance of our hearts.  I am sorry that I have not put up pictures in awhile, I think I need to hire a photographer.  Please comment if you have thoughts on this post. I appreciate your thoughts.  Until next time.