Sunday, May 30, 2010

Futbol Americano

We entered the stadium with football and Gatorades in hand, Katie and I eager to teach our Chinese friends about one of the best traditions in our culture--American Football. It started out just with Katie and myself teaching a couple of guys that we study with.  Katie, who knows more about the sport than I and doesn't throw like a girl, taught the guys the basic rules while I twirled around in circles and texted a few more people inviting them to join us.  And thus we add to the game another American teacher, Jimmy, and 3 more students, all fresh out of class; making an even match of 4-on-4.

We teach the guys the correct way to toss the sphere-shaped ball, and try not to laugh at the sheer amazing-ness of their form, and then count off "One, two, one, two..." to divvy up the teams.  And we're off.  

Acting as QB for my team, I instruct my teammates, 3 Chinese guys, to stand on the starting line and "Go" when I counted to three.  

Take 1: "One, two, three..."I look around; one of my players dances behind and beside me calling for the ball and the others stand in one place waving their hands around.  

Take 2: This time the players learn to stay in motion, and upon successfully passing to one of my teammates, he begins to run backwards upon seeing people come at him, and is tagged behind the starting line.

Take 3: I pass to another teammate who also manages to catch it but immediately attempts to pass it to another teammate, and chucks it on the ground.

Take 4: One of my teammates suggests that he throws.  I toss him the ball, and before we are even off the starting line, he pitches it to Katie on the other team.

Still, we persevere.  We all alternate QB-ing and don't worry about the fact that we stink. Soon, however, we start to throw on target, we start to catch the ball, and we start scoring.  Katie and Jimmy's team start shaking in their knees and call a time-out to discuss the next play.  My players suddenly look to me for leadership so I call them together into a huddle, and after giving each of them a long, serious look I start to speak: "Put your left foot in, take your left foot out..." soon we are doing the hokey-pokey until  we realize the other team is ready to get going.

The game commences, and so does the banter.  I beam with pride at one of my students and his English trash talking abilities. Oh, how quickly they learn. (sniff)

I have no clue who won, since we didn't keep score, but we did it.  We played touch- American football in China.  And it was amazing fun.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Please forgive me, America.

Today I taught my students some American slang just for the fun of it.... and probably to the devastation of my students' English abilities.

Proof: (A few dialogues written and acted out by my students)

What's up, Man?
Hang out.
How's it hangin'?
Still  kickin'

Yo Dude
Let us eat some dinner
Ew. The food stinks.
Ouch. Sick!

That concert was very slammin'.
Fo' sho'

I really did try to restrain myself from teaching...most of the ones included.... Really.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Live, love, laugh... (B)Log

Oops. I already broke my goal of blogging everyday, I've just been too busy living!  Let me fill you in...

Tonight, Katie and I went to downtown and danced with all of the locals in Yiling Square and worked on a special video project. (Coming soon!)

Today, I wore my Qi Pao to class (I'm discovering I don't have many occasions to wear it) and all of my students cheered when I walked into class and jointly exclaimed, "BEAUTIFUL!" and "snuck" pictures of me on their cell phones throughout class.

Sunday, Zack taught a great lesson about recognizing the truth in the morning and that night our Chinese group had more great conversation.

Saturday, I went to a scenic attraction outside of Yichang with my good friend Daisy, and some other sweet students.  I got up at 6:30 on a Saturday for them. If that's not love, I don't know what is. It was an exhausting but amazing day. Daisy taught me how to insult people in Chinese.. "Your brain is full of water!".

Friday, Zack and Elizabeth's study group joined forces with mine to read about David and Goliath.

Thursday night, Katie and I attended a talent show for foreigners at our University, Three Gorges.  One of our American friends played guitar and we watched some really great dance numbers put together by the Indian and Nepali students.  People all over the world, join hands!

Thursday, I was a guest speaker for a nearby Middle School where I talked to the top English students about American culture and encouraged them to study English.  I then signed autographs and posed for photos before being escorted to a fancy dinner.  I kid not.  During a Q & A session after one of the 11 year old girls told me my children would one day be beautiful, a 10 year old boy stood up and asked, "Do you like me?" and I quickly replied, "Of course!" as he sat down and covered his red face as the room roared with laughter.

Picture 1: Daisy and I at a waterfall in a cave this past Saturday.
Picture 2: Although not the same students from this past weekend, pictured are students around the same age from a similar event last term in Wufeng.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I LOVE children.

Ask anybody. I'm ridiculous. Walking down the street, I will blubber over a
dozen different chubby faces.  I really don't realize I'm doing it, until
whoever I'm walking with makes some sort of annoyed grunt when I point out a
child and demand that he/she take yet another gander at an example of God's

On countless bus and train rides I've become buddies with a child who is
barely taller than my knee.  Parent's love this. A waiguoren that pays
attention to their daughter or son is taken as a compliment (luckily for me,
since I can't help myself.)  Oft times I've been handed babies after simply
complimenting the child and exclaiming "how lovely!" in Chinese.  The
youngest are usually completely shocked by my foreign features. I once made
 a baby cry at the mere sight of me....But I don't like to talk about this.

Slightly older children think I'm a mystery to be solved, and will gape
openly at me, and smile in delight, at the strange language that escapes
from my lips.

Children that don't look big enough to talk, point at me when I pass by and
shout, "Waiguoren!" or "foreigner."  This to me, is a huge difference in
culture.  No one in the States typically can tell who might be foreign
judging on looks alone.  Yet, it almost seems like "Waiguoren" is one of the
first words Chinese children learn.

When I need a pick-me-up in my day I often go out to the playground in front
of my apartment and play with dozens of kids who are always eager to get me
going in another game of tag.  Many of them, along with their parents,
already know me.  Several of the children will excitedly approach me without
their parents even needing to prod them.  And it's in those moments, I feel
most at home.

So, here's a tribute to the out-of-this-world cuteness that I've admired in
China for so long~ it's Children.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


On the way to class today, I stop by the corner store to buy a few things.  A couple of snacks and a Gatorade, to get me through the afternoon classes and a handful of dry erasers markers, that I go through all too quickly, add up to almost 20 RMB.  As the petite cashier rings up my purchases, I immediately throw the items in the wonderfully large teacher's bag that I carry. I then pull out my plastic blue bank card and run it through when the cashier suddenly starts hurriedly speaking to me. I can't make out anything she's saying, but I gather there's some sort of problem with my card.  This doesn't make any sense to me because I know there's more than enough in my account, and I use my card at this little store all the time.

I try to decipher what the problem is, with my broken Mandarin, but don't get very far.  All I gather is that they are asking for cash.  I almost always have cash, being that all of the local places we eat at don't accept cards, but, of course, I don't today; Nor do I have time to run to the ATM.  I rummage for a little cash, hoping there's some I overlooked, but come up empty handed, and sigh as I realize I'm just going to have to put everything back... Oh well.

Looking forward to making a hasty exit, I rummage through my annoyingly gargantuan bag that seems to have swallowed up all of the markers, when a young woman steps up to the counter and offers the cashier the money for my purchase.  "No, no, no!" I say pushing her outstretched hand away.  (Anytime I'm stressed out I forget to speak in Chinese.)  She starts putting the things back in my bag.  I pull the things back out of my bag. She puts them back in again, and I continue looking for those stupid markers.

This goes on for several more seconds. 

"No, no, no.." I catch myself, and switch to "Bu yao, bu yao!"  I tell her I don't want them.  "Mei guan xi, mei guan xi, mei guan xi," she insists that it's no problem.

This goes on for a few more seconds.

Worn out, and realizing that this woman is wanting so desperately to allow me to save face, or avoid humiliation, I finally give in, and relinquish my search for the phantom markers.  Thanking her as humbly as I've ever thanked anyone, I exit glimpsing her mouth "没关系" or "No problem" one last time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Even better : )

Here's something I've found to be true:  life is beautiful.

It's not always obvious.  Sometimes we have to search for it.  But hidden in the folds of misery are sparks of pure beauty waiting to be discovered.

I saw some of it tonight.  As the curtains close on my first year in China I witnessed the power of the one directing the show.  He led two beautiful girls to him and they fell in love with his goodness.  They want to be with him forever so they gave up their former lives for fresh, new ones.  Water took away all the old faults and left them pure and whole.  We are sisters now.

The celebrations were made all the more joyous when I learned today I am definitely going to be hired for another term to serve here in China.  No more waiting in limbo, waiting for my future to be decided!  I can begin planning for the next semester knowing that He is taking care of me and is working mightily through me.  I can't wait to see what gems lie in store for the future.

Courtesy of Katie Marshall

So, I asked Katie to write my blog post for me....

Things I am thankful for today:

10. Spring is here!
9. My stunning roommate, Katie.
8. The two new sisters who were born this evening.
7. The really gifted, caring, intelligent girl who lives with me.
6. The group of awesome students who call on His name.
5. K-to-the-T's exquisite cooking.
4. The fact that our family extends over the whole world.
3. The one, the only, Katie Marshall.
2. A splendid night in celebration of new life.
1. Katie

Monday, May 17, 2010

Taste Like Potato Chips

Today I Ate a Scorpion. 'Nuf said.

A group of my students took me and my roommate, Katie, out to a fancy dinner tonight.  And like the scorpion, the evening turned out to be a pleasant surprise.  The restaurant had a beautiful view over-looking the Yangtze, the guys were, as always, a lot of fun, and the food was amazing.

(Seriously--the scorpion was seasoned excellently. Salty and crunchy = DELICIOUS. :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Laugh it off.

Being a foreign English teacher in China, you find yourself oft the reciprocate of many requests for large favors. One of my boldest friends is a one of a kind young Chinese girl with excellent talent in getting exactly what she wants from me.  These talents include, dragging me unwillingly into singing competitions, having me edit her major English papers at the drop of a dime, having me listen to English speeches she needs to present, and dominating every conversation topic at our nightly studies of the Good Book as a means to improving her English. 

This, as you can imagine is a bit much to handle at times.  But there's also something endearing about this student.  What you see, is what you get.  And I find candidness refreshing.  I must admit, however, I tend to spend time with her in small doses--this is with both of our best intentions in mind, of course.

Tonight as we gathered for our Sunday night study, I was feeling positive and more than eager to jump into the reading (written by our friend John.)  As we began to read, however, this special friend of mine would have something to say on each topic.  I'm sorry, did I say on topic?  I mean, she would have something to say having nothing remotely to do with the topic.

This is pretty common, so it didn't come as a surprise, but she was in rare form on this particular evening.  We were not getting anywhere.  Katie and I subtly steered the group's attention back on topic every so often, determined to make some progress.  Soon, however our friend had plunged into a 10-minute story about some random student and his emotional issues.  How this came up no one knows.  I'm not the only one to notice.  Several of the boys in the group seem to be tuning her out, Katie at least pretends to listen to her with a pained expression as I grind my teeth and avoid eye contact, so she won't direct her conversation towards me.  Just when we think she's done, she remembers something she hasn't mentioned, and is asking Katie's advice regarding some minute situation.

I look around the room at the vacant expressions of people who have deemed it a lost cause and clench my fists, and dig them into my temples, contemplating bashing my brains in. Instead, I opt for silently praying for patience.  Now, with a less angry mindset, I attempt to maturely direct my attention to the speaker, but I can't help but notice her theatrical tone as she jumps from one topic to another in her monologue, waving her hands around to an audience sleeping with their eyes open. And suddenly I feel something rising in my throat.  It's a giggle.  I manage to clap my hand over my face in time, so no one notices.  But then I can't stop.  The giggling has just begun, and with all my might I can't make it stop.

Just as I begin to gain control of myself, though, Katie glimpses my expression and looks away quickly.  Katie's mouth begins to twitch as our friend's voice continues to rise and fall as the monologue continues, and Katie bubbles over in laughter.  This spurs me on and soon I've released the snort.  Soon, all of the boys in our group are awake and laughing with us, and our friend sits in utterly silent befuddlement. 

After a moment, we manage to settle down and Katie apologizes for the disruption simply with a "Sorry, we're a little crazy tonight," and then I steal a glance at Katie and we almost lose control once more. Fortunately, and quite miraculously, our friend is quite oblivious to the reason for our amusement, making some lighthearted comment about our silly antics, and we continue on with our study, Katie and I dutifully avoiding eye contact.

We need a vacation.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Images of a Successful Day

Brothers and Sisters from Jingzhou come to visit us.  They teach the Word in their dialect of Chinese. There are in-depth discussions going on long after each of the meetings. 

Sitting in the midst of it all, I watch shining eyes, and furrowed brows, and gratefully soak in the energy that comes from talking about subjects larger than life, despite not understanding everything spoken.

I belt out the lyrics with all of the others voices blending in song. Throughout the room brothers and sisters close their eyes as they sing with all their hearts.  

We dish out the food we've prepared; laughter rings throughout the room, friendships are formed, stomachs are filled.

Before we say "Amen," I sneak a peak: Eyes closed so tight, heads bowed so low.

Students accept free copies of the good book, eagerly flipping through, and clutching them as they leave, showering us in gratitude.

Farewells are made between believers in Yichang and Jingzhou as we grasp hands, exchange emails, and wish blessings on each other.  

And with souls energized, and hearts warmed, we go home.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Every last one of the 34 Things I Did Today... You're welcome.

  1. Rolled out of bed after much adieu.
  2. Taught my 8:00 class through puffy eyes and a sick feeling stomach.
  3. Came back
  4. ..No comment
  5. Felt better..
  6. Talked to Nora on Skype while I fried bacon.
  7. Said goodbye.
  8. Greeted Katie after class.
  9. Took shower.
  10. Made pancakes.
  11. Ate pancakes.
  12. Felt much better.
  13. Intended to study Chinese.
  14. Strummed on the gee-tar.
  15. Figured out it was the last day for my Chinese Pod free trial.
  16. Downloaded 10 jillion Chinese lessons.
  17. Didn't study Chinese.
  18. Went to Wal-Mart with the crew.
  19. Bought a lot of food.
  20. Put money on my phone.
  21. Greeted our Jingzhou guests.
  22. Ate chicken and had fellowship.
  23. Had an amazing time singing.
  24. Tried to listen to the lesson.
  25. Couldn't understand.
  26. Had more excellent fellowship.
  27. Played with Elizabeth's cute, wittle puppy Alexander found on the street.
  28. Tried to join in on heated debated going on in the living room.
  29. Couldn't understand.
  30. Went back to the apartment.
  31. Chit-chatted with the Katester.
  32. Ate a bowl of cereal.
  33. Downloaded Chinese Pod Lessons until I started seeing spots.
  34. Aaaaannd, updated blog in a zombie-like trance before going to bed.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

We Smell Like Pharisees

Being far from the body of believers in the US, I've been meditating a lot on why the Family isn't growing in America.  And to answer this question, I first saw the problem in myself.

I can feel myself changing.  Yes, it's been ever so slowly, but He is at work in me, I hope.  More and more I fight to concern myself with others lives and worry about their struggles and think that much less about my own.  …Boy, is that hard, or what?  Well, it's hard for me.

 Less of self, and more of thee… 

When I read about the Son, I am frustrated just by how much further I am from the goal than I ever knew before.   I am selfish, I can be judgmental, and my heart has been hardened to those in need.  Discouraging, right?  But then it dawns on me, that at last I've come to the point of self-realization.  From what I can see, the members of the body who are the most difficult, and the most divisive, are those that would happily evaluate themselves as a genuinely good person—someone who is better than most people. 

And it might be true.  Certainly these people aren't committing crimes; maybe they're self-disciplined, and perhaps even more giving with their material possessions than the average Joe.  But it is this satisfaction that people have with themselves that seems, to me, to be the most dangerous mindset anybody could have.

I just wonder what incredible things we could all be doing if we breathed in a good dose of humility, observing the large gap between our own actions and those of the Son of Man.  What if we all thought about what else we could be doing rather than kept a tally of all the things we've already done?

None of self, and all of thee…

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Write on!

Oi! I'm not sure I knew what I was thinking when I proposed a daily blog post.  How do some people do it?

Anyway, here are some journal entires (some are excerpts) that I had typed up in a Word Document last term to remember my students by. The students are instructed to write 5 sentences in English about anything they want.  Spelling remains unaltered. Enjoy!


"Today I got up late so I don't have breakfast.  Mrs. Jassica is the best teacher of the teacher that ever taught us. The teacher wear much beautiful than before, I think her must very happy. My teacher Jassica also that beautiful, when I see her I think I must learn English well, or I will can't fellow her. Today is sunny, no wind."


1. I'm hungry today

2. Because I have nothing for my breakfast 

3. I want to a bottle of water and a cup of and something to eat

4. I think that's enough for me, but I'm still hungry

5. So I hope to have a big meal. but how? it's impossible we are in the class.


"I can't guess what Miss Jessica will do every do.  But she always give us surprise and make all of us laugh."


"One stone two birds.  I really like to make it happen, but at last I missed it."


  1.            My Chinese name is Wu Xiung Long my Enlgish name is Kobe
  2.       .    I like Jesscia very much.
  3.      .     I like in play basketball.
  4.    .  I want to make a lot of money in the future.
  5.       .   My English is so pool. So I want to improve my English.


"I get up early, but not have breakfast, I'm hamgre now."


"Today is Monday.  This is a rainy day.  I'm taking classes English.  My English teacher let me wirt five sentences.  So I did that as above."


"Most of us like having this class and this it's interesting and full of fun.  But, I sometime fear of it.  I worry about the teacher ask me to answer ask me to answer or do some other things.  It doesn't mean I dislike it, just don't know how to do with it."


"My stomach have some problem.  Because of I felt not very well with my stomach.  I think I must be well in several days"

NEXT ENTRY…. "Today is fine, because my body change fine."


"I feel happy for have so kind teacher."


"We are only take class and do homework and do homework.  I know we must study hard in university, but we also need play."


"It's raining today.  And I'm not fine.  I missed my family very well.  At school, I want to try my best to do everything well.  But not at all.  I don't want to go abroad after graduation.  It well depend on much money and much time.  For my family, it's a big pressure.  I only want to make everything better.  Try my best to get much knowledge, find a good job for myself.  To make my family happiness which is my best wish."


"It rains.  I don't like rainy day. I don't feel very good.  But today's course makes me alittle happy.  And I think it will be a sunny day tomorrow."


"I'm not like the life now I living.  Time past quickly, but I find I have learned nothing. I don't understand myself, what am I?  I think I can do many things.  In fact, I can do nothing.  I know my body is bad, but why do I smoke often?  I said to everyone. "please live happily, because you will die so long".  Even though, I'm not happy.  Ya-Ha I want to be a happiness boy. I haven't been happiness, why?  Perhaps it's my mistake."


"In the morning we had an oral English class and the foreign teacher. Jessica wore a t-shirt and a long dress. Came to our class.  I thought she is beautiful and so cool because today's weather was not very high."


"But the most exciting thing is that I am nice to see my Enlgish teacher—Jesscia


"Last night Bill went to play basketball and hurt himself in his face.  when he went back to the dormitory he alway standed in front of the mirror to check the injury.  He felt sorry to see other people because the apparent injury has bad influence on his image.  He is going to cry and unhappy."

"After lunch, I went to sleep.  It is nice that I have dreamt Kobe.  And when I woke up, I felt disappointed because that just a dream."


"I was very thankful to Jassica.  Because when I was debting she was listened. Although she couldn't understand."

"The morning of today is so hurry we don't want to be late for Jassica's class so we not have breakfast. When I come in the classroom.  I say hellow to Jassica, but she looks like unhappy and not even take glare at me."

"I prefer like to agree this view. When I see some lovers do all things together.  I am eagerly to make a girl friends."

"Last night. when we over the class.  Bill and Alex played basketable. as other members whom they come from grate two in this unvisity joined played basketable. Maybe it was for dark. One of members has fouled in the game and unfortunately his hands beat Bill's face. so it was made Bill's blood boil and left the playground."

I have a feeling these mean a good deal more to me than you, but I felt that these quotes are the appropriate ratio for the types of entires I got all last term.  I always loved hearing about the same instance from several students.  This term, I have them journal on topics of MY choosing.  I'll fill you in on those goodies another time..

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hungry? Why wait? Grab a rabbit.

Description: White-ish. Obese. Annoying. Beady red eyes. Annoying. Dirty. Excellent jumping abilities. (aka. annoying)

...But cuddly!

Price: Negotiable (Will pay you.)

Age: Well, it was, believe it, or not, a Christmas present. But he was small then. So.. not old.

>>If you could get back to me before Katie sees this, that'd be sweet!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cross-cultural Cuisine: This One's for You, Mom

"Four more bites, and stop crying."  These are the words that so many loved picky eaters hear growing up; And I was no exception.  OH, those blissful times sitting at the dinner table by myself, after everyone else has left, glaring at my meatloaf while contemplating the best moment to slip the last 2 out of 4 bites to my dog (I was always too chicken to actually do it.)  Eventually, my merciful mother, feeling sorry for this stubborn, skinny 7-year-old, comes out and softly coaxes me into taking another bite, while trying not to laugh. Soon, I'm skipping off to watch Nickelodeon, unaware that you, Mom, YOU were making me a better, stronger, more open-minded person.  Yes, you were.  And now, this ex-picky eater must admit, Meatloaf March potlucks are now my favorite!

Last term I made a goal to take each of my students out to dinner at some point throughout the year to get to know them better.  Chinese students--never to miss out on an opportunity to practice their English-- always willingly oblige. And a lot of great things have come from these outings.  It wasn't long, however, that I learned to fear these words: "Traditional Food."

Let me tell you about the first time this phrase was used in a conversation with me: A sweet girl with excellent English, Teresa, tells me how excited her parents are that she is eating with her English teacher and they've instructed her on a traditional specialty that she should introduce to me.  "OK!", I say energetically.  And so on the way to dinner we make a stop to try a famous local beverage that's been around for 130 years. (I may, or may not have made this fact up.)

"Oh, a drink", I think. "Well, this can't be so bad."  As we near the window I see some strange pieces floating in the beverages being served.  Teresa's friends politely decline a cup, and although this makes me a bit concerned, I know there's no backing out on the hospitality being offered me.  

I take a sip and feign a smile that I'm afraid came out as a grimace.  

"Do you like?"  Teresa asks nervously.

"Mmm! So, what's in this?"


~Moment of silence as I ever so deliberately finish swallowing.~

"Reeeally... Fr-from an animal?"

"Yes, do you like it?"

"It's interesting! So, it's umm, sperm. From an animal."

"Yes, from in the sea."

There are two choices at this point in time. Either, I throw the cup of sperm into the trashcan and, thus, throw away any chance of friendship with these sweet girls, or... I drink it.

"Oh."  And... I sip... and actually swallow. (All modesty aside, I deserve a medal.)

I've seen some pretty bizarre dishes on menus.  So, I didn't doubt it right away.  Endurance my friends.  This is what gets you through.  In my last 8 months in this fine country I have sat through many a meal chewing and swallowing without grimacing.  I have mastered the technique of scooting food around my plate and popping the occasional tiny piece of tofu, cow's stomach, or meat gelatin into my mouth in order to satisfy the gracious host.  You see, there's something called "saving face" in these parts.  If you make it clear that you don't like the food you've so generously been given, you would be forcing your host to lose face.  And, well, that just isn't nice.

I must urge you not to assume that I don't like Chinese food; really, I have come to love just about anything any street vendor will will dish out.  It's these "famous foods" that I am occasionally graced with that pose the ultimate challenge. 

As we continued our walk to the restaurant, I grasp at one last semblance of hope and turn to Teresa, "You know, are you sure you have the right word? For... this?"  Teresa promptly digs out her phone to reference her Chinese-English Dictionary.

A moment passes and I watch the realization flush her face.

"Shrimp.  I mean to say Shrimp." And she looks at me, mortified, and I look down at my half empty cup, and I can't help it-- I laugh. Hard.  I can't stop laughing.  Finally, she laughs.  And then we're all laughing.

I couldn't have done it without you, Mom.  One small bite of meatloaf for picky eaters, one giant cup of shrimp juice for friendships between all eatingkind.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Well, I just had one of the best two hour conversations of my entire life!  One of my friends left just a few minutes ago and t's now 11:37 PM. I was worried that I was going to fail on Day ONE of my new blogging endeavor. We're cuttin' it close, people!

Allow me to fill you in on a typical Saturday in the life of Jessica.  Today, I woke up... erm.. let us just say, ridiculously late.  Usually one of my students comes on Saturday mornings for my Chinese lesson, but he had called me last night asking if we could switch to Sunday afternoon.  So, I enjoyed my shameful amount of sleep, thank you very much.

The afternoon past swiftly, I practiced the guitar a little, downloaded some lessons from (learning Mandarin? Check it out! It's awesome), did some dishes (pause for Katie to remember why she loves me), and yelled at our obese rabbit that jumps on every surface available in our apartment about... 235 times (approximately).

Every other Saturday, I host a singing devo. at our apartment.  So, I grabbed some rice noodles mixed with egg and lettuce for dinner at Sogo (our local super cheap food spot), then bought some snacks for the group at the nearby little corner store, where I'm pretty sure I provide the owners with 90% of their income, and awaited the peeps.

Being that we Americans stay pretty busy with special studies among other things these days, I ended up being the only American and the only believer able to be present at the event. Despite being the only one who knows the songs, we had a great time!  About 10 friends showed up, and I ended up singing a few partial solos.  Upon finishing a Chinese song that we sing just about every Sunday with the Family, all of my friends applauded~ They are easily impressed and just sweet~ but I'm not so sure that they get that reading Pinyin is incredibly easy compared to their memorization of thousands of characters.  Anyway, after an hour or two, everyone left, except for one of my friends, Alexander.

Alexander has been studying regularly with Zack for quite some time, and has been searching for answers for a while, as well.  Under Zack's tutelage and his own dedication, his knowledge of the Good Book is nothing less than impressive.  Somehow we ended up in a long conversation about all of his doubts and concerns about the faith.  I can't remember ever feeling so pumped after a two hour conversation.  I was actually trembling.

Strange, isn't it, that when talking about someones doubts and fears it can make you feel more self-assured in your own beliefs?  I have no doubt that HE was with me throughout the conversation.  Answers flowed from my mouth so easily, it amazed me, and I knew I wasn't alone.  We had long moments of silence and contemplation, and at one point I even allowed myself to let the words that we believers so often fear admitting more than anything, "I don't know." I believe that Alexander had asked something about why miracles don't still happen, and why, in light of his sacrifice, it all had to be the way it was, instead of another way.  I gave him a few theories, talked about how the plan seemed, in many ways, to be perfect, but, in the end, I told him I couldn't fully comprehend the mind of the Almighty.

I don't know all of the answers.  No one does.  But I believe that more than sufficient evidence has been placed before me, to lead me to believe what I do.  And my admission surprisingly seemed to spur one of the most logical and evidence-driven people I've ever met towards positive interest rather than cynicism.

At the end of our conversation Alexander was quiet, "I need some time to think about all of this." And as he left, "Thank you, I know something from you."  And I looked at him and realized as I said, "I know something from you, too."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Light the firrrreee... on my behiiiinndd

Ladies and Gents, it is time.  Time for an intervention.  Yes, I am intervening on behalf of myself.  Too many wonderful things have happened. Too, too, too many wonderful things have happened and have not been recorded.  My first year in China is coming to a close in no time at all!  And so few tales have been told.  It's a travesty.

From now until June 20, 2010 (the day before I fly back to the US for summer Holiday) I will write a blog post every day.  That's right EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

It might not be magnificent.  It might not be more than a few sentences.  But it will be a post.  And that's better than no post.

For it is time to reflect on the beautiful things in life, right here in Yichang, and to share them with my readers.

Until next time.... (Tomorrow : )