Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Old me New me

Re-entry has been interesting...I guess you don't know how much you've changed until you re-enter your previous culture.
We're living on campus at harding grad. and although the apartment is small it is so nice to have all our things in one place. While unpacking these boxes I'm reminded of our lives before. For one thing we have distinct personal boxes. The labels say "Kyle's books" or "Rebecca's stuff". This past year in China really meshed us together as one unit. I'm not sure if we packed our belongings again if we would need to specify whose stuff everything is because it's all OURS.
Another thing I've learned about myself is I'm shocked at how much stuff we have! Before we went to China we sold most of our things and we still have SO much more than we had in China. It's nice to have these things but it's hard, after seeing how the Chinese live, not to feel guilty for having nice things.
Although re-entry has been confusing and not so fun at times we're making it. It really helps to have friends who understand, family who loves us no matter how weird we are, and a God who loves, blesses and cares for us everyday.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Finding Peace

Our life is a crazy mess right now. Our stuff is in three different places over the country (Dallas, Atlanta, and Henderson), we've lived out of our backpacks for the past month and a half, we haven't stayed in the same place since visiting our families for over a week, we have a lot of possibilities but none of them are a sure thing yet. We've spent many nights weighing pros and cons and trying to make plans. We've been stressed, we've lost sleep...We're starting school in a few weeks and still don't know how we're going to pay the bills. All the while trying to adjust and re-enter into this familiar yet foreign culture we're moving home to.

With all this stuff going on you would think we would be out of our minds…God continues to give us peace with our current situation. He continues to provide a place for us to lay down at night. He continues to provide us with meals and enough gas to get us where we need to go…Our God is great, Our God is loving, Our God provides in an incredible way.

We are not comfortable, we are not established, we are not successful, we are not settled.

Today I've found strength and peace in Psalms 119:73-76:

Your Hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands
May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
for I have put my HOPE in your WORD.
I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous,
and in faithfulness you have AFFLICTED me
May your UNFAILING love be my COMFORT,
according to your PROMISE to your SERVANT.

God made me and formed me with his hands. He has a plan for us. He gives me peace and patience to excitedly wait for what he has planned for me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A New Community

Tonight was the first warm night in a while. It was humid from a fog that seeped into our city but it felt refreshing. Kyle and I decided to go for a run. The campus we live in doesn't have a track but we've found one in the neighboring campus.
We discovered a new community on that dark track. There were all kinds of workouts being performed...some I'd never seen before! The young college guys would sprint around the track for a few laps. Satisfied with their run they'd go to the pull up bars in the center and start doing really fast sit ups. The young college girls, arm in arm, talked rapidly as they walked around the track or leaning lazily on the bars in the center talking on their cell phones. Older couples walked around the track backwards swinging their arms in huge motions across their bodies and then out again. One woman walked the entire track several times with her arms raised above her head the whole time. There were little children racing each other in the center being watched carefully by their grandmothers. And of course there was an army training for the new college students taking up all of the lanes on one part of the track. (In China all the college students must have army training their freshman or sophomore year.)
As you can imagine all these different activities made a regular run on the track quite an obstacle course! We plan to be regulars on this track and make some friends along the way.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Climbing Hills

Sylar, A student of mine, grew up in Hangzhou and knows a lot about the city. For months we've been talking about climbing the hills next to west lake and today we had an opportunity to do so! Sylar, Butterfly, Kerri, and another friend came with Kyle & I!
We experienced a completely different side of Hangzhou, one we'd never seen before. We left the hustle and bustle of the city streets and started the climb. Stairs of course. Like our Huang Shan Christmas but not near as strenuous. Once we climbed to the summit we sat on rocks and looked at the city below. It was an awesome feeling to find a place of retreat from crowded buses, busy streets and over populated sidewalks. Today we found our favorite place in Hangzhou.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Three Months

For three months I've entertained the idea of being a teacher next year at the international school here in Hangzhou. I had three interviews & thought I "had it in the bag". Our thoughts were if we got the job we could stay here for two years or more and take care of our financial debts. Kyle couldve tried to do school online & I wouldve been happy getting a tremendous experience being a teacher in an international school. Sounded perfect to us.
About a week ago I found out I didn't get the job. The ideas & plans we'd thought about for so long came crashing down & left us wondering "ok, that didn't work out. What next?". We had a meeting with our family here & talked about longterm & short term goals. No real decisions have been "set in stone" yet. But most of us are thinking "what next". Please think about us while we all try to listen to him about what's next.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Gift

We received an email a few days ago from the FOA (Foreign Affairs Office). The message said we had a gift waiting for us in their office for "Happy Woman's Day". I had two classes this morning, met some friends for lunch and decided I had enough time to swing by the FAO before my next class started.
It was raining hard at this point and I had my bag over my shoulder and braced my umbrella against the wind with both hands. I arrived to the fourth floor of the office building, walked down the hall and was greeted by a smiling face. Our Happy Woman's Day gift turned out to be boxes of Welch's grape juice!
Each box had four glass bottles and they were heavy. I got two boxes because she asked if I could take Kyle's too. Walking down the hallway with this heavy load I didn't know how I was going to juggle these boxes and an umbrella at the same time. 
A few ideas were flying through my head: I could have held both boxes with two hands and just trudged through the rain with no umbrella - but I would have been soaked for my next class. I also thought maybe I could hide them somewhere in a building and come get them after class - this was risky too because I could miss the bus home...
The elevator door opened and it had only one occupant. One of my students from this morning's class! She noticed I was struggling and took one of the boxes out of my hands and said, "I will help you go where you need to go." She walked all the way across campus in the rain carrying my box of juice!
The very moment I wondered how I was going to make it I was sent a gift.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Spreading the English Word

In class this week I asked my students if they'd ever read something in English they didn't understand. :o) Those that answered said "of course". I told them I would teach them a method I had learned that helped me find meaning in text. I wrote an excerpt from Solomon's wise words on the board and told them to write it in their own words. I was very proud of a lot of their opinions and understandings. We talked about when you read something that is good you should apply it to your life...so I asked them "If you were to live by this, how would you?" They thought about it and a lot of them had incredible responses.
Recently I learned from my students that they DON'T speak English to each other outside of class. This is their biggest struggle in learning English (they don't live in an English-friendly environment). Understanding this made me determined to create an English-friendly environment for each of my students.
I gave each student the challenge to speak English to five people throughout the week about what we talked about in our class. If all 60 of my kids from two classes talk to five of their friends, that's 300 people having English conversations about good things outside of class. Once they'd talked to five people they had to email me the names and responses of those people. Accountability.
I've had several emails already and it's been really neat reading my student's opinions on good things and speaking English outside of class.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Our Trip

Many of you know we’ve been traveling for about six weeks in south east asia. There are too many stories, experiences and pictures to share in just one blog so I’ve chosen a few pictures to show you and tell you about and that will just have to do. Feel free to email me with questions or comments :o) They are always welcome and encouraging.

We started our travels in Hanoi, Vietnam. This is a picture of the whole gang at a very beautiful outside café. We were all enjoying the warmer weather and excited to start our travels!

Hanoi is “famours” for the avid use of mopeds. They use them for everything…we even saw a man and woman riding down the street with a twin mattress in between them! I didn’t get a picture of that but I thought this one was interesting…Chickens stuffed in a cage on the back.

Mui Ne is a very special place in all of our hearts. The people are very laid back and funny. It’s a small beach town in South Vietnam. Kyle and Kevin took Kite boarding lessons and the rest of us tried our balance in surfing! We enjoyed our beach time there.

From Mui Ne we went to Saigon…we don’t have many pictures from there because it was just a stop over for a few days before we headed to Cambodia!

The first city we enjoyed in Cambodia was Phenom Phen. We were blessed to spend time with family who took care of us very well!

Siem Reap, Cambodia was a very relaxed city. Here we went to see Angkor Wat and two other temples. We enjoyed our time here very much!

After Siem Reap we went to Bangkok, Thailand and spent time with friends like us. We had so much fun with the people there!

From Bangkok we went to Beijing, China for a winter break orientation where we got pumped up for this semester. We did make some time for fun and tourism too! We saw the great wall, Tiananmen square, the forbidden city and the Olympic buildings! We found a ski resort a few hours outside of Beijing and we went Snowboarding for a few days.

This has been an incredible trip but we're ready to get back to work! Tomorrow we start teaching and continue to live with purpose. We're really excited about this semester and hope all of you think of us here in China.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I feel so energized! Some people are just incredibly energizing. I talked to someone like that for me tonight. This special person lost her job a year ago and just when you think she should be the lowest of lows she let her dad figure things out for her and she has been loving life ever since. He has never failed to pay her bills or provide for her the things she needs. I LOVE hearing how well fathers take care of their children.It is exhilarating. I hope we all share how great our dad is and how he cares for his children. When we share, it opens an opportunity for someone else to share and a beautiful domino effect takes place.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Semester is Over!

This semester is OV for me! I gave my last final today at 10:30, my how the time has flown! This semester has been absolutely incredible. What started out as a group of unfamiliar, nervous, chinese faces turned into a beautifully confident bunch of friends!
I remember on the first day of class the students slinked awkwardly into their seats looking at me wide-eyed and nervous. I was nervous too because I had never had to teach such shy people...American kids are the complete opposite - you have to teach them to not say everything they're thinking! I found out from a few of the bolder ones that many of them had never even talked to a foreigner before! From then on I understood and tried to make the classroom a friendly environment by building confidence every chance I could. I don't know when it happened but they transformed somewhere in the middle and the last half of class was spent joking during breaks and a lot of them came early to speak to me a little more.
I'm excited about next semester because unlike Kyle and the rest of the undergraduate teachers I get to keep my students! So we're going to have fun learning right off the bat with no need to go through that awkward time again!
I'm really excited about this incredibly long break! We plan to travel south-east asia (vietnam, cambodia & thailand) encouraging family along the way. I'm pumped and will be writing more about it as it happens!
(picture is a prezzie from one of my students named bunny, she got me a bunny so i'd remember her lol)