Monday, February 25, 2008

Blog of Encouragement

Each evening before I climb into bed, I normally grab a mug of something warm and open Google Reader to catch up on all the blogs I subscribe to. I have an interesting mix. Of course there are my fellow workers in China and a few friends back in the States. Two political related blogs that honestly I could probably do without. Some simple good-doers... M. Workers, journalists, etc. My favorite is probably the blog of a stay at home mom. Talk about adventures! But as of late, I have really been enjoying the blog of some dumpster-divers with Purpose.

Back in the days of the House of Burt, I met Daniel through Amy. I have only seen Daniel a couple of times and sadly have never met his lovely wife, but both have left quite an impression. Both Daniel and Amanda seek to live out God's purpose in their lives. Whether it be in their jobs or how they spend their money, both show an example of being mission minded. They have never asked to be praised or for their story to be publicized, but as of late their lives/mission are being widely spread. Lisa Ling has interviewed them. The Tennessean featured an article on Daniel and friend Josh Corlew. This Wednesday, Daniel and Amanda will appear on the Oprah show.

While normally I write about battles in a kitchen or some ridiculousness that I face as a foreigner in China, I really wanted to share the Burts' blog with you all. I hope it will get you thinking about how to practically show your love for Father in ALL aspects of your life.

Thanks Daniel and Amanda for being willing to share your ideas! (and still being extremely humble!)

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Banana pudding:2

Saturday, February 23, 2008


It is funny how there are some things that cross all boundaries of culture, geography, age, sex, etc. Love, food, religion jump out right away. Music though is one of those things too. Now I am not saying I enjoy music in China. Lord knows, I could go my whole life without ever hearing Celine Dion's Titanic song again. But music is something that plays an important part of our lives.

When I was in middle school, we were forced to choose band, strings or chorus. Those of you who know me know I cannot carry a tune or read music. However, I was in strings for 3 years. I played violin. I use the term "play" very loosely. Most of the time I would just air play, making sure my bow was in the same position as everybody else. Every now and then I would learn to play something. I never learned to read music. I just learned to listen to the sound and memorize where my fingers were supposed to go next. It is embarrassing for me to say that, but the truth. My favorite song that I could actually play was "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee". I loved it because playing myself it did not sound amazing, but when sitting in the orchestra it was something beautiful. I would play my little heart out knowing that it was the first time even God did not cringe at my playing.

I am not a musical person as compared to all of my teammates here, who all appear on some kind of CD, but I do appreciate good music. Every now and then I do have the urge to learn to play drums... another dream for another time.

(Topic from 100 Things Jar)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Beginning of a New Semester

As much as I dreaded the beginning of a new semester when I was a student, I also loved it. I loved being able to choose my classes. I loved buying new notebooks to fill with notes. I loved getting a syllabus, dreaming that I would do things ahead of time. I even loved scanning through my new textbooks. Nerdy I know.

Beginning of new semester as a teacher, not so much loving. I wish I could choose my classes. I have had one class of the same students all 4 semesters I have been here! (It's a love-hate relationship...) The only thing I buy is new whiteboard markers. That is a hassle...making sure I get the kind that erase. Typing out a syllabus takes hours and then I get off track the next week anyways. My textbook instructions are in Chinese (helpful!), but most of my classes don't have textbooks so I get to make curriculum. How much notice you ask? Try day before class starts.

School was supposed to start on the 20th. Everyone I know started on the 20th, except guess who? Yeah, me. I started ahead of time. I am teaching IELTS Speaking courses again. (I still know nothing about this exam and the certified guy is teaching basic oral courses...) Everyone is teaching 17 weeks. That is except for me once again. I have 20 weeks to teach. (My teammates will be settled in the States again by the time I finish!)

Beginning of semester as a teacher... like that taste of milk that has turned sour in the carton... might be something you want, but boy does it leave a bad taste in your mouth.

There was some good news. I only teach in the mornings. I am done by noon each day. I have no classes on Fridays. So really I guess I cannot complain too much. If it is a really bad day then I can just have lunch and crawl back into bed. :) I am actually truly grateful for such a schedule because it makes meeting with students and other Work much easier.

*Update on Bobby...
"I talked with Aunt Patty today. Currently Bobby is in Germany. They had to do some work on his leg and are going to take some chest scans to make sure he can travel to the U.S. The surgeon said he should make a full recovery if no complications arise but it is going to be a long process. She thinks he will arrive at Walter Reed tomorrow night if the scans show positive things. So hopefully things are looking better for him. While on the phone the surgeon also told Patty the Head General over European and Middle Eastern Operations is flying to Germany tomorrow morning to give Bobby the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal. This is the highest medal a soldier can earn next to the Congressional Medal of Honor. He earned this on a mission a couple of months ago when his helicopter was shot up by a convoy of enemy fighters. He was able to get his helicopter back to the base jumped in another helicopter flew back and destroyed the convoy of trucks carrying explosives while under heavy gunfire. I attached some information about the medal.Well that’s all I know for now …will update you when I hear more.Love,DAD

The Distinguished Flying Cross is a medal awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself or herself in combat in support of operations by "heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight, subsequent to November 11, 1918."

Thanks for praying for him!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Prayer Request

My cousin Bobby Sickler has been serving in Iraq for quite awhile now. He grew up in a military family and graduated just couple of years ago from West Point. He went on to helicopter school after that. We learned that Bobby has been shot and is being sent back to States. It knocked the wind out of me a little bit... a family member, someone my age, someone we grew up playing backyard softball and riding go-karts with...brings Iraq a little closer to home.

Below is an email from my dad.

"We received an update on Bobby. They are flying him to the U.S. to Walter Reed Hospital. He was shot over Mozel and since his helicopter has a co pilot they made it back to the base. The bullet went into this leg and some of the bullet broke off in an artery went through his heart and has lodged in his lung. They have stabilized him enough to get him to the U.S. There was a National Guard Surgeon in Mozel that specialized in this type of truama and was able to due some plimenary work to get him stabilized. That is all we know at this time, will let you know more as we hear. Aunt Patty and uncle Bob are heading to Washington and will call as they learn more. They believe Bobby will be there tomorrow. Keep him your prayers.LoveDAD."

Please keep Bobby and his family (Uncle Bob, Aunt Patty, Cousin Kelly) in your prayers. I will post updates...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Rejection on Valentine's Day

Another Valentines Day come and gone. I am thankful it is over with. Even being in another country (one, might I add, that is has not always been accustomed to celebrating...) can still be rough.

Last minute Katie, Kim and I decided to go out to eat. There is a restaurant here called Justines that has decent western food, but a little more pricey. The perfect place to go for such an occasion though. We did our makeup and put on jewelry (it is too cold to really dress up) and then headed out for a Valentines dinner.

We go to Justines. They are having a special "Just for 2" meal. We cannot order off the menu and it was too expensive for a meal we probably would not even like so we decide to keep moving. We catch another taxi back into town. We try another western beefsteak place. Same kind of deal. Pizza Hut was too crowded. Curry Ladle has no seats available. Are we really going to resort to McDonalds? We try the coffee place at our gym. (Coffeehouse here normally seems some kind of westernish food.) Special menu for two. Rejection on Valentine's Day for sure!

We hunker down at our peanut noodle place. Nothing special. We go there weekly. It was cold. Points though for cheapness.

After our "special" dinner we go back to Katie and Kim's. The idea was to watch a movie, but like when all girls get together there was just too much talking. We start discussing the future and just other things we are struggling with. By the end it is close to 11:30pm and I can't even stand up because of all the weight on my shoulders from our discussion. (And I was sleepy.)

I trudge home. I put in a movie with my Hollywood crush (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). He won't let me down. DVD does not work. Forget it. I am going to bed. A day of complete rejection...

In good news, I talked with my dad on Skype. That is always a good day. I will say though it is hard to talk seriously with somebody though when they are morphing into a werewolf or a French artist. (Dad says he did not do it, but I am telling you it happened!)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Month As A Backpacker

It is too overwhelming! I would be here for days if I wrote about everything, so here is just a sampling of what we did...

Traveled to Beijing where we met our friend Chen Tao

Brad and I traveled to Tianjin to spend time with Chen Tao and her family.

Flew to Sri Lanka where we were ravenged by bed bugs, visited an elephant orphanage and got our visas (finally!) to go to India

Flew to Trivandrum where we met our friend Sooraj, visited temple and bought me some new glasses

Took a backwater cruise through Kerala

Rode elephants and trekked through wildlife perserve in Thekkedy

Toured churches and synangogue in Kochi

Visited orphanage and seminary in Bangalore

Saw palace in Mysore

Lounged on beach in Goa

Shopped at Anjuna Market

Experienced life in Mumbai with Sooraj and family

Went to Agra to see Taj Mahal

Left Delhi very sick (Brad and I that is...) and flew back to Beijing

From Beijing we took a train back to Yichang. It is so nice to be home again. We have been hibernating the past few days. All in all a very good trip... one of those trips of a lifetime.
And this, my friends, concludes my month as a backpacker...
(for even more pictures you can scan through my Facebook albums.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Home Again... Home Again...

Back home in Yichang...

It seems completely wrong to be sitting here so, so cold. My arms are peeling thanks to the warm sun of India. It's back to the days of long underwear again.

I don't want to post too much about India yet until I get pictures together. Thankfully, school does not start for another 10 days. Until then I will be sitting in my almost warm apartment reading books, catching up on emails and blogs, finishing a writing project I started, trying to work on fulfilling New Years resolutions, and having afternoon tea each day.

As much as I love traveling, I love coming home almost as much. My month as a backpacker is finally finished...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Last Stop

Currently sitting in Delhi, the last major destination in India. Tomorrow morning we are going to see the Taj Mahal. :)

This trip has been wonderful, but at the same time I am ready to go home. Because of the snow/weather in Yichang we might be stuck in Beijing for awhile. Please just pray we can go on back to Yichang.

I really have so much that I have learned on this trip and look forward to having the time to blog about some of these things.

Until we are back in China...