Friday, June 27, 2008

Changing in China

While going through pictures, we cannot help but notice how much change has occurred in 2 years. Even in just the way we look. (Mind you, India did add 200+ years to our ages...) So I thought I would show you the change... (The others might kill me for this later, but most of these pictures were on past blogs anyways...)
Katie and Kim Fall 2006

Katie and Kim Spring 2008

Amy Fall 2006

Amy Summer 2008

Brad Fall 2006

Brad Summer 2008

Beth Fall 2006

Beth Summer 2008

Hong Kong

Blogging about Hong Kong has actually been quite the challenge for me...


Everything about it is great! It is a big city with a great mix of culture. My three favorite countries America, China, and Scotland all in one place! There are mountains and great places to hike. There are so many trees!!!! There are Mexican restaurants, good milk, mint M&M's. Starbucks! There is blue sky, puffy clouds and you can see the moon at night. Lots of fun things to do like Disney, Victoria Peak, shopping, laser show, etc. You can ride the world's longest escalator. You can measure hands with famous stars like Jackie Chan on the Avenue of Stars. The people are beautiful! I just flipping love it!

Don't be too surprised if you see me back here one day...
Blogging cannot express the greatness of this city.

Something Done Ahead of TIme?!!?

I cannot believe I am saying this, but one week ahead of time I am packed up! ::gasp:: Thanks to the master packers, Sandra and Shorel, I will not be running around this week stressing about getting stuff together. I can really just enjoy spending time with friends. (And finishing class because I am like the only foreigner in China who still has class...ugh.) Hard to believe I was able to pack all of my life in China in this little load...

Amy has been a saint and has come over once again to help me go through things. Normally it is just her presence and her telling me to stop getting distracted that I get things done. Exactly what am I going to do without my Amy next year??? ;) Anyways, with Amy's help I created this giveaway pile...

I mean really?!?! How much can one accumulate in 2 years?!?! So in order to get rid of all this stuff, we had a girls night. About 14 girls came over for some shopping and I ended up with only this stuff left...

Mainly just pants and socks left... Yea!

It's official, I am fixing to move back to the States.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Graduation Day!

Yea! They did it! The girls graduated! (Jumping did too even though she was not in attendance)

Yesterday Amy and I went to the gym after a short notice of graduation ceremony for the college of Science and Technology. We chose seats quickly without thinking. After about 10 minutes we searched for ways to escape... even texted Kim to see if she would pull the fire alarm. No luck! Graduation is not what you are picturing. Instead of robes and tears, it is people talking on the phones, a couple of representatives from the class, and complete lack of attention by all. Students don't walk across a stage or anything. They get their diplomas by going to a teacher's office and standing in a line later. One friend decided she would do nothing at home instead of attending her own graduation!
Even amid all of these ridiculousness, it still was a day to celebrate! It was graduation day!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Great Love of My Life

"Traveling is the great true love of my life . . . To travel is worth any cost or sacrifice. I am loyal and constant in my love for travel, as I have not always been loyal and constant in my other loves. I feel about travel the way a happy new mother feels about her impossible, colicky, restless newborn baby--I just don't care what it puts me through. Because I adore it. Because it's mine. Because it looks exactly like me. It can barf all over me if it wants to--I just don't care." - Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat. Pray. Love.
I am not sure exactly when I fell in love with traveling, but it might have been sometime between climbing Sir Arthur's seat in Edinburg and eating gelato in Ferrara. Maybe it was as early as Black Mountain summers. I just know that there is something that makes my heart race with excitement when it comes to traveling.
I think I am a good traveler. Some people can only travel a certain way... stay in certain hotels, travel only by plane, food must be good, etc. Some people only travel for a passport stamp. They race around from sight to sight and really just live their travels in pictures they shot. There are people who are too cheap to spend that money to see the extra museum and people who blow their money on drinks they could get at home. (Okay, if it was milk I might too!) I would say most people don't document their trips in writing or postcards. All of those kinds of people I am not. Every trip is the trip of a lifetime.
Traveling has not always been so kind to me. I reflected on this last week as Amy and I almost died of panic when trying to catch our train in Wuhan. We had to take a bus from Yichang to Wuhan and then catch a train. Our plan was to have dinner in Wuhan. No time for dinner and we had to literally beg a taxi man to take us to the train station. I ate stomach on the train... Anyways, there have been lots of misfortunes in my travels. Breaking my toe is Livingston playing "Stir The Pudding", pigeon pooping on my new white pants in Venice, being mugged in Wuhan and tackling the thief to the ground, losing my shoe in a squatty in snow in Harbin and then smell like poop for several days, walking into a gay bar in London to throw up, but did not realize where I was until I was puking, being stranded in Sri Lanka with no money and no hotel in the middle of war, staying a hole of a wall place in Delhi while being sick, getting a fish stuck in my goggles while snorkeling in Cancun and getting poked in the eye many times, falling off a rice field wall in Daye, being sick in Times Square on New Years Eve, bus I was on hit a donkey on the way home from Shiyan, bought tickets for wrong day to races in Beijing, car lost brakes while driving to Atlanta, etc. etc. While at the moment none of these have been fun to experience, I have to say it makes for a great story for me a great laugh for those who experienced these things with me.
I have had too many good traveling experiences to name. Sadly, some probably have already been forgotten. My computers and books are full of photos and writings from my adventures. While maybe nobody will ever read what I have written and my photos won't be in any museums, I cherish these. Each has a part of my love. A part of my heart. Traveling is the great love of my life.
Hong Kong post soon.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Running Away

Because of all the high emotions, stress of exams/moving, and Amy's birthday, we thought what could be better than just running away??!!? ;)

In a few hours, Amy and I will be heading to Hong Kong for a long weekend. We got ourselves a nice hotel with swimming pool. We plan to go to Victoria Peak and Disneyland. A little shopping at H&M perhaps... and of course eat some good food... Hoping for some good milk...

Now this was a good idea...

Happy 25 Amy! We will do it big in Hong Kong!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Post 9/11 Goodbyes

Since September 11, unless you have a ticket you cannot enter the boarding gate areas in American airports. This also prevents most planes from being seen taking off by loved ones. I always hated that... until today. Watching a plane take off, knowing your life is going to change because someone is on that plane, future unknown- these things are not good for anyone's emotional state.
It was a difficult day.

Friday, June 13, 2008

End Of An Era

Today we are going to Wuhan.

Brad leaves tomorrow morning for the States.

It is the end of an era, ladies and gentlemen.

China will never be the same.

Will have a "Brad" posting when Amy and I get back.

There are 3 more weeks of good girl time. :)

Lots to still look forward to.


I am sad.

THINK about all of us this weekend.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thoughts on A Current Event

Tomatoes... I always knew they were bad! ;)

A New Dish

On Tuesday night we decided to try a new dish. (Note: new to us, but we were informed that this was a Hubei speciality... in 2 years we had never seen this...)

Step 1. Put on plastic gloves provided.

Step 2. Have a Chinese friend instruct you on how to dissect your dinner. (Thanks Maggie!)

Step 3. When finished move to another table to enjoy your other dishes. You have created quite a mess. (Note: notice there are no pictures of our faces while eating because our table looks tame compared to the spice on our lips!)

It really was a fun and delicious meal!

Dragon Boat Festival 2008

Some of you might remember the great Yichang Dragon Boat Festival that I loved so much last year. Well, this year I was really looking forward to going again, but this year there was some major mafan (trouble)...

In April I got an email from some friends in Shiyan saying they would like to come to Yichang for Dragon Boat Festival. For some reason, I thought May Holiday (1st week in May) was Dragon Boat. After trying to find tickets, I found out that May Holiday is Chinese version of Labor Day. Dragon Boat is in June.

About 3 weeks ago I started asking about tickets for the races again. Nobody seemed to know anything. But who can blame them? I mean the Olympic Torch was coming to town! ;) I thought after the Torch would come through, I would definitely hear something. Last year all we heard about was Dragon Boat Festival for weeks before!

Torch comes and goes... still no news of the races. Finally, a friend in the FAO office prints out this handy little sheet for me. Apparently, the races we went to last year are every other year. Disappointment. However, there would still be races close to the Dam. She gave me buses, English and Chinese instructions and I had full confidence that we would finally get to see some Dragon Boats again.

Jaime and Andrew come to town on Saturday. We all go to bed early Saturday night because we have to get up at 6am on Sunday to catch a bus. Sunday morning comes and it is pouring! We ask around and everyone said to go on. Brad and I wear our Pearl Market/Columbia rain jackets and the Hills have their nice umbrellas... All set...

We take a bus for about 40 minutes and then the driver tells all the foreigners to get off. Nobody gets off with us. The sheet did say it would be a 20 minute walk. We stop and ask for directions along the way. About 10 minutes into our walk Brad and I discover that our jackets are not waterproof. Upon our arrival, there are no boats to be seen. The last woman we ask says "it's raining" with a look expressing that she thought we were idiots.

We did get to see a barge of trucks unload! ;)

(somehow we look amazingly dry in this picture!)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Key to Life... Letting Go.

Sometimes I find myself afraid of being still and listen to Father speak to me. I guess because I can often see parts of my life I still have not turned over or surrendered to him. This passage from C.S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe kind of sums up my thoughts...
"He'll put all to rights as it says in an old rhyme in these parts;Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.You'll understand when you see him."

"But shall we see him?" asked Susan.

"Why Daughter of Eve, that's what I brought you here for. I'm to lead you where you shall meet him," said Mr. Beaver.

"Is - is he a man?" asked Lucy.

"Aslan a man?" said Mr. Beaver sternly. "Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-sea. Don't you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan ia a lion - the Lion, the great Lion."

"Ooh!" said Susan, "I'd thought he was a man. Is he - quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."

"That you will, dearie, and make no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver; "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."

"Then he isn't safe?" asked Lucy.

"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."
I am a lot like Lucy and Susan. I have not always "pictured" the King correctly. While I should fear, I should not be afraid of letting the Spirit work in me. He wants good things for me! I should not be afraid of letting go...
Today I was hit with this... (Amazing how things can just pop out at you even though you have read them many times...)
"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." Matt 16.25
Talk about direct instruction for finding the good life...
Letting go= Good life.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Brad, the master guitarist, learned to play Ben Kweller's song Lizzie. He wanted to learn the lyrics (so Amy, master singer, could sing). After listening to the song, tons of times a couple of weeks ago I still could not figure out a repetitive line. What's a girl to do? Google it.

The line turned out to be a word. Dayenu. What does that mean? I didn't know... Google it.

Dayenu is a Hebrew word that means "it would have been enough" or "it is sufficient." There is a Jewish song that goes through all of the blessing the Israelites had in the desert, exodus, etc. After each blessing, it repeats this word, dayenu.

When I first looked it up, I thought it was interesting. However, today in my quiet time I was thinking just how much I am like the Israelites. I go through those up and down phases of faith. I don't always put my trust in the Father. Currently, as I am thinking about my future I have not put trust in Him. Why not??!?! I have seen over and over how He protects, loves and leads to me to good things. He does something great and not five seconds later, I have forgotten and wonder why he has left me. I wrote out my own little version of the Dayenu (Jewish) song with the many ways Father has blessed me just this year. Hopefully, the next time I get to feeling sorry for myself, I will remember dayenu.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Give Me Some Water!

Just by stepping outside your door, you can tell it is summer in Yichang. For the past couple of weeks, we have been itching to get in some water. One afternoon Brad, Amy and I decked in swimsuits headed to a pool in town only to be told it would open in a month.... Who opens a pool at the end of June??!!? This past Saturday though we got our wish.

Saturday morning about 25 of us rented a bus and headed to a small gorge area for some swimming. While it was definitely the coldest day of the past couple of weeks, that did not stop us. It really is a great outing because it gives us time to spend with our students and our students get to know each other. This time I invited some of my 3+1 students and I was so glad I did. They cannot stop talking about how much fun they had. Little do they know that it was one of their teacher's favorite days too! :)

Photo of the Week

Monday, June 2, 2008

Olympic Torch Relay

On Sunday I woke up at the inhumane hour of 4:30 to shower and don my "Yichang Torc Relay" t-shirt. A student had painted the shirt for me. It really did say "torch" but the "h" was painted on the back so it looked like "torc". As I walked to the library to meet a student, she called to tell me we would be unable to meet. Thankfully, I ran into another friend right after I hung up.
A group of about 8 of us ended up walking across town to the river to watch the torch. Have you ever seen movies where everyone is fleeing some disaster? That is exactly what it looked like. The sidewalks were crowded and everyone was headed in the same direction. Was it like this in America in 1996?
We picked our spot right in front of the Three-Self Church and the river. For 3 hours we waited. I got to know some people a little better, ate a nice breakfast of hot noodles, took lots of photos with people wanting to see a foreigner and race to the road every time a car passed. By the time the torch actually came by everyone already had a sore throat from screaming "ZhongGuo JiaYou!" (Go China.) Patriotism was at its peak!

We had a pretty nice view of the torch and it was pretty exciting to be in such a crowd. The Olympics are a BIG deal to the people here. The torch might be the only way the townspeople might see part of the Olympics for themselves. It was a big day. Maybe even a historical day for some. Definitely worth getting up so early...