Sunday, May 16, 2010

A little late night delirium

6 weeks left in this country, and I'm wondering about the future.. and other things. I wonder if I've changed. I wonder where I'll go and what I'll do. I wonder if I'll find an income when I get back. I wonder if my kids at the foster home are over their chicken pox. The wonderings go deeper, but for those you'll just have to wonder for yourself.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

He is the answer you are looking for

I'd love to say that I was searching for God when He found me, but the truth would tell you that I was whining. I wanted God to rescue me from a flood that was assaulting my life, and if He wasn't going to do that, I was going to run from it. Inconvenient reality of living in China: you can't run far when you're broke and the most complicated sentence you can form is "Please give us one big bottle Sprite."

You might guess that (more out of sheer impossibility than good judgment) I decided not to run. But I was still staring up at those treacherous clouds with, we'll just say, a bad attitude. Rain sucks, mud sucks, life sucks.. you get the picture.

Then 2 days ago, even though I had done nothing to warrant the gift, He gave me peace I almost forgot was possible. God came down and slipped some solid ground under my feet. Turns out that's all I actually needed.

The thing about solid ground is that rain is still assaults it, and the wind continues to blow over it. But it provides a foothold. A quiet, steady assurance that I really DO believe what I believe and my striving is not in vain. When I've completed what I've been designed to do, I will become a shining display of glory.

In the words of Job:
"But if I go to the East, He is not there;
if I go to the West, I do not find Him.
When He turns to the South, I catch no glimpse of Him.
But He knows the way that I take;
When He was tested me, I will come forth as gold." (Job 23:8-10)

You know, if I had just stopped staring up into that pouring rain with wide, angry eyes, it wouldn't have hurt so much. Even amidst the worst troubles, there is a place you can look to ease the pain. And it isn't where you're prone to look.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Love, in exchange for being forgotten.

I've been trying to think of how to describe what I am thinking, but it keeps coming out wrong.
It's a crazy kind of love, to love an orphan. You pour your heart out to a child with no family; no dad to carry them on their back and no mom to read them bedtime stories or kiss their forehead when they're sick. You hold them when they're 2 months old, with such tiny hands they barely fit around your finger. You watch for their first smile, listen for their first word. You nervously prop them up to sit, lure them toward something shiny when they learn to crawl, and hold their hand while they learn to walk. You chase them and sing to them and read to them and make funny faces at them. You know where they are ticklish and which toy is their favorite. You start to love them like you would your own.
Then, just as it should be, they get to go home. And just as it should be, you feel like a piece of your heart leaves with them. Someone else will pick up where you left off and love them for the rest of their life. 
The hardest and greatest part is that they'll never know you existed.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My apartment: the ultimate April Fools

So as you know, today is April first.. a day notorious for practical jokes ranging from the innocent "Hey! Your shoe's untied!" to the somewhat more intense "fly hundreds of tires into a dormant volcano and light them on fire so everyone thinks it is erupting and flee in panic." True story, by the way.

I managed to go through the day without falling victim to any major pranks, seeing as how many of the Chinese don't know about or participate in the festivities. I did, however, enlighten my students about the importance of the day and practiced some easy-to-do tricks with them so they wouldn't miss out.

The day ends without major incident.. that is, until my roommate steps out of our room to find a little surprise. Apparently, our shower (which as you might have heard, has NO stall or curtain and drains directly in the floor) overflowed under the bathroom door and proceeded to form a 2 foot-wide river traveling through the living room, under our couch, and across into a few inches of our bedroom. Luckily, it just missed the surge protector attached to ALL of our computers. We spent the next 20 minutes mopping, squeegying, and towel-drying. And singing "I've got a river of life flowing out of me."

Oh, China.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Pharmacy

I'm thinking healthy thoughts at the moment. According to one of my students, if you think you're not sick, then you won't be.. so I'm trying it out. That, along with some Chinese antibiotics I picked up (without a prescription) from the local pharmacy. That was an interesting experience.. I went by myself, which I never thought I would do 2 months ago and handed the guy a paper with the drug on it and explained that I needed it. He asked me some questions I couldn't understand.. I told him I didn't understand. He proceeded to pull out 2 boxes with 2 different types of pills that are apparently the same drug, just different forms (and in case you're worried, the drug name was on the box in English). I buy the cheaper one, and then he tries to explain the dosage. I understand him, but he can't understand me telling him that I understand. So he just keeps explaining. And I keep telling him I understand until he finally writes it down (in Chinese characters, of course), which I explain that I cannot read. Finally, I ended up just telling him I would ask my friend. The 3 older ladies who were there at the same time were definitely talking about and laughing at me. I heard them saying something about English.. I was probably their entertainment for the morning. It's become so common that I just figure they can enjoy a good laugh and it doesn't even bother me anymore :) It definitely has given me a great perspective on foreigners in America. I don't think I would be half as patient with someone walking into my store.. if I had one.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Dear Sinus Infection:

I don't like you. You can go back where you came from. Thanks.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

China Miniature-Oven Cooking Adventures, part 1: Granola

It costs almost $10 for a bag of good granola in this country, so I've decided to try to make it myself. The only problem is, I can't read the label on some of what I'm using and my oven is the size of my hand. Although my hands are quite man-sized, it still makes my oven ridiculously small. My first attempt was not an absolute failure, but it was not quite worthy of eating. I have tweaked my method, and my second batch is cooking as I type. After living here for 2 months, I'm starting my baking adventures today! Stay tuned- if this one works out, I'll move on to snickerdoodles :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

$100? Or 200 Magnum bars?

Magnum bars. I've been searching for the perfect way to describe the ice cream bars that beckon my soul each time I walk into the foster home cafeteria. But, alas, words alone can't capture the wondrous, chocolately essence that is Magnum. I don't know what it is about this country that makes me this way, but I seriously have a problem. I eat them every day, sometimes twice. And although they're cheap by American standards (especially considering how delectable they are), I have decided to make serious efforts to end my compulsion and try to be a better steward of my dinero. Although, I didn't follow through exactly as I planned, seeing as how I bought a snickers after lunch instead for the same price. Baby steps.. baby steps.

My roommates are not helpful. In fact, 3 of them are eating ice cream as I type. And when I told them about how I recently had $100 deposited into an account for me, the only thing they said was "$100? That's like 200 Magnum bars!"

This is ridiculous.

ps- I'm not feeling so hot (maybe I'm having withdrawals already?), so please keep me in mind. Most of the kiddos at my site have colds, and stupid me bragged the other day about how I hadn't been sick since I got here. I feel like it might be inevitable now. But I'm hoping for the best.

pss- I don't want to misinform the public, so I have to let it be known that this is actually NOT a picture of a Magnum bar. It is, however, me eating ice cream in my apartment. And, as you can see, my roommate Anneli seems to have a similar problem.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hitchin' a Ride on a Rickshaw

There are many interesting ways to travel the 1 1/2 (I'm convinced it's closer to 2) miles to and from work at the foster home. Usually my roommates walk and I ride my bike. Sometimes a kindhearted coworker (or even a stranger) gives us a ride. We've hopped on the bus with our Chinese coworkers for an escape from a cold day. I got a lift once by the water man in his tricycle cart thingy alongside his water bottles. And a sympathetic nanny from my location let me hop on her scooter on a particularly cold day. Every day holds the potential for new, fun transportation experiences. I would have to say, though, that the rickshaw is hands-down the most interesting way to travel in the village. A few nights ago, my roommate and I were not excited about the half hour walk home, and found the solution stopped right in front of us, as someone got out of a little red cart with a hunter green top on it. We flagged down the driver, and I used my amazing Chinese skills to tell him that we wanted to go to our apartment. Apparently, he understood and after fifteen bumpy minutes, we arrived safely at home. This is Jess's documentation of our little adventure in the village. Hope you enjoy :)
a rickshaw ride home

Friday, March 5, 2010


I am overwhelmed. 5 girls, 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom. 70 new students with varying levels of English speaking skills. Hundreds of Chinese words I want to learn. Zero alone time. 7 nannies and 6 orphaned children at the foster home. 3 birthday parties (including my 23rd) in 3 days. 22 foreign and Chinese people crowded into a small village bbq restaurant. 1 month to plan a trip to my 2nd foreign country after my first 90 days in China. 1 real day off. 4+ loads of laundry to wash. 6 English classes to prepare for conversation corners next week plus 5 days of English lessons to prepare for the nannies at the foster home. Only One who will help me make it through this.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Frolicking in the snow and other things

In case you're wondering (because I did), I did not misspell frolicking. It's just a naturally ridiculous-looking word, I guess. Anyways, moving on. Today I frolicked in the snow with my 9-year-old friend Catherine from the Healing Home. I think she's still deciding whether or not she likes the new girl in town (or I guess country for that matter), but something about mass amounts of fluffy, white goodness sprinkled across the ground seems to break down barriers. The only thing that matters on a day like today is taking advantage of the unusual opportunity (for both of us) to build a snow man, throw snowballs, and listen to the crunch of clear, fresh snow being dominated by our feet. For a short while, I almost forgot how dirty it is around here for the clever white disguise. That is, until I picked up a layer of snow to reveal the underlying truth..

Check out our awesome Chinese snowman of questionable sanitary quality, accompanied by the high-maintenance, though indisputably adorable, Catherine.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

The reason I bike faster and leave work a little later..

Huge brown eyes and the most adorable little smile have stolen my heart. I gave him his English name: Hosea. It means "strength" and "deliverance." That is my hope and prayer for this precious child with a 3 mm hole in his heart.

Anyone looking to adopt? I heard about a 2-for-1 deal that includes free babysitting.


Friday, January 29, 2010

What to say..

It's been a while and I am just now able to get on my blog. So, here I am. You know those moments when your brain is so full that you can't possibly get it all out so you don't even know how to start? Ya this is one of those times. Life here is just.. different. I don't have generalities to give because I haven't wrapped my mind around it all yet. It isn't good, bad, easy, difficult.. It just is.

Something I have realized here is that you can't escape, no matter how far you go. Escape was not and is not my purpose, but I think I did come here with the expectation that some of my unresolved issues would just push themselves under a rug because I'm doing a "good thing" here. But that's not exactly the case. Doubts, fears, insecurities, expectations- they follow you (in this case, me) wherever you (I) go. It's just one more way that I'm being shown that my heart is so much more important than my feet. If I'm not pursuing the truth, I might as well just go home.

Don't misunderstand my heart. I am so glad to be here, and there are amazing things going on all around me (and in me, as well). I can't wait to see more. I just feel like right now, I am being shown that no matter where I am, all of me comes. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

On a more random note.. I need open heart surgery, and all I ever dare to ask for is a smiley-faced bandaid. What's up with that?

Friday, January 8, 2010

I Can't Speak Chinese!

OK so the big day is less than a week away and I've had some realizations.. first of all, I can't speak Chinese. Apparently this isn't as big of a problem as I thought before because English is pretty popular, but I'm still slightly apprehensive (ok, giving myself too much credit) about it. My list of things to do has taken up almost 2 pages in my journal.. shop, pack, power of attorney, last round of shots, give PT her water bottle.. and the list goes on and on.

In case someone actually reads this thing and is wondering, YES I am very nervous. But also very excited! And overwhelmed by everything. I'm beginning to think there's a drama queen living somewhere deep inside me that likes to come out when I'm stressed. I'd like her to stay in her corner because she annoys me (and probably alot of people who have to hear her rantings).

On another note, Mom's taking me to get my toenails done tomorrow and I'm pretty excited. First, because it's like a year overdue.. second, because it's much needed me-and-mom time. She's starting to worry about everything, so it'll be good to spend the day with her helping me get prepared and do my last-minute supply shopping.