• 27Feb

    Yesterday while cooking we had little incident….

    Our stove/cooktop thing is right by the window and in order to prevent our window from either igniting in flames or being caked with grease splatter we keep the window open when cooking.  Normally this is not a problem for anyone… but apparently we need to be careful when cooking with lids on the pots!  Susanna was stirring a pot with a lid… so she thought she’d just quickly stir it with the lid on… well… the lid slid off the pot… out the window… and down all 7 stories into the grass below!  Luckily no one was standing right under it… but when we went to the balcony to check it out… there were people NEAR it… sorta looking up… also the people in the floor below us were on their balcony looking up to find out what happened… Susanna sheepishly went down the the 7 flights of stairs and retrieved the lid… I think having to go down and then back up the stairs was a good enough “punishment” for her…. Haha.  Good times.

    I think I’ve finally finished furnishing my new place.  (Pictures to come as soon as my internet is better!)  Yesterday I bought a dining room table (seats 6), a corner bookcase for my room, and a tv stand.  Today I bought new curtains… my old ones were bright orange… so my new ones match my bedspread and are much more soothing… The light in my room is white light… not orange tinted!  The table is probably my favorite thing so far because we can actually SIT to eat dinner.  Plus we can play games and have something to write on… also once the internet is set up (hopefully it’s done today!) I can sit at the table to use my computer… and then I won’t have to sit in this awkward position on my bed to get the net…

    If you could find time to say a prayer for Xiao Lu’s (my roommate) friend that would be great.  She has a condition that has to do with the circulation in her arm… it causes her arm to swell a lot… and apparently only a few years ago it was only effecting her up to her elbow, but now it’s getting worse… she can no longer write (it’s on her right arm) and it’s moving towards her chest.  The doctors have told her that she should have had a surgery years ago to remove her arm to prevent it from spreading and that now it might be too late.  She’s going to have a surgery to try to alleviate the problem, but there’s still the risk that if it keeps spreading that she might lose her life… so she needs prayers that something can be done!  Thanks.

    Hopefully my next post will be using my new internet!  Keep your fingers crossed!


  • 25Feb

    Today I officially have registered for my Chinese Class!  After getting that crazy medical exam, a document from the police station saying I registered with them and 4 passport size photos I’ve accomplished all the needed tasks to start school.  I’ll be going to school Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-12 am (in a classroom setting) and then I’ll have 3 more hours TBD during the week of a 1 on 1 study.  I’ll admit that I’m a little nervous about having to go to school again.  It’s been almost 5 years since I was in school!  The good news is that what I’ll be learning is going to be immediately applicable and useful!  I can’t wait to be able to say more things.  I’m also excited for a formal learning experience for Chinese… it’s been cool getting daily lessons of this word and that… but it’s not really things that I write down and memorize.

    A really cool thing happened yesterday.  Ruth and I went to my “friend’s” restaurant to eat dinner last night and my friend told me that she’d make me something special!  Ruth ordered chicken and noodles and my friend made me a rice like noodle that’s super fat and super chewy… it tasted good, but the super chewy gooeyness of the noodle was a little bizarre.  But the cool part is that when we got our meal Ruth and I bowed our heads and Ruth said a prayer… after we were done my friend came over and was elated.  She said Oh I’m a Christian too!  Ruth and her talked awhile about it… I think things like where do you go to church… etc… But super cool!

    I spent the past few days painting and moving Pam’s office to a new room.  It’s a lovely pastel greenish color (not my choice) and the desks are all in there.  It always funny to work with the girls at these type of things.  They’re amazed at the simplest things.  For example, today we were putting their cubicle things back together (total trash things… “made in China”) and there are the face plates that sorta slide down but are flimsy and because everything isn’t quite right you really have to force it down… so they’re metal pieces and kinda sharp… so I get a big book… put it on top of the plate… and start pounding it down… it goes down super easy and I’m able to put a lot of force on it… something like that seems like perfect common sense to me… but amazes them… and they go… “Oh wow… it’s cause her dad is an engineer”.  Hah!  How about that Dad!

    Good times!

    I love the DVD shops…  I just bought the whole Band of Brothers series for a whopping $4.40.  I’ve watched the first 2 episodes it’s really good!  And it’s even seeping into my dreams as last night I dreamed of fighting in some kind of war…

    That’s all for now… this weekend we’re finally getting a dining room table and chairs!  We can finally sit down when eating dinner (apparently it’s a no-no to sit on the couch and eat dinner… so we’ve been standing in the kitchen… )


  • 23Feb

    Wow, what a great experience I had over the past 10 days!  I was given the great fortune of going to my friend’s hometown and I relished every minute of it.  I went to 4 different houses and was given a huge warm welcome in every single one of them.  At the end of the trip I definitely felt like part of the family.  After all I went to the home of all of Susanna’s sisters (3) and her parent’s house!

    I hardly know where to begin… so many funny and interesting things happened.  I can’t believe that it was only 10 days!  Get ready for a long post.  I think I’ll start by giving some quick highlights for those who like a quick read… and then tell some great stories for those who want to read more! First off, I went to a village just off the city of DongChuan.  It’s north of Kunming and just south of the Sichuan Province (where the big earthquake hit a few years ago).  My friends come from a pretty rural village that’s basically all farmers.  I was reminded very much of a rural Mexico to put things in perspective for you.  There was limited running water, stone/brick homes, dirt roads, limited modes of transportation…. etc.

    Here’s a few things that I recorded in a journal as my time went on…

    -Picked peas and beans in a field for the first time.

    picking-peas (Here’s Ruth and her sister picking some).

    -Ate sugar cane for the first time.

    -Drew water from a well.

    -Saw snow fall.

    chou-chou-snow (Here’s Chou Chou… Ruth’s cousin… with some)

    -Slept 3 in a double size bed =)

    -Watched a chicken be killed, de-feathered, gutted and cleaned.

    kill-the-chicken (This is Ruth’s dad cutting the jugular)

    -Played the Chinese version of Uno… and yes they even say Uno when they have one card!

    -Ate pig feet and pig liver… both not good.

    -Ate potatoes cooked on a heated tin can thing.

    tin-can-potatoes (Yum.)

    -Watched a pig joyfully eat my poo… yep you read that right…

    fat-pig (this one).

    -Hiked about 4 miles straight up a mountain to get from one house to another.

    ld-mountain-background (You can see where we started in the distance… the green stuff… and this is only about halfway)

    -Saw REAL Chinese fireworks… they look the same… hehe.

    fireworks (Took this on Chinese New Year night)

    -Was kissed by a boy!!!!

    chouchou (hehe… he’s 8… and oh so cute!).

    -Played Pogs… remember pogs?

    Those are a few highlights… now for a few thoughts and things I’ve learned over the past week plus…. (Note… some of these are said with a sarcastic voice…)

    -“I’m full” means “I want another bowl of rice and a lot more food on top of it”.

    -“I don’t want it” means “Please offer it to me at least 3 more times or give it to me anyway”.

    – If it’s cold outside and a room is being heated with the door closed… that means when you come in or go out don’t close the door behind you so all the warm air goes out… then talk about how cold it is.

    – If someone is sleeping in the same room you’re in… that means make as much noise as possible and talk to the sleeping person or loudly to other people in the room.  This is always best when it’s early in the morning.

    – Always wash your face and feet before bed, but not your hands after going to the bathroom.

    -Always watch at least 3 different TV programs at the same time.

    -If you say “I don’t understand” it means keep saying the same phrase just as fast with no clues or cues as to what you’re saying.

    -Only use what we know as cups for holding your toothbrush or water for brushing your teeth… but not for regular drinking.  If you want to drink from something, use a jar or a bowl.

    -When driving, using the opposite direction’s lane is appropriate whenever you feel like it.  The opposite direction’s lane is ALWAYS best when taking turns, even if it’s a blind corner.  Honking is only sometimes recommended to warn others of your actions.  Also if the person in front of you is going too slow and there is someone coming in the opposite direction, just go in between the two… that line in the middle of the road is a guide to show you where to center your vehicle.

    -Hot water is the only drinking option.  Asking for or drinking cold or room temperature water is frowned upon.

    -Peeing is permitted anywhere and whenever… also toilet paper usage is not recommended… it’s wasteful.  Also peeing NEXT to the bathroom is just as good as using the bathroom.  Or if you’re too lazy to even go that far… just use the steps outside the door.

    -Don’t sit next to the head women of the family at dinner time UNLESS you want your bowl to be filled constantly with more and more and more and more food.

    -Wearing the same clothes for 5 days is totally normal… socks included.

    -A frying pan duels as a ladle.

    – Everywhere is a trashcan… throw any trash just on the floor no matter if you’re inside or outside.  Spitting your fruit seeds, shells, bones, and anything else on the floor (at the dinner table or when sitting on the couch) is encouraged.

    – Hitchhiking is the only way to get from the village to the city.

    -A smile is a universal language.

    I hope you enjoyed those observations!  It’s fun to witness and experience different cultural habits!  How about some fun stories now!

    Our adventure started with a pretty good story…

    Upon arriving in DongChuan (about 100 miles north of Kunming… and the major city near my friend’s village) we needed to hire someone to take us the rest of the way to Ruth’s village (about 20 miles further).  We found some motorcycle drivers who agreed to take us for 35 RMB (about 5 USD) each.

    motoches Here are our drivers.  Ruth’s driver took off as soon as they were ready and my driver went as soon as we were done strapping down my backpack.  By the time we got down to the main road we’d lost sight of Ruth and her driver, but I assumed that she had told the driver the directions… and not really knowing how this all was supposed to work wasn’t concerned that we’d been separated.  I (and I think my driver) assumed that a motorcycle we could see in the distance was them.  But once we passed them I (and again I think my driver) assumed that the next motorcycle in the distance was them… but after we did this for about 3-4 times… my driver asked me where my friend was… (luckily I understood him!!)… I said I didn’t know… so he asked if I could call her.  I called Ruth but I couldn’t hear a thing since the wind was blowing into her phone so I gave the driver the phone hoping that he could communicate with her with what little we could hear.  He gave the phone back and we kept going continuing the routine of chasing motorcycles that were ahead of us.  After a few more… we pulled over and he asked me if I knew where we were going… I said… sorry I didn’t know.  And here I thought HE knew where we were going.  We called Ruth again, but couldn’t hear her still.  So I called Susanna figuring that she could give directions to the driver… but I guess you don’t give directions like that.  So we called Ruth again and told her to tell her driver to stop the motorcycle so we could hear her.  After around 15 minutes of waiting around they finally passed us… apparently they had gone back in the city for us when they saw we weren’t behind them!  Now with the caravan in place it would seem that all would go well… or not.  About 10 minutes later, Ruth’s driver pulls over… I assume we’re at her house… as Ruth and her driver are arguing about the pricing.  The arguing goes on for about 20 minutes and is joined by one local and one passer by… argue (See random passer-by joining in argument)… I, still assuming we’re at her village, unstrap my bag for fear the the driver will take off with it… arguing continues… and finally an agreement is met… and Ruth get’s BACK ON the bike… and off they go!  I get back on and we follow… then we go off the main road and UP the mountain… up up up up… finally we get to the top and find Ruth arguing again with the driver.  She tells me to pay my driver 45 RMB.  So the source of the argument is that her driver seeing that I’m an American decided that I could pay more than the 35 RMB originally asked for and her village was a lot farther than he wanted to go for 35.  So it turns out she paid her driver 40 for the extra millage… but told me to pay my driver 45 because he wasn’t a jerk.  Hah!

    All in all I totally felt like part of the family every house I went to despite the fact that I couldn’t really communicate.  Some things were totally bizarre, like placing an “outhouse” on top of where the pig lives but some things were the same, like kids and parents arguing over what to watch on TV.  I’ve learned that kids everywhere go through pretty much the same things!  Little kids whine and cry to get their way, teenagers are grumpy and think they know everything, where there’s snow there’s snowball fights… and other things like that.

    I did learn about the crazy faith that some have to endure here.  Susanna’s parents and her family have endured a lot holding strong to their faith.  They’ve been shunned by some of their own family and publicly scorned by them in front of their whole village.  Susanna and her siblings have been picked on, made fun of, and her brother was even beaten up simply because of their faith.  Here it’s customary to bow down and worship the dead… knowing that there is only ONE we should bow down to, her family does not practice this cultural act.  As a result, her family has been outcast by much of their community thinking that they are going to be cursed by their ancestors.  Still through it all they stay faithful to our Lord!  People in their village are afraid to believe in God for fear that the same things will happen to them and their family.  We must pray for this fear to go so that they may come to know Jesus and be free to believe what’s in their heart.

    I’ll leave you with a few more pictures and captions…. feel free to ask questions I love hearing from you!


    (Here is a lot of the family… from the left in the light blue is Susanna’s 2nd sister’s oldest daughter, in the plaid is Ruth’s middle sister, in the back on the left is Ruth, next to her in the back middle is Ruth’s mom (also Susanna’s oldest sister), next to her in the pink is Susanna, next to her is her Mom, in the middle bottom in yellow is Susanna’s 3rd sister’s daughter, next to her is Susanna’s brother’s youngest daughter, and at the bottom is Ruth’s youngest sister)


    (Ruth’s Mom and Me)


    (Lucy, Chou, Wei and Me playing in the snow)


    (One section of the village farms… Ruth’s parents own the green row on the left… with the Yellow bushy stuff at the far end)


    (A glorious view from Susanna’s 2nd sister’s house)

    I think you’ve all had enough!  It says I’m up to 1900+ words.  Whew!  Hopefully you enjoyed a little of what I got to experience!  Sorry for no killing piggies stories they were already dead when I got there!  Maybe next year!


  • 22Feb
    Uncategorized Comments Off on HOME!

    Sorry but this is just a teaser…

    I’m back to my apartment.  And boy I’m so excited for running water (a proper toilet), bright lights, my own bed (as in not having to share one!) and no dust on the floors!

    I’ll be hanging out at my friend’s house tomorrow where I’ll have good internet so I’m going to see how many pictures and stories I can post!  So be prepared to READ!  There’s so much to tell!


  • 09Feb

    Hey all!  (I’ve been so excited to hear that I have a bunch of new readers… welcome!)

    First off, I found out that the little boy with the heart operation (on Saturday) got to go home today!  He’s doing amazing, even the doctors are shocked.  They were so proud of him, even sharing that they were surprised that he didn’t even cry once!  Pretty amazing for a 7 year old boy!  I heard today that out of the 4 operations that this hospital did, his was the only successful one… not sure what that really means about the other people… but I think that shows us how truly amazing it is for this little boy to be going home today.  There were so many hands in this and a huge effort made by Doctor Bob (an American doctor who was able to not only coordinate the hands here, but also the funding for this family… rumor has it that it was about 100K US to get this done).  Praises be to God for all the coordination that this took and that the boy is doing well!

    Now on to the madness…

    Today I headed down to my future school for studying Chinese.  I think I’ll be doing 14 hours/week over 4 days.  The school is about a 20-30 minute bus ride East from where I live.  From what I can gather it’s owned by a husband and wife and they have about 3-4 teachers/workers.  I was told that I needed certain documents to enroll, of which included a medical certification!  Apparently I needed to take a physical at a specific medical center???  I really have no idea why but as I’m learning you just “go with it!”.  Since the Chinese New Year holiday starts this weekend and lasts for 2 weeks… I knew I needed to get started on this right away.  Off to the doctor’s!

    Everything started normal… fill out a piece of paper with some medical history, address, name, etc.  Go to a different window to pay.  Then let the madness start.  First room, the ultrasound room.  I had a full abdominal ultrasound.  Mom I’m NOT pregnant!  HAHAHA.  Then I’m told to go across the hall to the next room, X-Ray room.  I’m then grunted at by the Xray technician and given a pointing motion to go inside the xray machine room.  I find the footprints to stand on… and proceed to get xrays taken.  TB test maybe?  All’s well so far… then I’m sent once again across the hall but down one door to the EKG room.  I’m told to read a sign… “please raise your trousers up and your socks down so the ankle area is clear”… uh… ok? “lay down on the table” “lift up your shirt so that your heart area is clear”… uh… ok.  Then I’m clamped at the ankles and the wrists with what I can only describe as looking like jumper cables for your car… and then suction cups are attached to the areas around the heart…  and all I can say is that I sorta felt like Wesley hooked up to the machine of life.  After the reading was taken… I became sorta  nervous when the two doctors kept looking at the reading.. and pointing… and discussing… and pointing… and discussing.. but finally I was motioned to leave.  Upstairs to the next stop.  Blood work.  4 Tubes filled.  Next stop.  Urine sample.  Fun times?? (note that this is one of the few times I actually think that the squatty potty is actually beneficial!)  Then I’m sent BACK downstairs but this time the other side of the building.  I go into the first room.  Stand on a scale.  Measured for height.  Sent across the hall!  Told to read an eye chart… with my glasses on?? and only 2 letters per eye??  Sent across the hall again but down a room… I get my blood pressure taken.  106/68 in case you were wondering.  Then I’m told to go back to the first window!!  Please note that in every room… there was at least 1-2 doctors who ONLY work in that room.  So strange.  Hopefully I’m given a clean bill of health after the Chinese New Year so then I can start classes!

    I’ll be on a two week hiatus… as I’ve been invited to my friend’s (LuDe) hometown for Chinese New Year.  It should be a really great experience as she’s from the countryside.  Apparently we’re going to kill chickens and pigs?  I emphasize the WE.  I can’t wait to share THOSE photos!

    Happy New Year everyone!  Or as they really call it here Spring Festival!


  • 06Feb

    Today completes the marathon of stair climbing.  We moved the girls from their old apartment (on the 6th floor) to our new apartment (on the 7th floor) today.  Luckily there was a good amount of help from their friends and the one hired mover person.  Needless to say I think I will be sleeping rather well tonight.  It’s much nicer to have things in the rooms, there is a lot less echoing when you walk and it looks more like a home!

    Right now I’m borrowing some nice person’s internet connection but it’s not the greatest signal.  So I will post pictures when I have a better signal.

    So my plan to make friends with the restaurant lady totally worked!  We ate there for dinner tonight and I ordered noodles (in a soup) with a variety of vegetables and pork.  Halfway through my meal she comes over with another cooking pot thing… and is like here I made you more of this!!!  It was some spinach like vegetable with more meat!!!  Awesome.  Ruth told me that she said that she likes Americans.  Woohoo!  I had SO much food I found myself stuffing myself with the last 10 spoonfuls (well chopsticks full) of noodles and vegetables.  Yum!

    In other news, a few days ago I went with Xiao Lu and Ah Jing to go visit a boy in the hospital.  He comes from a very poor family and Xiao Lu crossed paths with him at one of the migrant schools that she was working in.  The mother had approached the school asking if they knew anyone that could help her boy with getting surgery because he had a hole in his heart and blood going the wrong way (which apparently seems common here… I’ve already heard of several others with the same condition).  The school told her to ask Xiao Lu because he knew that she came from an organization that might be able to help.  Ordinarily Xiao Lu’s organization wouldn’t be able to help because they simply don’t have the budget to fund surgeries, but they were able to find an organization that could!  They were able to coordinate efforts between an American doctor that has created good relations with different hospitals and funding from his org.  What’s really great about stories like this is that so often when parents here find out that there is something wrong with their child, the temptation exists to abandon their child at an orphanage.  They will either do that because they know that their child can get the care they need there or they simply don’t want a “defective” child.  So it’s really great that we can in a sense “reward” this mother for not giving up on her son.  He went in for surgery today and the initial post surgery results are good!  It’s amazing to get to witness lives being changed!


  • 03Feb

    So here are some pictures of my new apartment pretty close to when I first got there.  So these are the before pictures… Saturday the girls are moving their stuff over so once that’s situated I’ll take and post the after pictures… for now welcome to my home!


    So this is a view from the front door.  Immediately on the right is a very small room that will be made a office/storage room.  Immediately on the left is a bedroom (most likely the future room of Xiao Lu)… Straight ahead in the back you can see another mini hallway area… to the right is another bedroom (most likely Ruth’s room)… and to the left is my bedroom and bathroom.  Where all the stuff is on the floor, that’s the living room… with the dining room being essentially the same room just on the right side… there is a bathroom that is just to the right…  and on the far far right of that middle section is the kitchen.


    This picture is standing in the very back of the living room area.  Behind me is a balcony.  And in this picture you can see the doorway to the bathroom (the white doorway thing on the left) and the kitchen in front.


    Here is a view from the back corner of my room.  I’ve bought new bedding since the taking of this picture.  My friend (who’s apt this used to be) was kind enough to leave me a few things to get started in case I was going to be living there right away.

    Well that’s the tour for now.  I’ll update with more pictures after the house isn’t so empty anymore.

    In other news, an interesting event has occurred where the water in Pam’s apt building is off.  Apparently this happens sometimes?  It’s been off I guess for the whole day… it could make for an interesting night if it doesn’t come back on… we’ll all be rushing to the office in the morning having to go to the bathroom.  Let’s hope it comes back soon!

    Oh the exciting things that happen here!  So when you go to turn on your water… just be grateful!


  • 01Feb

    From the last few days of walking to and from my new apartment I’ve managed to make a new friend.  The first time we went to the new apt we stopped to grab a bite to eat at a “restaurant”… it’s your basic “hole in the wall” “mom and pop” place that sells food.  The lady that runs (and possibly owns) the place was super friendly and the food was super tasty.  A thought ran into my head that since this lady was so friendly and since the place was so close to the new apt… I would try to befriend her… then she could help me when I needed to be fed!  I told the girls my plan and they seemed to agree that the lady was really nice, the food was well priced, and it tasted good.  So we ate their for dinner too.  She recognized us (I’m sure it helped that I was a foreigner along with the fact that the 6+ times I’ve walked by it’s not ever super busy) and we had another great meal.  My plan is well under way… I try to say Ni Hao (Hello) every time I walk by… and she always has a smile on her face when she’s saying Ni Hao back!  Today I went there for lunch/dinner… but when I first got there she wasn’t in… but when she did arrive back she saw me and tried to talk to me… but since I was without the girls… it was a little rough… but we laughed at my inabilities to understand her…


    Here’s one of the things I’ve eaten.  Delicious!  All this food is only 6 Yuan or less than $1!!!

    I’m just glad that I didn’t pick the restaurant that was selling this next picture… Perhaps it’s to show it’s fresh? Real? Some things here just can’t be explained…  but it sure makes for good pictures!  I don’t even really know what animal it is… maybe somethings are best be left unknown (to at me that is… I’d rather not think about it too much).  PS: It’s attached.


    Some of my favorite things so far have included:

    Crossing the street:  You think that sounds simple so how could it be my favorite thing?  A) There are rarely crosswalks where you want or need one (not that I’m sure that it matters… keep reading).  B) If you’re crossing at a street and are lucky enough to have a crosswalk AND a pedestrian light (walk/don’t walk), don’t automatically think that you can cross the street without being run over when it’s green to walk.  Pedestrians do not have the right of way here, but GROUPS of pedestrians seem to.  I suppose it’s harder or rather more complicated to hit a bunch of people than just one.  C) Cars are not the least of your worries.  You have to watch out for bikes, motorcycles, mopeds, electric scooters, and the most dangerous of them all THE BUS.  Buses are the top of the food chain.  You can make a bike swerve, you can make a car stop… but a bus will stop for nothing expect a red light (most of the time) and a bus stop.   All these reasons and many more make crossing the street a game of human froger.  It’s my favorite when you’re standing in the middle of traffic.

    Vendors: While walking the streets it’s fun to observe all the different shops that you pass.  Most of the buildings are like those in New York or other big cities, where the bottom floor of a building is shops and there are apartments or business offices on the floors above.  What gets me is how many people open a shop NEXT to someone with the same specialty as themselves.  Gate welders next to gate welders… convenience shops next to convenience shops… window glass people next to window glass people… hairdressers next to hairdressers.. and if you’re lucky there will be at least 3 or 4 of them all next to each other selling the SAME things.  Very fun.

    I have a good prospect in a school for learning Chinese.  Tomorrow I think we’re getting more info about the school.  Pam and I were thinking that maybe it would be good to go to the school and get a private tutor.  Just to help things along.  We were thinking it would be really cool and actually feasible to get pretty good language skills in a year… that is if I’m diligent about it.  I think it’s going to really help living with the girls rather than another foreigner… it’ll be like having even more teachers around.

    Next post I’ll upload some pictures of my place!

    Blessings to all!



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