• 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!

    big-fam

    (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)

    ld-ma-and-me

    (Ruth’s Mom and Me)

    lucy-chou-chou-wei-wei-and-me

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

    farm

    (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)

    village-view

    (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!

    Lup

   

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