• 30Jun

    but mine just happens to be a fraternal one.  Haha.

    The other day when I was talking to one of my friends (Rachel), we were talking about our birthdays.  Her’s is on July 19th and mine is on July 18th.  But then one of my other friends pointed out that it is kind of crazy that our birthdays were so close and our names were so close (I know I know… Rachel and LeighAnn… are a little different… keep reading smart guy).   Her Chinese name is Li Yan…. mine is Li An… and actually her Chinese name sounds a lot like my English name.  The “Y” in her name sounds a lot like the slurring that goes on in the middle of my English name… where as in my Chinese name it’s a pretty sharp Li followed by a more melodic Ann sound.  (Hopefully you can follow that).  It makes it rather complicated for me when we’re in the same place.

    But then it dawned on me… July 18th in the States is July 19th in China most of the day.  So I asked her what time she was born.  After asking her mom, she found out that she was at 12:45pm China time.  That converts to 9:45pm July 18th US time.  I was born at 8:59PM.  46 minutes difference and one letter in our name.  Sounds like twins to me!  46 minutes is enough time for us to be actual naturally born twins and then we probably had some of those parents that like to give their twins names that are close to each other just to throw everyone else off… like Mike and Ike or something.  Fun stuff!

    Here’s a picture of me and my twin!  (Yeah… she got all the height…)

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    Nothing that exciting has happened lately.  A lot of rain but I guess that’s to be expected as the summer is sort of the rainy season here.  It’s a pretty comfortable rain though… temps stay in the high 60s low 70s.  Sometimes it can get really muggy right before or right after it rains, but it’s nothing unbearable.

    Hope all is well with you!  Say Hi!

    Lup

  • 25Jun

    Last week my roommates, their friend and I went to the “Golden Palace” for Dragon Boat Day.  It’s sort of like a museum/park/arboretum/place to hike.  It was really kind of a neat place.  It took around an hour to get there by bus but it was worth the drive.  It was like being outside of the city while still being in it.  Kunming is already over a mile high in altitude so once you get past all of the tall buildings it can get pretty scenic.  It was like stepping into a National Forrest.  Pretty cool.

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    Here’s a part of what I’m talking about… some of the park was like this, where you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere.  Funny story is that in this picture we actually were… we were trying to leave to go home… and the girls’ friend swore that the way out was this way.  Um.  He was wrong.  Haha.  I tried to convince him to ask someone, but I guess all men are the same… no one wants to ask for direction!

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    Yay for housemates!

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    So both the girls and their friend brought snacks… apparently they thought we were going to be really really hungry…  let’s see the snacks included:  chicken feet (in the green packages except for the one at the very bottom of the shot), shrimp chips, tomato flavored chips, France bread (yes you read that right… it’s not FRENCH bread it’s France bread), sunflower seeds, and various crackers and cookies.  Needless to say we didn’t finish it all.

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    Here’s the entrance/exit.  It was a great day to be walking around, not too hot, not too sunny, and just cloudy enough to scare people into thinking it was going to rain.

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    Danger!  Watch out for a hand coming out of the water!  Another funny sign!

    And now for some fun pics of my roommates!

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    Ruth on the left… and Lucy (the English name we’ve picked out for XiaoLu) on the right.  And yes they’re this much fun all the time!

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    On the way home… Ruth found some bamboo sticks and chose to use them as walking sticks.  Haha.  So fun.

    Here are some of the artsy shots I took at the park.

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    George, this one is for you.  I thought of your blooming cacti when I saw this!

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    I hope you enjoyed my pictures!

    Things are still going great over here.  I have 1 week left of school in this semester.  My class finished the first book of the series called “Chinese Made Easier” and we’re on to the second one.  In two weeks we start summer camps!  So I’ll be finishing up and my school but on to a bunch more elementary schools!  Please pray for the kids hearts, that they will be able to see His heart through ours.

    Lup

  • 17Jun

    So just when I thought it couldn’t get any more interesting, as far as haircuts, than my last post…. I was in Carrefore (yes the French version of Walmart) and I walked by this kid… and well… I’m not sure what his parents are trying to accomplish.  I’ve seen a lot of interesting haircuts for kids like the shaved head except for a small braided ponytail, the bowl cut, the fauxhawk…. but this one I think I’m calling the panda cut.

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    Here are the long promised pictures of my room with the framed pictures!

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    On the far wall I have what I’m calling my home wall.  I have my Dodger poster (that has been in every house I’ve lived in except for one) and pictures of my family, best bud, and dogs! The green one has a picture of my parent’s dog Nikko, in the upper corner there’s a picture of my old dog Peenut, then there’s the Christmas picture of my parents and the dogs, a picture of the family in Georgia on some plantation, a small picture of my cousin Doug, and then a picture of me and Syl in San Diego.  It’s great to wake up in the morning and be able to have a little bit of home to look at!

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    This wall is my “Shoes” wall.  I’ve got my friend Katy’s feet walking in Dali, 3 generations of Ruth’s family walking home, Katy and my friend Beth’s feet while riding a ski-lift thing in Kunming, and Syl’s leg standing in San Fran.  I like how shoes/feet can show us where we’ve been and take us to where we’re going.  =)  They are definitely some of my more artsier pictures.

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    This is my “Light” wall.  Anyone who’s been around me and my camera knows my fascination for lamps, lanterns, fire, and other types lights.  This wall shows a bunch of lanterns that I’ve taken.  The top and the bottom are actually from Walt Disney World (specifically Animal Kingdom) and the middle one is from Beijing (Temple of Heaven), while the fire shot is from Disneyland.  They’re strategically on my wall that has my light switch.  =)

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    Here’s my pic in the bathroom.  A pretty cool clipper in South Carolina.  I think it’s one of my best pics!

    I think I still want to put up a few more.  I just haven’t decided on which ones.  It’s been fun to decorate the room it’s just kind of annoying that it’s a longer process.  I have to get the picture printed, then take the photo over to the frame place, wait a few more days there… then measure out where I want it on the wall, AND then go to the little hardware shop to get the guy to come drill the holes for me (since the walls are all concrete!).

    More fun pictures to follow from Dragon Boat Day!  But that’s all for now!

    Lup

  • 14Jun

    Bus rides have been semi-interesting lately.  Today on my ride to the bus there were two women who got on, each carrying a live hen by the feet.  I wanted to get a picture of it but they were at the front of the bus and I was in the back.  Then hens must have been pretty knocked out from being carried upside-down since they weren’t really moving much but you could tell they were alive.  Also the other day I got to witness quite possibly the most INTERESTING comb over attempt/hair style.  At first I could only see the craziness from around his hat… but then lo and behold he took off his hat to unveil… image0062

    This last week at the library the girls have been working really hard on cataloging about 2000 new books that the principal was able to get!  They entered every book into the computer and labeled all the books with their labels and stamped the books with the school’s property stamp.  The entering the book titles into the computer was especially hard… in Chinese you have to know what the character is in order to type it into the computer… if you don’t know the character you have to look it up in the dictionary (by counting the number of strokes in the character) and then find it’s spelling.  I just stuck to creating the labels for the books and stamping.  After around 4 days of working on it we finally finished.  This is how XiaoLu felt after we were done…

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    This week on Wednesday there is a festival/holiday.  It’s the Dragon Boat Festival.  Supposedly the holiday originated with a famous poet committing suicide by jumping into a river.  Because this poet was so famous and popular the people didn’t want the fish to eat his body.  So in order to distract the fish the people threw in these triangle rice things in hopes that the fish would eat the rice instead of the poet.  They also had large dragon boats go up and down the river to scare the fish away!  This is what I was told today in class.  The funny thing about holidays here is that because there is no school Monday through Wednesday…. they made the kids to come into school on Saturday and Sunday!!  So much for a holiday!

    Send me a Hi!  I love hearing from you guys!

    Lup

  • 10Jun

    On Tuesday I had my end of the book test.  Whew, boy was it hard.  It took just about the full 3 hours to complete.  It consisted of listening and writing what was being said, putting sentences into the correct grammatical order, matching “measure words” to the noun (in Chinese every THING has a measure word… sort of how we say a “piece” of paper… or a “slice of meat”… but here ALL things have a measure word… sometimes it’s weird, like the same measure word that’s for fish is the same for road, scarf, and quilt), matching the noun to the picture, matching the word to it’s right tones, translating from Chinese to English and vise versa (in characters and pinyin), writing in words/characters very long numbers (like 90,876,765), writing a story using specific vocabulary, then there was the verbal part of saying the written pinyin, and then talking about myself.  Some parts were really easy and a lot of the parts were really hard.  All in all I did alright.  It was a good challenge for me, which I personally welcome.  It really tested how much I knew.  I found out today that I got an 85.5%.  Not too bad!  It would have been nice to have some of my classmates to compare with… just to see how I’m progressing.  But a part of me feels like they would have thought that this test was hard too.

    Teaching English has gone well.  I’ve had 2 sessions with my main student already.  She’s really eager to learn and has a good motivation to do so as well.  TingTing (is her name) used to have a “boss” who was very fluent in Chinese, but now her boss has an extremely limited amount of Chinese.  So the two of them either have to struggle through understanding each other or find someone to help translate.  So our goal is to work on helping her be more knowledgeable about English words that have to do with the work environment and her work specifically.  We’re also pulling from a book that she’s been using as well as doing a little bit of study in the Bible.  The Bible has a very difficult vocabulary so it’s a great source to pull tougher words from so then I’m not sitting there trying to think of words to teach.  I think that so far everything has been going really well.

    After this week’s class, TingTing invited me over to eat dinner with her and her friend.  Little did I know that “her friend” really meant her friend and 6 other people in her friends house.  They had a ton of food.  I would say the majority of it was really good.  My theory has always been to try things once no matter what… then decide if you like it or not.  In the past that theory has helped me to try escargot, oysters, cow lung, pig intestine, cow tongue, liver, and the other day….. chicken stomach.  It was ACTUALLY pretty good.  I would for sure eat it again and I had quite a bit of it.  I was surprised by the fact that it was pretty dense and not really chewy in texture.  It was very much like eating a dry salami as far as texture and it tasted sort of like a chicken sausage.  I would say that it would be really hard to know that you were eating a chicken stomach if you ate what I did.  Definitely not as horrifying as it sounds.  I tried to take a picture but it was pretty dark in the room so it didn’t come out too well.  There was liver there too… and I tried it… and I still don’t like it.  Now that texture I just can’t seem to get over.  It’s a little too grainy/pasty for me.

    Every so often I’ve been able to stop by my “friend’s” restaurant to play cards with them.  I’m slowly learning all the little rules to the game they play but it’s super hard as they know ZERO English.  So I learn to play by their examples.  I’m always shocked to find that there are moves that I could have been doing in the past to win!  They’re super fun to play with.  When you win you get to “flick” the other players’ hands.  It’s funny.  The best part is that when you’re really getting into it… you slam your cards down on the table to play them instead of the tradition toss or polite lay down.

    Speaking of “friends”… I recently had some shorts hemmed by my bike storage shop keeper.  She has a tailoring business out of their little living area.  While my past tailor was cheaper (aka, free because it was my mom) you can’t beat having shorts hemmed for 4 RMB!  That’s 58 CENTS in USD!  I gave her 5… not that it’s that much more… but still so crazy and she did a great job!

    Still not done with the pictures on the wall… there just hasn’t been enough time to sit down and measure out where they’ll all go… but I promise as soon as they’re all up I’ll post the new pictures of my room!

    I hope all is well with you!  Send me emails or comments to let me know how ya’ll are doing at home!

    Lup

  • 03Jun

    Things were a little boring around here lately.  No crazy men approaching me, no people in the middle of streets on ladders, it was hard for me to believe that I was really still in China! HAHA.

    But there were still a few fun adventures here and there…

    Ruth’s father was in town for 1 day and 1 night.  He had been working in the city’s outer limits doing manual labor work for the past 3 months.  I think he was drilling wells or doing something that was related to water.  He decided to go work out there for a few months as the money is supposed to be pretty good.  So the other day he stopped by our place on his journey back to his home for good.  After a great dinner Ruth and her dad wanted to go to Walmart and pick up a few gifts for him to bring home to Ruth’s mom and sisters.  I don’t know if it was his first time in a Walmart… but I’m pretty sure it was his first time on an escalator.  For those of you who have seen Elf… there’s a pretty good scene in that movie that describes his actions.  He was trying to time when the step was going to come out while holding on tight to the side-rail thing and ended up straddling a few of the stairs for a little while.  It was really cute to watch.

    Yesterday I met my neighbor that lives downstairs from us.  We were walking up the stairs together and when I realized that she lived in the apt below us I decided to chat with her a little bit.  Since I’ve been living here I’ve heard someone playing the piano throughout the day.  I really liked the songs that they played and I thought that they had pretty good skills.  I had assumed that it was a “grandpa” that was the one playing, as it wasn’t a rigorous practice schedule nor was it endless scales.  So I asked my neighbor who was playing the piano and she said it was her 13 year old son!  We chatted a little more and she invited me inside her home.  It was pretty cool, we talked for about 20-30 minutes all in Chinese and I understood I’d say about 85% of it!!!  I was really excited when I went home as I kind of surprised myself.

    I’ve recently taken on some little teaching “jobs”.  I’m teaching a 1 hour English class, 1-2 days a week to one gal who works in Ruth and Xiao Lu’s office.  Her English pronunciation is pretty good as is her reading skills, but she was telling me that her vocabulary is pretty small.  So I’ll be creating some curriculum for us to use, as she’s looking for some dialogue that might be more work related.  Their office has a lot of foreigners coming in and out so it’ll be helpful for her to know more work related things.  I have another “student” who’s more interested in learning more Bible words so we’ll just mainly be reading the Bible together.  She has a really good comprehension of English and her pronunciation can use some fine tuning, but she recently went to an all English conference and found that she was having trouble really understanding a lot of the Bible terminology.

    I’ve also taken on a “little” project.  Next school year we’re going to try to offer an after school English program.  It’s in the very rough stage of planning right now but the main focus is the schools that are for “migrant kids”.  What “migrant kids” means is that their parents have come from the village to the city to live and work.  However, since the government is afraid that ALL of the villagers will eventually want to do this, there is an application process type thing where you need “permission” to do move into the city.  What a “migrant” is, is people who have decided to forgo this process and move anyway.  So because they don’t have “city” status, their kids can’t go to “city” schools.  So there are “migrant” schools.  The parents generally work long hard hours for minimal pay and a lot of what they make goes to pay for the school.  (There are no public schools here).  So you can imagine that a lot of these kids don’t have the opportunities (unlike their “city” counterparts) to go to after-school programs that can either teach them music, English, and other subjects.  In addition, it can easily be argued that the quality of education is lower in these schools.  Very few teachers want to teach at a migrant school, as it’s just not as prestigious.  Here kids test into high school, so if these migrant kids aren’t given the same resources as non-migrant students, it can become very difficult for a migrant student to get into a “good” high school.  And if you’re not in a good high school then there is even less chance of you getting into ANY college/university.  So… the goal is to try to at least get some of these kids some type of resources to work towards a goal of higher education.  That’s part of the goal of the library that I’ve been helping out at.  We want to encourage these kids to be interested in reading and continuing their education as far as they can.  The big plan for this specific project is to offer different classes throughout the week (English, Art, and character building).  I’ve been nominated to be in charge of the English section so this summer I’ll be trying to create a fun curriculum that will hopefully encourage the kids to be motivated to learn more English and in turn be able to test well in the English section of their test!

    In school news, I have my Book 1 test coming up on Tuesday.  My teacher says it won’t be that hard… but it’s hard to believe her when she’s giggling after she says that.  It’s been pretty interesting having my “classroom” class be just me in it.  It’s sorta hard to believe that at one point we were 5 strong.  The recent classes have been good because it means that we can focus on improving my specific difficulties, but it’s also bad because we only focus on me!  There’s no break while it’s someone else’s turn to read or practice.  It can get a little tiring being the only one answering the teacher’s questions for 3 hours and the only one reading dialogue.  After class I’m definitely a little drained but at the same time I’m sure that I’m learning so much more this way!

    On Sundays I’ve been going to local church instead of the international one.  I love to sing the songs.  It’s a great way to learn a ton of new words.  As for the sermon, I can get some of what he’s saying but ONLY if I can find the verse he’s pulling from.  If I know the verse then a lot of the words are put into context and make filling in the gaps a lot easier.  But like last week I couldn’t figure out the verse so I was a little lost.  That’s when I just decide to do my own little private study.  The really funny part is after the service they do small groups.  In the small groups (at least the one that I sit in with) we first go around the circle and talk about what we learned or feel about the sermon and then we go around again and share prayer requests.  It’s a good way for me to practice more Chinese but it’s really really difficult!  It sure is hard to share in the small groups when you don’t even know what the talk was about though!  Hopefully there won’t be too many of those kinds of weeks!  My small group is nice and understanding.  Sometimes there are people there that can help me translate some things, but for the most part I just try to use the words I already know to convey something of substance.  My group is pretty nice about not laughing at me!

    I finally have all of my pictures framed (or a good portion of them… I’m still deciding on a few more).  All there is left to do is measure where I want them and then get my “friend” that works at the hardware store to come drill some screws for me.  He already came to help with 4 of them.  As soon as I get the rest up I’ll post a picture!

    Sorry no fun pictures this post!  This week was too normal!

    I’ve been really enjoying all the comments!  Keep um coming!

    Lup

   

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