• 20Oct

    This past weekend I took a trip down to Wenshan.  I wanted to check out the place that I might be working out of next year.  The focus of the Wenshan team right now is to provide rehabilitation services to the local children.  They are just starting out, and by just I mean they are barely starting to put together an office.  So far it’s 3 desks, a couch, and a play area.  The rest is still be organized.  They plan to currently work within the community as a first step towards eventually being able to work with orphans with disabilities and working on orphan prevention.  A lot of it is definitely still in the planning stages, but I see huge potentials down there!

    As a bonus for checking out Wenshan I also got to spend the weekend with my really good friends!  Pam, Susanna and Rachel have already relocated down there.  We spent the majority of the time either eating, cooking, or recovering after eating!

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    Here we are eating the Saturday night!  Susanna cooked a great meal!

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    Sunday we had homemade dumplings.  Rachel was the head chef for this meal but she had a bunch of sous chefs!  These were probably the best dumplings I have ever had.  Everything was from scratch.  It was kind of interesting… the outside of the dumpling was just flour, oil, water and salt…. the same thing as tortillas!  These were less salty and less fatty than tortilla dough but it sure made me think of handmaking tortillas when we were “rolling” out the little circles.  I want to see a rolling contest now between Rachel and some ladies I know down in San Felipe!  Mexico vs China!  We made (and ate) about 100 dumplings.  While Rachel was the chef, we were all in charge of filling the little circles with the meat mixture and closing it.

    Now Sunday around lunch time I had a very “Welcome to China” moment…. we went for one of Wenshan’s specialties…… dog.  =(  My good friend YC wanted to try the local food so went out to try it.  I had seen it being sold in the market on Saturday.  Not the most pleasant sight, but at the same time it’s not like you ever see it running around being cute.  They were de-furred and dead so it looked like a dark red meat.

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    Here it is pre-cooking.  And just half of one.

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    Here it is after it’s been cooked.  It basically looks like a really red meat.  Like a cross between beef and lamb.

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    We were less than excited to see eat it, but we figured we should try it anyway.  I personally didn’t like it because it tasted like POT ROAST.  Bleh.  Definitely not a chicken flavor!  If you hadn’t told me what we were eating I would have thought it was weird beef.  I only ate the one bite, simply because I don’t like the flavor of pot roast!  Two of my friends thought it was good and proceeded to eat it up.  A great experience but not something I would order again.

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    Here’s a view of the city from the office window.  Not a bad view eh?  I think that the office was on the 15th floor?  And their apt was on the 21st floor!  Wenshan felt like a smaller version of Kunming.  My friends say that they really like the smaller feel.  Especially since you can get from one end of town to the other in around 30-40 minutes.  Another plus is that the traffic is never terrible!  You could take the public bus for 1 buck, or a cab to just about anywhere for 4 bux.  Not a bad deal!

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    Here’s a view of the “living room” area that they have in the office.  They’ve lined the floor with a fun foam flooring.  Plus they’ve bought the fun exercise balls.  The plan is to buy more toys and other things that the kids can have fun playing with and yet at the same time be rehabbing.

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    Watch out!  Incoming!  In this picture you can see the toy thing that I made!  It’ll be even better once we add some color!

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    Here’s the team “hard at work”!

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    Here’s their household/team too!  The girl you haven’t seen before is Yun Fen!  She’ll be the one in charge of taking care of the kids as far as being a “house mom”.  Feeding the kids etc.  She’s super cute and fun to hang out with.  (Top to Bottom in case you didn’t know… Rachel, Yun Fen, Susanna, and Pam.. and panda).

    Overall I had a good trip.  It was great to get to visit the city and see what there is to see.  I’ll probably be going back sometime in January for another quick trip… and if all goes according to plan then sometime around March I’ll be relocating too!  But it’s all up to Him.. so if it’s His plan that’s where I’m headed!

    Here’s some more fun pics!  Enjoy!

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    I hope all is well where you are!  Just a month and a half till I’ll be home!

    Lup

  • 08Oct

    Last Friday night Lucy and I went out to her hometown of Xichou.  It’s near the bigger city of Wenshan, but about 2 hours east.  Xichou is around 250 miles southeast from Kunming.  It took a good 8 hours plus by bus to get there.  Our bus left at 9:30pm and arrived around 6am in Xichou.  The bus on the outside looks like one of the tour buses that you’d see in the States, but on the inside it’s transformed into a sleeper bus.  There are 20+ narrow beds that fit in the bus.  The beds are double decker high and 3 beds and 2 aisles fit the width of the bus.  It’s quite interesting but I guess quite useful too since you get the luxury of laying down for the 8 hours instead of having to sit in the upright position.  The beds aren’t the most comfortable but at the same time aren’t that uncomfortable.  They give you a pillow and a blanket plus there’s a cushion/mattress type thing.

    Here’s a picture of Lucy in the bus!

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    Before arriving at our destination I had imagined a place that was going to be on the rural side.  Most of that idea came from the fact that Lucy has told me how her mom works really hard at raising their pigs and working on their farm.  Plus at one time they even owned a cow.  So in my mind her hometown was going to be a place where most of the people in her town did similar work.  Much to my surprise we arrived in a city-like place and I was even more surprised when Lucy told me that her house was just a 5 minute walk from the bus station.

    Here’s a view of the street that she lives on.


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    So as we’re walking down the street I have no idea how her mom can possibly raise pigs and have a cow with houses like these!  But then we get to the end of the street and I could see a house at the end of the block with some extra shelter areas attached to it, and it all becomes clear.  They live at the dead end of a street so they own all of the land after the street ends so they use this “yard” area to house their animals.

    Here’s a view of their house from the backside.

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    You can see in this picture the brown house next to the big white one.  The brown one is theirs plus all the land between me and that house, including the mini-forest.  The brown part that you can see is the second floor to the house.  Under all the metallic roofing includes the kitchen, the bathroom, 2 pig stalls, Lucy’s dad’s woodworking area, and general storage.  They have quite the animal farm going with 12 pigs, 2 geese, 1 cat, 1 dog, and

    PUPPIES! (Ignore my awful bus hair and look at how cute the puppy is!!!)

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    This little guy I called “Little Dancer”.  He liked to pounce and jump and was soooo cute.  At times he was very content to just be held and pet.  I wanted to give him a bath so he would be even softer, but that would be see as a “waste of water”.  There were 3 altogether.  A lot of the time at Lucy’s place I could be found playing with the puppies.  Her dad would ask me if I wanted to watch TV or come inside, but I was most content having dogs to play with!

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    Hehe Puppies!  I like puppies.  I wanted to bring them back to Kunming!

    Anyway back to my trip… so next to that forest area was a small farming area.  It seemed like Lucy’s mom and maybe 2-3 other families had little plots back there.  It was really pretty!

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    Here’s her mom picking pumpkins.

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    Alright so she’s really picking some spices or something for the soup (Mom they LOVE cilantro here, we just picked some before this picture), but the pumpkins are in the dark green leafy stuff in the back.  I love how all the farmer people have the same “backpack” thing.  It’s quite useful when picking vegetables cause they just pick and throw it over their shoulder.  Plus it’s great when going to the market to buy other vegetables because it frees your hands to sort through the lot and you don’t end up having to carry in your hands all these small little plastic bags.

    Here’s something you won’t see in the States… the process of buying a live chicken.  Last time at Ruth’s I watched them kill and clean a chicken by themselves… but here we saw it all done at the market… it was different… and by different I mean gross.

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    First you buy the chicken from the crate that has about 10 too many in it.

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    After they kill it they put it in this very hot pot of water which has a pretty strong smell (the strong smell being pretty gross).  And they stir it for a good 5 minutes.

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    Then Mr. Chicken goes into this very gross machine that has a lot of rod like things sticking out from it.  It looks like something you’d find in a medieval torture room.  Also very gross.

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    They turn on the machine and then all of the gross wet feathers come pouring out this chute.

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    After all that then it’s nice and pink and ready to take home!  But still kinda gross.  So now it has to have it’s guts cleaned out and then broken down.  The way they chop it up is to just take a knife to the whole chicken and hack at it (bones and all).  It’s probably one of the things I hate the most about the food here.  The chicken is these small pieces including bones.  So some pieces have little to no meat on them… and the pieces that do have meat you’re forced to suck on it then spit out the bones.  It really makes eating the chicken tiring.

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    Here’s what it ends up as after all the cooking.   The food wasn’t my favorite here.  It seemed like everything was in some form of soup.  I personally prefer things not in soup cause they tend to get mushy, are really hot and only have the flavor of the soup.  The pork in this picture was really good but at least it’s soup is more of the “sauce” than a soup.

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    One day we went hiking to the top of the mountain in the background where the giant antenna is.

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    It gave us a great view of the city.  The path up was really nice and all concrete (I suppose to make it easy for the people who maintain the antenna thing).  I found the “mountain/hill” things here really strange.  A lot of them were isolated little mounds like you can see in this picture.  In all of the valleys that were created between the mountains you could usually find some form of a town/village.  This was the biggest town in the area with all the little pockets of smaller villages surrounding it.

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    It was a really pretty place.  All of the mountains were full of green trees and plants.

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    This is pretty much the whole city.  There are a few little areas that didn’t quite fit into the picture.  Lucy’s house is behind the tree stuff that’s at the very bottom of the picture.  I couldn’t get the camera above the trees high enough to get it into the picture.  Apparently they used to live where the park/square area is that you can see above the track field.  But when they decided to build that park they had to move to their current home.  China’s kinda funny like where they like to tell you to move because they’re building something new.

    We also went to her dad’s best friend’s house.  They live in a village about an hour bus ride away (mostly because you need to take dirt roads to get there).  We stayed out there for a day and a half.  It reminded me a lot of where Ruth’s hometown.  Their village had about 10 houses in their area, but not too far away was another village of maybe 20 houses.

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    Now for some random notes that I made during the course of my trip:

    -It’s not the smell of pigs here that’s bad… it’s the smell of what they eat that is so gross.  Here they mix all of the old food with a corn powder.  The people who live on their street are nice enough that after every meal they bring by their discard of soup, bones, spoiled food and whatnot and put it in a bucket for Lucy’s family.  Plus Lucy’s mom goes down to local restaurants and collects the same.  Then it just sits until she “prepares” it for the pigs.  Bleh.

    – Everyday the trash truck would come around.  Now I know that by itself isn’t weird,  it’s that the truck plays a tune (that’s actually quite nice) so that way the people in the houses know that it’s coming and they can bring their trash bags down.  It goes up and down the streets playing it’s song and you see the people come out and wait for it to come by so they can throw their trash in the truck.

    – Along the same lines, there’s a lady on a bike that goes up and down the streets with a megaphone that yells “Bread”.  She sells little rolls that are slightly on the sweet side but not sweet like a cake.

    – It was weird to wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of mice running along that metallic roof.  A very eerie sound.

    – While in the village, I found myself discussing with Lucy’s dad and his friend the price of corn.

    –  Hospitality is huge here.  Lucy and I one day went by to visit a few of her relatives and some of her friends.  There is an open door policy or something because we wouldn’t call ahead nor even knock at the door.  It was just open the door and walk in.  When we went in we were always greeted with smiles and food.  Also one day when we were eating dinner at Lucy’s house, her neighbor stopped by and needed some soup to feed her granddaughter or something, so she just came by with a bowl and asked if they had any soup that she could have.  Plus when we left the dad’s friend’s house we came back with a ton of vegetables and nuts.  And on top of that when Lucy and I came back home we brought back a ton of food too!

    –  I played a lot of Mah Jong while there.  So much fun.  Luckily we didn’t play with money because I would have been cleaned out!  I’m not sure if it’s just I was unlucky or maybe they’re just that much better.  Apparently you can make quite a bit of money playing if you’re good.  One night Lucy’s mom came back from playing for maybe just 2-3 hours with 90 bux!  Not a bad payday!

    It was a really great trip.  I really enjoyed getting to see where Lucy came from and getting to meet her family.  I think you can learn so much about a person by doing those things.  I’ll end with a picture of me with her family and then some of my more artistic shots from the long weekend!

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    (can you spot the hidden house?)

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    There you have it!

    In other news, please if you can keep a lady named Zhang Xiao Fang in your prayers.  She’s a local who works at the same offices as my roommates.  Her husband was just killed by a bus on Thursday morning.  They have 2 sons, one who is 20 and the other is 16.  Her husband also worked at the same office.  He was a very quiet and hardworking man.  His wife had a very joyous spirit about her with a very warm, heartfelt smile and I pray that this tragedy won’t take that from her.  May God be her peace.

    Lup

  • 01Oct

    teach them well and let them lead the way!  Hehe.

    Last Wednesday I started my first “English Appreciation Class” at DaChen school.  This class was originally supposed to be an English supplemental class but the principal saw it best that it was more a class about why the kids should be interested in English and want to study hard.  There was a little worry that if this class was an English class that the current English teacher would see it as a threat to their job or a critique of their work.  So, we changed it to a class showing the kids all the ways that English can be used not only in the World but also here in China.  The class is for the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders at this school.  We teach 3-40 minute back to back to back classes.  The plan is to every week show a little of where English is spoken, what places in China English would be useful, and how the Chinese language has been influenced by English.  While doing that we hope to be teaching new words too!  We’ll close each class with a game so that it’s fun too!  The first class went quite well.  Although the difference in ages/learning abilities of the 4th-6th graders is a little bigger than I had anticipated.  There will be quite a challenge as I can see that the style of learning here is different.  They focus more on memorization and mimicking the sounds that the teacher makes as opposed to actually learning the words.  That makes it so hard to actually gauge how much these kids know.

    After the classes I was pretty tired!  There are about 50+ kids in the 4th grade class, 40+ in the 5th grade and 30+ in the 6th grade class.  This is their normal class too.  They have only one teacher teaching each grade.  It makes for very loud classes!  These teachers must really be exhausted at the end of the day.

    This weekend I am getting the opportunity to go visit Lucy’s hometown!  It’s National Day today (10.1) so there is a week vacation here.  It’s China’s 61st anniversary.  Her hometown is 2 hours outside the city of Wenshan.  I post the pictures as soon as I get back!

    Peace!

    Lup

   

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