Friday, January 30, 2009

make-up blog

Ok so after Beijing we went to Qingdao. We had a lot of fun just not having any plans. If anyone tells you a story about the Qingdao Dolphins, they are liars. Sorry I haven't posted in a couple of weeks. I guess time just slips away from you. So my next post will be about our winter holiday trip to Hong Kong and the Philippines. Hopefully I will be able to post some of my photos from the trip here also.

The Moral

Don't get your hopes up. I am terrible at blogging.


Friday, October 10, 2008

beijing vol. II

Ok, I'm sorry for the long delay between this and the previous installment. Our days have been really busy, but the weekend is here and maybe I can wrap this series up pretty quickly. This could be the most action packed blog entry in the series, so buckle up.


Ok so our next day in Beijing was full to bursting. We got up very early in the morning and headed over to the Temple of Heaven. Probably the most remarkable thing about the Temple was the contrast that was so evident between Christianity and other religions. It still amazes me that the God of the universe is a God who is truly inimitable. (You like that word? I just found it.) But it truly is amazing how all of our vain attempts add not a baby's breath of power or majesty to Him. We can only hope to, in our best moments, reflect some small glimmer of what is His by nature. On a different note, the other thing that struck me about the Temple of Heaven is all the elderly people who gather there every morning to do exercises. China has a rapidly aging society and I sometimes wonder if people my age don't look with horror upon the masses of elderly people doing all they can to extend their life. I don't mean to sound morbid, but if you think America's social security issue is concerning, just wait a decade and look at China.
Wall Flowers

So our next adventure was the Great Wall. But we weren't just going to tease the beast. We were going to tame the beast. We were going to spend the night on the Great Wall. Getting to the Great Wall was surprisingly easy, and other than an annoying driver who insisted on taking us back that evening, our adventure was smooth sailing. Climbing onto the wall was quite a hike, although nothing to write home about. (perhaps blog about) The section of the wall we chose is called Mutianyu. It is a wonderfully restored section of the wall surrounded by forested mountains. The views were amazing. Our night on the wall was pretty uneventful. Some of us (not me) had less than stellar sleeping bags so they (not me) got very cold at night. Before dawn, Finn and I climbed to the very last (and highest) guard tower and took some photos. The fog was heavy but it gave the wall a mysteriousness that, while terrible for photos, felt appropriate. We also sang on the wall and Jessica puked on the wall. We all express our feelings about the wall in our own way. Ok I'll stop here and tell you about coming down from the wall and the madness that ensued in the next blog entry.
Don't be greedy. If you are, then you may find yourself alone at the base of Mutianyu at 5:00 with an empty minivan and shattered dreams.


P.S. So there is something I didn't include in this post. The reason I didn't include it was because I couldn't remember when it happened. But after much thought I think I pinned down the day, and of my own volition, I decided to edit this entry so as to maintain the chronological integrity of my blog.

On our way to the Great Wall we were getting subway tickets. While taking a head count we had and oh-poor-stupid-foreigner encounter with a random Chinese guy who was watching us buy passes. He decided he would do us a favor by pushing the cancel button on the touchscreen. What this boy didn't know was that his hand was being tracked from the moment it started toward the screen. He soon became yet another victim of Quick-Draw Sides. Lesson learned? I sure hope so.

Monday, October 6, 2008

beijing vol. I

Well we are back from our October holiday adventure. This year our destinations were Beijing and Qingdao. (Last year we visited Yichang and Xi'an.) We began our journey Friday night on a train to Beijing, and our spirits were high as we had never visited the capital city before. We arrived at about 1:00 in the afternoon on Saturday and went straight to work. I will describe to you now the events of our October Holiday and each one will have its own heading! This will happen over several blog entries.

Sneaky Pizza

We checked into our hostel and decided that we would split into two groups (there were six of us). The first group (Megan, Trent & Angelyn) was going to try to get us bus tickets to Qingdao, and the rest of us (Me, Jessica & Finn) were going to get a snack before dinner. This all started out until innocently until Jessica spotted a Papa John's across the street from the hostel. Let it be known that this is my official assigning of blame to Jessica. I thought about it all week and I've decided that it works out best for everyone involved if Jessica assumes 100% of the blame. I know that she would agree. So as I was saying Finn and I begrudgingly agreed to go eat pizza and we all made a pact not to tell the others the bad thing we had done. (When you live in China, excluding someone from pizza is the closest thing to a mortal sin.) The pact didn't last. Deductive reasoning shed light on our dark secrets and the others soon found out.

My Father Owns a Pipe Factory

So we all met back up at silk street. Silk street is the bargaining Mecca of China. Its not really a street, but more of a giant mall full of little shops that will quote you outrageous prices for very inexpensive items. It's a blast. We all found something we wanted and most of us bought it. We bought dresses for all of my nieces. We also bargained for pearls that we really didn't want (and didn't buy) and found out that you can scrape pearls with a knife to see make sure they aren't made of plastic.

Chairman Mao

Our last stop on Saturday night was Tiananmen Square, the famed site of the event which shall not be named of 1989. Of course there is much more history to this square but the events of that year loom like a shadow. We took some really nice night photos of the square and the giant Mao portrait that hangs there. It really is a beautiful spot at night. We were all extremely tired at the end of the day so we didn't waste much time once we returned to the hostel. We just went to bed.

The Moral

So I will try to give you something I learned from each set of events. From this set of events I learned perhaps two truths. 1. Never eat pizza without everyone in the group. 2. If you're bargaining for more than one item, only bargain for one item until you feel like you have the lowest possible price for one. Then you can get a discount on that price if you buy more than one. So I guess those don't carry any great moral value (except maybe the first one). Stay tuned for beijing vol. II.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

to infinity and beyond

Ok so I know I posted a blog entry just a little while ago. That was actually an entry I'd written a couple of days ago. I decided to give this event its own entry because it is an event of that magnitude. But don't get too excited. Last night we watched CCTV9 as China launched it's 3rd manned space mission with the objective of achieving their first space walk. I'm not sure what I was feeling as I watched the countdown and the lift-off. It was some combination of pride, nostalgia, and child-like awe.

I really am proud of China's achievements. It is amazing to be here while they are making these advancements. It's what I imagine America like in the 60's. I was also proud of the U.S. I really wish I could have watched the first moon landing. I know that is China's ultimate goal and that the entire nation is very emotionally involved, but I can't imagine the pride of watching your country win a space race and achieve what no other had before. And we foreigners were kind of cracking jokes during the t.v. segment, but I can't deny that seeing astronauts (no matter what country) strap themselves to a giant rocket still makes me feel like a young boy. No doubt there will be millions of young Chinese boys pretending to be whichever famous Chinese astronaut first places his foot on the moon. And that's the way it should be.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

october holiday looms

Hey everyone. I know it has been a long time since I blogged. The problem is that not a whole lot has been going on. We've been having a lot of fun getting to know the new foreigners in town and of course we've had a blast reconnecting with the returning foreigners. October holiday is coming soon. Megan and I are going to Beijing. We will get to see the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and all other such wonders in China's capital. After a few days in Beijing, we'll be headed down to Qingdao, the beautiful city by the sea. It's the city that hosted many of the 2008 Olympic open water events. I am confident that upon our return I will have plenty to blog about.

I've been listening to a lot of lectures recently on apologetics and the logical idea of a Creator. Its been some really interesting stuff. I've also recently read two fantastic C.S. Lewis books, The Great Divorce and The Problem of Pain. I would recommend both of them as well as the lecture on the latter by Peter Kreeft.

Our work here is going really well. Classes are under way and we are getting reconnected with our students. We have met some really interesting and interested people in the community so we really count ourselves blessed by that. Ok that is all for this post. Hopefully I'll post again soon and upload some photos to Picasa.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

once upon a craw fish

So I did something kind of interesting last night. We went to a little outdoor restaurant beside the river that runs through our town and ate craw fish. We got gloves and everything. The craw fish were actually very good, but it was a lot of work to get the meat out. I think I got hungrier from working so much. We also had bbq fish. It was pretty good too. That's really about it for this blog entry.

Oh I read an article yesterday by Michael Medved. I won't go into great detail, but the article was about how the New Deal lengthened and deepened the Great Depression. It article was fascinating and it documented how throughout the course of American history, depressions and recessions have been dealt with most effectively by reducing government spending and lowering taxes. With all the media flurry about the ongoing campaign and who is changing things and who is pregnant and who has what kind of experience and who is too old and who is too young, it's nice to read an article about plain old conservative principles. If you would like the link to the article, drop me an email.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008


So yesterday we visited our new campus. Someday it is going to be a very impressive campus. Yesterday, however, it was a construction site. Our school is hoping to start classes on Monday, but the teachers have their doubts. Our building doesn't yet have all the things necessary for class. (blackboards, desks, windows, walls etc.) We tried out the route from our old campus to the new campus yesterday as well. It's only about a 20 minute walk. The problem is that it's up hill the entire way--much of it is very up hill. Our students are utterly unhappy with the new dorms. They aren't all finished so they are cramming six students into rooms meant for four. They have no desks in their rooms so everyone is wondering where they will do their homework. We are optimistic about the new campus though. The progress made in five months (the last time we visited) has been amazing.

Optimism. It is a wonderful feeling. Some of you know that this year we are living on the old campus and all of our students are moving to the new one. This was more than a little discouraging for us. We love spending time with our students and we fear that living so far away from them will make that more difficult. This fear often weighs heavily on us. But more and more often we are optimistic. These moments often come unexpectedly. Yesterday after touring the new campus we boarded bus K16 to go back into town. The bus takes you back into town by going the long route around the north edge of Shiyan. The traffic is very light there and the hills are beautiful. We came to a stop light and I spotted a small child waddling around in his split pants. His mother noticed us sitting on the bus, and she scooped her son up and waved at us with a pleasant smile. And if you live in China for a while you get used to being noticed. You get tired of being noticed. But her smile wasn't one of intrigue. It wasn't rude. She wasn't leering. She was telling us she was happy to see us, and I was overcome with optimism. This will be a good year. The Gardener will make everything ok.