Thursday, July 27, 2006

Laudi Mountain, Sally, and Famous Noodles

This weekend was strange and wonderful. The school officials took us to Laudi Mountain on Saturday where we met confucious, then hiked and explore the ancient gardens there. It was glorious to be up in the fresh air and green trees - away from the smog and noise of the city.
I took several pictures and made several friends; one of whom is a girl named Sally. She is a Senior at Chang Zhi University, studying to be an English/Chinese interpreter. A very bright and charming girl. She wanted to practice her English so we talked and talked all day.
Praise the Lord I was able to share the gospel with her, my testimony, and why I am a Missionary...She wanted to know all about Jesus, so He gave me the right words to say! She wanted to come with me to church the next day =) which she did and acted as my interpreter for the whole 4 hour service. I don't know if that would hinder or help a person decide to go to church - but God works in mysterious ways =)
The pastor shared the gospel again and 100 people were baptized! Incredible.
Sally has not made any decisions that I am aware of, but I don't want to be pushy or anything because I know recieveing Christ is a very important and personal decision, especially in China. She needs some time to think about it, I pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to her heart and reveal her need for Him.
After church Sally and I left the other Americans at KFC and ventured out to a street vendor selling green bean noodles and sauce.
Chang Zhi is famous for noodles, most local people eat them at every meal.
They can be made out of wheat, rice, or bean flour...and cooked a variety of different ways.
At a traditional Chinese meal the host will serve several small dishes of meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables...then after the guests are finished snacking they are served a heaping bowl of noodles and sauce.
This is opposite of how many Americans eat; we like to fill up at the beginning of the meal, then snack a little afterwards. The Chinese save the bulk of the meal for the end as the climax - sort of keeping the best for last?
It has taken our team some time to adapt to this - we're such a quick-fix instant everything culture - when we feel a need we must satisfy it. now! When we're hungry we fill up. The Chinese are more patient.
I'm not sure how I feel about this dynamic. It is a good lesson in self-control, but people are grumpy when they're hungry. So I would think the dinner conversation would be more pleasant if you satisfied people first, then talked over some light snacks. But it doesn't really matter in my case because I have been appointed the taste-tester in the group. I'm the only one who eats anything - or everything so everyone always whispers "Jen...this looks kind of taste it and tells us what it is". So by the time the noodles come around I'm not hungry anymore =)
Wise Confucious say "He who is the taste tester, will never hungry be". =)
The Chinese culture is very old and wise though, so they must have some reason for their dinner traditions. I think I had better ask them.
(p.s. please keep praying for Sally).

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Every Friday I teach a lesson on an American Holiday. Tommorow I am teaching on Thanksgiving. So to prepare for that I let my students browse through some American grocery ads I brought from home (yes, I had intented to use these for lessons not simply because I enjoy reading them for fun). My students also loved reading them and planning their feast for tommorow!
I gave them a budget of $60.00 to spend - with which they must purchase 2 types of meat, 1 seafood, 3 vegetables, 2 fruits, 2 breads/grains, 2 dairy products, 2 drinks, and 2 desserts. =) Enough food for their whole family of three people.
So they got busy clipping cupons, and I taught them the word "Thrifty" =) I hardly had to explain what it meant because it seems to naturally to them. They contemplated each purchase down to the penny!
They had so much fun planning their meal too, I can't wait to see what they bring for out Thanksgiving feast tommorow.
Yesterday I taught them about the American F.D.A. and the Food Guide Pyramid. Then we had a long lesson/discussion on each of the food groups and all about nutrition.
I had brought several magazine pictures of American meals with me which I had them discuss in English. They had to break down each meal into food groups and explain it's nutritional value...
They can see why Americans are so much larger than they are =) We eat so much more fat and sugar... I joked with them saying that Americans eat so many preservatives that when we die, our bodies are preserved forever.
They gaped at me in shock - until I started laughing, then they laughed too.
I just love them, we have too much fun together. The Chinese people love to laugh, which is another reason why I love them so much.
So I wish you some very hearty laughs today my friend! Keep well!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Exerpt from my journal - July 10th

First, I want to tell everyone at home that it is fine and appropriate for me to use e-mails and this website to speak freely about my faith and write about the Chinese church.
We have been given permission by the government officials...things are very different in China than we have been told in the U.S. The chinese church of Chang Zhi has the blessing of the government and believers can worship God and witness to eachother ect. What is illegal is for foreign Missionary's from America or anywhere else to come in and prostheletize their faith on the Chinese people.
Which I agree with and respect.
The Chinese people should be allowed to make their own decisions about their faith and practice. From what I've seen and heard they are doing a much better job of practicing and sharing their faith than foreign missionary's have done in years past, before the Chinese cultural revolution.
I can explain more later, but for now I just want to say the Chinese Christian church here is incredible. I have learned so much from them already and wanted to share with you an exerpt from my journal.

"The church we attended on Sunday was amazing Lord!
I was so encouraged, humbled, and blessed by the whole service.
The church has about 200 members and they meet in an old, smelly, dirty, building. This is located behind a cluster of old, smelly, dirty shacks. Everyone sits on hard stools with fly's buzzing around in 100 degree weather and 100% humidity for hours - enjoying every minute of it.
The worship, communal prayers, and teaching were so passionate and spirit-filled.
I don't think I have ever felt Your presence as intensely as I felt it there.
After singing a few (chinese) worship songs together the pastor prayed, then the whole church prayed together - each one praying to You in their own way. With all the people surrounding me, pouring out their hearts to You in prayer and praise, it sounded like a roar of rushing waters.
It was the closest I have ever been to Pentacost or Revelation when all the saints are worshipping around the throne in heaven. I was in awe of Your presence Father. All I could do was cry, with my eyes closed, and stand in awe of You.
Thank you Father for what you are doing in the churches of Chang Zhi. I know You love these beautiful sweet people so much. Please protect them and help them to spread the good news all over China and the world."

Chinese Television and things less hilarious

Chinese television is hilarious!
I rarely ever watch TV at home or anywhere, I think it's a huge waste of time and I get too fidgety. But I flippped on the TV here in my room a few times while preparing my lesson plans for school and have been fabulously entertained!
The first show I saw was Chinese Teen American Idol with a Chinese dark skinned man doing his best to imitate Mike Tyson. Flexing every major muscle group, let me tell ya. I was rolling of the bed laughing. Thankfully he didn't bite the reporters ear off when he lost. =)
After that I saw a rousing ping-pong tournament videotaped in a stadium as large as the Tacoma Dome. There must have been 5,000 fans cheering on two ping-pongers! That was almost as entertaining as the noodle-eating contest. (Which was appropriately followed by a creative heart burn commercial.)
If that doesn't get you excited there's always the Chinese soap operah: two pretty Chinese girls vying for the attention of one handsome soldier (it's hard to resist a man in uniform). They spend alot of time playing coy, flirting with their fans and such, then one of them just happens to meet him in a bamboo field. They declare their passionate love for eachother, but he chokes on the noodles she brought him for dinner!
So she runs home to get her Daddy who has been arguing all day with a merchant over the price of rice. Oy Vey!
and that is when I changed the channel. The commercials with children in them are adorable. Half the commercials use children to sell something, which I think is effective because they are too sweet. Chinese people hold children very dear because they are only allowed to have one child.
Walking around the city in Chang Zhi or Beijing I do not see many children. It feels strange to see no little people, no "tiny's" as Kym or Cerra would say =)
Out of the thousands of people that walk by everyday, I only see one or two toddlers. I understand why they have to limit their population, but I miss seeing children and wonder what it will be like in a few years when there is an entire generation of people who were once "the only child".
They might turn out spoiled and demanding like Americans =) j.k.
Ah, our American'ness comes out so strongly here: the good, the bad, and the pitiful.
I LOVE America, I am very proud to be an American, but we can be so demanding.
I get embarrassed and secretly angry when I watch these sweet Chinese people bending over backwards to accommodate us (my American teaching team) and we have the gall to complain about minor inconveniences.
Please pray for me because I believe that if we bear Christ's name we ought to be the humble servants doing and saying everying in love.
But not everyone on my team feels that way. I'm not sure what to do about it, besides pray.
If you have any advice I would love to hear it! =)
Until then keep well and beware the Chinese Mike Tyson!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Ni Hao!

I have been in China for a week now and am absolutey loving it!
The 2 day plane ride went well, all things considered.
I was so worried about getting blood clots from sitting so long, as my doctor warned, so I was up every hour doing aerobic stretches with the foreigners and the flight attendants in the back of the plane. They didn't speak English but they knew alot of the same stretches (?) so we had great fun!
Praise the Lord I was seated next to a team of college students from UCLA who were also going to China to teach a summer English program! So we were able to swap lesson plans and ideas the whole time! While waiting in the airport I was also able to witness to a Chinese Morman family from Canada. That was cool. They weren't converted just then, but we had a great spirit-led discussion, so please continue praying for them.
If all is a loss in this whole missionary journey around the world, at least God let me witness to some Canadian Mormans =)
But I digress, China has been spectacular! Our team spent 2 days in Beijing touring the Great Hall of the People, Tinnemens Square, The Forbidden City, the silk market, and of course the Great Wall of China!
After Beijing we took a sleeper bus to Chang Zhi (sounds like chon jur) where we will be spending the remainder of the month teaching English and American culture at the #1 Middle School of Chang Zhi. (Which is really a highschool)
Teaching has been a strange and wonderful challenge. I have rediscovered that I love teaching, although there is a world of difference between teaching Chinese students and teaching inner city American students.
The first hour or two of class was rough because I didn't know what to expect.
I have learned it is best to have no premonitions here because everytime I think I have something figuired out it gets changed on me. I was pretty nervous.
After introducing myself and my expectations for the class I began to ask them questions and was blown away by how advanced they are.
These are some sharp cookies, 16 going on 60.
They already speak and comprehend English very well. Their sentences, grammar, and punctuation are excellent. They have a broad vocabulary and good pronunciation.
So I'm standing their thinking/praying "o.k. Lord, there go my lesson plans for today and the next 3 weeks. What do I do?!"
Thinking "I must not look confused, must not look inept, must look professional and prepared and all those nice things my leader said about me in front of all the students and communist officials this morning. Please help me Lord!
Then the bell rang and it was time for my next class. I cried to God in my desperation and He heard my prayer! He always does. His power is made perfect in my weakness.
So after that brief morning of panic and prayer I returned to the hotel for lunch and spent the whole time on my knees. Giving everything to God again.
When I returned to class for the afternoon session He let the ideas flow. One topic led to another teaching them new words and concepts from American culture, and facilitating small group discussions...
He gave me several new ideas for my class to learn and practice their English. Before I knew it the time was gone, and we all learned something. Praise the Lord!
Thank you so much all of my faithful prayer warriors at home! God is in His high heaven and all is right in Chang Zhi =)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

livin' up the last day of work!

I don't want to sound conceited or anything, but I am definitely the hottest girl on Recreation Staff at Warm Beach Camp.