Campus scenes, TJ at work, boot being repaired as animals walk past
When we left Texas and flew around the world, we knew it was likely we’d have emergencies affect our family with us away. Terry’s mom had a severe stroke and is on our prayer list. We have given all these circumstances to God since we cannot be present for each as it occurs. Thank you for prayers on her behalf.
We also just learned that my brother, Joel, is dealing with serious health issues. We pray for “our children, grandsons and family that is away” every single day…just as we have for our entire married life. I pray they can receive from God “confidence, courage, and comfort” as they go through His day in their life.
I remember when Tonia (Scotland) and Eric (Czech Republic and Australia) went on summer mission trips while at Harding that this was an annual conversation school officials had with the students. And each year something did occur in the families of some of the 300-plus students who did mission work.
Terry: Tuesday, I found out my mother had a stroke. It hurts to be so far away and not be able to hug her and help make it better. My sister and brother-in-law are taking good care of her and she is already improving. I am thankful we said our “important words” before I left. We knew there would be changes in the months we would be gone. It is all a part of being raised with “roots and wings”.
Gary: It’s been a while since our last newsletter. We’ve been settling in to do the work we were called to do, with fewer reactions to things that are not so new now. We have enjoyed a little more sunshine and warmth during the afternoons, and want to put some of the 34-degree weather “in the classrooms” behind us.
I used to think cold was easier to cope with than heat. Not so sure now with cold toes and fingers common in our apartment in late-February, since the heaters were barely keeping up on some days. But remember, shed no tears for us; our students have no heat in their rooms.
Have found simple task are more difficult to accomplish. I had a heel on some boots come loose the other day….found two nails that would do the trick but had no hammer and/or glue for a few days. Oh, well.
We took our passports to the East campus to finish our registration to live in the area. On the way out Terry saw an older woman working on the corner of the street repairing shoes. She approached her to fix my boot problem…five minutes and 1 yuan later, we were on our way.
While there, a group of animals were being slowly walked down the street, which just happened to be four-lanes and filled with cars, scooters, bicycles, and pedestrians. Quite a contrast of the ‘old vs. new’ China.
We bought some foreign food last week and realized we had no can opener, and no one here seemed to know what we were talking about…fellow foreign teachers have come to the rescue for us. We have several in California storage, but haven’t seen our things there for several months, now. My mom also gave us a good one, but luggage limitations put that one for keeps in our van sitting in Texas, awaiting our return January 2.
Our students have a good grasp of many American idioms and proverbs we share each week. The opportunity to impart values is important to us; it will become more appreciated as time progresses for them. What is especially revealing? When we share the points with our 575-plus students, we must first apply them to ourselves. This one especially applies (one we taught during the Love and Romance theme): Absence makes the heart grow fonder….persons, places, or things become dearer to us when they are absent.
I also have to admit missing some food items from back home: Sonny’s barbeque with the family in Davie, Florida; Mexican with the San Antonio clan; Mom’s macaroni-and-cheese with tomatoes in it and cornbread; Jennifer’s homemade bread; and good food and friends at the famous Market Café in Judsonia.
We had some special time with family in those weeks prior to our adventure’s beginning; I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.
We took a bus 20-minutes away last weekend to stock up on some groceries, and Terry commented that she could see our breathe when we talked. She got quiet, thought for a moment, and said, “Maybe the reason I did not see my breathe in that cold classroom yesterday was because my body was as cold as the temperature.”
We have experienced our initial ‘English Corner,’ a time for some 60 minutes on Thursday evenings when we were asked to make ourselves available to the students for questions/answers in a public forum.
The students stand around us and ask any question they want…some very simple and others very complex talk about love and relationships. We enjoyed our first session and look forward to others. It will be a time to plant much seed…they giggled when they told us they had seen us walking on campus holding hands. I told them it was something we have been doing for a long, long time.
Each of our students have chosen an English name, and are quite proud of them. They find a word they like and decide it makes a good name….some are quite unique: Spring, Cute, Winter, Yo-Yo, Leaf, Cola, Cloud, Shine, Jewellery, Mickey Way, Flanky. One chose the name Agnes. I can almost hear Louise in the back of my mind say “why would anyone choose a name like that…”
Observations from Terry: The stairs in our apartment building have sound sensitive lights. We just clap and they come on.
The RT Mart where we went shopping is two floors with a flat magnetic escalator so you can take your shopping cart on with you.
Pretty soothing music is played on campus in the morning and evening around the time the little children are dropped off and picked up from Kindergarten to help make the transition pleasant. We all enjoy the sound.
We purchased salt in a half pound paper package. Since I do not have a salt shaker I just snipped one corner very tiny and labeled it “shaker” and snipped the other corner larger and labeled it “pour” for measuring it out. It works just fine.
At different times the “air conditioner” (which heats and cools) in our bedroom sounds like a motorcycle, the car in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and a purring lion. Because we are soooo thankful for the warmth from it we are delighted to hear it. It is amazing what ‘perspective” can do for you.
By the way, the Chinese do have an “inside voice” and don’t always talk loud when in public; as we were led to believe. Also, we have not noticed them standing too close to us to talk. They leave about the same space we are used to
Hope all of you have a great weekend.
The Devil’s Tool Sale — “It was advertised that the Devil was putting his tools up for sale. On that date the tools were laid out for public inspection. They had prices marked on them, and there were a lot of treacherous instruments: hatred, envy, jealousy, deceit, pride, lying, and so on. Laid apart from the rest of the Devil’s tools was a harmless looking tool, worn more than any of the others and priced very high.
“What’s the name of this tool?” asked one of the customers. “That,” the Devil replied, “is discouragement.” “Why have you priced it so high?” “Because discouragement is more useful to me than all the others. I can pry open and get inside a man’s heart with that when I cannot get near him with any other tools. It’s badly worn because I use it on almost everyone, since so few people know it belongs to me.”
Even the most successful, spiritually mature people face disappointment and discouragement. The challenge is to honestly face the problems without fooling yourself or giving up, but rather acknowledge your need for help, get help from others and obey the Father in the midst of problems.
As Warren Wiersbe said (in his book Be Satisfied: Ecclesiastes), “Life is filled with difficulties and perplexities, and there’s much that nobody can understand, let alone control. From the human point of view, it’s all vanity and folly. But life is God’s gift to us and He wants us to enjoy it and use it for His glory. So, instead of complaining about what you don’t have, start giving thanks for what you do have—and be satisfied!”
Well, as desirable as patience may be, it is not easy to develop patience. For instance, I think developing patience is difficult because it goes against human nature. We aren’t born patient, are we?
When a baby wakes up in the middle of the night and is hungry, or its diaper is wet, it doesn’t lie there and think, “I know Mom and Dad are tired. So I’ll just wait until a more convenient time to let them know that I need something to eat or my diaper changed.”
No! That baby cries impatiently and continues to cry until it receives the attention it demands. Children aren’t very patient. Have you ever traveled with a child? That can be quite an experience.
How about the little 4-year-old boy who was traveling with his mother and constantly asking the same question over and over again: “When are we going to get there? When are we going to get there?”
Finally, the mother got so irritated that she said, “We still have 90 more miles to go. So don’t ask me again when we’re going to get there.”
The boy was silent for a long time. Then he timidly asked, “Mom, will I still be four when we get there?”
A second reason why developing patience is difficult. It’s because there are weeds of pride, selfishness and anger that can choke out the fruit of patience.
A couple of years ago a survey revealed that we have become an impatient and often times angry nation. You see it at work. You see it in school. You see it on the highways.
A man’s car stalled in heavy traffic just as the light turned green. All his frantic efforts to get the car started failed, and a chorus of honking horns behind him made matters worse. He finally got out of his car and walked back to the first driver behind him and said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t seem to get my car started. If you’ll go up there and give it a try, I’ll stay here and honk your horn for you.”
Thirdly, patience is difficult to develop because it’s contrary to our culture. We don’t live in a relaxed culture. Go to most third world countries
today and you’ll find a much different lifestyle. They’re more laid back. They think, “Whatever happens, happens. It’ll be all right.” And they wonder why we’re so uptight.