‘English Corner’ one of our favorite times; first blossoms of spring…and our first fly of season (not so exciting)

10 Mar

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Neighborhood scenes, talented basket weaver & musician, and a very special pair of letters

The English corner event with the students has become one of our most treasured times. Each Thursday at 7 p.m. finds them eager to come, no matter what the weather, and it is an encouragement for us to be there and be willing to stay longer than we had planned.

Terry has all six of her classes off this campus where we live, while only three of my six classes are on the Central campus (the situation improves next year when all those freshmen will be on our campus and we’ll be able to have contact more often).

Their curiosities are normal (What food do you like? Do you like China?) but they are also wanting to discuss all manner of more important issues in their lives, and it is Good News for us to share! We have also begun some individual English Speaking sessions in our apartment, with much “planting and watering” taking place.

Some have asked the size of this university? Yangtze  River and its five campuses is some 40,000 students. The Central/West campuses where we teach has 5,500 students.

We are so thankful for Skype, and wonder why we had not used it before when our family was living in so many states? We got to see and talk with Louise just now and she looks great and has a wonderful attitude…her spunk is back.

We have limited sports TV but the radio has been great…able to listen to Tennessee men (lose) and women (win) as the season ends and tournaments commence. Hope to at least hear some of March Madness.

I haven’t remembered to mention the big surprise we received when we arrived in China and began unpacking. Our grandsons, Brinson and Aiden, had written each of us a note…and they were special indeed! They are taped to our refrigerator (see picture on other page). CYH, Brinson and Aiden!

We had need for a ‘big bathtub’ and Good News prevailed in a group of Friends last week. People are listening and learning much about life and its meaning. It is very good what’s happening around the world!

We met a Chinese native who was also an English teacher (Wendy) who was quite friendly, asking if our days were getting normal, etc. I responded that they were more  and more normal, then observed “except for right now,” since we were sitting in a local police station 🙂 getting our registration to officially teach in China.

The past weeks have brought two serendipitous moments: while talking on two occasions with some students, two  young women looked at me and said plainly “you are a handsome man.”

While at the police station, they had us take off our glasses and had Terry pull the hair behind her ears, for the ‘mug shot.’ I made the observation that “I do not recognize my wife.” Our foreign expert office representative, who was guiding us through the process, said to Terry, “Gary is quite humorous.” (I think I am going to like China very much). 🙂 In two weeks: I am an expert, handsome, and  humorous…not  a bad start for a strange guy in a new country. (I think spending time with Marvin Bryant and the Northwest staff in San Antonio has awakened my ‘very dry’ sense of humor.

Greetings from Terry, Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mother started PT and OT this week with a good attitude and willingness to work.

An efficient plumber fixed the water tank drip and extended the washing machine drain pipe so that it now empties into the floor drain instead of onto the floor.

There are 11 digits in the cell phone numbers over here.

I have seen my first blossoms of Spring on a type of tree I have never seen before. I also saw my first fly of the season (not so exciting).

Last week in our discussion of heroes, I told them of Johnny Appleseed, who was “unselfish” in planting so many apple trees for the American settlers. It is a fact that he wore a cooking pot for a hat, loved all men, carried no gun and did carry a Bible everywhere he went. Today in America many people still carry a Bible with them.

This week I gave them an apple seed to look at and asked, “What do you see?” “What can you learn from an apple seed?”  As you can expect they came up with some great answers: apples, tree and orchard. Our vocabulary words were “potential” and “vision”. One student said she was amazed at the power of nature. I pointed out that it was a wise plan to have the seed inside with the potential of becoming so many more and how ever that design came about it was a good one.

Yesterday was “Woman’s Day”. I received several texts from students wishing me Happy Woman’s Day. And I actually got three hugs from students after a short discussion after class. Hugs are good. I guess we have indeed “broken the ice” as the first idiom we studied says.

We watched an Andy Hardy movie starring Mickey Rooney. It was like seeing old friends again. I really enjoyed it.

I am listening to our upstairs neighbor’s music. I am thankful she has good taste in music. The walls are so thin. The first night we were here, just before I went to sleep, it sounded just like someone was walking past my bed in high heels. I opened my eyes and looked around. It was coming from upstairs but it sure sounded closer than that.

Today Dale showed us how to get to the vegetable market that he and Lisa shop at, also where they buy packaged, frozen, skinless chicken breasts, eggs and flour. Then he took us to a three story market that is just down a ways from our campus. All very useful information.

Love, Terry

Practicing Patience…A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.

A train was filled with tired people.  Most of them had spent the day traveling through the hot dusty plains and at last evening had come and they all tried to settle down to a sound sleep.  However, at one end of the car a man was holding a tiny baby and as night came on the baby became restless and cried more and more.

Unable to take it any longer, a big brawny man spoke for the rest of the group.  “Why don’t you take that baby to its mother?”

There was a moment’s pause and then came the reply. “I’m sorry.  I’m doin’ my best.  The baby’s mother is in her casket in the baggage car ahead.”  Again there was an awful silence for a moment.

Then the big man who asked the cruel question was out of his seat and moved toward the man with the motherless child.  He apologized for his impatience and unkind remark. He took the tiny baby in his own arms and told the tired father to get some sleep.  Then in loving patience he cared for the little child all through the night.

I cannot think of a virtue that is more desperately needed, or harder to produce in our lives, than patience. And we’re not often prone to waiting. It reminds me of the prayer offered by the impatient Christian: Dear God, please grant me patience. And I want it right now.

The story is told of a young Christian who went to an older Christian for help. “Will you please pray for me that I may be more patient?” he asked. So they knelt together and the old man began to pray. “Lord, send this young man tribulation in the morning; send this young man tribulation in the afternoon; send this young man…”

At that point the young Christian blurted out, “No, no, I didn’t ask you to pray for tribulation. I wanted you to pray for patience.” “Ah,” responded the wise old Christian, “it’s through tribulation that we learn  patience.”

“Patience is self-restraint which does not hastily retaliate against a wrong.” That’s pretty good. When someone does you a wrong, how do you respond – with patience or anger?

Here’s another: “Patience is the ability to accept delay or disappointment graciously.” How do you deal with delay or disappointment? For some that’s really tough. Yet, patience is the ability to accept it without becoming upset.

Finally, perhaps this speaks to each  of  us? “Patience is the powerful attribute that enables a man or woman to remain steadfast under strain – and continue pressing on.” Maybe that is where some of us are. We’re dealing with difficult circumstances. We’re a raising a child, or we’re caring for again parents, or maybe we’ve had a loved one who is ill and we’ve spent long hours at the hospital or nursing home. We’re weary, but patience is the quality that says, “This too, will pass. It’s almost over.  I can keep on keeping on.”

This is my favorite definition: “Patience is a calm endurance based on the certain knowledge that God is in control.”

In the midst of a storm, a little bird was clinging to the limb of a tree, seemingly calm and unafraid. As the wind tore at the limbs of the tree, the bird continued to look the storm in the face, as if to say, “Shake me off; I still have wings.”

The word translated for patience expresses a certain attitude both to people and to events. It expresses the attitude to people which never loses patience with them, however unreasonable they may be, and which never loses hope for them, however unlovely and unteachable they may be to us.

A young man was very upset with his mother. They had argued, and at work that day he wrote her an angry letter giving all the things that he felt were wrong with her. It was a very nasty letter. After sealing the envelope, he handed it to a co-worker to mail it for him. Well, the co-worker knew what was in the letter, so he put it in his pocket. “Maybe he’ll have second thoughts about it. I can always mail it tomorrow,” he thought.

The next day, when he went to work, his friend was sitting there all forlorn, saying, “Oh, I wish I had never written that letter. I’d give $100 to have it back.” Well, you know what happened, don’t you? His friend pulled it out of his pocket and said, “Here it is.”

Patience in marriage works a lot like faith. It demonstrates the certainty that what we hope for–physical, emotional, spiritual oneness–is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it in the here and now.

When William Booth finally left the Salvation Army, he sent a one-word telegram to every member of his army. That one word embodied the guiding principle of Booth’s life: “Others.”

What is the reward of this ‘displaced gratification?’ The man or woman who understands delayed and displaced gratification realizes that “others” are what it’s all about. Instead of demanding our rights and satisfaction, we can work for the rights of others, we can find fulfillment in seeing other people satisfied, and we can serve instead of trying to conquer.

Displaced gratification is the oil that keeps our society running smoothly. People often discuss the importance of delayed gratification; what do you mean when you talk about “displaced gratification”?

In delayed gratification, we put off something so that we can enjoy some thing even better later on–avoiding a “sex life” before marriage, for instance, so that we can more fully enter into a deeper love of the marital union. In displaced gratification, we put off something so that the gratification can go to somebody else. Within marriage, for example, we put  our spouse’s needs ahead of our own.

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Posted by on March 10, 2011 in Jingzhou


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