China Textbook Agrees: Each Person is Unique and Special…and it Comes From a Higher Power

20 Sep

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China Agrees: Each Person Unique, Special…Comes From Higher Power

I could not have said it better, but Unit One in my textbook said it clearly: we are unique, special, no one is exactly like any other person in the whole world. No one has my smile, ideas, etc., and it comes from our Higher Power.

Whew! I am glad the Chinese government and education department agrees and I was able to develop fully those exact points, making sure to repeat it often so all the seven classes of sophomores understood it.

We may have some issues with aspects of American culture, but we are still headed in the correct direction on many fronts, and it is a treat to be able to share it here.

Part of my first week was asking each student to identify specific aspects of their personality, using the Smalley-Trent Personality Test. We will work through those items during the first 4 classes to understand ourselves more completely and be better students and friends.

Our first junior students group Discussion and initial sophomore students group Discussion are ‘in the book,’ as well as our Teachers group, though the electricity went off 45 minutes before we were to begin…a little darker and no air conditioning on a 92-degree day. All are very energetic to listen and read and discuss the Important Topics. 🙂 We also had five new individuals in our Sunday Assembly, with five missing this week.

Every day during my first week of classes I would come home physically and emotionally tired, but after eating lunch and talking about the students with Terry, the adrenaline made it difficult (continued on page two) to get that 20-minute nap that would have been so-o-o-o appreciated….until Friday! After finishing the first week’s schedule, I slept so well for about an hour, and it a great nap because I had some dreams about my Baba Davenport, one of the most special people in the whole world to me while she was alive.

We both have agreed often that the ‘miracle of sleep’ is such a blessing, and the ability to work hard and get tired, knowing we’ll get some rest and be able to get up refreshed, able to do it all again, is one of our Greatest Gifts.

I have to share one BIG frustration: asking for a classroom with a television and realizing that I should have emphasized the word working. It took nearly two months to finally get it official, though there were some bugs in the process…went into the room this morning, hooked up my DVD player to show a nine-minute vignette to the students (101 in two classes)….and there were no buttons on the TV….but lots of dust. 😦 Unbelievable! Hoping a different room and TV produces a better result the rest of the week.

I wanted to show the We Are So Different marriage drama sketch by Paul and Nicole Johnson (from Focus on the Family films) to add to our class discussion, using every opportunity afforded me to help them in life as well as English…our Relationship group also saw the sketch and liked it very much. (Moved to a different room the next week, everything worked OK and the students enjoyed the sketch, though they talked too fast for them to get all the words).

I have finished my first two week of classes, where everyone stood and introduced themselves to the class for 1-2 minutes. It allowed me to get to know them and also get an idea of their basic English level. One student’s comments especially drew my attention: “I spent much of the summer praying for my sick grandfather” who passed away just as she was ready to come to school.

We had a delightful lunch with two brothers, Wang and Li, as we welcomed Li back from America, where he spent much of the summer. We also met two Family members and two interested students who are juniors on our campus…both are my students this semester. Invited them to our apartment for some visiting time and hope all will come to Assembly on the weekend.

I found a free modi version of Eric Metaxas’s biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and found two quotations quite thought-provoking: He is to have said in 1928 “…where a people prays, there is the church; and where the church is; there is never loneliness….It is much easier for me to imagine a praying murderer, a praying prostitute, than a vain person praying. Nothing is so at odds with prayer as vanity.” Those statements were made around a time when he was reaching out in a benevolent way to the people of the world in Barcelona.

When I think of the conditions here for some of the students, who have only a lavatory with cold water for ‘bathing’ purposes, Bonhoeffer had even less when he began ministry early in his life: “The only place to wash up was the toilet, described by his brother as “very like a third-class lavatory on a train, except that it doesn’t shake.” (anyone interested in the modi version that can be displayed on a kindle, let me know via email).

Speaking of modi format books, Terry and I have both read The Help in the past few days…hard to put it down. Will likely try to see the movie in early 2012 when in the states. 🙂 I am still finishing Known and Unknown by Donald Rumsfeld, after reading books by George W. and Laura Bush during the summer…plan to also read Dick Cheney’s In My Time and No Higher Honor by Condoleezza Rice during National Day holiday here, which lasts for a week….and remember that John Grisham and Richard Paul Evans have new books coming out soon, too.

Several students gave us mooncakes, which were OK but not our favorite. The same weekend was also Teacher’s Day and we received many text messages Saturday morning…these young people are so thoughtful and kind!

Terry and I played our first games of ping-pong with one of the students…lots of smiles and low competitive fun. Also saw two outdoor volleyball courts for the initial time, though have not seen anyone using them in the past. One tennis court also caught my attention, though it is not that popular either.

Greetings from Terry: I have been amazed at how much some of my students have matured over the summer months. They came back confident, well defined and with more purpose.

We have been curious about eating in the Canteen on campus that requires a meal card. After inquiring about it Dean Joe loaned me his card to try it out. One of my former students volunteered to walk me through the process and show me how to get my lunch today. We were able to get there before the big lunch crowd because he does not have a morning class on Fridays. It was a large open room, with about five lines each serving several different dishes of vegetables, rice, noodles, eggs and meat.

Gary will be so glad to hear about the drumsticks they had. First you point out the food you want and a server puts it in a good sized metal bowl, you hold your card up to a metal plate that tallies it, kind of like on the city bus. Then you can go to other lines to get other items which are put in the same bowl. Then you get your wooden chopsticks and sit down to eat.

When you are through you turn your bowl and chopsticks in to the person next to a table at the door. It was clean, comfortable, convenient, inexpensive and more importantly delicious.

I really enjoyed the conversation with my student as we ate. He said he has wanted to be a teacher ever since he was ten years old. He wants to pass on good things and help the students become the best men and women they (continued on next page) can be. He had planned to come to our Relationship Discussion last week but had to take a sick friend to the hospital instead. Hopefully he will be able to come next week. — Love, Terry

China News — China has a long tradition of respecting teachers. There is an old Chinese saying, “Once my teacher, forever my father,” which illustrates tremendous respect for mentors. However, during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), teachers and other educated people were ridiculed by as “Choulaojiu” –stinking ninth category.

In 1985, the 6th Naional People’s Congress decided to mark September 10 as Teachers Day. The festival was initiated as a reminder that teachers should be held in reverence for instilling knowledge and morals in students. It also serves as a reminder to teachers, popularly known in China as engineers of the human soul, that they need to reflect on their self-improvement in terms of knowledge and personal integrity.

The government then issued a sequence of laws to protect teachers’ rights, improve their working and living conditions. Teachers’ income was raised, and primary and secondary school teachers were included in the selection of special government allowances.

Teachers Day was set in September because it’s expected to create a nice environment for teachers and students at the beginning of a new semester.

We celebrated the mid-autumn festival with a long weekend the second weekend of September and enjoyed apple and orange mooncakes.

Mooncake (simplified Chinese: 月饼; traditional Chinese: 月餅; pinyin: yuè bĭng) is a Chinese bakery product traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival / Zhongqiu Festival. The festival began as lunar worship and moon watching; moon cakes are regarded as an indispensable delicacy on this occasion. Moon cakes are offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating the festival. The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the four most important Chinese festivals.

Typical mooncakes are round or rectangular pastries, measuring about 10 cm in diameter and 4–5 cm thick. A thick filling usually made from lotus seed paste is surrounded by a relatively thin (2–3 mm) crust and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs. Moon cakes are usually eaten in small wedges accompanied by Chinese tea. Today, it is customary for businessmen and families to present them to their clients or relatives as presents,[1] helping to fuel a demand for high-end moon cake styles.

Mooncake energy content can vary with the filling and size; the average moon cake is within the range of 800 to 1200 kcal. General description — Most mooncakes consist of a thin, tender skin enveloping a sweet, dense paste-like filling, and the more expensive and most purchased ones contain whole salted egg yolks in its center to symbolize the full moon.

Traditional mooncakes have an imprint on top consisting of the Chinese characters for “longevity” or “harmony”, as well as the name of the bakery and the filling inside. Imprints of the moon, the Chang’e woman on the moon, flowers, vines, or a rabbit (symbol of the moon) may surround the characters for additional decoration.

Moon cakes are considered a delicacy; production is labor-intensive and few people make them at home. Hence, most prefer to buy them from commercial outlets, which may range from smaller individual bakery shops to high-end restaurants.

History of the Mid-Autumn Festival — The festival is intricately linked to the legends of Chang E, the mythical Moon Goddess of Immortality. According to “Li-Ji”, an ancient Chinese book recording customs and ceremonies, the Chinese Emperor should offer sacrifices to the sun in spring and the moon in autumn. The 15th day of the 8th lunar month is the day called “Mid-Autumn”. Fillings in contemporary style mooncakes has diversified to include just about anything which can be made into a paste. Moon cakes containing taro paste and pineapple, which were considered novelty items at their time of invention have in recent years become commonplace items. In addition, filling with ingredients such as coffee, chocolate, nuts (walnuts, mixed nuts, etc.), fruits (prunes, pineapples, melons, lychees, etc.), and vegetables (sweet potatoes, etc.). It is also increasingly popular to change the base of the paste to a custard-style.

Conquering Fear
Is it always bad to be afraid? There is that commonly held belief that “fear” is what often hinders us and keeps us from growing emotionally and otherwise. Fear holds us back.

But, can you think of circumstances, or situations, where some fear is good and serves a good purpose?

Why do we teach children to be afraid of the dangerous traffic on the streets? Is it to stifle their growth or, possibly, to save their life?

When drivers fear accidents (as in bad weather), they may drive more carefully.

When citizens have developed a fear (or respect) for law and those who enforce the law, the crime rate goes down.
When people fear health hazards, or disease, there will be more done to protect ourselves physically.

Fear can be a deterrent to war among nations (e.g. the fear of nuclear destruction).

When people develop a sense of some fear about inevitable judgment, it can change the whole nature of their lives.
Looking at the positive aspect of fear, it helps us avoid that which is harmful or destructive to us – physically or spiritually.

We must, however, admit to the other side of fear, that which can be emotionally, and physically, devastating and destructive.

This aspect of fear does hold us back. It can come to be the dominant emotion in our life.

Synonyms for the word fear are: fright; dread; horror; panic. None of these words brings up pictures that are pleasant.
In our world, more widespread, and dominant emotionally, than anger, hate, jealousy, or love, or sympathy is fear.
Fears accumulate as we grow older: only begin with two innate fears: have an inborn fear of falling and of loud noises.
Acquire fear of the dark, fears about people, fear of death.

Then, there are a multitude of “imaginary fears” that feed on peoples’ spirits and make them anxiety-ridden.
We have all known the feeling of fear. Whether it be of disease, accidents, lack of security, failure, or whatever else, we’ve all known the clutch of fear upon our emotional self.

The cost of fear is, indeed, high. It is high psychologically. One of the verifiable reasons for alarming increase in nervous breakdowns and various forms of mental illness are feelings of emotional insecurity – fear. Fear keeps people in “mental bondage.”

It is high physically. For a long time now it’s been widely known that many of people in hospital beds suffer from emotionally-induced illness. Not just referring to the hypochondriac, but to people who show very real, very painful symptoms of disease.

Person who had attempted suicide was asked by physician, “Why did you wish to end your life?” His reply was, “I was afraid to go on living.”

In midst of confused, chaotic world, one thing seems to exert constant influence upon people: fear.

Modern life produces ulcers, high blood pressure, makes it difficult to sleep soundly. People resort to alcohol or other drugs to “escape” pressures and fears and sleeping pills at night to try to get few hours rest and relief. Much of what people seek to escape are real, or imagined, fears.

It is high spiritually. There are fears that keep people from making spiritual peace – with themselves and God. (Fear they cannot be “good enough”; that God cannot possibly forgive, and accept, them; etc.).

If cost of fear is high, what can we do to counter this harmful emotion?

The frightened child goes to mother or father and seeks comfort to allay fears that grip them.

Here is were the child of God is fortunate — he, or she, has someone to go to, and upon whom they can lay their burdens and fears. Also have people within God’s family we can turn to for help and support. Need not feel isolated in our fear.

Knowing we have someone to turn to, fall back upon, can produce remarkable benefits – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

The Cure For Fear
What is the antidote for fear? How do we conquer it? The cure for fear is faith.

Faith is the opposite of fear; it is confidence and assurance as opposed to emptiness and hesitancy. There are many examples of people who knew the cure for fear.

Joshua, after the death of Moses, was called upon to lead Israel, now that the people were ready to enter the land of Canaan. In that land, there were many idol-worshipping people.

The Psalmist, David, knew why he need not be afraid, even at a time when his life was threatened by the jealous rage of Saul.

Can we share the calm confidence of Joshua, David, Paul and countless others? What does it require for us to have this cure for fear? Trust in the Promises given to us.

Take His counsel on how to live and how to resolve problems. The closer we walk with Him, the less we will have fear, and the less we will have to fear.

Conquering fear is a difficult task. It requires a strength beyond ourselves.

Fear comes from a hopeless, helpless sense -a sense of being at the mercy of circumstances and overwhelmed by them.

If we can establish a sense of control, we can conquer fear. And, the things we cannot control, we can leave to Him – our refuge and our strength. — Gary.

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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Jingzhou


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