It will be difficult to leave family, friends, familiar surroundings, American food and warm weather, but it will also be great to see the smiling faces of our 755+ students as we each begin our eight classes for the spring semester.
It certainly is NOT spring time there, with lows in the 20’s and steady wind and overcast skies. It will take nearly three days for our apartment to finally get the concrete walls and tile floor warm, after sitting empty and becoming very cold during the time we were away. Keven will turn on the heat the day before we arrive, so that will be a big help.
‘Thank you’ to family and friends who have hosted us as we travel and those who have treated us to special times with great food and fellowship. 🙂 We visited four different congregations in Texas and Florida (especially enjoyed the singing) and I was asked to speak at three of them (showing slides/videos and giving details of our work); we also visited our mothers in Tennessee and California.
Several have asked on both ends of the trip about jetlag. Since we knew we had such a big difference in time zones, we prepared mentally for it and there was ‘no big deal’…we just lost some sleep but continued moving forward.
Contrary to what some had said, it was not strange or scary to drive for the first time in over 11 months, in a trip in San Antonio to Wal-Mart….like riding a bike…something you never really lose the interest or ability to accomplish. Our first stop after the 26-hour trip was just after midnight in San Antonio, and Eric and Aiden’s beaming smiles were met with temperatures in the high-60’s, so comfortable that the boys were outside barefoot and in short sleeves. 🙂
We never really got cold or needed heavy clothes until we had been here just over three weeks, and we headed north to Tennessee. It was also around 80 for most of our South Florida visit…thousands of people from all over the world, who can go anywhere they want for the winter, choose to come to Broward County…we are blessed to have family there who welcome our visits!
I took part in annual contests to pick Bowl Game winners with friends and family…finished second and third in the two groupings and enjoyed the games very much. I correctly picked Alabama to win it all, and was thrilled the SEC won the BCS title again…growing up a sports fan in the South has conditioned me to pull for the league against all comers at this time of the year. Also finished third in NFL pick contest.
I went from last to first in our fantasy football league playoffs, where I am the commissioner. It’s difficult picking, etc., since I am able to see so few of the games….they are played while I am asleep in China, due to the 12-hour time difference.
Disappointed that I will miss the final two weekends of NFL games, including the Super Bowl, due to travel.
We were in Waco the weekend of the Baylor-Missouri basketball game, aired on ESPN. I attended it with TJ’s cousin, Dale, who is one of the many fans. Here is what was said about the matchup: “The biggest game of the weekend. Both are in the top 5. Baylor hadn’t been involved in a game in its history involving two top-10 teams until it lost at Kansas on Monday; now, the Bears will be playing in their second such game in a row.“ Baylor lost by one point in front of the second largest crowd in Baylor basketball history.
We were able to collect some ladies gloves for distribution here…we’ve found some with frostbite that goes back to the elementary years…cold, red and puffy fingers are no fun anywhere.
Terry has been asked to teach one class of sophomores Oral English on our Central campus…I will have a video listening group again, which was a surprise but OK with me…I enjoy spending time with the juniors.
As we have informed before, each class meets once per week and is two sessions of 45-minutes with a five-minute break in between. We have workbooks with themes/material designed to guide the students toward vocabulary and items they will encounter in American culture, etc.
As usual, the students are highly motivated and very appreciative of our efforts and involvement in their lives. We have plans for two relationship groups and two teacher groups each weekend, so we’re excited for what is ahead.
We said ‘goodbye’ to six students from 2011 but get occasional emails and texts from them…we miss them but know their ‘moving on’ is the goal in this educational environment. We also know that many of our second-semester juniors will be available less and less due to the importance of preparation for end-of-year final exams and increased workloads. We have seen already that they begin heavy-duty preparations well before the final year…a good habit indeed!
It has become clear to each of you from our pictures that we mostly read books to Colton and ate the whole time we were in South Florida…and then did some fine eating in Tennessee and Texas, too. 🙂 I have really missed some American foods this past year.
We will send out a shutterfly.com link for those who want to see pictures taken of our family. Many who get this newsletter have known our family for 20-25 years and enjoy seeing their growth.
We enjoyed renewing ‘late-night talks’ with several who have been away from us for a number of years, since we have worked in Ohio and California prior to leaving for China. It’s great when church Family can ‘pick right up’ so quickly…it speaks to the richness of the friendship.
We did get to experience an American tradition while in Florida: a yard sale. Cool weather cooperated and we had some good success…the good ole days 🙂
We will take back some warm clothes and found they took up more space in the trunks…we had to pay for the extra one by the airlines but it was worth it.
Some have asked about our actual spring semester schedule: I will teach classes from 8:00-11:40 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and will have a 4:05-5:35 p.m. Wednesday class and a Thursday 8-9:35 a.m. class. Terry will have 8:00-1135 a.m. classes on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and a 10:05-11:40 a.m. and 2:05-3:33 p.m. class on Monday. I will have no classes on Monday and Terry has no Wednesday classes. No classes are scheduled during a ‘rest period’ between noon-2:00 p.m. No argument about that from the teachers or students! . 🙂
We deeply appreciate your prayerful support of our work. We had 30 families and seven congregations help in 2011, and have 11 families and five congregations helping in 2012, with some pledges still ‘in the works.’
Because we expect the pledges to eventually come in, we should be OK for our 2012 finances.