‘God sent you here’ Dean Catherine said as I mentioned longtime desire to get close to university and have first-hand influence with that age group

16 Jul

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We celebrated our 41st anniversary July 2 and Terry’s 20th anniversary of her ?? birthday July 5, with Independence Day thrown in for good measure. As is our custom, we kept it simple, but enjoyed acknowledging these special events in our life.

But the school officials made it so-o-o-o-o special for an hour on our anniversary, with several teachers, students, Dean Catherine, the director of the Director of Personnel (Zhang Tai Wu), and even the President of our university (Shen Guang Ming) present…with speeches and gifts and a beautiful and delicious cake! It was one of the best anniversaries ever…and the President did a personal calligraphy wall scroll for us that we will hang in our apartment and be cherished and passed down in our family for many decades to come.

   He worked several hours on the scroll, wanting to get it just right, he told the group before presenting it. Different people were asked to make speeches, and their words were so kind. Dean Catherine said “God sent you here,” as I mentioned our long-time desire to get close to a university and have a first-hand influence on that age group. “It’s something I have wanted for some time. I just did not realize that it would happen in China.”

The scroll idea came from a famous Chinese poet (Li Shangyin from the Tang Dynasty), which expressed the idea that “You can fly together even though you don’t have wings. You can feel each others thoughts in your hearts.” President Shen wanted it to reflect something that would depict our 41st anniversary sentiments, and we are so-o-o-o-o-o thankful for the gift and his friendship.

They asked me to make a five minute speech with marriage advice, and for Terry and me to sing a song…we sang Light the Fire…one of our favorite. Dodi and Stella helped us get the flowers, cake, and        (continued on page three)

calligraphy painting back to the apartment, and we took more pictures. Hugo took a video of the hour-long event, and we are anxious to see it…and several others took pictures, which we’ll share through when possible.

Dean Catherine and President Shen both gave Terry big hugs at the end of the scroll presentation….Catherine initiated it 🙂

The first morning of my official beginning of summer had two negatives: the internet was barely connecting, so I was not able to watch or listen or keep up in any way with the Heat game 5…glad to celebrate eventual NBA title. I also had plugged my Kindle Fire in all night, I thought, but when I settled down for a good read, it cut off and needed to be charged….a one hour wait…oh well.

The students have annual or bi-annual tests that test their English proficiency, and they are under a lot of pressure to pass the tests so their resumes can show their progress. China Mobile has connected a wireless internet system in many of the main buildings, and the students can pay a monthly fee and get access on a computer and especially on their cell phones. During these tests, however, that signal is blocked, we learned, when the cell phone system did not work….the block keeps them from using their cell phones during the tests…probably also stops/slows internet use.

    I need to relate the events around graduation here, which is quite amazing. First, the day and time is not decided upon until the last minute, for some reason, and I mean even to the point that the graduates do not know about it when it is the next day.  We asked at least a dozen people to let us know when the ceremony would be held, and found out the night of the event that it had taken place that day…and no one told us…we wanted to take a picture of four of our older students in their cap-and-gowns. We found out some eight hours after it was over that it was held that same day. One student also told us that it is “not the custom for the family to come attend the graduation, since many of them cannot afford the cost of travel.” The education of children is so pressure-packed, and yet when it is time to (see page 4)     graduate with their university degree, no one seems to take it seriously so they can make plans to let it be special…I do not get it. 😦

This is the text we received from one of our junior students to let us know it had been held that day: “I regret to tell you that graduation was held today. 😦 Maybe you will be able to attend mine next year.” 🙂

We had five of the students over for lunch July 6 after discovering they had arranged an extra month of a class on the East campus to get a head start on their second major, Japanese. They are some of our best students, and I guess just were not ready to go home just yet. As juniors, they have to begin their second language major, and they will have 19 classes, each lasting 90 minutes….a very long week, especially since they go to school on Saturday and Sundays, too.

I took my six-week stroll through the back gate area for a haircut, and saw two things that slightly disturbed me. First, when it gets real hot, the men here tend to wear light t-shirts and pull most of it up around to their chest/next areas, exposing their upper bodies. Saw several men today who needed bras. Secondly, for first time in maybe three decades, saw a woman sitting at one of the small restaurants nursing her young child. I know the ’public part’ is an issue in many countries’ airports, etc., but has not been something I have seen for a long time…do not mind waiting 30 more years. 🙂

As the freshmen students made plans to move their things to the Central campus for next fall’s classes (yes, it is now official…they will be on our campus for the next school year) one made it clear she is not looking forward to going home. She  will miss her friends, and even though she has a well-paying part-time job waiting selling learning machines to parents, she smiled when I observed that “you have grown up a little, haven’t you?” There is a time when it’s OK to begin breaking the bonds to ‘home.’

As usual, their shock and surprise is intense when they look at some of the dorms here, compared to the West campus. The main issue is an open restroom area, with no privacy at all for the girls.

We’ve apparently adjusted to the heat issue in our apartment. Like last summer, it is around 83 in half of the apartment with no air conditioner, and around 79 in the two rooms that has AC, plus each has a standing fan blowing it into the rest of the apartment. Thus far, we have not moved the kitchen table into the office area.

Some of our students have traveled several hours south to take a part-time job. After being there a week the report is not favorable: too low pay, 11 to a bed (a large platform bed) in the dorm provided for the workers, and terrible food. It will be curious to see how long they are able to handle the situation, and remember, those are someone’s daughters away from home in a strange province. 😦

We spent a long weekend with John, Lily and their son, Carl, in Changde, a bumpy 4 1/2 hour bus ride southwest from Jingzhou. For the second year, I was very uncomfortable with the bumpy ride…I felt no insecurity but my body apparently does not know what is happening so it responds in kind. I break into a mild sweat and am very nauseated…no fun, to say the least. The bus is only for 27 passenger so it does not have good shocks. The ride home is on a bigger bus and there are no difficulties.

John and Lily are Family, and Assembly time is special with them. She is a Chinese English teacher and John is a neurosurgeon. Carl was home this time, and is beginning his three year residency soon. He is also planning to be a neurosurgeon, and assists his dad on some occasions now.

We got a guided tour of a 70-bed psychiatric hospital here, owned and operated by a young man (Simon) that we met on our last trip here. He also manager a plant that produces the medicines for different mental diseases here. As John says, “Simon is very rich.” And apparently building a seven-story brand new building and establishing a hospital is his latest venture.

Well, it was very nice, with clean facilities and simple design, which is best and safest for the patients. I was surprised, but most of them are between 15-30 years old, with the majority in their early 20’s. As Simon, who is the owner but wisely hired doctors to manage it completely, led us around, he looked many of the patients in the eyes and gave them proper attention and respect. It was clear that he genuinely cares about them. As Terry said when we were leaving, “Simon is doing some good things with his money.”

He used the roof to plant vegetables  for the cook to use in the facility. His parents come over often and work in the garden. He has a nice badminton court and exercise area, which he uses with some locals regularly, but which is also used often by the patients.

I weighed at their place on a digital scale and hit the 174 pounds mark…glad to have maintained that steady weight since last summer, in spite of six weeks during the winter eating American food (which I miss and enjoyed very much).

We received the following instant message from our teacher friend, Howard: “…my friend’s daughter wants to practice English, and she also wants to join your God discussion…May I introduce her to you?” Needless to say, we said yes.

I received my teaching schedule for the fall and will have seven classes with some 335+ students (Terry will teach pronunciation classes again but will not get a schedule until just before classes begin in late August). I will have three days when classes will be at 2 pm and 4:05 pm, but it will be worth the late afternoon classes since I will get to have all of them in a multi-media room. I will gladly have afternoon classes in order to have access to the variety made possible for my presentations.  

We will begin on August 27 and our 17-week classes end on December 22…we are hoping to stop over in Searcy on our way into the country, and then visit family in Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado as we head back to China February 22, if all proceeds as we think now. Your prayerful support is appreciated, and makes our work here possible….we will not make a final decision on 2013 until late in the year.

Keven told us one of our weekly teacher discussion group members is leaving the school, going to Wuhan with plans to be married…has been away from boyfriend for six years. A Brother, the assistant dean, is also leaving, as well as a Sister, who works in the office of our department. We will miss those who have been with us weekly. 😦

We are still planning a trip August 11 for six days to Beijing. I remember a 3-hour layover on our way to America in late December there…no stares at all…they are used to foreigners at that airport and city. We look forward to meeting some American Family and learning some good things that will help us be better at what we do here. Another plus? Some American-style restaurants close to the motel like Subway, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s.

There is also the only legal church of Christ in China there, and we’re planning to visit with them on the Sunday before the seminar begins ( On the website they run this note: due to local government regulations, the Fellowship is open to foreign ID holders only. Many of the Americans who have been with them in recent months have been called back to their ‘home office’ due to the poor economy, so the numbers are much lower than usual.

Here is more information from their website: “The Beijing church of Christ gained approval from the Chinese Religious Affairs Bureau for legal public meetings of open New Testament worship in view of the 2008 Olympics being held in Beijing. The church has been meeting since August 3rd of that year. Since that time we have changed meeting locations several times for the convenience of our members and guests. We have permission to meet in hotel meeting rooms, so we try our best to find the most economical, comfortable, conveniently located, and well known hotel possible.

“At this time, attendance is limited to foreign passport holders and Chinese citizens who are spouses/fiancés of foreigners. Throughout our short existence we have enjoyed Christian visitors from all over the world due to Beijing’s international significance. However, we still face the challenge of establishing a foundation of Christian expats who actually live in Beijing.”

With a letter with a China address, the state of California is supposedly mailing us a sticker that extends our two drivers licenses through our birthdays so we’ll be able to take care of them during our winter break. It looked like we’d land in late-December with no means to drive…well…I am sure others ho have worked abroad have dealt with these items.

We have again found delicious watermelon and tomatoes in the back-gate market…and some of the most beautiful peaches I have ever seen, but picked when they are stone-hard and impossible to eat and enjoy. I wish someone would teach them that peaches are supposed to be juicy and slightly soft.

I read an internet story that said those who can take 7-9 weeks away from a hectic, work environment can add a few years to their life expectancy. China is already good for my A1c level, and a teacher’s schedule with two built-in breaks should be good, too. 🙂

Hugo has just delivered a high quality video of our anniversary celebration, with all the speeches and even our singing Light the Fire. We are glad to have all the attendees on film for future viewing…when we do leave China, we know we will cherish it even more.

This may sound silly, but remember when the Old Testament tells us that Israelite’s clothes did not wear our during 40 years in the wilderness? We have noticed how our clothes seem to be ‘holding up just fine’ here, too, though we had been told the clothes washer would ‘rough them up pretty good.’ I have also noticed that a particular pepper shaker seems to continue forever…I thought we were almost out over two months ago so I bought the replacement, but it still lasts and lasts and lasts. Not complaining, just noticing. 🙂

I found the following Associated Press news items interesting: “They are the pride of America – Team U.S.A. – and for the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in London, they’ll be proudly wearing red, white and blue, from beret to blazer. The classic American style – shown in an image above – was crafted by designer Ralph Lauren. But just how American is it? When ABC News looked at the labels, it found “made in China.” Every item in the uniforms that the U.S. athletes will be wearing at the opening ceremony in London will carry an overseas label.”

This country is crazy about its 2004 Olympic champion high hurdler Liu Xiang (see photo), who won in Athens eight years ago but pulled up hurt as the favorite in his home country Beijing 2008 event. He is scheduled to run his first race in the heat of the Olympic Games on Aug 7. The men’s 110 meters hurdles semifinal and final will be both held on Aug 8, which is the fourth anniversary of the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games. He has regained form in the past year, winning the silver and narrowly missing the title at last year’s world championships. He registered a world record-tying time of 12.87 seconds assisted by wind.

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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Jingzhou


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