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39 Again…and Again! Four semesters have flown by in many ways, as we near the end of our second school contract….we’re moving to Beijing Dec. 29

10 Nov

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We discovered during the summer there is a teacher age limit in the Hubei province, and though they are willing to consider those who are older, we began exploring other options. The end result? We will be moving to Beijing Dec. 29 and will have more time reaching out to teachers and students there. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we make a move and say goodbye to some special people in Jingzhou. More details later.

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As we returned from the National holiday, we had three first time visitors attend Sunday assembly, one a graduate student from another campus and two are married medical graduate students from Nepal (and also Family). It was delightful to meet them! They have opportunities on the East campus where they live, so we will only see them occasionally now that everyone has returned from travel.

The next week brought a visitor who is a medical student from Pakistan. He spent the entire time wiping his nose with what looked like a bad cold…except he told us afterward that he was allergic to perfume (cologne) and both Terry and I had chosen to use some that morning for some reason. Obviously, we told him we can forego that choice in the future. 🙂

One of our teacher friends, Eris, had surgery during the summer and has been on leave in her hometown since the procedure…she is now back and meeting with us again…great to see her doing well. She began teaching again at the end of October.

One of the graduate students reads several chapters in Matthew ahead of our weekly time and then stays after our Assembly to ask me questions about specific verses he does not understand. He is very interested, to say the least, and I thoroughly enjoy these special times.

We met Xiao Guan, our Foreign Affairs Office representative, and her husband, for lunch. She is eight months pregnant and excited about the birth of their baby. He is in the military and apparently has ‘put in his time’ so he is taking time off and will pursue another job when the baby comes.

On my monthly hair-cut trip to the back main road, I saw two things for the initial time: a man and a woman walking through the neighborhood with their pajamas on. I have been known to check the mail or get the morning newspaper with my pajamas on in my past, so it is not so-o-o-o strange, but I didn’t go on a neighborhood walk. 🙂

Stella helped me ‘connect’ my China Construction Bank ATM card for use on the internet…we occasionally purchase foreign foods online for front-door delivery. It is ‘comfort food’ in a way I never understood until coming away from America for so long. The Thanksgiving box we received last year was a very special event, in addition to treats from Tonia, Gregory, and Eric! Of course, now Eric and the family are closer…they plan     to come spend 3-4 days in December since we get December 24-25 off…and we also hope to have some time during the winter. Christmas falls on Monday-Tuesday so that makes for a nice long weekend visit.

The heat went on for the first time in our apartment on October 16th, and my toes were cold from the classroom concrete floor the next day…but we have still had some sunshine…temps in the 55-68 range.

We had our annual Sports Meet, and sunshine greeted the two-day event, which was a blessing for the participants. It was like an intramural activity for some 40-60 individuals on two campuses…friendly and low pressure.

I celebrated another birthday in China…how old? 39 again…and again…and again. The time has flown by in many ways as we move toward the end of our second year contract….checking some options right now as we are needing to make a decision about a possible third year in Jingzhou.

We’ve had four new participants in our Friday and Saturday study groups. One week we had five unable to attend due to schedule conflicts, yet three new ones were there to take their place.

Terry was asked by some teachers to teach their children in an English Corner format…she agreed for two weeks…three came the first week and we expect a few more for the second and final time.

The students have been so kind on my birthday…bringing gifts and sending many email and text messages. 🙂

This is the email from our neighbor and Dean of the English Department when we told her we would be moving away at the end of our contract December 30: “Dear Gary and Terry, this is the worst news I have gotten this semester. However, I can do nothing but say sorry again. I have said your departure will be the loss of this college. It is lucky that you will be still in China and we may get chances to see each other. If you need any help before or after your transfer, please let me know without any hesitation. Hope you enjoy your last two-month stay in Jingzhou. Best regards Catherine.”

Our students and colleagues have been so kind and generous with their words, and wish us the best…and hope to come visit in the future. It is hitting a few harder than others, because we have spent a lot of quality time with them. I am thankful for the opportunities we will have during the final two months here…it looks like we will see some of them often as they want to take advantage of the time we can have before it is too late.

Email from a junior student: “Thanks for meeting you two! I will remember these happy days with you….grateful to be with you! Thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks very very very very very very much! I hope I can have the opportunity to meet you before you leave! I love you.”

Our students will realize that ‘saying goodbye’ is part of the university experience…we have been doing it since the end of our first semester, when some graduate students left ‘to seek their fortunes’ in this big world of ours. In fact, we will be much closer to two of those early graduates in Beijing.

We have already identified one big blessing in this move: since Eric and family are in China and have a break during the winter, they plan to come for 7-10 days in January!

Our students have such strong feelings about a variety of subjects, especially those that apply to their country and family. We have had a few opportunities to meet some of their parents, and it is a special treat for all of us. 🙂

Greetings from Terry: One of my students said she enjoyed talking to her parents during the recent vacation. She was able to relate her feelings about university life and they opened up and shared things about their life. They told her they could tell she had matured and now they would not have to worry about her as much. Those good communications are so valuable. I know from experience how rewarding it is to relate to your grown offspring as adults.

It is surprising to me how much I do not   get to see my former students who are now on this campus. Our paths just do not cross unless by design. We have met many of them for lunch, but it does not happen naturally since I am on the West campus for all my classes.

Thursday, after my classes on the West campus I met Sophia to get the butter and cheese she had  ordered for us on line. After that, I went to have lunch at our brother, Li Han’s new noodle shop in the same area. One of my new students was working there. It was fun to try out my Putonghua and her try out her English. I got one of his business cards so I could tell my other students where his shop is. His card has a specific quote on it that opens communication for further discussions about important things.

Gary woke with a scratchy throat and then came home from class sneezing and feeling bad from a cold. Bless his heart. So we canceled all discussions and visitations for the weekend. It would not be wise to infect the campus. All the students are giving him all kinds of advice on home remedies.

We have seen many infants with shaved heads. They believe when it grows back from being shaved it will guarantee a beautiful head of hair. Also, when they take an infant outside, they take a cloth and tie it around the baby’s head in “Aunt Jamima” style instead of wearing a cap or bonnet.

One of the non-English major students has organized an informal English Corner and asked me if I would attend. I agreed to go once a month. There are about eleven of them. They are very enthusiastic and determined to improve their spoken English even they do not have any formal English classes at this time. It was a (see page 5) good session with many good questions and opportunities to speak of important things. Many of them have better pronunciation and intonation than my students. I think it is because they are speaking from their heart and have such a drive to learn.

This week’s regular formal English Corner topic of discussion was “Happy Marriage”.

We had outstanding discussions of many very important things. It was a delight. About five elementary age children were there also. Some of the teachers have voiced their desire for us to teach their children English. Since time does not permit that we are discussing an occasional children’s English corner where they can come and practice their English with us in a casual setting. I am looking forward to it and request His guidance in opening doors in the future.

Thank you to all of you for your loving support in your requests on our behalf. It gives us such strength to know we are not in this alone.

We have new students join our discussion groups occasionally even though the total numbers are down because of busy schedules. However, so much good continues to come from those small important discussions. The young man that organized the informal English corner for non-English majors came to our Saturday discussion and was so very attentive. Then when he was at the regular English corner last night he quoted something we said about Him and our favorite book. He also told them he is reading that book daily and going to do what it says.

Ten came for our Sunday morning meeting and we enjoyed the time of study, requesting, reaching up and fellowship. I finished reading Stuck in the Middle (Sister to sister) by Virginia Smith. It was a good romance novel. Also the short children’s book Garbage! Monster! Burp! by Tom Watson. A story dealing with recycling and caring for the environment; worth reading for all ages..I’m going to read it to my classes.

Monday night I held an children’s English corner in our apartment with three little girls for one hour. They were delightful. The parents want us to have it every week but it is not possible. Two of Gary’s students brought him an arrangement of carnations and white lilies that smell so good for his birthday. We have received word from the FAO office about the age limit for foreign teachers. After my birthday in July, I will not be eligible so we are making other plans. We are in the process of telling the teachers, students and significant others. I am glad we will have sufficient time to make our farewells.`

Rocky, a female High School student that we had talked to in September, came by for a visit when she heard we are moving in December. We had a very meaningful conversation about many things. She is a very intelligent and articulate young lady with a good head on her shoulders. She is reading the good book we gave her. From several statements she made it is clear that she is letting Him guide her life and strengthen her conscience. She is reading the book everyday and putting into practice what she learns. We talked about the people who first asked the first question , “What shall we do?” and the answer they were given.

We got to call Rheda, Gary’s mother, for her birthday. I am so thankful we discovered Skype calling.

We had 12 for the Friday night discussion on “A time for everything”. Saturday we had two groups of student visitations and an evening discussion with a total of 44 people in all.

We enjoyed the Sunday meeting with the nine who came; good study and discussion.

Our temperatures have been in the mid 40-60s and I see Beijing had some snow. I am thankful we are still doing English Corner on Wednesday nights because it is a built in time to say good bye to many of the students we do not see regularly because of our differing schedules.— Love to all of you. Terry

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2012 in Jingzhou

 

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