A new Sister …all is well! The seed works! God gives the increase…we are pleased for ‘just one more!’

14 Aug

Life has been slower this summer, with some of our students not available as often for groups or personal studies, but Sundays have been really-y-y-y exciting. We have had visitors most every week, from the United States, Costa Rica, Japan, Nigeria, Canada, South Africa, and different parts of China.

We also enjoyed lunch with four young Let’s Start Talking team members from Grapevine church of Christ. They spent nearly two weeks in our city reading with many of our students to help improve their English using the Bible. Of course, they were impressed with the interest and understanding…and their willingness to travel 1-2 hours by subway or bus to meet with them!

We are giving prayerful thought of moving to a Holiday Inn Express location here in Wangjing for our Sunday assemblies, since there are many more foreigners in this area. It  is also my thought that the ‘brand name’ might also attract visitors who might be interested in joining us.

If insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” it makes sense to try something different. It will be equally convenient to the subway system, is much closer for us, and the weekly rental cost will be cheaper, too. 🙂

I saw my first three lawnmowers in China today…all three being used on the tall grass outside our apartment. In Jingzhou and other parts of Beijing, we have only seen weed-eaters, even when the space to be cleared was a large football-size field. It was good to see that modern tools are known here for yard work.

Terry will say more later, but we are pleased to announce one new Sister…just proof that the seed still works, that God gives the increase, and we can continue to believe that our part is ‘just one more.’ We love planting and watering the seed of God’s word.

One of our former students was involved in and lost money in a pyramid scheme, which involved more than 100 million yuan ($16 million) and nearly 7,000 members across 28 provinces and municipalities on the Chinese mainland…it has recently been cracked. Police found Shanghai Chengshangcheng Co suspected of pyramid selling in the name of promoting cosmetics and health products in March.

The country is also seeing the value of vocational training, compared to three or four-year university degrees. There are now about seven million graduates looking for work this year, the highest number ever.

Greetings from Terry: I have recently finished reading , Sum It Up  by Pat Summitt and Sally Jenkins.

A young woman who came to talk to Gary about depression is doing much better as she works to change her way of thinking. She also helped me get a new lining put into my gray winter coat.  I am very thankful for her help.

We have had many beautiful days of cleaner air this month. Recently Gary and I watched the old movie, I Remember Mama and Les Miserables.

I love this poem by Bob Perks:  I Wish You Enough — I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more; enough happiness to keep your spirit alive; enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger; enough gain to satisfy your wanting; enough loss to appreciate all that you possess; enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Good bye”.

Here in Beijing we have “enough” and it is good.

Today I finished working the new puzzle I purchased while in Florida at the time Connor was born. The title of the picture is “Picnic by the bridge” by Charlotte Joan Sternberg. It is a beautiful scene. I can feel the breeze, smell the clean air, hear the children’s laughter, feel the cushy  grass and soft , silty dirt in the path where the children walk barefoot. I have thoroughly enjoyed the mini vacation it gave me.

I have begun to ask my students when they first heard about our Father and when did they first see the most important book. The answers are very interesting and I hope to get to share some of them with you when I next see you in person.

We have now ridden our first city bus in Beijing. The bus stop is near our apartment. We rode to Burger King for lunch then did some shopping in the mall. It only  cost 2 yuan for  both of us round trip instead of  13 yuan for a taxi one way.  On my latest “exploring” walk I found the B Gate of our neighborhood which has a diagram/map of our area on the wall near it. I think I will take a photo of it. It will make it a lot easier to find our way around and explain things to newcomers.

I finished reading The Enchanted Barn by Grace Livingston Hill. I really like the character of the hero and heroine. It was like another mini vacation. Life’s simple pleasures are the best.

We rejoice to say as of 2:00 p.m. August 11 Amanda is our newest sister.

Please make frequent petitions for Cherry and Amanda. Both are new to The Way and are being harshly treated by angry relatives. Amanda has been coming over for encouragement and learning ways to improve her thought patterns and self talk. She is hungry to learn. Last night she got off work early and was able to eat dinner with us. She and I had time to read our favorite book together and have a very pleasant visit. I  told her my friends would be making requests on her behalf and she was really touched by it. — Love you, Terry

Terry is counseling a student under immense pressure by parents to marry a young man “she does not love or even like” her family has chosen…telling her she needs to do ‘this for the good of the family.

Many young ladies have gone on countless blind dates and to numerous match-making events in search of a husband.

Couples celebrate the “Qixi” festival on August 13, the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day, and millions of women face stark choices as long-held ideas about matrimonial hierarchy run up against economic and social changes sweeping the world’s most populous country.

The term “shengnu” – directly translated as “leftover women” – was coined to refer to professional women who have not married by their late 20s.

Chinese authorities are considering providing solemnization services at marriage registration offices, an official with the Ministry of Civil Affairs has revealed.

Instead of a brief process of form filling, approval and certificate issuance that typically can be finished within a minute, the ministry is mulling whether to provide a certificate-presenting ceremony at more registration offices in China, Xu Liyang said on Monday.

With the couple’s consent, a registrar and presenter will act as a marriage witness and lead the new bride and groom to utter their wedding vows in a special ritual hall, and the couple will be informed of their rights and obligations as a wife or husband.

It is hoped that through such solemnization procedures, the newlyweds will get an understanding of their responsibilities and commitments in marriage.

A free ceremony for marriage registration is now available in registries in Shanghai, Shandong, Hubei and Beijing, and the ministry is considering expanding the program to more places in China.

It is common for a couple to get their marriage certificate, which officially marries them…and then wait weeks or even months for an official ‘public ceremony’ to be enjoyed by family and friends. Sometimes they will have these ‘public ceremonies’ in the hometowns of both the couple, if they are from different provinces.

Terry has always been a great housekeeper…make no mistake about it! Health officials have warned that bed bugs, which were mostly eradicated in Beijing decades ago, have reappeared in the capital, it was reported in the Beijing Times reported this week.

Zeng Xiaopeng, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the center’s staff have investigated a dozen houses where family members reported being bitten by the insects Feeding on the blood of human and other warm-blooded animals, bed bugs are one of the most widespread human parasites, which prefer to hide in mattresses, wall cracks and ceilings during the day and come out at night, Zeng said

Bed bugs can cause skin rashes on humans, which can last for several days. Zeng reminded residents that they should keep a clean environment at home. Experts said the capital’s recent high temperatures and rainy weather may have contributed to the rise of bed bugs.

We are seeing reports in the US news that China, one of the most visited countries in the world, has seen sharply fewer tourists this year – with worsening air pollution partly to blame.

That trend has affected our Sunday numbers for nearly three years, now, and the economy gets much of the blame, as US companies pulled their staff out.

But tourists have also been put off by news about smog and other problems. The number of people booking trips to China through one German  company has fallen 16 percent this year, for instance. That China’s air and water are badly polluted following three decades of breakneck growth is not news. But January’s record-setting bout of smog got worldwide news coverage and was so bad some longtime foreign residents left the country. We were here for those weeks, and it was not a pretty sight 😦

From January to June, the total number of foreign visitors, including business travelers and residents, entering China declined by 5 percent to just under 13 million compared with the same period last year, according to the China National Tourism Administration. Overall, visitors from Asia, Australia, Europe and the Americas all declined.

In Beijing, with major attractions including the Great Wall and the Imperial Palace, the drop is even more striking. The number of foreign tourists visiting the Chinese capital fell by 15 percent in the first six months of the year to 1.9 million, according to the Beijing Tourism Administration.

Beijing’s official air quality reports show improvement over recent years. But Steven Andrews, an environmental and legal consultant, said other data show a decline.

An analysis of U.S. Embassy readings of smaller, more harmful airborne particles, show this year’s pollution is significantly worse than in the past three years, Andrews said.

Beijing’s city government only started publicly releasing air quality data in January 2012 that measured PM2.5, or fine particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. They can enter deep into the lungs and can cause more damage. They are considered a more accurate reflection of air quality than other pollutants.

According to Andrews’ calculations, the average PM2.5 reading in the first half of 2013 was about 118 micrograms per cubic meter, compared with 95 last year and 89 in 2011. “In other words, so far this year the air pollution is about 25 percent worse than the first half of last year,” he said.

Total numbers of foreigners to Beijing rose in January by 13 percent compared with a year earlier. But following news reports of January’s smog, they dropped in February by 37 percent compared with February 2012.

In June, the number of foreigners to the Chinese capital was down by about 19 percent from a year ago, according to the Beijing Tourism Administration.

Beijing News —- The numbers of foreign visitors have declined following January’s “Airpocalypse,” when already eye-searing levels of smog soared to new highs. “You are reading about smog. You are reading about political things,” said Ilic. “All the news which is coming from China concerning the non-touristic things are bad, frankly speaking,”

China is the world’s No. 3 destination for international travel after France and the United States. Weakness in visitor numbers could hurt government efforts to reduce reliance on trade-driven manufacturing by promoting cleaner service industries such as tourism. Foreign visitors are outnumbered by Chinese tourists but spend more.

The decline could be long-term if Beijing fails to make visible progress in combating pollution, experts say.

The China National Tourism Administration acknowledges a decline in foreign tourists to China as a whole, and in cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen, a prosperous port city in the southeast.

It blames the global economic slowdown and a stronger Chinese currency and says China’s tourism image has been hurt by the emergence of H7N9 bird flu, air pollution and dead pigs found floating in Shanghai’s main river.

The city of Awara in central Japan canceled a student exchange trip due to bad air. Eighteen Japanese students were due to visit the eastern coastal city of Shaoxing under an annual exchange program that goes back 30 years.

The biggest drop was among Japanese visitors – 55 percent fewer came to the capital in the first six months. The number of Americans, the biggest single group of foreign visitors, declined 4 percent to just under 370,000.

How long the tourist decline lasts is linked to how quickly the smog clears, economists suggest.

Air and water pollution from factories and cars is the outcome of successful economic development and “difficult to control because it is difficult or politically infeasible to identify responsible parties”.

“Thus the air pollution trends in China will be difficult to reverse and their impacts will be significantly negative on the tourism industry,” he said. These impacts could be reversed if “the government can make significant improvements in air quality and enthusiastically convey these improvements to international travelers.” Other economists in the U.S. are studying data from 18 Chinese provinces from 1999 to 2010 that suggest air pollution hurts levels of foreign visitors.

A master’s degree thesis by Chinese student Cong Huang at the University of San Francisco was the starting point. She estimated that a 1 percent rise in air pollution will lower the number of foreign tourist arrivals by about 1.2 percent.

The Chinese government has announced ambitious new anti-pollution measures but people whose jobs depend on foreign tourists aren’t hopeful. The sales manager of the Cuiming Garden Hotel, near Tiananmen Square in central Beijing, said guest numbers are down. She said the next three months usually are a busy period but if the slump continues, the hotel might cut prices.

“We’re still not very much confident about having many inbound tourists next year,” said the manager, who would give only her surname, Wang.

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Posted by on August 14, 2013 in Beijing


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