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Goodbye to dear Family and friends! After 2 1/2 years of joyous, rewarding, and challenging time, we will return to the US, pursue full-time ministry situation


In every walk of life, it is abundantly clear that often times a single phone call quite literally can change your life.

Sometimes it’s news from the doctor, or the office, or one of your precious family members.

But it can also come from a stranger, who is only a passing acquaintance in your recent past, the one asked to pass on ‘bad news’ from someone in the chain-of-command. That is the China way, we have always heard, and now know it to be true.

We received that phone call on August 17 around 4:30 p.m. Beijing time, telingl us that Terry’s Visa would not be extended due to drastic changes at her language school that would not allow any foreigners to register for the new semester, essentially closing down the school.

It seems some students were using their visa for work opportunities, rather than for school, and when it became known, the school was immediately ‘punished,’ and Terry was caught in the middle. Of course, the student’s actions were against the law. They are closing the school, effective immediately.

It meant we would have to exit/enter the country and revert back to a 30-day tourist visa, which is quite costly considering it required two airplane tickets each time, plus cost to play the waiting game in that country for the paperwork to move through the process.

Our option? We decided, after 2 1/2 years of a joyous, rewarding, and challenging time in Jingzhou and Beijing, China, we would return to the United States and pursue a full-time ministry situation again.

Due to Terry’s age, they would not guarantee her entry into the one school where he age was not an issue, and because our present visa is ‘connected’ to the school now being closed, they will not guarantee offering me a spousal visa, even if she is accepted.

So this will be the final report on our China Adventure, which included two provinces/cities and began on February 14, 2011!

Saying goodbye thus far to Family and friends has not been easy, but they will have a special place in our heart for the rest of our days…and we hope to see many of them throughout eternity as they progress down that road of faith or begin that special walk with an awesome Father!

My nature is to get busy and move forward, so upon hearing the news, I began reworking my search material, which has been used when needed  for some 34 years now, for sending out to congregations looking for a minister.

I sent out over 40 that first night via the internet, and got quick responses during the night, one asking for a phone call, which brought a tryout in September in a area within 120 miles of people and places where we have lived and worked before. And I have now scheduled a second telephone interview from China, with 4 other congregations looking over the materials I sent to get back with me, which promises nothing but at least tells me they are still looking. God does work in mysterious ways, doesn’t He?

We will fly out on September 5.

Eric, Wendy, Brinson, and Aiden came through Beijing in January within two weeks of our moving here, on a teaching school break from Shiyan…and will come through on their way back for their second year the same week we were leaving. Again, we are so-o-o thankful for these special visits, and glad for Skype so we can stay in touch.

We are giving thought at this time to spending a few days in Searcy so we can attend this year’s Harding Lectureships, before heading in South Florida….if we do not find a job first, which would be a great situation. factors.

We are blessed to have Tonia, Gregory, Andrea, Colton, and Connor in South Florida, and available again for more convenient communications. 🙂

Your prayers of support and comfort have been greatly appreciated, and have sustained us in these awkward moments that bring surprise.

Greetings from TJ— Many complicated details. Long story short:  no school, no visa, no stay. Such a surprise. My human side is very sad, crying hard tears at first but my spirit knows He has a plan. He is watching over us and our students.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Everything is temporary. Make the most of your time. We have done what we could. No regrets.

Sunday we had our morning meeting (six in person, two by skype) in our apartment. Then, as planned, they stayed and ate lunch with us. The Japanese lady even brought one of her special dishes to add to the meal. It was a good time of fellowship.

The internet has been off in our apartment for large blocks of time making communication during this crucial time very difficult. Because we know time is short and we want to continue our individual studies as long as possible, we have already started packing. With our experience in moving, it will not take long. Kind of like “bugging out” on the old M*A*S*H television show. — Love you, Terry

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2013 in Beijing

 

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


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.

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

Posted by on August 14, 2013 in Beijing

 

Many Summer Visitors For Our Sunday Assemblies: They Are Just ‘Family Members We’ve Not Met Yet’


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I have heard the expression most of my life of “family members you have not met yet,” when thinking of Brothers and Sisters who become ‘instant friends’ when you spend a few minutes together. It is the beauty of God’s Household and the specialness of Sunday meetings together!

We have certainly had that opportunity thus far this summer, with Christians from Canada, Costa Rica, Nigeria, and the United States joining us one Sunday morning for class and worship….and that does not include those who are weekly participants on Skype. It’s difficult to say ‘goodbye’ when it is time to leave, and the singing, fellowship, and atmosphere is certainly very-y-y good! Terry has drawn a map to our meeting place, with good directions, and it helps them find us.

Carole came back through Beijing, after working for two weeks at the hospital. She did some good work while there, but since it has not opened, was doing different things than planned. She did observe that “our doors will be swinging open often” when the hospital does open, indicating increased traffic to come through our area. We enjoy and embrace the opportunity. She had a long 5-hour delay before finally leaving via Delta to Detroit and eventually Houston.

Anytime we can eat ‘America food’ in China is special, so our monthly visit to Grandma’s Kitchen was enjoyed…celebrated the special events but also met three hard-working LST teachers from Bellevue, Washington and enjoyed the visit. We have been at their assemblies on several occasions in the past, since Gregory and Andrea were stationed in their area for Coast Guard duty in the past.

We celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary (our third in China) and appreciate all the kind words expressed during the week of July 2. With our national birthday (4th) and Terry’s birthday (5th) it was a special week in many ways.

I am so thankful for cell phone and email communications and a website presence in China (www.beijingchurchofchrist.com). We’ve added several new documents that reflect the lessons presented on these weekly occasions.

With some of the colleagues traveling during the summer, it gives us the opportunity to ‘fill in’ with their students/groups at a time when we were ready to take on assignments for July and August. We will have three groups and nine individuals ‘in and out’ for 60-90 minute sessions during these weeks, and we love it! We picked up five new students this week alone, three in our Saturday group and two individuals from LST contacts.

The first week in our new place we found a Wal-Mart just 100 yards from our apartment…and found a Papa John’s close by, as well, the next day. We found a Burger King a few days later less than a mile from our apartment. When we need some comfort food, we will have some convenient outlets now. Life is good!

I am having 4-5 days a week when I think we could stay in China for a long time and on other days don’t know how long we can stay away from children and grandsons. I am sure that is normal after time away from the culture and work in a foreign country.

Eric, Wendy, Brinson, and Aiden will spend three days with us on their reentry to Shiyan in late August, and we’re making plans to visit them for a few days in January or February, when they are next on a break from Oral English opportunities.

Greetings — Time has raced by since my last “greetings”. During the last two weeks of my language class we had a group of high school students from a boarding school in Baltimore, MD here on an exchange program. They had studied Mandarin for two years already and were doing very well with it. It was fun to get to know them in class.

One morning on the way to school at the very crowded subway transfer station I was coming down the packed escalator when the woman in front of me fell down just before time to step off the escalator. For a split second the thought of all those people piling up on top of us was horrifying. I and one other person hopped over her and pulled her up and out of the flow of traffic before anyone was injured.

We are very thankful for our new convenient apartment. Taking every spare moment to explore the area. We have found a great big, clean open air veg/fruit market with the largest variety of high quality food we have seen in China yet. Wal-Mart and Burger King are close at hand too.

We had a great week of celebration for our 42nd wedding anniversary on July 2, our nation’s birthday July 4th and my birthday July 5th.

Now that I am out of class for the summer break I am thoroughly enjoying staying home, deep cleaning, reading and catching up from the move, no deadlines and more free time. Well…actually the free time was short lived but I love our life and work here.

We have been enriched by the ones worshipping with us while in Beijing for the summer. Also we have been blessed to have Carole Booker in our home while in transit to and from work at the future China Agape Hospital near Nanyang, Henan Province. We got to do some sightseeing before she returned to the states. She expresses herself so well I am inserting an excerpt from one of her reports: These are Carol’s words: …”We decided to leave for The Forbidden City about 8:30 Monday morning and it was already raining steadily. At first we stepped lightly over and around puddles, but were soon to find out it was futile. By the end of the day we were soaked, but so glad we had taken the effort to go. Terry had seen the entrance from the outside, but had never gone inside. We entered through the huge entrance gate with Mao’s giant portrait in the center, although he never lived in the palaces. We were both a little confused as to the layout once we were in the first gate. It was very crowded in spite of the rain and all the umbrellas made it that much harder to see your way around. After a long walk through a courtyard we found the real entrance and ticket office. It costs 100 yuan for a ticket if you also want the guided tour earphones. If you’re ever in Beijing – save the 40 yuan on the guided tour headphones, we were both disappointed with how they did/did not work. We began just sort of following our noses and realized we weren’t getting to go inside the palaces. We were just going through one gate at the side of each palace which opened up to another football field size courtyard which led to another identical palace and gate. It went on and on. Eventually we noticed some museum display rooms on the side of one courtyard which included artifacts from the Qing Dynasty – 1600’s – about Shakespeare’s time.  We kept wandering through the courtyards and gates until we figured maybe that’s all there was to it and decided to try to see Mao in Tiananmen square across the street. That’s when we began looking for the exit. All of the gates and palaces look the same and we were turned around and couldn’t find our way out. Were we lost in The Forbidden City?? Creepy stories came to mind of people long ago who went into the city and never came out. The little map they had given us was of no use since there were no distinguishing features to identify where we were. It was somewhat like being in a maze. We asked a worker which way was out and she pointed the opposite way we were headed. Surely she was wrong. We continued on thinking maybe she didn’t understand the question.

“She was right. We were in search of the front exit, but were actually going deeper and deeper into the city. However, it was a fortuitous mistake! We stumbled upon some rooms we could actually look in that appeared to be throne rooms or bed chambers. Continuing through another gate we found ourselves in the Imperial Garden. It was like discovering Shangri La. It was beautiful with old gnarly trees called scholar trees and giant porous rock formations and pagoda style gazebos and golden lions and paths meandering through all of it. We both could have stayed there all afternoon. All that was missing was a tea room where we could enjoy the view and get off our squishy feet. Looking at the map we were amazed to see the Imperial Gardens were at the far end of the city. We had gone as far as you could go in The Forbidden City. We were very proud of ourselves for getting that far. We had to do some sweet talking to get our feet to haul us all the way back out. The exit took us out the east side and along the moat that encircles the city. Then it was on to Tiananmen Square where we hoped to see Mao, but the building was closed and we now understand it is rarely open. We found some good shops on our way to the subway.” (end of Carole’s words)

Snezana asked me to lead her women’s Wednesday pm study while she is on vacation. I am enjoying getting to know them. We have begun several new studies and continue to meet new people all the time.

I have finished reading The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen. — Love you, Terry

Beijng news: A 30-year-old man who has run an online shop selling spells for eight months is earning about 1 million yuan ($163,000) a month. About 161 different spells are for sale at prices ranging from 38 yuan to 2,000 yuan at the shop on taobao, a major online shopping service provider in China. The spells are customized for personal demand and people’s horoscopes, for such purposes as to smooth relationships or bring love.

The most popular spell is one to attract love, with 2,326 pieces sold in one month for a total of 700,000 yuan and no negative reviews received. The rising demand that enabled shop owner Luo Shun, from Loudi city, Hunan province, to earn about 1 million yuan monthly surprised even him. 
China plans to increase the number of cities that restrict vehicle purchases in a bid to fight pollution and traffic congestion, state media reported Thursday.

With more than 13 million cars sold in China last year, motor vehicles and their emissions have emerged as the chief culprit for the air pollution in large cities.

Four cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, already curb the purchase of vehicles for private use, through lotteries and auctions of a limited number of license plates.

Shi Jianhua, the deputy secretary general of the government-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, was quoted Thursday as saying that eight more cities are likely to announce similar policies. The eight include the port city Tianjin, near Beijing, the metropolis Chongqing in the southwest and industrial powerhouse Shenzhen, not far from Hong Kong.

Such restrictions might cut vehicle sales by 400,000 units, or 2 percent of total domestic sales, and have a “certain impact” on the country’s economic growth, the China Daily newspaper quoted Shi as saying.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, which consults with local governments and makes recommendations on vehicle policies, declined to offer details when called.

China’s increasingly informed and vocal citizens have successfully pushed the government to be more transparent about how bad the air in their cities is, but, as they get richer, their desire for cleaner air conflicts with their growing dependence on cars. While China is the biggest car market in the world by number of vehicles sold, there is still plenty of room for growth as the country still lags far behind developed markets in terms of the ratio of cars to people.

The number of vehicles in Beijing has increased to 5.18 million from 3.13 million in early 2008, Xinhua reported earlier this year. Since the beginning of last year, prospective buyers have had to enter a monthly draw to win a license plate. Each month, 20,000 lucky winners are chosen. The number of people in the draw had reached almost 1.53 million by last month.

Zhao Jian, a transport expert at Beijing’s Jiaotong University’s School of Economics and Management said extending restriction-on-ownership policies to other cities was unlikely to have much effect on pollution because there were already too many cars on the roads.

“The restrictions on car ownership in Beijing failed to achieve what the government wanted to see because the restrictions only slowed the growth in the number of cars. They didn’t reduce the numbers of cars,” said Zhao.
Rising number of women turning to abortions: Growing instances of disease, unwanted pregnancies and repeated abortions are the consequences of greater sexual activity among girls and young women who are paying less attention to safe sex, experts said.

About 16 percent of university students have had premarital sex, according to a study released on Thursday, World Population Day.
Increasing numbers of young women are turning to abortion, Shanghai’s Institute of Family Planning Technique Guidance revealed.

More than 30 percent of women opting for abortions in the city were unmarried. And more than 60 percent of abortions were because women did not use protection. The younger they are, the less likely they are to take precautions.

“Many young couples choose sensual pleasure over protection, and regard abortion as a contraceptive,” said Wang Xiangzhen, a gynecologist in the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Shenzhen, adding that adolescent girls coming to her include high school students and factory workers.

Experts in Beijing have seen a similar phenomenon. Gao Xiuju, a gynecologist at a publicly funded hospital in Beijing, said she sees more young women requesting abortions. And they are getting younger.

About 10 percent of the women going there for abortion are under 18, and young unmarried women account for more than 50 percent of cases, she said. “Most come here after falling pregnant for the second or third time.”
But this almost careless approach can be dangerous, she warned. Repeated abortions may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, fallopian tube obstructions and infertility. 

“Before surgery, we inform them of the risk of abortions, things to look out for after surgery and how to have safe sex. But this advice often falls on deaf ears. Maybe they feel they are too young to have problems after abortions.”

Xu Zhenlei, an expert in adolescent sex education at Peking University Health Science Center, said the number of university students coming to him for counseling after experiencing problems, such as unwanted pregnancy, is increasing.

University students today may be more mature than before but they still are not careful enough. As students return, every September, there is a significant increase in abortions following holiday flings.

The reason, he suspects, is that many young people believe that getting pregnant is no big deal, because they can have a “painless abortion” which many hospitals are heavily advertising. But even painless surgery entails risks and can endanger the reproductive system. 

Schools lack courses on sexual health even as students are becoming more open toward sex, according to Xu. The Ministry of Education published a guide in 2012 on mental health for primary and high school students.
The guide asked schools to help adolescents learn about physical and psychological changes they may be going through and how to interact with people of the opposite gender. “However, the outline is not compulsory, and many schools don’t have such courses, fearing opposition from parents,” he said.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2013 in Beijing

 

We have moved to the Wangjing area of Beijing…found Wal-Mart and Papa John’s 100 yards away


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We have moved to the Wangjing area of Beijing, so Terry can be closer to her language school. While there are some downsides, saving her over 90 minutes of travel every day in the fall is just too good to pass up….and the apartment is 1,000 yuan less per month. We are still in the Chaoyang district (actually closer to the airport by taxi), so it will be convenient to those passing through, but not as close to some of the tourist destinations. Since we are still at one of the subway stations, it will be very manageable.

Our good friend, Victor, helped us with the process and we’re actually in the same building, and will also be in the same ‘neighborhood’ as two Sisters, as well. Barry has been his usual ‘big help’ in finding us a truck and two men to manage the move…we will miss him when he leaves our area for a year on a hospital-exchange program.

We will work in July and August to find a new barber, grocery store, bakery, etc. which is always fun, right?

When we returned on June 8, we found a hot apartment at 2:40 a.m. with no electricity (thus no internet) for over 30 hours…later finding out that four other apartments in our 24-story building were having similar problems.

I have ‘noticed China’ upon this return, and was surprised to feel that way. The difficult first two days contributed to the situation, but four weeks in America were especially pleasurable…and with a move less than three weeks after our return, we are literally ‘starting over’ in our adjustment period in Beijing.

We have had some special family worship with us on Sundays: Josh and his parents, from Costa Rica, were in attendance recently, along with Khaya, from South Africa. And Will, a university of Florida student, was also with us for the first time. All three of the young men are studying Mandarin, so they had a lot to share with Terry. The fact that Josh’s parents will be here for three more weeks, and Will here for the summer, made it an even better day!

The next week, Jeff (from Arkansas) worshipped with us and offered some great insight into our study Falling in love…again…with Jesus from the gospel of John.

Since our apartment is close to our meeting place, we invited all of them over for lunch, . Terry was the perfect host (of course) for most of the bunch (Will had other plans), having prepared spaghetti, salad, and bread for lunch, since we knew ahead of time that they would be here. Because we have a website, and can list information about our meeting times and location, we usually have contact prior to seeing them walk into our room.

An interesting thing occurred, since Jeff speaks fluent Spanish and Gilbert and Jeannette are from Costa Rica. When we began communion, Jeff asked if he should speak in both English and Spanish…and you should have seen the smiles when he concluded each part! We offered, on that day, at least, three languages!

We began studying from John this summer, looking more specifically at the Person of Jesus. While we certainly look at the verses themselves, we’re wanting to see who, what, when, where, how….they responded to Jesus and His response to Him.

We have seven who join us on Skype each Sunday for our bible class and two are able to stay online for worship. I am thankful that it works most of the time and am grateful technology does not ‘get between us and God.’ (We just studied John 2 when Jesus cleared the temple area of the money changers, and I think that is the main lesson…they were cheating the people with the exchange of money and kept many of them from offering a sacrifice to God, after traveling so far to attend this special Feast).

We are expecting visitors from America, South Africa, England, and Australia later this summer, some just traveling through the area but two of them coming for a few weeks to do internship work to begin teaching Oral English.

We are hearing from many of our Jingzhou students, who are finishing their school work and heading home or to part-time jobs for the summer. Have also received some graduation pictures, which we had asked for…good to see them again and know they have concluded this most important phase of their adult lives.

One of our closest students said she wants to “visit Beijing in two years when she graduates” and asked us “to wait for her.”

As summer arrives, we will find our students less available, since it is a time for finals and also the beginning of their break from school. We will have some studies weekly, but fewer than our 14 (each 90-120 minutes long) in  March and April. We anticipate commencing a new Friday group and have some new acquaintances in mind…and also will conduct a Wednesday night group (TJ will lead for women only) and a Saturday group during the summer while two Sisters enjoy time away…one of them from Bosnia. We have also just taken on five new LST students, but just for a month. We’ve had some typical June-like swings in temperatures…from 93 for two days back to 74 degrees….also some light rain showers, that help clean out the polluted air, which is bad for 2-3 days and then OK again.

Anyone out there want to come to Beijing and work in establishing a privately-run primary school as an English teacher? I can give you a contact for full details, but it would include a monthly salary, a provided apartment, and the promise of a business visa. It was hard to be unhappy with a NBA game 7 between the Heat and Spurs…and enjoyed my three children’s divided interest in the buildup while we were home. …Eric lived in San Antonio and Gregory and Tonia are just 20 miles from the Heat arena and the Coast Guard base is in Miami Beach area.

Terry told a touching story to our friends here that I had not witnessed. When our grandson, Colton, went for the first time to visit his mother and younger brother, he went up to Andrea, looked her in the eyes, and reached out his hand to her arm. He said, “Mom, I need to touch you. I want to touch you.” Needless to say, Andrea (and Gregory) have a great relationship with that young fellow! :-))

Our move went forward with only a few surprises…we had to get a form completed before the truck could leave the ‘compound’ of building with our belongings. It took less than 23 minutes to park the truck and completely load it with our things, since we had everything ready and waiting for the 1.5 hour late arrival of the three workers. One of the air conditioners needed coolant, and the landlord came to take care of it the next day, only to find out that it could not be fixed and needed to be replaced.

We had to buy a microwave and a shower curtain…and we were ready for our first guest the next day and our first studies (Saturday night group) three days later. We like staying busy with important things so did not take any time off to unpack, etc., knowing we would gradually get it all done ‘in good time’ (we had the first five trunks/pieces of luggage/boxes put away within three hours of our arrival).

Carole Booker was our first guest and blessed our home the day after we moved to Wangjing. On her way to Nan Yang to work in the hospital, built by Chinese Agape, she was a delight for us to know. It is her third trip to China, all by herself since plans to travel with medical mission groups have not worked out in the past. We gave her many words of praise and encouragement and sent her on her way after two nights. Her internet connections are not consistent, but she is adjusting to the conditions there now and will be back here for a day in July as she returns to Houston. We anticipate hosting several others in coming months as they come and go to work with orphans or in the hospital.

Just outside the gate closest to our new apartment is a major intersection…and guess what is diagonally across from that gate? A double-floor Wal-Mart, which had most of the things we have found in other Beijing spots. We also found a Papa John’s in the same mall the next day. It IS a good day!

Dear Ones: Our trip to America was everything I needed and wanted it to be; precious visits and hugs with family and friends, fresh air, clean landscaped neighborhoods to walk in, delicious food, driving ourselves around town, worship and fellowship with our American brethren and the birth of our fourth grandson.

As you may have already heard, Connor weighed in at nine pounds five ounces, 22 1/4  inches long.

Thank you to the ones making the buddy passes available for our international flights. Being able to stretch out in first class makes the long flight sooo much more bearable.

My first couple of days were spent visiting with my mother, sister, brother, and their spouses, plus a nephew. I was able to visit and worship with one of my LCC classmates, Kathy Schoentag.

Gary’s first few days were spent visiting his mother and all of his brothers and sister (eight in all). I really missed getting to see his family on this trip.

The next and longest part of our stay was in the Fort Lauderdale area with Tonia, Gregory and his family. Baby Connor arrived four days early. Gregory, Tonia and I were on the birthing team for encouragement. She did great and we know afresh why they call it “labor. It was such a joy to be a part of their daily lives for a short time. Big brother Colton and I had plenty of time for discovery walks, reading books, working puzzles and generally getting reacquainted. Connor grew right before our eyes.

He won’t remember us being there but we sure will. We were sooo thankful to be a part of his first two weeks of life. It was great to worship with the saints.

Gary was asked to lead singing for the AM worship at West Broward church of Christ and to speak and share our China experience and work with the Griffin Road church of Christ at their PM worship. Both of which he was very happy to do.

We were able to spend the night with my other sister and her husband in Issaquah, WA on our way back to China.

It felt good to be home in Beijing, even though the very bad air quality made it not look so good. The jet lag coming back to China was harder on me this time.

Gary was a trooper. He walked to get the groceries, walked to get the vegetables and then when we discovered we had no grape juice for Sunday he walked to the store again. Bless him. I could not have made it to the first store. And he did it all with a great attitude. And that on top of not having internet access or electricity when we first got home.

Eric and sons spent the night with us on their way to the U.S. Wendy will follow later when the semester is over. I love it when they get to pop in on their trips.

We were blessed with several visitors Sunday AM. We invited them all home for spaghetti and salad. It was a fun time of fellowship. Now we know and love a brother and sister in Costa Rico. I realized just the other day that it is the “table fellowship” that I really miss. It is sometimes difficult with our new Chinese friends to find food that we both like.

Saturday we spent the day looking for an apartment closer to my school. We had asked God to go before us and He did. We found a very good one in the same building as one of our LST readers and very close to some brothers and sisters. Now, to pack and clean while finishing my semester of school. Busy, busy, busy. — Love you, Terry

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2013 in Beijing

 

Connor Davenport born on May 19…75 pounds of chewable children’s vitamins are collected!


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We were able to collect over 75 pounds of children’s chewable vitamins for distribution at Chinese Agape hospital in China…Connor Edward, our fourth grandson, was born May 19 and weighed in at  nine pounds, five ounces and 22 1/2 inches long.

We were so blessed to have time with both our mothers (in Tennessee and Colorado) and brothers and sisters as we entered the States, and were there to help out prior to the delivery and some 2.5 weeks following his healthy arrival. We were also able to get off the plane for a 34-hour visit with Dale and Anne outside of Seattle, while giving us a chance to cut the trip to Beijing by a few hours.

I have a renewed appreciation for Delta airlines, and especially their ‘buddy pass’ system, which lets employees share tickets with friends and family. We left Beijing as scheduled and had business/first class accommodations, which meant more room for the 12+ hour trip to Detroit, with a connection to Denver (TJ) and Nashville (me).

Did I mention we had more room? Watched a few movies, had a comfortable space for sleeping, and plenty of friendly service in the sky for a couple excited to be seeing family and friends after 15 long months in Jingzhou and Beijing. I had steak for dinner and Terry had Sea Bass…we actually had too much food offered and had to say no to some of the sweet things…what a nice problem!

The Griffin Road and West Broward congregations in South Florida did a great job on short notice in collecting over 75 pounds of children’s chewable vitamins, to be distributed through Chinese Agape in their hospital. We were able to fill one box with 48 pounds and then distribute the rest throughout other luggage to get them back at one time. We were also able to deliver seven books to Kenneth Retzer, which was also a blessing.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2013 in Beijing

 

Sunday night ‘Good Life” study group a blessing…


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“…the situation is the answer to prayers we have had for years: send us those who are interested in the Bible and let us grow with them as we study together..”

We had a new experience….a Sunday afternoon and two Chinese ladies with no English knocked on the door…when we let them into the apartment, one entered the bathroom and read some numbers off a water meter…the other lady recorded the amounts and told us we owed  345 yuan  ($55.51) for hot water, for three months. The surprise? They showed us the amount on the paper and held out their hand, with the expectation that we had the funds to pay the bill on the spot. And, yes, we did 🙂 At no time in my life has anyone appeared at the door for a utility bill and asked for cash on the spot.

I mentioned earlier that the government has turned off its provided heat in Beijing on March 15, and since it was free, it is missed…but it is still 40-42 degrees at night and windy and cold in the 55 range during the day, so we need heat in the apartment. We were told just today that they also are slow about providing it when winter approaches, watching the calendar instead of the outside temperatures, so we can expect to use our indoor heaters and blankets in mid-October and into November.

Our temperature reached 81 degrees April  13, after being in the 45-55 range for several weeks, reminding us that spring is just around the corner. It was a high of only 57 the next day but on the 16th warm weather returned…I wore a short sleeve shirt out for the first time in 2013 and was quite comfortable. We have seen a lot of sunshine and it has been windy, too, but that clears out the sky and makes for beautiful days.

Our students are seeing slight changes in their schedules, with school reaching its halfway point … more tests and beginning to make plans for the summer. Terry will miss classes while we are in America but will finish on July 5, with a good break till the end of August. We expect to see some travelers during the summer and know some LST teams will be here as well. We are especially excited to get some new students when the follow-up commences.

We were found on our internet website by a young believer, who was looking for a study group in her area. We have begun a Sunday night study of “The Good Life” from Ecclesiastes…and it has grown from the original three to five, plus Terry and me. We are blessed with interest from several ages and the situation is the answer to prayers we have had for years: send us those who are interested in the Bible and let us grow with them as we study together. 😉

I am studying with a business finance professor who drives to the study each week…until this week, when he learned that since his license ends in 1 or 8 he cannot drive on that day for three months. They use a number system to limit the cars each Monday—Saturday, cutting down on traffic and pollution. Needless to say, it can become inconvenient if you have plans on the new day you cannot drive.

March Madness has come and gone…I won one group and finished second to my grandsons Brinson and Aiden in the other men’s bracket…picking the most winners (38 of 63 for 86% against all others in the nation) but I had picked Indiana to win it all and the Brothers Alliance had correctly picked Louisville (my birth place, by the way).

We head to America soon, with plans to visit our Moms on the way into the country, and then settling in for our grandson’s birth in mid-May and visiting with our families there. Terry’s has family in Denver and I have several in Nashville/Murfreesboro/Chattanooga, Tennessee area. I was able to book two one-way flights on Southwest for less than $85 when we head to Fort Lauderdale area from those two sites, so we have been blessed. Of course, we have plans to use ‘buddy passes’ to get from Beijing to the first cities we will visit.

Since the latter weeks of January, I have been working on a special project: editing the World Bible School correspondence courses to get them to the fewest possible words with maximum teaching available. John Reese, who was part of the Inter-Mission group that came to Beijing last summer, recruited me for the task. For the most part, the first two courses were already in great shape…will proceed to others as time allows.

My oldest student, Philip, was able to return this week after traveling out of town for three weeks and spending two weeks with his mother in the hospital (she eventually died). He brought a new student, Gavin, and they were both enthusiastic about the Luke 12 lesson on worry. “This is a good lesson for us,” they both volunteered at the end of around 80 minutes.

We will probably move to a apartment closer to the language school when we return from our break in America…it will save Terry 7-8 hours a week of subway travel and some money, as well. We’ll also look for a convenient Sunday morning meeting place. Two of our ‘regulars’ will be gone by the end of the summer; one teacher is moving to another area of China and another is taking a year’s assignment through the hospital. They will be greatly missed and will certainly make our Assembly look different 😦

Greetings— Ken and Wei Retzer were able to come to worship in person along with their young son, Kenneth. Because we knew in advance they were coming I was able to prepare a class for Kenny. We just went into the next room. He is an eager and bright student. We had a lot of fun.

The same day we had the opportunity to worship with a Chinese group that meets north of us. It was good to sing in Putonghua again. They are dear, faithful brothers and sisters who enjoy being together and are hungry for the word. The lesson Gary presented was so good.

One of our former students said that he is reading the Bible and is addicted to it. He is asking very thoughtful questions. We love to get these kinds of text messages.

Another former student is having trouble finding “his place” in life after graduation. The “transition points” of life (moving, marriage, births, deaths) are difficult for all of us and are particularly dangerous for the young Christian. I encourage the ones that speak of it to hold tight to His hand. He knows the way. Stay in the word and in close contact with His body for encouragement and strength. We assure them it is OK to call us anytime night or day if they need to talk.

I just now thought of something. At each transition point of his life Jesus spent alone time talking to his Father for strength and encouragement.

Tonight after looking out the window at dusk and I say, “Thank you Father for the beautiful pink sunset and the rain that has refreshed the land.”

Thanks to God and Gary’s help, our schedule is working. I plan the meals, Gary does the shopping. Sometimes he starts the meal and I finish it…then both quickly do the dishes.

I study on to and from school on the subway and bus with note cards and lists. At home I study, work, study, work. The little vocabulary notes stuck up on the walls help keep the words and characters in my brain.

It takes soooo much repetition and work for me to be able to recall the characters quickly enough to write them in a sentence during a dictation test. There is no “quick fix”. Nothing takes the place of hard work. However I still enjoy it and am thankful for that.

The teacher, as well as the classmates, encourage each other.

We watched the old Jimmy Stewart movie, Shop Around the Corner. (You’ve Got Mail is the basically the same story). So much of the set reminds me of Cecil Elrod’s French Shoppe on the square in Murfreesboro, TN where I worked while going to MTSU;  window dressing, sales, some display cabinets, covering the merchandise with sheets at night, redoing sales displays. It is an old movie but I think it is well written. — Love, Terry.

China News—Qingming has a new look with the tradition of burning paper money for ancestors to use in the afterlife replaced by paper replicas of cell phones, cars and even mistresses

Cell phones, computers, houses and cars, all made of paper, will go up in flames across China on April 4, known as Tomb Sweeping Day or Qingming.

All over the country, people will go to the graves of their ancestors and light up these paper offerings to the dead, the idea being that they become real objects in the afterlife.

Qingming, which means clear and bright, is the 15th day after the spring equinox. Suppressed during the “cultural revolution”(1966-76) and reinstated as a public holiday in 2008, the festival has been thoroughly modernized by the Chinese public, with the tradition of burning fake money now replaced in many instances with paper replicas of the trappings of modern life, including everything from make-up sets to brassieres and even mistresses.

It is a far cry from the origins of the day or how it was until fairly recently marked, with a quiet prayer and the burning of some paper notes. And it is a change that has proved unpopular with many traditionalists.

“Although people also show their respect to their ancestors by burning luxury goods, villas or mistresses made of paper, I don’t think it is proper,” says Xiao Fang, director of the Institute of Folklore and Social Development at the College of Liberal Arts, Beijing Normal University.

“People impose their kitsch understanding of enjoyment on their ancestors. It is unnecessary and a waste of paper and resources. If people want to show their love and respect, it is better to do it in a very simple style, like burning spirit money and kowtowing, which are traditional, or talking to them before their tombs.”

He believes burning paper replicas of expensive items is simply vanity and a means of showing off wealth.

Though the festival’s popularity has been on the rise in recent years, understanding of its origins and meanings appears to be on the wane. In a 2008 poll of primary school students in Guangzhou, 70 percent had little idea of the festival’s cultural significance.

“The tradition of Qingming has lasted more than 2,500 years. Its meaning goes far beyond tomb sweeping,” says Xiao Fang.

It originally marked one of the 24 Chinese solar terms, which were crucial to agriculture because they told farmers when to sow and when to harvest. Qingming meant the weather was becoming warmer and it was time to plow and plant.

In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Hanshi and Qingming were merged into one day, Qingming Festival, when people would eat only cold food, sweep their ancestors’ tombs and spend time with family and friends.

“Besides paying respect to our ancestors, Qingming is also a festival of spring,” Xiao says.

“It’s a time for people to go on outings into the mountains and fields and have close contact with nature; a time to play games with friends and relatives. After a long winter indoors it’s a time for people to feel refreshed and vibrant among mother nature.”

To keep this aspect of the day alive Chinese schools plan spring outings on the day of the festival.

“For Chinese people, Qingming is an important day that shows their faith in ancestors and tradition,” says Xiao. “We don’t have Thanksgiving Day, but to some extent, Qingming can be regarded as China’s Thanksgiving Day for us to show our gratitude to our forefathers.”

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2013 in Beijing

 

God provides…again…why should we be surprised?


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…so far I am getting A’s on my writing homework (it is kind of like art to me) and dictation tests but speaking is a whole new ballgame and I’m not so good at ballgames…

It happened again, and why did it surprise me for even one second?

I had accidentally stepped on my glasses on Saturday night, having laid them on the floor beside the bed as I was reading and rolled over for a short rest. With three teaching/preaching opportunities the next day, I knew I had to do something to get the screw to hold the right lens in place just to get through the day…since I cannot see without the glasses.

With some clear tape and strong tread and a needle, we had everything in place…and all went well. As I got off the subway on line 15 to speak to one of our Family Groups for the first time, I looked across the street where we were being met by a Sister…and saw a Lenscrafters store. The answer to our prayers! Within 10-12 minutes, I walked out with a repaired frame that lets me get to the nearest Walmart in Tennessee or Florida…God provides just what I need..again! 😉

We had 5-7” of snow on March 19, just four days after all the free indoor heat in Beijing had been turned off by the government. We have an adequate heater in our main room and put an extra blanket on the bed and are doing just fine. It was absolutely beautiful, and did bring out some of the human ‘snow removers.’

Remember, the snow removal system here is sending out 253,000+ humans to remove it from the streets. On the area below our window, I watched them open the manholes in the middle of the streets and push the snow in them…guess it is OK since it is only water, huh?

We have missed our Life Discussion group on Fridays in Jingzhou and tried to get a group together here, but it just is not going to develop…different age group and schedule in a large city compared to a university campus. 😦

Our effort at a Sunday night English Corner has let us meet 10-11 of our neighbors, but it did not ‘make it’ as a weekly event…so we have decided to offer an evening Bible study, even though we already have a full day. Our first session had three believers with lots of interest, so we will see how the next few weeks advance. 😉

We met Maggie and Jane for the first time, and they are such a delight! They are Sisters, and talk of wonder, doubt, and belief when discussing their Story. They are nearly 1.5 hours away from us by subway, so we will not see them often, which is a great shame for us!

We traveled to their Sunday meeting place and were pleased with the time there and well received. We plan to go back on a monthly basis to offer instruction and encouragement, though it is just under an hour on the subway to their place.

We had some visitors from Shanghai and Iowa on Sunday morning (see photo left), and the singing outstanding! It is always ‘from the heart’ and God is pleased, but it was great to have 12 singers! “What an encouragement we were to each other,” they said when it was time to leave.

We had our teeth cleaned for only the second time in China…cost was 129 yuan more in Beijing than Jingzhou…both were very professional and used nice equipment to do the work instead of people-power…little or no blood when I would be asked to spit every 3-4 minutes (too much information, huh?)

Spring has finally arrived, and I heard hearty laughter and friendly teasing daily on the streets here….all ages seem to enjoy each other’s company and it is a delight to see such friendships across age barriers.

I watched a craftsman at work today…after running some errands I saw a young man in a small shop with the sign “Shoe Washing.” My shoes are always in need of washing…have never enjoyed ‘shining’ my shoes. As he gave them a quick look, it was clear that they needed more than a washing…as he touched the sole and showed me that it was separated from the shoe itself and proceeded to show me (remember we could not use words) how he could replace the soles for me.

I watched him go to work, for the next 40 minutes, with the greatest care. He checked and rechecked and then checked again to make sure everything was secure, and then ‘washed’ the shoes…brand new and good for a few more month’s wear…I got them at a Goodwill store in 2010 and brought them back with me to China after our first year…hard to get new shoes since they are not ‘broken in’ …this is a perfect alternative! He used a glue similar to super glue, but it took less than five seconds to become very secure, though he made certain by using a hot-air hair dryer. This young man was very, very professional and I ended up taking two other pairs in for ‘minor’ repairs and a washing.:-)

I ended up taking him other shoes in need of his ‘super glue’ and he did another great job for us…in one case rebuilding the heel on TJ’s heavy-duty winter walking boots.

Greetings: We ate dinner in the home of Ken and Wei Retzer the other day. We enjoyed a relaxing visit with stimulating conversation and delicious food. It was a joy to spend time with them.

We have met seven new people in the last two weeks. The LST studies are going very well. We are thankful for the opportunity to meet and study with these dear people who are hungry and thirsty for the truth.

My class is still fun to me. We had our first dictation test and I did alright. It still amazes me that I am actually learning to read and write Chinese characters, as well as speak it.

We woke up to snow the other morning. The snow was damp and there was no wind so it piled up on every possible edge and surface; so beautiful.  As I was slipping and sliding my way to the subway station, many people were out taking pictures.

Today I saw my first blossom covered tree of the spring season in Beijing. I like seeing the city come alive with new growth.  It will look so different in green.

The other day when I arrived home Gary surprised me with fresh blueberries and a chocolate cupcake from the market and bakery.  So delicious! He makes life fun. It is always good to get home to him. We talk a mile a minute exchanging the details of our morning and catching each other up on what is going on.

After a brief nap its study time, LST appointments and preparation for the next day. It is a good life. We marvel at how good this stage of our life is right now.

I finished reading The Obsession of Victoria by Grace Livingston Hill. I really enjoyed it.

Sunday morning worship was so good! We had more visitors than usual so we had plenty of all four parts for the singing. We took the opportunity to sing several songs we had not been able to sing in a long time. We all gained a lot from the good lesson and went on our way rejoicing and strengthened for the coming week.

Monday we got our teeth cleaned at the China Japan Friendship Hospital. They do a good job. The hard part for me is that they use an electric machine that whirs like a drill instead of hand instruments to clean the teeth.

First of all, with my genetically soft teeth I had a lot drilling done in my childhood and the sound alone almost makes my stomach hurt. Second, I hear high pitched sounds very well and the hose of the machine was near my ear along with the loud suction tube.

I had to really concentrate on my Chinese characters and vocabulary to get through it. At least it didn’t hurt physically. Next time I must take my music player. We got right in without an appointment. I felt a bit overwhelmed in class today; so much information, so fast, all spoken in Chinese, all writing on board in characters except when I ask a specific question. I have to remind myself nothing major is depending on my grade. I just have to remain in class and learn as much as I can.

So far I am getting A’s on my writing homework (it is kind of like art to me) and dictation tests but speaking is a whole new ballgame and I’m not so good at ballgames.

I pack a small lunch to eat during the break between classes since I do not get home till after 1:00. It fits nicely into the plastic heart shaped box that my favorite candy comes in…Ferrero Rocher. Gary buys them for me and they are delicious. I am reminded of his love for me every time I eat my lunch. — Love, Terry

BEIJING – With a smile on her face, dressed in a simple black peacoat and carrying an elegant unbranded bag, China’s new first lady, Peng Liyuan, stepped into the international limelight and became an instant internet sensation back home.

Stepping off the aircraft in Moscow – the first stop of President Xi Jinping’s maiden foreign trip since assuming office – Peng’s glamorous appearance and obvious affection for her portly husband caused Chinese microbloggers to swoon.

“So beautiful, Peng Liyuan, so beautiful! How composed, how magnanimous,” wrote one user on China’s popular Twitter-like service Sina Weibo.

“Who could not love such a lady as this and be insanely happy with her?” wrote another.

Taobao, an online shopping site similar to eBay and Amazon, quickly began offering for sale coats in the same style of Peng’s, advertising it as “the same style as the first lady’s”.

Others wondered what brand her bag and shoes were.

“Her shoes are really classic, and who designed her bag?” wrote a third Weibo user.

Peng is best known in China as a singer, and for many years was arguably better known and certainly more popular than her husband.

People who have met her and know her say that Peng is vivacious and fun to be around, though she was ordered to take a back seat after Xi became vice president in 2008 as he was being groomed for state power.
But she is expected to be given high-profile events of her own to attend on Xi’s sweep through Russia, Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo on a week-long trip, as the government tries to soften the image of China abroad.

Peng has won praise for her advocacy for pet causes, most notably for children living with HIV/AIDS, and may visit charities related to this while abroad.

Unlike the baby-kissing politicians of the West, China’s Communist Party works hard to keep its top leaders from appearing too human – to the point that for many, even their official birthdates and the names of their children are regarded as a state secret.

Xi and Peng are different. Their romance has been the subject of dozens of glowing reports and pictorials in state media.

“When he comes home, I’ve never thought of it as though there’s some leader in the house. In my eyes, he’s just my husband,” Peng gushed in an interview with a state-run magazine in 2007, describing Xi as frugal, hardworking and down-to-earth. Peng is Xi’s second wife, and the two have a daughter studying at Harvard under an assumed name.

Chinese first wives have traditionally kept a low profile over the past few decades, because of the experience of Jiang Qing, the widow of the founder of Communist China, Mao Zedong. Jiang was the leader of the “Gang of Four” that wielded supreme power during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution. She was given a suspended death sentence in 1981 for the deaths of tens of thousands during that period of chaos.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2013 in Beijing

 
 
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