RSS

Category Archives: Jingzhou

Terry and I Are So Thankful For This Opportunity! Last ‘Good News’ Report from Jingzhou, Hubei


We are closing out our 20 months of work here (four school semesters) in Jingzhou, Hubei at the end of this week, and it has been extremely emotional for all concerned! We have made lifelong friends with both students and teachers…and we will miss them very much. They have been so kind and outspoken with their comments and actions in the past days, since we learned we would be moving to Beijing and leaving the work here.

Most of our discussion sessions have included more people and even some visitors who “want to say goodbye.” Since we have known for several weeks that we were moving, we have enjoyed the extra time and it has been great for closure for all concerned. Many of the senior students are also coming by or sending nice comments…we are hoping they can come visit in Beijing.

We got Christmas Eve and Christmas off from all classes, so we had a long break to close out our last weekend here…and Monday and Tuesday to finish most of our packing (7 trunks, two large pieces of luggage, and two small carryon’s each).

We received multiple text messages wishing us ‘Merry Christmas and happy days always.” It still amazes us that these young people would be thinking of us on this day, when we have time off from classes and they have a normal day…and they do not really celebrate Christmas, even as a family holiday, as we do.

I might mention that most of the pictures in this final report from Jingzhou shows all of us with 4-5 layers of clothes, so we appear to have ‘gained some weight.’ While that may be the case for some, it certainly has to be considered because the past two weeks have turned very-y-y-y cold.

The students organized a ‘send off party’ where we filled a large area on our campus to ‘say goodbye.’ Different groups of students worked on some special presentations that were part of the event…I had worked on a slide presentation with many slides from both 2011 and 2012 to show and we also led the group in Jingle Bells, Joy to the World, and then sang Light the Fire in both English and Chinese. Many tears flowed with big smiles. We both spoke from the heart directly to our dear friends and admitted that “our experience here has changed our life in so many good ways. We will cherish your friendship for the rest of our life!”

The Foreign Affairs Office had its annual Christmas event, with delicious food and a chance to be with the other American English teachers from the East and South campuses; we have not had much time with them so this was very special.

On the way home from the FAO event, I lost my 40+ year old MTSU college ring, which hasn’t been off my finger for more than a few hours (when playing competitive tennis) in all that time. My finger is smaller due to the cold weather, and apparently it fell off in the cab when I was taking off my gloves to find yuan for payment. We had a friend call the cab company and they were going to put out an announcement….will wait and see IF it is recovered. There was only two foreigners who were at that hotel at that time and who were delivered to our South gate….it hurts to think about it…a good reminder not to put my affections in material things…

TJ has done her usual great job ‘working the puzzle’ of packing for our move…she loves the process of slowly ‘eliminating’ those things we will not use until it is down to the bare minimum at the last day. We’re also working to eat the things in the kitchen without buying anything else, not wanting to waste anything but also wanting to have something healthy daily. I ran out of cereal six days earlier than planned but ate a peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich for breakfast….not the first time and likely not the last…healthy and filling. 🙂 We’re leaving a few ‘goodies’ for those who will follow us, knowing that the electricity will be off from the moment we leave until the end of February…that makes for a giant refrigerator/freezer for anything in the house. 🙂 Having some peanut butter/jelly and pinto beans, etc. for those first days would have been nice for us, I know.

We went to our initial movie at a Chinese theatre, with three teacher friends, and I highly recommend The Life of Pi to those who are interested and have holiday time. It is a 3D so it made the animal scenes very realistic and exciting.

I have again enjoyed football from afar again. Finished first in the college football Pick ‘Em contest and still working on NFL Pick ‘Em and College Bowl picks…my buddy, Gary Nix, and son Gregory are making it tough on me, though.

My Dell hard-drive developed issues during the summer. Since it was under warranty until mid-December, I thought I could transfer it to China and get service…well, no such luck. Finally, they did provide free replacement through the mail and a brother here put it in for me. All is well after a few setbacks getting old files, etc., restored. I have come to appreciate Dell brand more and more, though I missed that “in home service” they would have provided had I been in America.

Two weeks prior to leaving, four of our junior students came by to say goodbye…and wanted to talk of faith, God and the Bible for one of the first times…answering one of our daily prayers! They have been special to us since our first month here, but their schedules and interest just were not ready, it seems, for these most important things. Certainly they heard much in class, but not with the details and using the Bible as the guide. We took advantage of the time we had, sowed much seed, and gave them their own copy of the Bible in Chinese…and gave them a DVD of the six Search for Truth videos with Chinese subtitles that we have shared with so many these past three weeks.

I have enjoyed tangerines again….juicy and sweet…reminds me of the boxes of fruit Mom and Dad always provided growing up during this time of year.

All my seven classes have been on the fifth floor this semester, and I noticed during the last week that I still had that burning sensation in my legs as I reached the top floor. I would have thought I’d grown used to it by now…well…

There is regular snow now in Beijing, so we are gearing up for a different climate. I naturally assumed the city would have snow-clearing trucks, etc. but saw this notation in China Daily this week: “In Beijing, at least three highways were closed on Thursday night due to heavy snowfalls and ice. Authorities mobilized more than 363,000 people across the municipality to clear snow from roads, Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment said.” You read correctly: they send people out in the middle of the night to clear the snow!

We had our first ‘snow dust’ in Jingzhou Dec. 26, and the coldest temps (high of 36, low of 32)…it was really cold in the classrooms our last three mornings here! I was sharing some of our university experiences a few weeks back, and told how Terry and I met just prior to our junior year of school at MTSU…and married just prior to our senior year (very not-normal for Chinese culture). I mentioned that “I majored in Terry my junior year” when they asked how it affected our school work…and later several mentioned in their final speeches that “those were the sweetest words they have ever heard.”

Greetings from Terry: Sophia Chen and her husband Xie had us into their home for a home cooked meal. It was not only delicious but fun to see where they live near the West campus. They live in his mother’s spacious three story house that is part of a quadruplex. We got to meet her mother-in-law and see her baby, Grace. Xiao Guan (our waibon) had a baby girl (see photo on other page). I was able to visit her in the hospital and take her the baby quilt I had made for her.

I took Jasmine to lunch the other day; just me and her so we could really visit. She is one of the girls that taught us Putonghua our first summer here. We talked for an hour and a half solid about many important things. The next day she took me to a shop and helped me order a Chinese traditional blouse to be made to my measurements.

Sonic and Cat are a couple of seniors from the West campus that we met them at McDonald’s one time. They are boy friend/girl friend but will not allow themselves to be engaged until after college although they speak of some day being married. They came over and expressed their faith in the One who is over all. They also asked many questions about life, love and how to sustain a good marriage. We were happy to give them each a good book. Later that night they text us to say they had both read from the book as soon as they had arrived to their rooms.

We had nine come for the Sunday AM meeting. Gary and I both wiped a few tears away during the singing as we looked around at the faces of the dear brothers and sisters we have grown to love. We can tell by their questions and answers they are growing and maturing. We are sooo blessed to be here. It has been a while since I have written anything. My mind is busy but my words don’t come as often as I would like sometimes. One of our students called then came by. He said he had been reading our favorite book on line and now would like a copy of his own. We were thrilled to help him out. Keven passed his Tou Fu test to study abroad. Thanksgiving! Celebration!

We have suggested MTSU because they have a link to Universities in Beijing and already have hundreds of Chinese students, many of whom attend meetings at North Blvd. Please help us make requests for this. He is also looking into a Communication study in Hong Kong. The other day a student gave us four egg custard tarts that were delicious. So when I discovered it was Keven’s birthday right in the middle of a very busy week I bought 4 fresh egg tarts and took them into him after his morning class just as the students had left and wished him Happy Birthday. It was a fun little surprise.I have packed trunks #1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 now (written with 21/2 weeks to go). I love working puzzles.

One of my sweet, quiet freshman girls on the West campus texted me Saturday night saying she was so sad and nobody to talk to. A room full of roommates but nobody to really care or listen. We have all been in that situation at one time or another. We text back and forth for a while.(Texting is easier than calling because they can read and write English better than they can speak it and also I have difficulty understanding them on the cell phone.) I invited her to come over right then but since it was evening she could not. Sunday afternoon she came for a good visit and she said the encouragement and advice that was given from our favorite book helped a lot.( After all it is the greatest love letter ever written.)

The silk blouse I had made turned out to be lightly quilted, more like a jacket. (Tee Hee, you never quite know in China if you don’t speak the language.) But it is beautiful! It was too tight at first but after she altered it, all was fine. I had my second and last children’s English corner with the three little girls. They were so cute. I think Gary shared the video of us doing head, shoulders, knees and toes. After our Friday discussion one of the young men told Gary he was so glad he has been able to come and meet new friends. We noticed that he came and left with one of the young ladies of the group. This is another of the good benefits. They get to know others who have similar interests and life styles.

That same night three other girls met each other for the first time and really hit it off. One of them text later that night saying thanks for the opportunity. She really likes her new friends. Kelly and Hugo had us over to their new home (apartment) for a home cooked meal. Eris and Keven also came. Actually Eris did a lot of the cooking with the help of Kelly and Hugo. It was delicious and so much fun to be with them. Their two story apartment is spacious and modern. So happy for them.

December 2 we had 15 come to the Sunday morning meeting, including two brand new people. It is such a joy. I cut the fingertips out of my oldest pair of gloves and hemmed them to wear while teaching so I can manage the chalk and computer and still not freeze. Last week I got so cold in my 4 PM class even with my coat and scarf on. I taught them head, shoulders, knees and toes at the break just to get our blood circulating. They thought it was funny but enjoyed it.

One of our classes gave us each a very nice, soft scarf. Mine is red and large enough to be worn as a shawl or doubled and draped around my neck. Gary’s is black and gray. Another class gave us a Class Book Album. Each student took a page to write a message. Many added photos of themselves.

The workers are laying new pipe and redoing some landscaping one lane over from our apartment. It is now 9:30PM and I just heard a big empty a load of gravel for tomorrows task. They are hard workers. They start work around 7:30 each morning.

Keven suggested a movie he thought we would enjoy; The Story of Pi directed by the famous Tiwanese man Lee Ayn. It is in the theater near our campus so Hugo, Kelly, Eris, Gary and I went to see it together. It is really 3D and really well done. I highly recommend it.

We had 10 people come to our last Friday night discussion. We talked about communicating with our Father. It was a meaningful discussion and time of fellowship. Arrow brought a snack for us all; dried purple sweet potato logs. They were very crunchy and good. I recently read Why Babies Cry by Graham Kennedy. I’m getting ready for that new grandbaby we are expecting in May. (smile)

Sunday morning 13 people came for the 10:00 meeting. Alex brought a visitor with him. Afterwards Maggie, her husband and our teacher friend, Howard took us out to dinner at a nice restaurant in Shashi. It was a pleasant time with friends, good food and nice warm surroundings.

When I mentioned I needed to buy a new coat Howard volunteered to take us to a nice department store that was across the street and help us shop for one. I found what I wanted and Howard bargained with the sales lady and got 20% off the price. I was sure to get one with plenty of room for the extra layers of clothes that are required.

I got to give away the last pair of gloves to an elderly woman (older than me, tee hee) whom I have seen walking on campus. When it is cold she holds a towel over her hands. We have said, “Ni hao”, hello to each other several times. She has a sweet smile. I am glad I got to see her when I had the gloves with me. Today it was so very cold in the classroom and going to and from; low 40s, overcast and windy. — Love to all. Terry

China News: Orphans and disabled children in Light Love Family, a Beijing-based NGO, will enjoy a special meal cooked for them by top chefs on Thursday.

Wang Yue, who is organizing the event on behalf of Shinho Enterprise, said they are receiving the special treat because Thursday is a special day when people do good things for each other. That is how Wang interprets Thanksgiving, which despite being one of the most celebrated holidays in North America, remains little known by the majority of Chinese.

Around 10 chefs from established restaurants, such as Quanjude, which specializes in roast ducks, and the Beijing Hotel, will cook traditional Chinese dishes for more than 100 teachers and students in Light Love Family, which helps homeless children.

Shi Qinghua, head of the NGO, said the best thing about the feast is “giving family warmth to the children”.

Thanksgiving, celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, has not been embraced in China in the way other Western holidays such as Valentine’s Day or Christmas have been.

Many shopping malls found Thanksgiving a challenge to turn into a shopping festival and launch large-scale promotions. Beijing-based luxury shopping mall Jinbao Place was going to celebrate Thanksgiving with a charity event, but it was canceled at the last minute.

Angela Zhao, marketing and communication supervisor of the shopping mall, said Jinbao will arrange its marketing activities based on the requirements of different labels within the shopping mall.

“These labels, however, do not recognize Thanksgiving Day, because this holiday is not recognized among our customers. This holiday cannot attract them to come and spend,” Zhao said.

Thanksgiving Day falls between the Chinese national holiday Golden Week, and Christmas and the Spring Festival, undermining its marketing potential to become a shopping festival, Zhao said. “It’s stuck between the big shopping festivals for most Chinese,” Zhao said, adding that it is the main reason Chinese consumers usually ignore Thanksgiving.

However, the values represented by Thanksgiving are shared with some Chinese. Recognized by an increasing number of educated Chinese, the holiday has been translated in China by some international enterprises or individuals as a day of giving back. “It is the best time to share the value of ‘giving back’ and ‘gratefulness’ to society,” said Wang, citing the charity cooking event she has been organizing.

The headline in the China Daily got my attention: More toilets needed in Guangzhou subway.  The article went on to say: “A recent photo of a boy defecating inside a subway car has raised awareness among passengers about the lack of toilets in the subway lines in Guangzhou, Guangdong province.

The picture also attracted negative criticism and attention due the uncivilized conduct portrayed after it was published online early this week. An executive from Guangzhou Metro Corp said that those who defecate or urinate in train cars and metro stations will be fined 50 yuan ($8). He urged passengers to contact staff at the metro stations for help when they need to use the toilets urgently.

The picture has sparked controversy among passengers due to the shortage of toilets along subway lines in the city, which has a population of more than 16 million.

Han Zhipeng, a member of the Guangzhou Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said that Guangzhou now has more than 100 metro stations, but that only 16 of the stations have toilets. “The need for toilets is huge, and the subway company should build them to help address the problem, and avoid similar cases in the future,” Han said.

“Mobile toilets should also be installed near metro stations,” he added. Meanwhile, Peng Peng, a researcher with the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said that parents and schools should also teach children to not urinate anywhere.

China has become the biggest Bible publisher in the world after printing its 100 millionth copy, according to the country’s only authorized Bible-printing company. At a ceremony held on Thursday in Nanjing, capital of East China’s Jiangsu province, the 100 millionth copy was unveiled.

Amity Printing Co Ltd Chairman Qiu Zhonghui said the company has printed about 60 million copies of the holy book in China, including editions in nine ethnic-group languages. The company has provided 40 million copies in more than 90 languages to about 70 countries and regions in the world.

Amity Printing is a joint venture between China’s Amity Foundation and the United Bible Societies. The company has been publishing the Bible since 1987. Due to Chinese government policies, Amity Printing benefits from being exempt from various taxes when producing the Bible, Qiu said. There are more than 70 sales outlets nationwide that sell the book. (continued on page two)

Guo Wei, spokeswoman for the State Administration for Religious Affairs, said at the ceremony: “The Chinese government respects and protects religious freedom and will continue to support printing and publishing Bibles in China.” China has become the biggest publisher of Bibles worldwide. China encourages further cooperation between Chinese and overseas churches and Christian circles, Guo said.

Leaders of churches and Christian groups from more than 20 countries and regions — including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Finland, South Africa, Tanzania, Egypt, Hong Kong and Taiwan — were also invited to the ceremony. They offered congratulatory speeches, gifts and pledges to deepen cooperation in fundraising, Bible printing and philanthropy.

Couple to pay steep fine for breaking family-planning policy — A wealthy couple will have to pay a fine of up to 10 million yuan ($1.61 million) for violating China’s family planning policy.

The couple was found to give birth to octuplets in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, two years ago. The children were noticed in a housing estate in the city’s Panyu district shortly after they were born.

“Apart from the triplets the mother delivered, the couple was found through a thorough investigation to have sought another two surrogate mothers to give birth to twins and another to triplets,” Zhang told media on Friday. The couple refused to discuss how they found the surrogate mothers or discuss them in detail, Zhang said.

According to applicable laws and family planning regulations, the couple will have to pay up to 10 million yuan if they are found to have an annual income of more than 1 million yuan, he added.

Official with 4 wives removed from legislature— A former district legislator from North China’s Shanxi province who has found to have four wives and 10 children has been removed from the legislature, local authorities announced Friday.

Li Junwen, 43, a former deputy to the Xiaodian district People’s Congress of the city of Taiyuan and former head of the village of Xicuan, was arrested last Saturday for allegedly forging his marriage certificate, according to an announcement from the district government.

Fourteen officials who were responsible for helping Li’s illegitimate children obtain residence registration, as well as failed to properly examine his legislative qualifications, were admonished, demoted or fired, the announcement said.

They include the Communist Party of China (CPC) secretary of Xiwenzhuang township, the head of the township police station and several local officials in charge of family planning. China’s marriage law forbids polygamy and its one-child policy allows a second child only under special circumstances.

In May, a couple in eastern China’s Zhejiang province who had a second child were fined 1.3 million yuan ($206,677).

Li married Hu Yongxian in 1989 and had four children with her. Li had six more children with another three women. Li forged a marriage certificate when helping one of the women obtain residence registration, according to an investigation by the Taiyuan municipal government.

Under family planning rules, a child born outside of marriage cannot get residence registration. However, nine of Li’s children had obtained residency certificates, according to the investigation.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 27, 2012 in Jingzhou

 

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


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

——————————————————————————————–

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 10, 2012 in Jingzhou

 

Enjoyed visit with Eric/family; ‘I want to tell you…thank you for giving me courage and smile…we all respect you because you’re very kind, good person’


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We had an eight-day National Day holiday and got to spend five days with Eric, Wendy, Brinson, and Aiden in Shiyan. The five-hour bus was no fun, but well worth the effort to see where they live and work. It is a beautiful area and much newer (and cleaner) than our ancient city.

I especially enjoyed time with Brinson and Aiden. We played ping pong and had several walks, though they were on their skates. Met some really nice students…and, by the way, would like to take Eric/Wendy’s kitchen features and shower pressure back to Jingzhou.

It was a ‘smoky’ China enroute, since farmers were in the fields burning off the dried remains of their summer. Most every field had both a man and woman working, mainly with hand instruments, though I did see three tractors. It brought to mind my hardworking granddaddy; I do not ever remember driving up to his farm and not seeing him in the field working, unless it just was not the time or season.

We have noticed more night noise in the apartment…things dropped to the floor and moving of furniture…we wonder why 2 am is the best time to move things around in your room? Our bed felt warm and comfortable after our travel to Shiyan…good to go and good to return home.

One of my students sent me the following email: “l want to tell you I thank you for giving me courage and smile…   we all respect you because you are a very kind, good person. I will not quit learning English because I want to communicate with you like wangfangguo…..fighting.”

We have enjoyed more lunch times with some selected students. They appreciate the time and we enjoy delicious food, and have found our front-gate restaurants remodeled, which is nice for all. Even though the food is a little more expensive, it is well worth it.

Sophia was with us again on Sunday, with her baby girl (see photo below) a new visitor to our group…it was great seeing both of them again, after a six-week ‘recovery.’

Greetings from Terry: I have finished reading The Centurion’s Wife by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke.

On Tuesday, September 18, an air raid siren sounded for five to seven minutes. Because of where we live, the times we live in, plus the fact that I lived in Phoenix, AZ during the Cuban Missile crisis and remember the regular air raid drills at school during that period, it seemed like a “long” five minutes. I made immediate “requests up”, told myself it was probably nothing and sent a text to Dean Catherine and Keven for an explanation. Sometimes when things are happening on campus people forget that we cannot read the signs or understand the announcements on the loud speaker.

So I was a little antsy until I heard from Catherine and Keven a couple hours later. They told me, “On September 18th  in 1937 Japan invaded NE China illegally. The siren sounds on this date to remind us of the shame.”

The most unique English names chosen by my students this semester are Just-blank, Luckily, Milk, Sheikh (pronounced Shake, for a female), Cry rain, Zero, Dream. I was pleasantly surprised when a student ended her introduction by asking if I knew “Shang Di” (the Chinese name of our Father). I told her I did and she said she did too. I look forward to getting to know her.

I got to tell Brinson and Aiden bed time stories by Skype tonight.

I have finished reading Think and Be Happy: 365 Empowering Thoughts to Lift Your Spirit by Shadonna Richards, R.N.

I have also finished reading through my favorite book again. It is always refreshing, challenging and productive.

It was great to spend time with Eric’s family and get to see the Pritchards again. Such valuable time. We celebrated everyone’s birthday all at the same time with a big cake. Brinson and Aiden are learning to cook. On our last morning Hannah showed us how to make flour tortillas.

We returned on Thursday and on Friday Gary and I walked to the grocery store and then to the back gate market to replenish our supplies in the drizzling rain. It was refreshing and not very crowded. It is good to have a few days to rest from the trip and get ready for classes again. — Love, Terry.

China News: Lonely hearts embrace holiday romance —- Dating tours – excursions that offer a chance for romance – are growing in popularity among China’s legion of unmarried and overworked office employees.

Matchmaking agencies and online travel firms already offer a range of packages, lasting from a day up to a week.

“Unlike usual blind dates, the tour gave us more time to get to know each other,” the 25-year-old marketing manager said. “When he stopped to hold my hand and help me cross a river during the trip, my heart beat faster.”

Judging by an ongoing online poll by Sohu, a popular news website, and Traveler magazine, there is no shortage of demand. More than half of respondents so far said they would consider going on a dating tour.

“Traveling as a way of dating is easier for us singles, as it allows us to stay natural and relaxed,” Yu Weiliang, 35, a Shanghai marketing manager who recently went on a tour, told China Daily. “Over several days we can at least become good friends, even if we don’t begin a relationship.”

Qianyuan, a matchmaking website based in Beijing, runs one-day trips for up to 70 people to attractions in the capital’s rural suburbs. Activities include games specially designed to break the ice.

According to Han Guang, a tour guide for three years, the boom in demand has resulted in the frequency of the trips rising this year from once a month to weekly.

Other companies are witnessing similar trends. Ctrip, a major online travel agency, this year organized tours to ancient towns and mountains near Shanghai for Qixi, often referred to as Chinese Valentine’s Day, on Aug 23. Participants had to be single and aged 18 to 32.

“The project was so popular, far beyond our expectations,” said Peng Liang, a public relations manager at Ctrip. “We immediately planned similar projects for Mid-Autumn Festival and the Golden Week holiday in Xiamen.”

Zhenai, a matchmaking website with 45 million members, runs dating tours for 20 to 30 people at a time. Chief Executive Li Song credited the relaxed nature of the trips as contributing to their rising popularity.

“Far away from the fast pace of city life, and closer to nature, I think single men and women find it easier to open their hearts and find love,” he said.

Trouble in paradise? Although dating tours have been getting the thumbs-up from young people, organizers admit there are problems, such as the imbalance in the male-female ratio and verification of personal information.

“The number of women (on the tours) is usually more than double that of men,” said Peng at Ctrip. “It’s hard for us to refuse our female clients.” Qianyuan tour guide Han said he had the same issue. “I think it’s because women have less economic pressure to prepare for a marriage,” Han said.

Chen Ye, 24, said she is interested in going on a blind date tour, but raised some concerns about security.

“I’d only choose one organized by a matchmaking website,” said the accountant from Shanghai. Chen said she was interested in Jiayuan, a popular online dating service that limits numbers to 20 and allows members to review personal profiles of other participants before a tour.

“Having that kind of transparency helps assure me that the trip will be safe,” she said.

Websites such as Zhenai usually have verification systems and members are required to register with detailed information, such as their residency permits and ID numbers.

However, Ctrip and other online travel agencies often have difficulty verifying private information from clients.

“As a company providing travel services, we have no right to inquire into the privacy of our clients,” Peng said. “But we still guarantee a professional level of service.”

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 5, 2012 in Jingzhou

 

Classes Begin With 658+ Students…Website For Use With Classes (garydavenport.wikispaces.com/home)


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My first week of classes went well, but since three days are afternoon only, I did not see a single past student going to-and-from the fifth floor…I was not a happy camper. I needed to meet one of them the next week, at 9:40 a.m. and was able to visit with several…am going to have to get out of the apartment when I do not have a class, I guess, instead of ‘saving my strength’ for the long afternoons. 🙂 I am finding 2 pm and 4:05 pm classes are draining on my glucose levels…am very tired at the end of the late afternoon.

I learned some interesting information from student’s summer jobs:

  • One group of five was recruited to work in a factory in another SE province…told they would be provided housing and meals as part of their salary…found out, upon arrival, that only one meal a day was covered and housing would be 15 per room. They worked 12-13 hours each day! With a smile, one student proudly said, “I bought a computer with my money.” Good for you, I told her!
  • Another junior-to-be was hired by our university to recruit new students. Apparently, after a few days, she discovered that she was expected to say things to the prospects that were not true…she decided it was not the right thing to do, and quit. Good for you, I told her!
  • Most found groups of 3-35 students to teach English and/or math during the summer. One volunteered she made over 3,000 yuan, which is a lot of money for a part-time job here.

I had my picture taken for two local newspapers (see photo left) for Teacher’s Day, and received two movie passes to a local show….we gave them to Hugo and Kelly and they saw a movie she’s wanted to see for a few weeks. We also received many texts wishing us a good Teacher’s Day.

I have opened a new website for use with my classes: http://garydavenport.wikispaces.com/home.I put lesson plans and Life Lessons on for all to see, if interested, in addition to a Self-Esteem evaluation…encourage you to take it and see the results for your own ‘self love.’

One student asked me if “you and Terry go to church every Sunday.” I told her we worshipped with a group every Sunday in our apartment. She thoughtfully added, “I think it is very important to pray every day.” Of course, I quickly agreed. We’ve had a past  dean of a law department on the East campus join us for Assembly the past two weeks, and also a Sister from our campus. After having 3-4 move away during the summer, they are (see page two)    very welcome.

We have seven classes each, with some 685+ energetic students, mostly young ladies. All of my students had Terry for two semesters on the West campus, so they are now getting to see ‘the other half’ who fits all the stories she told them about our life and family.

We met a group of students for lunch for the first time this semester (see below right) and we have never seen girls eat so much food at one sitting. They were energetic and happy, the weather was in the mid-70’s outside for the first time this month…and the restaurant area outside our front gate had been cleaned up and remodeled! 🙂 We will continue to treat a group of 8-10 students each week so we can get to know them better.

Our Friday and Saturday evening group discussions are going well. Schedule conflicts cause the numbers to fluctuate between 10-20, but we enjoy this special time immensely. We have picked up two new teachers, who are part of our weekly group, when schedules allow.

Our English Corner sessions on Wednesday evening have been the best since we arrived…the students are in charge of planning a theme and activities, which allows them the opportunity to use their English and interact with us.

Because of free VPN software, I am able to watch SEC football this year, and nothing could be much finer than Saturday morning: boiled egg, Minute Maid orange juice, and a homemade biscuit with strawberry jam for breakfast…and Tennessee/Florida on the computer screen. It’s nice that this game is again relevant.

Greetings from Terry: Sunday, September 2nd Gary accompanied me to the long distance bus station in Jinzhou where I boarded a direct bus to Shiyan to visit Eric’s family (and Deryk’s family, too) I was relieved to see it was a large, clean bus with AC. The trip only took five hours.

Eric and family met me at the bus station and we walked a few blocks to meet Deryk’s family at a restaurant for dinner. It was great to see them all again. The food was delicious and the talk was fast and furious as we tried to catch up and share information at the same time. After dinner we took a bus to their campus. It is a fifteen minute walk from the front gate to their apartment.

The Davenports live on the 5th floor, Pritchards on the 4th. Aiden D. has rigged up a string pulley system between the children’s windows to pass notes. The campus is big, new and beautiful. They each have a spacious three bedroom, 1 ½ bath apartment.

They started teaching their college classes that Monday as well as starting home schooling the four children. It was amazing to see them in action as Wendy taught science and Eric taught the four different levels of math. Tiffany teaches them history and Deryk teaches writing and English. I really commended the children for the way they settle down to class in a serious but relaxed way. They have collected some good curriculum. While there, my job was to explore the campus shops for needed food and household items, cook and generally help out in any way I could to free them up to concentrate on taking in all of the new information and get started in their classes. I loved it. Ed and Pam Mosby came by to see that they were settling in Ok and to sign contracts. They brought them three jars of peanut butter. It was received with much enthusiasm since we had not been able to find it in the stores. Very interesting; they have corn meal in many stores but no peanut butter. We have peanut butter but harder to find corn meal. I must say both adults and children alike are doing great at trying all kinds of new foods.

My last evening there we all walked to the playground. The children played while us five adults sat in the cement stands and had a question/ answer/sharing session. I shared my shopping notes, menu ideas and recipes. We all got some good classroom ideas from each other. Friday at 1:00 p.m. I took the same direct bus back to Jingzhou.

It was sooo good to see Gary again and catch up on my sleep. Even though Brinson let me have his very comfortable room and bed I still don’t sleep well away from Gary. It is good to be back. I arrived at 6:00 PM and we had a student life discussion at 7:00 with nine in attendance. I was really starting to yawn by the time they left but it was really good. We had two more studies on Saturday plus Sunday morning meeting. I love the weekends!

Praise and thanksgiving, my nephew, Robert Stigers has returned safely from another trip to the sand.

After preparing three days of power points for my new semester, I found out they have switched me back to Oral English instead of Pronunciation. At first it threw me but then I realized I could still use most of the slides and I like teaching Oral English.

Our discussion groups are underway. Even when the numbers are fewer because of schedule conflicts the talk is very meaningful.

Stella Ouyang came for Sunday morning meeting for the first time. Afterwards, when she tasted the bread she was curious so I showed her how to make it and explained more about it. She took it home and shared it with her roommates.

One of our students that suffers from clinical depression came by Sunday PM for some encouragement. He had been home for the weekend so the doctor could adjust his medicine. He is so brave to keep going to classes every day. I know it is very hard for him and I carry him in my heart always.

Today I finally got to start my classes and thoroughly enjoyed it. Mine started late because the freshmen arrive on campus two weeks after the others and have orientation first. This is my first semester in a multimedia room.

I am reading the book What To Say When You Talk To Yourself by Dr. Shad Helmst… and the examples of Self Talk have been good for me in reference to using the class computer for power point. “I like challenges and enjoy learning new things, even the computer.” That is what I have been telling myself anyway. And today I actually did it successfully with just a little bit of help getting started. — Love, Terry

News from China: Stores across China have seen a rush to buy electronic products in the run-up to the new school year, particularly among college students.

“Our sales soared dramatically in August,” said Mao Shaoqing, spokesman for newegg.com.cn, the China arm of US online electronics retailer Newegg Inc.

Sales of laptops have seen the biggest increase, with prices of bestsellers ranging from 2,500 to 4,000 yuan.

“The best-selling cellphones are under 2,000 yuan, but iPhones have seen decent sales, too,” Mao said.

Duan’s parents also splurged on new clothes, a smartphone, bedding, cosmetics and medication.

Her 49-year-old father, Duan Xudong, said: “It’s first time for her to leave home, so I want to give her all the best I can.”

He said things were very different in the 1980s when he attended college. “I was just happy if I had enough to eat (at college), as I lived on less than 10 yuan a month,” he recalled.

He said he plans to give his daughter 1,500 yuan as a monthly living allowance.

However, such spending has highlighted the wealth gap that exists between college students, and the jealousy it can produce.

Wuhan Evening News recently reported that a freshman at Central China Normal University threatened to drop out unless her parents bought her an iPhone 4S.

Yangtze Evening Post in Jiangsu province also reported that 70 percent of freshmen spent 10,000 to 20,000 yuan on gadgets for school.

Zhang Dawei, a student counselor at Shenyang University, said that the average spending on supplies by new students has risen from a few thousand to at least 10,000 yuan over the past three years. “Some of the costs are not necessary, such as expensive smartphones. Most students buy such products not for study but for entertainment,” he said.

Zhang also said students are receiving large living allowances from their parents.

According to Xinhua News Agency, a survey of 1,700 students found that the average student spent 800 yuan to 1,200 yuan a month last year.

“I was shocked when I read the news about students’ expenses,” said Zhu Jinchang, director of social policy research with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “I worry about this unhealthy social trend.” He said there are multiple reasons behind the trend, including education problems and a bad social atmosphere. “Parents are spoiling their children,” Zhu said.

Zhu also said the public needs to realize that the youth are the nation’s future, and the bad atmosphere should be corrected with efforts from the public and the education system.

BEIJING — Chinese leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping (above, right) reappeared in public Saturday following a two-week absence that had sparked rumors about his health and raised questions about the stability of the country’s succession process.

State media said Xi toured exhibits at China Agricultural University in Beijing commemorating National Science Popularization Day, but offered no explanation as to why he had dropped from sight.

Photos posted to the government’s official website showed Xi walking in the sunshine dressed casually in an open-necked shirt and black windbreaker. Another photo showed him smiling as he looked at potted plants, showing no sign of disability or ill health.

A three-line report from the official Xinhua News Agency did not address why Xi had not been seen publicly since Sept. 1. Since then, he has canceled meetings with visiting foreign dignitaries including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 18, 2012 in Jingzhou

 

Eric, Wendy, Brinson and Aiden are safely in Shiyan! We learned that one of our students, Yang Huan, drowned on July 28 saving a child she was tutoring


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Eric, Wendy, Brinson and Aiden are safely in Shiyan! We received an early morning phone call (5:25 am), which we missed since our phones were off and charging, but were sent a text around 8:30 am to give us the news. (Deryk, Tiffany, Hannah, and Aidon also safe and sound; four new teachers and four enthusiastic young people).

I have found myself quite emotional as the day neared for their arrival..I told Terry I may be crying a lot this weekend. Why? I am not sure. They survived the long trip, but have had plenty of practice with travel to Australia, Zambia, etc., in their past.

It is so-o-o-o wonderful to be able to call them on a cellular phone regularly! Their classes do not begin until September 3….I am going to refrain from any news from their work…will leave that to them…initial ‘family celebration’ pictures do not count :-).

We learned the day before classes began that one of our students, Yang Huan, drowned during the summer (July 28) saving a child she was tutoring. She did not go home for the summer, choosing to tutor several middle school-age children. The electricity where they were studying was off, so they went outside to conduct class. They were walking along a lake, when one of the students fell in. It was apparently very deep, Sea (her English name) could not swim, and did not survive, though the young student was saved.

I began each of my classes the first week showing her picture with Terry in our apartment on the screen and telling her story, so they will know of this hero from their university. Her best friend and bunk-mate came by on the weekend for a long talk. She is handling the loss well, and had lots of good memories of their time together. Sea was a quiet, sweet young lady…always went last when it was time to give speeches in the two semesters I had her…a very good student…had visited our apartment 2-3 during the past 1 1/2 years. When her close friend was telling some of the stories, I remembered that she was ‘next to last’ on speech day, waiting behind with Sea.

I offered to meet with her 45+ classmates this week to process the events, but since many had heard the news during August, they seemed to be doing alright…two came by for a few minutes the first of the week.

My seven Oral English classes have begun…355+ students…Terry begins her classes in the fourth week…I was not ready just a week ago but was ‘fired up and ready to go’ when the time came. The students all had Terry the past two semesters, so I have met most of them, and they certainly know about me.  We will put pictures of the classes on other pages of this newsletter, but they are eager and ready to go to work…some have a lot to learn, and they are nervous with a new teacher. Most of them spoke little or no English over the summer break, so they “have some catching up to do.”

Looks like our weekends will be very busy…we are thrilled with five different groups available to discuss Important Things. Some longtime students here on Friday night (7 pm) and two groups of 12-15 on Saturday night (6:30 and 8 pm)…teachers here on Saturday morning and Assembly on Sunday morning, both at 10 am. In our older student’s class and with the teachers we discussed the idea of a “Fresh Start” as we begin the new semester, and applied lessons from Psalm 103.

We also had a teacher who is a very good friend choose to study with us this week, after not showing interest during the past three semesters. 🙂

With assistance from both Gregory and Eric, we are now able to watch ESPN in China! Got to watch much of the Tennessee game and hopeful for much more. We’ve also found some foods I enjoy in convenient locations this summer…do not want to gain weight but glad to have more variety.

Our air conditioner finally died! It took three trips by the repairman before the Personnel Office decided it was not going to work again…and three days for the replacement to be approved…but now have a quiet unit in both bedrooms that more than adequately cool/heat our apartment…will be nice to keep the floor unit in the closet a few extra days.

Greetings from Terry: While in Beijing I saw a certain young man on our campus whose eyes reminded me so much of our son, Gregory. After seeing him several times I stopped and talked to him. He was from California and very nice. I told him he was just good to look at because he reminded me of my son. Come to think of it, our Father enjoys looking at us when we look like His son.

In our last report there was not time to enter my impressions of our return trip to Jinzhou so here goes. A Chinese brother accompanied us to the Beijing West Train station. It was a HUGE multi-tiered building with rivers of humanity everywhere. They had good signage and announcements in English as well as Chinese which helped us get to the correct waiting area. We had about three hours to wait.

The waiting area was very large with about half as many chairs as there were people. Therefore many people were sitting on their suitcases. Some had spread newspaper or blankets on the floor for their family to sit on. When I first walked in and saw the sprawling mass of people I thought of the railroad yard scene in Gone With The Wind.

When it was time for us to pass through the gate and find the correct platform, we walked a long way, climbed stairs, descended stairs then walked another good distance. Very much like what we found when we took the subway to the station a few hours before. It made us very grateful we had packed light, since no one checked luggage. You just carry it with you.

We had no problem finding our car, compartment and lower berths. Two Chinese men were in the two upper berths. Neither spoke English. It was great to stretch out on the clean beds, each furnished with a pillow and comforter. We pulled out right on schedule at 8:53PM. I liked the gentle motion, sounds and lights flashing by. It was just a little startling at first when we would pass another fast train going in the opposite direction. The “swoosh” and lights were so close they seemed to be just inches away. All in all it was a very pleasant trip.

A returning student brought us some dried day lily stems that her Grandmother had prepared for us. A few days later we had her come over, cooked them for us and eat lunch with us. She boiled them with a little lean pork, green onions, salt, egg, a touch of soy sauce and a bit of chicken broth. They were good.

I finished reading How to live on 24 Hours a Day by Arnold Bennett.

Another returning student came over and one of the first things she said to me was, “You look healthier, I think you have gained weight.” Ha Ha, must be that good American food in Beijing. Queenie’s father will be going to the USA for a year in January so we had them over for lunch to experience a common American meal that he could easily fix for himself while there; beef in Lipton onion soup, potatoes and carrots and banana bread for dessert. Queenie said he is a good cook. I also served the rest of the lilies and pork. — Love, Terry

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 2, 2012 in Jingzhou

 

It’s a Girl! “…It’s nice being the only American teachers on our Central campus…I think they want to make certain all is well with us.”


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our dear Sister, Sophia, and Xie have a baby girl! We rejoice for the healthy child and both parents. The doctor eventually did a scheduled C-section when he determined five days earlier the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck twice. Two days prior to surgery, it had changed to only one.

The next day, we awoke at 7 a.m. to no electricity, the first time it has occurred all summer (it is amazing how quiet it can be with no electricity). It was to be a 95 degree day outside, and began at 78 degrees in our two main rooms. It was only off four hours, so the indoor temp rose to only 85. After reading about the problems in India the previous days, where the entire electrical grids had shut down, we felt blessed, indeed.

The summer days have progressed too quickly, in my mind. Like in America, July 4 comes around and the next 30-45 days fly past. Terry has progressed in her language skills, and I have worked daily on computer-based projects.

We have also realized anew that we truly enjoy each other’s company more than we could ever express. Our silence is golden, when it needs to be, as we are in separate areas of our three-room apartment “working like little beavers.” We have both enjoyed numerous books on our kindles and Terry is working on another baby blanket, getting them ready for the births occurring around us.

I rediscovered the College Press commentaries in pdf format on my external hard drive, so have had many hours of great reading…and have been listening to 2010 FHU and 2011 Harding lectures made available through iTunes U.

Walker and Elizabeth Sloan were married in July while home during their summer break. They were doing a great work on the East campus as two singles, and should do even better as a married couple. When Elizabeth sent the photo of their cutting the cake, Terry immediately said, “Elizabeth is so pretty.” My response? “Both Elizabeth and the cake are so-o-o pretty!” 🙂 (nobody notices the guy at these events).

We’ve had some needed repairs in our apartment in recent weeks. The air conditioner in our bedroom quit working July 21, on a day when it was a hot 93 degrees outside and very humid (we’re seeing temps around 83 degrees in our non-air conditioned rooms now…80 in rooms that are air conditioned). We called the appropriate people and they responded quickly, scheduling the repair the next morning …we moved our bedding to the office floor where the other AC was working and had a good night’s sleep….the repair people came around 11:15 a.m. (a Sunday) and it was working again by noon. We had only two students for Assembly, since so many are traveling and away for the summer. But their being here helped us communicate with the repairmen, and, as usual, they were polite, professional, and efficient.

Three days later, the water heater was not working. We sent a text to the two people who are our contacts, knowing one was out of town. Within two hours someone was in the apartment, fixed it in just a few minutes, and we had hot water soon thereafter. About an hour after he left, the director of personnel for our entire campus was in our apartment checking to make sure it was fixed.

Two days later, the push-button on the commode no longer worked, which forced us to manually “lift the chain” to flush it…we called and within 35 minutes someone was in our apartment to fix it (it seems we are having several things stop working right now, huh?). I told Terry “it’s nice being the only American teachers on our Central campus…I think they want to make certain all is well with us.”  🙂 We deeply appreciate it, and we tell them often!

We have had some delightful visits during the summer. Different teaching colleagues send their college-age children to meet us while home for the summer…others want their junior or senior school children to visit, too. We enjoy the 60-75 minute visits, and learn more about our city, county, province, or country because we ask as many questions as they do.

One of our visitors, Queenie, helped me set up a wireless modem in our apartment, which opened up all kinds of nice surprises on my Kindle Fire (Sports Illustrated magazine and online access to all kinds of sports-related materials). I split the SI subscription with my son, Gregory…he gets the print edition and I get the online edition. Queenie’s dad teaches computers on the campus, and they brought a dealer from the city to set it up…great price and even better service. 🙂

In one visit, which was over 7-hours, the student mentioned the disgust with the lack of privacy in the girl’s dorms, and told us something we’d not heard: they pay some $1,200 yuan ($190) per semester for their dorm room…usually 6-8 per room and the same price regardless of the living conditions.

We’re finding more of those who live here in Jingzhou are finding ways to commute from home, which gives them control over their housing but also allows them to miss ‘optional’ early morning and late evening study sessions, where they sit in the classrooms as a group studying. The freshmen and sophomore classes especially do not appreciated being forced to study on someone else’s schedule. One student: “all I accomplished as a freshmen in the evening study sessions was feeding the mosquitoes.”

Our junior students will have 3-4 classes every day, including ‘optional classes’ on the weekends….which means we have little contact with many of them unless they are really interested.

I would love to have a Sears or Home Depot store here to sale different safe interior paints. Hugo and Kelly came for lunch and told us they had finished decorating their new apartment…but because of concern about paint fumes, they will wait one whole year before moving in. They can smell the fumes and are attuned to the dangers. And this is the norm…we have two other married friends who refurbished the interior of their apartments and then waited 9-12 months before moving in. They are all amazed that the lead-free paints, etc., make it possible in America to move in almost immediately. 🙂

One of our closest friends, Howard, has finally moved his family to their ‘house,’ which is some 200 yards away on our campus. It’s not that far, but not the same as having him one story above us…we always enjoy his drop-ins.

We have been able to watch some replays of the Olympics on the internet. I would never want the American athletes to lose, but I found myself rooting for the Chinese when it was against all other countries. Interesting to have two countries to enjoy watching.

I have talked at length with our students about the 2008 Beijing opening ceremony, which can never be bettered, as far as I am concerned. We did not get to watch the London opening ceremonies, except in short clips, but it looked ‘ok.’ I read in Sports Illustrated why that might be the case: “The 2012 show, with a cast of 10,000, required about 200 rehearsals, which is modest compared to the clambake in Beijing, where director Zhang Yimou had his 15,000 cast and crew members rehearse an average of 16 hours a day. (One rehearsal lasted 51 hours.) Zhang’s 2008 ceremony cost a reported $100 million, more than double the $42 million in Boyle’s budget.” Now that tells you why it was so spectacular…it’s the Chinese way.

After standing over an hour, we finally were able to purchase tickets to Wuhan and Beijing for our trip. They only sale them 10 days ahead, so the express train we wanted was full. One of our senior students met us there and helped us communicate with the very professional staff. They were quite helpful and looked more like what we have seen on the airplanes here…every dressed modestly but in matching outfits. I receive this email from our student later in the day: “I cannot imagine two foreigners like you can handle all this stuff in China without speaking chinese. YOU ARE GREAT! If I were you I would not have the courage to do so.” I told her we were either courageous or crazy, and that we’d have to decide that upon our arrival back home. 🙂  We went to a ticket agent instead of the train station and were able to get the Z3 ‘soft berth’ night ticket on our return trip…leave at 10 pm from Beijing and reach Jingzhou around 6:30 am.

We have found that as long as it is 88 degrees or below outside, we could manage inside’s temperatures.

As we were planning to leave for our Beijing trip, China was being hit with a record third typhoon within a week as torrential rains and floods brought by two powerful storms still affected many regions. They hit in the southeastern part, near Shanghai and Hong Kong. Surprisingly, we had no rain as a result of it in our area. The country is faced with a tremendous burden from floods and other disasters due to frequent typhoons since mid-July, Chen Lei, minister of water resources, said on Monday. “It is the first time that the country will have been hit by three typhoons one after another within seven days,” he said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

I noticed this in Chronicle publication in August: Owners of Apple devices in 50 countries downloaded the Gospel Broadcasting Network app the first day it became available, the executive director added, surprised that China ranked second in downloads behind the U.S. Blackwell credits GBN with the potential to reach half a billion “outlets,” or devices capable of receiving the network or its shows. He bases the figure on hundreds of millions of mobile devices in the world capable of running GBN apps, along with viewers who watch on television and computers. I also encourage you to read the interview by Meredith Rodriguez regarding her China work.

We had some nice confirmations as we began our 14- hour train trip to Beijing. The first class car was very clean, comfortable, and spacious, causing us to both respond “that we’ve never traveled first class before.”  If you think of a typical airplane in first class you get the idea….the reclining seats were spacious on the two-hour trip from Jingzhou to Wuhan, and we found a McDonald’s at the first stop so were able to get full on ‘comfort food’ and also some carbs for the 11:57 a.m.—10 p.m. ride to this country’s spacious and modern capital. (Train had both a Western and Eastern-style restroom…McDonald’s Eastern only…those things are important when you leave the comforts of home:-).

The cost of the Jingzhou to Wuhan ticket (2 hour trip) was 83 yuan ($12.99). From Wuhan to Beijing ticket (9 1/2 hour trip) it was 333 yuan ($52.11). Our return trip was the same 12 hours, but was in a ‘soft berth’ sleeper unit…quite nice since the ride is smooth (I have always told Brinson and Aiden that sleeping part of the way makes it go faster, to encourage them to not fight sleeping in the car on a long trip). It was 486 yuan ($75.06). Jingzhou to Beijing: 1,445 kilometers (897 miles)

On each train, there was one lady assigned to go up and down the aisle regularly to get anything off the floor…needless to say, it was clean. Everyone was professionally dressed, in matching outfits…no free drinks, etc., but someone was available to sale items often. Saw some newer, modern buildings along the way and open  It was also ‘different’ to have air conditioned air in every store…they also have heat in the classrooms, etc., during the winter since it is much colder (think of the northeast in the USA).

Our retreat/seminar was both refreshing and encouraging, and revealed a great Family here. The sessions were held in a Foreign Language School, and many of the attendees were students at the school, learning Chinese. In fact, most of them had great Chinese after 1-3 years of being full-time students….were in China on a student visa, and are not teaching in university classes. Some came initially as Let’s Start Talking teachers. I am thrilled to report they are talented, faithful, and energetic for Important Things! Two are here with children, and were especially impressive to Terry and me. Two from Pepperdine, others OC or Harding. One couple used to make annual trips from Arkansas to Haiti each summer, and their group of 12-18 would eat and stay at our house at they left/reentered via the international airport. It was great to see them again after several years 🙂

We ate at Peter’s Tex-Mex Grill for one dinner, and, folks, it was ‘the real thing!’ Amazing! Wow! Great! And just a block away was an authentic Italian restaurant…and we also ate “real pizza” … this IS an international city!

The trip to Beijing was magical in many ways. The train ride, other Family members, delicious food…the following information gives some background on The Great Wall and the Summer Palace that we visited:

Perhaps the most powerful advertising words in history came from the mouth of Chairman Mao: “Until you reach the Great Wall, you’re no hero.” Figuratively this means ‘to get over difficulties before reaching a goal’. The statement our students use: Until you have climbed the Great Wall, you are not a true man.

The Great Wall of China is already the longest man-made structure in the world but we may have to start calling it the Greater Wall of China. A five-year archaeological survey done by China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) claims that the total length of the Great Wall was 13,170 miles long and reached across 15 provinces.

This is more than twice the length previously thought. In 2009, SACH reported that the wall was 5,500 miles and stretched across 10 provinces.

“The previous estimation particularly refers to Great Walls built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), but this new measure includes Great Walls built in all dynasties,” Yan Jianmin, the office director of the China Great Wall Society, told the China Daily.

The Summer Palace (see page 7) (literally “Gardens of Nurtured Harmony”) is a palace in Beijing, China. The Summer Palace is mainly dominated by Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. It covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometers, three quarters of which is water.

Longevity Hill is about 60 meters (200 feet) high and houses many buildings positioned in sequence. The front hill is rich in the splendid halls and pavilions, while the back hill, in sharp contrast, is quiet with natural beauty

The central Kunming Lake covering 2.2 square kilometers was entirely man made and the excavated soil was used to build Longevity Hill. In the Summer Palace, one finds a variety of palaces, gardens, and other classical-style architectural structures.

In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List. It declared the Summer Palace “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value.” It is a popular tourist destination but also serves as a recreational park.

Our train trip home was awesome! We were able to get a good night’s rest as the train did its work over 11 hours…it left and arrived exactly on time…literally to the minute! So impressed with Family in Beijing and prayers solicited for two who are having babies soon and two other families with three wonderful children between them.

Greetings from Terry: I have begun learning Tai Chi (from a DVD I ordered) in the privacy of our apartment.  My goal is to strengthen muscles, improve balance and relieve tension.

Dean Catherine and her daughter, Lily took me to a piano concert/recital in a theater in Shashi.  The ages of the participants ranged from 12 to early 20s. They were magnificent! I thoroughly enjoyed every part of it.

I finished reading the book, Encountering the Chinese. In the past few weeks we have had a few of the local students over for lunch one at a time. We have enjoyed hearing their thoughts and views. When they come over in groups just the outgoing ones speak up so this is a way to draw them out a bit. I am really looking forward to Gary getting to know my last semester students. They will enjoy each other.

Howard introduced us to one of his teacher friend’s daughter. Her English name is Queenie. She is a junior in a university in other city and is home for the summer. She came over last night for a visit. She was a true delight and reminded me of my niece, Darra. She used to attend discussions and “parties” at Gary and Signa’s when she was in middle school.  Sunday morning she brought a friend and joined us for our 10:00 meeting.

The Olympics have started in London and we still have not gotten to see the rerun of the opening ceremony. We get to see some of the events the Chinese are broadcasting on line.

We got to have the newlyweds, Hugo and Kelly, over for lunch. It was so good to see them again. They asked many questions about having and rearing children..

I finished reading the book, Hazardous Duty (squeaky clean mystery) by Christy Barritt.

Lately when I go for my evening walk I see couples holding their little naked infants who are wearing only a bib, not even a diaper. The parent who is not holding the baby is usually carrying a fan and fanning the other two.

Our expectant sister, Sophia, found out the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck twice. After two days and many requests on their behalf the cord was only around once. So, one day after her due date she had a successful C-section and delivered a healthy baby girl. We are all so very thankful. Gary and I got to visit them in the hospital after a couple of days. Xie, her husband was in the room taking good care of the little one. Sophia is still very weak but hopefully will gain her strength soon. The new mothers in China stay in bed and at confined at home much longer than American new mothers. Sophia has asked me many questions about how we do things in America. The Chinese do not think it is healthy to wash your hair for several weeks after giving birth. They also believe you will have headaches in old age if you go out in the wind during the first few weeks after giving birth.

I like this quote, “Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain” (unknown author)

I am so glad we were able to get tickets to take the train to Beijing and add that to our list of experiences. The electric trains are amazingly quiet and smooth. It glides into the station like a long smooth snake. We were in the last seat of the last car at the end of the train. We rode first class to make sure of getting a seat. It was clean, new, spacious and refreshingly cool with plenty of storage space.

Everything on the train is labeled in English as well as Chinese. Verbal announcements are also The train station is in the north part of Jingzhou which we have not been in so we got to see new sights as we headed out of town. I actually saw several neighborhoods of single family dwellings with large neat vegetable gardens all around them.

The train car from Wuhan to Beijing was warmer but still spacious. As we traveled on it became more crowded with people sitting on the floor in the space between cars and standing in the isles on the second class cars. Smoking is not allowed on the train of which we were very thankful.

We arrived in Beijing at 10:00, waited 30minutes in line for a taxi. Rode 30 minutes to the hotel, waited about 30 minutes for our room, showered and had just dropped off to sleep when they knocked on our door needing to make another (continued from page eight) copy of our passports. Needless to say we slept very well when we finally had the chance. Our hotel is at the CAMIC campus (Civil Aviation Management Institute of China). Saturday we shared a breakfast at the McDonalds complete with sausage, biscuit, hash browns and scrambled egg. We forgot to take the written hotel name so we had a bit of an adventure getting back to our place. May the pedestrian who helped our cab driver be blessed. Several of our group arrived after we had already eaten so I accompanied them to the restaurant just for the fellowship. These are good people from OK, TX, and Brazil. One couple knows my nephew, Remington and another has a daughter that was in nursing with Wendy at Harding. I ate my first bite of Beijing duck. It was dark meat and tasted a bit like mild roast beef to me. It was not hot and spicy like I had expected. It was served with a small crepe in which you put bite of duck, sliver of onion and a sliver of vegetable then wrap it up and dip it in a sesame sauce.

Sunday morning we met together with about35 people, everything being spoken in Chinese. Later in the afternoon Gary and I went to the mall. It was very much like the Galleria Mall in Plantation, FL. We enjoyed window shopping the four floors then I bought a 350 piece Peter Rabbit puzzle, whole floor of the mall was devoted to children clothing, toys, photography, educational material, (to page 9) paraphernalia and   very large imaginative play area. We ate dinner at Subway before returning to the hotel.

This city is big, busy, crowded and a bit more complicated to travel around in as a new comer but it is very clean and pleasant to the eye.  The weather as also 7-9 degrees cooler each day.  — Love, Terry

From the China News Daily —  More Chinese tie the knot in churches—First came white bridal gowns, with intricate veils and long flowing trains becoming a common sight at Chinese weddings. Now, more young couples are choosing another imported tradition: tying the knot in a church.

Although the Christian population is in the minority in China, churches and cathedrals nationwide have reported a boom in bookings, with some purposely courting nonbelievers by offering quasi-religious ceremonies.

“Until 2008, we weren’t allowed to hold such weddings (for non-registered parishioners),” said Fan Guoxing, a pastor at Haidian Christian Church in Beijing. (to page 11)

“Now the rules have been relaxed, I’m officiating at about 40 a year, half of which are for nonbelievers.” Saturdays are the busiest, he said, sometimes with as many as eight ceremonies to handle.

At the other side of the country in Sichuan province, Xie Hongxia, a Catholic wedding planner for Chengdu diocese, estimated that about 90 percent of the 70 or so weddings held annually at the city’s cathedral are for non-Christian couples.

Wang Manshu and Jiang Jin were married on Feb 12 at Haidian Christian Church, which is in the capital’s Zhongguancun technology area.

“We were worried our booking would be rejected, so we were really happy when we got a positive response,” said Wang, 35. “Young people like us need a special (church) ceremony. Our hearts could be purified, and it helps us find a deeper connection.”

The couple spent 6,000 yuan ($940) on their big day, which included the cost of the venue, the pastor, decorations and choral music. It would have cost even more had they not arranged their own bridal stylist, photographer and cameraman.

“Traditional Chinese weddings are too complicated,” Wang said. “Although expensive, the church was no fuss at all. We were briefed about what would happen during the 30-minute ceremony and didn’t even meet the pastor until just beforehand.”

According to tradition, the bride’s father walked her down the aisle in front of 100 family members and friends, before Fan, the pastor, gave a brief sermon. The couple exchanged vows, each time ending with an “Amen”, and then joined to light a candle symbolizing their unity in marriage.

“It was an education for me,” said the bride’s 65-year-old uncle, Wang Tianyu, who said it was his first time in a church. “Young people are having a lot (see page 12)   of quick marriages and quick divorces nowadays. Maybe a solemn church wedding will help them take marriage more seriously.”

Xishiku Catholic Church, also known as Beijing’s Northern Cathedral, requires non-Christian couples to have a civil-marriage certificate before they can book the venue. The price is 2,600 yuan, which includes decorations and, on Saturdays, a full choir. Volunteer Zhou Fucheng at the church said the ceremonies generate much-needed income for the church. However, not all parishioners are happy about the their churches being rented out to nonbelievers.

“Some Christians have voiced their objection and believe we host the weddings of nonbelievers just to make a profit,” said pastor Fan at Haidian Church in Beijing. In doing so, though, many more people get to know about our beliefs.”

He explained that originally either the bride or groom had to be a practicing Christian for a couple to get married in the church. It was only later it was opened to all comers. Ma Qing, 43, who was baptized in 1985 and works as a volunteer at Southern Cathedral on weekends, said she has an open mind about nonbelievers choosing church weddings.

“The church welcomes all who are interested,” she said. “We greet newcomers and let them decide if they want to know more. Some were married as nonbelievers and were later baptized.”

Whether the latest wedding fad leads more into the Christian religion or not, church phones are likely to keep ringing in the short term.

Mao Weiwei, 27, said she has seen countless white weddings in movies and TV shows, and was also impressed when she read about how one of her favorite singers, Christine Fan from Taiwan, got hitched in a church ceremony last year.

But it was not until she saw her non-Christian friend exchange vows with her “Mr. Right” in a church that she started to imagine it for herself.

“I never knew such a ceremony was available for nonbelievers in China,” said Mao, an instructor at an English training center in Beijing. “Now I know, I can’t get the idea out of my head.

“Traditional Chinese weddings are a bit too grand for me. I want mine to be perfect, celebrated in an intimate, serene and sweet manner.”

According to a recent report on internet use, Chinese netizens now number around 538 million, and the penetration rate is 39.9%. This means that China is on track to achieve the central government’s target of 45% by 2015. It is particularly noteworthy that the number of rural internet users is expanding dramatically. In the past, due to a lack of telecommunication infrastructure, rural residents had little access to the internet.  But now things have changed. The number of rural internet users has reached 150 million. This is about 27% of total users. About half of them are using mobile phones to get online. In addition, the report also finds that the demographics of internet users has also undergone a shift. Many more middle aged and seniors are joining the crowd. About 17% of net users are over 40 years old.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 18, 2012 in Jingzhou

 

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


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Jingzhou

 
 
%d bloggers like this: