Friday, March 27, 2009


I've been living in China for more than 7 months. I go home in almost two months. I am beginning to wonder what it will be like to go back home, how my experiences will affect being back at home, how being at home will affect my experience, etc, etc. In some areas I think life will just go back to normal, but in many ways I know it will not. Living in a foreign country, especially one like China, is very difficult to explain to people to a point where they can understand what I have experienced. I can tell people stories and I can show off my skills in speaking Chinese, but much of what I have learned here and much of what has shaped me will never be able to be expressed to a point where people will understand. Only if you have lived or visited China will you ever understand what it means when people talk about the amount of people, the pollution, the standard of living, etc. Most people will not actually be able to understand both the good and the bad about this country. Before I got here and actually lived here for more than two weeks, China was just a place on a map and culture that I knew a lot of the history about. Getting here was a whole different experience. Most of what I ever studied never really had anything to do with modern China, most of it was all before Deng Xiaoping's Gaigekaifang, or Opening and Reform policy. Living here I have experienced and seen so much of what China is today. Yet at the same time it is still very illusive to me. As a foreigner there are some things that I don't get to see because we are presented with the part of China that we are wanted to see. However, it is the same China that most of the nation sees as well. Anyways, it will be difficult to tell people all of this and have them understand it on a truly understanding level. I'm afraid of getting back home and being unable to give people an accurate representation of my experience here. It is not something that can be summed up into a few sentences. I have a feeling that it will be something that will have to just come out in stories, course I'm not the best story teller at all. I'm afraid that when I go home my experience in China will be a year that just becomes missing in my life. A period of time where I will talk about every once in a while, but that is generally ignored in the large scheme of life. Which is right in it's own sense because we shouldn't be living in the past but rather in the present.

So, how will this experience affect me? I guess a better question would be, what do I want to take away from this? Well, most importantly I want to take away everything God has taught me. He has taught me a lot about living in the present, and not in the past or the future. He has taught me that the journey with Him is not easy, and just because you leave America does not mean that it is any easier to seek Him everyday. I learned how much of a blessing and how important fellowship is to your walk. I have learned that I do not have enough friendships with people who are not Christians. I have spent my life in a bubble, and I want to start taking Jesus outside of the church walls. Now, that doesn't mean that I want to abandom my morals and that I want to live a heathenistic life, but it means that I want to make relationships with those people who are lost. It means I should go to them, not expect them to come to me inside the church. Jesus did not stay inside the synagogue and did not spend his time with the religious people of his time; instead, He spent his time building relationships with those outside of the synagogue walls, those who needed saving. He never went alone though, I do not think it is in His will for any of us to go out into the field alone. When Jesus sent his disciples out to preach and heal in his name he sent them out in pairs, not by themselves. I think when missionaries go out by themselves without anyone to back them up or support them in the field it becomes a dangerous spot and they can begin to struggle (I watched this happen to two different people). I have experienced God's care as he provided kind people to take care of me during my travels. I have experienced God's divine appointments as he allowed me to encourage a brother I had never met before in my life and will probably never meet again, and by allowing me to meet some amazing Christians along my travels that were such an encouragement to me. I have learned that I can do nothing on my own, without God's help I am nothing. I realize that I need to depend on His guidance and leadership throughout my life. I have had the privilege of witness God bring people to Him and watching how he has grown a meeting of 7 foreigners and one Chinese to a meeting of about 20, being about half foreigners and half chinese. It was not a result of anything we really did, God just blessed it and brought people. He has shown me that there is a need and a thirst here. Reading the heavenly man while being here also has really changed my perceptions and attitudes towards things. It is hard for me to express what I'm really thinking when it comes to God and church. When I go back home I'm afraid that i will get caught up in religiousity and forget all that I have experienced here. Yet at the same time, I know that fellowship with the believers will help me in my walk.

What am I looking forward to at home? I'm looking forward to seeing everyone that I have missed so dearly. I'm looking forward to being home. Although I have lived here in China for many months it is still not home to me. I'm looking forward to western food, food without a ton of oil. I look forward to having space, and not continually being surrounded by people. I look forward to being able to drive my car again, fresh air being fresh, understanding a culture, being able to have friends that I can tell what is on my mind, green grass, clean streets.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

“幼儿园” (you'er yuan) Kindergarten!!

Today I got the chance to go back to kindergarten! CET had all of us go visit HIT's kindergarten so that we could practice our Chinese and interview the kindergartners. I have to say it was QUITE the experience. Definitely the opposite of our visit with HIT's elderly. When I heard that we were going to visit a kindergarten I had imagined in my head visiting a class, playing with a bunch of cute kids, and easily asking them the list of questions I had for them. I expected them to be cute, adorable, quiet, and willing to answer my questions. In fact, they were actually very cute and adorable, but as for being quiet and willingly answering my questions, they were far from it.

Two classmates and I walked in a class of about 20-30 kindergartners and were immeadietly each given a group of students. I proceeded to my table of kids and sat in my chair fit for a kid 1/4 my size. At first they really didn't know what to do with me! They didn't know whether to speak English or Chinese, and when they found out they couldn't speak English to me that had no clue what to say to me. One kid just looked at me and said in Chinese "foreigner" and then put his head down unwilling to talk to me. The teacher encouraged them to say their names, etc, but they were pretty shy and needed a bit more encouragement. The teacher then decided to have them all recite the 成语 (cheng yu), or idioms, that they had been memorizing. So my table started to recite their 成语 and they gradually got louder and louder until it was practically a yelling match between tables. After that the teacher tried again to have them introduce their names, and as they introduced their names I did my best to understand what they said and repeat it back. If I said their name wrong they were definitely not afraid to tell me I was wrong. I then tried to get them to all write their names for me so that I could see their names. This got them all really excited and they started pulling out paper to write, and they were all fighting for my attention to show me their name. A couple of the kids decided to take out their books and have me read the book to them; so I ended up spended quite a bit of time reading Spongebob Squarepants to them in Chinese. I thought it was pretty funny to see how excited they were to have me reading their book. They were all crowded around me so they could see the book too (one kid was practically in my lap), and they were quick to correct my pronunciation. After an hour or so in the very noisy classroom, my time came to an end and I had to say goodbye to my new "small friends", but it was an experience that I don't think I will forget very easily. I don't know how I forgot how noisy and spirited little kids can be. I have to say though, I have no clue what I'm going to tell my teacher on Friday because I didn't get a chance to ask any of my questions...

Classes have been going well. It is weird to realize that I have been in China now for a little more than six and a half months. I'm now having to start getting things ready for next fall semester, which makes it hard to wait to go home. I've certainly been enjoying my time, and I'm slowly making more and more friends here. I have been blessed while I have been here in more ways than one. I do think I'm starting to come down with a case of senioritis though.

Oh, and it is still very much winter here. I'm watching it snow outside right now, and it started snowing five hours ago.