Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Check one natural disaster off the list. I've officially experienced my first earthquake. Don't worry, I didn't die. Last night at 11:24 I was lying in bed reading when all of a sudden the windows started shaking and it felt like I was swinging slightly in a hammock instead of lying in my bed. It only lasted for three seconds or so. Sure enough, there was a 4.3 magnitude earthquake centered only 30 miles or so from here. It really wasn't much to speak of, the windows probably wouldn't even have made noise if they fit in the molding better. I haven't found anyone who was woken up by it, only people who were awake even noticed it, and then some of those people didn't even notice. Anyhoo, there was a bigger earthquake last week on the Xinjiang/Tibet border and we were swamped with emails and messages asking if we're okay. That earthquake was over 1,000 miles away. Now we have one in our backyard and no one seems to notice! It's a little funny to me. :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Another successful day

Just for the record, the days where I don't punch anyone in the face definitely outnumber the days where I do. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've never punched anyone in the face ever. Also on the bright side, today I wasn't even tempted to punch anyone in the face. I just hope Jessica wasn't tempted to punch any little girls.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Today I did not punch two guys in the face. -or- Trying to look at the glass half full.

It's been a rough two weeks for me. Meager March is progressing well. I'm right on budget, having spent 104 yuan in the first 20 days of March. That includes a haircut, a couple of bus rides, and more time on my computer than I ever planned on. Of course, if I was really on welfare here then I wouldn't even have a computer. But the meagerness isn't really the rough part. In fact, the meagerness has only contributed to my peace of mind and sizable ego. Just today Jessica commented on how I'm the only male taking part in Shiyan's Meager March. "You're the only one who was man enough to accept the challenge." That's what she said. *insert laugh here if you've ever watched The Office* No, the rough part has been a very tough patch of culture shock, homesickness, and worrying about my future, which all conveniently hit at the same moment last week. So I've run the whole gambit from "I'm moving to Korea next year," to "I'm opening a coffee shop in Shiyan next year," to "I'm moving back to the States next year," to "I'm not even waiting for my contract to end, I'm leaving tomorrow." Like I said, it's been a rough two weeks.

So now I'm stepping back and instead of looking at all the bad and annoying things around me, I'm trying to be more optimistic. This glass isn't half empty! It's sort of almost halfway full! So I won't sum up today by saying I almost hit two guys in the face. Instead, I'm gonna tell you that today I did NOT punch two guys in the face. And right after I didn't punch the first guy, we found a store that sold whipping cream and they even whipped it for us for free. Yay! Then on the way back to school Jessica didn't punch a little girl in the face. Which is way funnier than me not punching a man in the face. (I hope you realize that "not punching someone in the face" is code for "I really almost punched someone in the face but restrained myself.")

But there are always things that you just can't put a pretty face on. Like racism, or riots, or affairs, or outright hatred. I know I have a hard time with a lot of things, but I just don't understand when people refuse to love. When promises made are considered null and void because you think you might like someone else better. Or when someone dies but you can't go to their funeral or offer support because their congregation split from yours and no one in that group will associate with you anymore. Shunning someone in public because they support giving a Bible to someone. That amounts to public hatred. Turning your back on someone in the supermarket when they say hi to you. Preaching hatred instead of love. Legalism instead of truth and spirit. Limiting yourself and everyone you come in contact with instead of letting Christ set you free. I admit that I've got a whole tree growing out of my eye, but some people don't even realize that they're blind in both eyes and walking into a pit.

There's so much more that I want to say, but I don't think I should. Most of you probably have no idea what any of that alludes to, and that's okay. This post isn't aimed at you. If you do know, then hopefully you understand my meaning. Selfishness, unfaithfulness, pride, hatred, ungodly actions; they all manifest themselves in the smallest and largest ways possible. If we can't take a slap in the face without giving up or slapping back, then we need to reevaluate ourselves. We should respond with love! If we can't love unconditionally, it's not really love. If we can't be loyal to our first love, what's keeping us with our second love? Or third? If, in a town of 15,000 people, both lost and Christian, the only ones who aren't welcome at your funeral are the other Christians, what's the point of even calling yourself a Christian? Even though I'm pretty sure I'm not perfect at all the things I just mentioned, I still can't understand blatant disregard for some of these. Some of the most central aspects of Christianity and Love, yet we can't seem to even grasp the idea.

I have a feeling my blog has developed a negative tone during the last few posts. I have to be honest, I've been very very down lately. I have some great high moments everyday, like when my family calls or I'm with friends here, but then 2 minutes later I'm back down again. For the last two weeks. I have faith that I'll come out of this rut soon, but I just want people to know that they don't help by abandoning or being hateful. I'm not just saying they don't help me. They don't help the world. They don't help themselves. They don't help the Kingdom. They don't help God. The only one they help is the very one trying to destroy them. So if you're not helping, sit back and put things in perspective. You don't matter, others matter. I don't matter, others matter. We don't matter, others don't even really matter. Only God matters. And he's already told you what to do. Love him first. Love others first. He'll worry about you. That's all that matters. My cups not half empty. My cup overflows.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Schedule Planning Party

Today and yesterday I feel like I have been having one, long party for planning my schedule. Last week we had a meeting with the guy in charge of giving us our class assignments. Abraham. He's fairly incompetent. Don't think that I just don't like the guy or anything like that. We actually spend a lot of time convincing ourselves that we just don't give him a chance to show his true colors, but then he always swoops in and ruins things again. Like not knowing how many classes he assigned to each of us, so one person has 2 while another has 10. Or not giving us a class roll until the week of the final. Or not answering or returning phone calls and then pretending he didn't know we called him when we see him face to face. (It's a cell phone, it's hard not to notice something like that.) We tried to pump ourselves up and get excited about meeting with him to get our teaching assignments. We were told school would start the 25th, so we should be back at least by the 23rd or 24th to get our classes. We came back on time, sat around for a week or so, tried to call and text him to find out when he wanted to meet with us. His reply: "I'll meet with you when I'm ready." So on the 25th (the first day of class) I got a call at 8 in the morning saying we should meet Abraham in the office at 10 to get our class assignments. He ended up giving each of us one or two classes, then said that we would receive more before the end of the week. "Friday is the deadline," he said. Friday came and went, Monday came back around, we were all going to teach the first day of an elective class that all 4 of us teach at the same time (in different rooms, of course), and Abraham showed up in our classrooms to give us the rest of our class assignments. Of course, what we REALLY wanted was the class roll. And a classroom with more than 55 seats since my class had 63 students. But alas, he couldn't provide either so some students ran and found extra stools from another room while others just sat on each other. Some of the classes he assigned us yesterday started yesterday, but I somehow didn't get one of those classes.

Right now I have one class on Monday afternoons, a Tuesday/Thursday morning class, and 4 other classes in the other afternoons. We've also set aside a time for the foreigners at my school to get together at 8 most mornings each week to study and talk. So far, it's been fun. On top of that, we found a Chinese Sister to tutor each of us for an hour each day to continue our language learning. There's also a study on Saturday nights at my school, some birthday parties coming up, Michael is coming to visit in April (if you didn't know, my brother is coming in April!!!), a weekly guy's lunch that we're trying to plan, and all sorts of things that I don't even know about yet. It's been fun comparing schedules with people trying to find a time to get together. One thing we're focusing on this term is smaller groups. Less worrying about getting everyone involved, more attention on being effective and fulfilling our purpose. It should be a good term, I think.

Meager March is off to a fair start. I've had my computer on a lot just because I still have some necessary things to pay attention on Skype and my email, but I'm trying to avoid any and all frivolous use of the internet for personal use. I can only use it for important things, like class planning, research, talking to my family, etc. By the way, my family can feel free to continue trying to call me this month, I won't abandon you. I'm on day 4 and I've spent 13 yuan, so I'm doing well with money. The total for the month averages out to 5.45 each day, so I'm a little under par. I'm sure there will be some big expense just over the horizon, though! Well, I'm up to 15 yuan with all the time I'm spending doing personal things online today, so I'm going to run along now. Happy birthday to the 50 bajillion people having a birthday in my family this month. Happy birthday today, Suzannah! Much love to all.