Come Over to My House, Come Over and Play

“Come over the my house, come over and play”

A quote from a favorite childhood book. Children from all over the world saying the words “come over to my house.” It’s a beautiful image of friendship, crossing cultures, global unity.

I was a stranger and they invited me in.

In Santa Cruz, Bolivia, A six year old boy of a twenty-one year old mother whom he called sister held hands, in his other hand he grasped the fingers of a tall American woman. Jenny is his sponsor through Compassion International. We followed as he lead us down a dusty road full of roaming cattle, horses and chickens. When he arrived as a small brick house with a tin roof he whirled around and waved his hands in joyous excitement. “Este es mi casa!” “This is my house!”

A six year old boy in the spirit of thanksgiving invited friends over to play. At the beginning of our trip in Bolivia with Compassion International, we were told that we would represent all of the sponsors. What I found was a six year old boy representing Christ.

Skip ahead a few weeks. I’m a stranger in a foreign land. I live at a University in China. A local group of Christians invites my room mate and I to dinner. And Afterwards into their home. They are thrilled to hear we have been praying for them. In China it’s expected you bring a gift if you go to a person’s home. We came empty handed. Yet they welcomes us with open arms. The child sang and danced for us, the grandmother served us fresh fruit.

They new nothing of me and welcomed me anyway.
I was a stranger and they invited me in.

What we have big or small we still have to offer to the work of The Lord. And when we come empty handed he makes no scene over it.

Come over to my house, Jesus.

Travel Tips

I’m not a world traveler yet. But I started travelling more or less on my own when I was 16. From road trips across the USA to mission trips to the developing world to a couple months abroad I’ve acquired a few travel tips.

WHAT DO I PACK?!?!?!

For a 4 day trip to New York City: Only pack carry-on

For a mission trip of 1-2 weeks: Only pack carry-on

For a trip which requires living abroad for a couple months: Only pack carry-on

And for God’s sake if you’re planning a back packing trip through Europe: ONLY PACK CARRY ON!

But there are a few rules, first you have to look up TSA guidelines for what you can take. Buy a small suitcase (or backpack depending on your needs) that fits the requirements. I have a rolling suitcase that doubles as a back pack, but it’s not ideal for backpacking.

Second, you really also have to look up the guidelines for every airline you’re taking. In my experience all US airlines match TSA and other places in the world are less restrictive.

Third, do NOT stuff that bag with crap. I only took carry-on to China and I can tell you right now when I was dragging it all through the airport, through the subway station, and down a couple miles of dirt roads in Beijing to my hostel, I wished I had less stuff!

SAY WHAT!?!

I read in a travel guide that this guy never took anything with him that he hadn’t first tested out by carrying it all with him around his own town. I’ve never done this, but I sure would if I was back packing.

And I know what you’re think “oh but I’m not back packing through Europe, I’m going straight to a hotel.” Straight to a hotel is never quite that simple. You have to get all of that stuff through the airport, into a taxi or car or subway and lug it. Don’t count on other people to carry your stuff. They won’t be happy.

There’s a couple reasons to do this. First your luggage won’t get lost in transit. The odds are probably against you if you have complicated connecting flights. I’m about to take two series of 5 connecting flights through a couple of countries. Secondly, if you aren’t weighed down by luggage you can do more things, keep track of your stuff, and you probably won’t be a likely victim of theft. And lastly, no fees!

A few more tips:

–You really only need a week’s worth of clothes. If you won’t wear it more than once, it’s probably not worth it. Anything more than a week, just figure out how to do some laundry.

–Once you’ve cut out unnecessary clothing items, roll your clothes tightly and tuck them into your bag or suitcase. This is supposing that your clothes will be your biggest items. On the way back I often will wrap gifts and souvenirs with clothes around them. But you always want to make sure you have extra room in your bag for those items. Worst comes to worst buy a bag abroad and check it on the way home. This is an especially good idea if you’re going to China or South America. I can’t make a voice for countries in Europe.

–You don’t need all those liquids. Small amounts will do fine. If you’re going for a week, travel sized is all you need. Buy those little bottles that are refillable if you’re really concerned about your hair or whatever. If you’re going longer than that, buy what the locals do. Wear that Wang Lee Hom Twisty Lady hair gel! If you’re some place where it’s a real concern, like the bush, you probably won’t have access to a shower anyway. Which brings me to my point about wet ones. They’re good for everything from wiping down on a long plane ride, to cleaning your dorm, to being out in the boonies for a few weeks. Don’t sweat it. Just live how the people around you do. It builds character at the very least. And most places are developed enough to sell a quality brand of soap.

–If you can buy it there, DITCH IT HERE. First, save on crazy converters. If you need a hair dryer, buy one there. If this is a trip to the third world, go without. You’ll survive. And if you’re going to China… They make everything there, so it’s cheaper to just buy it in China.

Here’s how I roll:

Pack all alike items together. Little baggies of things helps if your stuff is being searched. After hours of going through security in Bolivia, Panama, and Miami, you’ll absolutely be glad.  Some places will open your bag and search everything. In Miami my Stephen’s guitar case was opened, searched and someone else’s random yellow bag got mixed in. If you have tiny things they could get lost and be hard to access on a layover or a night in a hotel.

The previous tip is essential for liquids for carry on in the US. They must go in a quart sized baggie.

I usually only bring two pairs of shoes. If space is incredibly limited wear big items on your person (coats, shoes, etc)… I did this when I had to pack my own sheets, blankets, winter clothing, and toilet paper for 2 weeks in Colombia and only took small backpack. But most of the time I wear the flip flops. Slip on shoes are easy for airports.

The carry on item which will go in the over head bin should not have to be accessed until the final destination. Your personal item can be a large purse or a backpack. I just recently took a tote bag as my personal item to Bolivia.

Experienced travelers do this. Check a bag on the way home if you buy too many souvenirs. Or give away your stuff. A friends of mine just left most of her clothes as a donation in Bolivia. I tossed out a pair of worn out shoes and most of my liquids… almost every time I travel.

This time I will be packing a bit more than the last time I went to China. This time I need some business attire, I’ll be at the university a bit longer, and I”ll be taking ballet classes. I’m determined to fit all my ballet clothes, high heels, favorite clothes, and my laptop into my bags. If it doesn’t all fit, something will go.

The only true essentials are your passport and your paper work. (I pack these in a tiny purse that goes over my shoulder. My Stephen put his in a ziplock in an accessible pocket of his bag, which also worked ok.)

Finally, make it all easy to carry at one time. Who knows how far you may have to carry it. Also, taking nyquil helps beat jetlag 😉

Religion in China

I have been back from China for about a month now. My experience was incredible, if not life-changing. Today I would like to talk to you all about Religion in China. Myself being quite a religious person (and because everyone is somewhat religious (please refer to anthropology) I don’t despite this title for myself), I really wanted to know about religion in China.

“You know–China has no religion,” one Chinese girl told me. I have heard many things about China and religion there. First of all, in some areas, religion is oppressed. It is my assumption that the primary area of oppression of religion is in Western China and Tibet. This is only what I learned first hand about religion in China.

In China I visited a Mosque, a Synagogue, 4 Buddhist temples, 1 Taoist temple, and 2 Christian churches (one sanctioned and one unsanctioned). According to Voice of the Martyrs, PRC (People’s Republic of China) recognizes 5 religious groups: Buddhism, Islam, Daoism, Protestantism, and Catholicism. Churches are supposed to register with the government. Non-government churches are illegal in China.

Buddhism and Daoism are two of the primary Chinese religions, they are ancient to China and have combined with folk religions and superstitions. My first encounter with Buddhism in China was a friend of mine in the United States was talking to me about God. My friend was from China and told me that China’s religion was Buddhism. Her thoughts about God were probing and profound and she grappled with how God could care about her, since she was from China.

Buddhism began in China during the Qin dynasty around 220-210 BC. Since then Chinese Buddhism has developed many branches and sects of Buddhism. The religion celebrates the enlightenment of its devoted followers. My first morning in China I saw an older woman counting her prayer beads. Counting the prayer beads in Buddhist tradition is an important task.

In China I visited the Jade Budda Temple and Long Hua temple in Shanghai, a temple on tiger hill in Suzhou, and a temple over-looking the forbidden city. Many of these temples were recently reconstructed, as many of them were used as refuges or forts during the Second Sino-Japanese war and WWII.

Most of the people who came to pray in the temple were older. But not all of them were.

This is a photo of the temple overlooking the Forbidden City (in which the Emperor was treated as a god).

Even though most of the people in the temples were either tourists like us or the older generation, some young couples brought their children. This young girl was following the lead of her parents in praying to the gods.

These are some people praying to gods and goddesses of Buddhism.

These are some cauldrons for incense, which many people burn as they pray.

Such as this woman who is bowing to each corner of the world with he burning incense.

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The Temple of Heaven is regarded as a Daoist temple, but it was possibly built before Daoism became a religion in China and it is also regarded as Chinese Heaven Worship (I looked all of this up on Wikipedia… soo….)

The emperor is known to have worshiped there.

Interestingly enough Valerie and I went with our professor (Luo Laoshi) to a Jewish museum in Shanghai. Judaism has been in China for many years. Jews migrated to China as early as 7th century AD. They blended with the Chinese to become a dual culture. Later in the 1940s Jews from Europe sought refuge in the only country that would take them, and they lived in an area of Shanghai. The first group of Jews are known as the Kaifeng and they are an ethnic minority in China, hardly recognized by the government. They experienced persecution in the Tang dynasty. Now they are nearly impossible to distinguish from the Han Chinese (the primary people group of China) or the Hui (the Muslim Chinese people group).

During the 1940s Jewish refugees were met by the Kaifeng Jews in Shanghai and the refugees lived in this area of Shanghai.

This photo is a glass engraving of the first chapter of the Torah (or Genesis 1) written in traditional Chinese.

The Museum is located in this synagogue which is used for ceremonies such as weddings to this day, but according the the curator Jews no longer practice their religion in China. She did not either know, or would not give me a reason for this, but I suspect it is because they are not a recognized religion by the government. Therefore, they can practice cultural ceremonies like the wedding that happened the day before I was there, but they cannot hold services. The curator told me those two things were quite different.

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While Islam is regarded as an Middle-Eastern religion, it has flourished in China nearly since its birth. The Chinese Muslims, the Hui people, live in communities all over China. In Beijing I visited an ancient mosque from the 12th century AD called the Niu Jie Mosque. Like all religion, Islam was suppressed during the Cultural Revolution. During this time Muslims were not permitted to go on a Hajj which is the journey to Mecca. But in 2001 the China Islamic Association was started by the government. This works to allow certain rights to the Muslim communities such as marriage performed by an Imam.

Here is a picture of a Chinese Muslim woman studying the Qu’ran in the Mosque.

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Christianity is now a recognized religion in China. Christians experienced extreme persecution during the Cultural Revolution, but soon, the government realized that the more they persecuted the Church the stronger it became.

Persecution still occurs in many areas of China, and especially in Western China.

Churches in China are supposed to register with the government. I went to two churches in China, one home church (unregistered) and one international church (registered).

The home church was in a 7th story apartment. We sang hymns in Chinese and studied the Bible. There were maybe 20 Chinese there for the service. The church has been in existence for some ten years. My friend there told me that it is not that dangerous as long as they don’t bother the neighbors or preach in the streets. In other areas of China, it can be very dangerous to be in a house church, and Americans or any non-Chinese would be unable to go to the church because they would risk its exposure to the government.

The international church is set up to be for only international peoples. The church was registered by the government and pastored by my pastor’s brother in law. Unlike the Chinese service, the church service was in English. People from all over the world (including some Chinese (or possibly Taiwanese)) attended the Church. The church meets in a building they rent from the government. And while you may have heard that they were unable to preach the full gospel, I found the church the be genuine and preach the gospel. Chinese people are not supposed to attend a church which is pastored by a non-Chinese per government regulation.

 

Religion is not often talked about in China, yet the Chinese are eager to know about religion and Christianity. Christianity is spreading rapidly in China and has been for many years (despite the government oppression, even during the Cultural Revolution). I had the opportunity to share the gospel with two Chinese girls from my campus and they were fascinated and interested… they were captivated by the idea that God would love them even though they lived in China.

God’s passion is for us all of us, regardless of our ethnicity, political views, or religion. A fire is spreading in China. And God is consuming the attention of people all over the PRC.

Hostels and Beijing

So I made it to Beijing. If you read my previous post you’ll see that my trip to Xi’an didn’t exactly pan out the way I had expected. We took a nice flight from Shanghai to Beijing on Saturday morning. They even fed us a meal on the 1 and 1/2 hour flight. Arriving at Leo Hostel we spent two days in private rooms (the girls in a 3 bedroom and the guys in a 2 bedroom). On Monday we moved out of those rooms and into an 8 bedroom. So far they have not placed any more guests into our rooms, following the Western customs of proximity. (Next time you go into any public place notice how people will place themselves in the space. Such as in public transportation, each person will take their own bench until the car fills and then people will double up. In a restaurant you will not be seated with people who are not in your party because there aren’t enough tables. These things are not entirely true in China. It is more than acceptable to sit with strangers in a restaurant at their table.

Leo Hostel is much nicer than expected. They offer a restaurant, upstairs there are movies, games, computers, and a tv to watch movies, and the front desk is fairly helpful. After trekking with all of our luggage from the airport through the subway on Saturday afternoon we were met by one of the staff members who guided us down some alleys and about a ten minute walk to our hostel.

Valerie and I will be moving out of the hostel on Thursday morning. We’ve had some trouble flagging cabs here in Beijing and we were able to get one today back from the Temple of Heaven late this morning. We now have the number of the cab driver and he told us to call him tomorrow to pick us up on Thursday to take us to the hotel we’re staying at near the airport. At some point I need to buy an extra bag for my stuff. I’ve accumulated a lot of souvinears and gifts over the past month or so and I’m going to have to check a bag on the way home I think. Hopefully I can buy a cheap enough bag and hopefully our cab will not be too expensive. I’ve been praying. I’m glad God has already provided us with a cab, two days prior to our needing it.

The weather has been phenomenal. Our first full day in Beijing was on Sunday. We visited Tienanmen Square, the Forbidden City (which is the ancient palace of the emperor and has over 8000 buildings), Jing Shan (which is a park with a mountain peak which overlooks the Forbidden City), and that evening we went to the Olympic Stadium.

 

Yesterday we spent the day at the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace is a huge sprawl of land surrounding a lake with many gorgeous buildings, a temple, and many gardens.

Today we toured the Temple of Heaven. Many of the temples are surrounded by parks which are patroned by many old people. The Temple of Heaven had whole sidewalks full of old people playing hackysack, women knitting, men playing chess, people dancing, singing in a choir format, and doing taiji.

We also went on an adventure to find the Muslim section of Beijing and managed to find the oldest mosque in China which I think dated back to the 13th century. (I promise I’m getting on that religion post).

Tomorrow we will get up much earlier to go to the Great Wall. I will end China with one of the world’s most renowned monuments. Thursday I will grab some of my last delicious Chinese food, spend the rest of my money, and get ready for my 15 hour journey (MUCH SHORTER THAN THE WAY HERE) home to Kentucky.

 

Until The Whole World Hears

While China is widely considered nonreligious I have actually seen a lot of religion being practiced in Shanghai. I’m savoring a lot of those experiences until after I visit the Muslim quarter in Xi’an next weekend. So be expecting a more detailed post about religion in China. The last two days I’ve visited a Jewish museum, a Buddhist temple, and an global Christian Church.

Attending Church in China was one of my goals for this trip. I’ve spent my whole life hearing about ministry, mission work, and the church in China: everything from the Lottie Moon Christmas offering through the International Missions Board to Gladys Aylward’s ministry to orphans during the second Sino-Japanese war. My first Chinese teacher was a woman from my church who had become a believer when she first came to the United States with her husband.

My second Sunday in Shanghai I went with Christy and we met a Chinese lady at the subway stop. With her we traveled a few stops down and then walked a few streets and arrived at some apartment complexes. On a 7th floor apartment Christy and I worshiped with 2 American businessmen and 15-20 Chinese. The teachings were in Chinese of course. Luckily one lady translated some of it for us. Learning about Babylon and the exile in Chinese is not an easy task (thank God for the Chinese app on my iPhone). We sang traditional hymns in Chinese and listened to a visiting pastor from Hong Kong.

There is something really inspiring about walking into a room full of people who are dedicated to the same thing you are. I hope everyone has had this experience. There is something really incredible about walking into a church because when you enter a true sanctuary it does not matter if the building has a roof, if there are people flooding out the doors, if you watch the pastor on a screen from another room or campus, or a community center in the tall mountains of Bogota, if you’re sitting around a campfire, on the floor of a conference room filled with teenagers, the balcony of a cathedral in New York City, pus, if you’re in a 7th story apartment in Shanghai, or a Chinese church building in Pudong. A place of worship is found in the people and Christ offered a family, a home, and a meaning which was eternal. When people are dedicated to God that is a very true thing.

After about 3 weeks in Shanghai I’ve become familiar with the subway stations, a bit more familiar with the language, and more confident with my ability to navigate a large city. Before I left for Shanghai Pastor Jim Miller and his lovely wife Audrey, gave me contact for her brother and his wife who started a church here in Shanghai. I managed to locate the church which is quite a ways off one of the subway lines in Pudong (across the river). I began to get really excited about going to church this Sunday. I spent about 2 days listening to Air1 and singing at the top of my lungs. I knew this church would feel like home.

I took the Subway from the Jewish historic streets and got off on 云山路。 I began following my walking directions and quickly realized I wasn’t quite sure where I was. There was a mother and daughter who seemed to be staring at me for an unnecessarily long time, so I asked them where Hong Feng Lu was, I tried to clarify their directions and then I continue walking. About one block later I asked some auto repair men for directions, when they didn’t know they took me inside their store and I finally one person had heard of the road. He directed me towards the same direction. I wasn’t sure how far to follow the road so I ask 2 or 3 more times. By this time I was really deep in prayer that God would have me there by 3pm.

Just when it seemed no cab was coming, I managed to flag a taxi Chinese style (without any “hei cabs” the people who aren’t really taxi drivers who often offer rides). I arrived at Abundant Grace at exactly 3pm.

I walked into a gorgeous building with stained glass and a red cross at the front (I found out later is actually owned by the Chinese government and the church rents the building). I had my passport handy, I had no idea if the admittance into the church would be hinge upon my proof of being foreign (technically you are supposed to be foreign to take part in the church because it is run by non-Chinese).

I was surrounded by Chinese, Americans, Australians, Africans, Malaysians, and I’m sure others all worshiping the same God. It was the first time I felt at home here in Shanghai. The Church’s tagline was “Do what Jesus is doing: each of us, every day, everywhere.” Matthew 18:20 says that when two or more are present in Jesus’ name then he is there with us.

When people all have the purpose to worship God their hearts are in line with his heart, so when you meet them you can know very little about them but you immediately recognize their same hope, passion, compassion, struggles, and humility for Jesus. We all have identified ourselves in the same way: as sons and daughters of God the Father. We all recognize the same savior: Jesus, the son, our husband and kinsmen redeemer. We’re all dressed in the same clothes–the same spirit, we all match because we’re all wearing the Holy Spirit and adorned with the heart of worship. We all have the same intercessor, The Spirit. We all have the same High Priest. We all have the same Daddy.

I’m so touched by being part of the family of God. I’m so blessed to be part of the church. That I can feel at home because I worship the same God and my God is in the Appalachian mountains (my “hilly billy roots as Mamaw said”), he’s in Lexington, he’s in Bogota, he’s in Shanghai. And the Spirit of God will dwell in the hearts of anyone who is willing to let him in. The Spirit of God feels a lot like hope, a lot like joy, a lot like peace, a lot like passion…

It’s the passion that makes me sing and dance, it’s like a rush of excitement, like tears and shouts for joy, like a burst of something I can’t explain, like my voice will never be able to project loud enough or strong enough to express what I mean.

I had a short conversation with a Chinese girl I had dinner with last week. She asked about religion in America, she said she saw people in movies going to church and singing and it looked like so much fun. I told her it was. I told her I went to church every Sunday and sang because I love God so much and I love to sing about everything he has done.

And I’ll say I love praising God in churches with no roofs so everyone can hear, I love praising God from 7th story apartments with open windows so everyone can hear, I love praising God in crowded cities so everyone one can hear, I love praising God on Sunday mornings, and listening to the Christian radio stations, and when I’m surrounded by all these other kids he’s adopted…. ADOPTED  as his own kids. I was a slave and he set me free! I was a sinner and Jesus picked me as his bride. I was DEAD and he brought me back to LIFE! This is for real! And I am willing to sing it not just in church, but as the rhythm of my step as I walk down the street. I’m willing to see it in every smile. It’s the hope, it’s the peace, it’s the passion and the joy.

And I will sing until the whole world hears. There is something amazing about realizing how big God is, that it’s so much more than your home church, he is working all over the world, and to experience God in another culture, another language, another way of doing church is incredible. It must have been Brother Andrew’s obsession with attending churches where ever he was, despite the strict laws in place behind the iron curtain. It’s edgy, it’s real, and it’s so much bigger than us. The more I travel, the more people I meet, the more places I see, the more I realize how glorious God is, the more I realize I just can’t fathom how glorious God is.

Place your heart in the hands of the Father, let him clothe you in righteousness and the Holy Spirit, let Jesus put mud on your blind eyes and then wipe it back off. He’s still wiping off my eyes to see all the gifts of our Daddy. What it really means to be part of a family, part of the international GLOBAL church. People are looking for that Utopia, the global village… that’s God’s plan too. To reach the NATIONS. To reach us. In our everyday lives. It seems whenever I’m having a really hard time God sends along a small child who smiles at me… I have to smile back… it’s like a smile from him. Butterflies are like his kisses.

In Chinese the word for soul mate means someone who plays the music of your soul. I want to play the music of his soul… his spirit. I want my heart to feel what his heart feels. I want to hold his hand and walk through life in the Spirit. In fact, I really like the Beatles song “I wanna hold your hand.” I like to sing it to God. Sometimes when I’m scared, I feel the presence of God come around me, I feel him hold my hand.

The passion of Christ was for us. We must have passion for each other… and for him. He is my passion. He is my obsession. He’s my everything. My heart will sing no other name: Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.

请问– I Never Thought I’d Need a Compass

With the exception of a few afternoons most everyday had a legitimate plan of some sort: classes, trips, touring . . . etc. In fact, the first few weeks were so jammed with stuff to do that I didn’t hardly write about my days. Yesterday I faced a free weekend looming over me. It’s a little overwhelming to look at two days with no plans in a city at least double the size of NYC. Some people enjoy exploring the city themselves. Even though I can get around pretty well, I dislike being by myself. The first things I do when I come into my dorm room are turn on all the lights, open the window, turn on the TV and music, then and then re-connect the internet and VPN on my phone and computer. The VPN allows me to use facebook, twitter, youtube, and other websites which are blocked by the government  (including netflix which only works in the US, which I also often turn on, though it takes quite a long time to play anything)

Looking at the logistics of buying train tickets, booking hostels, studying for a final exam, and packing up for a final week of travel plus the free weekend was beginning to feel like more than I could handle. This morning I slept in a bit and then watched some TV. By 10am Valerie and I had decided on going to LongHua Temple off the end of Line 3 on the subway.

I grabbed a little extra money in-case we got lost and needed a cab ride home and we set off to the Yanchang station. Two stops later we were in the Railway Station trying to transfer lines. Both very confused we went to the service desk.  I had exactly the words I needed to say to explain how we were coming from Yanchang and needed to get to line 3 and that we had already paid the fare. Apparently everyone but us knew how the transfer worked and it wasn’t a big deal. She scanned our cards and let us through.

Our destination was quite a few stops away and not in the main area of the city so when we got off the subway and grabbed some drinks a local store the ladies were very fascinated with us. They asked how long we were here for, where we were from, how old we were, I was quite happy to practice my Chinese with them, and they were amused at us.

Our directions told us to get off the Subway, exit out gate 1 and then walk east for 15 minutes. I never knew I’d use that compass app on my iPhone. I will say my Chinese character apps have been priceless.

The Temple was gorgeous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afterwards we stumbled across a memorial for martyrs and explored a history museum for quite a while, trying to recall information from Chinese 331 history and culture class from the Spring semester.

As we were leaving Valerie went into the restroom and I stood waiting by the door. One of the curators or guards asked me to sit down, she talked to me in rapid Chinese but I was pleased to find that I understood almost everything she was telling me.

After a while we bought some food at a street vendor. It may have been a little sketchy, but my steamed dumplings were delicious and the people were so pleased to have us come, we even came back again for seconds.

From the time we left the South Gate and the graduates asked for our picture to the subway home we were surrounded by lots of friendly Chinese who were fascinated and amused by us.

Language learning and entering a new culture has a lot of ups and downs. Today was an up, and I hope that I can continue to use as much Chinese in my final 13 days here. I feel like today was quite an accomplishment on a lot of levels and if I can feel that way about the rest of my time here I’ll be very happy when I get home to Kentucky. I’m so thankful that Jesus gets me through days I expect to be impossible.

He makes everything possible.

 

Cheer: The Modern Wash Day Product

Today is laundry day once more. Laundry day consists of trips to the post office, buying coffee out of the vending machine to get coins for the washer, cleaning, grocery shopping and desperately looking for places to hang my clothes (everyone else appears to be doing laundry as well).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laundry day for many people occurs everyday. There are always many many clothes hanging on hangers outside of buildings, on the street outside family owned restaurants, and hundreds of stories above the road in high-rises.

I love to sight see, I also love to observe life in Shanghai. (You may have noticed this by the sheer number of mundane things that I discuss in these posts–I will spice this one up with some photos.)

Monday afternoon I went exploring a bit after my experience at the post office. I wandered through some streets close to campus. The most fascinating thing that I saw was a market that I’m supposing is where many many Chinese shop. The market was filled with many shops/stalls in a large covered area. They sold everything from roasted sparrows with all their body parts still in-tact, to cucumbers larger than that of a child. Additionally, large cracker-barrels were filled with live crabs, some scorpion like creature,  什么的。 (That’s how you say ‘etc.’)

And speaking of odd animals, being sold on the street I have seen Goldfish in little balls that you carry on a string, crickets in little cages, live fish for butchering, live rabbits, small turtles, and today I saw a woman with a duck in her grocery bag hanging next to her purse. . .  and casually strolling down Yanchang Rd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As far as food goes I would like to have it known that I did try a fish that was infact a whole fish, with bones and eyes still in it, it happened to be fried, which is besides the point. I did try it though. I’ve been getting lots of spring rolls 春专. Coffee is either instant or bottled/canned. And of course all the weird/delicious breads from the Bakery across from the South Gate.

Tonight Valerie and I went down to the Bund, it was absolutely beautiful this evening. The Bund is a German area (built in the early 1900s) with gorgeous European architecture and PRC flags blowing in the fierce wind by the Huangpu River. The river divides Pudong and Shanghai. Similar to Manhattan and New York City. The shopping is similar as well, but the bargaining is much more fantastic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haggling is an art, and I’m not always very good at it. I will say I got a few things that I could have easily found for cheaper, I got totally ripped off for being too ignorant and appearing too excited. There’s a trick to looking about half interested and being willing to lose the deal. A few days ago a few of us went to what we call the 买的东西地方。 Or “The buy stuff place.” It’s a market filled with fake knock-offs of famous things, anything from your Rolex watches and Swatches, to pirated DVDs, to cheap jade and pearls, your fake Jucci Courture, silk, TOMS, and any number of other items. And this place barters. I got a few decent deals, a Qipao (traditional, early Communist Era dress), a pair of fake TOMS (The human rights activist in me is dissapointted in myself), and a really great gift for my little brother which is a surprise and thus must not get to him via web (though I doubt he’d read my blog post). For one particular item I saw, I was mildly interested, so I ask “多少钱?“ “200 Yuan” is the answer. I widen my eyes and stare at him, “too expensive” I say. I name my maximum price as 10, he tells me I’m crazy, so I leave. He chases me down and says 20. I say no. I get it for 10. I have a lot more confidence in my haggling skills now.

I’m hoping to go back down to one particular market on Nanjing Rd. They sold some great items, like Mao’s little red book, lots of pretty chopsticks, tea-sets, jade, pearls, fans, and notebooks with Cultural Revolution Propaganda posters.

I began this post after Calligraphy today when Valerie called and wanted to go down to the Bund. It’s 10pm now and it’s like I’ve gone backwards in time, I’m still sitting, drinking the weird orange juice, typing up blog posts, and trying to get my episode of Glee to load enough to not stop 100x during a song.

All in all it’s been a good day. I hope to use even more Chinese tomorrow. I ought to study, that would improve my level of immersion most-likely. First I’ll go get my laundry, it should be dry now.

Day22 out of day 37. Signing off at 10:11 pm, 5/31, Shanghai, PRC.

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