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Hi friends! A belated Merry Christmas to everyone! OR as Costa Coffee here in China would say…

It’s been so long since I last updated I doubt people still read my blog, but alas, I’m trying to get back into the swing of updating. I’m currently on a week-long Christmas break, so I don’t go back to teaching until this next Monday. One of my goals during this break was to update my blog. I’d gotten fairly overwhelmed about how long it had been since I last updated, which made me not want to update because there are simply just too many details… but it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m picking up from now (with bits and pieces of the last 6 months or so)!

Here’s a bullet-point quick update of my life:

  • I am enjoying life in Beijing and have thoroughly loved seeing the seasons change as well as celebrating all the holidays with everyone here!
  • I live in a one-bedroom apartment in a neighborhood across from our organization’s headquarters here in Beijing — it’s roach-infested and the heat isn’t that great, but it’s slowly become home.
  • There is a crazy pants-less man who lives right underneath me who yells/screams/hollers/laughs hysterically by himself at any given time (middle of the nights included).
  • I teach my organization’s staff children. They are all TCKs (Third Culture Kids). And I also tutor Chinese kindergarteners in English once a week.
  • For this 3rd year in China, transition from being a teacher to Chinese university students to American 4th and 5th graders was not as easy as I thought it was going to be, but I’ve been thankful for the opportunities of growth.
  • Jonathan (the boyfriend) and I are doing well. We just celebrated our 9 Month Anniversary on Christmas Day.
  • I chopped off about 8 inches of hair recently, so the curls are gone and a spunky above-the-shoulder do is in place now.
  • I have just 2 more semesters of grad school left (2 weeks in Thailand in January 2012 and a month or so at Wheaton during Summer 2012), and I’ll have a Master’s Degree!!
  • Though I haven’t been directly involved with Chinese students this semester, it’s been amazing (and difficult at times) to be “behind-the-scenes” of our organization to see how the Father is moving in people’s lives and in this vast country of China as well as in the world!

More updates to come, I promise :) Until then, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Fickle

Before last week, it had been raining non-stop in Harbin for about 1 1/2 weeks. Such weather ensues a gloomy, dreary, and even cranky attitude and mood in people like me who abhor the rain and adore sunshine. I did not like it one bit. However, this past Tuesday (May 10th), the looming clouds rolled away and out appeared what I have always loved about Harbin — I shot this while I was journaling outside after lunch:

And just like that, at the sight of the beautiful sky, my mood instantly changed to happy, cheery, and even giddy. Fickle.

The nice weather lasted for less than 2 days… On Thursday morning (May 12th), I awoke to open my bedroom curtains only to be extremely confused as to why this was the sight that I saw — the picture was taken around 8:30 am:

I quickly went online to see what the deal was. I remembered that just the day before in Beijing people were saying there was unusually a lot of dust and smog. On China Daily’s website, I read the article Heavy sandstorm hits Inner Mongolia. Then I looked at my desktop weather widget, and it read “Widespread dust.” The sandstorm had migrated and moved its way to Harbin, and it sunk in my head finally that this was the reason why it looked yellow/hazy/gross outside… So as you would expect, though not in response to rain, my mood changed back to gloomy, dreary, and even cranky. Fickle.

In the days following, the sandstorm cleared out, bits of rain came and also went, and Harbin eventually (hopefully) returned to normal. All good, right? Well, yes, but not really. I realized this fickleness, in response to the weather and such, was really affecting my spirit and how I was dealing with circumstances/people. I had to verbally read out loud the Father’s promises and truths over the course of the past week. One passage that Jonathan encouraged me with strengthened me a lot more than I realized [from Ephesians 3:14-21]:

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

This was Paul’s prayer to the church in Ephesus, and I love how he encourages them! The Father strengthens us, His Spirit dwells within us, and He will do much more than we’ll ever know! What great promises :) Such words eases the fickleness in me away.

Anyway, because I shared about the sandstorm above, I thought I’d also share something crazy I did on that day:


“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
– Anne Bradstreet

Me & my teammates on Christmas Eve 2010

Literally freezing at Harbin's Ice Festival (Jan. '11)

“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.”

Taken on May 9, 2011

Taken on May 9, 2011

“Listen, can you hear it? Spring’s sweet cantata. The strains of grass pushing through the snow. The song of buds swelling on the vine. The tender timpani of a baby robin’s heart. Spring.”
– Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider

어머님께 ♥

With Mother’s Day being celebrated around the world today, I wanted to dedicate a post to my Mom and honor her (though she’ll probably never read this) :)

For those of you who have never had the privilege of meeting her, let me briefly describe her for you… Her name is Mee Kyung or Margaret. Her old customers used to call her “Maggie” for short :) She is definitely an average traditional Korean mother with a fierce strictness and disciplinary ways, kind of like the “Tiger Mom” that was all the rage recently. But she is also the kindest and sweetest soul you’ll ever meet — I guess all children can say this about their mothers, but this statement is so true of my Mom. She possesses a sacrificial love that makes my heart ache and joyful all at once. My heart aches because she gave up everything, her entire life in South Korea and immigrated to America in 1985 for a better future and for the sake of her future children (me and my younger sister, Katherine). But then my heart is joyful because I have been so so so loved by my Mom. I have learned much from her character and personality. She has gone through many trials and tribulations in life but has had the ability to smile, laugh, persevere, and depend on God wholeheartedly in the midst of it all. When I think of all that she has gone through, I’m amazed. Utterly, utterly amazed. She is the strongest woman that I know. I love her with everything that is in me, and I hope to be an incredible mom like her to my own children.

She turned 53 this year, but she is still so young at heart ♥

If you’re ever in Asia, you will most certainly find words, phrases, and even sentences written with all sorts of spellings and word orders that make an average standard English speaker/reader giggle and laugh. In China, particularly, there are even China-wide known “Chinglish” phrases that students will all use. Here are some examples:

Good good study day day up. — You should study hard every day.
I will give you some color to see. — You just offended me.
You ask me? Me ask who? — I don’t know.

Last weekend during May Holiday (Labor Day), I was trying to convince my boyfriend, Jonathan, to buy some cutesy couple t-shirts (which he firmly refused to buy and wear), and we saw these gems:

So many times, I find myself chuckling when interacting with students or when I’m simply running errands in the city…but then there are times when these “Chinglish” ways are so heart-warming and make me love being in China. I got the following text message from a dear student of mine a couple of days ago (I copied it verbatim):

Jenn, did you feel lonely sometimes? When you at home alone, you must miss your family and friends, didn’t you? When you came down and looked at the twilight,you must want to stay with your family,did’t you? I am sorry to realize this problem so late.To stay at a strange city must be difficult to mind. I am sorry that we have not company with you well. We should company with you better to let you feel at home. Needless to say,I am at your beside.

All the girls above are so special to me. They are some of my sophomore English major girls, and they started anew with me in Harbin — me as a complete newbie American trying to adjust to China and them as wee little freshmen. The one who sent the text message is to my right in the pink sweater and big glasses. She has always been a total sweetheart to me. When I first got to China almost 2 years ago now, she was actually the first student to ever present me with a gift – she got me a gift box of mooncakes for Moon Cake Festival and sympathized with me for being so far away from home/America.

There are just 2 months left of my time in Harbin. This city and all the people/students that I’ve interacted with have burrowed themselves deep in my heart. The Father has shown me time and time again how much He loves each and every one of them; in turn, I’ve grown to love them in the same way. It will definitely be hard to leave come June :(

“It’s Worth It”

Hi everyone! I know I’m WAY overdue for an update. I often forget about my blog if I haven’t updated in awhile, and that was the case this past summer and as I headed back to China for my 2nd year. As you can imagine, settling back in, starting to teach again, getting thrown curve balls here and there, etc. all have made things a little crazy to sit down to update with a substantial entry for you all! Ah, such is life :)

I promise to update later, but I wanted to first show y’all this poem. It was written by a 15-year-old. She and her family are also with ELIC, and they live in Ningxia. Her poem succinctly summarizes something that resonated in my heart and mind as I was in the States sharing with my friends, family, and supporters.

It’s all worth it when you realize that life is all about Him and His plan, not about you and yours.

It’s worth it when you’re in the middle of nowhere out of your comfort zone and homesick.
It’s worth it when you have to leave your best friends and the people who know you best to a place where no one speaks your language.
It’s worth it when the plans you had for your life don’t work out because He has better plans for you.
It’s worth all the hurt.
It’s worth all the tears.
It’s worth all the pain.
It’s worth not having the materialistic things.
It’s worth all the plane rides.
It’s worth not getting to see your cousins and friends grow up.
It’s worth not having air conditioning.
It’s worth being in a different time zone.
It’s worth not being able to go to the concerts or events you want.
It’s worth being made to eat ridiculous foods.
It’s worth the nasty squatty potties.
It’s worth not having the kind of fellowship others have.
It’s worth not having water sometimes.
It’s worth the struggle of communication.
It’s worth leaving everyone and everywhere you get attached to.
It’s worth crying every time you tell your story because it hurts to think about.
It’s worth not knowing where home is.
It’s worth not being able to drive.
It’s worth not being able to go to McDonalds and get a burger.
It’s worth people staring at me and touching my hair anytime I go anywhere.
It’s worth the never-ending car rides.
It’s worth not being able to see, touch, or hang out with my best friends.
It’s worth being known as the foreigner or the one that’s different.
He is all worth it.

My wordly desires do not at all compare.
“Don’t be discouraged, don’t lose heart. I have come before you. Follow me.”

I’m proud to say that ELIC’s blessed with some very talented people! Below you’ll find 3 videos that were made recently by some of my friends and fellow teachers. I hope you enjoy them :)

This video features Dan Browne & Scott Semanski (Changchun teachers) — they are two musically talented brothers who like to play around and record fun songs that they write! This song in particular gained a lot of popularity amongst all of us, so they decided to make a music video!

The next 2 are made by Matt Mills (a fellow Harbin teacher) — his school’s campus is about 40-45 minutes by bus from my campus.

http://vimeo.com/12050122