May 17th

May 17th, besides being my 17th birthday, was the seven-day mark of my coming back from almost three months in China.  This trip was amazing in so many ways, a time of learning, serving, a time of growing closer to God, to the many old friends I met up with again, and new friends I met for the first time while I was there.  In addition, it was the first time I’ve ever lived away from my family.  (And consequently the first time I ever had to learn Beijing street names, call a driver, hail a taxi, order food, do my own grocery shopping, and so much more!)

Goodbye dinner at the Muslim barbecue restaurant on one of my last nights there. Yes, that’s Daddy in the back, he came to pick me up!

One of the most encouraging, definitely-God things that happened to me while I was there occurred right after getting off the plane in Beijing.  Despite daily study in the US, I wasn’t at all sure I would remember how to speak Chinese, at least not well.  However, I found myself able to say anything and everything I needed to say, including words I’m not sure I even reviewed!  Add to that the fact that I hadn’t slept for about 20 hours, and all I can say is “God is good!”.

Since coming back from China, the questions I get asked most are, “What’s next?” and “Will you be going back?”.  In answer to the first question, this August I will be going to Grove City College, where I will be majoring in Special Education.  Will I be going back to China?  Yes, definitely.  God has taught and shown me so many things during the time I was there, one of which is that after college, I am going back (permanently, I think) as a Special Ed teacher.  I hope to go back again sometime between now and then, but I don’t know when.  For now, although it was hard to leave, I’m just glad to be back home.

Winter Memories

Since moving back to sunny South Texas, we haven’t had much in the way of cold weather.  The winter temperatures here are mild, the wind-chill factor unimpressive.  While temperatures like this are certainly far more comfortable than the frigid air of a Beijing winter, Gloria and I were reminiscing happily about the fun we used to have playing in the ice and snow.  Remembering it was such fun that I decided to post it here, on my seldom-used blog.

We lived next to a river in China.  The river was pretty gross normally, but when it snowed it looked beautiful.

We built this snowman right after moving to China, during our first week there.  It was the first time any of us Texas-born kids had seen snow!  (Except for Peter, who went on a trip to Maine with Mommy and Daddy when he was a toddler.)

The picture actually doesn’t show all of the kids who built the snowman.  This was only some of us.  Snowman building is a team effort!  (Especially if you want the snowman to be taller than you, because that bottom ball cannot be moved by only one person.)

Snow-fort building is a team effort, too.  Unfortunately, only one person can get in it at a time — unless you want to get really serious about dragging snow from all over the place to the building site.  This was in 2012.

What do you do when you’ve heard about how sledding is so much fun and want to try it, but lack a snow-covered slope and a sled?  Why, you make use of an old metal dustpan and the ice-covered parking lot, of course!

All snow must be played in, of course, but powder snow doesn’t pack well (unless you have some slush handy, as Elisabeth and I figured out…).  What could you do with it then?

My guess is that you wouldn’t have thought of what the boys did …neither did I… but their solution took the form of a miniature golf course.

And finally, sometimes in the winter we would get to go chair skating on a frozen lake in Houhai.

You could ice skate too, but usually only Gloria did that.  Chairs were more fun anyway.

There are lots more winter memories, but I’ll leave you with these.  Which is your favorite?

Family Pictures

Peter was home from college to visit over the weekend, so on Sunday while we were all dressed up I made him take some pictures of us so you can see how much we’ve Daniel has grown!

Daniel is taller than me now!

Daniel is taller than me now!

I confess the boys were less-than-enthusiastic about it, and only posed because Mommy wanted them to.

I look so tall standing next to Mommy and Gloria!

I look so tall standing next to Mommy and Gloria!

We got a picture of girls and one of the boys…

…but when I tried to get a picture of me and Peter together, this was all I ended up with:

Me being angry at Peter, who refused to smile

Me trying to be angry at Peter for not smiling, but obviously having a hard time not laughing!

And so ended our family pictures.