Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Land of My Dreams

   你们好! (Hello y'all!) Welcome to the story of my Chinese adventure.  I've been here for 2 weeks so far, so I've got plenty to tell you.

I don't have to tell you where this is, but I will tell you that that is my lovely friend Saskia's  face on my shirt. 
   First of all, why I'm here: I was accepted to work at ND for 6 weeks this summer in their company office.  ND is divided into three parts: a foster home (click the link to 'like' the Facebook page - trust me, you'll be glad you did!), a company that manufactures decorative products, and a learning center.  Each is separate, but all are bound by a common Purpose.  

   I've given you the facts, but there's so much more to this lovely place!  It's only been 2 weeks, yet I feel like I'm at home.  So many people come and go, but the atmosphere remains constantly filled with Love and a bright Hopefulness.  Although I've been working on some marketing projects for the company and volunteer services, I have also been blessed to spend some time in the foster home.  Whether I'm just playing with kids outside (the bouncy house they had for a birthday party was a real highlight) or going into the foster home every morning for my one-on-one with a particular little boy (I'll call him Joseph, for the sake of privacy), the joy found in the presence of a child is always there!


   So.  Here are some of the details of my journey so far. I flew into China on May 18 with two lovely friends also committed to work in this lovely nation.  We spent several days touring Beijing and enjoying the culture.  One of my friends has spent a lot of time here and she was a huge help when it came to understanding differences in customs, mindsets, and food.  Side note, the food is glorious.  My favorite is always 炒面 and 饺子 - fried noodles and dumplings.  Anyway, we saw the Great Wall and the Summer Palace, as well as visited a Chinese professor friend's English classroom to talk with the students.  Here's some photo documentation of my first few days!    
The Summer Palace
The Chinese (especially the elderly), love to gather in public places to share in fun!  This gathering was up a hill in the Summer Palace gardens.  We heard drums and singing and made the trek to find a bunch of people simply singing together!  The sign says: Heart to Heart Chorus.  I think I may retire in China.  

The parks around the Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven are so very peaceful.

The Temple of Heaven

The emperor had this stone boat built to remain here as a reminder that he was like a boat on the water that was the people.  The boat's fate depends on the state of the water - keep the people calm with few waves and sailing will be easy.

Remnants of the 2008 Olympics

Makes me think of Sherlock, Season 1, Episode 2 :)

The Pearl Market

The 火锅 (hot pot) restaurant that I and my 2 travel buddies visited for an early birthday celebration treated me well!

This was delicious, despite the little man's frightened face. 


   After a few days with my lovely friends, they dropped me off at ND on Wednesday and I had fun getting to know the volunteer teams and staff before the rest of the Summer Staffers got there to start work on Monday.  I've always dreamed of having some time to myself with absolutely no obligations, but when I had it I felt so lost and useless.  I wandered around finding volunteers who would give me work to do.  Ha! 
   On my birthday, I was overjoyed to return from dinner and a trip to our local Womei supermarket and find everyone gathered in a room with cake!  My first surprise party was such a blessing, especially since I was surrounded by people who I'd known for a total of 2 1/2 days to whom I felt uncomfortable declaring that it was my birthday, causing me to assume that there would be little to no celebration.  I was ok with that, but once someone found out, they made me feel quite special indeed!

The candle was a lotus flower that opened up into multiple candles and played happy birthday on repeat.  My birthday turned into a pseudo Jewish wedding when I ceremoniously crushed the candle with my foot to stop the music.  It took a few tries, but we silenced it eventually.

Some of my dear friends from the Oral Roberts University team!

   If you know me well enough, you'll know that I have dreamed of coming to China for quite a few years now.  In pursuit of that goal, I decided to study Chinese at college, while majoring in International Business.  Being here is almost surreal.  I look back to the many nights I spent asking our Father about direction for my future and, though I'm still just moving forward one step at a time, I feel so very blessed to finally be here.  I don't know where my steps will take me in years to come, but I know that I will hold on to these memories with fondness forever.

Summer Staff team - more stories about our adventures to come!

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