Sunday, December 27, 2015
Saturday, July 4, 2015
Disclaimer: I have tried to be respectful and careful of what is said in this post while remembering where I currently am... please be careful with any comments that you post in response for safety and security reasons! <><
I have been pondering this post for quite some time in light of all that has been going on on the other side of the big blue pond. Thought today would be an excellent time to post my thoughts as today we celebrate our nation's freedom.
Freedom is not free... it cost someone something!
First and foremost... I am an American... home of the free... land of the brave. Many men and women have shed precious blood throughout the past 240 years to produce and maintain these freedoms.
Just to list a few... FREEDOM OF SPEECH (verbal or written). .. FREEDOM TO VOTE...FREEDOM TO PURSUE LIFE, LIBERTY, AND HAPPINESS... FREEDOM TO BEAR ARMS... FREEDOM TO WORSHIP... I may be living overseas but this has only grown my appreciation for the freedoms in my home country.
All of the above mentioned and what I am about to do is not possible or legal in the country I currently reside in! As Americans we need to wake up to the fact that we are being complacent and willingly letting our rights slip out of our fingers. At what point in our history did we become little lap dogs doing what ever people in "authority" told us to do?
As Americans we have the right to speak our minds and put like minded people in office... we have the right to defend ourselves in times of need and not be like sheep being led to slaughter... we have the right to use the brains that our creator put in us to think about given situations and say... wait a minute! You have no right to do that! Yet how many times do we willing give up our rights because someone above us says we should. (Ie... America should ban guns because guns kill people. It is NOT a gun issue... it is a heart issue! )
Question... have you ever lived in a country where guns are illegal? Ever watch someone get stoned to death with rocks... do we need to ban rocks? Ever watch someone get stabbed to death with a knife... do we need to ban knives? Believe you me... it is not a pretty picture. Each situation screams of the depravity of man and the further our nation gets from the principles it was founded on the deeper into the pits of hell we shall go until nothing more is left.
Ok... soapbox time... Our maker , whether you acknowledge Him or not, put certain things in place to protect us and keep us safe as we live with others. We are called to LOVE and sadly the American "believers" are worlds worst at this. This LOVE is not one of acceptance and tolerance but one that says I love you because of who you are... not what you do. This LOVE is not based on conditions... do this and I will love you. It is based on the very character of the one we are to image!
What would happen if we truly LOVED each other with patience... not bashing each other over the head because of our sins but encouraging one another to do what is right based on the maker's principles?
What would happen if we truly LOVED each other with kindness... slow to point the finger at other people's shortcomings but quick to work on our own?
What would happen if we truly LOVED each other with forgiveness... not putting past mistakes on current people but trusting in the present?
Get my drift... we are all a fallen people in need of a savior. None of us are perfect or can do it on our own... it has already been done. The maker of the universe sent his Son... who was perfect to stand in the gap for us so that when the maker looks at us... he doesn't see our sin but the perfection of his son. All we are called to do is believe. This gift wasn't free... it cost the maker's Son his life but ultimately .... the Son conquered death and the grave to make a way for the created to get to the Creator.
Our freedom is not free! Be thankful for those that have given up their lives so that you can be free!
Thursday, June 18, 2015
A couple of weeks ago, the world's largest Disney store opened in Shanghai at the base of the infamous Pearl tower. This is ultimately a precursor of the new Disneyland opening here in Shanghai in 2016. Having always loved the magic of Disney... I thought this was a must see on my trip to Shanghai.
As a cast member, our discounts were limited to certain days and times due to the immense volume of visitors. It just happened that I was there at a time that my discount was valid so we went in for a look. I was a bit disappointed due to the fact that besides phone cases and a few keychains... most of the stuff was geared towards small children... ie dress up clothes and toys. I ended up picking up a couple of small items as gifts and was told they have a much greater selection at Disneyland in Hong Kong which is in the plans to visit next month!
What do you get when you combine a donut and a crossiant?
I had never heard of such a thing...until we saw a poster advertising this amazing creation. So I decided this had to be tried. Ordered a white chocolate oreo cronut and took it back fo Laura's to share after dinner.
It was light and flaky like a crossiant and sweet like a donut. Oddly enough it is "from" New York. How can I be from the same country as this and never had heard of this? What else am I not being told?
So on this quest to accomplish 36 adventures before my 36th birthday on the 24th of July... and my love for dumplings... there was something I just had to do.
I saw listed in things to do in Shanghai this famous dumpling place that is world renowned and now I can see why! I flew into shanghai and due to the delay and the early time I left my house... I was really hungry. Met up with Jessica (a friend from Disney onboarding) and went to lunch at Din Tai Fung where their crab dumplings are delish as well as their wonton soup.
It is a bit pricey but the service and the food were quite amazing! Definitely recommend it! It is located in Xintiandi...in the mall.
One of my all time favorite paintings is Van Gogh's Starry night so when a friend shared that there was a Van gogh exhibit in Shanghai... I was game!
Now I have been to my share of museums but this was by far the best showing of an artists work and life tied together with music and quotes.
These were not the actual pieces but an exhibition that brings the pieces to life by telling Van Gogh's story. The exhibit is set up in a tent in the park in Old Shanghai...off line 10 in Xintiandu and it coast 110RMB to get in. You sit on little cushions in the exhibit hall and images of his artwork are projected on the wall around you. It has the feeling of being in the midst of these paintings as you are surrounded.
If you are around this area ... definitely recommend this exhibit!
Went to Shanghai on tuesday morning... was delayed out of Chengdu due to weather and when we landed ... it looked like we were landing on a lake due to all the standing water. Needless to say both days I was there it was really rainy so we tried to aim for more indoor activities but getting from point A to point B ...it was hard to stay dry.
Unlike Uganda or Haiti... rain or shine people go about their business here so it is just a sea of umbrellas everywhere you go!
Upon return to Chengdu my flight was delayed by 4+ hours putting me back to my apartment at 5am on Thursday morning rather than just after midnight. Thankfully the airport did provide water and crackers and that I did not have to be to work until 1:30 so I was able to get a few hours of sleep.
If you are ever in Shanghai... can I recommend taking the maglev from the airport. For 40RMB or 7$ you can go to Longyeng road and a convienient metro stop in about 8 minutes instead of the hour plus metro ride or even longer cab ride due to the traffic.
The Maglev is a high speed train that goes up to 500km/hour. It was a first time experience and I would happily do it again. Feeds my need for speed!
FYI... when going that fast it is really difficult to take a clear pict of the actual speed!
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
A few weeks ago one of our local staff treated us to a vegetarian dinner and tea tasting down in Wenshu near the monastery. We had such a great time that we decided to go in the daylight to see it all.
There was no entrance fee to get into the area but it is an active monastery for practicing Buddhists so if you go be respectful. Be quiet and don't take pictures in the temples.
We got to witness one of their ceremonies today. Obviously it was all in Chinese but basically they went from one area to another saying their prayers I guess and burning incense in the different areas that have shrines set up for different buddhas.
Roaming the streets of Chengdu... allows for some secret treasures to be found.
A friend and I took the bus down to Wenshu Monastery (where we had the vegetarian dinner a few weeks ago) to explore in the daylight. Outside the monastery are all of these side streets filled with little kiosks selling everything from prayer beads to childrens toys... to good luck charms and clothing.
Seldom do I purchase anything unless I have my local learning partner with me to assist with the price, but I enjoy browsing or "window" shopping. Today was no different... didn't buy a single item but spent a lot of time perusing the wares!
While roaming through the tea section at the market today... I discovered something that I thought looked interesting and that I needed to try.
So for 10.90RMB I bought this bag of individual sachets labeled "flowers story". With red being my favorite color... I choose this bag to try even though they had many others to choose from.
Random guess but I think each color represents a different flower that are inside the sachets.
So I took a packet to work this evening... dumped the sachet in my bottle and added hot water. I think there were chrysanthemums...dried plums...rose hips...green tea... and sugar cubes in the sachet. Once it steeped... it was quite tasty to drink.
Just a word to the wise... when drinking a loose mixture like the above mentioned... it is really nice to have a filter or strainer on your drinking bottle!
This is a dragon fruit.
I have no clue where the name came from or the history behind this fruit. Oddly... I don't even know how it grows. But I see my learning partners eating it in the treehouse quite often and they use it as a cake topping.... so I thought I needed to try it.
So for about 6 RMB.... or a little less than 1$ I picked one up at the market. The outside is kind of soft and an interesting purplish pink. It is easy to cut into and sweet to the taste.
I like it! You should try it!
Monday, June 8, 2015
Yes... I realize that it is Monday in the US at the moment but it is the end of my official work week..so it is my friday. ( I work Thursday through Monday... and my weekend is Tuesday and Wednesday.)
I have made some decisions today after a couple of frustrating and taxing weeks at work....
1. I am going to count my blessings and look on the bright side even when things get a bit crazy...
2. Along those lines I am not going to listen to the negativity and I am going to encourage those around me to speak positive encouraging words ...
3.I am here to invest in these children and I am going to spend my time and energy loving on them and building relationships with them and their families (because people are the only thing that have eternal value!)...
4. We are not promised tomorrow... so I am going to take every opportunity to enjoy where I currently am.
I know I am very limited to what I can say here but I want to thank those like minded friends that post encouraging messages on fb feeds or send uplifting quotes or stand in the gap for me. You will never truly onow how much I appreciate your lovingkindness and even though you are a half a world away.... I am encouraged to have you in my life!
On a side note... my tickets to Shanghai are booked for next week and I am so looking forward to a weekend getaway and checking a couple more items off my birthday bucket list.
Saturday, June 6, 2015
Before moving to Chengdu I saw this amazing picture on Pinterest of this bamboo lined pathway in China. Of course I pinned it thinking... that would be fun to see and walk through.
Imagine my surprise when in some of my random wanderings lately... I discovered it just a couple of kilometers from my apartment. Still surreal that these place do exist and they are so close to where I live!
More adventures to come soon!
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Life is much better... down where its wetter... under the sea!
About a hour and a half bus ride from my apartment is a little area known as Polar Ocean World where you can spend some time with the fishies and other water loving creatures!
Braving over cast... rainy weather,.. Helen and I boarded city bus 801 to explore. We got there just in time to see the dolphin and beluga whale show. The excitement in the dolphin pool before they were about to go on was hilarious to watch!
We then walked around to all the other areas watching the animals play or take naps. These creatures are magnificient and to see them up close is amazing! I think I could sit and watch sea life... especially the turtles... swim through the water all day. Reminds me of Hawaii!
Monday, June 1, 2015
Working for Disney... there are definitely perks!
One is events in local shopping center where we partner with other parts of the company for the "greater good". Today all staff were asked to go to Raffles to celebrate Children's day with Marvel and the other Disney English center... which means for a couple of hours we invite children to particpate in learning activites and songs on stage. We also get to hang out with other foreign and local staff that work for Disney!
Another perk is providing us with attire to match the recent movies. China only allows so many foreign movies to come in each year so when a movie is allowed in ... it is definitely marketed well! So instead of our normal uniforms... we were able to wear jeans, tennis shoes, and our new black Avenger shirt featuring Iron Man today to the event as well as to classes this evening. We also have a white Avengers shirt featuring Captain America.
The third perk of the day is a movie ticket to see the featured movie. We were given a ticket to see Avengers a week or so ago so after work today a couple of our local staff graciously assisted us in finding an English showing and a nearby theatre. (Oh the joys of living in a foreign land!) Six of us hailed cabs and went to a 10pm showing. Enjoyed the movie but I don't think it translated into Chinese very well. During certain funny parts... like the reproducing Catholic rabbits comment... the only people in the whole theater laughing were the 4 foreigners...which made it even more comical!
Now it is 1am and I am officially done ...and curled up in bed posting picts of the days adventures of trying to live intentionally in Middle Kingdom! Tomorrow... my day off... so stay tuned for more great adventures...
Sunday, May 31, 2015
What shall I do to celebrate #36?
For several years, I have tried to set up adventures to celebrate each passing year. Whether it has been rock climbing.... hiking to a waterfall... going swimming with turtles...or exploring the world's largest open air shopping mall... I have tried to live intentionally with friends!
This year I have to work on my birthday and the weekend that follows so an idea hit me that sounded like fun...
Starting June 1st (that is today) until the end of July (the 24th is the actual big day! ) the goal is to have at least 36 amazingly awesome adventures! Now honestly I have been to some incredible places as of late but the goal is to be intentional... use my time wisely... have some fun... try something new... and spend some time with the people in my life.
Here is the birthday bucket list... may slightly change!
1. Polar ocean world
2. Spend time outside the classroom with some of my learners and their families
3. Visit wide and narrow pedestrian street
4. Buy a white pair of shoes and doodle on them (original bucket list item)
5. Star Wars Movie marathon
6. Learn 5 more new Mandarin words
7. Try a new tea
8. Explore a new street market
9. Visit the Magical Forest
10. Play at the water park
11. Go ice skating
12. Try a new food
13. Sunbathe on the tropical beaches of Hainan
16. Walk the Ave of the Stars
17. View the skyline of HK
18. Lantau Island
19. Hong Kong
20. Get my nails done
21. Have a massage
22. Random act of kindness
23. Walk through Bamboo path
24. Eat dumplings at Old Town Shanghai Dumplings
25. Shop at the worlds largest Disney store (Shanghai)
26. Eat a dragon fruit
27. Volunteer at an orphanage
28. Play twister
29. Aqua lake (Victoria Harbor)
30. Read a new book
31. Qingcheng mountain
32. Celebrate Dragon boat festival
33. Learn to order water in Chinese
34. See Avengers
35. Try a new drink
36. go to KTV
Additional ideas... visit Lindsay in Nanjing... while there see the Youth olympic center...swim with dolphins...do something kind for my coworkers... bake a sweet treat to share...post 3 new blogs... complete 2 chapters in the book I am writing... bungy jump off Macau Tower? Ok maybe not!
Stay tuned as the adventure begins and feel free to join me on the adventure if you are able or suggest more ideas! Here is to 35 going our with a bang and bring 36 in with a myriad of great adventures!
Monday, May 18, 2015
And I am not referring to the book by the same title!
A day or two ago one of our learning partners (LP) stopped by my classroom to get some assistance on grammar. Not sure what she was working on but the two sentences/questions were...
Are you Swedish? Or Are you a Swedish?
After having a two minute grammar lesson and correcting the second sentence to Are you a Swede?... the LP walked out and left me with the realization that a year ago... almost to the day... I was in Sweden visiting some pretty awesome Swedes!
This realization snowballed with the fact that ... that was ONLY a year ago! So much has happened in my life in the past year that it boggles my mind. Then when I take a step back and think that this year is only a mere wrinkle in my life already spent on this earth ... I am blown away at how much I have been allowed to experience in my time thus far on this planet called earth.
In the past year I have lived on three different continents in 3 different countries.... I have been to numerous other countries... states... cities... and provinces. I have picked up bits and bobs of more languages that I never really know what is going to come out of my mouth when I speak. I have shared my story and built relationships with many ethnic and people groups in the midst of my journey. I have been blessed by friends and family that have stayed by my side and supported my decisions and endeavors even when there were a lot of unknowns... they have been there to rejoice when I completed my master's... they have been there to comfort when I spent another Christmas by myself... they have been there to call me out when I needed to be put back in line.
Friends are what makes this journey through life enjoyable. People are the only things that have eternal value. How are you investing your time, talent, and treasure in those around you today? Relationships matter and even though sometimes they are painful ... people are worth your investment!
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
I once heard a poem by this title and it recently came back to me and made me ponder...
Am I doing the best I can with the time allotted?
We don't know our time here... for some the time on this planet is just hours while others get 100+ years...
If tomorrow starts without me, would this world be any different for me having lived in it? Would people realize I was no longer here? Would there be things left unsaid? Would there be things left undone? Would people in my life wonder where I stood? Or what they meant to me?
Did I say "I love you" enough?
Did I show my appreciation for those that came alongside and assisted in this journey?
Have I done all I could with what resources I had?
Could I have given more of my time... my energy... my heart... or my finances?
Would there be a list of should've... would've... could've's...or things on my bucket list undone?
Have I listened enough?
Have I given enough hugs?
Have I trusted enough?
Have I told others how I truly feel?
Have I said 'I love you!' Enough?
If tomorrow started without me... would I be missed?
It is a few days before valentine's day... a holiday I have loved since I was a little girl due to what it stands for. I guess a year or so ago I thought this would be the day I would be getting my dream come true... the chance to be a wife with the hopes of becoming a mother. I always thought it would be ideal to get married on the 14th of February and since in the year 2015 it fell on Saturday.... I thought it was destined to happen.
Then choices were made... I chose to move to the other side of the world... he chose to not stay in contact...I chose to hold out hope and make excuses... he chose to find another girl closer to home... so I moved again.
In the process of moving on... two worlds collided... setting me on a course to find a man who loves me for me. Unfortunately old habits die hard... walls are put up...trust issues from the past are put on non-suspecting innocent by standers... and any one who wants a commitment is pushed away.
Will I ever find someone that loves me for me... even with all my insecurities... even with all my flaws and faults... even with just being me? I know we are all imperfect people just trying to make relationships work. Relationships... whether friends... family... or more... all take work. It takes both parties laying down their issues and fears and saying I love you inspite of our differences.
The list of ideal qualities in my ideal husband was tossed into the wind a long time ago and I am realizing that I have a lot of things to work on personally before I can expect anything from anyone else. The more I learn about myself the more I realize how far I have to go. So I am letting go of the ideal... concentrating on today... and trusting that my divine creator has a perfect purpose and plan for me.
Sunday, April 5, 2015
Several people have commented in recent months that I am so lucky/blessed to be able to travel and I realized I guess I am... however this is my life.... this is my normal.
I have made choices on this journey through life and because of those choices... I have had some awesome opportunites to explore this world... but I would like to say... IT HAS BEEN MY CHOICE. And I have given up some things to travel this not so normal road.
You too can set up a life of adventure by following a few simple steps...
1. Follow your passion. I made a commitment a long time ago to follow my Creator wherever He led. Being the gentleman that He is... I have had the choice to listen to that small quiet voice or listen to the clatter of the world telling me... use your time, talent, and treasure for yourself. My time, talent, and treasure have been multiplied because I am not doing it for my gain.
2. Be intentional. What do you want to do? Make a list... nothing is off limits or too far out of reach. Some might be harder to achieve but that is where the next item comes into place. Make this an ongoing growing list... it can be things you want to see... places you want to travel... experiences you desire... (see my 100 things to do... and 100 more things to do lists on this blog)
3. Kick in the creativity. We are all given 24 hours as a gift each day. How do we spend our time? Do we spend our days slaving away to earn extra money to buy the kiddos more stuff? How about using a day or two and spend some time creating experiences with those you love? Now I know you are pobably thinking ... but I can't just take off a day or two to go see the pyramids... or the eiffel tower... or the great wall.... oh but could you see what fun adventures lie within a hour or two drive or flight from your house? Have you gone to the sites like the battlefields... or Yosemite... or Nigara falls? Granted I know these trips are easier as a single person but I do have responsibilites. Maybe instead of a once a month weekend trip... for a family plan a weekend trip hiking in the mountains... or boating at the lake... or camping at the beach. Life is full of adventures and it is the memories that will last a lifetime.
4. Make friends. Most of my connections worldwide are friends or friends of friends that have quickly become friends. I don't do the whole tourist thing well... when I travel I like to look at it as a time to fellowship with and encourage friends. This has increased my international friend group which just allows for more opportunities.
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Chengdu is known for being the home of China's national treasure... the pandas. There are two types of pandas... the Giant Pandas which are big black and white and then there are the red pandas which look like a mix between a fox and a raccoon.
A coworker and his family invited a few of us from work to go to the panda sanctuary. It was about a 2 hour ride on the bus system and then a fun filled day. We left Hongpailou at 8am aswe wanted to get to the pandas before they ate and went to sleep. Rubens children were so excited for the excursion that they were literally bouncing the entire bus ride. Seeing the excitement from the eyes of the children brought a new excitement to the entire outing andit reminded me how muchI enjoy travelling with children.
An added perk of the day was when one of the red pandas came out of its enclosed area and came walking right up to us allowing us the opportunity to pet it.
After my last post on being so frozen... I am headed to a place today where the temperatures are well below zero... I am talking -29 degrees cold. Ayeyayah!
Before I moved to China a friend said that I must go see the ice and snow sculptures in Harbin in January. With trying to live intententionally and not put off things... a friend and I at work were talking about this and we decided to use one of our weekends and head to Harbin on an adventure.
So the weekend has arrived. With the current job my weekend schedule is Tuesday and Wednesday which makes travel and almost anything else easier with being the middle of the week and not having to fight with 14 million other people on the typical weekend to get anything done.
Met up with Helen at 5:30am outside of our apartments and caught a taxi to the airport. At this time of the morning there were few people on the road but quite a few at the airport. Currently I am sitting in the holding area catching up on my blog and clearing pictures from my camera.
Stay tuned on more adventures from Harbin...
"The cold never bothered me anyway"... I would be lying if I said that the cold never bothered me as I really enjoy the warm weather.
It is in the single digits here in Chengdu and that is probably the same inside my apartment as well as outside. As I sit here blogging... I am under two blankets with two layers of clothing... plus my heavy coat and ear muffs watching my breath make little white puffs every time I exhale.
Ok... it is freezing and this Hawaii girl is not a big fan of the cold. It is winter in China... understandable... but having the power out makes for a very cold day/evening when you live in an apartment where the only allowed fire is on the cook stove.
I woke up a little before 9 this morning to the sound of the heater going off which is startling because it is set on a temperature that it will never reach (the only way I can get warm air blowing out.) Anyway... I thought maybe the electricity card that Chris left had less money on it than he thought so I got dressed and went down to the local convenient store to add money to only find that they were out of power as well.
Went back up to my apartment to get ready for work. Walked the 5 minutes to work to find that the entire block was out of electricity. The staff at work decorated theclubhouse for chinese new year but classes had to be cancelled as there are no windows in the classrooms for natural light and all of our curriculum is based on the computer and the interactive whiteboard. So instead of working until 9pm... I was back in my freezing apartment by 5pm with classes rescheduled for Sunday evening.
The electricity did come back on around 11:30pm so life was back to normal but it got me thinking about being self sustainable and living in an apartment.
Finally had enough with excuses today and I did something about it...
one of my 6 year old boys ran across the classroom not once... not twice... but three times in a 2 hour class and started punching another child. Each time I separated them and talked to the child about hitting.
After class I talk to the dad about the child's behavior and asked that he talk to the child at home about his behavior because if it happens again, it is a threat to the other children... and he will be removed from my classroom.
Dad's first excuse... the child doesn't understand... so I calmly explain that he was told in his 1st and 2nd language to be kind and hitting is not kind.
Dad then says... the child wouldn't have acted that way in class if mom was picking him up... to which I responded... I don't want excuses! I want you to tell your child he can't hit because if it happens again I will be calling you to come and get him and he will not be welcome back in my class.
At this point it looks like another excuse is about to pop out... so I very sternly told the dad... No excuses... talk to your son and take responsibility!
I am living in a society where no one takes responsibility and it is always someone else's fault.