Saturday, December 19, 2009
I have several posts working in my head right now, so be on the lookout for them! Wo ai ni!!!!
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I just wanted to let you know that I am still alive and China is still wonderful. I am slightly sick, but all is well. The session finishes up this Saturday. It has been really good so far! I have my own class and it has really been wonderful. We are on break next week, so I am working on a few posts for then! Hope all is well with you, and you truly have a happy thanksgiving, and take time to think of everything you are thankful for! I know that I am thankful for each of you and all of the love, support, and prayers you have given me through this journey!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
It was such a wonderful time! We split up so that we were able to visit as many children as possible. Many of the children were at school, but there were about 5 children when we went into one of the houses, so we each took one and started playing with them. The first little boy I had was Jacob. He is about 2 years old and is absolutely adorable. I tickled him, and we read together, and played, and most of all laughed. When I first tried to pick up one of the babies, because he was playing with his own toy, he wouldn’t let me and ran back into my lap. This broke my heart, but also made me smile, because for this one moment I could give all of my love to this precious little boy, who I was told many people have shown interest in adopting, but his orphanage is not getting his paperwork through. Later, he went downstairs with one of the nannies so I was able to hold a precious little girl who was probably around 6 months old. She had the biggest eyes that looked everywhere, and a beautiful smile. After about 20 minutes she fell asleep in my arms and I let her stay there, thinking to myself that the times she is able to sleep in someone’s arms may be very few and far between, and it was such a privilege for me to give this gift to her. Throughout the whole experience, Kristen was always in my mind, and I prayed that each and everyone of those children will find their forever home soon, and it will be as wonderful as hers.
We sadly left the children and met back up. By this time it had gotten really really foggy, so we headed in the van and said a prayer that we would make it back safely. We traveled for about 3 minutes before the driver stopped, and tried to talk to us. We called one of the Chinese staff, and through translation found out that we really should stay the night because we couldn’t see 2 feet in front of us. So, we headed back to the orphanage, where they had a guesthouse for volunteers and we were able to stay there. We got settled in and then walked down the block to eat. We ended up having a huge and delicious meal!
The next morning we got ready and left by 9:00. It was still a little foggy, but definitely drivable. However, when we got to the entrance ramp for the highway we were greeted by the red x’s and the barricades being down. We were not really sure what was happening, or when we would be able to get through, but this was the only way home. After about an hour we were all hungry so we talked to our driver and we went to a little town right off of the exit that one of the waiting truck drivers told him about. We bought pastries and juice from a tiny grocery store and I couldn’t help but laugh to myself as we ate them in the van as this was something I never pictured myself doing! We made our way back to the ramp, and got back in our place at the front of the line. And we proceeded to wait, and wait, and wait. We ended up waiting for 5 hours to get on the highway. In that time the fog had cleared, but was starting to come back in. We arrived back at campus almost 24 hours after we originally intended to tired and hungry, but fulfilled.
Overall, it was an amazing adventure that I am soooo glad I was able to be a part of. I not only got to know some of my teammates much better, I also made a small difference in some of my Fathers childrens lives. After the trip some of us were talking about how we are all really orphans until God adopts us into His family. This thought really resonated with me and makes it that much more important for me to be a light in this world, so more orphans, young and old will be adopted by our loving Father.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
My first session is over. It was busy, crazy, wonderful, frustrating, draining, and everything else, but all in all I really enjoyed it. At the end of the session, Kyle (who I co-facilitated with) and I were talking and said no matter what happens during the session, at the end the students are always happy, always thankful, and it is always an awesome experience. I think that really sums everything up, not only for the session, but also for life. When everything is said and done, and you are able to look back on things, it is good.
One of my biggest questions when I was planning to come to China was why did God want me to spend a year in China when He so directly led me into special education. I didn't doubt that His plan was best, and He knew what He was doing, but it was definitely a question that often floated through my mind. When I arrived in China the question was still there, but I knew I had to wait patiently before I could find any of the answers. So far this question has been answered in awesome ways. The first came my second week here when I was eating lunch with two of my teammates at a restaurant right outside of campus that we call Muslim 1. We had ordered our food and were just enjoying the conversation between the three us of when a big group of college age students walked in. At first we thought nothing of it, and as they began to sit down it was apparent that there were not enough seats so we let one of them sit at our table since we had an extra chair. It ended up that the entire group was deaf. The most amazing time followed, where we communicated with body language and written words as the student was translating from sign language to Chinese to English. He was a dancer in college, and had such a joy and passion for life. I walked back to campus when we finished thankful, and assured that He really does have the perfect plan in mind for me. The next moment came at church this past Sunday. I sang with a few other teammates as part of the worship team, and then we all sat down to listen to the sermon. It was about how Ruth was committed to Naomi because she loved her and wanted the best for her. The sermon ended with a video clip about Team Hoyt. If you haven't heard about them it is a father son team that complete marathons and triathlons together. The thing is, the son has cerebral palsy and can not walk on his own, so he rides along with his father as he swims, runs, and bikes. Go to their website to watch the video about them....you won't regret it! (http://www.teamhoyt.com/) I had heard of their story many times before, but it touched me in a new way on Sunday, and was another gift from the Lord. After the sermon a guest speaker from America spoke and told how this story touched her. She had a friend who had a daughter with cerebral palsy, and to make a long story short, because of this precious child she is now a Christian. This made me so thankful that I have the privilege to teach these children, and I know because of this experience in China I will be a better teacher for them. The culminating event (for now :) ) will be this Friday when some of us are going to visit an orphanage for disabled children who are waiting to be adopted. I am so excited about this experience, not only because of my special ed background, but also because these are children just like Kristen, and the opportunity to play with them and love on them is something that I hope she experienced when she was in an orphanage, so the precious hours I will be able to spend with these children is something I am overly excited about!
We had a team Halloween party on Saturday night. It was kind of a last minute thing, so people through together costumes using pretty much whatever they had, or buying a few things here and there. It ended up being so much fun! I went as an 80's workout person, and several others went as various 80's figures. It was such a fun time to spend with everyone. I really have been blessed here so far by having some really great friends already. It makes things so much better and so much more fun! Then last night we all went to an AWESOME pizza place for one of the girls birthdays. It was also a super fun time of relaxation and fellowship. After a huge dinner we went to KTV. Chinese people LOVE karaoke, and there are KTV's all over. It was pretty crazy, but a lot of fun too and we all laughed a lot!
I'm still trying to figure out how to post pics in my blog (cam put the other ones on for me) but here is the link to my Picasa album which I think works :) http://picasaweb.google.com/a.b.twarek . I just put a picture of my class, one of my class after a body part labeling game we played, and a few from the Halloween party on it so I hope it works and maybe some day I'll figure out how to do this through all the confusion Chinese internet causes!
I just want to again say thank you so much to everyone who has been praying for me and for sending me encouraging e-mails! Please never underestimate the power of your prayers and encouragement, and just how much is helps me get through each day. Paul continuously thanked his supporters for their letters and prayers, and know that I will be continually thankful for each of you! And, to be more specific, please pray for this upcoming session, that He will find ways to work through each of the teammates, that we will have the strength for each day, and that everything we say and do glorifies Him!
Monday, October 26, 2009
I also love my students. Even though they are all older than me, many in their 30’s and 40’s I find myself referring to them as my kids. They are all super sweet and so many of them are so eager to learn. Yes, they are getting tired from the rigorous program, it makes me tired too J, but they can always make me smile or laugh at the end of the day. Each week they write journals and it is so nice to read them, as they give us more of an insight into their lives and helps us get to know them better. We are able to do really fun activities with them. I am going to try to include some pictures of the day we had them work on body parts. We had a race where they had to label as many body parts as they could in 5 minutes on one of their group members. Needless to say, it was hilarious! We try to make everything as student centered as possible because the Chinese education system is not at all, and this is one way we can slowly change the system since out students are teachers and will hopefully go back and use some of the new methods they learned. This is the last week of the session, so it will continue to be busy…but I know that I will miss them when they are gone. It will be a lot of fun to celebrate with them at the end of the session and see how far they have come!
We have a break after the session ends, which I am very excited for! I really don’t have any big plans, just relaxing and probably going to a few places around Beijing. Hopefully a few of us are going to be able to go to an orphanage an hour or so away to spend a day loving on the kids there!
Saturday, October 17, 2009
We started the new session, which is my first session last Monday. On Monday we did interviews for the over 400 students so that we could place them in classes by levels. That was a crazy day, but it felt so nice to be doing something, even though the break was a wonderful way to start my trip in China. On Tuesday the students had orientation, and then Tuesday evening we met our classes. I am facilitating the lowest class with one of the other facilitators, Kyle. He also just graduated from college and this is his second session here. Then we had class on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and I have this weekend off! We have 32 students ranging in age from 23 to their 40's and they are all teachers, mostly English teachers for various levels. The whole program is very student and activity centered, and very unlike the Chinese teaching methods they are used to. The main big projects are a speech they give at the end and a practicum they have to practice using the new teaching methods so they will then hopefully go back and use these in their classes. So far I really really enjoy it, even though it can be very challenging! We speak special English students, which is slower and you emphasize the pronunciation, and often times I find myself talking in special English when I am talking the facilitators as well, and it can be quite funny. It is also very busy while we are in session, and we do have breaks throughout the day, but they are usually used to nap or prepare for your next class or club, so it is really nice to have this weekend off. I am at a coffee shop right now just relaxing which is wonderful!
Last night some of the team and I (the ones we sometimes call the 20 somethings) went to Wudalko, which is a district about 20 minutes away by bus that has a lot of foreigners and more American type restaurants to have pizza and just relax for awhile. One of the most exciting things was they had coke...but not just in a can...it was fountain coke...in a big glass....WITH ice! Yes, we do get excited about the little things...you kinda have too :)
In other news...I am loving it here! It has already been such an amazing experience and I can tell it will only get better. Yes, there will be times when I don't really believe that...but it really is amazing. I have made some really awesome friends who I really can't imagine living without right now. They are always there for me when I need them for a hug to just to talk to, and they are truly a huge blessing! God has been so good to me...and I am really excited to see what else He has in store for me!
I will try to take pictures of my room (after I clean it and finish decorating) soon so you can all see them!
Monday, October 5, 2009
Monday night I went with a group to the Olympic green. It was such an amazing, surreal experience. Thoughts when through my head that I was watching this on TV last year, never thinking that I would ever go there, but there I was, right in the middle of everything. It was super cool!!! Since we went at night everything was lit up and it was all pretty beautiful. It is definitely a place I would love to go back again to explore some more. One of my other teammates, Jaime, was just as excited to be there, so we had a lot of fun together.
Tuesday was National day, and I really didn’t do much! We did watch fireworks that night, which was fun.
I went to the silk market on Friday I think. It was a pretty crazy experience. It is pretty much about 6 floors of things for sale everywhere. And there is everything you could ever imagine there. From purses and shoes, to clothes, to silk and cashmere, to all the Chinese trinkets and things you can imagine. And you don’t just buy things at the silk market, you bargain for things. I was told to pay between 10-30% of the price you are originally told. I tried a little bit, but mainly watched while others bargain for their purchases. I bought a cashmere scarf for this winter, which is probably one of the softest things I have ever felt in my life!
Saturday I went to the Great Wall. It was quite the adventure getting there, and we didn’t end up at the section we wanted, and paid more than we should have, but all that said, it was pretty amazing. The area we went to was super steep and a really good climb. It was built in a loop, so we figured there must have been a palace or something in the middle that was worth protection. We walked some of the way up the first side, and then to the very top tower on the other side. There were times where is felt like we were just going and going and would never make it, but it was SO worth it once we finally made it to the top. It was such a clear day and completely beautiful with the mountains surrounding us. I knew coming in the Beijing was surrounded my mountains, but for some reason that really didn’t sink in and actually surprised me as I first started to see them. I guess since I am not use to seeing mountains in Indiana they are “new” and exciting to me!
On Sunday we went to church and then a lot of us went out to lunch together. It was a different experience having my food ordered for me and not really knowing what exactly I was eating, but everything I had was good (I didn’t try everything!) It was really refreshing to be able to go to church and be with the group.
Each day I also get to know my teammates, and myself better. This experience has already been so good for me, and I know that this is just the beginning. Each day is a new adventure full with new experiences and lessons. I have training this Thursday and then the session stars next week, so that will bring its own set of changes and challenges with it.
I hope all is well at home, and know my prayers are with you, and well as J.D’s family everyday!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
On Monday I finally got to leave campus, which was wonderful. I left with a big group to go eat lunch and do some shopping. This meant I was able to start to explore the vastness that is the city of Beijing. We took a bus to a district that has a lot of foreign type things and ate lunch at a place called the Lush, which is pretty much an American/Foreign hangout spot, and has good American food. We then took the subway to a few places to shop and just explored for a while. And yes, I did see scorpion and seahorse on a stick, but no, I haven’t eaten it! Yesterday evening I went and played ultimate Frisbee with a few of the guys on the team who found a place where a lot of people play every Tuesday night. It was really nice to get out and run for a while.
I have been adjusting really well so far, and really haven’t had a lot of culture shock as of yet. I am pretty much over jetlag and getting used to the 12 hour time difference. The thing that is getting me the most right now is getting used to when it gets dark/light here, so it really isn’t too bad! I am however already learning more about myself, as I knew I would be, and having to rely on God in new ways everyday. It is however so refreshing to know that I am surrounded by Christians. I really think having just graduated from college and leaving that environment I think is making this a lot easier on me, as I know I wouldn’t be able to do this a few years ago.
Thank you so much for all of your thoughts and prayers. I honestly do not know where I would be without them! Also, if you want to receive e-mail updates, which may be more frequent as I have access to e-mail in my room through ChinaNet, please send me you e-mail! (to firstname.lastname@example.org) Also, I would love to hear updates on your life and life back in the US, so feel free to e-mail whenever, or if you have g-mail and use g-chat I do have access to that in my room as well, but do not have access to Facebook!!!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
REMINDERS ABOUT COMMUNICATIONS WHILE OVERSEAS
- The Internet provides a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and family back home. However, all e-mails going in & out of China are filtered and can be read. An unwise comment in an incoming letter could jeopardize not only you but also the whole ESEC team. Please make sure that all of your correspondents are familiar with the following guidelines:
- What not to say about me: Missions and evangelism are very important and natural topics to the Christian. But they take on a very different meaning with the Chinese government. Oftentimes, they are equated with imperialism and subversion. So please don’t call me a “missionary” while I’m in China—the Chinese government has a very different (and negative) impression of what that means to you and I.
- Other topics to avoid: politics in general, especially Hong Kong or Taiwan’s independence, “freeing Tibet”, human rights, religious freedom, military encounters, or any negative comments about China.
- What to write about: anything personal you wish, including spiritual things. It’s okay to use Scripture occasionally and speak as a Christian. Do tell me what’s happening in your personal life and at church. Just avoid anything concerning missions or evangelism—and especially avoid using those words directly.
- Newsletters (e-mail or hard copies) – copy the home office along with your supporters.
- Some people ask a friend at home to do your "screening" before messages get sent to you. This is a similar function as the "mail facilitator” for regular letters & cards. Only family and very close friends have your direct e-mail address.
- Please ask people to not put your e-mail address on any sort of mass-e-mailing list!
They should not forward any chain letters or jokes or "prayer letters" from other people. (It's too easy for your e-mail address to get out to wrong people. This happened to another teacher—she received an unsolicited e-mail about the situation in Tibet.)
- Ask friends not to give out your e-mail address to other people. Rather, they could tell you that someone else wants the info and let you decide what to do.
- Apply these guidelines to online chats, MySpace, Facebook, blogs and online media, including pictures.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
And a busy summer it has been. Between working and going to weddings I have just been spending a lot of time with family and to be honest it has been completely wonderful!
Now what you really want to know....more about China. Right now, it looks like I will be leaving September 24th and will arrive the 25th. Currently they have received the invitation from China meaning I can get my visa....so that is very exciting as well. So 1 month...that just seems really completely crazy to me. And there are so many people to see and so much to do! But mainly, I am getting really exciting that everything is finally coming together, money is almost all raised, and I have SOOO many people supporting me!!!! God really is great, and looking back it has amazed me how this has all worked out with the set backs and things I wouldn't have imagined happening. His plans are truly even better than mine ever are :)
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
China has always been in the back of my mind. Well, sometimes not quite the back of it :) There is still a big part of me that can't believe I am going, yet as I talk to more and more people about it I get more excited! I have just started fundraising and it has all ready been such a humbling process. To go from never having to ask other for money (except my parents occasionally :) ) to relying on others to reach the goal so I am able to make this trip is one of the most humbling experiences I have faced. It is so much more so than when I went on a mission trip with my church 3 summers ago, and I think a lot of that simply has to do with the fact that I have grown up, I am not the same person I was then. And that, is good. I have no doubt that God would not be leading me down this path if He didn't all ready know where this money would come from. I daily rest in His reassurance that this really will work out....and in three short months I will be on the biggest adventure of my life!
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
For the past 2 months, I have taken upon me the process of applying to teach English in China. I can honestly say that it has been one of the scariest things I have ever done in my life. I have lived a very simple, and very blessed life. However, because of this, I really haven't had to step outside of my comfort level. I have lived a life focused on serving God, and strive to allow Him to lead me.
I guess one of the first steps to this process was the summer before my sophomore year, when I changed my major to special education. This experience was something that came completely out of nowhere for me, and I was left with no explanation except this was Gods plan for me, and although that scared me, i was excited to being the journey. The last three years have been wonderful, and I completely love my major, and I absolutely love the students I am blessed to work with everyday! Later, came the very small thought about teaching overseas somewhere. After hours of searching, I found the teach overseas organization. Looking at it, things just clicked. It is Christian, mission based, established, and offers locations in multiple countries around the world.
Fast forward to now, and after the application process, I guess I can say China here I come. This step is HUGE and it is scary, but it is the biggest step of faith I have ever had to take in my life, and at the same time that excites me. I am very excited to see how God works in me through this, and how this experience affects the rest of my life. I still fully intend to teach children with exceptional needs, and I can only imagine how this experience will help me in that field.
I will stop before this becomes a novel, but I hope this becomes a place of reflection for me, both as I am finishing the semester and preparing to go to China, and when I am in China. I cannot even imagine what lies ahead for me, but I know one thing, it will all be EVEN BETTER than I could ever plan!