Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

getting a little personal

Normally I like to use this blog to let you know about whats happening in China, what cool adventures I'm going on or how cool the students are.  But, I keep finding myself "writing" pretty personal entries in my head, but they are copied into my journal instead.  But then I think, I don't know who even really reads this, so for the handful of people that do (let me know who you are!), they can endure some of my more personal thoughts occasionally.

Sitting in my room I am surrounded by warmth.  A blanket to curl up with and candles flickering on my desk.  Pictures of family and friends adorning the wall and Christmas cards hung with more ready to be opened.  I have everything I need in this little space ('s pretty tiny), actually more than I need.  Why is is that I find myself wanting more?  The part of me that longs for a house or even just an apartment that I can decorate to my hearts content.  A kitchen that I can cook in, with a full sized oven for baking cookies and a dishwasher.  I want so much to meet the man God has made for me and to become his wife.  To have someone to cook for, care about and love, and have someone who will act as the leader, loving and guiding me.  I want for the day to come that I am able to stay at home with my children and teach them to love and serve others and about the God who loves them more than anything.  These are huge desires of my heart that I have to believe will one day be fulfilled.

But it never fails that (eventually) I sit back and smile of laugh because the life I am living right now is pretty incredible.  How many people can say they are in China with the opportunity to share Gods love with hundreds of students each month.  How many people live in a community of believers who will always support and encourage you.  how man people hear the God's call on their life but do not respond, for they are too afraid.

It is really amazing to be here because I know that it is right where God wants me to be, even if I don't know the end to this story.  I find comfort in the fact that I am surrounded by warmth.  That opportunities come up like hearing Francis Chan (the author of Crazy Love) speak at the international church.  He spoke of many things that resonated in my heart but began with the feeling that you get when you are among the family of believers.  That when the family is joined together love and joy should radiate from them so others can see a glimpse of God here on this earth.  
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent is Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.                        -1st John 4:7-12    
No one has seen God, but his love is perfected in us.  His love shines through us when we love him how we were made to.  When we love in community and serve others above ourselves the world will be able to glimpse God while on earth.  

I don't know what the future holds, so until I hear the next steps I can continue to love so that others might see and believe.  I will live a life wrapped in the warmth that I am loved by the savior and that is all I really ever need.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

catch all...

A lot of things have happened since my last post.  Most excitingly, my family can to visit me over Thanksgiving. Of the million things I have to be thankful for right at the top, after the gift of salvation and all the amazing gifts that come with that, is a family who loves and supports me no matter what.  Most people come to China for a season of their life and consider themselves lucky if some of their family or friends visit them once during that time.  Somehow, I was blessed by a family that wants to see me as much as they can, and my parents came back, this time with my brothers and sister in law (and my niece or nephew on its first vacation :) )  I really should have written about this earlier, but, as we all know I don't always do a good job at updating this.  I can however sum up their trip as a breath of fresh air and an incredible gift for all involved.  Being so far away from my family can be really hard but it doesn't take long to remind myself how much they love me and how they have also made sacrifices to allow me to follow Gods plan for my life.

On the work front, we have two new facilitators this month!   So that leaves me busy with training and making sure they know what to do and have their questions answered.  It is also December...which means its the Christmas session.  We have some fun activities planned for the students and its always amazing spending the Christmas season with so many people who have never celebrated the real reason for the season.  I will also be taking one of my Chinese friends to her first ever Christmas service at church this Friday so I am very excited about that.  God continues to be good and show me just how God he is!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Each month we have a short break in between session.  Often, these breaks are used to rest and prepare mentally and physically for the next month, with a little traveling thrown in here and there.  So, when halfway through the the October session Amanda asks me if I want to go to Shanghai with her for a few days of course I am going to say yes.  I have been to Shanghai with my parents, but only for a day, so I knew there were many more sights to see and things to do, plus everyone needs to get away now and then

When we arrived in Shanghai after a 10 hour overnight train ride we went straight to our hostel and waited until we could check in, since we got there so early.  Once we got to our room, which was really nice and had an amazingly soft bed we flipped on the tv.  Much to my surprise as I was flipping channels I found Monday night football featuring the Colts!  It was a nice taste of home and actually a really big blessing!

Then we were able to meet up with Yume, who used to work on the Chinese staff and lives in Shanghai.  It was super fun to see her!  She took us to the YuYaun gardens and treated us to some delicious Shanghai specialties, plus gave us many ideas for the rest of our trip.

Then Amanda and I went in the actual garden, which was huge and absolutely beautiful!

The next day we went to Qibao, which is a really cute area that has been preserved to show Shanghais past.  We braved the crowds, strolled the streets, and enjoyed some awesome seafood.

That night was quite possibly the highlight of the trip.  As volunteers who don't make a lot of money we normally do everything the cheap way, which proves to be a lot of fun most of the time.  However, for once we decided to throw this to the wind.  We got reservations (gasp!) and dressed up to go to a fancy dinner at M on the Bund.  It is a really nice European restaurant located on the top floor of one of the buildings on the Bund, which is the beautiful riverfront.  So, we decided to go all out and went to the bar first for a glass of wine before heading upstairs for an amazing meal.  It was an amazing time and allowed us to reflect just how good God is and how blessed we are.  We about 99.9% that no one else in the restaurant was even close to our salary range, yet we were able to enjoy the meal without worrying about the price tag.  It reminded us how God knows what we needs and provides for us abundantly.  After the meal we were able to go on the balcony and enjoy the amazing view before a casual stroll along the river before walking back to the hostel.

On our last day we ventured over the river to the Pudong area where all the skyscrappers are and decided to go up the Shanghai World Financial Center, which has the tallest observation deck in the world.  It was pretty amazing being so high and we were blessed with a clear day (much clearer than when I was in Shanghai previously :) ) which allowed us to see for miles.  It was pretty spectacular!

Since we had time to kill before our train left that night we decided to go to an art museum.  Our choices were the Shanghai Art Museum and the Modern Art Musuem.  We choose the Shanghai Art Museum, but really most of the art there was pretty modern.  There was some pretty awesome things though!  They had a display inspired by Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City which was easily my favorite part.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to spend time with Amanda.  It was a time of relaxation and rejuvination which we both needed, but even more than that it was a reminded of how good God is and how he will always provide for his children.  I am so blessed to be in China following his lead every step of the way! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fall in Beijing!

Last year Beijing was blanketed in snow on November 1st which left no room for fall.  Winter swept in and never left.  Much to my enjoyment, fall made a wonderful appearance in Beijing this year!  Right now it is starting to get cold, but we have enjoyed several weeks of beautiful weather and consistent blue skies.  While I have started to wear long underwear because it is getting considerably colder inside (except my room which continues to be nice and toasty thanks to the radiator next to my bed) I have yet to wear my winter coat which makes this Indiana girl very happy.

I've said it before, but I am so thankful that we are next to the old summer palace.  For only 15 yuan a month, or about 2 dollars you can get a month pass and visit as often as your heart desires.  It has been a wonderful place to go on walk lately.  The fall foliage was amazingly beautiful as were the sunsets over the mountains.  Most trips i went sans camera, but lucky for you I took it on one trip so here are a few picture for you to enjoy and to hold you over until I post next :)


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall Festival!

It is close to the end of the session and the students are all tired.  It is also almost Halloween. So, we decided to have a fall festival so we could all have fun and party a little.  Much dancing, laughing, and picture taking took place and smiles were had by all!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A knock at the door

Here, a knock at my door can mean many things.  Maybe someone has a question or wants to borrow something.  Often people just want to hang out and talk.  Sometimes people have adventures planned that you are to be part of.  Tonight a new reason cam into existence.  A knock at the door was to tell me that the police would be here soon about registration and I would need to talk to them.  It's China and things like this happen, so I just waited about 5 minutes for the next knock at my door.  Outside was Eric, one of our Chinese staff, along with about 8 Chinese police officers.  A few of them had their cameras and took pictures as I grabbed my passport to show them, they handed me a piece of pink paper reminding people about registering at the police station, and joked with me about wanting to teach me Chinese while I could teach them English.  5 minutes later they were gone, and I have another story to add to my What Happened in China list.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why I am here

Days like today remind me why I am in China in the first place.  I was at lunch talking with a few students, something I have done far too little of this session, and of course their favorite question came up, do you have a boyfriend?  My reply is no, but then often they ask why I don't or what am I looking for in a boyfriend.  This is one of my favorite questions because I am able to tell the students that the most important trait in a boyfriend for me is that he is a Christian.  This often opens up more questions about Christianity, as it did at lunch today.  And this is exactly why I love my job :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

one year...

One year ago if you were to tell me that I would be in a country other than America long enough to have a year anniversary I would have laughed in your face.  That shows you how much I knew of God's plans for me a year ago because today marks the one year anniversary of the date I arrived in China.

A year ago I boarded a plane into the unknown.  I arrived in China and tentatively looked at the lines of people waiting at the airport for a piece of paper with my name on it, not knowing anything about the people who would pick me up, and knowing less about what would happen next.  

One year later this place of complete unknown has become home and the people have become family.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into coming here, but luckily God knew exactly what He was getting me into.  I am so thankful for everything that has happened, all of the ups and downs, times of tears and times of laughter, and the countless blessing that I have received the past year. 

As I look to the next year I have no idea what is to come.  I keep coming back to what I said before I came to China, I don't know how I will change and grow, but I know I will.  I don't know what the future holds but I am thankful for being in this place now, and while I am here I will do all I can to serve God and bring Him the glory that is deserved.

Thank you soooo much for you love, prayers, and support over the past year and your continued love, support, and prayers for this coming year.  I appreciate it more than I could ever say.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fragrant Hills...which is more mountain than hill

Last week one of the summer staff that was staying a little longer and a new yearlonger and I decided we would go on a trip to the Fragrant Hills Park, which is about an hour away from campus by bus.   This was a former villa getaway for the emperors and once you reach the top incredible views of the city and countryside await.  There are two options for getting to the top, you can hike or you can pay about 30 yuan for a cable car to the top.  We were advised before going to take the cable car up and then hike down, but we were all ready for an adventure and a workout, so we decided to hike it all the way.  After the hike up we could see why this suggestion was made...but also felt that it was so worth it!

half way up we were still excited...that changed the closer we got to the top, and the more tired we got, but we finally made it to the top!

this baby was placed in my lap...only in China :)

All in all it was such a fun day to hang out in Gods creation with some pretty great people.  I'm looking forward to going back in the fall when all of the leaves are changing colors...maybe then I'll ride the cable car up :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

dance party!

The summer brings more students and an enthusiastic summer staff full of people of all ages who have a heart for serving in China but maybe are not able to for a full year.  It has been such a blessing to have them here and get to know them and just have fun.  So, because it is summer and it is so nice outside in the evenings we decided we would have a dance party on the last Sunday of the session.  It was such a fun time for the students to not have to think about anything and just have fun, and that is exactly what happened!

the much loved (by Chinese) and hated (by me) rabbit dance
everyone dance!!!

Emily-who was one of our facilitators during TIP Mandarin

the awesome summer staff girls!

Monday, August 23, 2010


the view outside my window when I woke up on Sunday!

One of the best things about rainy days is that it almost guarantee that the next day will have a bright blue sky, which is a welcome change in Beijing.  It rained all day Saturday which left us with a beautiful Sunday, which I took advantage of by going to Yuan Ming Yuan park which is located about 100 meters from campus.  It is the old summer palace that was destroyed in the 1860's during the second opium war.  It now has ruins scattered throughout the park but the main attractions are the beautiful lakes, trees, and flowers that are plentiful.  It is truly a huge blessing to have such an amazing get away so close to campus!  Without further ado, here and some pictures :)


Thursday, August 19, 2010

you can serve

I've been back in China for over 3 weeks now and in so many ways it seems like I never left.   Coming back and jumping right into the routine of training and helping out with the session has been a whirlwind to say the least.   When I arrived training for the August team was underway so I jumped into the middle of that.  Right when they were trained and ready to have their own classes it was time to prepare for the arrival of the new yearlong facilitators and then begin their month of intense training.  This has meant a lot of work for all involved and the need to create breaks to get away from it all.  One of my favorite breaks lately has been to hole myself up in my room with my Bible and a sermon to learn more about the God I serve and how I am to do it.

Today while listening to a sermon by Mark Driscoll there was a quote that really struck me.  It was "You can't save, you can't solve, but you can serve."  This really sums up what I do here in China.  I can't save the people, only God can do that.  I can't solve the problems of the world, or really even begin to try.  But the thing that I can do is serve.  I have a tremendous opportunity to serve the people of China.  This year I have the added honor to serve the team in a bigger way as the HR manager in which one of my jobs is to focus on facilitator care. 

Serving is such a huge responsibility and something I never want to take lightly.  Living a life of service is one of my biggest goals.  As Jesus came to the world not to be served, but to serve I want to do the same.  Right now, that means serving China, in the future I have no idea how I will serve, but I do know that God desires me to serve his people and He will show me how each step of the way.  He will provide the way  and pave the path for me to walk down. 

This month has been crazy with so many people, both students and facilitators, here and new challenges and trials to face each day.  But as long as I remind myself that the reason I am here is to serve and love those around me and live each day one moment at a time I can do all through Christ who gives me strength.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

blessed beyond belief

I've had ideas for so many posts, but it seems like when I sit down to type lately everything disappears.  So, I guess I should apologize for never posting anything! 

Where to start…

I am so thankful that I was blessed to spend a month at home with my friends and my family!  It was a wonderful month full of relaxation and rejuvenation.  Some of the highlights of the month were a trip to the zoo with my dad and multiple baseball games, priceless visits with friends including the blessing  of going to Stacey and Bens wedding, a Twarek family reunion in Ohio, coffee with Suz and playing with Kristen, 5 amazing days in Utah with my brother, and lots of good food and sleep!  I was blessed so much by this trip and it really helped me realize just how blessed I am and how many things I have to be thankful for. 

Being back in China has been wonderful.  Today I was on my way to the airport to pick up Amanda, one of the yearlong facilitators who was also home during July and it just hit me how much I love China.  This is something that I've known for awhile now, but as I was listening to worship music on my iPod I was overwhelmed with this realization.  How lucky am I that God has sent me to this country where I am able to form amazing friendships with so many of His children.  How I, a sinner who messes up royally all the time daily receives grace and love that is so undeserved.  And how much He loves me and has planned my life so perfectly that I am now here in China, something I would have never planned for myself.   I am looking forward to seeing how He uses me and how I am able to fall even more in love with Him and this country that I am blessed to live in!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

back to reality...

Vacation is over.  It was so wonderful though!  I enjoyed spending time with my parents and Grandma and it was really a huge blessing to be able to.  It was just an added bonus that I got to travel all over China at the same time!  I am so incredibly blessed to have an amazing family who I know will always love and support me no matter what, even when it means I am half a world away.  Check out the pics from the rest of the trip!

In other news...we are starting a new session!  May brings session 36 and we have about 230 students waiting for us!  I am facilitating the amazing class A and I am super excited to meet my students and form relationships with them!  I can only imagine what God has in store for this month and and I humbled to continue to be a part of it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

My family is here!

My mom, dad, and grandma arrived last Sunday and it has been wonderful having them in China with me!  We started out in Beijing seeing all the sites and then left to go on a 5 day cruise of the Yangtze River.  It has been an awesome trip so far!  We are currently in Xian and saw the Terracotta Warriors today.  Check out the pictures from the first part of the trip!

Friday, April 9, 2010


Easter was amazing.  There are so many things I could say, but I'll let the pictures do the talking :)

In other news....plane tickets have been bought so I am officially coming back next year :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A day in the life of TIP

2 posts in 1 day...don't expect this often :)

This is a video one of my friends here made, and gives you a glimpse into my life at TIP.  :)

Love you all and thanks so much for all of your prayers and support!


It seems like time always sneaks up on me here.  We are so busy during the session and focused on our class and all the work that needs to be done that it is easy to forget what else is going on.  Our latest session ended on Saturday.  It was filled with wonderful students, fun memories, lots of laughter, along with a few frustrations that are bound to happen.  With all of this going on I forgot what time of the year it is.  Spring is finally starting to slowly show itself in Beijing.  But until Sunday morning while I was laying in bed reflecting I was missing the importance to the season.

Palm Sunday, the day where hundreds of followers worshiped Jesus and proclaimed His name.  They laid down palms and their clothing, for the dirty ground was not worthy for him to walk on.  Maundy Thursday He shared a meal with His disciples, the meal we now remember as the last supper.   What they didn't fully realize was this would be the last meal they would  share together before the ultimate sacrifice was made.  And then, as we all know comes Easter, one of the most joyful days I could imagine, for it means a way has been made me for to have eternal life.

We are on a much needed break this week and I am taking the time to slow down and reflect on all this week really means.  On the significance of the enormity of the sacrifice and what it means for me.  On how I am supposed to take this and show His love in this world, how I am to show His love, grace, and mercy here in China.  

What I do know if I am thankful.  I am thankful for the blessings that are never ceasing.  I am thankful for  His plan that blows mine out of the water.  I am thankful that He sent me to China to open my eyes and my heart so I could see Him more clearly.  But mostly I am thankful that I am able to receive the gift of His grace, the gift that changes everything.

Grace: A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

So, in an attempt to blog more I am going to try to do wordless Wednesday.  I will post a picture or two and maybe a sentence description.  My hope is this will help you get more of a glimpse into my life in China!

To start it off, here March Madness TIP style!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


You may have heard of the sandstorms in China, and I have been experiencing them first hand.  I missed the main one on Saturday but I did get to go out in the sand on Monday, or as Google said the storm.  This is a picture from Yahoo.  In it you can see the 656 and the 562 buses, which are ones that I frequently take and stop right outside campus.  So, if you were in China with me this is what you would have seen :)  Now all that remains is yellow sand on the ground.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Amazing Race

During the month of February we had Mandarin TIP. So, now, even though I am by no means fluent I can understand a lot more and my vocab has increased by so much! It is still a work in progress though.

One of our Saturday activities was an Amazing Race scavenger hunt around Beijing.  We were give a list of locations we could visit along with assigned point values.  My team consisted of Dan, Elim and I and our Chinese teacher Ethan.  We set off as fast as we could trying to converse in Chinese and plan our route to maximize the points we could obtain.  Luckily for me my teammates were competitive like me : )

Out first stop was the main campus of Peking University.  That is also where we met our first problem, where we missed our bus stop and had to walk about 10 minutes out of our way!
"climbing" the pagoda
Then we hopped on the subway on our way to the Olympic village where our tasks were to take various pictures in front of the venues.

Swimming in front of the Water Cube
Kung Fu and the Birds Nest

We earned extra points for every tiger in a picture.  Because it is now the year of the tiger there were tigers everywhere, including this decoration at the Olympic Village
Then it was time to hop back on the Subway on a trip to the CCTV building, where were supposed to poise like it.

Then we moved onto Tienanmen and the Forbidden City where things such as
Kissing Mao and

Poising like statues was on the list to complete.

A short walk later we were at the Egg, which is the National Preforming Arts Center
More pictures of Tigers and Lanterns finished the day



All in all it was a lot of fun, even though it was pretty crazy to try to speak only Chinese the whole time!  We ended the day by meeting up to eat Hot Pot together, which is a boiling broth that you add various meats and vegetables to and enjoy!  I am so thankful for this opportunity to learn Chinese, even though I have a long way to go.  

I'm on break right now and am really enjoying this time to relax!  We start a new session the 8th and as of right now we don't know how many students we will have or what our roles will be, but I am so excited to be back in the classroom after 2 months!  So much has been going on, but the fact remains that God is good and His plans are perfect.  I am learning a lot and and am so blessed.  Love you all!