Saturday, January 23, 2010


So, I have now been in China for 4 months.  January has brought a lot of changes with it.  Normally during the session I will have a class and my main role will be as a class facilitator.  This session I am instead working on planning for Mandarin TIP.  Next month is the spring festival, or Chinese New Year.  Because of this we cannot have a normal session with teachers so we are going to have a session in which the facilitators lean Chinese!  Because of my teaching and lesson planning past I was asked if I would be willing to help plan the lesson plans for this new TIP session and of course I agreed.  This has been challenging because I do not know the subject matter that I am writing lessons about, but also very exciting as I am so excited to learn more Chinese and be able to communicate better in this country.  This is also a lot of work but thankfully I have some really awesome people helping me and it has been really fun! 
This also gives me a different role with the students.  In the evenings we are assigned one night to do dorm visits.  We use this time to build relationships with the students and share our stories.  This session I have gotten to know one student in particular that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to if I was teaching my own class.   We have had several discussions and the other evening after dinner she told me that she has more questions and wants to know more about God.  To this I gladly responded yes and am very excited to talk to her a lot more next week! 
Toward the beginning of the month 2 of our teammates left.  Laura and Peter retuned to America to prepare for their upcoming wedding and find out where God would continue to take them on their journey of life.  Because Laura moved out it left Syrena without a roommate.  Syrena and I have become very good friends and decided to move in with each other in order to make more room for others.  So once we have our room organized and decorated I’ll be sure to post pictures of it! 
Finally, God has really been teaching me to be content in each moment.  There is so much that He has given to me and so often we hurry through life and miss the little things that are sometimes the most important.  The times when I have felt the most alone, the most homesick have also been the times where I know that God is the closest to me.  I know I have said it before, and I will say it again, but God has blessed me so much and has been so faithful to me here.  It hasn’t always been easy, just as it is not promised to always be easy.  None the less we are called to follow God, and do all that we can to further His Kingdom, so I will press on and do my part, I will do all that I can do.
Ps- check out more pictures from my trip to Harbin and the Christmas break!
Also check out my picasa site…I finally posted pictures from the December session!

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Friday, January 8, 2010


Who wants to go visit a place where the temperatures are almost always below zero without a windchill in the middle of the winter?  In this case the answer is me along with 6 other facilitators and s few friends that came along for the ride.  We left for Harbin aboard a 12 hour train ride Sunday night.  We arrived to freezing temperatures and our first experience of freezing eyelashes. 

After settling into our hostel we began to explore the city that is rich with Russian influence.  In fact, the city has belonged to Russia and Japan longer than China has had possession of it and the only thing keeping it from being Siberia is the imaginary line between the countries.  Venturing down the streets was amazing seeing the wonders that are the ice sculptures along with the beauty of creation in the cold that God sent.  I felt at home among all the snow and was refreshed in the environment.

The two big events of the trip were outings to the Harbin Ice Festival and the Siberian Tiger Park.  Both of these were absolutely amazing in their own way.  We bundled up for a night at the ice festival and marveled at what skilled hands and talent can do to turn blocks of ice into huge buildings and sculptures.  The night ended with an amazing fireworks show to commemorate the opening night of the festival.  I watched the fireworks in awe while reflecting on the one who created it all.  The next day we were off to the tiger park where there were over 900 Siberian tigers.  It was amazing to see these huge majestic creatures in this environment. 

The trip ended all too soon, but it was a wonderful time of relaxation, reflection, and community before we start the January session.  Be sure to check out pictures from the trip!

Saturday, January 2, 2010


During these past few days I have been doing a lot of reflection. It is now the year 2010 and we have entered a new decade. I can vividly remember when the year 2000 was rapdily approaching and how everyone was so worried about Y2K and what that might bring. That now seems lightyears away as I am now graduated from college and living half way around the world in China, something I could have not even fathomed at the turn of of the century. The past decade has been a whirlwind, but the year 2009 seems to have passed by in a blur that has taken several days for me to completely unpack, and I am sure there is still more work I could do.
Some would say the biggest accomplishment of the past year would be graduating from college. And won’t lie, it was a pretty big accomplishment. College was a huge time of growth and learning for me in all area of my life and graduation was super exciting! But I would have to disagree. I believe the biggest accomplishment of this past year is that I have really and truly listened to God and learned to follow His plan for my life instead of trying to follow my own.
When I started this blog I was in the middle of many different life changing decisions. The quote that I tried to revolve my life around and is the name sake of this blog is “Not what I have planned, even better.” This year I have really and truly learned that Gods plans are so much better. My plans definitly didn’t involve coming to China. If you know me at all you know I like to stay close to home, I would rather stay ot home with my family or a few close friends than go out and do things and I am not a huge fan of change. Lets just say that God took this things and reworked all of them for His glory.
These past three months in China have been more than I could ever imagine. I have been broken down, crushed, homesick, emotionally, physically, and spiritually drianed, but I have also experienced restoration, redemtion, blessings, grace, and more love that I could ever imagine.
About a month ago a group of us were watching a sermon that a few of us had allready seen. At the end of the sermon the worship band plays the song, Blessed be Your Name. After reflection I realized that the first time I listened to the sermon I was at the other side of song. The part that starts out with “When I’ve found in the desert place” is exactly where I was finding myself. It was right around Thanksgiving and the first wave of homesickness was hitting hard. I was also sick and completely overwhelmed with everything going on during the session. During this time I had to rely on God more than I ever have had to in my life and I eventually dug out of that season. The second time I watched the sermon I was back on the “When the sun’s shining down on me and the worlds all as it should be” part of the song. Being able to look back and reflect on how faithful God is and how through it all I can truly say “Blessed be YOUR Name!”
That really sums up my time in China. God has blessed me richly through every experience I have been part of. I have no idea what He has in store for me in 2010 but I can tell you that I am excited to find out along the way. I know I will go through valleys and mountians, but in the end I hope that I will stand and proclaim, Blessed be your Name!