Friday, August 29, 2008

My New Love

As Americans we use the "L word" way too loosely, so in keeping with my cultural tradition, I have to say it. I love my floor squigee! I can't help it. I honestly think that it is the best invention of this century-Seriously!

In my apartment I have what is commonly referred to as a shoilet. This is a combination shower/toilet. I am very happy to have a western toilet instead of a "squatty potty", but in China most of the showers (if you have a shower) are not enclosed. There is a shower head that comes out from the wall and a drain near the base of the toilet. When you shower, water flies all over the bathroom covering the sink, toilet, walls. I also have a washing machine that has to be hooked up in one of the corners of the bathroom so when I do a load of laundry the water from the washtub runs across the floor as well, because the connecting hose is only about a foot long and doesn't stretch to the drain hole in the floor. Needless to say, the floor is constantly wet and slippery, so a floor squigee can literally be a lifesaver!

I did manage to find a large tension rod and a shower curtain which helps, but discovering the floor squigee was like discovering gold. Every morning when I hop into that freezing cold shower, (which eventually does get warm if I run the sink faucets on full blast) I comfort myself with the knowledge that in just a few short minutes I will once again have a clean body and a dry floor...thanks to my trusty
42Yuan ($6) squigee.

They say that you will go to great lengths to cherish, protect, and fight for the people or things that you love. Maybe I really do love my squigee!


Monday, August 25, 2008

This Ain't Your Home Theater

Yesterday a group of us, weiguoren (foreigners) watched the closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. No, we didn't get lucky and score tickets to the Bird's Nest, but instead we headed to the local park to join 5,000 or so of our not-so-close Chinese friends. Literally, thousands of people were gathered in the square to view the pomp and circumstances. People sat on newspapers, sandals, or small folding stools to vicariously enjoy the event of the century. The massive screen loomed high above the ground was very impressive. It was like a gigantic drive-in movie without the cars.

Of course, we were also a spectacle as we strolled through the sea of onlookers, turning their heads to observe our every move. The local television station was there of course, and quickly capitalized on the opportunity to spotlight the foreigners in their city. One of our friends, Gregg, the most blond haired, blue eyed guy was interviewed for the news and we all had stars in our eyes from the mob of camera guys wanting to take our picture. I'm sure it's on the front page of some Chinese newspaper somewhere in Tianjin. The paparazzi has nothing on these guys! We are definitely celebs here...especially when we travel as a herd...I mean group.

Anyway, we sat on the hard concrete throughout the entire 3 hour program, but it was OK. As soon as I got up the blood started rushing to my numb rear and all was well again with the world. What a great privilege to be in the host country during the Olympics! Yes, there is a lot of mafan (trouble) that goes with it, but still... this is what memories are made of.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wake Up and Smell the Tea

Most of you who know me well, know that I generally start my day with a 20 oz. mug of Speedway coffee. Well, that had to come to a screeching halt when I hit China. Water and tea are the beverages of choice here and Americans are probably the only ones really familiar with the pounding headaches that come with caffeine withdraw. Imagine my joy when I discovered a fun little coffee shop in Hong Kong called the Charlie Brown Cafe. There I was surrounded by Peanuts characters all enjoying caffinated beverages of every kind...with their picture imprinted on the foam atop the mug. Despite the 92 degree temperature and the 90% humidity (Yikes!) I just couldn't pass up the chance to hang out with Snoopy and have a hazelnut latte with a picture of Woodstock on it. Oh, the pleasure of simple things! Well worth the sweating. :)


Mountain Top Experience

In life we will always have hills and valleys, mountain top experiences and times spent in what feels like dry and barren places. My orientation in Hong Kong was literally a mountain top experience. Our group stayed at a retreat center called Tao Fang Shan, renowned for its work interfacing with Buddhist Monks. The group of new associates met for six days to review organizational information, get practical tips on how to adjust to Chinese culture and to bond together as a group. We were also joined by the JHF HongKong staff. It was a much needed time of refreshing for me after the hurried pace of the past few months. I really appreciated having time to reflect on deep level issues.

Our Orientation Group
Because I had jet lag for nearly the whole time there, I found myself waking up several times a night and having the opportunity to walk early in the morning just as the sun was peeking over the horizon. My two favorite spots were the Lotus Crypt (a private underground sanctuary for meditation and reading) and the Tao Fong Shan Cross; a huge crucifix on a hill overlooking the city below. It was there that I again felt inspired (despite my weariness) to revisit my calling and recommit myself to do whatever it would take to serve well in China. So many things can distract us, and sometimes it takes being awakened in the night, or the wee hours of the morning to get our focus in the right direction. There's only one thing worthy of our complete attention...the cross.
We also had the chance to visit downtown Hong Kong for a nighttime light show in the harbor, and to take a trip to "The Peak." My words can't really capture it's beauty, but here's what someone else wrote about it:

The Peak Hong Kong

The Peak Hong Kong has been the preferred residence since the British arrived in 1841. From The Peak’s various vantage points spectacular vistas take in most of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, much of the New Territories, the outlying islands, mainland China, and Macau. A trip to The Peak should be one of the first things visitors do after arriving in Hong Kong, not only for its world-famous views, but to gain a perspective of the city. Pick a cloudless day and make two journeys, one during daylight and another in the evening to catch a memorable image of Hong Kong illuminated.
Most visitors to Victoria Peak arrive by a funicular railway, which climbs out of Central at an impossible angle to reach the upper station at the Peat Tower – a metallic, bowl-shaped landmark. From the terrace on the fifth floor of the tower, the views are quite outstanding, looking down the mountain to the high-rise apartments of the Mid-Levels and the gleaming office towers crowded into Central, and beyondthat across busy Victoria Habor to Tsim Sha Tsui and kowloon, backed by the green jagged mountains of the New Territories. It is amazing!
Hoping that you will experience your own "mountain top experience" and be refreshed for the task that you have been called to.


Friday, August 15, 2008

In the Beginning

In Chinese culture, beginnings and endings are very important. This year, 2008, is said to be the year of new beginnings. Certainly, this is the case for me and my family. Ryan has a new photography business ( and has begun a new marriage with his lovely wife, Holly. Lacey also started a new chapter of her life as she married David Foster, a wonderful guy she met at WMU. I now have a new home in China, and have a new job learning Chinese. I've met a lot of new people and have encountered a new set of challenges as I adjust to a new culture. I am even going by a new name (Lindy) which is not new to my dad, or my best friend Becky, but new to a lot of you. It's OK if it takes you awhile to adjust to calling me Lindy. I understand how hard it is to change something you've done for years...but give it a try! It will definitely take awhile for me to adjust to all the newness as well, but if I can do it, so can you. :)

In all the changes, I am excited about the possibilites. They are endless! I am really looking forward to this new chapter in my life, anticipating all that has been pre-planned for my future. I am confident that I will discover wonders and treasures that will enrich my life and help me contribute to the lives of others in China. Thanks for taking this ride with me and encouraging me along the way. I hope that reading China Chatter will expand your horizons and give you a new perspective on the people and culture in China. HuanYing! (Welcome!)