Destination…..Shanghai.

Posted: September 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

Sorry for the short hiatus. What can I say, adjusting to a new, much much larger city has proved to be much more challenging than previously anticipated. But I’m back, I hope, for now, and writing to you directly from my new apartment. And when I say new, I actually mean that the building is old, and when I say apartment, I really mean a room in a building. Not sure if ‘apartment’ is the best word, but we’ll call it that. Apartment shopping was tough, especially for someone who has been living out of his backpack for the past 3 months+, I just wanted to get settled! Frustrated after a few days of searching, I decided on one that is in a good location, albeit very humble by USA standards. Again and again it seemed I had the option of a modest one bedroom where I could save money, or share a 3 bedroom apartment, that’s really nice, but pay double living with who knows? I opted for the former. But on the plus side, I’m living inexpensively, in a very ‘Chinese’ neighborhood, less than 10 minutes to the subway and within seconds of a dozen tasty Chinese restaurants. Did I mention I could eat at any of them for about a dollar?

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The view out my apartment window.

I must admit, Shanghai has been trying. It rains everyday, the city is massive, people here aren’t quite like the kind-hearted country Chinese I’m used to, and it costs an arm and a leg to do anything. I arrived in a monsoon, and went to the hotel where all the teachers would be staying for orientation. I had a cool hotel roommate from Canada, a brother too! Praise God. Unfortunately, he was placed in a school a few hours outside of town, far away from mine, so we couldn’t room together. The first week was rough; in fact I was on the brink of packing up and moving down south where I knew I had community and a ministry waiting for me. After much prayer, I decided to stick it out, and see what this city will bring. I still have many unknowns and uncertainties, but I know that I need to give those things to the Lord. Pray that I can surrender all my rights, so that I needn’t worry about what the future holds….not even one bit. I know exactly why I was struggling too, that’s the worst part. I believe I came to Shanghai for my own purposes, not God’s. I wanted to save some money, meet tons of people, play hockey or do whatever else (Shanghai literally has everything). No where near the top of that list was ‘God.’ He changed my attitude around, and I have a new focus, that whatever I do here, “whether in word or deed,’” that He would be the reason. I soon realized living for my own purposes was quickly digging me deep into a hole that would never satisfy. It reminded me of my past, a place I never want to go back to, so I let God have it, and He straightened me out. I’ve decided to just try and take it one day at a time, and let Him work through me here in all I do. Pray that this will continue! Tomorrow holds what tomorrow holds; as for today, I do what He has set forth for me to do.

But alas, I started teaching, moved into my apartment, and things are turning around. I’ve met loads of people. The lady at the apartment entry gate (they call them aunties in Chinese) told me she is a believer! We chatted a bit, me with my broken Chinese, her with her lightning fast Chinese with Shanghainese accent. Yes Shanghainese is a language, completely different than Mandarin, so when they speak Mandarin, it’s not very standard. They use a few different words down here as well, so it will take some getting used to. When I walked outside for lunch today, the ‘auntie’ was talking to another girl and excitedly flagged me over, and introduced me to her, a girl named Zhen Yi (Jenny). She is also a believer! And lives a few doors down. She has good English as well, and has been to Minnesota before, totally random. She has her own business and lots of free time, and offered to help me with my Mandarin. My landlord lady is also a Mandarin teacher at a local university! Between those two, hopefully I can really hit the books this year. Please pray for my landlord as well, as she has been reading the Word, but is still unsure about it. Lots of divine appointments these past few days! Her name is Judy, and I will definitely be talking to her again soon about the Good News. I’ve also met loads of people at the foreigner churches here in Shanghai, and there is lots of churches! I’m getting connected quickly, which is great. My early struggles here were perfect evidence of how the lack of community can really affect me. I feel that starting to change now, so I thank the Lord.

Teaching…….hmmmm. Teaching is interesting. I have 5 classes, 2 1st grade classes, 2 2nd grade classes, and 1 3rd grade class, and I see them each 6 times a week. My schedule is pretty sweet though: 1-5 Tues-Fri, and 8-5 Sat with Sun-Mon off. The kids are very cute……some of them are awesome, some of them terrors. The 1st graders have no English, so that has been a unique challenge, but I feel we finally made a little progress Saturday with learning names, and phrases like “Nice to meet you.” The 3rd graders can actually speak pretty well, I was pleasantly surprised. Their still crazy though. Discipline is a challenge, some of the kids have it, others have none. I believe it will get better, but these first 2 weeks have really tried my patience. I always thought I was a patient person, but these past few months in China have crushingly proved me wrong. Thank you Jesus, for revealing that to me. Please pray that I would do my best to be a good teacher, and that supernatural patience and joy would overcome me as I do this job.

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A shot of one of my grade 2 classes.

I also joined a hockey league! Tryouts were last week, and the draft on Saturday. I’m not sure which team I’ll be on, but I will keep you posted. It’s sort of a bizarre feeling carrying hockey gear around China; no one knows what the heck it is. But I’m really hoping to have some ministry opportunities with this, I feel really strongly about it in fact. At tryouts I met a cool dude who was a believer too! Found out he goes to the same church I’d been to also! So we hung out yesterday with some of his friends and had dinner. Pray for this league, that I will have opportunities to share, it’s a real rough and tumble crew, with ‘beer’ being the focal point of the league. I enjoy a good beer every now and again, but I have a feeling this isn’t a one or two beer crowd. Pray for God’s protection, and boldness for myself and others.

All in all, I’m making connections everyday, and things are going well. I was thinking today about how I really have nothing to complain about. I have the tendency to think about ‘what if…?’ a lot, and other things I could be doing instead. But right now I just gotta trust that God has me where He wants me, and is going to use me here, for His purposes, not mine.

Visa Mayhem & Korea Malay

Posted: August 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

I write to you now, from a Korean Jimjilbang, or Korean bathhouse as translated in English. For the past few hours, I have been relaxing in the various saunas, hot tubs, steam rooms, and pools this place has to offer. And, might I add, the hot tub area has segregated men’s and women’s floors, for one very important reason: No clothes allowed. Yes I did it, don’t try to imagine it but just know it as a simple fact. It was really relaxing actually, and a very interesting experience. When in Korea, right? Some of you may be jealous, or disgusted, but both parties are probably wondering why I am soaking it up in the lap of luxury on this little excursion. Surely there must be a good reason, right? Yes there is. One being it only costs $10 to stay here all day, and I can sleep upstairs in the sleeping room on a mat with a heated floor. Sounds kind of nice actually, I’m looking forward to it. As you can imagine, spending a night here in Seoul can be costly, so this seemed like the obvious choice for a frugal traveler such as myself. The hot tubs and saunas are a nice bonus, I won’t deny that. Why Korea? Why not? The 90 days on my China visa was about to run out, so I needed to leave the country, I’ve never been to Korea, I have friends there, I like new places, new foods, new sights, new sounds, walking around naked in a bath house…..er wait, scratch that last one. For those of you who think it’s weird, it’s actually quite common here. It’s where families go for a day or two to just unwind and relax. They have an arcade, internet bar, all sorts of restaurants, snacks, massage, Brillo pad body scrub, you name it! I’d definitely do it again, especially for 10 bucks! Anyways, my China visa is good for one year, but I have to leave every 90 days and come back as its only a tourist visa. And my school that I will be working at in Shanghai will change it into a 1 year work visa so I don’t have to leave, but it doesn’t officially start until September 1st. My visa was up on the 21st of August, so I missed it by a few days. “Oh, well. Guess I’ll have to go to Korea,” I thought. I’ve spent about a week here, and fly back to Shanghai tomorrow morning to immediately begin teacher training for the upcoming semester. Your prayers are appreciated as there are still lots of unknowns about where I will live, who I will live with, and what my schedule will be like. I’m hoping to find some great fellowship ASAP, and some cool roommates to share an apartment with. So without further ado, here are the highlights of this beautiful country that boasts an amazing cuisine, when you can do enough hand gestures to actually order something that is……

PS: Special shout out to my friends Leslie, James and Sara for letting me crash and show me around the country! I admire your hearts for the Lord and I will be praying for you indefinitely for God to bless your ministries!

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James and Leslie took me out for some Dak-Kalbi (sp?) It’s a local dish in Chuncheon, a city about an hour and a half east of Seoul. It’s made with super tender chicken, cabbage, rice cakes and special red sauce. I’m not 100% sure about all the ingredients, but it was amazing! They fry it up right in front of you, then you put some in a lettuce or sesame leaf, wrap it up and enjoy.

 

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Then they made a skin coat of rice that was fried, then topped with cheese and rolled up into a delectable little rice cheese roll, also amazing. I didn’t have a bad meal in Korea, if that helps your imagination….

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This is Sara, Leslie, Me and James. They played host, and did an amazing job! Made my time in Korea very unique.

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I also had a chance to meet up with Taylor and his wife Ashley on a day trip to Seoul. Taylor used to teach in Qinhuangdao with me for ELT Edge. He has now moved with his wife to teach in Korea for two years. It was awesome to catch up with him!P1020985 P1020988

Went hiking at Seoraksan National Park in northeast Korea. It has the highest peaks in South Korea and a big Buddha statue to boot. Although South Korea has a lot awesome things going on for it spiritually in Christianity, it still also has a lot of the traditional folk religions, as well as Buddhism.

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Some more statue shots.

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Saw some people rock climbing, I was a bit jealous. It looked like quite a challenge! They were working their way up all day.

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A few more shots for you to take a gander.

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View from the top. The only thing there was a small cave with some Buddha statues in it for worship.

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Back down at ground level. These are a few shots of the river that cuts through the valley, and some of the falls created by it.

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There you have it! Despite language barriers (which can sometimes be the most fun and interesting part), a good time awaits for all in South Korea! I’d recommend it to anyone, especially the food! That’s all for now, thanks for reading and I hope to hear from anyone whose been following! Lift me up as I head back to China and start many new beginnings, and please don’t hesitate to send me your prayer requests as well! PEACE.

Beijing Bliss

Posted: August 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

The camp has long ended, I took a short detour to Harbin and played with the tigers, but alas, ended up back where I started: Beijing, to meet up with all my summer campatriots (I just made that word up, like it? that I had the pleasure of serving with in Inner Mongolia. We had 4 days to ‘kick it,’ Americans in China style, and it was a much needed break/debriefing for all of us. Here are some highlights of Beijing……and there were many:

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Saw some cool bathroom signs at our youth hostel. I’m not really sure how it all works, but I’m pretty sure that’s not it.

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We climbed the Great Wall. (Matt, Me, and Sam)P1020945 P1020943

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Matt, aka Ma Te, aka Matty Poppins, aka Ponicus.

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More Great Wall shots. It’s pretty great.

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We did KTV, a must in China. Many a 80’s jam were sung that eve.

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We walked WangFuJing taking curious pictures of ourselves.

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We ate fried scorpions. Mmmm, crunchy. Check this video out if you want to see if I really ate it or not.

http://www.facebook.com/michael.goffman#!/video/video.php?v=466723721118&ref=mf

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I don’t even know why I added this pic, I just like it. This is right before I left Harbin to go to Beijing. These are my dudes Jack and Federer sporting their new Minnesota duds. Gotta represent! Pray for these fellas.

I’m currently in South Korea, due to my visa running out, but I will be flying back on the 25th of August, where I start teacher training. I’m praying that God will provide me a solid community there, and some brothers to live with and serve with. Your prayers are always appreciated, and really got me through this summer! More blog posts to come soon!!!

Tiger vs. Duck Video

Posted: August 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

Finally…….I got a video to upload. I will upload a few more this week. This is a continuation of the previous post in regards to the Tiger park. It’s pretty crazy, watch if you dare:

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=466708551118#!/video/video.php?v=466708551118

Epic Journeys

Posted: August 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

These last few days have been nothing short of amazing. The other night we got to go a small house chrch in Harbin. We got to worshp with the Chinese brothers and sisters there, and just chill out, hear their stories, pains, trials, and questions. Lots of seekers; that’s one thing I love about the Chinese people is their brutally honesty and directness. It was really cool talking to them and spending time with them, I don’t even know how many times I’ve shared my testimony this past week. The opportunities are plentiful here. The American group here working with them are amazing too, so bold, and so driven. It’s been one of the most encouraging things I’ve seen here in China. It tempts me to come here and join in the the good work in this city. This place is huge, nothing too out of the ordinaryl, close to 10 million people, but something about it speaks volumes. I’m glad to have this opportunity to travel here, see what’s happening, and spend time travelling with the college students who volunteered to come up to the summer camp as translators. Most of them are not believers, but with this spirit of service, I can see the wheels turning. Nonetheless, I am getting super excited about this year, wondering what awaits me in Shanghai, glad that I will be staying in China. I only pray I can find a minstry there like they have here. I’m sure He will provide.

Yesterday…..O boy……yesterday. All 12 of us went to visit the world famous Harbin Siberian Tiger Park. After arriving there, we quickly took our picture with the one month old baby tiger. Then we went into the ticket line where we were pleasantly surprised by the sign that had both English and Chinese. To our surprise, the English version said admission was 65 Yuan, and the Chinese said 90 Yuan. Usually it’s more expensive for foreigners, so this was quite opposite. So I gleefully walked up to buy a ticket, asked her for one in Chinese, to which she politely replied that I pay 100 Yuan. I informed her of the sign and yadda yadda yadda, but no luck. I got a few of the Chinese translators to come up and plead my case with her. She wouldn’t budge. This is also typical here., so I just paid the 100 Yuan and got on with it. Chinese debates can go on for an eternity without ever reaching any point of rationality or common sense. I learned a long time ago to not ask why, unless I’m ready for a gigantic waste of time. But without further ado, I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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The ‘Menu.’

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The only words that came to mind were ‘Jurassic Park.’ They loaded us up into a caged bus, and they had one other guy who drove around in an SUV with a full cage. All the caged areas had safe zones, where the gate would open and we’d drive in an area fenced in with no tigers, just four other gates to choose from. There were hundreds of tigers, it was insane.

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We got a chicken ready, and they flocked to us instantaneously. As we drove around in a circle, they chased us as Jack, one of the student translators with us, dangled a chicken out the bus.

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Waiting anxiously for lunch. Then we released the chicken…..P1020864

Two tigers leaped and grabbed it. This one got half.

 

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This one got the other half. It was awesome. They tore the chicken in half easier than I could tear a spider web in two.

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Some white tigers, albinos I think…..

 

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Feeding the tigers beef strips. They jumped right up on the bus, claws in the cage and all.

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Close ups.

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They were like a swarm of bees on honey.

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This was the duck guy, he threw the ducks out from his spiffy little SUV. He was 100% crazy, his method to get the tigers away was throw a firecracker out, the tigers would jump then he would step out and whip the duck into the pond. One of the tigers was right behind his truck when he threw one out, I thought it was going to get him. A person wouldn’t last a minute in there. And it wouldn’t be the first time a person found themselves as the end of some tiger canines at this park.

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Getting ready to pounce on the duck who couldn’t fly away.

You have to watch the video to see what happens next. When I get a good internet connection, I will upload it and send the link out, I keep getting errors now for some reason. It’s a must see.

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O ya, they had a Liger. Yes, they are real. There’s only about a dozen in the world, due to the rarity of it happening. Ligers inherit gigantism from a male lion and a female tiger. Tigons on the other hand, a female lion and a male tiger suffer from dwarfism. No tigons here though. But i can vouch, this liger was friggin’ huge!

 

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Me and Federer (his chosen English name) and myself with Faye, some our student translators.

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Julia, me and Eve, then Jack, me and Alice, more of our student translators from the south. They are all awesome, I love ‘em.

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Ed and I, he is a cool brother from the states living here in Harbin, doing some awesome things her for the L*rd. Glad I got to run into him here and know him.

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The trainer, Dustin, and myself with the baby tiger. Dustin teaches down south and brought the group of college students up to help us translate at camp this summer, and kindly invited me to this little excursion to Harbin. He’s a really cool brother whose encouraged me a lot the last month, and you can be lifting him up too in you pryrs, as well as the ministry down south.

Serendipitous

Posted: August 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

That is the word of the day. The camp will be wrapping up on Tuesday, but I have opted to leave a few days early with a group that came up from southern China for a month. Yesterday, we all woke up at about 4:30 am to leave camp at about 5:20am on a bus to Hailaer, to catch a train at 8:52am. We boarded the train which arrived at our final destination, Harbin, at about 8:30pm. Yesterday was a ‘travel day’ to say the least. This time of year is extremely difficult to find train tickets, and being the frugal traveler I am, I knew travelling with these guys would be considerably more affordable than flying with the other group, plus I’d get to see a new city and make some m’n’stry connections. And on top of that, we are going to the world famous tiger park here tomorrow. Apparently we can buy chickens or ducks for about $9, a goat for about $90, or a cow for around $200. I’m not 100% sure what will happen, but I’ve heard the tigers are rather ferocious due to not being fed a lot. We’ll see, it should be an interesting adventure, and will likely be up there on my list of surreal Chinese moments.

The remainder of the Americans at camp will finish up and fly to Beijing in a few days, where I will meet back up with them, and enjoy some site-seeing, some R and R, and a lot of reflection together as we debrief before heading off to different parts of the world. And there is a lot to reflect on. It’s been a crazy summer. Some parts seemed they would never end, and others went by faster than I could even process. But G*d was faithful. As usual, He exceeded my expectations. We had lots of chances to share testimonies of personal transformation, as well as just love the kids, staff, and anyone who He put into our path. It’s been super encouraging seeing people ask us questions about our faith, and what drives people to give up their time, money, comfort, and come across the world to a small unknown rural area of China. It’s a very radical concept that most people are not used to, so it really makes them think. I love seeing that. All of our lives we are often taught that money, health, success, family, and wealth will answer all of our problems and questions and make us happy The sad truth is that those things will never satisfy what we are lacking. And in this culture especially, the belief is that health and wealth are the chief end, the purpose of life. A typical Chinese person wants a good job, lots of money, good health, and 天天快乐, which means “happy every day.” It sounds nice enough, but unfortunately the focus is always, like the rest of us too, on ourselves. Our sin nature is relentless, we will always want more, that is until we find the one thing that truly satisfies; JC. And with Him, we can find joy in the troubled times. “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The camp season is coming to a close, and we ended up having a good year. We had a student shortage for a bit, but with His provision, every aspect persevered as some little miracles happened in the final weeks. Again, He hears, and He provides. The camp will continue to be a place for kids to come, have blast learning English and playing games, and experience things they have never seen or done before, and may never see or do again. And their lives may be eternally changed

Inner Mongolia is sort of an anomaly in China. There is quite easily more animals than people, has some of the bluest skies and cleanest air I’ve seen, and is home to some landscapes found nowhere else in the world. It’s a place where you dodge cows on the highway, and tractors go through the toll way (see pics below). Hearts are warm, and the mutton is plentiful. Not until recently have the herdsmen switched to motorbikes instead of horses to round up their animals. Combinations of mud, brick and thatch dwellings abound. Tourism has increased 10 fold in the last decade, but still loads of untouched places remain, especially for the avid hiker. I can only drool at the prospect of being here in the winter with a snowmobile and a snowboard, cruising up to a mountain top that’s never been carved in its history. These mountains do have other history though, just a few miles from camp, next to a small town of about 2000, exists a bunker built by the Japanese military during their occupation in WWII. Actually, the story goes that the Japanese enslaved the Chinese to build the bunker, then exterminated those who had knowledge of its intricacies. It had quite an extensive maze of tunnels, and even some turrets still intact. It does make one think though, what they were doing in such a remote area? It must have been a strategic attack point, or guarding point. I will have to investigate further at a later date.

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The Father has been at work in me, and the whole group, once more. I’ve been exposed again to my own selfishness with my time, my pride and unwillingness to do seemingly lowly tasks. But He’s also been building up leadership within me, and bringing out my boldness in new ways. By putting certain people in my life, He’s pushing me to new heights and lengths, and I thank Him for His continuous faithfulness. I, along with a lot of others, have had lots of cool opportunities to share the Good News, and a lot of the kids kept coming back for more. They couldn’t get enough. When you travel any amount, you learn that despite huge cultural differences, people have the same basic needs and desires, experience pain in the same way, but the Word is the same in any language, culture, or country. And more importantly, people of any culture need JC just as much as the next. Even after feeling down at some points this summer, thinking I should be somewhere else, I know that I belong here, and I’m in my ‘element’ here. I’m excited for this year, as I continue to make connections and see what He is doing all over this country. Keep lifting us up! Particularly these next few days as I am with one other American guy (huge encouragement to me) and his 10 Chinese college students. A few are brothers/sisters, and the rest have all heard the News numerous times, and I hope their hearts will continue to open as they process what they experienced the last month they were at camp with us. I think they are starting to see the little miracles, answers to pryer, and the love we have for them. But some of them are still far away, but I have a really cool and unique opportunity to spend a lot of time with them in the next few days before they all head back to southern China, and I to Beijing.

But for now 再见, which literally translates to “again meet,” or better translated means “goodbye.” It’s midnight here, and the tiger adventure begins tomorrow at 10am.

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Sorry for the laziness! It’s been awhile since I’ve had time to just sit down and write. But I suppose that is a good thing because it means we are busy here. And indeed we have been, the L*rd really answered our prayers and sent over 70 students here last week, and a lot of them stayed for a second week. The group of Americans arrived a few weeks ago, and they have been an awesome addition. Wow, so much to talk about. Seeing my good friend Matt in China is really cool, and I know Matt is having an amazing eye-opening experience. All in all, 16 people came, 4 have since gone, so the 12 additions to our previous team of 5 is really sweet. They definitely added a lot of life, as they were all fresh, ready to rock and roll, whereas those of us who’d been here a month already were getting a bit burnt out. Camp life is really hectic, always something to do, and it’s really cool to be walking out your fa!th, relying on Him daily for all needs. It’s not without its ups and downs though, that’s for sure. The busyness can sure lead to changes in priorities, and it was very evident to me as I had slipped away from my morning quiet times. The rollercoaster has been a wild ride, but it comes with great rewards in lessons learned. Mine being that I’m often selfish, despite what I may think of myself. “From the heart comes all kinds of evils.” It’s always important for us as children of the Father to check our hearts continually, and trust in Him to remove the junk. “He will continue the good work he started in you.” It’s a life long process, and what an amazing journey it is.

After going almost non-stop from June 11 to July 25, with 2 days off in there, it was time for a bit of a break. A few of us had a chance to go hiking for a few hours, and then later on we were invited to take on the local Public Safety Bureau in a friendly game of basketball. It was a riot, and I haven’t ran that hard in a long time. The Americans won, but the Chinese team played well, actually much better than I expected. I went 1 for 8 with 2 points on the night, one steal and a few assists, and a lot of sweat. After the game we hung out with them and they had this beautiful garden in the back where they were growing all sorts of fruits and veggies. I mean, what else do a dozen guys running a Safety Bureau do in a town of a few hundred. Surely there isn’t enough to keep them busy, so gardening is the natural choice to keep them productive. Bureaucracy is great, isn’t it?  It really was a sweet place, and they had some purple peppers that they gave Michael G and I (yes, there is another Michael G here). This one Chinese guy, who spoke little English, handed them to us and said “very very la.” ‘La’ in Chinese means hot, or spicy, so naturally we tried them. They weren’t really spicy at all, but we later learned they weren’t ripe yet. Next time we will see the true spice of the illusive purple pepper in the backyard garden of the local safety aficionados. The next day, Tyler, Kelsey and myself, or the 3 amigos we call ourselves, were invited to visit a nearby city called Manzhouli. This is an interesting place because it’s right where China, Mongolia, and Russia come together. So there is all these influences meshed together in a modern little city packed full of Russian tourists. The architecture makes you feel like your in eastern Europe a little bit, but it still definitely had that Chinese flair. All 3 languages are written on the signs, and the Chinese people who live and work there would constantly assume we were Russian. Even from the moment we got on the bus to go there, an old Russian gentlemen sat next to us and started talking to us in Russian. Then we told him we were American, which was the only word he understood, and he continued to speak Russian to us. We even showed each other our passports, proving we were Americans, as if speaking English and not understanding him wasn’t enough. He proceeded to speak Russian to us on and off for the duration of the 3 hour bus ride, unable to comprehend that people existed who don’t speak Russian. Sign language didn’t work to well, as he kept talking, in Russian of course, and we simply continued to not understand a word, and nod our heads. Oh, well, whatayado?

Today and yesterday were especially fantastic days. We have less students right now, and I’ve been prying and prying to get some chances to share. I haven’t really bonded a ton with many of the younger students, but yesterday I had a few great convos, and felt the L*rd answering our requests. We’ve had lots of cool chances to share how our lives have been transformed, and it’s really cool to watch minds try to understand a lifestyle not driven solely by health and wealth. And yesterday as well, we all went up to the hill for a bonfire and American food. I had an awesome talk with a young guy who is really seeking, and I noticed others having great talks as well. The sp!r!t was really doing something amazing last night! It was one of those days where, for whatever reason, it seemed like the Father just opened up the flood gates. Even earlier that day a group of students were leaving and all the guys students started crying. It was a really cool day, filled with lots of emotions and fruit. The days are filled with ups, some downs, but all a gifts from above.

I could really type for ages, but haven’t the time. So check out a few pics of the last couple weeks, and keep lifting us up. We are a little light on students currently, so please pry that many would sign up and come next week. Most all of them that come have a blast, and they will never forget it, nor will I.

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Me in Manzhouli with my Chinese lunar calendar animal: The Sheep.

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We stumbled up this giant Russian doll park. I liked the one of John Lennon, notice the flag, I’m pretty sure he was from Liverpool….

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They actually had one of Tyler and I’s best friend. Right at the front gate too.

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MMMM, Borsch (Russian soup). And Russian ballet in Manzhouli.IMG_0132 IMG_0128

Found a side by side, 4 wheeler, Jet Ski, and a trolling motor at this weird expo show in Manzhouli. All 4 things I have never seen in China. The Jet Ski was called Sea-Ski, with the exact same font as Sea-Doo.

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Some fire shots up on the hill, back at camp.

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More fire shots.

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Good friend Nike (he chose that name) figuring out how to make smores. He managed to get the cracker, chocolate and the marshmallow all on the stick prior to roasting.

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The team, most of them anyways.

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Funny translation on a pack of almonds.

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A ‘scorpion spider’ we encountered on hike #2. We later found out they were just locusts, but seriously, these things are huge; bigger than my thumb plus a 2 inch stinger looking thing.

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Conquered again. This peak was higher than the one we did a few weeks ago. It was the highest one in sight, so of course it was the natural choice.

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Giant mutant clams they have here and in Manzhouli. Unfortunately, littering still commonplace.

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We found one of the last steam engines still in use in Manzhouli. The guys were working hard and even invited us on board for a free ride!

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Shovel the coal in, pull some levers and let her rip.