Friday, August 31, 2012

"Restore to me the joy of Your salvation"


We should be the most joyful people in the world, because we serve a great God who has redeemed and saved us! The mighty work of salvation in our hearts should result in great rejoicing. But do you ever feel like you're just going at things without the joy of the Lord? May this be our prayer in such case, that God would restore the joy of His salvation to us, and that would overflow in our lives.


Katie

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Days in the New City

Although we were tired, we pulled through our first day, unpacking in our hotel, and meeting our administrators. We were told that the four of us would teach at 3 separate schools. One was right next door to our hotel, but the ones my brother and I taught at were about 15 minutes away. A couple of the administrators couldn’t really speak English. We knew they were concerned that we were too young when they met us. Quite a discussion entailed (all in Chinese, of course), and we smiled, wondering what was going on. Apparently there were some concerns about our ability to teach, since there wasn’t much of an age gap between us and our students. The expectations for us were high.

We gathered together and prayed that night. We knew that we had walked into a spiritual battle, and that if God didn’t work, we would not be able to do anything. We were completely dependent on Him.
My school: I taught on the 4th floor

I walked into my class the next day, unsure of what to expect in the number of students, and with no ideas of whether I would have adults “watching” me or not. My English assistant sat in and watched, and was pleased with me. Each day I was scheduled to teach three 50 minute periods to one class. Before the third section of the class had begun, my English assistant approached me about teaching another class in the afternoon, to a group of elementary kids. I was surprised, and felt incompetent, because I had done absolutely no preparation for that age group. I asked the age, and was told they would be around 10 or 11. I agreed to a “trial lesson”, asking if I could teach the first day and then determine if I could do it. I explained that I was not prepared to teach younger kids.

All my teaching supplies were held in my backpack

The classroom


My outdoor "classroom"
So that afternoon I headed to the park to teach my first lesson with my elementary students. The class was supposed to be 2 hours. How in the world would I fill that time?

The lesson went well; thankfully dad had brought and prepared elementary material and I borrowed his books and ideas. At the end of the class, I was told that we would have class again the next day at the park. I wasn’t given the option to quit. “Okay,” I thought, “I guess I can do this!”



Katie

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Travelers


(detailed conclusion for this post

We flew from Shanghai to Beijing. The first two weeks of teaching were over, and we were headed to teach in another city for two more weeks. It was sad to leave Pinghu, because of the friendships started. I felt like I was just beginning to know my students.

We arrived in Beijing, and waited for my dad’s flight to arrive. It was supposed to be a couple hours, but his flight was late, so we waited a couple extra hours. When he finally arrived, we headed out with our host and drivers to head to the next city. It was supposed to take a couple hours or so, but as we saw the pouring rain and standing water, we began to question whether we could get there that soon. Little did we know that we were in the middle of the worst flood in Beijing in over 60 years. We spent several hours in stand-still traffic, because the road was too flooded to get by.

But it wasn’t just that. We also got lost. Not only was it getting late at night, but we were lost in the middle of a big storm. Eventually I began to realize that we weren’t going to make it there in 4 hours. It was going to be an all-night adventure. I journaled “The less sleep, the more grace, right?” I did not know the extent of how that would be true for me in the next two weeks, and how dependent I would have to be on God’s grace.
flooding



At about 6 in the morning, a hymn came to mind, and I began to sing:
When through the deep waters I call thee to go
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress

When thro’ fiery trials thy pathway shall lie
My grace, all sufficient shall be thy supply
The flame shall not hurt thee I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine

I knew while I was singing that I was probably mixing verses, but it didn’t matter. Here we were, going through “deep waters” (flooding!), but it was comforting to know that God was there and He had a plan in mind, even in the difficult situations.

A little while later, as I was reading my Bible, I came across this passage: “As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left.” 2 Corinthians 6:4-7

We arrived in our second city exhausted. It was 9:30 in the morning, but we hadn’t slept much in the car all night. But God was faithful, and we made it there!


Katie

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

From Beijing to the Second City...

  • 2 hour drive turned 13 hour trip
  • 1 Chinese-only speaking driver
  • 14 cigarettes (driver)
  • 1 gas station
  • 8 or more directions from strangers
  • 1 one-way street, facing cars head-on
  • Numerous breath holdings (due to smoke and driving fear)
  • Hours of stand-still traffic, due to flooding
  • A majority of our belongings in a separate car
  • Way too many repeats of the same few secular songs, most of which I could not stand
  • Coke zero and one water bottle
  • Few snacks to hold us over from our lack of dinner
  • Doritos at 4:30am
  • 5am breakfast at an interesting Chinese fast food place
  • Multiple unsuccessful attempts with skyping through 4G, finally working 10 hours later
  • Arriving after 13 hours of driving, exhausted from a lack of sleep
  • 1 great learning experience
(more details in the next post)

Katie

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sufficiency

One of the things God began to lay on my heart during the first two weeks in China was that He was sufficient to meet all my needs, and all I needed to do was turn to Him. I saw how it was easy for me to become self-sufficient during my teaching because everything happened so fast, and was going pretty smoothly. There were two passages God specifically used spoke to me through.

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work… He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
2 Corinthians 9:8, 10-11

The fact that God is able to make all grace abound to us is worth stopping to think about because it is such a true and wonderful statement. But something else that God taught me through that passage was that not only does He do the work and increase our harvest, but by doing so He receives all the glory that He alone deserves. It is nothing I do, because I can do nothing apart from Him. Verse 11 then reminded me that it will produce thanksgiving in our own hearts! As Hudson Taylor so wisely wrote, “Let us see that we keep God before our eyes, that we walk in His ways and seek to please and glorify Him in everything, great and small. Depend upon it, God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies.” I felt so thankful so many times while I was in China to be able to be there and watch God work.

God also used 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 to remind me of something crucial: “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.”

Little did I know that not only was God trying to teach me something amidst of my teaching in Pinghu, but He was also preparing me for what would happen in the next city I would go to.


Katie

Thursday, August 16, 2012

First Impressions

We arrived in our first city in China, Pinghu, early afternoon. I was surprised that it didn’t feel as much like a foreign country as I expected. It was similar to the US! I guess I didn’t experience “culture shock”, at least that wasn’t my first impression. We ate our first meal at the buffet at our hotel. There were many options, but not many that looked appetizing. I realized quickly that at this buffet, the oily green beans, white rice, and yummy watermelon would be a staple at mealtimes. For variety I went for noodles or soup. We quickly learned how to use chopsticks, and it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I expected.

Self-portrait in our hotel room

Around town

City view from our hotel


We settled into our rooms. I was confident that my roommate and I would work well together, even though I hadn’t met her before the training for this trip. We did work incredibly well together, and got to know one another pretty well after rooming with each other for a month!





Our wonderful hotel room



We went to a grocery store one afternoon in Pinghu, so it was fun to see and compare things with the US. Everything in the city was packed together. Stores were always built up; there were floors and floors of apartments. Nothing was one-story. In the grocery store, it was neat to see US name brands in Chinese, and see what the store carried in comparison. Finding “oatmeal” was a funny experience, because the one English speaking person didn’t know the word.



Parked outside the grocery store



Checkout



 We began teaching a few days after we arrived. The first day, the intrigued look on some of my students’ faces made my day. I was so happy to be there teaching them! There were certainly some that “stole my heart”. While they were only a few years younger than me, they felt like my students. I loved reading through the journals that they wrote to me the first day. They would sometimes say things like: “The most surprising thing is that American teachers have come to our school to teach us. That would be the most unforgettable thing forever.”



For many of them, I was their first foreign teacher, and was about to leave a lasting impression for them of Americans, foreign teachers, and the English language. I could only pray that it would be a good one, and that God would use me to be a light to them.

Katie

Monday, August 13, 2012

China: The Beginning of Everything

When I was little, I remember dreaming of being a missionary in Africa. Or maybe even a teacher in Africa. I vividly remember a picture I drew when I was young of myself teaching young African children. When I was 11 years old I wrote of this aspiration in a journal. I always envisioned Africa to be the place I would go if I ever went overseas, even for a short period of time.

Little did I know that 9 years later, I would visit a completely different continent. One that had never crossed my mind before. One whose culture I felt clueless about, whose people I did not know, whose language I had never studied at all, but one with many who were eager to study my language.

Yes, my language. English.

I’ve always enjoyed the English language. In school I enjoyed grammar, my daily spelling tests, and writing (provided it was what I wanted to write). I also enjoyed (somewhat pridefully) correcting others’ grammatical and spelling errors.

But I didn’t think of ever teaching English. After all, when I was 16 I began teaching piano, and I loved it. Important things fell into place, like the piano students, so I furthered that interest, without considering many other possibilities.

But then the opportunity came.

I was asked if I would like to teach English to Chinese students, in China. Sounded interesting, but as I thought about it, I decided it wasn’t for me. At least not the timing. In mid-January a friend approached me about re-considering my decision, because they still needed a couple teachers. I talked to my parents about it and prayed about it for a couple days, and made the last-minute decision to go.

So that was it. I was going to China.
(More to come!)


Katie

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord, or declare all His praise?" Psalm 106:2 

"You have multiplied, O Lord my God, Your wondrous deeds and Your thoughts towards us; none can compare with You!" Psalm 40:5 

My heart is overflowing with praise right now. I just returned from 4 1/2 weeks in China. (hence the previous picture from my email) God has been good! I have lots to share soon. :)

Katie

Friday, August 3, 2012