Fallen Off the Face of the Earth…

That’s probably what you’ve thought has happened to us…

I’ve been so bad about blogging lately. These last couple of weeks have flown by, and we’ve had a lot going on. I thought I’d post a quick general update to get myself caught up, and then I’ll try to be more diligent in the future.

So here’s what we’ve been up to:

Happy Valley
Saturday, Nov. 10 we went with some English students and one of our co-workers to Happy Valley, Beijing’s version of Disneyland. It was pretty impressive — on the scale of Six Flags. It’s been a long time since we went to an amusement park, but we had a good time. There were some really fun rides… one of my favorites EVER, actually, though it did sort of make me sick. The best part of the day, besides hanging out with some new friends, was the fact that we took like 1,000 pictures! We posed in front of nearly every interesting structure, statue, etc. for a group picture. I really think that was the highlight of our friends’ day… getting lots of pictures to show where they were. We did that more than ride the rides (or play the games, as they say in China). And, speaking of pictures, this was the first time since we arrived that complete strangers asked to have pictures with us. That happens occasionally in China — less frequently in Beijing where there are more foreigners than in other parts of China — and even though it wasn’t the first time for us, it still amuses me. It makes me feel like a rock star.

English Corner
So there’s a place called University City nearby where there are 40 (!!!) universities. We went for something called English Corner, which is an opportunity for Chinese students studying English to practice with native speakers. We were expecting it to be sort of one-on-one, but when we got there, we found probably 70-80 people waiting for us! It was really intense. They put us in different corners of the room and a bunch of students gathered around us. For one hour, we were peppered with questions. Mine were really benign — like what kind of movies do you like, how much do teachers get paid in USA, etc. Poor Jacob got grilled! He was asked what he thought of freedom here in China; his opinion of President Bush; and the Iraq War!!!!! He evaded answering the difficult questions, as the answers he might give probably wouldn’t be considered “appropriate” for some of the questions concerning China, but it was intense, nonetheless.

In preschool one day we painted their faces. This was a lot of fun, as some of the kids really got into it. Jacob made Daniel a tiger, and all day long, Daniel was telling everyone he was a tiger. He’d make what he considered his “scary tiger face,” which was really just his eyes rolled back and his tongue out. He was the cutest scary tiger I’ve ever seen. I am artistically-challenged, so all I really managed were some flowers and butterflies, but Sarah, the head preschool teacher, painted Savannah’s face like a peacock! I love that the kids always get to have fun activities and that their lives are full of joy… I’m telling you, it doesn’t feel like an orphanage here.

We changed apartments, and we’re very happy with our new place. The old place was fine, but this place is on the 3rd floor instead of the 6th, and is just newer in general so it feels a little more comfortable. We’ve got everything settled and unpacked, and everything that we need. It would be nice to add a few “personal touches” to make it feel more like home, but they’ll have to be cheap… 🙂

Thanksgiving Guests
My parents, my brother Daniel, and his friend James all came to China for Thanksgiving. It was great to have family with us for Thanksgiving dinner — which, to our surprise, included turkey! — and it has been fun showing them around. They’ve been great about helping out in the foster home, and just serving where needed. We went to the Great Wall yesterday and tomorrow we’re going to do some shopping and go to an acrobatic show… it has been a lot of fun. At the Great Wall, the boys got to take a slide down… kind of a unique experience, I guess.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I guess I should explain our Thanksgiving Dinner
As stated in an earlier post, the school celebrates American holidays for the students, so tonight we sat down at a big table with a bunch of Chinese students who enjoyed (some more than others) their first Thanksgiving. It was really funny to see them approach foods I consider completely normal (like gravy, stuffing, and dressing) with the same hesitance that I approach pigeon, sea worms, and intestines. And, they were so cute when it came time to share what we were thankful for… everyone was thankful for their parents and teachers. Several were also thankful for Turkey, as it was their first time to ever have the meat.

Goldfish at the Lunar Market
Every few days, there is a Lunar Market. I don’t know what days it occurs — nor do any of the other westerners. We can’t quite figure out the Lunar calendar. But all the Chinese know, and they turn out in droves. We took some of the kids to get goldfish, since we were learning about the letter G in preschool. It was a lot of fun, but I think their favorite part of the day was the popcorn.

Goodbye Party
We had a goodbye party for some long-term volunteers who are going back to the states. The kids got all dressed up in party clothes and came and sang and danced. You really must check out the pictures.

Ok – so this was a very brief update… but I’ve mostly caught you up on our happenings… there are many stories that I’ve summed up far too briefly and too quickly, but I seriously can hardly keep up with the days… Check out Flickr for the visual story…

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE! We have so much to be thankful for…

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