Come to the Countryside and Experience Peasant Life!

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A woman and her son carry sugar cane on Chinese New Year’s Eve

       Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year 2017, year of the rooster. I would like to share my first Chinese New Year experience with you all. This Chinese New Year I find myself back in America on a short sabbatical, but the memories of that first Chinese New Year stick with me like it happened yesterday….It was a story perhaps I could not share until now. The story of my first visit to a Chinese home and an underground church. 

January 31, 2014 Journal Entry

“Come to the countryside and experience peasant life!” This is what my student said to me this weekend, when he invited me to visit his family for the New Year. I was amused by his English, when he called the people in the countryside, “peasants”. I did not really know what to expect, when he said to “experience peasant life”. I would find out! I would find that in some ways the people in that countryside of China still live much like the “peasants” did 500 or 1000 years a go. They still work the land to get their living. Some of the neighbors still had no electricity and none seeemed to have indoor plumbing. The family used a wood burning stove. They hand-pumped their water from the ground. They are very proud of their water though! They excitedly told me it comes from 300 feet under the ground and is free of germs! I envied this a little as you know we must boil our drinking water, where I live in the city. Despite the humble circumstances, the house was full of love and warmth. There was one room in this little farm house, aside from the kitchen, but somehow a dozen relatives and myself gathered in at the table and enjoyed a happy and delicious meal. 

Gambei! Cheers to the New Year & our American friend!

My student’s father proudly told me that he was born in the very same bedroom we were sitting in. His brothers and sisters were also born there. He bragged that there was a lot of history in this old farmhouse!

My student and his father excited to show me their home.

I was also surprised to find that the family was Christian. The grandparents had been Christian for 70 years. They took me to their “church”. It was only a block away from their home. It had a large, tall, closed gate like the other houses. From the outside, it looked just like a normal house. 

The outside of the church. The red banners are a traditional New Year poem.

They told me that this is because the government does not support the church. In fact, they went on to tell me that the churches I see in the city most likely are government-run or controlled. Inside the church though, it was small but pretty like any other church in the nearby city.

Surprisingly the home church could hold about 100 people.

I was very happy to find myself among other believers. They gave me some religious gifts (as well as others), which I know must have came from their own family collection, but I could not refuse their kindness. The family and many other villagers have been Christian for a few generations, since the first Christians came to China, but now they must practice in their own homes. So perhaps I can encourage my friends abroad to pray for them. I can not say exactly where they live, but I felt the joy of the Spirit among them. It was a blessing indeed to be among the bretheren for the first time since I came to China.

We ended our visit as every Chinese New Year visit should end – with fireworks! They have a much louder pop than any I have seen in America. I do not know, who enjoyed the fireworks more – me or the children! 

Fun with fire!

At the end of the firework fun, I was very sad to end my visit and leave my student’s grandparent’s home. 

Grandpa Wang excitedly shows me the bike he uses to get around in the village. Those bricks behind him are his prized outhouse, which was surprisingly clean and organized.  

Grandfather was very shy yet friendly, but his wife rattled on happily in Chinese while I listened to her friendly voice (wish I could say I understood half of it, but she showed me her favorite things like her vegetable garden, hymn book, and Bible. I could undertstand her affection.) The grandma even cried a little, when she first saw me and when it was time to leave. It was her first time seeing a foreigner in her 90 years! I think she thought I was a movie star or something!

It was also my first time visiting a Chinese home! I enjoyed it very much! I hope I can come back again some time! I am humbled this week! These people had so little and yet they made so much of what they had. They were some of the happiest people I have ever seen even without the modern conveniences we take for granted! I feel very humbled today and very blessed! I think I love this Chinese New Year!

                                           Grandma’s house decorations.

Helping grandma cook the meal! Dumplings! The traditional Chinese New Year main dish!

Fireworks were sold by the box for a few dollars!

The Cabbage patch is good for more than eating it seems!

Grandma showed me some of her religious materials. They sang many of the hymns we sang in America.

This yuan dollar is from before the People’s Republic of China. From 1940s.

I don’t know what it says but this is a wall at the home church entrance

 

                             Closeup of Home Church Cross. So real!

Murals are common outside traditional Chinese home. So lovely! Artistic Chinese beauty!

My last view of this family other than seeing my student in school (graduated 2015).  Although I may never see them again, the family and their home church will forever be in my thoughts and prayers!

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Save the Last Dance for Daddy

Due to one health problem after another this past two months, I have not been able to blog. Today, seems like the perfect day to make my come back. It is Father’s day back in America. My mother sent me a picture today of me with my father before my senior prom 13 years a go, in Germany.

Senior Prom, 2001. My, I am getting older. Can't believe it was so long a go!

Senior Prom, 2001. My, I am getting older. Can’t believe it was so long a go!

As I look at this picture, I remember not only the prom, but od all the dances with my father.  Even at my senior prom, the last dance went to daddy. No matter who I went to a dance with or who my date was, I always saved the last dance for daddy. He would pick me up from the dance and dance with me in front of all my friends. Others might have been embarrassed to dance with their fathers at that tender age, but I was always proud of who my father was. I remember when I was 16, at my first dance at a new school I came alone without any friends. It was a bit of a depressing affair. Right on time, my father shows up to share that special dance with me. Other girls looked on jealously and told me later that I must have a special relationship with my father! I am not a good dancer, actually!  I laugh as I remember my father telling me to “relax and not be so stiff. I reminded him of dancing with a  broom or a pogo stick”, but the way I danced did not matter so much to me as the moment. It has been a while since I danced with my father, but my future husband may have to wait at times. I will always save the last song, the last dance for daddy! Happy Father’s Day Pop!

Dad and I at his 70th Birthday celebration in China in April! Despite that I sprained my knee, I think he had a great time in China!

Dad and I at his 70th Birthday celebration in China in April! Despite that I sprained my knee, I think he had a great time in China!

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St. Patty Comes to China

Found on Pinterest

Found on Pinterest

Today, I introduced the holiday of St. Patrick’s Day to my students. They seemed to relate better to this holiday than they did to Mardi Gras (see earlier post from a couple of weeks a go). My students told me that the green-leaf clover is also considered lucky in China. It can be found in certain parts of China. Luck, blessings, and good fortune are very important parts of the Chinese culture as well. My students really seemed to enjoy the pictures, Irish blessings, and a video I shared with them of the Irish clog dancing (I use to love watching the Irish dancers at this time of year, when I lived in Germany). I hope my readers will enjoy them, too! Happy St. Patty’s Day!

day-irish-blessing-and2

Taught some motions with this blessing, too. It was fun!

irishblessingwh

Made an amusing illustration on the blackboard to go with this one! Sorry, I did not think to take a picture.

This one is my favorite!  Told my students to stand in a field of flowers to let the butterflies "light on their shoulders" next time they need some cheering up! :)

This one is my favorite Irish blessing, and I love the picture!  I told my students to stand in a field of flowers to let the butterflies “light on their shoulders” next time they need some cheering up! 🙂

I was so happy after the St. Patty's Parade in Midway, Georgia last year! Missing my family a little! (Man, my arms were fat! I have lost 30 pounds since this was taken)

                                               I was so happy after the St. Patty’s Parade in Midway, Georgia last year! Missing my family a little! 

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English as She is Spoke

The original cover of Twain's book about the English language. Hee-Hee!

The original cover of Twain’s book about the English language. Hee-Hee!  Haw!

I know you have seen a lot of Twain this week, but he  has always been one of my favorite writers! I was so happy to feature him in my classes this week. Yesterday, I gave my students a lesson with English tips and advice from Twain. Here is some advice and English humor from one of the best American writers of all time.

I used this to talk to my students about the importance of "word choice". Choose your words wisely, when writing or speaking in English!

I used this to talk to my students about the importance of “word choice”. Choose your words wisely, when writing or speaking in English!

Many of my students do not bother to proof-read their writing. Used this to encourage them to re-read their writing before submission.

Many of my students do not bother to proof-read their writing. Used this to encourage them to re-read their writing before submission.

I often tell my students not to use very and a lot in their writing.

I often tell my students not to use very and a lot in their writing.

Always telling my students this! You can always tell, when they did their homework with a dictionary in hand. Sometimes, I will not even know the big words they use!

Always telling my students this! You can always tell, when they did their homework with a dictionary in hand. Sometimes, I will not even know the big words they use!

Don't procrastinate, and make sure you have really researched the material thoroughly!

To my students: Don’t procrastinate.  Make sure you have really researched the material thoroughly! Re-write your paper until it is BEYOND your satisfaction! Don’t just be satisfied, excel!

I screamed in class, yesterday! I really did! In three different way! Just trying to get Twain's point across to describe clearly what is happening!  I don't think my students will forget it! Thanks, Twain!

I screamed in class, yesterday! I really did (in three different “situations”).  I was just trying to get Twain’s point across:  to describe clearly what is happening! I don’t think my students will forget it! Thanks, Twain!

To my students: Don't use the same adjective over and over again in your writing.

To my students: Don’t use the same adjective over and over again in your writing. Don’t over-use adjectives, in general! (I am guilty of this, too actually! I LOVE ADJECTIVES!)

Be careful about comma placement. Choose wisely where you will place a comma. I had fun with this one, too! Shared some sentences with and without a comma. Sometimes, we add a pause in English to change the mood or meaning of a sentence.

Told my students to be careful about comma placement. Choose wisely where you will place a comma. I had fun with this one, too! Shared some sentences with and without a comma. Sometimes, we can add a pausing comma in English sentences to change the mood and even the meaning of a sentence.

This isn't really an English tip. I just used this one to tell my students to go the library! Gather wisdom! Obtain new knowledge!

This isn’t really an English tip. I just used this one to tell my students to go the library! Gather wisdom! Obtain new knowledge!

So, there it is. A full lesson on English advice, for my students, using quotes from Mark Twain. I think he would have made a good foreign English teacher!

 

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Must love Dogs AND Cats!

 

 

 

 

I really prefer cats, Mr. Twain. Random cat napping  in front of some cabbage beds at a country farm I visited here in China.

I really prefer cats, Mr. Twain. Random cat napping in front of some cabbage beds at a country farm I visited here in China.

So, I am loving this week of teaching, because the text is all about Mark Twain. One random fact I shared with my students is that he loved cats and dogs. His thought on both animals .

marktwaindogs

marktwaincats

As I said, Mr. Twain, I really prefer cats, but I do understand how you feel about people, sometimes!

As I said, Mr. Twain, I really prefer cats, but I do understand how you feel about people, sometimes!

 

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Witty Twain

Funny caricature of Twain I found on pinterest. My students loved it!

Funny caricature of Twain I found on pinterest. My students loved it!

This week we are talking about Mark Twain in my classes. I giggled at Twain’s wit and veracity as I prepared for my lesson this week! I thought I would share some of it with my readers! Hope it makes you smile a little, too!clotheseatwhatyou lilemoon mothertwaindeath

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Happy Mardi Gras!

Yes, I wore this to class! I call the pants my church pants! They have scenes from church windows. I am hoping to write a post about Chinese fashions soon!

Yes, I wore this to class! I call the pants my church pants! They have scenes from church windows. I am hoping to write a post about  crazy Chinese fashions soon!

I shared the magical holiday of Mardi Gras with my students this week. Some of them said to me, “This is the craziest holiday we have ever heard of!” I have actually have not been to a Mardi Gras Parade since I lived in Mississippi (not far from New Orleans) as a teenager. I imagine the events of Mardi Gras in New Orleans are quite crazy! But to me, it is celebrating the beginning of the Easter season: a time in which we remember what Christ has done for us. If you followed me last year, you know that I gave up meat for Lent. It was a huge challenge, but I actually have cut down a lot on meat products since then. This year, I have decided to give up fried foods and bread, because I have been over-indulging in both since I came to China. We will see how I survive without these staples of China!

So I indulged myself this Mardi Gras by making fried chicken this weekend. It was my first time making it, but I think it was really good!

So I indulged myself this Mardi Gras by making fried chicken this weekend. It was my first time making it, but I think it was really good!

Fried Chicken and breaded potatoes as a side. They also had a chickeny flavor! Obviously giving up meat for Lent last year, did not make me a vegetarian! This Southern girl loves her chicken!

Fried Chicken and breaded potatoes as a side. They also had a “chickeny” flavor! Obviously, giving up meat for Lent last year did not make me a vegetarian! This Southern girl loves her chicken!

My official Mardi Gras dinner was fries with fried tofu topped with roasted garlic cloves and fried green tea leaves (a specialty in this part of China). I really indulged! It was delicious! I will try a steamed version next time!

My official Mardi Gras dinner was fries with fried tofu topped with roasted garlic cloves and fried green tea leaves (a specialty in this part of China). I really indulged! It was delicious! I will try a steamed version next time!

 

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