Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Malachi and School

Praise the Lord! Thanks for your prayers.


We’re seeing progress as Malachi has not cried for 2 straight mornings. We’ve allowed him to take his children’s Bible to school to read and he has enjoyed that. He told us that he was brave because he knew (realized?) that we would come back for him after lunch. Why it took him 4 weeks to observe that pattern is beyond us. (We have always come immediately after he eats every day.)

A New Excuse for Language Incompetence

My Chinese teacher today asked me to answer some questions in Chinese characters today up on the blackboard.  Well, my characters are VERY limited.  So I told her I couldn’t and she shook her head and said “oh ya, you are fat and tired, you cannot go do the work.”  I shook my head “yes, yes that is it.”  It has nothing to do with the fact that you’re writing in an impossible language, it’s just that I’m fat and tired.  I’m gonna use that excuse all the time now! 





Sunday, May 27, 2007

Malachi's take on pregnancy

Malachi told me the other day that Kesed (that's the name of the baby boy I'm now pregnant with) is "workin' my blood." I asked him seveal times to repeat and he consistently told me that "he's workin' your blood mommy."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More Insights into the Culture through Language

Another insight into the culture through language (we find these interesting)—


Whereas we would say “We went to the movie last night”, they would say [literally translated], “We last night went to the movies.”

For them, it’s not so much what you do that is important, but how you do it. Consequently, the modifying phrase—the adverbial phrase modifying the verb—is emphasized with the words order.


For those of you who like this stuff and are grammar geeks, here’s one more. Let’s say you have the sentence, “I threw the ball to Ryan”. “Ryan” is the indirect object, meaning it’s the thing that is affected by the verb’s action.

But in typical Chinese grammar, you’d say, “I to Ryan threw the ball.” Again, in Chinese culture, the main point is not what you did, but WHO was affected.  


How fitting that the grammar reveals the priority of the culture—the emphasis is on how we do something and who is affected. Sounds like an emphasis we all should consider more…


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Interesting Article

We found an interesting article on the effect of the Internet on Chinese high school students. It's just a brief survey, but interesting nonetheless.

Here's the link: China Kids

Learning a Culture Through Language

We had a cool cultural nugget through the language yesterday. Bare with the details....

The word "qian" means "ahead, in front of". However, so say "2 years ago", you say "[2 years] qian". To us, it sounds like we are saying the opposite of its meaning. Likewise, "hou" means "behind, in back of", but when you say "2 years into the future", you say "hou [year]". Again, it sounds like you are saying the opposite of the words' meaning.

Except for one cultural, philosophical part of their worldview. The Chinese are emphatically past-centered. Americans are overwhelmingly future driven...we are always thnking of what's ahead. Thus, we tend to thnk of time linearly--as if on a line--where the past is behind us and the future is ahead of us. With the Chinese, however, they are always looking at the past. Thus, the past {i.e. 2 years ago} has happened and is thus before or in front of their attention. The future is not yet and so it is unseen or hidden. 2 years into the future is "behind them" in the respect that they are not able to see it now.

Very logical if you come at it from a different set of assumptions....

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Duck Feet, yum

We got to have lunch with some friends today. It was a really fancy Sichuan meal that a Korean family wanted to introduce us to. We soon found out why when we were asked to teach her son English. Gotta love the strings attached events in this culture. But we said no and enjoyed the meal anyway. The most exotic of dishes we had this time was duck feet. They tasted...well...just like gnawing on a duck's foot that stepped in a little soy sauce. But it was fun to have some really great spicey food. Then we went over to the Korean family's home to let the kids play. For those of you who remember, this is the Korean boy that Selah gave the bloody nose to the last time we were here. The other family were some friends from our last time here too.

This is just a fun picture of my sweet Charis Mei.

Friday, May 11, 2007

First Week of Class

After the May holiday, classes began in full effect for both Brad and I. We started class on Tuesday and had a test on Wednesday. The class has already been in session for a few months and it's total immersion. I think Intimidating would be a good word to use here. We have one teacher who keeps harping on us because we cannot read the characters. We just laugh and remind ourselves of the reality of language learning.

We can tell we're improving, just slowly. There are two Russian girls in our class that feed us help when we are looking desperate. They both have good English.

We also found a helper to watch Charis while I'm in class. She seems really great, but this morning was really hard. I cried for a good part of the morning. It's a HUGE faith leap for me to leave my child with a strange woman whom we cannot understand. We have different customs, language, philosophies and habits and off she goes with my youngest child. Charis seemed happy when we picked her up. She came home with a new outfit because the helper assumed she was cold. Those who are familiar with China will not be surprised at this.

We'll update more next week....all in all, it was a good week.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Just in case...

So our oldest thinks of things we don't and it's cool to see her mind work.

We had a local guy come in to help clean the apartment and Selah rushed to clean her own room to help him out, but the part I liked best was that she left a page purposely lying out from her favorite book so that he would see it just in case (she said) he didn't know the Story already.

Then when some other friends were leaving our apartment, she interupted their leaving and asked, "Can we stop and pray for them?" We then got in a circle and she indeed prayed.

Cool girl.

Unconditional Love

Have you ever really considered whether this is possible? If we're honest, most people agree that relationships have some sort of conditionality, but is this correct?

By "unconditional" love, I mean a love that does not distinguish people due to individual distinctness (personality, ethnicity, intelligence...) and that does not truly aim at selfish, privateusage of the other person. Pure love should be universal and mutually joy producing.

How might this actually happen though?

Micah 7:18 has been a profound verse for us in the past months, "Who is a God like you who...delights in steadfast love." The way we love unconditionally is by delighting in such a love. When this kind of love brings us joy or delight, then the love is not conditioned on the object of our affection---we simply get a kick of living, regardless of who gets to benefit. IS this not how our Lord sustains His love--whether Jew, Gentile, rich, poor, male, female..... He delights in the glory of His own nature. When share in that same joy--displaying and depending on His glorious nature--then our love with be unconditional and without end!

Friday, May 04, 2007

James Bond and Family

We got to spend the day and evening with our friend James Bond and his new wife. She is from the same city that we had the wedding, so we stopped by to say hello. Her family was so gracious to us. We made dumplings together and had a great time. They were really jealous of our ability as Americans to have more than one child. We get that often. After the looks of "are you crazy?!", next comes the words of jealousy. Their one child policy is harder than we could imagine on some families who want lots of kids.

Re-Posting of 1st day of school/apt. pictures

There was a glitch in the Blogging Matrix with our blog titled "First day of School/New Apartment. So we reposted the pictures.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Wedding Details

We made it!! I'll give you a brief run down of our time in Tangshan for the wedding. I wish there was a stronger word for exhausted because i would use it here. It was great, but wow, we're tired.

We got the blessing of having most of our section of the train to ourselves. This was a much needed reprieve from the chaos of traveling. This was Charis' first train ride post-womb.

It took us about 3 hours on the train. We met up with our friends at 7 pm. And for those of you with small kids know that everything after 7 is bad news. It's about an hour and a half to her small town. But we had yet to eat dinner and knew that there would be family obligations with our friends. So off to a "famous" restaraunt where we met up with both her and her fiance's families/ Of course no English. By the time we ate, it was about 8:30. We finish up dinner with no huge cultural mishaps and head to her house. It's now about 9:30 and the kids are starting to melt. They have held together nicely so far, but we know we're pushing our luck. After all the introductions and niceties, we head to the room where we sleep. It's about 10:30 now and we're wiped. We all pee in a plastic bowl placed in our room so that we don't have to use the outhouse. And then we hope onto a platform that we'll call bed for the night.

Here's our bed:

I"ll try and keep the rest short. We wake up early and eat bean curd soup and fried dough. And then we wait for everything to begin. We are well taken care of by the family and the town got a kick out of our clan. We felt very honored because we got to sit with the family during part of the traditional parts of the wedding. The fiance has to give the dowry to the brother and he continues to ask for more money. They then look for her shoes hidden around the room. After that, we are introduced and eat a snack with the families. We felt very honored.

We loaded in the car and headed to the restaraunt for the "Western" part of the wedding. They set off tons of fireworks and spray them with silly string.

Now Malachi and Selah act as ring bearer and flower girl. But nobody has any idea what that means, so I, Carrie, am at the back trying to herd cats. Nobody knows who is going where and this is all happenng amongst a crowded restaraunt. But we made it. Brad delivered his message among much noise. And then we ate. And man did we eat.

It was a beautiful wedding. The bride changed three time into beautiful gowns. And then they both toasted every table there. By the end things got funny as we watched the drunkenness level rise. We are hoping for some seeds to have been sown as we spent time with our friends and with their families. It was a blessing to get an inside look at their lives and their families.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Intercultural Exchange

The other day Selah wanted to bring her favorite Book to school, however, we were a little hesitant, not wanting to cause undo cultural offense, since they wold not be familiar with all our commonly loved Stories. Well, we said ok, but only when the other kids were napping.

After school, she informed us that she read it to her teachers with all the kids around. "What did you read them?" we asked.
She answered that she told them about dieing and arising! Well, at least she gets right to the point of life huh?
She then said, "Yeah, my principal was there too."

Let the cultural exchanges begin!:)

Wedding Bells

Today we will leave for a wedding of a good friend. She lives about 2 hours from our home. So we'll load up on the train and trek across the plains of China to attend. She wanted a Western style wedding, with Selah as the flower girl, Malachi as the ring bearer, Brad will be giving a message as the host and Carrie will be the photographer.

We don't know exactly what we're walking into, so stay tuned to our next post as I can guarentee you it will be interesting.

We'll be staying at her home because the only hotel in her town is under construction and we were told it isn't safe there. I have stayed with her family before and they were wonderful hosts. But that was one person....now I am bringing a husband and three small kids. The kids will get to use the outhouse and sleep all in one bed. Like I said, stay tuned for details!
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