Friday, November 30, 2007

Coming up for air

My grading is done for all three of my classes Monday (and it's only Friday!). The house is perfectly clean (thanks to recent added help). I'm caught up on laundry. Plans for winter break are mostly complete. All urgent emails are responded to. I spent a chunk of time tonight doing grad work. And for about the first time in at least a month I actually feel on top of things, instead of being carried along by an unmanageable current. That feels wonderful...even though the feeling may be somewhat momentary!
This past Thursday I went to the orphanage with a student to donate some money to pay for the surgery of the boy with spina bifida. We were wonderfully surprised (as was the orphanage earlier in the day) with the news that an organization from Changchun had come that day to pick up that baby, the premie, and a girl with hearing problems. The organization will take care of them and cover all medical expenses. I was thrilled with this answer, especially for the premie who the orphanage just isn't equipped enough to take care of. It was also really awesome to just hang out for awhile at the orphanage. Saturdays are usually pretty crazy with many students and people crowding the place. It's wonderful for the kids to have all of that love and attention. However, it was also cool to observe them in their "normal" daily life. Their personalities definitely shined through even more.
Thursday night Sonny, Seth, and I went to the English department's talent competition. There were a lot of the same performances that we're used to. However, there was a comedy skit based on Romeo and Juliet that really made me wish my Chinese skills were better...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Perhaps you are unaware of this fact, but turkey is quite difficult to find in China. This being so, I have gone all three "turkey" days in China without turkey. Yes, I still have plenty of good things to eat. Yes, I keep up the Brandt family tradition of making Grandma's rolls for thanksgiving (and all other holidays per team request). But I must admit I've missed turkey. Consequently, when we went to Changchun this past weekend and found a 20 pound frozen turkey for sale at the import store, I (and the rest of the team) was quite excited. Granted it cost 300 RMB, but it sure is going to be worth it! I wasn't loving the bird so much carrying it as I raced down the platform to catch the train back to Siping...but once again, it's going to be worth it.

The light at the end of the semester tunnel is beginning to be visible. In most of my classes there are only four class periods left. 'Tis the season of much grading. And piles of graduate classwork... Yet today I set the work aside to put up Christmas decorations. I absolutely love having Christmas decorations up in my house--I wish I could leave them up all year!

Monday, November 19, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

I know, it's not even Thanksgiving yet. But the fierce winds and swirling snow outside my window seem to foretell that holiday. Mark down November 19th as our first snowfall of the year (other than a few random flurries before). In addition, Buckeye nation received an early Christmas gift (or a reason to be thankful) this past weekend as they defeated Michigan for the fourth time in four years. With a few more upsets, that present could grow exponentially larger if we get the chance to play for the national championship. All I can say, whether it's roses or bigger, I'm hoping we're not playing a no huddle offense...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Orphanage reflection

With weekly trips to the orphanage, it's easy to become numb to the emotional shock and burden of a building full of children without the love of a parent. For some reason, that numbness wore off a bit today, as I found tears pooling in my eyes. There were joyful moments in the day. There were numerous students from the Chinese department at our school who crowded the place with love and attention for the children. There was the smiling face of a cheerful toddler who will begin a new future when she meets her parents this Tuesday. Her world is about to be turned upside down as she trades all of the familiar sights, sounds, and faces for a family that has been eagerly waiting to meet her. Knowing the love that is awaiting her just warms my heart. But at the same time, sorrow and grief washes over my heart. There's the premature baby found in a plastic bag fighting for life in an incubator who looks scarily worse than the previous week. There are babies who have been fighting colds for weeks. There's the tiny little girl who just doesn't seem to be putting on weight. Then there's the little boy who has captured and stolen my heart. We believe he has spina bifida, and the sight of the sores on his back make me cringe with grief. Holding and caressing him I felt utterly incapable of relieving his suffering. It sounds rather cliche, but really, at the end of the day one of the only things left to do is to release these tiny lives into the Father's hand. On a more practical note, we're discussing getting students involved in doing another fund raiser for the orphanage. The money raised would go toward surgeries and medical care for babies like the boy suffering from spina bifida. It is wonderful to see students who are becoming passionate about the orphanage. In the end, we would love to see our role diminish and theirs increase. For if a day comes when we're no longer here, they are the ones who will carry on in loving these kids.