Sunday, March 30, 2008

What a difference a few months makes

Several months ago, in late autumn, Siping got hit by a big snowstorm. My students could hardly contain their excitement at the snow's arrival. There was giddy laughter and snowballs were sneaked into the classroom. When I asked if the students liked the snow there were gleeful cries of, "Yes, it's so beautiful!" Just this past week, yes, in the last full week of March, Siping was hit with a similar snowstorm. However, this storm didn't receive quite the welcome of its late fall brother. As I discussed the weather with my students, not a single one praised its beauty. Instead there were groans and sighs and questions of, "Will spring ever arrive?" I think everyone is ready to appreciate the beauty of fresh blossoms--not the purity of a fresh covering of the white stuff. Hopefully this will be the final blast of winter for the year, but then again, this is the Dongbei. Several months ago, Dou dou and Tong tong, two children at the orphanage, were completely unaware that two special families were in the final waiting stages of bringing these special children into their families. They had no idea how much time, money, and energy these parents were expending to bring them home. However, this week both children got to experience the embrace of mother and father for the first time. The privilege of having a front row seat to watch the beauty of adoption is one of the greatest unexpected bonuses of my work here. This week, Jennifer and I got to travel to Changchun to meet up with these families. Reflecting on this process always reminds me of our Father's great love as He eagerly pursues and waits to be united with His children.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

My heart is in Florida

I'm finishing up a very busy weekend and beginning a very busy week, but I just had to put up a quick post to say that I've got the most adorable nephew ever! :) I know I'm slightly prejudiced, but this sweet little guy makes me want to fly back to the States TODAY!
We had a great celebration this weekend with visiting teachers from Changchun. It was good to spend time reflecting and rejoicing over the great gift of this weekend, as well as share in laughs and good food. We simplified our feast for 20+ people by getting fried chicken from KFC. I know, not my first choice, but it sure made life a whole lot easier! I should have some pictures up sometime in the next few days. Hope you all had a wonderful celebration!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Welcome to the world!

Ethan Michael Rommel made his entrance into the world Monday evening at 8:30 pm (States time--he's a St. Patty's baby!). He was 8 lbs 12 oz and 19.5 inches long. Both baby and mom are doing well! I'm usually extremely strict about cell phones in my classroom, and will confiscate phones if they go off in class. However, Tuesday morning, I asked my students forgiveness and announced that I was leaving my cell phone on in anticipation of my nephew's arrival call. That announcement resulted in cheers from my students. Sure enough, during my second class of the morning, my parents called to make the announcement. I was in the middle of a listening activity with my students and was completely flustered--both during the call and for a bit afterwards. I'm super excited about beginning the "aunt-phase" of life...and quite sad I don't get to meet my nephew for another three months. However, it's been cool this week to see reminders of why I am far across the sea from family and friends...and why that decision is well worth the sadness it sometimes causes.

On a far less significant note, Tuesday morning we had one of the strangest weather phenomenons I've seen in China--not only did we have an intense sand storm (not at all uncommon during spring), but it was combined at the same time with snow showers. It was quite literally snowing dirt. Ewwwww... When I got back to my apartment and took off my coat, there was a distinct line on my pants between the part that was covered by my coat and the part that was exposed to the elements. Once again, ewwwwww.

This weekend we have some teachers coming in from Changchun to celebrate--we'll probably have about 25 people for Sunday dinner. However, to avoid some of the insanity of cooking with 6 toaster ovens for two dozen people, we're going to pick up fried chicken from KFC. We'll still do all the sides, desserts, etc...but that will relieve a lot of pressure! Shhhh...don't tell, no one will ever know!

The "big events" will continue Monday as Tim Davis, our company's president, comes to visit. At our annual conference the team pressured him into a quick visit and we're thoroughly looking forward to having the big guy around for two days. As you can is busy! So back to work I go...thanks for all of the thoughts for my sister & family. Continue to lift them up through this transition time!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

End of week one

It's hard to believe I've only been back "at work" for a week! There has been quite a bit of activity since I received my class schedule late last Saturday night. This term is looking like it will be a busy one, but I'm also really excited about the schedule I have. This semester I'll be teaching two sections of junior advanced listening, two sections of sophomore writing, and one section of sophomore oral. I've previously taught the students in three of those classes before, which helps with the name learning process! Wednesday morning is shaping up to be one of my favorite mornings; as I get to teach both halves of sophomore class 5. This is my third semester teaching this class and they're just a delight!

It's been really good to get back into a schedule and to catch up with friends. Meals have been packed with the latter of those activities. It's been fun to reconnect
with old and current students. It was fun to go back to the orphanage to see how big all the babies had gotten in the past month and a half! The young ones forgot us foreigners, which led to a tearful first reunion, but they're getting used to us again. We continue to be blessed with our relationship there. This week, one of the baby girls will be heading in for her cleft palette surgery. Keep her in your thoughts!

There is much to be thankful for in the past week...but the overall summary is I've been reminded of how much I really do love my work!