Tuesday, January 29, 2008

#5: Food in China

My China recounting would not be complete without a glimpse of the food we ate. (You know me . . . I love to talk about food.)

"R-qui"s: One of my favorites. We bought them on the street corner in Kunming. What an amazing breakfast: tortilla, sweet peanut sauce, donut . . . all wrapped together. I miss them.

Favorites: In the village, we ate all of our lunches and dinners at the headmaster's home. They so graciously provided for us. The food was amazing and always plentiful. A few of my favorites: eggs and tomatoes, some sort of fried potatoes, greens, bacon-like meat, peas, ground beef with spices, fried peanuts . . . I got quite good with those chopsticks.

"Joud-za": We were invited by the teachers to join them in making a Chinese tradition. I'm not sure how to spell it but phonetically it's pronounced: "joud-za." (I think . . . Brad may want to correct me on this one.) We rolled the dough into thin circles, folded cabbage and beef inside, and then boiled them. I ate entirely too many for dinner (dipped in sauce). Delicious!

Hot pot: One of the most interesting meals. You pick out random raw vegetables, meats, and noodles from the buffet. Then you put them in a pot of boiling broth at your table (spicy or mild) or fry them on the skillet. We wore aprons so as not to be splattered. Rob brought us random things to try: squid, octopus, duck intestines, quagulated blood, a chicken foot. I like being adventurous with food.

Jana's travel tip: When you go places, eat their food. Don't be afraid to try things. It's all part of the experience.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Two Weeks Done

Thoughts from the second week of the semester:

  • Shekinah Glory started again on Thursday night. We only have about 14 girls this semester. Our first piece is very modern and odd. I like choreographing it.
  • I went on a cleaning rampage yesterday. Even the trashcans are clean. I love the satisfaction and inviting-ness of a clean room.
  • Working on theory homework can make me very frustrated. Especially when I'm already up-tight. I finally finished it tonight, after much-needed help from Megan.
  • I read an entire book on Saturday, just for fun, after my homework was done. "Hattie Big Sky" by Kirby Larson. It's juvenile fiction about homesteading in Montana. I got thoroughly lost in it and enjoyed reading immensely.
  • Charity and I laughed a lot this week. She makes me laugh . . . and I'm so thankful for that. (Love you, Charity!)
  • Megan, Charity, and I watched "The Fellowship of the Ring" on Friday night. I haven't seen the movies in awhile and I forgot how intense they were. Jason--you would be proud of my running commentary and explanation.

Hopefully I'll survive this week--World Christian Action Conference and a very busy schedule. And hopefully I'll have time to do one or two more China updates to round out the trip.

All for His glory.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

MLK Jr. Day

I can't sleep. The caffeine from my after-dinner orange mocha is troubling me. So, therefore, I decided to get out of bed and get something done instead of just laying there, thinking.

Classes were cancelled on Monday from 1-6pm in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The 9 RAs and 2 RDs from Founders Village went to Hope Rescue Mission in South Bend. Three played with kids while the rest of us sorted and organized the donations. I called it before it happened: the girls plodded along steadily from 1:30-4:30 while the guys started goofing off and trying on random outfits after the first 45 minutes. Hilarious. That's exactly what happened in Montreal and Chicago.

I had a good weekend, despite the cold. It was so frigid that Charity and I ran back to the dorm after our hour workout on Saturday morning. Brrrrr. Needless to say, I stayed in my room for the rest of the afternoon. I bravely ventured out again for church on Sunday. It was good to get off-campus and see other people who are not my age.

Charity and I watched "Herbie: Reloaded" on Friday night. I so enjoyed just relaxing with her and laughing and remonstrating with the movie and making loud exclamations and all-around enjoying the film and her company.

Tonight I delivered toilet paper and Grandma's cookies. The chocolate-chip and oatmeal-raisin just about tied in popularity. Only two rooms out of twelve didn't open their doors. That's not a bad percentage.

My theory assignment took me 2 1/2 hours this evening. And I worked for over 2 hours on a case analysis for Business Policy, analyzing Whole Food Markets and making recommendations for the future. After procrastinating for awhile by playing on Facebook and getting interrupted with wonderful phone calls (Julie, Dad, and Alexis), I finally got it started and then it wasn't so bad after all. I guess I'm a business major for a good reason: I like it.

I discovered a new weakness of mine. Cookies. (Or maybe it's just that I'm finally admitting it.)

I hope you enjoyed this smattering of tidbits from the enormously exciting life of Jana Alexis.

Friday, January 18, 2008

#4: Team and Travel

Is it apparent yet that I love to travel? So many aspects of my China trip I loved, not the least of which was my team and the experience itself. I've never been on a mission trip with a team of only seven before. It was (see picture below) Beth, Brenda, Brad, me, Gary, Erin, and Tallie.

Brad bothered me (and I bothered him right back). I made sure Tallie paced herself when we ate. Beth and I chatted while warming-up in our sleeping bags and I finished her rice for her. Gary made all of us laugh. I enjoyed watching Erin with the students. Brenda gave me back massages (and was a wonderful "mother hen" to the team). What a great team!

My new best friend was our friend's 4-year-old son. We played together for three hours on the way to the village. I told him a story about Jared-the-dinosaur and Claude-the-turtle (just making it up as I went along). His chatter was so refreshing. We enjoyed playing together in the village and wrestled with a minature dolphin on the morning we left.

The following pictures show our hotel, a market, a senic shot of the village, and the van we traveled in.

I enjoyed the whole China experience: public transportation, squatties, Chinese McDonald's and Pizza Hut, markets, chopsticks, honking, mountain roads, 13 hour plane ride, bartering, walking, freezing one day and warm the next, layovers, rice, taking your own toilet paper wherever you go . . . . . there's nothing quite like it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Back at Bethel

One more semester left of my undergraduate career. I started off with a bang: getting sick the first night back. I'm feeling better now, though, and getting into it. It doesn't look too crazy so far: classes, Shekinah Glory, RA responsibilities, Insiders Bible study, and work in the Semester Abroad Office.

My classes should be interesting. I'm taking Intro to Human Resource Management, Speech, Business Policy, Intermediate Accounting II, and Music Theory. Only 15 credit hours this semester. I have one class on M-W-F, three classes on T-R, and one private tutorial.

Today I spent some time in the library, finding fun books to read. I have a few goals for this semester and one is to read more. I currently have a commentary on the Gospel of John by F.F. Bruce, two novels by Elizabeth George Speare, and "My Heart's Cry" by Anne Graham Lotz, among others. Other goals for this semester are to get back into my exercise routine, floss my teeth every night, and get closer to Jesus.

Charity and I have a new roommate: Megan Jordan. She was studying abroad in the Dominican Republic last semester. (Holly is studying abroad in New Zealand, Australia, and China for her last semester.) I think it's going to work out really well with Megan. She is a junior Liberal Studies major--business, accounting, ministry, and music.

I think that about wraps it up.
Here I go . . . for the last time.

PS: No worries. More China stories to come.

Monday, January 14, 2008

#3: Dancing in China

Line dancing will never be the same for me again. We taught the students on the basketball courts surrounded by beautiful mountains. Mr. J, our Chinese contact in the village, joined in with gusto but the students were more hesitant at first.

Monday we taught a few students informally on the courts. Then, Tuesday they brought in their local dance teacher to teach us a Tibetan dance in return for some line dancing lessons. The teacher was such a beautiful dancer. I loved watching how she moved her hands. Tallie, Beth, Erin, Brenda, Megan, and I got up on stage to learn the dance. It was slightly disconcerting: all eyes on us, a different language, and no mirror. We did it, though.

Next it was our turn. We taught them the electric slide, the electric slide with the stomp, and the "chicken" line dance. A few of us led on the stage while the rest danced among those learning. More teachers and students joined in. It was a long session, about 2 hours; they wanted to keep going.

On Wednesday we line danced for about 45 minutes in the later afternoon (after they were done playing basketball). Brad figured out a way to hook up his phone to their system and we danced to Chris Daughtry. I'm so thankful for the open door of dancing. It definitely served to lighten the mood and gave us something we could do with the Chinese even though we couldn't talk to them.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

#2: Teaching English

Teaching was certainly a stretching—and rewarding—experience. There are 760 students at the middle school and 61 teachers. I taught Miss “Trien"'s two, 2nd grade classes (ages 13-14) on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning. Each class was 45 minutes long. I began with knots in my stomach, feeling ill-prepared, and praying, “Here we go, Lord.” Yet each time I finished energized and excited. The students wanted to learn and were so honored to have native English speakers work with them. We were reminded many times: you speak English and therefore you are the expert.

I employed a variety of methods in the classroom, sometimes coming up with ideas on-the-spot. For example, we sang Christmas songs, played games such as "Pass the Tissues" and "Boys Against Girls", reviewed vocabulary and conversational questions, sang “Head and Shoulders” with body vocab, and taught the American greeting of shaking hands. I wrote on the board a lot and tried to use games to review the vocab whenever I could.

My students knew textbook English but could not carry on a conversation beyond three or four sentences. They did ask me lots of questions, sometimes with Miss Trien translating: Have you been to China before? Do you like our school? What is your dream? What does your father do? Can you speak Chinese? What sports to you play? What actor do you like?

It was certainly frustrating at times. My teacher could not speak English very well. Another Chinese teacher would often need to translate when she wanted to talk to me. Also, we were not informed ahead-of-time what the teachers needed. Therefore, we did not know the students have a test at the end of January they need to prepare for. Also, because of the lack of communication, the teachers could not tell us how we could help them or if what we did actually was of assistance.

Wednesday morning they volunteered me to teach the "model English lesson" for all of the Chinese English teachers. I was terribly nervous, not at all confident, and completely unsure of what they needed or wanted. But, I did it despite my inadequacies. Words from Jill Briscoe encouraged me: "For this we need Jesus. And for this we have Jesus!"

I am thankful for the ESL open door. We are unsure whether the door will open again but that is okay. Praise God for the opportunity we did have. I pray we were an encouragement to the teachers and a source of inspiration for the students to practice their English!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

#1: Sasha

The following blogs I hope will give a glimpse of my time in China. What words suffice to convey my feelings about the trip: incredible, amazing, precious, growing, learning, wonderful . . . None do it justice.

The first day in the village a student found me and asked me to help her with English. She introduced herself by her English name: Sasha. We took a picture together and she asked for a hug. On Tuesday we talked about my family and different animals. She asked me about my dream and I told her: for everyone to know God. Her dream is to be an English teacher.

On Wednesday she found me again. Communication was hard with her limited understanding of English but I smiled a lot. Her hands were freezing and so she held mine to warm them. The last day, Thursday, I was already in the van when she found me. She reached inside and almost pulled me out to give me a big hug. I wish I could remember all that she said in those last moments in the crowd of crying people. I do remember she said something about teaching her more than English.

My heart hurts for her.