Orphan Camp Trip

Leaning Back - Day 2 in China Trip #14

Over the past 4 out of 7 years, after growing up and out of a reliance on a welcoming party in China and into my own independence, I have never had an easy time during the first 36 hours of entry into this country.   Whether it has been impolite or grumbling cab drivers rushing me to my nearby hotel so they can pick up another higher paying airport customer, getting dropped off at the wrong hotel and getting locked out of my Airbnb all in the same night, having my phone not work during the most crucial time of needing to verify information, being 5 minutes too late for the recently-implemented rigid time schedule kept by the Chinese airline authorities to make my plane transfer, or simply having my flight canceled, as it was this morning, there has always been an issue.
 
At least I am getting better at minimizing the hardship.  This time I didn’t venture out from the Shanghai airport but stayed right there in the airport hotel.  That way I wouldn't have to deal with grumpy cab drivers, or be under pressure to get my phone connected with my banking and communication apps in order to make my next connection.  When I woke up at 4am, well rested after a very good 4 hours of sleep, I decided to take a leisurely walk around the airport, stopping at the kiosk to get my phone working since it was already a year since I had been here, finding to my dismay that during that time my long-time phone number that was connected to all of my accounts was deactivated.  Having remedied the problem, I then saw the news on the tv monitor that my 7am flight was canceled, I instinctively pushed myself into the small mob of people at the nearby counter and fought to get my place in something that vaguely resembled a line, when I realized I could solve this online.  I pulled out my phone and booked a new flight that would leave a few hours later, walked calmly out of the mob, got a buffet breakfast at the hotel, and went back to sleep.

Arriving in Yangshuo within the first 36 hours would not be as difficult and long of a first leg as I have sometimes had, but there had been flooding the day before my arrival, making the situation uncertain.  In addition John’s car had been hit the day before that, and it was needed to get the orphans to our camp. He had to spend all day fixing it instead of meeting me and helping me to get settled.  Thankfully we still have another day to prepare for Davee, Rachel, Susan and Hannah all get to town to hold our second orphan camp.
 

MONROVIA

Just a few days before, with my long list of involved tasks I needed to finish before leaving, I caught myself in a rush to an appointment with the DMV.  Then, as I drove past Monrovia, instead of pushing forward toward being on time, I suddenly realized and acknowledged that He was my front and rear guard and that I would not go in haste (Isa52), a lesson as I learned on an assignment in Hangzhou a few years ago.  I fell back into his pace, drove right into a full parking lot as a car pulled out of a space very close to the door.  I slid in, walked past the long line of people who didn’t have appointments, and right there in the line with my fellow driver’s test takers, basked in his presence and experienced beauty of the people around me.  Being a few minutes late turned into a very enjoyable, otherwise perfect experience.  I was reminded of the ways his thoughts are above our thoughts (Isa55), like my friend Lori spoke of at Ascent’s commissioning service, thrown for me years ago.  Now on my bus ride into the heart of Yangshuo, as the Chinese tourists around me gawked and took photos of the uniquely shared mountains of this region, I fell back into my seat, and listened again to those words that she and other dear friends spoke over me that day. 

A few years ago, on another occasion when I was driving through, He had impressed on me that “I was not done in Monrovia.”  I assumed it was a word for another group of people but I realized now, that maybe that word was for me.  I pressed in to looking for a place to live within the city of Monrovia, and on the day before I left, found someplace that was exactly perfect for what I was looking for.  I put in a deposit and first months rent, and agreed to move in on June 1st or before then, whenever I wanted, after coming back from my trip. Having been in a few recent situations where landlords were rushing me to move in, in order to start paying the rent, I appreciated this gesture.

FOR YOU SHALL NOT GO IN HASTE

On my journey from Shanghai to Yangshuo, I leaned back into Him again, and began to receive clarity on this trip.  I would have liked to have had clarity earlier, to know how to answer people who asked where specifically I was going or what word I was bringing, but simply did not have it.   On the plane, the specific word around the camp topic of "making mistakes" became a very clear message.  I started to contemplate on going to another place I had previously considered visiting but had considered it a little hard to get to, especially if I was not clear on the purpose, when it bubbled back up into my vision.   My nature is to want to move quickly on revelation, but understanding this as my weakness, I am holding myself accountable to Davee’s ARR model, which demands that I wait even further than this before grabbing and implementing it quickly.
 

Please help us lift up the automobile situation for John as we rely on his car to deliver food and clothing to the poor.  It is having more problems, and he will have to consider getting another one in the near future.  Davee and I will also be working with a number of groups of people who are we are walking more closely with, and as a product of our model, we are not pre-planning a whole lot, a process that adds to both the tension and the excitement.

 

THE GATHERING

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Who wants to run with Carolyn at 6am tomorrow?” Susan asked.  Eight out of the nine children’s hands shot up into the air.  Very surprised, I happily came over the next morning to pick them up.  The 13-year old girl Cherish beat me on a 1K sprint back home.  Her 7-year old youngest brother always wanted to race with me on his bicycle.  “Do you think you can beat me?” he asked.  “Of course I’ll beat you,” I said, “your bicycle is so small.”

Eleven-year old Zefu who is always with his friends on romping around in the village streets when I visit him from time to time, very athletic and a quick study, now out to challenge all of the rules at this camp, always seemed to settle down when we sang praises together.  He and some of the middle school girls had their eyes glued to the video drama of J’s life and death as one of our Chinese counselors translated and explained to them what happened.

“Who wants to go rock climbing?”  The same 8 children’s hands shot up.  From ages 6 to 18, all were eager to experience the fullness of life and activity.

Is This a Legend?

Who heard of J before, I asked?  The 4 kids who were there last year raised their hands.  The 5 new ones said they had not heard.  Who heard of the Boss before?  To my shock, the 5 kept their hands raised.  Susan and Hannah our Chinese leaders summarized and added their own stories and experiences. 
 
Leading up to this time Davee and I agreed at this retreat we would focus on providing a platform the adults to thrive.   As a result they all expressed fulfillment at the end, instead of a programatic exhaustion   The youngest ones received his stories openly and without doubt.  The older ones had doubts and questions:  “Why did he have to die?”  “What is the X?”  “Is this for real or a legend?"  
 
Susan, who just 3 years ago was asking the same questions spoke confidently to them about the matter:  “It’s true!”  She went on to share her experience of coming to him.  It took a lot of people and a long process, but today she stands firm, speaking out of conviction. 
 
For me it was a fulfillment of 4 years of sowing into some of these kids, visiting them with John and Susan each time I am here, seeing their needy and tragic situations.  Some have witnessed their parents’ early death.  Some have been declared unwanted and abandoned.  Some acted out with restless, self-attention getting behaviors, but all were pure hearted.

See Kid Profiles

Follow up

I wanted to see the new house we helped the Mo grandma to raise the kids in.  I didn't realize it was new, because it had the same old brick walls and cold cement floor, but at least there was a solid roof over their heads instead of a leaky one.  Grandma shared about her [deformed] foot condition and we lifted her up.  Five-year-old Mo Hui Quan "Paul" shared his new kindergarten book with me.  He can already read, and is quite smart and able to dialogue with me and other adults.  He thanked all of us for sending him to school last year after not having the means. (click on picture above to see more videos)

Paul's oldest half sister, “Wen Qing” was abandoned by her mother and left by their mutual father when he got in an accident and died 5 years ago. 
 
When I shared the concept that there was a father who loved all of us, Wen Qing came up to me in all integrity and said it was too much of a foreign concept that she could not accept, however she promised to think deeply about it. 
 


I continued to relate with her after the retreat.  A few days later when we met she brought me a Chinese fan as a gift.  Not thinking much of it, I stuffed in my bag and gave her a ride to her school and entered in as a parent dropping off her kid.  She asked me if I could take out the fan because she wanted to explain.  She had bought it earlier and wrote on it in beautiful characters:  “J loves me, I love J…He gives me strength…Thank you Carolyn. Your friend, Wen Qing”  I beamed.  “this is so meaningful, thank you!”  Just then two of her friends called across the school yard to her jokingly.  I called to them in Chinese: 来吧,咱们练习英语好不好?“lai, ba, zanmen lianxi yingyu!” coaxing them to come and join our English practice session.  “Giggling, and very shy, they came up to me. 请坐一下 “qing zuo!”  (please, have a seat!).  We proceeded to struggle through some English phrases.  I later asked them how I could ATL for them.  One friend immediately got teary-eyed and said her parents are both in another city making money and leave her at home by herself.  The other friend also started tearing up, 我差不多吧 “wo chabuduo ba” (practically same for me).  I shared his love and they both immediately accepted and rejoiced, exchanging contact info and allowing me to introduce them to other local friends. 

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Today we are trying to find a way to get me on campus or to get them off campus to meet again.  On the weekends they are invited to Melissa's to share meals together.

Davee found his assignment when a local leader called him to meet for training.  Davee asked me to help him discern this meeting and during the time I discerned that this was his the opportunity hs had been preparing for to release the things long on his heart.  He shared for two days with four others from the local under-gr establishment.  They seemed completely enraptured in the time, welcoming us back to continue to share with them.

May 18, 2019

WHIRLWIND SUMMARY

“Teacher where are you?  We are waiting at the school gate.”  I got a text message on my last day in China.  I had already left Yangshuo 5 days ago but the students had it in their mind that I would come back every Friday to meet with them, and had arranged their weekend rides home  accordingly.  “So sorry, I didn’t explain more clearly,”  I texted back anxiously, “I don’t live in Yangshuo, but Teacher Smile will meet with you!”  I had recently made friends with Wen Qing from our orphan retreat and and her high school friends, and despite unsuccessful attempts to convince their teacher it was ok to cut class or their guardians it was ok to come back early to meet with me, they were still trying hard.  Fortunately there are a few locals, including Smile, Susan and Hannah who will follow up with them.

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Because of the 5 men who came last Fall, many avenues were opened up for us to step in. During my last few days I met with local leaders to work through inner healing issues, seemingly new to them, which they reported using to help others after I left.  This led me to an expedition to Beijing and the northern part of China where more were hungry for healing and teaching. 

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BEIJING

Deeper times with old friends

Deeper times with old friends

HEBEI

Another relationship that pulled me northward, instead of the westward city of Chengdu that was initially on my heart, was the father of Yue and Wendy who I have been walking with over the past few years.  “Jeremy” and his wife Ling drove 3 hours to pick my new friend Smile and me up from the airport, and another 3 to bring us back to their home.  The next day they made the same repeat trip back to Beijing.  Jeremy had come into the body last year while in the US but has not yet found a local family in his own city of Cangzhou.  I hoped to connect them with others in their area, and simply interview this fascinating couple.  I wanted to see and meet the parents who had managed to raise 2 outstanding successful English-speaking daughters (Yue and Wendy) in their little community in China by pulling them out of the notoriously competitive and demanding educational system where school-administered national tests play a central part of a student’s future life and success, and teaching them how to love self-study.  Both parents had been in high school when the Cultural Revolution started, and were forced to quit school and get “re-educated” on the countryside farms.  Mother Ling said they met in the new city after that period, fell in love without a match-maker, and started life, having little clue on child-rearing philosophies.  Fortunately, they were a great match, and after working in the same company together for some years, Jeremy quit his job in order to take the older disabled daughter Wendy around for her high school education.  Yue and Wendy’s parents were extremely hospitable and welcoming

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SHANGHAI

People who work white collar jobs in Shanghai, in contrast to the extremely poor villages I visit in Yangshuo, have a lot of money.  My government worker-turned lawyer friend, whose name is now “Peter” has had so much favor in his new line of work that he has been adopted as a “Party Secretary” a high position in the one-party.  Because he is gracious and humble, as well as big in stature and spirit, he continues to move up the ladder quickly.  Since my Chinese and his English has progressively gotten better, we were finally able to exchange ideas on a deeper level, talking openly about politics and laws.  Since he has always given me much honor and since our communication skills have only allowed for simple conversations, it has been easy to operate in mutual respect.  This time I asked him what he thought of the current laws discouraging faith, and not favoring foreign help or ideas.  Even though all of my other contacts throughout China see the dangers, Peter didn’t seem to think there was any conflict between faith and work as long as people are cooperative, though as we entered cautiously into more complex and dangerous topics, it became apparent he was believing a different gospel.  Because he has until now treated me as a spiritual authority, I risked exposure and shared freely, as I have always done with him, that I am here for that very purpose of "sharing His love."

HIS GRACE

As I stopped to reflect on my trip, I received the embrace from Father that I always get when I complete an assignment.  I have come to know it as a "thank you."  Even though by now I think I shouldn't need it, and really would continue doing everything just the same if I didn't get the hug, I still always feel an undeniable shudder, as if the HS is saying "thank you," which is a kind of grace, not because of what I did but because of who He is.

This time I was on my way to meet with Rebecca, hoping one day soon she will turn her heart to the father.  She hit what I thought was the bottom 2 years ago but circumstances continue to get worse, and it seems to push her farther away from Father, which seems in turn to take more of a toll on her well being.  I said, “would you be willing to just pretend He exists for a week?”  She agreed that there would be no harm in pretending.  Really hoping this will create a crack in her impenetrable wall, that there would be some miracle for her to experience when she turns her thoughts toward him. 

SMILE!!

THE EAST GATE

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A NEW DAY

Morning breaks in Yangshuo on October 7, a day ahead (in real time) of when I began to receive revelation on Ezekiel 9-11.  I had been seeing 9:11 over the past 5 months again, sometimes very often and sometimes not for weeks.  When I read through these chapters, the man in linen with the writing kit at his side stood out.  To my surprise the first time I noticed this man happened to be a reference in Ezek 9:11.  This man in linen· had been sent ahead of the other spirits armed to kill all residents in the city, and this man was to mark those who had grieved the sin in the city of Jerusalem.  Those with the mark would not be destroyed.

 

The wheels in Ezekiel 10 were next to the Chebar (Kebar) River again, and were the same as those found in the first chapter of Ezekiel 1.  These grand visions from the Chebar River are also present in Ezekiel 43.

 

1)    The wheels were covered with eyes, like those in Ezekiel 1.  These eyes on the wheel is traditionally seen as God’s character trait of omniscience, but it strikes me now as the wheel within the wheel being an intersection of the human spirit and God’s holiness (His Spirit, his presence), enabling the prophetic ability to see as a result of being in the glory of God or the presence of God.

 

2)    The wheels, the intersection of our spirit with His, did not turn aside, but each was accompanied by a cherub, going only where the cherub went.  If this wheel has a will, as the phrasing seems to indicate it has, then it is following the glory of God.

 

3)    The man in linen was told to fill his hands with coals from the fire among the cherubim and scatter them over the city, and he did so (Ezek 10:2, 7).  The coal, traditionally seen as a symbol of doom, also may have a purification inference, as the coal in Isaiah 6, used to purify Isaiah’s lips. 

 

4)    Some scholars see mainly that the Glory of God departed from the temple in this passage, though where did it depart to?  The cherubim stood at the door of the East Gate, and the glory of God was above them. (Ez 10:18-19)  This was before all the rebuking and cleansing was to take place.  Then it re-enters through the East Gate (Ez 43:4)

 

CONTEXTUAL HISTORY

The revelation was given to the Chinese just before Cultural Revolution, that the Word seemed to spread westward.  Thus, since they had benefited from the west through Hudson Taylor and others, they should be honoured to carry the Gospel through the most unreached parts of the world, namely, the middle east, through the silk road(s) to Jerusalem that were originally carved out soon after the time of Christ. 

 

The first wave of journeymen (mostly journey-women), encountering severe opposition and weather, ended in suffering and death, but the revelation would be carried through the Spirit to others in generations to come.

ASSIGNMENT

God commands and commissions Ezekiel to observe and participate in purifying the land and the people.  The construction of the new temple keeps the separation between the holy and common. I ponder on what this means for our team of five.


THE BACK STORY

Two weeks ago I attended a gathering for the persecuted believers in Asia.  There I quite easily met Pastor Dennis and his friend, a very unassuming man who blended into an audience that listened to my stories of my journeys through China.  After the Dennis walked away I introduced myself to his friend Gifford and asked what he did.  I was intrigued with him.  “I want to learn to do what you do,” I told him.  A week later I found myself in his living room along with his wife Wini.  This couple whose children are my age proceeded to listen to my story and share theirs.  “The East Gate,” Gifford said, with a pensive tone in his voice, as if he knew something I didn’t. 

 Through my encounter with Gifford and Wini, and through an exercise Debra Fong has been taking AI through, I realized I was on the verge of revelation.


KOBE, JAPAN

It was May of 2015 when I was at the top of a rotating tower looking down at a giant Ferris wheel in Kobe, Japan.  I had an unexpected day off from my itinerary, and called Davee to see if he had any tips before I headed off.  He had been recovering from his first journey to Singapore and Malaysia seeking out the “eye” or “keyhole” which he discerned as a Ferris wheel.  When he mentioned “Ferris wheel” and “eye” a shower from the HS fell over my head.  This was the tip I needed.  Remembering I saw a Ferris wheel where I landed in Osaka, I gathered that may be where I needed to go, but when I began to search the map of the area I saw there was a Ferris wheel in Kobe.  Following the path of bread crumbs, I now stood at the top of the Kobe tower looking at the Ferris wheel when Ezekiel 1 came to mind.  I read it:

 16 This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like topaz, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. 17 As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not change direction as the creatures went18 Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around.

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The opening verses of Ezekiel 1 verse 2 started:   


2 On the fifth of the monththe word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the Lord was on him.

 

I looked at the date.  It was May 5.  I shuddered.  It was there that I saw someone who looked like my grandmother, who had passed away a decade before, and forgave her for the many things I held against her.  It was there that I reconciled myself with my Japanese heritage, something I had shunned in my journeys throughout China with all apologies I had to make to people there on behalf of my ancestors.  It was there in Kobe, Japan where I culminated my reconciliation with a “date with Dad” on the Ferris wheel. 

 

Last Sunday, I attended Catalyst Christian Community where Davee, Sam, Henry, Tony and Rick were commissioned by Pastor Barry and the church. They prayed Catalyst would be a catalyst to the world.  This would also be the catalyst for the revelation that would begin to flow in me.

 

EZEKIEL  (also the name of my 3 year old cockatiel, born in 2015) 


Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east:  And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory.  And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face.  And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the eastSo the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house.   (Ezekiel  43:1-5  KJV)

 

Today, October 3, 2018, I was brought back to this passage through the eyes of the Back to Jerusalem movement whose idea that Asia, and particularly China is a key to opening the East Gate back to Jerusalem.  Something clicked as I realized we as Assignments International had been going about our business in Asia with very little connection with each other’s missions until now, when Davee and Tony and three others are romping around in the town I had developed as my home away from home, and are headed next week to Kobe where I had that impactful time.  I, on the other hand, am here in the US wondering why my assignment is not to be there with them, but just a few years ago, was going everywhere seeing open doors but not knowing why I was walking through them, yet experiencing miracles at each place. 

I now understand the commission to AI to participate in opening the East Gate using our various giftings and methods, and each going at our appointed time.

It is important to go when the assignment is to go, and to stay back and seek the Lord when the assignment is to stay. 

This morning is the first in many which I believe the Lord will use to speak to me about AI’s assignment to participate in opening the East Gate.


Cooperation and Partnering

March 15 2018

Let me introduce Susan to you.  Susan has been my Mandarin teacher for the past 2 years, initially sharing with me her genius test-taking skills, helping me pass my HSK 5 (Chinese standardized) test.  We became fast friends through our love for language, people, and adventure. 
 

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Susan comes from a very poor farming village, the kind I visit in the back country of Yangshuo.  Even though she is part of the “new generation” who was born after China opened to the west in 1979, most of her classmates still stopped going to school after the 8th grade to help their parents farm the land and make anywhere from $6-$16/day or as much as $25 a day working in the local shops as a salaried worker.  As a poor farming village girl, Susan was destined to do the same, but because she was always the smartest in her class, she qualified for the top high school in her area, and one of her teachers argued with her parents on her behalf to let her attend and even offered to cover her living costs.  Then against all odds Susan went on to college, after which time she found a love for English (which she was already good at), and teaching Chinese to foreigners.

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Susan’s fun, goofy, outgoing, and caring personality made her my “go-to” resource whenever I needed translation help when working with the poor and elderly who only speak the local language.  During the past year, she was increasingly available to help me share the gospel and pray with the local people and we booked several trips together with John to travel to the back country to bring food, supplies, and the message of God’s love to the extremely poor and under-resourced.
 

 

Over my November trip, she accepted my invitation to accompany me to an orphanage on a very long and rough trip to Yangchun in the south of China, but that she could finally wholeheartedly give her heart to following J.   

During one of our life and faith discussions, a lightning bolt idea from the L zapped both of us.  Because she is the only college graduate in her extended family of 16, everyone relies on her to send money in order to buy anything substantial.  Although her parents, who are not much older than I am, are very capable, they are still illiterate and live on a $6-$20/day (low farming season/high farming season variable) budget.

Why don’t they learn a new skill?” I asked. 

That seemed like a new thought to her.  In her mind they would always be farmers. 
 
“No one will teach them.” 
 
“Why don’t you teach them?” 你那么能干,为什么你不教他们呢?
 
(lightbulb) “I never thought of that.  That’s a really good idea!” 
 
The next day was spent in excitement of this new thought.
 
Ron Tanaka had said something that she didn’t take seriously but that I remember clearly:  “Susan could change an entire region.”
 
Susan said, “you know, this could change the entire village if they knew how to speak Mandarin and read some simple characters or use a computer.” 
 
Since Assignments International is all about consulting, training and empowering businesses, organizations, and individuals who are working to bring about change and self-sustainability in situations of poverty and loss, it became easy to see how God had once again dropped our assignment into our lap.  
 
We sent Susan off back to China last Saturday but I am really excited to walk with her through this potentially big venture of educating her parents and their village. 

 

SPRING CHINA 2018:  March 29

It would be an easy trip, I thought.  These days going to China always seems much easier than in the earlier days when I had a bare minimum grasp of the language and knowledge of the land I was going to.  In addition, Davee  my colleague from Assignments Int’l who generally has a very adaptable attitude and fun laid back style would be joining me, and I was sure he would add a relaxing element to my sometimes stressful trips.  

 

I was jolted out of this thinking when I first thought I left my cell phone in the taxi, and when shortly after that I discovered my purse with every important document, bank card and loose cash was not with me.  After half an hour of desperately and tiredly looking everywhere, I found both in hidden places within my room.   I made a mental note that I was becoming easily distracted and careless with extremely important objects.

  

The challenges continued.

 

A month ago I had been notified that because of changes in airline routing, our plane flight would leave from another airport in Shanghai and not the one I was used to flying out of.  When we got to the other airport with quite enough time we found the flight had already closed 40 minutes before take off, and we would have to stand in another line to change our ticket.  I knew there were no other flights to Guilin from this airport on this day, but nevertheless defeatedly submitted to the ticket agent’s commanding voice that I stand in another line besides hers.  After 10 minutes of waiting, I was told I had been in the wrong line, and the next line I had to stand in was extremely slow and also full of people who desperately and rather successfully tried to cut in front of me.  Rather than concentrating on blocking out the line-cutters with his body like I was, Davee chose a more helpful line of questioning, asking me what plan B was going to be, given our options.  Thankful for his getting my thinking back on track, I chose to re-route us through Guangzhou, a city I have always tried to avoid, but now the only choice that could get us to our destination without staying in Shanghai another night.  

 

After standing in another long line, our the agent helping us again said we had arrived at the front of the line too late to board our flight.  I raised my voice in English and said, “What?! No! I just came from there!”  The agent encouraged me to push myself to the front of the line if I was running late, and sent me through the same process to change our tickets one more time.  I grabbed the receipt she gave me, ran across the airport floor, and aggressively approached an agent at the desk. “I NEED a new ticket!  This is my 3rd time today!”  “Sorry, quick, take this,” he responded.  I grabbed the new receipt, and rushed Davee to the shortest line.  The 4 suitcases we had been lugging around, mostly full of gifts was already wearing me down, and I unthinkingly sent 3 suitcases through check in when I should have sent 2.  “You’ll have to stand in another line to pay for this third suitcase,” the agent said.   

 

We came across a few other Westerners who had the same frustrating experience that morning and realized something was in the air.  Davee said, “I had a feeling I was supposed to go to Guangzhou.”  I called Susan, John and Melissa who knew Guangzhou well and coached us through what to do, thus decreasing my anxiety.  

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The re-routing would add another 10 hours to the journey, but in the midst of this Davee led us through some declarations over the land in this untreaded territory, and over the Guangzhou train station where thousands of people rushed across the open floor.   Afterwards I felt a peace fall over us.  “Do you feel that?” he said.  Without asking what he meant, I said, ‘Yes, I do.”

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Tired, dirty, and longing for a bed, we arrived at one of my favorite little towns in the world.  John who had been keeping tabs on us all day was ready to pick us up from another train station much further out and much later than anticipated.   Seeing his familiar smile and smelling the moist air that embedded the vast green hat shaped hilly landscape made my soul breathe a deep sigh of a relief.  I felt like I was coming home. 
 

April 3, 2018

Back Country

Our first full day in Yangshuo was Easter morning and we had a sweet reunion with Susan when John brought her and her good friend Blue to go out to the country to see the kids we have been supporting.

 


The bathroom we built now had a working shower was working and John brought a closet and some beds for them to lie on at night. With the donations we were able to bring food and pay for school tuition. 

Davee shared about Mona Warren's kindergarten class raising support to help other kids like them who have less material and parental resources. Each of the kids chose someone from Mona's class photo and selected a picture they drew. They in turn drew pictures to send to Mona's class.

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Davee blessed father of the man who left his wife, who had come to their home seeking help after a recent operation. 

The eldest girl Si Tian who is growing in stature and grace moved to the junior high school this school year comes back every weekend. She had an English name (Lucy) that she wasn't sure fit her. Susan asked me to help her select a new one. After interviewing her extensively, I presented 4 for her to choose from, even though only one name kept standing out in my head
(Cherish). After giving her 3 more choices and describing their meanings, (Phoebe, Deborah, Rebekah), she chose Cherish.

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John introduced us to new unit of three sibling orphans who, because both parents have been gone for 3 years, are raised by their only grandmother, a 65 year old woman who relies on physical labor to eke out a living.  She has lived with a malformed foot for most of her life, hobbling on her heel all day in the fields.  

We were very impressed by the way the 4 year old boy who despite having no money to go to pre-school, responded to us and sat to chat with us to entertain us. 

We believe He is highlighting this boy and grandmother to AI and would like to support them.

John took it upon himself to buy chickens, ducks and rabbits for the back yard.  It was a very good idea. 

Elderly Improving 

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The home for the elderly in Yangshuo seems to have stabilized.  There were familiar faces, as well as new tenants.

Discerning Our Assignments

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April 11, 2018

"Are you sure this was our assignment?" asked Davee. 

"Maybe not," I sheepishly admitted after spending all afternoon with a prickly couple whose toes I ended up stepping on. In the end my shoulders were tense with pressure and Davee though always lighthearted, had given up a rare free afternoon to roam the new land we were in.

 

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HOW DO WE DISCERN AN ASSIGNMENT?

"There is usually a level of receptivity when I discern an assignment, which I didn't sense on the first day we met them," said Davee. 

"I suppose I felt some receptivity but when I saw that it wasn't flowing for you, I felt responsible to make a way for you, thus I felt it was my assignment to make the second appointment and try harder," I said. That was where my sense of responsibility overrode everything.   Then I admitted, "I guess I didn't think about what would happen past that point." 

On this trip to China, I brought Davee my founding partner of Assignments International to help press into already broken in territory. I had in mind that he would cause strongholds to break open in a wider scale with the joy and big personality he carries. However, we had been traveling and working together for ten days and because of our differing styles and schedules, found it convenient to follow our own tendencies without much consultation. He is an extrovert, I am an introvert. He is a late night person, I am an early morning person. He talks with many people in a short time, I concentrate on one person and take my time.

Although we are both very adaptable to the situations at hand, on this trip there were no shortages of situations to be adapted to. Thus, I found myself opting for the easiest solution: splitting up. 

We maximized our individual gifts and seemed to multiply our effectiveness. Yet the times that demanded we act as a team lacked flow and I was filled with inner conflict. 

"Why don't you help me to connect to dad," Davee suggested one morning, yielding to me in order to bring us into unity. 

"OK!" I caught on to his strategy immediately and likewise yielded to him. The time before Him transformed our attitudes, and quickly set us free to operate in agreement with each other and with dad throughout the day. 


Now we had come full circle to another place of differing opinions and styles and I found myself challenging my partner and his views again. 

"We needed time in the spirit," he said, not even trying to convince me on a thinking level, which could be a hang up for me. 

This was one of many lessons I would learn from my brother by rubbing shoulders with him on this trip. It was true. Time in the spirit is what gives us a top-down perspective that gets us past our limited capacity to think and relate. From these times, we delight in instead of fight each other.

Davee went home after 11 whirlwind days leaving me with a deeper understanding of how I am to fulfill my assignment during the rest of my days here.
 

Mentoring

I have been joined by another traveling partner on the latter half of my trip. “Sarah” is someone I met 2 years ago, completely new to the company, she has chosen the road less traveled, always yielding to Him when the stakes are high. The problem is, all around the occasional high staked decisions, are a fields littered with a lot of undiscerned small decisions that lead to loss and a feeling of lostness. 

It was my hope that by having her join me on this leg, we could get a productive rhythm in her 24 year old life, and meanwhile partner in bringing joy and hope to people. 
 

I don’t understand how I got here and why I have to do this.”  I had invited Sarah to travel with me for my remaining two and a half weeks in China and she began to question if she made a good decision joining me.  I had been walking with her off and on for 2 years after she had given her life to Him in the Spring of 2016.  She tended to cry out to me in helplessness often over the past year out from seemingly avoidable situations, but was always wanting me to help her connect back to Dad, which is what I so appreciated in her.  When we sat in silence over Skype video calls, sometimes she could connect quickly to him, sometimes not at all.  But she always was willing to admit her faults and come back to Him, which is why I felt wiling to invite her into my comfortable private living and thinking space and otherwise much-valued free schedule that allows me to write and receive from Him in different ways while here. 

The Assignment

At first I was just hoping to enjoy a companion at a friendship level and help my young friend see life through another lens.  I quickly found some big maturity gaps which were there not only due to our 26 year age difference, but also due to a lack of alignment in goals, daily preferences, and behaviors.  The differences began to grate on me, and I began to tense up.  I could either regret inviting her to live in such close quarters, push her away emotionally and sulk in the loss of my personal space, which I could be using to accomplish other more palatable assignments, OR accept that this person, whom I feared would sap my energy for the next few weeks was indeed my assignment and the reason Dad would bless and cause us both to come into a new kind of victory. 

Weighing the potential consequences, I chose to walk in the latter.  Dad began to drop his daily bread giving me the ability to love out of His lens and heart, and the strategy to loose strongholds instead of attacking behavior at the surface.  I recalled a model from a mentor Arthur Burk that involved 3 legs of identity, but I couldn’t quite recall the terminology he used.  Asking Him for wisdom I dug up whatever my memory would allow and sketched my own semblance of it. 

The model I adopted and called my own was what I would call and explain as a model for maturity and intimacy, and it had 3 legs:  identity, belonging, and competence.  Someone who has a high sense of identity instinctively knows they are important and loved and takes their orders from above, not constantly pulled in the direction of pleasing others.  Someone with a high sense of belonging instinctively feels they are capable of being included in a crowd and chooses to bond rather than carve out sub-teams and take sides.  They also instinctively help others feel like they belong in a group.  Someone with a high sense of competence can effectively problem-solve by taking their given skill set and the confidence in their own ability to learn a new skill, then reach in an outward direction, adapt to the new challenge, and help others achieve victory in new situations. 

As I unpacked these concepts with my young friend every morning in our scheduled time with Him, there would be resistance. 
 
I would always stop but draw an approprate boundary for the space I felt I needed.  “That’s all the time I can spend with you today.” 
 
This was followed by a cycle of sadness…neediness…and trying to find ways to please me or get into my good graces so my attention could be pulled toward her during the rest of the day. 
 
Five days of pushing and pulling, not without frank talks about what was unhelpful and what brought energy drain.  The result was a surprising daily leap toward maturity and understanding toward each other. 

I don’t understand how I got here and why I have to do this,” she said on the sixth morning when I urged her to reach out and make a difference in the community instead of constantly processing deep thoughts all day long in the hotel room. 
 
“On a human level, we also have to live together so I am spelling out to you how to be a friend to me,” I admitted.  “It is always a struggle for me not to act out of my own judgements, lenses, and preferences when preparing to tell you something, but he always seems to override my thoughts with His heart for you and I cannot help to love you and pull for you every day when we get together before Him.  I really think the next step for you is putting theory into practice.  You have to get out there to test these theoretical scenarios on how to relate to other people, so you can actually grow and thus help us to relate on a higher level.”
 
Within an hour she was seeking out places to volunteer in our surrounding community.  Sarah has always had a soft heart for Him.

I have also experienced such growth in myself and my ability to mentor and walk alongside people, a role I have fumbled around in over the past few decades.

I am particularly grateful for the rewards it brings to allow myself to be known and love others more deeply in the process.

 

PARTNERSHIPS

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Paul

All of 4 years old with no parents or formal education this boy had more than most in his love for his grandmother.

The little boy that stood before me acted differently than what I would expect from a four year old.  Upon my second visit to this house on this trip, the little boy we named “Paul” seemed to carry a self-esteem and focus that allowed him to stand before an adult foreigner in an unflinching yet interactive way.  I had brought Susan again to help me introduce the Son’s name and a new song with Paul and his grandmother.  They were receptive.  We shared pictures from Mona’s class in Diamond Bar and asked Paul if he wanted to draw a picture to share with his new friends in the photo they had sent.  He was willing.  Susan helped him get started and he carefully colored within the lines.  Although Paul had no parents, and no money to go to preschool, he showed a strong ability to learn and be still and follow instructions as well an obvious love and respect for his only grandmother who is raising him.  

Paul and another ten year old girl Cherish and their respective parent-less family units who John has identified as being extremely poor yet having an exceptional quality, have been the ones who we have been visiting and sharing with over the year, and the ones who have made an imprint on Susan’s heart.  

It has been a joyous partnership to have Susan whose roots from within the underprivileged farming culture and whose love is for children pave the way for us to share His love and message with them in a local language that is just theirs.   “That was a successful day,” I said gratefully to the other American and Chinese who had joined us on the trip to observe what we do in the back country.

SUSAN

Meeting Susan’s family and seeing her village on this trip helped me to understand the large gap that stood between a poor underprivileged little girl, a younger brother who by virtue of his gender was deemed the more important, and the fast developing world that unfolded before her.  Her challenge would be to learn the necessary skills to lead the family out of poverty in spite of her undervalued status as an unmarried young woman.  Her advantage was having the ability to excel as the only one in the extended family to get  a college education, and her hope would be the One she put her new found faith in.

She would have to let herself fall into His arms to accomplish her mandate.  Would she be able to let go completely in order to let Him guide her?  We talked more about her desire and plan to educate her mother in pinyin (Romanized Mandarin) so she can type on a computer and start a business.  The vision is that within ten years the village will be transformed.

 

JOHN

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John who also came out of the same underprivileged environment, because of AI’s investment in the two clothing stores, is seeing profit and is now able to give his four year old daughter a kindergarten education, give the children we support food and clothing throughout the year, return our investment, and buy a scooter which I can now use whenever I come to town.  John who has now been working with orphans for almost 20 years has found more creative ways of helping parent-less family units develop sustainable income, like the 3 rabbits, chickens and ducks he bought a few months ago for Paul and his grandmother and two sisters, that now have turned into almost 30 animals.  I saw a new sense of strength emitting from this guy I am growing in real respect for.  I have come to know John as one who delivers the goods, (in more ways than one), with a pure-hearted impossible-to-be-angered joy of the Father.  

 

YUE

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Yue charmed the socks off the friends in Yangshuo and received invitations to return to live and work there.  Because she consistently puts him first, her growth in the spirit seems to move in leaps forward.  Despite so many complements and invitations and her complete liking for this place, and in spite of my assumption she would move here as soon as she could, Yue characteristically wanted to bring all of it before Dad for inspection.  As we talked to him together, she noted that nothing popped out, but instead another city popped into her head.  We will talk to Dad more in coming weeks and months to see what he has for her.

MY LAST NIGHT IN YANGSHUO

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“Chinese people feel one of the most pathetic things in the world is to eat hotpot alone,” Susan once told me upon a suggestion she do that to get some food while waiting for me.  I saw her point.  Not the best scenario.   Yet here I was on my last night in Yangshuo, sitting outdoors at a restaurant and eating a bowl of rice noodles and a plate of custard buns, alone.  I did not feel lonely.  I felt fulfilled and thankful. The past month had consisted of very little time by myself, and I had given up precious personal space without regret.  I will enjoy the next 24 hours without company, yet never alone.

Suzhou - Yangshuo - Yangchun Fall 2017

Shanghai  11/17

 

I’ve been getting up consistently at around 2 or 3am hungry for a meal, as an expected result of jet lag.  No matter how much I have overeaten throughout the rest of the day, this early morning hour seems to be the time I need to replenish my stomach with more. 

Jumping the country’s Great Firewall is becoming progressively more difficult as the great nation again makes its cyclical move to close off to the west from the top down.  The lack of accessibility to WhatsApp, FB and Google, and VPNs make life increasing inconvenient for the traveler.  Of course for every app I can't use there is an "inner-national" option which are necessary to get around, but I am feeling the urge to use those options more sparingly.  

One of my biggest burdens carried on this trip, was locating a sum of money that was sent to my Chinese bank account from the US last May, but which I never appeared to receive.  When because of the lack of funds, I couldn’t transfer money to the poor who we support in the back parts of the country, I got worried we could not get them the help they needed, and so had to find creative ways to get it to them.  I was thankful to find yesterday that the money had indeed transferred, but was done in USD, instead of Chinese RMB, making it seem like the transfer had not gone through when I checked my balance from the US.  I felt like an enormous weight lifted after my concern with this matter for nearly half a year while helplessly 5000 miles away from reaching resolution.
 
After this I felt free to enjoy the meeting with Rebecca, who for once allowed me to pay for the predictably extravagant dim sum lunch she ordered for us.  “I am too thankful and glad to let this opportunity go by.  Please, I must pay,” I begged.  Seeing the uncharacteristic determination in my eyes, she relinquished hold over the check and allowed me.  I talked to dad with her saying I am still believing for entire removal of cancer in her father’s colon.  I sensed her bearing with the conversation with him as my words fell to the ground.
 
In the evening Shirley’s husband Zhiyong prepared a mouthwatering dinner.  We chatted about our countries’ latest exchanges and how the news from each nation’s press has shaped our views. “Pres T is a wonderful businessman with a beautiful family,” is the line embraced by the average well-informed professional here.  “America is a very dangerous place to live, China is the safest place to be.”
 
I am so encouraged by both of their desires to move forward as Abraham did.  There is a good chance this is the last time I will see them in this city.  I relished the time even toward the end of the night as my eyelids could barely stay open.

 

Before starting on my journey, I made an appointment to meet Joey for the first time.  Joey was once orphaned as an 8 year old, then supported by John, and more recently lived with Melissa in Yangshuo and came to Shanghai where he successfully interviewed for a competitive hotel service program directed toward the underprivileged.   We supported his and Susan's (his designated mentor) trip to interview 2 months ago and when he got into the program all gave thanks to Father since he and Susan are all new to the family.  


 
 

Suzhou 11/20

Even though for me this was a short trip to familiar cities and with nicer hotels or homes to stay in, I remembered last minute before leaving my home that I would have a couple of new situations, one in Suzhou, one in Yangchun, where I may suddenly be expected to "rough it."  Several things I reminded myself to bring before leaving:  hairdryer just in case I had to sleep in a freezing room with a cold bed, power bars in case I woke up in the middle of the night starving because of the jet lag time difference with no access to food, and a small towel to put on my pillow, to use on the plane, and for some unanticipated need.  

Being prepared

I had finally accepted a repeated invitation from my gracious and welcoming host, and even though I had seen the very big, and relatively nice and clean condition of the house before, I found myself folding my heavy blanket and putting it under me to give some cushioning to the hard plastic slab that was my bed and blow drying my ice cold feet under the covers to get warm enough to sleep, waking up hungry at 3am with no access to food, and drying myself with my small hand towel when I was provided only a multipurpose wet rag as a bath towel.  My attitude declined further when 70 year old woman put strange and unappetizing food in my plate, telling me to eat more when I was done, and coaxing me to put her old fashioned knitted sweater and down jacket on because my clothes were not warm enough.  With each aggressive move I fought back by digging in my heels.  "No, I'm fine," I said, repeating myself emphatically as the days continued along this pattern.

 

After about 36 hours of attitude adjustment, I was finally able to settle into my mission to try to bring some joy and goodness instead of stress and resentment to this city.   

 

In the midst of this battle, my music school lecture turned out to be more of a piano workshop when 20 children and their parents showed up instead of the staff of teachers and business owners I expected.  Regardless of what I said or performed for them, they were only too excited to have someone from the US as a presenter and gave me an overwhelming reception.  

Piano workshop
Piano workshop

Unexpectedly my host gave me a large amount of money to give to the orphans on my next stop.  My other host followed and gave even more, which moved me because I knew her income was not much.  One day over lunch I asked why most of the middle class Chinese people I meet look down upon the poor Chinese people who really are just poor not because they are lazy or did something bad, but just by luck of the draw?  "There are too many poor people," Qiu said.  "We're selfish," said Rachel.  "We have the same vision as you, but everyone in China just cares about making money."  

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On my last evening I began to direct my instructions toward one of my hosts, with an urgent cry to work on his marriage.  By the next morning the conversation about how he treated his wife became very pointed.  Tears welled up in my eyes as he apologized to his wife and as he shared his plans with me about how he hoped to support her.  He spoke in English so she couldn't understand what she was saying.  "I don't want to tell her," he said, "because she won't believe me.  I just want to show her I'm changing."  

 

I have such hope for this young couple I had such history with, and leave with great warmth in my heart.  I am grateful for a very full time in this city.

Yangshuo 11/26

Weather in Yangshuo has been in the crisp upper forties, but not the same biting cold wet feeling as I’ve had in Suzhou or Shanghai.  The brand new highway from Guilin to Yangshuo had just opened last month in time for an international bicycle competition attracting cyclists from all over the world.  The road was smooth and the scenery from it was stunning.  All the endless building and road construction over the past few years was finally finished and Yangshuo seemed like a spanking brand new city.  Was this really the place where the orphans and elderly were still hiding in the back corners?   

 

The staff at my favorite hotel all greeted me joyfully and even saved the pillow I bought on my last trip, which I like using on the chair in my favorite $19/night room.  I soon fell into a comfortable pattern of running a few miles on one of two roads which I alternate on every day, having a Chinese lesson, and then starting off on the rest of my day.  

 

ORPHANS and POVERTY STRICKEN

On the back side of this glorious new city is still bitterly unforgiving environment that cradles its local inhabitants.  Since all electricity and power in this region comes from the water, it is common when the usually dry winters hit, for many to be left without heat, light, and cellphone service, among other conveniences.

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A new online friend Jennifer from another province in China who I had met only for only a few minutes on Skype while I was in the US, contacted me completely out of the blue, remembering that I work with the poor in Guilin, and asking if her classroom could donate 100 new pairs of clothes to the poor people out here.  It was such an unusual request for someone from China to donate toward the poor in their own country and it has happened 3 times now.  I lifted it up to Dad to ask where it should go.

My visit was with Huang Qing Jing an 11 year old girl whose father lost his sanity and whose mother’s legs are paralyzed and mental condition not good.  She showed not only a shyness but an awkward lack of knowing how to relate when I arrived and asked her how she was doing.  They lived in a stark cement house where I was offered the only seat in the house, an old rocking chair next to a very large poster on the wall of Mao Zedong.  There was not much to say since she could not engage me, but her grandfather was grateful.  I left discouraged after a 20 minute grueling visit which was much shorter than the drive over there.

Tian Family

Before my visit with the next family for whom we are building a bathroom, I was given a much clearer vision of was to happen.  I needed to be very purposeful, so I brought my Chinese teacher along to make sure what I wanted to say was clear, and to make what I heard from them was correct.  I went with the intent of sharing His plan for them and seeing if they would accept.  

We had brought a lot of food and supplies, and Li Sanling, mother of 3 whose husband left and disappeared, wanted to see how she could begin to pay back to us what we had given to her.  It was the perfect set up, and with the help of Susan I shared the principle of Abraham being blessed to bless others.  Then the principle of how dad sent his son to die for which no one could pay back the debt, but all we could do was just receive.  She had tears in her eyes and said she had seen a movie of that story before but couldn’t understand everything.  I happened to bring the right booklet I received from my recent trip to Lancaster Pennsylvania and handed it to her to explain more.  In the end she and the oldest daughter entered the company.  Even the 7 year old son seemed stop playing with his little brother to pay attention.  I was quite sure he was listening and understanding.  

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I asked if they would be able to distribute the 100 pairs of clothing in their village.  Sanling at first declined, saying she had no ability for this kind of thing, and that we should do it, but both John and my teacher Susan said she was the best one to do it.  She repeated what she understood of the principle of being blessed to bless others and about passing on his good news to others in the process, and gratefully and graciously accepted her assignment.

Susan & Tian family

Susan & Tian family

I left with a tremendous sense of fulfillment seeing the most beautiful sunset over the ripe orange persimmon orchards.  He is good.

Gongcheng sunset

Gongcheng sunset

Yangchun 11/30

Playing with 22 children aged infant through 14, once abandoned but now thriving was quite an amazing experience.  A good number had lived through horrific situations.  One had seen his mother beheaded by his father and at age 2 tried to put her body back together again.  Another had been prostituted from age 3 to 5, and rescued, now at 10 years old could not refrain from dragging people down on the bed or sofa with her.  Yet all were able to smile, and laugh, and hug, and express love.  They crawled on our laps on their own volition, not in a needy way, but rather an affectionate way, first making sure it was ok with us and then settling into our care.   Ten infants, three or four in the same room sleeping soundly and peacefully, no one crying uncontrollably, Why?  It was because “Sing” (name changed) has well-trained, loving nannies who care, wash, feed, and play with them all day and all night.  It is because Sing holds each child on a rocking chair for 5 minutes each evening at 6pm, telling them how much she loves them, how much He loves them.  It is because they have structure, and because all their basic needs met, and then some.  

 

But I would have to reflect for a few days in order to realize the greatness of this work, because the journey through it was not easy.  

 

Yangchun is a very small city within the larger city of Yangjiang.  Getting there took 8 hours of travel: a 90 minute drive to the train station, another 2 hour high-speed train to a medium size city with a developing but not completed transit system making it necessary to take another 1 hour cab ride across town to another train station to catch a very slow train to the very small community of Yangchun.  

 

When I met “Sing” and her daughter, conversation was rocky, and my genuine interest soon turned into a puzzle on how to unlock this lady’s style of relating to people.   She knew my background and reasons for my coming and so she made special arrangements for my Chinese teacher Susan and me to go through the “back door” forgoing all the required paperwork to set foot in the orphanage.  She made it clear:  no pictures, no talking about the kids afterwards unless names were changed, no talking to nannies about J, etc.  She has never had financial support but somehow lived in China for 30 years always and only because father sent her and always getting what she needed at the right time because of asking Him.  In spite of this, I got used to hearing, “we can’t have that, it’s too expensive,.” “we have no money for that,” “I don’t have a bank account,” etc., and this discrepancy grated on me in a way I found it harder and harder to want to give.

 

Once we got there, Susan and I had the assignments of playing first with the older kids: helping with crafts, dancing, and exercising.  Later we were to hold, play with, and feed the infants, but never one longer than another.  “You feed them a lot and quickly,” Sing said as she trained us on how to work with them. “This one has a problem,” i said, seeing that a little boy did not have the neck support to keep his head up, nor the will to eat.  “They don’t have any problem!” Sing said.  “We are the ones that have the problem!—Continue!”  

 

Even though Sing said we could take certain kinds of pictures as long as we didn’t include their faces, she had enough complaints about how other visitors had violated her rules, that I set my mind to keeping far from crossing the line of the strict regulations, never once thinking to pull out my camera, leaving the whole experience up to my memory to recall, and on my words written afterwards to describe in this story.  “It will all be like a dream with no evidence,” I told Susan.  

 

We took time to do other things and be silly to capture our moments here.

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Although my attitude was repelled by her style, I couldn’t help but respect and be moved by this 70 year old woman’s thirty-year investment into China and the 600+ successful placements of children across the world.  The results were there.

 

Yangshuo Elderly

When Susan and I got back to Yangshuo there was one more thing to settle:  the elderly hostile.  When I first arrived last week, John told me their conditions were very good in recent days.  The govt required a standard of living that was higher than what they were experiencing so they had to do renovations.  It was a little nicer, but now the workers had not received salaries for 3 months.  Why?  Since I couldn’t understand what I was being told on the surface, I brought Susan with me to do some digging.  

 

Their voices were not whispering anymore when Susan began probing John deeper and deeper past the unsatisfactory answers.  “You don’t understanding these things,” said another person to Susan, perhaps not understanding themselves what was going on themselves but needing an excuse to get her off their back.  “I may not understand some things, but there should be enough money!  Why is there no heat?  Why is there no food?”  After 90 minutes, thanks to her persistence and great skill she solved the mystery.  There had been an investment gone awry and the big boss was embarrassed to meet with me.  She was also trying to find ways of paying off the loans that resulted from her investment mistake.  After it all, both John and I decided we needed to stop the cycle of dysfunction while continuing to care for the individuals who reside there.  

 

Will discern together about this in the future.  

Plank serves as a bed for a family of 4

Plank serves as a bed for a family of 4

 

Because of our experience with the Tian family in Gong Cheng and because of the donations we received for children, we decided going forward, to concentrate our efforts toward the back country orphans and poor who are spread in the dark corners of this seemingly prosperous city.  “These (the plank of 8’x5’wood turned into a bed for 4 and some thin wool blankets) are enough to last the winter,” they said.  John knows it is not, so we will buy them a mattress, a heater, some blankets and an electric plug which may or may not work when the lack of rain dries up the flow of water on the river bed, sometimes shutting off their power source.  The recent donations within China will make it possible for 100+ children to receive winter clothes.

 

In addition the clothing stores have been doing unusually well, and they will be able to pay off much of the investment made by myself and others soon.  

 

A morning after returning from Yangchun I realized He was moving me to support Sing’s work, and that some steady finances would do a lot to relieve her stress.  It is not easy being over 70 and finding a replacement for the unending care she gives them and hopes to give them as she heads into her latter years.  

Thanksgiving gathering at Melissa's place

Thanksgiving gathering at Melissa's place

In the midst of these trips, Melissa called me in to connect a dear sister with father.  After some deliverance, I mentioned it would be great to have a retreat specifically for this.  Within a few days she had a download and was anxious to meet before we both left Yangshuo.  “He’s assembling something big!” she spoke with non-stop energy, explaining all of the latest pieces that were coming together.  She had arrived in Yangshuo a month after my first trip here, back when I felt the ground was so hard and that I’d never be back.  Since she and her family decided to plant roots here the atmosphere has changed, as she has a wonderful ability to usher in his presence.  Having lived in China for the past 16 years, she has accumulated a wide network of English speakers with the same purposes.  “There are so many of us who have been here in China for years, even decades, but who have been torn up and made to fight with each other and leave hurt, and it happens again and again!”  There is something fishy going on and I believe he’s brought you and others here at this time to help with this problem!  

 

Given the visions she and John have, I leave with an excitement for what will happen during this next half a year.

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China Itinerary

In September as I discerned if it was time to leave or not, several components did not fall into place.  This time with my time so short and compacted, I was amazed at how all things came together so easily. Everyone was available and it built momentum for others to join in.  Very shocking and encouraging.  Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.  I look forward to every leg.  Let me share with you in a slightly filtered way before I leave.  

Wed Nov 15  leave LAX

Shanghai - Suzhou

Shanghai - Suzhou

 

Thu Nov 16  arrive in Shanghai  6:45pm

Please pray I can take care of bank problems and find some funds that didn’t seem to have transferred over into my bank account.

My bank is close to Rebecca’s work place so I will have a chance to eat lunch with her.  Her father still battling colon cancer.  I spent time with him on my last trip and delivered a b1b2e to him but he said he didn’t have time to read, which was not true.  I’m discouraged at the lack of healing and the hardship she and her family have had to suffer because of the cancer.  

 

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Dinner with Shirley and ZY who took me to Wenzhou on my last trip.  Shirley is my English student who someone recommend her to me because I was a Xian.  We bonded and processed a lot regarding her calling and who she was.  She got accepted into a PhD program in Israel next year.  

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Sat Nov 18 

A few months ago Lisa (name changed) in Yangshuo asked if I would consider supporting Joey, one of the orphans John raised, who now as a college graduate lives out a success story.  Joey got a big break to go to Shanghai after being accepted into a very good three-month hotel industry job training program.  We partnered with Lisa and financially supported him and Suan (name changed) who is his mentor and my Chinese teacher, to make the trip to Shanghai.  Suan returned home to Yangshuo but Joey stayed.  I have been getting to know Joey through chat messaging, and we will meet for the first time on Saturday morning.

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Last trip I spent time with Joshua and Rachel in Suzhou.  They told me they wanted me to meet a woman who would love to invite me to her house.  I did not expect the level of hospitality of Sister Q, a devout woman in her late 60’s would give to me.  I had no idea she had wanted me to spend some time living in her 3 story house.  I promised next time I would.   She asked if I could pr9 for her daughter Lin, a young woman who lived in Shanghai who, when I met her on Skype, I found extremely likable, vulnerable and open.  In her mid 30’s, she is under extreme pressure to get married.  Her parents want her to be married but only to the right person.  She also has this desire but has not found someone suitable.  

I met with her over Skype several times over the past 6 months and will have my first chance to meet her face to face.  We will travel to Suzhou together and spend 3 days with her mother, father, and Joshua and Rachel, all very close friends.  Sister Q asked if I would consider b4pt8izing her husband.  I will see what the situation is and if it is appropriate. 

They have aired their dirty laundry with me, so to speak, so this will no doubt be a time we may be frank with each other, in love.  

While there, Rachel asked if I could give a lecture to her music school staff on how to keep students motivated.  This is a new lecture for me, but I said yes because although I never thought of giving a workshop on this, I suppose it is something I should be a topic I can speak into.  

Tuesay, Nov 21    

I will leave Suzhou to Shanghai on the train in time to catch a plane to Guilin to stay overnight.  

 

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Wednesday, Nov 22  Guilin

John will pick me up at my hotel and go to see SJF, an extremely poor 15 year old with handicapped parents, who I got to know a year ago, who expressed wanting to be a police woman, and who accepted J that time.  John said each orphan he meets is about the same in expressing great openness toward Him at the start.  He said time will tell, but we have to keep pra81ng for them.

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Thu Nov 23 - Dec 1  Yangshuo

Lisa is a young American woman who I got to know because my Chinese teacher Suan said she’s Xian so I may want to meet her.  I was very eager, and although that day when we met she had a full house of guests, I felt a nudge to reach out to her again, even though I tend not to reach out to other Americans while in Cina.  The time turned out to be a 3 hour conversation at Pizza Hut, and through a spontaneous sozo session she was healed of major wounds.  She was so hungry for things of the sp1rit that she excitedly told all of her friends in Yangshuo they ought to meet with me.  It was a ground breaking time upon what I had felt until then was hard soil.  Much of what is happening in Yangshuo these days is because of Lisa and husband CS who felt called to put down roots in Yangshuo by leasing a 6 story building for the next 10 years where they will raise 2 of their own young children, and by committing the building to the L2d to be a retreat center for mi33io6a4ies across Cina.  With her heart for w043hip and pr8er, she opens the heavens over the city.  

 

Lisa asked if I could attend and pray for mi33io6a41es at a women’s retreat she is having over Thanksgiving weekend.  I agreed.  I asked if she would like to partner with the work we are doing with the orphans and elderly in her region.  She was longing to do that.  We feel the time is right.  

 

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Lisa has included me on various Xian pra8er and discussion groups.  Over one of these groups, a person stood out to me:  Sing (name changed).  I had no way of knowing who she was, I just made note that when the group chats occurred she said things that captured my attention.  “Who is she?” I asked Lisa.  I found she was a woman in her 70s who ran 3 orphanages in an even more southern part of Cina. 

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Just last month her husband passed away and this week she needed money for powdered milk to feed the orphans.  I asked, “how much?”  Before she answered I sent over 600RMB.  By morning, she sent a grateful thanks for 3 canisters.  I thanked the L that what I sent was not too little, but seemingly enough for the moment.  She needs 6 canisters a month.  

Before committing to sending $200/month, I asked Lisa how far Sing lived from Yangshuo, because I needed to see her and understand her situation.  It is a day’s journey.  Lisa wants to go with me.  Another of her friends JD wants to go as well.  We hope to make a 2 day trip back and forth to understand Sing’s and the orphanages’ condition.  Sing’s health is bad and she desperately needs help looking after the orphanages.  I look forward to seeing what He will do in the future.  

New kitchen

New kitchen

John is arranging a meeting with me and the boss of the elderly facility which we have been caring for and which is gradually getting better and better.  I am hopeful this meeting will finally happen.  I will bring Suan who has agreed to help me during my entire time in Yangshuo.

New dining hall

New dining hall

Newly painted rooms

Newly painted rooms

Suan  became a Xian almost a year ago after spending time translating for a marriage and family retreat at Lisa’s place.  He healed her of allergies when I was asking her to help me to pra8 with authority in Cinese.  I said, “for instance, this is how I would pra8y for your allergies in English….”   Her eyes widened.  “My allergies are gone!”  

Fri Dec 1    Shanghai.  

Sat  Dec 2    at 9:50pm I make the journey back to LAX.

 

Supporting the Fatherless and Motherless

During the flood, whole crops of fields which provide daily sustenance for many who already live way below the poverty line, remained submerged below water for days.  Among these extremely poor were the children we met and visited on my last trip to Yangshuo.  

I texted John and other Yangshuo contacts, asking how our little ones were doing after the disaster. Our clothing store was also submerged, but at least that could be fixed within days.  After recovering from his own material loss, John set out to see how the young ones were doing.  

The Tian family consisting of a mother whose husband abandoned the family one day, years ago, and never came back.  Mrs Tian was a nice looking woman, very sincere in her welcome toward us, took us a mile away to meet her 3 children at school.  They clearly had a loving relationship with each other. 

The government gives homes like these to those who are extremely poor, like the Tian family who live on the countryside and need some form of shelter.  During the flood this house and their field was submerged for days.  Mud blocked the doorway and they were unable to get in and out.

Before the flood, the family had no cabinet or closet to hang clothes, bathing is still problematic as there is no shower or water heater.  Now that the crop is gone, they had to eat a lot of bad food.  John wanted to buy them some rice, oil and daily necessities.

 

John and friends delivered the goods last week, along with some new clothes from our Carlfit clothing store.  They were thankful that this is the first time they had new clothes this year.  

Tian Siyuan 田思媛 (9 yrs old) will go into the 5th grade next fall.  Tian Zefu 田泽福  (6 yrs old) andTian Guodong 田国栋 (4 yrs old) are her younger brothers.  Because her school that is walking distance away does not offer education for the 5th grade and above, she will have to move to another district to go to school, a relatively common practice in these poor farming communities.  Living expenses for 6 months will total $225 USD.   Siyuan was the top of her class.  She scored a 96 in Chinese, 96 in math, and 90 in English.  She likes English very much.

田泽福 Tian Zefu (6), 田国栋  Tian Guodong (4) will stay at home and continue to study.  The cost for each boy's living expense for 6 months is about $120.  


Below is  黄清镜 Huang QingJing, a fifth grader.  She lives at the public school because her mother is insane and her father is deaf.  Her parents' home and crops were also destroyed in the flood so life will be much harder going forward.  She will needs school boarding fees and tuition, amounting to about $250 for the next 6 months.  

John delivered new clothes from our Carlfit clothing store to her as well.  

Huang Qingjing was a good sport in trying on all the new clothes to model for us.

John will visit the other kids we know to see how they are doing and to deliver clothes and basic needs to them.  

 

Southern China is Underwater

"Please pray for us," John wrote.  "Last week Guilin was underwater.  We hope the county of Yangshuo will be ok."

Then a few days later, "we are underwater too!  Although we were able to move the clothing merchandise to a higher floor,  the air-conditioner, heater and furniture all drowned."

This is our clothing store.  All businesses in the whole city are closed for a few days while clean up takes place.  Please pray the rains stop long enough for relief work to take place.

 

No doubt the elderly and the very poor kids we visited out in the countryside have been hit hard. They need your prayers, support and help.

Assignments International is able to take any tax deductible monetary donations through our website.  Funds will go directly to elderly and fatherless/motherless children and extremely poor families who we are sharing the gospel with.  

Blessings,

Carolyn 

Other sensational video from the country side.

Visiting the Elderly

One of the causes closest to my heart when I visit China is the care of the Elderly.  There is very little available for these seniors to live on and few people to look after them.   I have a dream to someday create an elderly center to care for the least of these. Please join me in praying for these very real people who need love.

He's been growing his thumb nail for 10 years now 

He's been growing his thumb nail for 10 years now 

They have to tie his arm to the bed so he doesn't hurt himself 

They have to tie his arm to the bed so he doesn't hurt himself 

John and the two workers. The woman has been given a the lowest level management job, working for $300/ month salary (not enough to prevent burnout). She's been doing this for a year with 4 days off a month and very little training.

John and the two workers. The woman has been given a the lowest level management job, working for $300/ month salary (not enough to prevent burnout). She's been doing this for a year with 4 days off a month and very little training.

Americans in China

Sunday, March 18, 2017 5:51 AM

Two men tried to shove their way in front of me while standing in line for domestic TSA at the Shanghai airport.  I stuck my leg out in front of them.  "Paidui! (Stand in line!) I said, glancing at them sideways and then looking away.  It was the 3rd time within the last 12 hours that people had pushed and shoved their away around me, and I was getting tired of it.  "I'm sorry," both men shrunk down, "we are jealous of you because you are in front of us."  I was half their size in weight and height.  One continued to apologize as we waited in the long line, anxious to get on board our next flight. 

My first leg was probably the most stressful part of this trip since I stayed in an unfamiliar area close to the airport, and since I had carried about 6 bottles of vitamins and several boxes of power bars for gifts that I had to pull through customs and then figure out how to "kuai di" (FedEx) them to several places so I wouldn't have to lug them around China.  It was pulled off without a hitch.  Except for the grumpy people I had to interact with.

My cab driver to my hotel was very irritated that he had waited for 5 hours in the airport cab driver line (probably an exaggeration), and was only making $10 USD off of me since I was going to such a close place.  

"Who are you anyway? Are you from Hong Kong?" 

"I'm American."  

"What?  How come you speak Chinese?"  

"I often come here to study."

Silence.  

"Do you like your job?" I asked.

"What kind of stupid question is that?"

Silence.

"Thank you," I said when we arrived soon after.  I gave him a tip which is not expected and usually not received without gratitude.

Silence.

March 19, 2017

YANGSHUO, GUILIN

Sensing Dad's presence in the Shanghai and Guilin airports which I usually do (I don't know why), I enjoyed what little I could while rushing around to get on and off planes, and to my 90 minute bus ride to Yangshuo.  My heart grew warmer and warmer as we approached the small town that has come to feel like home to me.

John drove up in his car to get me from the bus stop and helped me to buy a cushion, an umbrella, a motorbike windbreaker, and soap, before checking me into my favorite hotel and carrying my bags up 3 flights of stairs.  

"Hui lai la!" 回来啦! (You came back!) said the 2 staff people at the front desk.  To my surprise they hard remembered my room from last trip and apologized for not being able to give me the exact room but gave me a duplicate just a floor lower, saying if I wished, I could move tomorrow night into my favorite room on the floor above.  

My two teachers Susan and Becky greeted me for dinner.  It was good to be back. 

Day 2:

It is scheduled to thunderstorm every day for the 2 weeks I am here but I personally experienced no threat of getting wet all day as I rode my rented motorbike across town to Becky's place for a lesson and into the countryside to meet "Kayoko" a gal from Japan but who now lives in Tibet.  She has a very clear call and I considered today's meeting a divine appointment.  After sharing our stories a bit, she told me about a disturbing sign she saw.  

We went to a spot where I spent Halloween last year on the very bridge the Son had called me to commune with Him.  Yoko pointed out a hate sign directed toward the Japanese.  The sign may have been there when I came last October but since it was handwritten and hanging from a tree, and since I didn't understand it until I read it several times, I completely missed it.  

How interesting that this was the exact place He had called me to be that last day of October when I felt a cold coming on.  It was such a fulfilling meeting with him, I didn't mind catching the cold and being sick for the week after.  "This is truly Your land," we declared as we stood on the bridge overlooking one of the most scenic spots in Yangshuo.  

 

One of my favorite puppies was run over by a car last month, so I'm told.  This puppy in the picture was his best friend.  Last November I tried to convince the owner to keep both dogs though he was anxious to get rid of one of them... the type people like to eat around here.

One of my favorite puppies was run over by a car last month, so I'm told.  This puppy in the picture was his best friend.  Last November I tried to convince the owner to keep both dogs though he was anxious to get rid of one of them... the type people like to eat around here.

Last year's pic of the puppy that got run over :( 

Last year's pic of the puppy that got run over :( 

Our new children's clothing store is being converted from a shoe store.  These are the last remnants of the shoes.

Our new children's clothing store is being converted from a shoe store.  These are the last remnants of the shoes.

my $20/night hotel room bathroom.

my $20/night hotel room bathroom.

My $20/night hotel room balcony view

My $20/night hotel room balcony view

 

Preparing for a visit back to town village

Sent: Friday, March 24, 2017 5:33 PM

 

 

As I was getting to know the Japanese gal I met who has been in China for many years and is now at her new temporary living space, She told me of her experiences dealing with rats in the kitchen area.  Freaking out, she felt miserable and unsafe.  I empathized with her, being drawn personally into the scenario.  We talked to dad about it as we walked through the kitchen together.  

I have established myself as a vegetarian in China.  For one thing, I don’t enjoy eating meat nearly as much as the next guy and honestly can’t eat much. Secondly,  even though it has never played out this way, I thought it would be a handy excuse in an awkward situation with strange animal meat.  Thirdly and most importantly, as an animal lover, especially in the south of China where “except for a table, anything with 4 legs can be eaten,” it has drawn out some very deep feelings of sadness when I see a cage of ducks or chickens crammed inside, or when I came across a dungeon of barking dogs just waiting to be cut up for someone’s next meal.  I don't want some person killing an animal from their back yard just to feed me as an honored guest.

My Chinese friends here have started to make jokes around me.  They are not mean or intentional, they just slip out a comment when seeing a fat healthy rooster crossing the road, “wow that one would definitely taste good!” and then realize I am there and apologize.  

Yesterday while on the bus together with Becky, we talked about the weekend arrangements, since I had invited my Japanese friend to go to Becky’s home town in a small farming village in the back country.  I was trying to describe her to Becky, saying she had a rough experience with the rats showing up in her kitchen recently.  

“Oh yeah!” Becky interjected, “is rats a problem for you?  Our home also has rats.”  I made a funny face.  

“Yeah, kind of,” I said“Don’t they carry disease?”

“No, not that I know of.”  She began chuckling, realizing she forgot to ask me about this topic during our many conversations.  “I don’t know if you have some kind of feeling regarding eating rats.”  

I made an even more confounded face.  “uh, yeah…,”  

She laughed, guessing what I might be thinking, but still not sure.  She had to ask, “is it a problem because it is bad for the human, or because it is sad for the rat?”  

We both began laughing nervously.

“Uh, both!” I said in disbelief and disgust. 

“Oh, my mom’s village doesn’t eat it to much any more, so don’t worry.” (I had a brief moment of guessing that they had become more educated and developed…)  “It’s because rat meat too expensive…such a small animal has such little meat on it,”  

After more moments of deep laughter, I calmed down.

“First, you don’t get sick from disease the carry?”  

“No, Chinese rats are different.  They just eat table food and human food.  I have never heard of anyone getting sick from eating them here.”

“Is there anything else you want to tell me about going to your village?” 

“No, can’t think of anything.”

I’m hoping my Japanese friend will be ok.  She should be used to China by now but I am not sure how she will take this experience.

Becky on hike

 

Yesterday on a hike with Becky and some new friends, they as if they were little children when they ran and chased away chickens and ducks.  I felt a disappointment, as I had a natural inclination to connect with the ducks and make friends.  “They don’t have a mind,” Becky said.  “Of course they do,” I retorted.

“It’s the rule of nature, the stronger animal conquers the weaker animal.”  ‘我给你讲’ (“wo gei ni jiang means, ‘I am going to lecture you right now and tell you why this is so.’)  

“No, wo gei ni jiang!” (No, I will lecture YOU)  I retorted.

“ni xian shuo ba”  (You go first)  Becky said.

“No, ni xian shuo”  (No, YOU go first) I said

Becky proceeded to let me know the Darwinist point of view.  

“Ni jiang hao le ma?”  (are you finished lecturing me?) I asked

“OK, done”

I proceeded to spell out dad’s original intention and the principle of being blessed in order to be a blessing.  The strong is given strength to bless the weak.  This is the intention.  

She listened with great interest and asked a lot of questions until she was satisfied.  

 

A Visit to the China Countryside

March 27, 2017

I always heard the countryside in China was a very backwards place.  While this may be true, it overshadowed any expectation of the sheer beauty I would encounter.  The windy road bus rides and several transfers on the 6 hour commute brought us into a gradual change in scenery from the round shaped mountains that characterize the Guilin-Yangshuo area, into a world of tiered rice patties and wooden houses similar to what “Kayoko” (my Japanese friend, name changed) described as the Japan countryside.  

 

We were dropped off at a bridge and crossed the very clear stream into a very attractive little town.  There was one main paved street that stretched along the creek for about half a mile from one end of the village to the other.  On the opposite side of the creek, a mountainside leaned upwards several hundred yards into the blue sky, a contrast to the cloudy rainy skies from our previous days in Yangshuo.  Up and down the lower tiers that were carved out against the mountains, were hundreds of chickens: little chicks, flamboyant roosters, fattened hens all sitting, playing, crowing, pecking, enjoying an uncaged and carefree life.  At meal time each of them went home to their own feeding area, and settled down for the night in their own houses.  

 

Swimming and floating in the creek were pairs ducks basking in the sun, bobbing for food.  Every once in a while a dog would walk past us taking no particular interest in interacting with foul or human.  

 

The main road led to a very plain concrete three story building which we came to know as Becky’s house.  In stark contrast to the beauty of the environment but somewhat coherent with the camping grounds I have experienced in the states, the inside of the house consisted of a dusty cement floor, unfinished wooden creeky stairs, and musty woolen blankets on hard wooden beds in each of the five bedrooms.  I felt like I had gone back a hundred years in American history to a time before sanitation systems were implemented.  It was clear that cleanliness was not an attainable goal within this kind of structure.  

 

Becky thought it strange that her mom who had been calling her on the phone all morning preparing for our lunch arrival was so slow to answer the door.  After calling out to her several times, a short stocky half-asleep woman came to the door.  “She’s drunk,” Becky whispered to me with very little embarrassment.  She had already explained the situation and purposefully invited us here to see if we could help her.  It was my guess that since we were a few hours late she gave up waiting and found the bottle  

 

After settling down on some short wooden stools and plastic chairs her mother began to cry.  Kayoko moved toward her and soon her mother was sobbing in her arms.  “This is the second step in her drinking cycle,” Becky explained.  As we began talking to dad and tell her of his love for her, her mother became more and more needy for touch and embraces.  First hugging Kayoko, and then me, and then Kayoko again, and then me.   She willingly accepted his love, though we were not sure how conscious she was of what she was actually doing.  

 

She never got to step three in the cycle which was supposed to be passing out, but instead she seemed to gradually sober up.  I suggested we go for a walk.  Clinging to us, afraid she may fall to the ground at any time, we awkwardly hobbled down the street.  People called out to her, but she ignored them as if snubbing them.  They smiled to us but motioned she was a little crazy.  On the way back, as she got more talkative, I asked if she liked walking.  “Too old,” she said.  无所谓 “wusuowei” (“whatever”).  

 

On the last stretch, I suggested we take a little jog.  “You and I are only 3 years apart, 差不多 “chabuduo” (about the same age).”  She picked up her feet a little.  Later she mumbled to Becky in their Yao language.  Becky laughed out loud in response and told me, “My mother was scoffing at you that you think we are ’chabuduo,’ 3 years difference is not ‘chabuduo.’” 

A rat caught in a mouse trap became rat jerky

 

It was a quick trip and within 36 hours we were back in Yangshuo.  We talked with dad together many times and felt some of the heavy heartedness left.  She accepted what we said wholeheartedly while shedding tears, even though we weren’t sure how much she understood in her half-druken state and listening to both of our poor Chinese (Kayoko’s is better than mine since she’s been living here, but we’ve both been at it for only 5-6 years).  

 

I also came to love this lady who is so trapped within the brutal past 50-60 years of Chinese history and within her own self-bashing self-identity.  It was a memorable trip for both Kayoko and me, and we are hoping we left a memorable impression on her.  

On the bus ride home I struck up a conversation with a Yao woman dressed in their village attire.

HAIKOU, HAINAN ISLAND

April 3

I sit in my room on the eve of Tomb Sweeping Day in China, a 3 day holiday when people go home to sweep off their ancestors’ graves and pay tribute.  Someone recently made a comparison to our Easter, which was a far stretch but I didn’t go anywhere with the conversation.  I have slept well here in my Haikou resort hotel, and have dreamed deeply, recording them in the morning and contemplating their meanings, yet I am tossing and turning tonight, finally getting up out of bed, and suddenly drawing up a connection with the national holiday.

It has taken me two days and a half to finally settle in to what I hoped would be a date with Dad, however my soul has been restless during the daylight hours and unable to feel his closeness.  Two days ago I made a new friend, a college student who was looking for the same bus stop I was.  He told me more about this city and asked if I had time on Monday.  We exchanged information, then he told me later he would be busy “sweeping a tomb” and couldn’t get together after all.  Today I made friends with a cab driver who got too hospitable and started taking me places I didn’t want to go.  I realized she might be taking me for a wild ride while wracking up a bill, and told her I was dissatisfied with her and I was getting off now.  She let me off and I found another cab to take me home.  

I have made several new friends over the past few days in this new land, but nothing seeming significant.  I am reminded of what it feels like to break new ground.  

On another front, doors have opened up to me in the largely anticipated city of Wenzhou I that I will be visiting this Thursday.  A new English student connected me with a circuit that is not above the surface, so to speak.  I will be picked up and invited into a home to stay overnight.  Later in May I will be invited back.  This city is still hot with national occurrences so I will not say much.  Please cover me.  

Meanwhile I am reminded daily that connecting with dad is not done by striving, but by letting him lead.  After being around friends constantly in Yangshuo, I am in a different rhythm.

China Aid post:

http://us13.campaign-archive2.com/?u=1e219a9a798758356bbbbe62b&id=1a967164a2&e=253d0e01a6

Last day in Haikou

April 7, 2017

I have found that sometimes uncovering a new assignment in a new place requires a big shift in gears.  It seems particularly hard for me to shift from high to low (from busy to not busy; from constantly being around people to being alone).   Thoughts of people cloud my mind:  who can I reach out to?  Have I kept in contact with everyone I need to?  Have I left people feeling balanced and better off because I was there?  All these questions popped up in between the vacuum of my own need for human contact and approval, keeping my gears going until I gradually became aware of my hang ups and gave them over to Him.  

As part of my practice in settling down, I walked/ran the land, particularly the downtown streets of Haikou.  Upon Ryan’s word that music was my connection to the next thing, I played the only music album I had on my ipod:  Hillsongs.  Since I hardly listen to music, I found it jarred me at first by bringing the western world, especially this kind of music, into the secular and rather noisy and visually stimulating environment.  

As I walked down a pedestrian-only area of Qilou, I wandered into a touristy area.  Taking a big step over an entry way, I realized I had entered an ancient building.  By the smell of incense, it occurred to me that it was a temple.  Not really wanting to go further, I stepped back out and took a picture. 

The one lead I had regarding my assignment here was the queen of heaven.  

The one lead I had regarding my assignment here was the queen of heaven.  

 

On the way back I stopped at the visitor center to pick up a map and found that what I had been looking at was the temple of the Queen of Heaven.

The Queen of Heaven is mentioned only twice in the the manual, and coincidentally (or not), they are both found in the book that He told me to read this week (Jer).  I went back yesterday to the same place to get a better sense of what I was supposed to do.  

 

The Queen of Heaven for China and parts of Asia is named "Tianhou" and so her temple is "Tianhou Gong"  There is a legend of a seventeen year old girl who died by drowning int he ocean.  She supposedly watches over the sailors and was paid tribute to when the seas got rough.  There are also fertility rituals that people fell into... not good.

There is of course a stronghold here but I think some of you may know more than I do.  In any case, I was brought into my own close walk with HS who began to use this as a conversation piece.  I had so desired to be with him but had been so unable to settle down into his presence until finally, today, while walking the streets in a different part of town, did we connect through listening to Jer.  Finally was I able to tap into his heart for the people here.  It felt passionate.

At the end of the day I realized my keyboard was lost, very strange I hadn't missed it all day since I use it all the time.  Again very oddly I left it in the dining hall of my hotel.  When the service girl said, "this one?" and handed me the keyboard, I smiled and said "yes!"  His presence tingled over me like a playful sprinkle.  I stopped to bask in his presence.  

"Thank you for this delightful walk," I said.  It was my last day walking the halls of this beautiful resort.  

 

 

"How about if we go outside," he said.  

"OK!"  

 

I walked near the quiet pool that overlooked the beach, with an ocean liner in the distance.  What an amazing time this was here in Haikou.  I am leaving this great place into another adventure that I'm a little more cued into.

April 8, 2017

A Short Stay in WZ

It had been such a long time since I have had a window seat, I decided I couldn't wait another hour before using the bathroom so apologized to my seat mates and carefully walked over legs protruding out into the narrow space between the seats remembering why I always choose the aisle.  Before long, my attitude changed to a gratefulness that when I got back to my seat, I had such a great birds eye view of this city I had anticipated coming to for so long.  I savored the landing and tidied up to meet Julie, my ride from the airport.

About a month ago the person who had welcomed me to this city said he had to take a job in another city and was not sure he would be here.  Having already bought my plane ticket here, I thought I would still fulfill my dream just to touch ground here.  But then a student of mine from this city insisted I stay with a native, because this particular city was too hard to get around and too easy to be cheated on when locals knew you were not from their city.  I was grateful for Julie, who I found was not even a close friend but just an acquaintance of my student, volunteered to pick me up and open up her house to me.  Meanwhile my other friend decided not to move out of this city yet, and had gathered a group for me.  They all connected with Julie who they had not previously known, and by the time I arrived there was a small dinner party to receive me. 

They decided that instead of letting me stay with Julie, that they would host both Julie and me in another part of the city.  One sister in the group would host me and another would host Julie.  In all there were seven sisters who were hungry and wanted to receive more tools.  I told them story of how dad let me here to China.  "But how do you hear his voice?"  They asked. 

I lost myself and had forgotten they were associated with a very conservative steam of J McArthur's teachings, and stopped in my tracks, not want to create any waves, but they insisted on knowing more.  HS was amazing and allowed a flow of knowledge as I talked to dad about each of them, and they said, "wait, how do you know I had an issue with my mom?!," "how did you know I have a business," etc.   I said I don't know, but he just begins to drop things like that when we need to know, and when we learn to listen.  Fascinated, we went late into the night. 

 

I was exhausted when I was led to my host’s home.  It was bare concrete except for a veryattractive, colorful and immaculate bedroom.  My young good hearted host had clearly made this a place that welcomed her Dad.  It was easy to imagine the hours spent on the cushion on the floor by a small coffee table, meeting with him and studying the shelves of books she had about him.  I felt so honored that she gave this room to me for the night while she slept in a far less comfortable part of the house.

I prepared for the night on the attractive bed and finally got to lay on what I found was a thin mattress that was laid over a solid slab of wood making it unable to absorb the contours of my bodyI folded a blanket under me to soften the surface and was on the verge of some heavy and much needed slumber when suddenly the loud buzz of a mosquito rang in my ear.  My body stiffened again and heart beat quickened as I covered my whole head with my pillow and wrapped myself in the comforter.  It was already a warm night, and I hated the feel of being completely enclosed in a cocoon.  After a few moments the mosquito buzz continued to cut through my now muffled eats.  How was this possible?  Now sweating under the blanket I tossed and turned unwilling to let myself be bit.

I wouldn't dare be ungrateful.   I got up and looked carefully.  There were no bites and no mosquitoes.  The sound buzzed even though I now after I put on my earphones.  Amazed at how loud it still was, I took a chance and believed it was simply harassment from the enemy.  Pushing off the covers and exposing raw areas of my skin, I talked to dad about not getting bit and finally got a few hours of sleep.  There were no bites in the morning.  

I connected with the group again early in the morning.  Some brothers came this time and I asked more about their city and the second wave of persecution that is hitting.  They said they are used to it and are glad that it makes everyone get up at 4:50am to meet every other morning to intercede for this thing.  They went on about the structure that is required to deal with it and I marveled at the strategies and methods they use to grow in spite of the threats. 

It was a quick look into the circuit and a real boost to me.  I have a chance to revisit this city in May, and anticipate this time.  Because of you, I believe doors were opened.

 

Meeting Friends in Shanghai 

April 11, 2017

One of our team members went down today and was in the hospital for half a day.  Nothing serious, but will just need rest.  Fortunately Jianmin and Rose are both doctors.  They got the best service ever.  

Just a reminder we need your covering

News on Wenzhou

http://us13.campaign-archive1.com/?e=253d0e01a6&u=1e219a9a798758356bbbbe62b&id=16dc2e1f9d

 

Fri 4/14/2017 

Since our team member went in and came out of the hospital on Tuesday, we have had a few more changes.  The team stayed in Shanghai recovering while I met with Joe and Yaqing in Jiaxing.

After recovering, Ken, Ginger and Rose met me on the train on the way to our destination, and Rose began hosting us in her favorite scenic place, Xihu Lake in Hangzhou.  From day one when we landed in Shanghai a week ago, Rose had planned out almost every moment, making sure everything and everyone was taken care of.  She and Jianmin were superstars in managing the hospital incident.  Coming back to Hangzhou, the city I was in last Spring where I had experienced such closeness with dad, was different this time with friends.  I couldn't settle down into his voice.

Today on our second day around the Lake, Rose was interrupted by a phone call saying her father who has been hanging on to life may finally not make it.  She was in tears, saying to us, "sorry, please let Carolyn take care of you.  I need to go immediately."  And with that, she was gone.  

 

Faced with the sudden change in our predicament and feeling a vacuum release after such a tightly planned schedule, we stopped to ATL.  Davee assisted us in settling into our assignment here.  Without knowing where we were, he described our natural surroundings over the phone:  the scene of a body of water, a shore;   Then right on cue, the mention of a pink umbrella with flowers, a woman wearing blue...

 

We received new orientation and marching orders, stopping to sit for long periods of time, smiling at busy tourists eager to finish their walk down the causeway, and getting smiles back.  "Nihao" said Ginger grinning with her red head of hair.   Unexpected Chinese nationals getting a kick out of her and broke into a laugh.

 

Because of Davee's word, I bought a pink parasol and got a request from an interested buyer.  Ginger made friends with an 86 year old woman on a wheelchair with similar ailments as her and talked to dad over her with her daughter providing translation.  Ken looked at a Chinese man who waved back at him and shocked him.  

 

 

It was a great change in tempo, though by late afternoon we had to admit missing Rose and the special care and attention she gave us. 

By evening we fell into our own tempo.  Hangzhou is and has been a significant and mysterious place for me.  Tomorrow we leave for Jiaxing for a much anticipated time for the Steggall's to finally meet Joe and his wife.

JIAXING 

Sat 4/22/2017 

The time with Ginger and Ken were amazing.  Ginger was a magnet for Dad-lovers.  People she never met before connected almost instantly on a deep level with her.  She has an amazing story which is not mine to tell, however in short, her assignment involved walking into what she calls "a humiliating experience" with so much grace and joy, and willingness to be used by him at any expense.  As a result several deep relationships were built.  The young Chinese woman Catherine who dropped everything to accompany her for a few hours to the hospital was someone who had a family heritage with dad, but she herself did not have a relationship with him.  Ginger amidst the emergency going on in her own life, saw this young woman's destiny and concentrated on letting Catherine know that dad loved her.  

 

Several hours later, Rose also seemingly coincidentally encountered this young woman in a completely different,  situation.  Ginger had a vision of Rose and Catherine becoming friends.  As the story played out, it became more of a reality.

 

Shortly after this incident, we took a trip to Hangzhou, Rose's favorite playground.  We fell into line behind her as she led us through her carefully planed itinerary.  On the morning of day 2, Rose received a phone call that changed the destiny of the trip.  "I have to go," she said suddenly with tears in her eyes.  Her father, who had been hanging on to life for the past year almost stopped breathing.  Her mother called knowing the end was coming.  

 

"Carolyn will take care of you," she reassured Ken and Ginger.  And with that, she was gone.  We changed the pace of our trip drastically and with the help of my partner Davee, we settled into our real assignments in Hangzhou:  going on a treasure hunt, talking with new friends, sharing, enjoying him, etc.

 

The stopover in Jiaxing with Joe, Yaqing, and Joel was delightful.  Ginger and Ken had developed a relationship over video and it was a fulfillment to be able to sit down with his family and actually understand their circumstances.  They were extremely blessed by their simple and strong faith.  Back in Shanghai, Ginger reconnected with Catherine who had followed her to the hospital.  It was an amazing 2 weeks.  

 

Ron and Anthony arrived at the tail end of the Steggall's trip and we gave closure to the first trip in amazement for what he had done.  In addition to Catherine and Rose, Ginger connected deeply with Joshua, Elle, Zhou and Shirley.  Both Ginger and Ken provided encouragement to Daniel, Yong, Cao, and Jianmin, and of course me.  

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, April 29, 2017 5:33 PM

TIME

I made a mad rush to the airport on the subway after a wonderful but late lunch with Catherine, Rose, Ginger and Ken.  The next group of two was scheduled to come in that evening and because of the crazy week, Jianmin and Rose were fried and could not manage the airport pick up.  Not noticing that the subway train had switched directions on me, I found 6 stops later that I had been going right back where I came from.  I hopped on the super magnate train and got to the airport within 7 minutes, though not quick enough to catch the next group get off the plane.  Although I was only at the most 10 minutes late, we did not find each other until 40 minutes later. 

 

Being rather calm and experienced travelers, they waited until we found each other.  This group carried a very different energy from the previous group and I warped into a much different rhythm.  I experienced my first and second ever 3-hour flight delay two times in a row.  It was absolutely my fault for not checking and double checking the time tables, and because of my lack of experience in this area, my passengers and hosts suffered--a hard thing for everyone to bear.  I had made a point of surrendering this element of TIME and SCHEDULE to him on this trip, and so instead of becoming stressed, I acknowledged this as both a gift and a lesson to me from him. 

 

On the way to the airport our driver, a woman my age expressed great interest in getting to know us. I shared the Lord with her and she said she was willing to believe.  It was way too easy.  I didn't believe her, but in case I am wrong, hope she can continue. 

 

ORPHANS and ELDERLY

Hiring Susan my most recent Chinese teacher to translate and help my detective work regarding the elderly home in Yangshuo ended up being a great idea. 

 

HEALING

Although my Chinese language skills have been coming along in some areas, I remain completely dependent on translators for other areas, particularly regarding some of the most important things I want to communicate.   Having Susan for the day, I asked if she could help me "bless people" with power.  "There's no power when I pray in Chinese," I commented.  I made a recording on my iPhone of a typical way I talk to Dad, when trying to pray for healing.  My demeanor was different, my words were faster and there were clear commands.  I used her situation as an example and asked where she felt pain or discomfort. 

 

"Wow, I never heard my friends pray like that," she said.  The discomfort is gone!  Her eyes lit up.  "I feel like I am falling in love for the first time, it feels so warm inside!  He is so amazing"  She couldn't stop smiling.  She said she had recently made a decision to enter the family, and then agreed to translate the recording of my prayer ."

 

Over the next day of traveling to the countryside, we met 黄清镜Huang Qingjing, a ten year old who looked like she was seven,  see more heartbreaking situations of poverty stricken families, we learned how  and John how to say certain expressions I typically use, hoping my Chinese will become more fluent in this area.

 

Meanwhile, Ron adopted a burden for connecting Candy (John's wife who runs the clothing stores) with a more personal walk with dad.  I booked a translation session with Susan and experienced more miracles and Ron urged Candy to pra for Susan's pain and for the coffee shop boss.  The pain was removed upon command and both were in awe of him.  I shared the "why" with the coffee shop owner.  She was not ready to believe right then but did say the pain was gone. 

 

NEED and NEEDINESS

There much neediness on this land and this sort of rugged road trip is not for everyone.  The energy dropped and I struggled with how to lead such a group into this kind of raw situation. 

 

We met one ten year old girl with an extremely poor deaf father and a mentally disabled mother.  We met a 13 year old boy who had no mother and just recently lost his father.  Finally we met an extremely poor 50 year old woman whose husband left her a few years ago. With three young children their house collapsed last year leaving them with practically nothing.  In such cases the government will step in, building a concrete structure for them to live in.  It was stark and basic. 

 

John's friends donated a big bag of rice and some oil on our visit.  The woman with nothing to offer, wanted to give us the only thing she had to give:  a basket full of eggs laid by her chickens.  "No" I said adamantly.  It felt awful to turn down the only thing she could give.  It felt like I was rejecting someone at their core.  Yet I could not take the only thing she owned worth giving away.  Such an offering would be useless to us.  It hurt me and it hurt her.  John said, "no" more strongly and urged her to keep it for her children. 

 

We made a visit to the school where the children came out to meet us.  They were healthy and happy to see their mother.  The eldest, a very skinny plain and simple but attractive 11 year old looked us in the eyes and introduced herself as Judy.  I was impressed at her poise even though she had nothing.

 

Helping these situations require careful planning and care.  When you talk to dad, please pr8 for our clothing store, our home for the elderly, and the new children we met. 

 

The home for the elderly is getting progressively better even in the midst of the staff conflicts. 

 

After another long plane delay we made our way back to Shanghai, the land of opportunity. 

 

Here are some pics of orphans and elderly we worked with.

 

LUOYANG

It was wonderful to see brothers and sisters in this city I have been long desiring to come to.  This part of our journey is not mine to tell.  In short, Ron had an assignment that was fulfilled in a miraculous way. 

 

REQUEST

I am now in Wenzhou with a full schedule.  I need to ask especially for guidance on my last leg.  I am determined not to move until I hear from him, but it has been tough.  I will write more soon, but have this request.

 

Thank you for your support,

Carolyn

 

 

 

 

Email Date Stamp: Wednesday, May 3, 2017 4:49 AM

Subject: Rest, at last

 

Dear Friends,

 

There is nothing more exciting to me than when a new believer chooses to truly walk by faith.  This is the case with Yue, the 23 year old who gained her reading eyesight when I met her last Fall.  I had been looking forward to connecting again this Spring to build more upon the foundations that were laid which I hope she hadn’t left behind when we left our hotel last November.  Although she knew I wanted to see her this Spring, she single-mindedly moved forward with her life by activating a one year working holiday visa, a special travel visa given to a small number of applicants under 30 years of age, that gives them a chance to experience another culture for a year while finding a job and working.   In March, just three days before I arrived in China, she excitedly landed in Australia, hoping to recapture the joy she experienced when on a similar visa to New Zealand a few years ago.

 

A month went by with no word from her.  Then two weeks ago during a busy week when I barely got a wink of sleep for myself, she sent a text: 

 

“Can you meet with me?  I’ve gotten so discouraged hunting for a job this past month and am losing hope.” 

 

I began talking to dad with her over video daily, walking with her as she let go of her control and gave her future to dad.  Two landmark decisions came when she was offered a less than ideal job.  Since jobs are so rare in her area, everyone including her parents and other believers encouraged her to take it.  She called me to help her connect to dad, to check if this was from him or not. 

 

While coaching her on asking him, “is this the right job for me?” she heard a “no.” 

 

“Maybe that was my own voice and it is not right,” she said. 

 

“Let’s ask it another way,” I said.

 

“Am I supposed to turn down this job?” she asked“I think he said yes.”

 

With that she put her life on the line and turned it down.

 

She had seen two companies nearby:  bapt & presb and asked if I my opinion.  I held back on what I wanted to say and suggested again that she ask dad.  She moved forward and started attending one of them. 

 

Just as she experienced more discouragement she got a call and was offered another job interview.  I was so excited at the news I assumed it was His provision. 

 

“Can you help me connect to dad again?” she jolted me back, “I want to make sure this is not the wrong one as well.” 

 

She is in the process of discerning now, and could use your strong intercession. Sometimes as if in a thriller movie, I think, “boy I sure hope he comes through,” then I think, “of course he does.”

 

MY LAST 4 DAYS

Thirty minutes after taking the last group of Americans to the airport, the taxi dropped me off at the starting point for my next leg in the journey, a 5 hour drive away.  I arrived for the second time in this previously mentioned city with such a rich Xt heritage, to experience it in a very different way.  It is not safe for me to now speak of what happened there, but simply want to mention that it was quite extraordinary.  I hope to speak more when I see you face to face.

 

Almost equally fulfilling as the talks with Yue were my talks with Shirley my English student, a native of this city who insisted I not come here alone.  “It’s too easy to be taken advantage of if you don’t fit in with the locals,” she said, asking her husband if they could take me here together on a holiday weekend and planning the details carefully.  Thankfully he agreed.

 

She was right.  This city has developed a culture so different from the other places I have been, I would not have managed alone.  It was a plus that Shirley, a "mercy" RG provided such a rich, deeply intimate, and enjoyable experience for me.  The grueling 5 hour drive there and 8 hour drive in traffic back to Shanghai went by with barely a notice.  I helped her to understand what it means to be a “mercy” RG from my many good friends who are of this bent.  “Are you a mercy?” she asked.  “oh no no no,” I responded, "but I sure do appreciate them!"

 

During our time together we cleansed land, discerned assignments, and pr 4 inner healing.  I learned about an amazing web and felt privileged to be invited in by a native. 

 

SETTLING DOWN

I have been on the go, and constantly with people for practically one month and only now, have finally settled into my own place.  Thanks to your requests on behalf of me, it was much needed in finding an ideal reasonably priced small apartment close to a subway, in my favorite area in Shanghai.  I so appreciate the 2 groups who came to visit and the very different types of anointings they left.  By being here with me, they changed my life and way of thinking.  I also appreciate Denise and the recent words sent by the group she gathered:  to "rest."

 

In the next few days I will make 2 more trips to see brothers & sisters in nearby Suzhou and Nanjing.

 

REQUESTS:

After many, many close calls, Rose's father finally let go and passed away yesterday.  They will have a funeral in Luoyang, then she will bring her mom to Shanghai to discuss their future.

 

Please remember Yue who is pressing in by faith for deliverance during this time.

 

 

Thank you for your support,

Carolyn

 

 

 

 

Email Date Stamp: A clanging cymbal

Subject: Friday, May 5, 2017 5:17 PM

 

Dear Friends,

 

"I can't hear from him," Yue said as she was trying to make the next decision.  After asking a few times in different ways, I coached her to: "ask him if he loves you, this is the most basic starting point."  After still not being able to hear him speak, I blessed her with some scr passages, to spend the day seeking his love and finding him.  It would do her no good for me to shortcut that process.  I remember as a burnt out young adult, sitting on the beach, my mind filled with tasks and pressures.  "Let him love you," said B Manning at a recent conference.  It took me a while day and a half but he came.  It was a tangible rush, then a hug like a blanket, then tears.  I will never forget that day. 

 

When all is said and done, life comes down to intimacy with dad.  Recently while on the go with people, I had gradually sunken into a form of opining and judging, even while engaging in the most righteous of acts, healing, blessing, counseling, helping people find their assignments.  To my dismay, when I settled down to hear my own thoughts, I had become a clanging cymbal and a resounding gong!  Thankfully, I think my state of being has been mostly covered up by my introversion and enjoyment of helping others and hearing them talk while in conversation rather than revealing what was on my own heart, but still rather disturbed to hear myself think.

 

"Dad, do you love me?"  I asked the same question I asked Yue to ask.  An immediate rush came, bringing me to tears.  Years of history of his faithfulness power-packed into one swift blow, I stopped in my steps to receive his tangible presence, overwhelming, embracing, warm, intimate.  Would he come through for her?  Of course he will. 

 

Yet both she and I must press through, for it is all too easy to lose the ability to feel and connect deeply while doing his work. 

 

Today I make my way to Nanjing to meet a new friend and see some old time brothers & sisters.  I plan to be there for only 24 hours.

 

Grateful for your support,

 

Carolyn

 

 

 

 

Email Date Stamp: Friday, May 5, 2017 6:47 PM

Subject: Luoyang and Wenzhou (Photos)

Email Date Stamp: Friday, May 12, 2017 6:00 AM

Subject: profiles of faith

 

Dear friends,

 

YUE

Thanks to his faithfulness and all of your support, Yue now has several very good job offers.  In addition to being offered the job she was hoping for the most, she has an even better possibility with an exciting full time position.  When we are desperate, it is a very special time in our lives because it is the easiest time to get to know dad and experience his deep love for us.  “What happens when things are suddenly good?”  This was Yue’s new concern.

 

“We stop to reflect on dad's character and remember his goodness so we have landmarks for our faith to look back on when we meet future challenges; We celebrate and make an event out of it; We give first fruits to commit ourselves to continuing the faith journey; We give testimony….” These are things we talked about.  Maybe you have more suggestions you can add?  

 

SHANGHAI

I disciplined myself not to make a decision too early for my last two unspoken for weeks in China.  Yangshuo is my default area to live, since it is not only a safe place with a familiar community of friends and a few good Chinese teachers, but also a very inexpensive city to live in.  Yet the final pull was to the Shanghai area which would feel emotional colder and riskier this time around, not to mention pricier, where the few good friends I have seemed occupied and unavailable to me.   However, the call I felt was simply to be here. 

 

The first door I would try to nudge open was with Rebecca.  Since her dad had colon cancer surgery she has pulled away from our friendship and apparently further from finding faith, and concentrating all efforts into saving her father.  It is an impossible burden to bear singlehandedly, even among the best of them.   After spending some time with her a week ago and sensing her hardened condition, I asked if I could spend time with her parents.  Since they speak another dialect, she wasn’t sure we could communicate, but after having lunch with them alone without her, and realizing our communication was just fine, I went ahead and sought out a plan to share with him directly.  

 

Getting a large print manual from Mary in Nanjing, I highlighted about 20 passages dealing with provision, overcoming fear, and love.  When I gave him the manual,  I sat down and read the passages with him.  He began making excuses that he is usually too busy to read, (in contrary to what he already said about being bored), but when it came down to it, I was surprised that he agreed with me to receive the son’s love and repeated the words after me.  Of course the results remain to be seen but it was an opening I didn’t expect to have.  

 

 

MASSEUSE

I am having breakfast with a masseuse who I met yesterday and have gone to twice in 2 days.  

 

“I may not be here the next time you come in the fall,” she said.  

 

“What do you mean?  Where are you moving to?”  

 

“Don’t want to talk about it.”

 

Feeling a little worried I continued yesterday’s conversation about the Son.  

 

“Are you able to believe he loves you?”  I asked

 

“Yes.  He’s the one who died on the cro$$ right?”  She had heard the stories since childhood.  Then she told me a Chinese creation story with different deities.  

 

“Our dad is different, you know,” I said.  “He loves everyone.”

 

“I see.  I want to be like you:  single and not married.”  She had told me she was now 35 and too fat to attract someone.

 

“You’re still very beautiful,” I said.

 

“你会说话!”   (“you’re a good talker!”/“you know how to work it”) she deflected.

 

Anyway she asked if we could get breakfast tomorrow before work.  Perfect for me.  

 

ROSE

Rose has had to support a lot of people in her life.  “I think I am supposed to work hard, this is my purpose,” she told me sadly, countering my suggestion that she take a rest sometimes.  Since her father’s passing, friends in the US have asked me to send their best wishes and “koden” (Japanese word for money given in these situations).  When opening her mailbox to find all of the support given to her from American friends, she was “shocked to death,” as she put it.  “Is that too much [money]?”  “We all love you very much and want to support you.”  There is not a person who has come to China with me who she hasn’t absolutely blessed their socks off.   She was silent. (very rare for her.)  “I’m very moved.”  

 

It was a moment of deep fulfillment for me to see her overcome by His love and grace.  For now she would have to do nothing but receive.  Her mother’s move to Shanghai will not be easy and she needs our thoughts behind that.  

May 27, 2017

Back Home

Landing in LA on Mother’s Day May 14 was uneventful and amazingly smooth, going through customs within 20 minutes.  I met and interacted with so many new people on this trip that I needed to take the last few days in China off to recollect who they were and what God was leading me to do.  In spite of this I still had breakfast with my new masseuse Xiao Xu, and saw old friends Shirley and husband Zhiyong who took me to Wenzhou, and Cao Xiong, wife Wei Qiong Hua and son Cao Shi Yang.  

 

My masseuse, Xiao Xu a 35 year old woman moved away from her 6 year old child and husband, who started verbally abusing her.  Xiao Xu was moderately overweight and blamed her appearance for all of her misfortune.  When arriving at the small restaurant she immediately stood halfway in the line cutting in front of 2 gentlemen and telling me to come where she was.  I went to the back of the line and refused.  I tapped her and told her I’d treat her to breakfast.  She held her place in line and said no, she’d treat me.  The 2 gentlemen complained and I apologized to them, but was not successful in convincing her to come where I was.  She didn’t say much during lunch but later disclosed she did not have any friends in Shanghai and hoped we could be friends.  I shared Jesus with her and she said she had heard about him and that he died on the cross, and wanted to receive his love.   In the end I wrote her a text message saying I was uncomfortable that she cut in line, and came up with my own pithy saying:  “standing in line is important: respecting strangers raises one’s self dignity and quality of personhood”  排队:尊敬陌生提高素质.  Maybe my Chinese is still lacking quite a bit, but I was a little proud that I could come up with this.  She said she agreed and apologized for cutting in line.

 

Shirley thanked me for telling her more about who she was as a “mercy,” (Rom 12:6-8) saying that though she was passionate about sharing the Gospel and ministering for the Lord, and very competent in what she does as a scientist, has not felt fulfilled at all in her career and could never figure out what she was supposed to do in life.  During her last week she changed her future plans to seek out a PhD in biology, and instead wants to seek out a path with Marriage and Family Counseling at a seminary.  Her husband also wants to resign his job of 7 years as an engineer and start his own business.  They hope to study abroad within the next 2 years.  Even though she is already quite proficient, Shirley wants to concentrate on studying English with me more seriously.  

 

Cao Xiong a 46 year old lawyer who I have been encouraging over the past year and a half had adopted me as his pastor and introduced me to his wife and 11 year old son.  I spent the afternoon at his house talking about developing quality family time together.  Echoing what Anthony Gee shared on his trip here a couple of weeks ago, I told Cao Xiong, “a father is the most important person is a teenage son’s life.”  He said he changed his attitude and approach after hearing this.  I coached them on how to bless each other daily.  It was touching to see the son who was aching for verbal affirmation warm up to his parents, and in fact warmed up to me in the process.  Although he barely could look me in the eye and be in the same room with me when I arrived, he actually wanted to give me a hug at the end.

 

CONCERT

 

Two weeks before leaving China, while taking Ron and Anthony to Luoyang and coming into the breakfast buffet after my morning run, I met a woman slightly older that I standing in the dining hall.  Dressed in formal black, I thought she was a hotel manager and asked her for tea.  Li Ming said she didn’t work here but could help me ask.  She asked where I was from.  “The US,” I said.  

 

“Me too, I’m from NY!”  Although clearly Chinese, she showed me her passport.  She was here with a music group and was taking some Chinese choral conductors around.  She invited me to an all day festival at the park adjacent to our hotel.  

 

“They are the best conductors from each of the provinces within China, and we are having a national competition trying to raise the quality of life for seniors.”  

 

“I own a music school and store in LA!”  I exclaimed, “and I have a clothing store in Yangshuo, Guilin in order to help the elderly get a better quality of life!”

 

“That man at my table is a conductor from Guilin… I think God arranged our meeting.”  

 

“You believe in God?  I’m a Christian!”  

 

“We’ll be in LA at the end of May.  We simply have to get to know each other.” 

 

We had breakfast the next morning and she shared openly about her life and personal struggles.  She and her siblings all had formal musical training in spite of living through the Cultural Revolution.  I shared my testimony and hoped we could work together.

 

A few days after arriving in LA I got a message from Li Ming in desperation, saying that the program coordinator for their performance in LA had postponed the performance at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, but they had already bought plane tickets for 30 choir members and were in a bind.  These choir members are from Dali, Yunnan Province and represent the Bai minority group and she needed my help to coordinate a program for them.  From their point of view, I am God’s provision.  I asked if it would be ok if I shared the gospel with them and with the audience.  Their leadership team said OK.  

 

From my point of view, it is God’s provision to share his Gospel, and to share the work being done within China.    Of course we will get to see an amazing award-winning performance and meet some people who have amazing stories.

 

Would you consider joining me in hosting a concert and tea time during afternoon/evening of THIS Sunday May 28 in the San Gabriel Valley at the Alhambra First United Methodist Church?   I will be putting together a musical and testimonial program, and raising funds for the elderly in China’s rural and impoverished back country who have suffered much through the Cultural Revolution and who continue to live in abject poverty.  Concert is free, but donations will be accepted through Assignments International,  credit card donations only through http://give.assignmentsinternational.com

 

Here is a video of the group’s performance.

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNzQzMDkzMDUy.html?spm=a2h0j.8191423.module_basic_relation.5~5!2~5~5!3~5~5~A

 

Doors will open at 2:30pm for a 3pm concert start time.  Please join us for tea and coffee hour hosted by Ascent Christian Fellowship and Alhambra First United Methodist Church.  We hope that during this time we can share God’s love and the Gospel with the choir

 

 

Thank you all for your support!  

 

Writing freely,

 

Carolyn

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Relationships and Business Fall 2016

Assignment for China Fall 2016 trip

October 16, 2016

As usual before a trip, I look for clues on where I am supposed to be.  Making too many mistakes on this end can cost money, time and a lot of discomfort in this unforgiving land.  

As is my custom, I gathered my clues and took stock.

 

A NEW SONG

Toward the end of the summer my pastor friend Joe in Jiaxing wrote of his struggle with his faith. I misinterpreted the root of his struggle as more personal than corporate, but after some letters back and forth, I thought the root came from increased scrutiny from the powers that be.  Surveillance cameras had now been installed in his wife’s small rural church, a sector of society the upper management never cared about before.   I encouraged him but felt my words were empty.  A few nights ago Joe contacted me with new energy in his voice.  His friend had written a poem about the persecution that had been going on over the past three years in his home town of Wenzhou.  His friend from Wenzhou wrote a song but he felt the tune did not fit the song.  

I had never written a Chinese song before but the words moved me.  I sat down and wrote a song, imagining it would be sung by armies. It was so far, well received by my Chinese friends. 

Joe, who put me on his pulpit on a Sunday and who had me conduct a wedding in Chinese last December without giving me preparation, has invited me to speak to his new group in the Shanghai area, mostly college aged students.  Last time he posted my full name as the speaker.  I asked him not to do so this time.  I have not been speaking Chinese much this summer so I feel this will be a stretch, as it will happen during my second week there.

I am considering that the HS may be leading me to Wenzhou on this trip after three years of being on my radar.

 

A NEW FRIEND MONICA

Recently I got acquainted with a very intelligent, proficient English speaking Chinese young woman in her 20’s named Monica.  We became language partners a few months ago since she was starting off on a new career of teaching online.   As I got to know her I became more and more fascinated with her story.   Monica and her older sister were home schooled.   While this may be a common educational path to take in the US, it is revolutionary for China, and particularly for a Chinese farming family who would no doubt place its hope to get out of poverty on its next generation’s abilities to do well in school.  A Chinese student’s school education culminates in the test of all tests, the 高考 “gao kao” (used as a noun or verb) or college entrance exam, an event that can change the course of a farming family’s future.  Monica’s story is fascinating, not only because she and her sister developed into such intelligent women with extremely high proficiency in English despite living in a rural area and not having the resources of a middle or upper class family to find adequate teachers, but because both she and her sister learned as they grew older, that each had developed a handicap.  Her older sister is what we would consider a “dwarf” stopped growing in height, and Monica’s eyesight began to fade while studying.  She was dismayed at her lost hopes of going to a public high school where she could “gao kao”, and had no idea what she was dealing with until she was diagnosed with an eye disorder that would forbid her from reading for long periods of time.  This is almost certainly a death sentence for a young person preparing for the “gao kao.”  Monica instead turned to audiobooks and lectures from famous American universities, developing extraordinary proficiency in English through listening.  

She was never able to “gao kao,” but both she and her sister have scored well enough in their English proficiency to study abroad, placing themselves in quite enviable positions compared to their contemporaries, who though graduating from traditional public schools and universities with honors, still struggle to test high enough on their TOEFL exams and pursue their dreams of studying abroad in a developed country.  Monica spent a year in New Zealand and got accepted to a program in Australia while her sister will study in a masters program in the US next year.  

Monica’s story can be found here:

https://medium.com/@yuemyang/3-english-mooc-and-a-homeschooled-chinese-kid-772489145cc5#.v5c59oclq

 

A NEW REGION

The HS highlighted a new area in Shandong Province (the city of Yantai) because of 3 reasons:

1. it is across the Yellow sea from North Korea, an area the Lord has increasingly placed on my heart and given me visions for,

2. My parents own a timeshare that can be traded for something in China and coincidentally that is the only area in China that this kind of place has opened up to me at this time, and

3. it is very close to Monica’s home town, and she has agreed join me there for a week toward the end of my trip.  My hopes: to learn from her resilient spirit, talk about faith if she’s open, language exchange, and have her help me on my proficiency test preparation.

Monica and her family have effectively come in the “opposite spirit” of the pervasive and oppressive societal message in China, that you are who your test scores say you are, and that there is only one way to get there, and that is through striving within the public school system and coming up on top.  

Just before I boarded the plane, I received a newsletter from which I get the latest news of the violations. 

On 9/10, I had an unusual experience which I documented on Youtube and shared with my group on Sunday 9/11.  I am clear now, that the bell I rang is related to the 4th paragraph below.  September 10,  9am PST is 12am (midnight), the beginning of 9/11 in a new crackdown in a province, just south of where Monica lives, who I will be seeing in November in Yantai, across the Yellow Sea from Korea.  

[Video available upon request]

On October 17 my date of departure I received this email written on October 12 telling of what was going on in that region.

 

SHANGHAI

There are times when I have tried not to blend into the mainland Chinese crowd for fashion reasons obvious to most Americans.  Tonight was not one of those nights.  I was to meet with Cao my "recently became a lawyer because of Abraham" friend, his wife, and his "lawyer mentor."  Last time, I showed up in my best travel clothes, still significantly underdressed to meet Cao for dinner who arrived in a suit and tie and treated me to a small banquet. 

This time I would not be so unprepared.  If you were to see me on the subway, you would see me in long black pants, boots, a long sleeve collared shirt buttoned cuffs and front, up to the second to the top button, and a jacket deliberately not matching in texture or color.  I commanded respect by sitting with my back straight and knees together, never touching the back of my seat.  This, a look called "duan zheng," meaning "proper," is the look of a well-respected seasoned woman in Shanghai.   

I was glad I made the effort, because my dinner party was dressed very formally as well.  Cao had wanted to me to share about faith with his wife and "lawyer mentor," and both had commented on how much his life had changed within the past 9 months after I met him.  His wife said she was not willing to accept his change in the beginning but the more she saw his change for the better, the more she wanted to know more about our faith. 

Having been primed by Cao, by the end of the night they both decided to enter the journey and prayed to join the family.   

WENZHOU

Although there were many indicators pointing to Wenzhou, I decided there was not a strong enough sense of timing now, and thus dropped consideration of going there on this trip.  I did follow up online with a contact given to me named Leon with his wife, parents of two very young children who are lay leaders.  While Skyping I noted Leon used coded language because of the recent persecution.  I followed his lead and delighted in getting to know him but the internet connection was not good enough for us to have a fluid conversation without interruptions so we decided to try again on another occasion.  Little did I know this would turn out to be a very good lead later on in my trip.

 

One rather odd thing I have noticed, is that an unusual amount of people (at least three a day while waiting at the subway station) are stopping me to ask me for directions on where to get places.  I always apologize saying I don't know, but it has piqued my interest on why this is happening. 

A NEW SISTER

As with my shoe salesman friend John who I met because I needed shoes, my new "younger sister" friend was made because I needed a massage.  As a result of frequent long plane rides and bad computer desk habits, I often have the need of finding ways to undo painful tension in my neck and shoulders.  No better place than cheap Chinese reflexology in the US and even cheaper specialists in China.  Finding a good one is an art, which I had to learn quickly after getting my first bad one on my first trip to Shanghai.  Rebecca showed me the Chinese equivalent to YELP and I was thus able to find a smaller inexpensive but good quality place in my new neighborhood.

On my second trip to see “Xiao Na,” we asked in more depth what each other did, she exclaimed, “wow, you are very helpful to China!  Welcome!”  She said she was not too clear on what Christians believed but her grandmother who passed away was one, and passed on some knowledge to Xiao Na.  I told her it’s not mysterious, it’s simple message.  When I told her she was very willing to accept and join.  By the end of the massage I became her “older sister” and had an invitation to go with her to her home town. 

 

SONGJIANG U

My friend  Joe asked me to give the message to his Sunday morning group of college students.  My head was filled with several thoughts and feelings, the first being elation and thrill of being able to encourage such a group and being fairly clear on what I wanted to communicate to them, the second being mildly concerned if I would be able to develop the Chinese vocabulary and speaking skills in time for the weekend, and the third, wondering if there were security camera issues.  I sent a cryptic note to my supporters asking for prayer, which I was not sure people understood what my concerns were, however I immediately received a reply from a young believer willing to translate.  Mindy, a young believer who I like to encourage when I go to Shanghai.  Knowing she would translate gave me freedom to speak from my heart, rather than be restricted to my limited Chinese vocabulary.

I was well received, and two of the young college men cooked lunch for everyone, and I was impressed that they even presented me with a stipend. 

That very night, Joe who was not present at the meeting, texted me that his wife was dealing with a very heavy feeling of discouragement and despair.  He felt helpless and didn't know what to do.

I sent a cry for help and thankfully Ginger was available to reach out to them to encourage them.  I also decided to make it a priority to visit with them in the city of Jiaxing.

 

YANGSHUO, GUILIN

Leaving Shanghai and arriving in Guilin yesterday I again felt the strong presence of the Holy Spirit, in a corridor of the airport, as if pulling me through a time warp.  At the Guilin airport, John who insisted on picking me up, called and asked me to meet him upstairs after getting my luggage.  The escalators were seemingly broken and not moving.  I stepped on one of them and lifted my heavy suitcase and heaved it up the stairs.  I realized the walls on both sides of me were moving and someone was coming straight down at me.  After a few seconds, it hit me that the escalator had started up automatically when I stepped on it and I was walking up the stairs in the wrong direction and going nowhere. 

Suddenly feeling really stupid, I stopped climbing the stairs and let the escalator carry me back to the ground floor.  I looked around to see if anyone was looking at me and laughing.  No one seemed to care.  I got on the escalator that was going up in the right direction and let it carry me and my heavy suitcase.  I realized that my suitcase handle that had broken over a year ago in Guilin, was fixed! 

I had several people try to fix it over the year but they could not figure out how and why it was broken.  Wondering what “going up the wrong way” had to do with fixing my suitcase handle, I gave thanks. 

This trip has been easy so far, in that I have had people to receive me on each leg, and have not yet had to tread new territory on my own.  John and I stopped at the large market in Guilin and bought 10 blankets with Angry Bird and Hello Kitty prints on them with the money from Ascent. I also bought them 50 bananas and oranges for about $8 before making our anticipated stop to visit the sick and elderly widows.  

John said they were all very excited to see me.  As I touched and spoke to dad with one lady she began to touch herself inappropriately.  Again, no one seemed to notice.  I was grieved at what seemed like a deprivation of touch.  Unsure what to do, I walked away to another woman and prayed with her.  

Three have died since I was last here, but none of them were the ones you all specifically prayed for.  There are about 29 people to care for now, in this building with 96 beds, so we will go back in a few days to buy more blankets with next month’s donations.

I settled into a very nice very inexpensive hostel and took one more brave step and rented a scooter this time instead of a bicycle.  Traffic during this off season seems more manageable and I am learning how to drive more offensively than defensively, knowing I will not get my turn to enter the busy street unless I proactively nudge my way past the intersections, in this country with no stop signs. 

I will get to see our children’s clothing store for the first time this Friday.  Candy the “businessman” of the family got her driver’s license today so she will not have to depend of John to make the long journey to drive her to Lipu where our store is.  She is going to a 3 day meeting tomorrow where the Carlfit company gives the store owners rigorous training on how to make effective choices in buying inventory and selling product.  (Something I need to learn for Neighborhood Music, and something I need to ask you to lift up.  This time my leaving has meant a significant loss in sales.  Struggling a bit.) 

John said there is no way he could do what she is doing.  “She does everything that has to do with business,” he said.  “She just tells me what to do.”  Likewise John who very skillfully bargained to find the right blankets for a good price said, “and there is no way Candy can do what I do.    When she is trying to buy for the old people or the orphans, she just says, ‘OK, good enough,’ but we don’t have the money for it.  I can find the good deal.” 

Our Carlfit children’s clothing store also seems to be on track with its sales, for paying back loans on time.  (Hoping for cold weather that will boost coat sales, which they are well stocked for at the moment.  It is still in the 80’s right now.)

At 6:40am as usual, the sound of a lone bugle pierced the morning silence with a single melody that swept across the picturesque rice fields below my hotel room.  It was time to get up.  After a few minutes, the soothing melody turned into a barrage of sounds of the Chinese pop song genre, somewhat incongruous with the beautiful backdrop one can find in ancient Chinese paintings.  This is modern day Yangshuo.

I had not been able to go for my morning run for almost a week, having caught a bad cold and fighting fever and tiredness for 3 days in my bed.  On the morning of the 4th day I had a dream and was immediately delivered of my fever.  I have since then gradually been on the mend.  

Last Monday was Halloween, one of the most anointed days of the year for me to feel my Heavenly Father’s heartbeat.  The weather had suddenly become cold, an immediate result, I believe, from John’s and my prayers for cold weather in order to push our clothing store into the busiest and highest money-making season, a time when parents want the best, nicest-looking jackets and winter outfits possible to keep their children warm.  The down side was, I had not brought enough warm clothes for myself.  

As the temperature dropped that afternoon, I felt a tinge of a sore throat, an indication that I needed to tend to the needs of my body immediately to avoid getting sick.  Yet the Lord invited me to meet him at the bridge over the YuLong River, and I was determined to make the 2 mile drive on my motorbike to get there.  He arrived just on schedule for a very intimate time where he gave me a deposit.   With the cold winds blowing across my frozen cheeks and hands on my ride back, I knew that avoiding a cold at that point was probably unlikely, but the meeting was well worth it.  

On that Halloween weekend I had just moved into what I thought would be a better hotel on the countryside, but it had it’s challenges.  I quickly made a decision to return back to my very nice room #407 at the Sudder Street Hostel, which I often regretted leaving.  I was extremely pleased to find that after a week of being gone, my Father had prepared the exact same room for me, leaving it almost exactly the way I left it a week ago-very unlikely since I had not specifically requested it.  It felt a very warm welcome back, and I continue to feel a wonderful presence in my room. 

 

YANGSHUO

Amos, my graduate student friend from the University of Hong Kong expressed sincere dismay over his current situation which may prevent him from coming next week to help me with the elderly.  In spite of his hesitations he decided to ask for leave, with the risk of annoying his supervisor during a crucial time when he needed to request recommendation letters from him.  The results were positive!

My Chinese teacher Becky who knows what I do and why, has shown little interest in knowing more, suddenly asked if she could participate in my activity with the elderly, …“I just want to participate a little,” she said.  Flabbergasted, I said, “of course!”

TEEN CRISIS

Yesterday John and I went to meet a 14 year old girl from an extremely poor farming family whose parents got into an accident that disabled her mother and whose father is not able to find a stable construction job.  It was a delight meeting her and hearing her hopes to help people by becoming a police officer.  She spoke of praying often but not knowing much about who she was praying to.  It was easy to tell her more about he who saves, and it was quite natural to invite Him in and have her join the family.  

John was beaming afterwards saying, “this was my entire life before meeting Candy.”  I had more than 100 orphans and needy children.  “I love this.  Teachers here who know of an orphan or a very bad situation just call me and as if we can take care of them.  We had a lot of foreign support.  Then when the economy dropped, no one could support them any more.  Candy was also a supporter.  She was also from a very poor family, like me, and like these children.  She only had her mother, no father.  She had no money to go to high school, just like me, but she is smart and talented and works very hard.  She got educated, and increased her salary over the years.  We were just friends, and she came to Yangshuo to see the orphans, just like how you do.  Then eventually and unexpectedly we started to talk about marriage.  Then unexpectedly you came along and believed in us, and are willing to help us find ongoing support for the orphans.  These orphans and poor people are the reason we are doing this business.”  He spoke with more passion than I’ve seen over this whole trip.  We recalled how our relationship strangely developed.  

 

JOE & YAQING

In the late evening I finally got a message from Joe’s wife Yaqing from the city of Jiaxing by Hangzhou.  Yaqing who according to Joe has been having a very hard time with life was requesting a video conversation.  I was so glad that I am now able to communicate a much deeper level to know what she is saying.  This night we connected very well and I think I understood her struggles.  I released her to explore things she felt she is not allowed to explore as a pastor who had to hold up the responsibilities and expectations the community puts on her.  I am seriously considering making a trip back to Jiaxing to see them, knowing this would be a higher risk trip with wanton living conditions and scrutiny from the "powers that be," adding to Joe’s very risky driving habits.  

 

CLOTHING STORE #1

Visiting our new store in Lipu was an amazing experience.  Though still small by China’s standards, it is much more of a city than Yangshuo is.  In my biased opinion, our store stood out among a row of other stores.  Candy who is now being trained for upper management, now that their first store is doing so well and have another on the way, is being asked to go to meetings in different cities.

I caught her between trips and got a glimpse of her training the employees on the new sales strategies.  Out of the $15K we had invested, about $13.5K worth of merchandise has moved through the store during the first 2+ months.  If an additional $2.5K worth of merchandise is moved by the end of this month (extremely likely), they will be able to put 90% of the future profit towards paying back loans.   After loans are paid off, we can take care of our own lives and support the orphans and elderly.  We both put all of our spare change into this and have been living very frugally.  November and December brings in the highest profits of the year because of the cost of winter clothes, but up until now it has been a very summer-like fall and cold weather is needed.

When asking Father about this venture, I found that 1000 angels were released today because of the prayers toward this work.  It was of great comfort to me and I felt the atmosphere change. 

 

LOSS

On Saturday morning I awoke at 5am.  This would normally be a very ordinary time for me to go on my morning run, had I not been tossing and turning from 9pm until 1am the night before.  I had not been drinking caffeine at all for almost two weeks and my sleep has been amazingly sound, unbroken, and filled with dreams.

Just last night, a good friend in China told me she did not want me to be a part of her life any more.  Surprised and heartbroken I said goodbye and expressed my appreciation to her for her warmth and hospitality to me over the years.  This past year had been an emotional roller coaster ride, as her raw outbursts of anger toward me often caught me unprepared and vulnerable.  As I tried to restructure my trips to avoid her during those changing mood swings, I found myself many times destabilized and unexpectedly left to fend for myself.  I could only be thankful my Chinese skills had increased enough to survive on my own on those occasions.  

It was a hard year, but this break in relationship was even harder.  I have spent a few days grieving this loss, hoping it will come back one day in a different form.

GAIN

Amidst this grief, I was surprised by an amazing encounter with an American named Melissa from Atlanta who had served in China for twenty years and who, with her husband, recently signed a 10 year lease on a building in order to provide a place for the weary "brothers and sisters" in China.  They even wanted to open an "IHOP" on the top floor.  This caught my attention, and although I don't often reach out to other Americans here, I compelled to reach out to her.   Over lunch we connected deeply, and she connected me to many more American friends and gave me an open door to their house.  

Ron Tanaka told me I would see 3 miracles before leaving China.  That night this Melissa sent a text that she had the worst fear that after we parted she had left her purse with credit cards, ID, Disney passes for her kids on the train.  This is truly a nightmare in China.  I felt like I wanted to give her one of those miracles promised to me.  I saw an angel deliver the purse to her in the morning.  Later when I told her, she said it indeed got delivered at that time.  She got a call that morning from her landlord who found her purse in their car, not even taken on the train!  

AMOS

When I met Amos online two and a half years ago, he was seeking help and practice for his graduate school interviews in English.  Since I was new to teaching English, it was particularly rewarding to see him get into his top choice school in Hong Kong.  The first time we met in person was over a lunch banquet table with many others present.  He received the Lord on the spot and asked me to help him pick an English name.  Out of the four suggestions I offered, he picked Amos.

The day before Amos was to arrive in Yangshuo, the weather report showed constant rainy weather over the whole time he would be in town.  When John and I picked Amos up from the train station none of this seemed to matter, as he was like a wide eyed little boy, looking out the window at the unique scenery and the odd shaped mountains.  It was fun to accept a Chinese native into what I now felt like was my home town.  

Amos, who I am tempted to adopt as a son came to help me understand the situation with the elderly.  Even though he comes from a very poor home in a farming village, he was shocked by the conditions they lived in saying he has never seen such bad conditions as this.  I was told by others that there are way worse conditions in China, and I believe it, but Amos' shock helped affirm to me that this is indeed unacceptable.  

As we went to each bedside and spent time imparting Father's love, we saw clear changes in their conditions.  It was nice to show Amos that when we bring an invisible hope and love this way, you can actually see tangible results.  We saw glazed eyes become clear, blank faces show response and smiles.  It is only the beginning but I would like Amos to help me understand the root of the bad conditions more deeply and devise a plan to gradually raise the standard of living here.

After our first visit to see the elderly, Amos got the first taste of my motorbike driving as he sat behind me on the very short but muddy drive up the street to our hotel.  “Be careful!” he said as we slid precariously on the slippery terrain.   On the way to dinner, I asked him to drive the motorbike in order for him to feel more secure.  He was glad to.  He decided he would rather take the long and narrow but better paved road, which made me feel better as well.  Even with the umbrella I held over his head it, the pouring rain still provided quite a strain on the evening since even the paved road became a more dangerous drive. I imagined we would have to put up with this over the next day and a half, however, the next morning I decided to beseech Father to change it on our behalf.

I shouted out a plea in the air to Father and asked Amos if he would agree. He agreed, though not understanding that it would be of any consequence. A day of predicted constant rain turned into clouds with an occasional mist. Then a few big drops in the afternoon prompted Amos to suggest we bring an umbrella on our way to see the elderly. Becky had now joined us so more was at stake.

I said, "no, remember we asked Him for it not to rain? It will not rain." It did not rain.  The next morning provided us with the same opportunity to ask for Father to send his own umbrella to provide shelter for us. All in all we were not rained on during the rest of the time we were outdoors.

Amos accomplished his assignment of helping me to interview the elderly workers and guests in order to understand the broader situation.  At the end he was very pensive and somber, feeling this situation was too big for us to do anything about right now, but was willing to agree with me that it was not too big for us to ask God to fix.

“We need to know what to ask His for.  This is the first step for change.”  He agreed to try this method and stated our requests together.  Our request, if you can join us, is that we or someone else can come up with another privately run nursing home that can provide better care and a more sanitary and attractive environment with the funds allocated.

DEEP CALLS UNTO DEEP

As soon as Amos left, my schedule was filled with meetings with appointments from foreign/US brothers & sisters persevering on the field, desperately seeking to heal hurts. I was moved by their stories and was felt it a joy and privilege to pronounce hearing and even introduce HS to some of them for the first time. 

Leaving Yangshuo felt different this time, knowing I have family here now. 

SHANGHAI

The culture shock and change in atmospheres from Yangshuo to Shanghai was not small. In Yangshuo, one can feel like 100 yuan ($16 USD) is a LOT of money, and I subconsciously adjusted my spending habits to match my peers’ attitudes toward money.  In Shanghai, my meetings with my Shanghai yuppie friends were held over 9+ course dinners that were 4 times more expensive than my most lavish meal in Yangshuo. I did not dare offer to pick up the tab after seeing their ordering style, but gladly accepted their treat while quickly adjusting my mindset and spending habits to meet the requirements of the society. I was encouraged by their hunger for deeper things, and their suggestion that we have our own study group over email.

 

The weather report showed rain over the next day in Shanghai. Feeling a confidence of walking closely with the Holy Spirit in Yangshuo, I asked God to hold off the rain while I went running the next morning. A light drizzle fell over my uncovered head as I took my first steps out of my hotel. Confident it would let up, I continued with no rain covering. Within 5 minutes I was drenched.

I laughed at his “otherness” in Is 55:8-11, knowing if he always allowed me to have my way for “convenience” sake, that just would not make our relationship with each other very interesting. While people on their way to work wrapped themselves in coats and umbrellas, waiting under shelter for the rain to stop, I ran freely and happily, already soaked but with deep joy in my heart.  

 

JIAXING

After taking a 2 night breather at a comfortable hotel in Shanghai, I planned out my last stretch, knowing it would involve roughing it for a night in the farming village near Hangzhou, at the home of Joe and Yaqing and their son Joel.  Taking up their offer to put me up for the night, I knew that would mean a cement floor, a hard wooden bed, wooden horse benches and slightly lower standards of living, however I had been cherishing the times with Yaqing more and more, especially now that I can understand her.  Just a year ago I could hardly understand anything she was saying and relied more on Joe’s struggling English to provide a bridge for communicating, but now we could have a stand alone relationship.  

The afternoon involved asserting myself enough to connect with their 10 year old son Joel.  It was well worth it and we became comfortable friends.  I learned over my stay that he liked English a lot but was under challenged because he is underprivileged on account of his parents choosing to pastor churches in underdeveloped areas, resulting in a meager salary and practically no possessions: no tv, no computer; just some simple toys and a basketball.  Joel’s desire to follow his father’s footsteps in order to help people was met with a “no!” cry from Joe.  “It is miserable to do this kind of work in China,” he said.

I told them of my friends Sheila and David in the US, and encouraged him to not shy away from this field because I think he may have a lot of opportunities because of his soft heart toward God and people.  I also connected him with Kailee who lives in the next city over to see if she or her friends could follow up with some English conversation opportunities.

I called Joe to come back from Shanghai.  He was willing to make the two hour trip back and the evening and morning were spent with heavy emotional tears flowing from all parties.  They had not communicated well as a couple since I had seen them last year and a lot of mediation and healing was needed, however because of their soft hearts toward each other and the Lord, it was a very sweet time.  Much worth the trip.  

They are not ones to arrive too early, and I wrongly assumed they were keeping in mind the length of time we needed to get to the train station.  

All that said, I missed my train that was supposed to lead to my connecting flight to Yantai.  In the end, it worked out with minimal drama.  (I’ll spare you the details.)

 

YANTAI

Meeting “Yue” my recent language partner was a complete delight.  The only thing I could previously tell about her during our weekly 30 minute video sessions was that she was light-skinned (I could only see the side of her face because her eye problem permits her from looking directly at the screen), and had a cheery attitude.  When she found me in the hotel lobby she radiated with the same joyful presence, a little taller than me and very adorable.

When Yue was seven years old, at the time most parents stress the importance of doing repetitive homework assignments, Yue’s parents instead gave her a bunch of recordings and textbooks and had her homeschooled herself, a practically unheard of act in China or the US for that matter.   It would not have worked had she not loved studying, but because her parents, also unusually intelligent, seeing that Yue’s self-motivated learning style would be squelched in the public school system, allowed her to study the things she loved to study.  The result was, she excelled in academics and language, and is completely self-taught.   

At 16, when she lost her reading eyesight, her life was turned into despair.  Fortunately, she was living in an age when audiobooks and online lecture classes were taking off.  She downloaded recordings of top US university courses, and as a result honed her listening skills and memory, and mastered speaking English without a Chinese accent.   

I had invited Yue to spend a week with me in Yantai at a 2 bedroom hotel stay that was given to me.  Even though we had just been meeting for a month and a half, I had a good enough impression of her, and apparently she of me, to take the plunge, meet face to face, and spend the week together.

I quickly found that this was a good decision, that this young girl 26 years my junior and I were very compatible.  We easily adjusted to each others’ habits and enjoyed each other’s company, developing a daily rhythm of self-study, exercise, meals together, Chinese and English exchange, then every evening, sharing about deeper things in life.  

On the first evening I shared my impression of her, and how she stood out to me.  She said I was also the only language partner she pursued.  When I told her of my belief system and hope she would be healed, she admitted this was the one area she had not explored much even though her grandfather was of the same belief system.  As I shared, she accepted with a very warm heart toward God, and eagerly wanted to know more.  Every night since then we have been spending time in the Word, discovering who the Son and Holy Spirit are.  I was impressed that she wanted to have all of my explanations recorded on her listening device and interviewed me for hours into it, asking about the background of the Word, and about the narrative from the very beginning to the end of the world.  She told her family members about me and the message of hope, and they in turn asked if I could stay at their house.  It would have to be on another trip since I am taking me test the day after we part ways. 

Outside a flurry of snow painted the city white as I ran on the treadmill on the 30th floor of our hotel.  I marveled at how yet another divine appointment opened a door to this northern region of China. 

Yue's story can be found here:  https://medium.com/@yuemyang/a-story-for-lulu-90ba15c795a2#.3mbtlf1pm

 

REBECCA

Yesterday Rebecca in Shanghai who I consider a younger sister sent a desperate cry for help.  Her 61 year old father was suddenly diagnosed with an advanced stage of colon cancer.  Coming to terms with the surgery, chemotherapy and stool bag he may have to carry is unbearable.  Although she has searched after Him, she has not been able to believe in God up until this point, but would you join me in asking dad for a miracle? 

JON

An English student of mine, Jon, who sadly reported to me last month that he did not pass his TOEFL test with a high enough score, allowed me to pray together and listened to me offer an explanation of how I saw this as an opportunity for him to align his purposes with God’s.  We released his fears and prepared for the next test which he took 10 days ago.  The report came that he passed it today.  He wrote excitedly, “wow, I started to think maybe God really is there!”  Jon reported that when he found out, he closed his eyes and thanked God personally, wanting to open up this relationship further.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

 

YANTAI

My week with Yue ("Monica") in the northern coastal city of Yantai went by quickly.  She was such an easy person to live with and get along with.  In the end she thanked me for building up her confidence and recognizing that she had gifts and talents.  Every night she and I looked forward to learning more from the Word of God before our time of prayer together, asking Him about her purposes, her ailments (having trouble with eyes and stomach), and speaking of her bright future.

She had great questions like, "why has this Message not been available to more Chinese?" And "What if people don't hear?"  We carefully worked together through the beginnings of both testaments so she would have a better clue as she continues to read further on her own.  I showed her Acts 17:26-28 which said, "From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.  ‘For in him we live and move and have our being."  Monica said she felt much better after knowing this.

She told me her parents thanked me for all I did, but I really felt mutually blessed.  Yue's transitions in mid-sentence from Chinese to very American-teenager English with no Chinese accent amazed me, since she never had practice speaking until recently.  She said she just listened to American lectures, and feels that since she wasn't taught by Chinese teachers who carry an accent, she could learn to speak without an accent.   Interspersed with "like" fillers, her speech could easily pass for a mild version of a valley girl.  Inspired by here, I became determined to drop my English accent when speaking Chinese and to listen more carefully on how to produce sentences that are more authentically Chinese and easily understandable to locals.

 

SHANGHAI

Coming back to this wonderful city I consider my "landing pad" into the rest of China, I expected to feel less at home with my shifting friendships here.  That was not the case.  I in fact did feel connected to the land and culture, and evenwith the craziness of its people who reside here.

I had rented a very solid airbnb place with several 5 star reviews in an area I know well.  Trusting the reviews and pictures, I reserved my stay in advance.  The place was indeed nice and very clean, however I was not able to fall asleep on the hard bed and I could not figure this out since I've slept on harder beds.

Concerned for my Chinese proficiency HSK 5 test coming up, I thought I would at least have one good night's rest before the test, but after two sleepless nights, I began to get really concerned that I would not be able to concentrate on my afternoon test. 

 

THE PROFICIENCY TEST

That day before the test, I felt God's strong assurance, but with some lack of faith in myself, drank a small cup of coffee to make sure I stayed up during the test.  I was the only student taking the test that day.  Earlier this year I had taken the level 4 test with 80 other students, so this felt strange.  The two local Chinese proctors who were a good 10-15 years older than I joked that I don't need to take the test, I just need to chat with locals like them.  They chatted with me until the start time of the test then told me I should begin.  A phone went off causing me to miss 2 listening questions.  Later I had to tell them to be quiet once while I was taking the test because they started talking to each other and it was very distracting.

All in all, I had a high degree of concentration and the test was easier than I expected and do expect to pass, though will not know for sure until the end of December.  This is a landmark for me as Ann Jung told me there are visa privileges involved for high scores on levels 4, 5 and 6. 

 

SLEEP DEPRIVED

I expected to sleep better after the test but I identified something spiritually present in my rented apartment that was not allowing me to rest.  Not willing to wrestle through this during my remaining 36 valuable hours in Shanghai, and seeing that I had already developed a cough in the colder 48 degree weather, I bought myself a comfortable bed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, exercised in their gym, took a warm bath, and started to write. 

 

November 29, 2016

EPILOGUE

A couple of weeks ago Ron Tanaka told me he felt I would have 3 miracles on this trip that would release me further into my calling.  The first miracle I handed over to to Melissa the American in Yangshuo when she texted me she was in a panic because she had lost her purse carrying her ID, credit cards, Disneyland tickets and cash on the train—really a nightmare for a foreigner in China.  The next morning I saw an angel hand the purse back to her.  When I told her what happened, she confirmed that at that time that morning she got a call from her landlord saying they found her purse on the seat of their car before even getting on the train.  

Moving to the hotel on my last night in Shanghai finally allowed me to catch up on 3 nights of tossing and turning.   I had expected a relaxing day of contacting everyone (some 20+ new contacts, by far the most deeply relational trip I have had so far) to say good bye.  

Unexpectedly Rebecca called me wanting to get together in between taking her father for hospital tests for his sudden discovery of a very serious stage of colon cancer.  She had successfully convinced her parents to come from her home town in the countryside in another province to see a specialist in Shanghai.  I was surprised that she had time to see me and had wanted to see me so much, since I feel she is always treating me to fancy meals, offering me very little chance to reciprocate.  

Like a stellar Chinese daughter, she dropped everything and searched online for the best doctor, stopping at no cost even though the result may cost them a house, since there is no insurance for “nongmin” 农民 the generation of farmers born before the 1960’s, who worked in the fields all of their lives.  Their ability to use their hands for production on the field equals their current market value.  There is no retirement fund, and generally health insurance is not a practical or affordable choice.  Since her dad has been healthy all of his 61 years of life they had not thought of purchasing any.  

She came to my hotel with a half smile she mustered up from her grim situation, greeting me with her usual positive energy.  As we sat in the hotel lobby, she told me all of the less than attractive choices she was faced with.  I listened until she finished saying all she had to say.  Even though she had decided not to believe in God up until this time, was more than willing to have me pray for her.  As I prayed, her tears flowed unstoppably.  Ispoke with Jesus, recalling the way he healed my mother of her stomach cancer and the block in her intestines multiple times.  After I was done she couldn’t help asking more about God healing my mom.  “There was a CT scan showing a blockage in her intestines.  She was in the ER with tubes everywhere, then we prayed, and it was gone.  The doctors did not believe it, and said the CT scan must have been wrong. Mom and I both knew there had indeed been a blockage and God was the reason it was not there in the morning.”  

Reminded of that, I asked to see her father’s CT scans. “Sometimes when we pray, God comes in power,” I said, “but sometimes he doesn’t.  I can try. . . .”  She brought out 6 large sheets, each consisting of about 30 pictures.  As I closed my eyes, I moved my hand over each part of each sheet in Paul Cox style, and felt a strong sensation over 2 areas.  She was shocked.  “That’s the area with the problem!”  she said.  She mixed them up and I tried again, not looking at the pictures and not knowing how to interpret the scans even if I did look.  “These feel ok,” I gave her back 4 sheets.  “These have a problem.” 

“Wow,” she said in sudden wonder.  “That’s right!”  I prayed for the part of the sheet with the pictures where I felt the problem.  Tears filled my eyes for no reason.  Then I felt a release.  “Something happened,” I said, and went on to explain that one of Jesus’ main purposes is to heal.  Everyone’s time on earth is already written beforehand.  The enemy wants to cut this time short.  I believe it is not time for your father to go, and God’s wants to heal him.  A grin came over her face.  “I have never seen anyone do that before,” she said.  “Nor have I, really,” I thought in wonder of what God had just revealed.

We had a happy lunch and I shared my story about Yue, the amazing girl I was with in Yantai who schooled herself and tested a perfect score on the IELTS test.  Rebecca was shocked, amazed and encouraged that there was anyone in China like that.  When we parted ways her whole countenance had changed. “Thank you, this was wonderful ,” she said. 

On my walk back, I felt God’s presence fall over me, something I was seeking over the past few days but not feeling.  Praying for Yue’s eyesight to be restored is the second miracle I am believing will happen soon.  Seeing Rebecca’s father healed is the third.  I am grateful for Ron’s word and for God’s partnering with us to participate in his will, bringing hope and joy and faith to those who have not known how to have it.  I am thankful that His character which never fails makes it easy for us to stand on his promises and proclaim miracles.  I am also grateful to you all for lifting me up and giving me special confidence to ask Dad for more.  

Writing from the US now where freedom of religion is not taken for granted. 

 

December 31, 2016 

It had been about 36 hours since I left Shanghai, and I had not heard from Rebecca regarding the condition of her father’s colon cancer.  On my last day in Shanghai, after God gave me supernatural knowledge of which of his CT scan photos were irregular, I told her my sense that God would heal it.  Now in suspense after I was comfortably re-situated in LA, I dropped her a note to say I was praying.  She reported she decided to proceed forward with costly exams and an anticipated costly surgery, and radiation and chemotherapy.  

Jesus, you came to heal the sick right?  This is Your Name on the line right?  It's not my responsibility to carry right?  I did a search in my bible.  To my surprise it was not part of his Luke 4 statement recollecting Isaiah 61:1.  Jesus came to proclaim the good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom to the captives, sight to the blind, set the oppressed free, proclaim the year of the Lord.  

This is the jubilee year on the Jewish calendar as well as my own personal year of jubilee.  It all resonated with me.  But what about healing the sick?  I as I looked further, healing the sick and giving sight to the blind was not part of Jesus' mission statement, but healing came as a result of living out his mission statement. I thought carefully about what I had been doing in China.  Much of it was proclaiming exactly these things but still, I concluded, the results were either not consistent or were not known to me.  

I looked further into who was tasked with healing the sick.  The apostles were.  They were given power and authority.  I see.  It was in fact my task.  I sat up in bed at midnight and interceded, asking for pictures and plans of how to cast this out.  I shook off concerns of His reputation and my reputation in Rebecca's eyes if he was not healed.  This should not get in the way.  

After praying the growth removed and seeing it zapped in a quick way, not a gradual removal but a laser beam way, there was nothing.  Is my responsibility done?  "Yes."  Will he be healed?  silence.  

Wait a minute, that is not ok with me if he is not healed!  I saw demons and went after them, but knew in the end, if this man and his family does not call out to Jesus it would be a hard one.  

I went back and forth with Rebecca being super careful not to overstep my bounds or put her off.  How would they know if he was healed if they went directly to surgery?  In the end, they proceeded, and there was damage done that needed surgery.  I struggled with feeling distance from Him for a few days.  

During this season, a disproportional amount of friends seem to be going through an unusually difficult time with issues of early death of spouse, parents with serious stages of cancer, loss of jobs, financial loss, or disasters.  I myself found myself between a rock and a hard place with our business finances.

In China I preach boldly that He is the answer of everything, from cancer to eye problems.  I truly believed He would heal …am I promising more than what He is willing to do?  

He was not phased by my doubt.  In fact he gave me a disproportionate amount of provision in opportunities, support, relationships, finances,… and healing.  

Father began to show me his love and care.  Even Rebecca who earlier this year professed not to believe in him, has turned to him and given him thanks continually during this time.  

PROVISION

Just two days ago I had a report back from Yue that her serious eye condition had been healed!

We know the Author of every creative work.  He cares for his children and wants to see us walk in the fullness of Life!  

I have one last note to thank you for praying for my Chinese proficiency test.  I praise him that I passed the HSK 5 test with a good score. There is one more level of proficiency which I don’t intend on taking until my speaking abilities get much better. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Winter in China is Crazy: Jiaxin / Shanghai 2015

December 2015

Email Date Stamp: Monday, November 30, 2015 2:55 PM

Subject: Not Alone

 

When I sat down on my 14 hour plane flight, I overheard a Caucasian woman across the aisle say to an African American guy and another Caucasian guy next to me, something in reference to a prophecy in Scripture.  Not afraid to show I was eavesdropping, I asked the guy next to me if they were Christian.  Indeed they were from a local body touching bases with their contacts abroad.  I shared what I was doing and for some reason I highlighted the fact that, "I always go alone."  

 

“Why did I say that?” I wondered.  Was I sad?  Was I proud?  Was I just stating the obvious fact?  Just this month two people told me I should consider taking someone with me.  I for sure will never go to a foreign city without having someone there to receive me.  That is my protocol.  But I had decided that on this trip I would create spaces of freedom for myself to operate and though I knew I was welcome into previous home stays, I would this time try not to fit into stressful family situations as I had tried to do in the past.  This meant it would include long periods of time when I will be living on my own, relying only on the Lord and my previous experiences to guide me.    

 

The plane ride went relatively smoothly, then upon arriving into customs, I was stopped because of the two new iPhones I was bringing in, requests from Chinese friends.  The service people very nicely apologized for the inconvenience but told me I would have to pay a 10% tax to bring them in.  That would be $185 USD or 1160 RMB.  I did not bring that much cash, but gave them my Chinese bank account debit card because they said an American card wouldn't do.  Unfortunately their credit card swiper would not take my card.  I had to go outside the terminal to find an ATM machine that would take my Chinese bank card.  Fortunately I was successful and an hour later, after paying the tax, was able to snatch the iPhones back.  

 

After catching a cab for myself I realized my Chinese phone service was not working and I had been relying on it to make my first contact to my landlord and to my friend Rose as I had done in the past.  I scrambled to  try and acquire phone service but the requirements to input my 17-digit password were not at my fingertips.  I asked the cab driver to take me to the area of my new home and help me to find a hotel so I could use their wi-fi.  He impatiently dropped me off at the Ramada Inn where the front desk was nice enough to give me access once I told them my story.  

 

I was finally able to make contact with my landlord and she and her husband were willing to pick me up and take me to the 1 bedroom apartment she is renting to me for a few weeks.  Since she had an infant in the car, the tour was quick and she handed off 3 keys to the 3 doors I would have to use:  the outer building gate, the inner unit door which consisted of two separate apartments, and my bedroom door which is a separate locked room across the hall from my kitchen and toilet which although private, nevertheless is in the way of the exit path for my neighbors so I would have to keep the doors relatively closed in order to have my privacy.  

 

My landlord then said they could drive me over to the gym to show me where it was and I could walk back since it wasn’t far.  I thought that was a good idea since the gym is so important for my use every morning.  After being dropped off, and walking back a couple of blocks in the direction I came from and upon turning on to my street, I was struck by how many gates looked exactly like mine.  I tried my key on one and it opened but I was sure that was not the same place.  After trying a few more gates I finally got to the one that was mine.  It was now 9:30pm and 40 degree weather.  As I tried the key to my unit I saw that it turned but the door would not open.  I tried in every which way before realizing I was stuck.  I had not brought out my cell phone which was not working anyway.  I had no way of contacting my landlord and did not know where they lived.  I only had some money in my pocket, left over from paying the iPhone tax.  

 

I flagged down a cab and asked the driver to take me to my good friend Rose's house who I was trying not to bother too much while I was here.  Her gate man who knows me to be Rose's younger sister greeted me warmly and called Rose down.  With somewhat of a scolding voice Rose asked what the heck I was doing? why don’t I just stay at her house?  

 

When I told her what happened she looked wearily at me and told me to come upstairs.  Trying to log in to an American email address from a foreign computer in China was quite challenging, and in each case it demanded sending a text to my US cell phone which I did not have and which was not working anyway.  After 10 minutes of exhausting options Rose and Jianmin finally told me they would take me back and try my key on the door.  It worked!  I didn’t dare take a shower because it was much too cold but settled immediately into bed where I was able to get a good 6 hours of much needed sleep.

 

The next morning I got up before 6am to use the restroom, only to come back to my bedroom door and find that it was locked shut.  “Couldn’t be, I thought…”  I tried the door frantically, praying, pacing, knocking on the door of the neighbor who characteristic of Chinese in a big city, need to ignore crazy people who would do such things.  It was cold in my shorts, t-shirt and slippers so I boiled some hot water and sipped as I prayed for a solution.  After 15 minutes I decided the door was not going to open and it would be pointless to wait here for help because no one would know I was missing. 

 

So again in somewhat drizzly 40 degree weather, in my current dress, no phone, and this time no money, I flagged down a cab and asked the driver to take me back to Rose’s house.  I kept the fact that I had no money to myself.  He asked if I was doing my morning run.  I said yes, sort of.  

 

Getting to Rose’s house a different gate man refused to call Rose so early in the morning but said, “you go ahead.”  Exasperated Rose again let me in, paid the cab driver, and let me use her computer.  This time I had figured out a way to access my account in order to find my landlord’s phone number.  Relieved, we made copies of the keys and hid them around my apartment so this would not happen again.  

 

Later that morning when I heard my neighbor stirring, I made sure I went out to introduce myself.  She was a kindly woman who seemed like she was in her 70s or 80s. She welcomed me.   

 

There is no doubt friends and contacts are needed in a city.  I wondered why God did not supernaturally open the door when I prayed.  Over the following days He was to reveal to me how He showed me the path to unlock the doors (Isa 22:22 given to me by Davee) and sent me the nice cab drivers during times it is difficult to flag down a cab (often difficult to find nice drivers), how He was guiding and using Rose and Jianmin, and how he was of course teaching me to be more careful. 

 

Although exasperated, Rose apologized for scolding me.  I told her that God often uses people to be provision for others and thankfully they were my provision.  It also gave Jianmin an opportunity to help me, which I think was satisfying to him since has felt bad about the way he acted toward me in the past.  I would not have wanted to bother him at all except that this was a desperate situation.  

 

I am now on course to improve on my Chinese, make further contacts, and learn more lessons.  I am alone but not alone.

 

 

Email Date Stamp: Saturday, December 5, 2015 6:21 AM

Subject: The Breaker

 

A few days after getting adjusted to living on my own in Shanghai for the first time, I found myself in another crisis.  It was evening on a rainy 40 degree weather day when i came home to a freezing cold apartment.  To my dismay there was no power. 

 

Falling into emergency mode again, I quickly sorted out my priorities in my mind.   

 

1)  pray & get prayer support from whoever I can

2)  get myself warm (fortunately the gas stove worked to I quickly boiled a kettle of water)

3) get help

4) figure out if I was in danger or just inconvenienced for the moment

5) make sense of everything else that needed to be done. 

 

Putting on several layers of clothes, I climbed under my heavy blankets and texted some friends with shaky hands.  After drinking the hot water to get myself warm, I figured out that if I could snuggle with the rest of the hot water by putting the kettle under my blankets.  I then called my landlord and Rose who was all too willing to pick me up and take me to her home.  I knew I would be OK. 

 

I had a great, much needed moment of reliance on my Lord Jesus.  Soon after, the power guy came and knocked.  "You're the Japanese?" he said with a loud cheery voice.  It was comforting.  I found quickly that it was only my unit that was without power, and although all my fuses were on in the Breaker box, there was a Missing Connection under the panel that he had to take off.  It was not an easy or obvious fix. I did not understand his strong accent when he asked me questions.  "Waiguoren" he said about me jeeringly but not offensively, as two Chinese people walked by.  (Waiguoren or "foreigner" is a word which is probably the equivalent to "haole" in Hawaii.)  Well, he brought light and power back into my room with his skill, perseverance and cheery attitude which was all I could hope for on this rainy wintry night.

 

NEW FRIENDS

One young professional Cao Xiong, who said he was a believer but still seeking new life, was someone Rose wanted me to meet.  We found that though he had been going to fellowship for several years and being discipled but still had a lot of gaps in his understanding.   I gave him a 2 hour explanation of the Bible from beginning to end, and prayed together. 

On another day Rose introduced me to Daisy, another young professional who is also a skilled psychology lecturer.  Rose thought she was also seeking and needed to hear about Jesus.  

When asked about Christianity, Daisy said she had heard the basics, however when I explained what I thought were the basics, she said she never really heard that before.  She was ripe and ready and accepted Jesus and prayed with Rose and me. 

In spite of these happenings, I had missed being in Jesus presence recently and was longing for it.   Ginger had just called my attention to the "breaker anointing" taken from Micah 2 and I began asking Jesus to be my Breaker yesterday, as I am sure it was no coincidence that he used the circuit breakers in the fuse box to call my attention to him.

 

 

Email Date Stamp: Tuesday, December 8, 2015 11:14PM

Subject: Giving a message in Chinese Tonight 

In a few hours I will need to address 20 or so people, mostly young married couples.  When my pastor friend and "younger brother" Joe asked me to arrive a day early to address a "very small" group of youth, I was not clear if it was a youth group of 3 or 4, or a few young adults but I certainly did not expect 20 mostly married couples who do not speak any English.

I can't say I am prepared right now, but am excited for the chance to be with them.  Please pray I can find a way to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to this very conservative group.

If you have any thoughts, please let me know.  Maybe by the time you get this, I will already be done.  The time of the meeting should be Wednesday morning at 3am, PST.

 

 

Email Date Stamp: Wednesday, December 9, 2015 6:33 PM

Subject: Jiaxing

 

I arrived in the small city of Jiaxing where my “younger brother” Joe, who I have classified as an outwardly very pleasant man with a sing song animated quality to his voice, and I met in person for the first time.  After arriving in China I received his request for me to come to his town of Jiaxing a day early to meet with a few youth.  I agreed.  As the days went by I heard very little details about what I would have to do, not to mention what my schedule be like and where and in what condition I was going to live in.  I quickly discerned that adaptability was his strength and administration was not.  This impression was enforced when he never answered my request for a location to meet him at the train station where he was supposed to pick me up.  When I called him from the train station, he just yelled at me over the phone, “no, don’t go to the cab station, just wait there!”  “Wait where?,” I yelled back over the noise.   Fortunately adaptability is also my strength and I decided not to worry about it.  Eventually after finding each other, and taking me to his “farming village,” a 20 minute drive away, I found it to be a very livable top floor 3rd story apartment with all the basic necessities including a good heater and warm blanket, a hard but not rock solid bed, and a clean enough private bathroom.  The nearby river and surrounding old and abandoned buildings made it very quiet and peaceful for study. 

The most Joe could describe to me about my tasks over the next 4 days was that he hoped I could give the message at tonight’s small group meeting consisting of 20 or so people, mostly married couples, and then be a key witness at a wedding on Friday and another wedding on Saturday, which included the role of blessing the couple and reading scripture, all to be done in Chinese.  I told him, I hope his expectations aren’t too high because I am not sure I can speak that much Chinese.  He said, “of course my expectations are high,” and “of course you can speak Chinese!” 

I emailed you at that moment and thankfully received from a few of you the message of "His love."  I decided to use John 14 as a base to launch from.  Joe’s wife Ya Qing, a very impressive head pastor of the church where we are all living at cooked a wonderful dinner and filled me in on more details for the evening.  I presented her with scarves from Helen, and presented their 10 year old son Joel, a very amicable young guy with some puzzles from Denise.  They received the gifts with gratitude and graciousness.  

The group was very receptive and I was surprised that I could actually find most of the words to express what I was trying to say, and the group helped me to find the words I didn’t know.  I tried to allow them to feel the Presence in new ways, to know He is IN us gives us confidence and opens up to all kinds of possibilities for connecting with Him.  The connection to scripture was heartfelt and sharing was warm and open.  Men and women all participated and shared their feelings toward Him as we read and prayed.  For me it was a landmark in my Chinese studies.  Looking back even half a year ago I would not have been able to do this. 

Last, last week during our meeting with Cao Xiong and Daisy in Shanghai, Rose said she discovered new things as I explained the basic Truth to them.  Over subsequent meetings with Wang and Gang (the couple who I met and prayed with a year ago to accept Him), and with Wen Fang successful single business woman who Rose thought was suitable to hear the Truth, I marvelled at the way Rose asserted herself in order to weave Him in to our conversations.  She corrected their concepts of religion and explained ours is about a relationship, not requirements.  Even her explanation of sin was really quite good.   I was so glad to partner with her and extend His love into her community of contacts. 

I have a day of rest and am concerned with a mild cold coming on.  It has been raining not stop over the past 24 hours or so and the temperature thankfully is only in the low 50's.  Appreciate you all and your contributions!

 

 

Email Date Stamp: Friday, December 11, 2015 1:20 AM

Subject: Is it a bad cold or is it pollution?

  

It started with a mild tickle in my throat, and then a definite consistently dry throat, and then finally I knew I needed to stay in bed and lock myself in my room for a day.  For the first time here in China I have experienced a throbbing headache on top of what I hope is just a mild cold.  The mark for unhealthy air quality in the USA is a PM of 60.  Today's air quality measurement in my small farming town near the ocean is a PM of 269-297 (the 259-268 you see below is an average of many types of air quality measurements).

It is considered heavily polluted, with a national recommendation to wear a mask.  I fortunately brought mine from the US, but unfortunately did not wear it when I was strongly coaxed out of bed (where I should have spent the day with my cold) to go to a pre-wedding feast for Ya Qing's brother's wedding which I will participate in tomorrow.

Now my head is throbbing and will take a moment to ask for your prayers.  The great thing is while carpooling, I met an outgoing vibrant woman slightly younger than I named Bing Xing who owns 3 clothing stores in town. It was easy to hit it off with her.  She and her family attend Joe's church.

Yesterday in spite of my impending cold, in the perseveringly relational spirit of Ron and Gayle Tanaka I asked Joe and Ya Qing his wife if I could pray for them.  "OK!" they said standing awkwardly in my room and quickly bowing their heads and closing their eyes to pray.  I said, "no, I mean maybe we can sit down."  We eventually settled in the dank kitchen hall on the ground floor and sat on the narrow horse benches, the closest thing to a seating area we could find. 

"You have had a lot of difficult things happen recently and I just want to see if I could support you," I opened.  "No, no!," Joe exclaimed I only want to talk about happy things!  No sad things!"  I knew what he had shared me online a month ago was something he only told his wife and me, and it was my

mission to help them process a tragedy which I am not free to share with you all at this time.  After being refused several times over the next 4 minutes, I decided to think about giving up.  "I just want to support you, that's all," I said.  It seemed they didn't want me to leave and continued on. "These things happen to people," Joe said, "we are pastors, we need to take care of people so we cannot let them know these kinds of things.  This is the way our life is!  We are poor farmers.  Everyone has hardships.  We need to persevere." 

"I just want you to know this is what I am here for.  There is a larger Body that wants to care for you," I said.  "I think I can just find hobbies and keep myself happy, like learning English, like meeting you" Joe said, "I don't have to think about this thing." I drew a picture that I learned from Susan Highleyman years ago.  It was a picture of an addicted man who refused drop into a hole representing the depths of the hurt, but instead found other things to numb the pain.

Joe was the first to shed a tear.  Hiding it he stood up to slice an orange. I also got teary eyed, and then Ya Qing.  We talked for the next 2 hours about how they process things as a couple.  We took turns sharing what we thought so no one person dominated.  It was a healthy time.  "I understand your purpose," Ya Qing said, "you share His love with those who don't know Him but also help people like us."  

Unfortunately that was the last happy conversation I had before catching this cold.  I thought I would tell you briefly what is going on while asking you to pray for my recovery.  Please keep me and them in your prayers. 

 

 

Email Date Stamp: Sat 12/12/2015 4:35 AM

Subject: A Wedding Circus 

I woke up at 8am after a great night of rest. Could have used more but was told we need to leave at 10:30.  In my mind I was thinking we would arrive slightly after 10:30 for a rehearsal for what I was told was a very small informal wedding at someone’s house.  Then at 12pm we would start the ceremony, and then have to hang around as much as possible to mingle before having to take my train ride back to Shanghai.  Anticipating a full and stressful day, I asked if I could sleep a little more to make sure I was giving my cold adequate attention. 

At 9am Joe emailed me the order of service for today’s wedding ceremony.  It included two Scripture passages that I was to read in Chinese which I had made sure I practiced ahead of time.  Ya Qing whose brother was getting married today said I could do this in Chinese and say a blessing in English.  Upon seeing the order of service, I noticed the wedding vows, exchange of rings, and declaration were all spelt out for me in Chinese.  Wanting to make sure I knew what was going on, I romanized the Chinese characters just in case I was expected to read some of it aloud.  

At 10am Joe came up to check if I understood the service.  He said he would in fact have me say me all of those elements he had spelt out but he would do the main part, so not to worry.  I was glad I had romanized it and was up for the challenge of learning these words in Chinese since we would have plenty of time this morning to practice with the bride and groom.  Joe said he would wait for me as I changed my clothes.  I had already put on my black pants, my two undershirts, my sweater zipped to the top, and my collared shirt buttoned to the top and a sweater over it like I was taught was the proper way to dress in China during the winter.    Joe with his “anything goes” personality said, “you can wear that…but… maybe I’ll give you something else.”  He brought me a collard priestly shirt.  “You can’t be too causal at these things,” he said. 

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Noticing he was a bit antsy I hurried to change and get in the car.  Hearing his mild-tempered wife yelling at him over the phone, we sped away.  “I’m sorry I made you late,” I said.  “No, no, not your fault!” He said, muttering, “so early!  we never start weddings so early.”

When we arrived to the village many smiled at me and welcomed me.  Walking very quickly, Joe disappeared into the crowd.  We came upon an area where a gathering of about a hundred people were huddled around the door to a room.  Inside the room was a small brass band of 10, along with other relatives.  Center stage was the fully dressed bride and groom and an open spot for the minister. 

Joe quickly pushed his way in and assumed the spot and without pause said that we would start.  Saying but one more sentence he announced that his friend Carolyn from the US would now pray over the ceremony.  Still in shock I dropped my backpack and coat to the concrete floor and shouted with a loud enough voice to be heard by the 100 people outside, “good morning everyone!  Please excuse me, I will use English to pray.”  After praying I said, “I will now read the passage in Chinese.”  Fortunately I had practiced this.  After finishing, I shot Joe a glance to take over.  He motioned to continue.  I ended up awkwardly reading my romanized version of the vows, exchanging of rings, and declaration, barely able to comprehend what I was saying. 

I looked at the bride, asking her if she would take this woman to be his wife.  “I do” the groom replied.  Mortified, I looked at the bride again and asked if she would take this man to be her husband.  “I do,” she said.  Starting the vows, I wondered, “do Chinese people hold both hands and face each other?  I know they are much more conservative than we are in the US.”  They did not hold hands.  I proceeded.  “I ___take you ____ to be my lawfully wedded wife.”  He did not repeat after me.  Did they do it the same here?  Did I read the romanized words correctly?  I finished the vows feeling very awkward about the whole thing. 

Joe finally stepped in and gave an ever so short message:  “It’s a day to celebrate, eat, see old friends, relatives, have a great time!” he said.  Next, Carolyn will bless the couple.  Surprised again, I excused my lack of language skills and blessed them in English. 

“I totally blotched their wedding ceremony!” I told Joe, “I thought we would have time to practice.”  “Don’t worry, it’s not your fault,” Joe grumbled, “I don’t know what they were thinking.  We never have weddings this early in the morning.” 

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Since the morning went by so quickly I was able to get some rest in the afternoon before my train back to Shanghai. 

 

On my way out 3 ladies stopped me to converse.  This is what I heard:

 

Lady 1: Hi, welcome, you are so good!

Carolyn:  ‘thank you!”

Lady 2:  We will see you tonight?

Carolyn:  I will go back home this afternoon.

Lady 2:  Where do you x$*#^?

Carolyn (guessing):  Originally from Los Angeles but I am staying in Shanghai.

Lady 2:  Oh Shanghai. So you #$*%&#@)$*?

Carolyn (having no idea what she said):   Yes

Lady 3:  You are so terrific, you can understand everything we say!

Lady 2:  Awesome!

 

My cold is suppressed with some Chinese medicine I took, but I hope to get some good rest back in Shanghai.

 

I will be back next weekend to give another message to the group of 20 where Joe said the brothers and sisters would like to continue to learn about this thing I talked about, and the Sunday sermon the next day (something I still don't know if I can do but nevertheless am committed to). 


 

Email Date Stamp: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 12:17 PM

Subject: The Laborers are Few

 

Rose has filled my schedule with contacts who are in need of hearing truth.  Tonight 3 young women were very ripe for hearing it.  I gave them a very complete 90 minute explanation that they had not heard before and all readily came into the family.  Rose will begin to meet with them as a small group.

 

Earlier today we met with a young successful woman in her 40’s was willing to say a basic, “if you are there, I want to know you.”   

 

Another who I have not been able to find time with yet is having a hard time understanding the manual. We will meet soon.  

 

Up until now Rose and I have had 8 meetings with 13 different people who she believes are ripe.  For all of them this was the first time they heard the basic story. I am having a hard time remembering names and who is who.

 

I have decided to invite my Beijing business partner down to help me translate (live) my Sunday message.  This frees me up from having to write everything down ahead of time.  The challenge is she is not that familiar with the terminologies used.  Her mother is part of the family but she is not yet though she is open and willing to believe.  I think this will be a great opportunity for her. 

 

My cold is almost gone but it is hard to tell, since the PM in Shanghai was at 350 today, and it has been in the hazardous range for 3 days now. I wore my face mask everywhere, even to bed, and have been caused to miss out on my daily run for almost a week now.  Please ask for better conditions for us soon.

 





Email Date Stamp: Thursday, December 17, 2015 2:28 AM
Subject: A Eulogy: Bartholomew Byrd 2010-2015

 

December 17 (Dec 16 noon, US time)


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Today I got news that my cockatiel, “Bartholomew Byrd” passed away.  I am spending the day reflecting on her life.  There may be pet psychologists among you who say I am humanizing the life of an animal too much.  Whether or not this is true, and whether or not you read this makes no difference to me.  It is the life of my pet, and I write this eulogy because to me, reflection gives meaning.   

The life of a pet is so short, and the life of a small pet, particularly a bird, is held so fragily together by our care for them.   The significance of who they are, is who we make them to be.  I was privileged to have Bart as a part of our family.  

 Bart was born in the spring of 2010.  Since her actual birthdate was unclear, we celebrated it on May 5, 2010.  I got Bart from Mrs. Harada in May of 2011.  Since I had just gotten my first cockatiel Obadiah in February 2011, it seemed good and fitting to find her a friend.  

She was named Bart because I thought she was a boy.  I also originally thought Obadiah was a boy but later found from the vet they were both girls.  By then it was too late to change their names.  

I initially called Bart “Stealth” (a suggestion from Lori Kodama) because she was always trying to escape her cage.  When I got home Obadiah would report with loud chirps that Bart was missing.  I would always find her in the same part of the house.  Eventually I kept the cage open for the birds to come and go.  Bart quickly found that it was better to stay at home than go anywhere else in or outside of the house.  

Bart was not socialized very well.  During her first years of life, when trying to get Bart to “step up,” on me, she would back away and ferociously extend her beak to say, “I’m going to bite you first before you ever get me to step up on your finger.”  When Obadiah initially extended her friendship with joyful hops and chirps, Bart acted with animosity.  After this Obadiah ignored her and preferred to stay with me most of the time.  Obadiah always asked to be picked up.  Bart who was actually 6 months older than Obadiah began her road to socialization by following everything Obadiah did.  As the years went by, following Obadiah’s cue, Bart also began to call to be picked up, realizing if she never did, she would be left quite alone and lonely.

Obadiah learned to tolerate Bart but always drew her limits when Bart tried to follow her on to my same right shoulder and huddle by her in her favorite spot.  In disdain toward Bart who was getting into her personal space, Obadiah would peck at her and grumpily move to my other shoulder, nipping me on the ear to show that she was also angry at me for allowing Bart to get her way. 

Once I had Kristin Caliendo housesit and birdsit for me.  Kristin provided a safe place for Bart by talking to her and encouraging her.  Bart responded by coming to sit on her, puffing her feathers in a relaxed fashion and lifting up one leg to rest like a flamingo.  This became one of the ways we knew Bart was at ease.  

Obadiah often bullied Bart but Bart was no push over.  She eventually learned how to get what she wanted and how to stand her ground, eating the part of the millet she wanted to eat by blocking Obadiah out with her body.  

Although unsocialized, Bart was very gentle in nature.  She usually resisted being touched, but when she was touched, she warmed up quickly.  When she allowed herself to be hugged, she completely relaxed her body into my hands, never ever trying to bite.  She allowed her wings to be clipped and nails to be cut with ease, as if to say, “I trust you.”   

In the Spring of 2015, I came to Obadiah’s giddy chirps.  The two of them were suddenly collaborating together, tearing pieces of newspaper and creating something in the otherwise bare floor of the cage.  What I feared was true.  Bart was getting ready to lay an egg.  The vet had warned me about girl birds saying it was dangerous, particularly if they laid too many eggs per season.

The next morning I saw the egg.  I have to say I was quite moved by its beauty.  On the following day as I feared, there was another one.   The oddest most profound moment came when somehow from inside the cage, one or both of the birds brought one egg outside and placed it in front of where I could easily see it.  Bart actually continued to push it toward me.  “How did you do that?” I exclaimed to her.  I had been careful not to touch her egg but now ventured to place it on a make-shift nest I constructed with an old t-shirt and a plastic cover.  Later that day the egg was taken out of my make shift nest and put in the same place before me.  Baffled, I put it back in the nest.  This time, the egg was not only taken out, but the whole plastic cover I used for the nest was dragged over the egg.  “I think she’s are giving it to you,” a friend said.  I was profoundly moved by this giving of first fruits.  

After a short while when I saw now 10 eggs I realized that was too many for one bird to lay in this short amount of time.  Obadiah had started to lay her own eggs.  A cockatiel egg if fertilized should take 30 days to hatch.  When the first “clutch” or batch of 14 eggs in total were laid, both birds took turns sitting on them devotedly during all hours, giving up meals and sleep.  Knowing they were unfertilized and thus worried about their behavior I took them to the vet who recommended quite an expensive shot of Luprin (hormone) to get them to stop.   After the 30 days were over, Obadiah spent a day laying her chin on the bottom of the cage, depressed.  She realized they were not going to hatch.  Bart however proceeded to try to defy nature and produced more eggs.   

There was an aspect of Bart’s behavior that perhaps led to her demise.  I noticed Over Compulsive Disorder (OCD) tendencies in her when she would lock into a fixed action and need to be snapped out of it.  Sometimes she would chirp loudly and irritatingly like a smoke detector with a failing battery.  At other times she would bow her head and pace back and forth until I told her to stop.

In the end she became addicted to laying eggs and to sitting on them endlessly in spite of shots and in spite of Obadiah periodically coaxing her to move off her eggs to get a meal.  When one egg cracked or was taken away, she would lay another.  We thus decided to leave even the old eggs in the cage, but giving her a good bath after an egg cracked to make sure she would not get infected.  

The time came when I had to leave them in my parents’ care again in order to make one of my usual long trips to China.   It became hard to constantly watch for Bart’s addictive behavior, so when her feathers got soiled with broken eggs, she got quickly soiled in her own mess.  

Bart died at noon on Wednesday, December 16.  She has left behind her role model and friend Obadiah.  

I thank God for the life of Bartholomew Byrd.  I thank my parents for their loving care for my birds over my many, many long absences.   

Yours truly,

Carolyn

 

 

 

 

Email Date Stamp: Sunday, December 20, 2015 4:50 AM

Subject: Healing in the Room

  

My second visit to Jiaxing this weekend proved to be significantly less stressful than the first.  Deciding to invite my Beijing business parter Helen Zhang to translate my Sunday morning message proved to be a good idea, or at least one that helped me to relax and be able to operate in my normal gifting.   I shared the message using Chinese as much as I could (thank you Lisa Hsu for helping me with this!), and then transitioned into the heavier content portion of the message by asking Helen to translate so I could let loose and be myself.

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It was Helen's first time operating as a translator and I could tell right off that this had been a dormant gift waiting to come out and shine.  It was also her first time hearing and understanding the words of Truth and I was glad to give her the chance to hear them and let the truth sink in as she spoke the words.  As we rehearsed it was apparent she was being very careful to ask and understand what I meant since so many concepts and words were new to her.  She was a very quick study and did an excellent and professional job. The congregation was also so responsive and willing to identify with the words that were spoken.  

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I was quite surprised when a few special requests came from people over 70 years to ask me to talk to Dad about healing their bodies.   I was even more surprised when they were healed.  All involved lack of movement or severe pain. I was shocked when they jumped for joy and were amazed that they could move in ways they couldn't before.  The first one who previously lacked movement in her arm was so relieved from the constant pain it caused, that she gave me a big hug.  The second said the pain in her back, waist and arm was significantly better.  I wanted to go after it until the pain was zero but they rushed me off to lunch.  

 

After lunch there was a long Christmas program, somewhat of a variety show.  After an hour and a half or so, I moved to stand in the back of the room where I suddenly felt the Presence fall.  It was so heavy, I had to close my eyes to get my bearings.  I stood there enjoying Him.

 

Later in the afternoon another request came from a senior woman who apparently had a stroke because the whole right side of her body could not move.  Two people escorted her to help her to sit down in front of me.  I asked for clarification and asked her to move her leg as much as it could.  It didn't move.  Then she told me she could not squeeze her right hand.  We talked to Dad and after she received from Him, her hand had feeling and moved.  She moved her leg and then a big grin appeared on her face.  She stood up by herself and jumped for joy and gave me a bear hug.  We all praised Dad and the family of the woman heaped Christmas candy and gifts into the car I was riding in.  

 

I have never had that happen before.  The few times I have talked to Dad for this kind of healing and seen results, was clearly because the receiver had the faith and/or anointing to be able to receive.  I have no doubt this was the case with the people in this small farming village.  It was a blessing to talk to Dad with them and hear the intensity of their cries.  

 

In these villages, I hear, it is common for one person in the family to follow the Son and for the rest to come along, though not quite understanding or embracing the belief in its entirety.  I guessed that with these few people who were healed today, they were the key in the family.

 

The problem was my friend Joe did not seem to feel any joy or wonderment when those things happened.  Were they too common for him or did he not understand what happened?  I don't know but I will process him in the future.  

 

I was glad to see Joe's wife Ya Qing again who I find very genuine, down to earth, and graceful.  It's a pity my Chinese is still not good enough to understand most of the small talk around me.  I suppose I will have to live here for several years with a good teacher in order to understand these most commonly used slang phrases.  

 

For now I am grateful for my current growth, my translator friend Helen, and the grace from Dad for this weekend.

 

Blessings,

Carolyn

 

Email Date Stamp: Tue 12/29/2015 9:38 PM

Subject: One Last Email - a summary

 

Dear Friends,

 

Thank you for your prayers.  I got back this evening so can speak freely.  

 

My last week week was extremely full.  Before returning to Beijing, my business partner Helen whom I invited to Shanghai and Jiaxing to translate my message said she had no objections to the Gospel, except she feared she would not be devoted enough.  After talking through some issues we prayed and she invited the Lord into her life.  A week later when back in Beijing she spoke of the difficulty in believing.  It just so happened to also be a very difficult season for her, creating the perfect storm and opportunity to invite the Lord into the situation.  She experienced Him in a very meaningful and tangible way.  After praying and telling her I saw Jesus hugging her from behind she said, "that's strange, while I was closing my eyes I actually felt what you just described, but I didn't know what that was."  

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I have a Chinese student in Shanghai, actually a young professional named Rebecca who has been learning English from me online for about 6 weeks.  She had wanted to meet me in person and take me out for lunch.  Our schedules finally matched on my last weekend there.  I had no idea what a blessing she would be to me.  When she discovered I was a Christian she really wanted to introduce me to her friend who is also a Christian and who had shared the Lord with her during a difficult time in her life.  Although she was willing to accept the God's love for her and the basic Gospel message, she did not really consider herself a Christian and she found that after a year and a half of diligently studying the bible on her own, she gave up because her friend and the books she bought could not provide any reasonable answer explanation for the many conflicts she came across.  We spent two afternoons unpacking this issues until she quite satisfied.  She asked if we could go to church together and despite how difficult it was to find an international English speaking church for us both to go to, she pushed forward to find one at a reasonable time and place.  I was to find out that it was her first time ever going to a worship service.  I was thrilled to experience it with her.  Rebecca became a very special young friend to me.  When she discovered my age, (a good 16 years older than her), I quickly became her older sister and she my younger sister.  

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It has been a trip full of both challenges and miracles.  All in all among the people I met on this trip, 5 people heard the Gospel explained in detail for the first time and prayed to begin a relationship with Jesus:  杜风 (Du Feng), 许家馨 (Xu Jia Xin), 王燕君"Green"   (Wáng Yàn Jun), 陈晨Chénchén, and 张培燕"Helen."  They all happen to be professional women between the ages of 27-35.

 

There were 2 who had already believed in some form but needed further explanation and guidance in how to understand the bible, and how to process their current issues with the Lord:  Rebecca (in her 30's) and Cao Xiong (in his 30's)

 

There were two who heard for the first time but could not believe at the time, though very open to continuing the friendship and dialogue:  周毓蓉 (Zhou Yu Long), 王文放 (Wang Wen Fang).   

 

Several who are struggling along and though having prayed to begin a relationship with Jesus, but who are not willing to embrace the faith entirely yet and need our prayers: 谢健(Amos), 王丹侠 (Wand Dan Xia), 田媛 (Tian Yuan),Wang and Gang (in their 60's who previously prayed with me when struggling with cancer, once healed, seemed to have moved on to other belief systems, not being able to connect that healing experience with God).  

 

It was my first time living in my own apartment in China, my first time leading a small group in Chinese, my first time performing a wedding in Chinese, my first time attempting to preach in Chinese, and my first time personally praying for people who were healed one after another.  

 

It was my first time experiencing so many desperate moments within such a short time: getting locked out of my home with no cell phone, money, jacket, or shoes; having a power outage in 40 degree wet evening weather; catching a cold while dealing with fierce pollution; and losing my beloved cockatiel Bartholomew Byrd.  Thank you for your prayers and kind responses!

 

Despite these crisis the harvest was more plentiful than what I have experienced on previously trips.  Rose who is bubbling over with the Lord is telling everyone she knows about her recent baptism and new found faith, having arranged the large portion of my meetings, told me, "there are so many sheep, and you are going back to the US."  There were indeed too many deep conversations with people to keep tabs on everyone and their growth on a consistent basis during this trip.  We decided to take steps toward forming a group the next time around.  

 

All in all again, an amazing trip.  Thank you for your love, and prayers.  

 

Blessings & Happy New Year,

Carolyn