Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Classroom Reno

Tagged by the kids as "Our Reading Paradise". :)

For the next two weeks, our school is holding its annual "Read-a-thon". Last year we built a school in Cambodia and this year we're raising money to build them a library. We took some pictures in honor of the special event...

Oh, the joy to be found in a good book!

Hairspray and David Gray were awesome until...

I listened to the Robbie Seay Band. I'm loving the latest album, Give Yourself Away. Very, very good.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Musical Mood

Alright, two brands of music are getting a ton of play time in this gal's ears lately.

I'm still not sick of the Hairspray Soundtrack. This is the ultimate FUN music. I bounce my way to tennis listening to "You Can't Stop the Beat". I recall being laughed at my basketball team for getting pumped up before a game by listening to John Denver...but in the way of pump up music, John's got nothing against the Hairspray gang. This morning I was feeling a tad shaky about a monologue at church....solution? Calm worship music for a Sunday morning ride to church? Not today- I'm dancing to Nikki Blonsky's "Good Morning Baltimore", thank you very much! Highly recommended. Guaranteed to make you smile, and maybe even get those weary feet moving...

On the mellow side, David Gray always seems to be the choice these days. I started listening to his music in university, but rarely on a consistent basis. Whether it's at the end of a long day, over supper or a stroll around town, his smooth blends hit the spot. Some of my favorite songs are "Say Hello Wave Goodbye", "Babylon", "This Year's Love" and "White Ladder".

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Last weekend...

Last weekend I traveled with 10 high school students and three co-teachers to a city named Kaiping in the southern province of Guangdong. We traveled only 3 hours by bus to get there. I enjoyed the bus ride, looking out onto water-filled rice paddies and row after row of banana plants. Guangdong has many, many coal factories, and it is a wonder that growth of that kind is still possible.

We spent our time connecting with students at the local schools, as well as leading two youth worship services at the government church in Kaiping. It was very interesting to learn about the Three Self Church. I enjoyed a nice visit with a young pastor at a church in a small village outside of Kaiping. We had the chance to go to his village to enjoy meeting some of the Christians in their homes. Very neat, and despite the language barrier for some of us, I think we were able to be an encouragement to these families. I loved walking through the streets, taking pictures of the European flavored architecture amidst the very traditional Chinese environment. I peeked into open doors and saw groups of old Chinese women playing mah jeong and snapped handfuls of pictures of the sweet kids playing in the streets.

The team of students was exceptional. As the collector of the passports, I was amazed at the diversity in our group- I counted 7 different countries represented out of the 10 I collected. I was impressed with their flexibility and willingness (more so passion) to connect with those we came in contact with. The team debrief sessions at the end of the day were definite highlights. They are a moldable group of students- eager to be changed, and led by God. I was encouraged.

Here a few pictures. You can see more on my flickr site.

Peter is in the purple- he is the pastor of the village church.

Oh, the sweetness of Chinese babies.

Peter's church.

I thought this was interesting.

Some of the students in a sister's home. This is Rainbow and two of her children.

In the village.

Leading worship at the youth service.

The team!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Staff Party 2007

Tonight our staff was kindly treated to an evening at the Hong Kong Golf Club. Ohhhh. It's one of those places you know you don't quite fit, where you can't wear flip flops or t-shirts or jeans and you have to wear a blouse. It was very nice. Poolside buffet meal, and a session on the driving ranges with lessons from the golf pro (this again affirmed I am hopeless at golf). Just as I reported last year, the best part was seeing the families of the all the staff members...particularly the kids!

Tomorrow I'm going to mainland China for the weekend with a group of high school students from our school. It will be a very full, tiring weekend, but I'm sure it will be worth it. I'll let you know more about it when I get back!


The lucky guy in the middle is a colleague named King. I'm going to China with him tomorrow. The gal in the middle is Cindy. She is King's fiancee. The lovely lady on the right is my teaching partner, Marg. She is wonderful.

Oh I love those eyes. Meet Olivia.

And Olivia's big brother, Royce.




Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Small Talk: The Weather

This week there is a noted difference in the feel of the air here. It's moving. It was wonderful to walk home from school on Monday and feel almost cold. Almost. A welcome breeze, and at last some relief from the heat and humidity. And I know, you're thinking- "at last some relief?!!" The temperature now sits between 23-28 degrees- perfect, hey?! The humidity has dropped to between 60-70% (a month ago it was always upwards of 85). Late October and November are great for weather conditions here. The best part of living in a subtropical spot is that I can play tennis year round. :) It's awesome to forget about the existence of sweaters and long pants until mid December....

However, when I look out my window I see mostly shades of gray! A rather dismal landscape, I must say. If I were in Canada, I might see a sweet face like this loving the changing of the seasons. Plus, you just ate turkey and dressing (ohhhh, dressing), and I was at home eating a veggie pizza. So hey- I may have 27 degrees in mid October, but there's nothing like fall in Canada!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday's Attitude Check

Sometimes kids can catch you off guard. Sometimes they do it in funny ways, like saying ridiculous or random things. This week I laughed for a long time when one of my kids was trying with all his might to lick his elbow. I found this very very funny. Of course I've been trying to do it all week too. Can you lick your elbow?

The same kid touched my heart the next day. It was Friday morning, and I wasn't feeling exactly pumped to start the day off. Not for any particular reason other than I wanted Friday at 4pm much more than Friday at 8:30am. After the kids were settled into an assignment, he came up to my desk and looked at me with his warm brown eyes and said, "Are you okay?" Oh. His sweet, gentle spirit disarmed me. "Why do you ask that?", I replied. "Well, you seem kind of sad."

I thought about this all day. Though it's my job to care for the kids, he was caring for me. I guess there isn't really anything like feeling you are cared for and loved. And it's especially neat when it comes from one of your students. His simple but sincere question changed my day.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Reasons to be thankful today...

Here is a good start, but there are many more! Happy Thanksgiving! Maybe next year I'll have turkey???

Congrats to Jeff and Daina!!!

One of my best friends' weddings was this weekend! Daina and I have been friends since the first days of Fighting Saints Softball (grade 7?), when her wicked throwing arm caught my eye at tryouts....persuading me of the fact that girls really could throw. I've been lucky to be on her side of the field, or court...I've never had to face her as an opponent! Actually, from high school through university, I spent more time with her than anyone else! We graduated from both high school and university together. I hope we can teach together one day, too.

The D-Train, as I affectionately refer to her as, is determined, talented, fun, and a great friend. Ah yes, she's a special gal- and it was very hard to miss this day....sending a little video along for the reception wasn't much, but here it is. You'll notice a very similar format to the one I made for Matt and Tamara! For three reasons- 1) nobody who was at their wedding was at Jeff and Daina's, and 2) people seemed to enjoy it, and 3) I couldn't think of a better idea! So, here it is- with a new cast of Hong Kong stars!!!

Congrats to Jeff and Daina, once again!!!! Can't wait to see you guys....in China??!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

My New Desktop Image

The joy of new life. The joy of a new nephew! Welcome to the family, little Jesse!!!
I am so excited to meet you.
More pictures of Jesse at his Daddy's blog.

The Shanghai Adventure

I'm back from a lovely loooong weekend in Shanghai! I will upload pictures to Flickr as soon as I get the chance- they tell the story best. Until then, the lowdown word-style, with a few pics now and again.

The highlight that stands out most was the reason we went- the Women's World Cup. Let me go off on that experience for a bit...bear with me, non-football fans...

The best part was simply soaking up the incredible performances of female athletes....playing for it all. They were just so, so good. Marta and Cristiane, from Brazil, were plain silly- their speed and ball-handling skills were ridiculous. I loved watching Abby Wambach and Kristine Lilly in the 3rd place game- they are fantastic footballers. The final (German won 2-0 over Brazil) was a really great game- intense from the start. There was a noted difference (as one would anticipate) from the 3rd place game, where the US walked all over Norway. I still cheered for Norway, as it was a lot more fun to cheer against the Americans I found myself sandwiched inbetween! Ha ha! I started out cheering for Brazil in the final, as I felt no strong pull towards either team and the Chinese were definitely on the South American side....but within the first couple minutes, I knew I had painted my face the wrong colors- I loved watching the German team play. Tough, smart, an all around great team. There's a reason they were the defending champs. Plus, the Brazilians, though passionate and flashy, were a bit whiny. And the defense of the Germans was something to behold! Brazil dominated possession, but the Germans had a solid stronghold in the backfield- and their goalie saved the day, stopping Marta from connecting on a free kick. The (small) stadium was at capacity for the final, with 35,000 in attendance. Overall, it was an awesome experience. The only thing that would have been better would have been Canada or China playing. My, that would have been something.

Okay, there was much more than the soccer, though. Here are a few other highlights:

-Mary (my traveling partner, and a fine one at that...a day later we were joined by another great gal, Maria) and I met three random, hilarious, friendly, warm Chinese people on the street...we ended up going with them to a "rare Chinese tea ceremony" for a couple of hours on the first day. We laughed a lot, and learned about how to drink tea the Chinese way, and how I missed my chance at marriage because I didn't wear red underwear last year during the year of the dog. But I didn't know! Ha ha. Anyway, that was quite the experience...oh the brief and unexpected encounters we have along the way- this is what makes traveling all the more grand.

-We went to a Chinese Acrobatics show. Amazing, amazing, amazing. I don't understand how they do what they do...how they bend...how they balance...how they spin...I just don't get it. But is it ever fun to watch!

-Xiao Long Bao Zi. In English: "Little Dragon Buns". Shanghai is famous for these soup dumplings, and FOR GOOD REASON. We enjoyed a couple solid helpings!

-Foot Massage x 2. Need I say more?

-I spent Saturday with one of my best friends from the Shiyan days- Black. It was very special- though too short. We chatted as we wandered around Shanghai, and we also met up with another friend, Laura, whom I worked with in China. We went to the Jinmao Tower, which is fourth tallest in the world and gives a great view of the sprawling metropolis. It was awesome to reconnect.

-We ventured back to the airport on the "Meglev Train". It took 8 minutes to travel 30 km/hr. That works out to 430 km/hr. Freaky. It kind of fit in with the overall feeling I had of Shanghai- like you are part of the Jetsons or something. Some of the buildings have really neat European architecture, and then they toss in a bunch of Batman/Jetson like buildings with a futuristic feel. Interesting.

-Speaking Mandarin again. So much fun!!!

Well, I guess that's plenty for now. I'll get those pics up in the next couple of days. It was a great trip- definitely a fine way to spend a long weekend.

It's Animal Day!

Here's the gang. I'm the Chicken, if you didn't notice.