Beautiful openings onto paths and walkways at the SIAS Chinese Gardens

Settling In

Well, I’m back but not sure for how long!  It has certainly been a learning experience in alternative technology these past several weeks!  We now have a router with a VPN (Virtual Private Network) , which will hopefully help us connect a bit better with the internet here.  There are so many things that we take for granted in our online world that are blocked in China!  We also had to get a new computer because everything Google is blocked as well!  (I brought a Google Chrome book).

Our small four-room apartment is  very comfortable and seems to fit us just right.  The furnishings are sparse – we had to buy a dining room table since the apts. don’t have dining rooms because of the cafeteria offered to all teachers.  Nor do we have full kitchens.  Ours is a hallway with an RV size refrigerator, a sink and about two feet of counter space.  No oven or stove.

We have been attending a church about two blocks outside of the campus where we have the opportunity to meet many students.  So far I’ve formed a small group of Senior girls who all meet on Tuesday evenings.  It has been a true blessing to get to know these ladies and I would just ask for your thoughts and prayers for them.  There are five in all and we meet at our place – around our new dining room table!  It is customary here for the Seniors to leave school and find work after the winter break.  So they will not be here for much longer.

Eric is busy with his classes.  He has a couple classes that are considered the low level English speakers so that is a bit of a struggle but he goes in with a great deal of courage and a whole lot of humor!  You can be thinking of him as he gets his bearings and settles into this life of teaching and living on a campus! SO different from what we have been used to in the states!

Papa and Griffin relaxing!  It's SO nice to be able to spend this time with the kids.
Papa and Griffin relaxing! It’s SO nice to be able to spend this time with the kids.
The kids playing at a rock display on campus.  When important visitors are on campus, this is a water fall
The kids playing at a rock display on campus. When important visitors are on campus, this is a water fall
These children are from an orphanage near here.  Some of the teachers who work at SIAS helped run a one-week camp for them on the SIAS campus.
These children are from an orphanage near here. Some of the teachers who work at SIAS helped run a one-week camp for them on the SIAS campus.
Hunter and Ada with Griffin.
Hunter and Ada with Griffin. Two of the culture students.  They all love our little towheads!  Every chance they get, a camera appears and clicking can be heard!  We are often stopped on the street, especially when all four children are with us!  People want to pick them up or rub the tops of their heads!  Luckily all of the kids are pretty people-friendly!

 

 

Justin and Cynnan helping me and their mom tear down wallpaper in our apartment.  We won't be doing that again anytime soon!!
Justin and Cynnan helping me and their mom tear down wallpaper in our apartment. We won’t be doing that again anytime soon!!

 

 

This was taken just outside our campus gate, on a walking bridge above the street.
This was taken just outside our campus gate, from a walking bridge above the street.

 

 

 

This is a garden just outside of Building 15, a classroom where Eric teaches.
This is a garden just outside of Building 15, a classroom where Eric teaches. Part of the building is visible on the right.

 

More of the garden.  The building under construction in the background is the future SIAS Library Building.
More of the garden. The building under construction in the background is the future SIAS Library Building.
Several Chinese students (mostly Juniors and Seniors) were chosen to be a part of a team of culture students whose sole purpose was to help all of the new teachers acclimate to their culture.  This is our student, Eric.  He has helped in so many ways;  getting packages to us, introducing restaurants and new foods, guiding us as we venture out into the city.  They all have been so eager to help and very generous with their time and knowledge.  We are forming lasting relationships here!
Several Chinese students (mostly Juniors and Seniors) were chosen to be a part of a team of culture students whose sole purpose was to help all of the new teachers acclimate to their culture. This is our student, Eric. He has helped in so many ways; getting packages to us, introducing us to restaurants and new foods, guiding us as we venture out into the city. They all have been so eager to help and very generous with their time and knowledge. We are forming lasting relationships here!

 

 

We're at a tea shop, shopping for a good quality tea.  Eric is getting some advice from Krystal, a student we met at church, about negotiating.  We ended up walking out without buying because they would not come down on the price - per Krystal's advice.  She claims that everything is negotiable in China!
We’re at a tea shop, shopping for a good quality tea. Eric is getting some advice from Krystal, a student we met at church, about negotiating. We ended up walking out without buying because they would not come down on the price – per Krystal’s advice. She claims that everything is negotiable in China! This is in Zhengzhou, the center of the Henan Province shopping area. The SIAS bus takes anyone (foreign teachers) who wants to go every other Saturday. It reminds me of when I was young and we went into the shopping center of our little community in Sterling, CO every other Saturday to shop! Although this is much bigger! We estimate that Zhengzhou is about three Chicagos. This is where we can go to Starbucks, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Walmart!

 

Jet lag!

wpid-img_20140815_180921.jpgAfter about 30 hours of travel we arrived at Sias, our final destination!  The eight of us and our “mounds” of luggage took up two large vans which we are told is pretty normal for our size caravan!  We arrived at the front door of our future homes at around 1:00 AM, leaving most of the luggage in the front lobby for the next day.  We all ended up on the fourth floor but in different buildings both of which are connected to the front lobby which also holds the Bridge Cafe.  Ben, Nikki and kids are in a 3-bedroom flat while Eric and I have a 2-bedroom.  OUR building has a working elevator – Ben and Nikki’s does not.

We were all pretty excited that first day and were up early for breakfast which is served at 7:00 AM every morning.  By the end of the day though, at dinner time which is 6:00 PM, Jet Lag had set in – as the picture above shows!

The training classes for the teachers have begun.  That leaves me with a lot of time on my hands.  Our apartment needs some serious updating and painting, etc. so once we figure out how to get the material I will be busy getting our home put together.  Before and after pictures to come in the future!

All is good!  God is good!  WE are doing well!

Up, Up and Away!

As promised (sort of) the first entry to my blog for all of our friends and family!  It is 1:30 AM the morning of our travels to China.  Can’t sleep, a little anxiety, but mostly very excited to begin this new adventure.  We are at a hotel near Denver International Airport where we have scheduled a shuttle for 4:30 AM to get us to the airport by 5:00 AM.  We have been assured that the shuttle/bus is sufficient to carry all of our mounds of luggage along with four little people and four not-so-little-people!  We will take up the whole bus.

Our travels will be taking us through the Seattle Airport later this morning (hello Tri City Friends!!!) and then on to a 12 to 14 hr flight to Beijing where we will gather up those mounds of luggage and trudge through customs – then on to Zheng Zhou, getting in at about 11:00 PM, where we will be met by someone from the school and driven on to Xin Zhen where we will finally land in our respective apartments!!  Whew!

I don’t know when you will hear from me next.  It will depend on how savvy I am in getting all of this technology up and running in China.  If you would like to hear from me again you can simply click on the link at the right to sign up.  I hope to keep these posts short and sweet and as soon as I figure this all out I will be posting pictures as well!