25 September 2006

Fighting Bird Flu and Other Stories...

I had the most lazy weekend ever and it was wonderful. I cleaned, did laundry, caught up on emails and was a homebody. Some highlights include:
  • Friday night: Eating downtown with some of the Chinese teachers. We went to a hot pot restaurant (kind of like fondue in that you cook it yourself). It was great; real beef and potatoes were a welcomed sight. The only frustrating thing is that it takes a lot of hard work to catch the food with chopsticks once it is floating in the broth. While we were downtown, we hit up some shops and I scored three really beautiful scarves. I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with them, but I'm sure I'll find something.
  • Saturday night: After sitting on my duff ALL day, I went and got dinner from "the Orange Restaurant" (the restaurant we frequent multiple times a week around the corner). I ate on the side of the road because I didn't want to go back to my apartment and then I walked around for a while. In the States, I would try to get lost while driving (I never could quite pull it off) and walking around where I've never been is my attempt at bringing that game to China. I explored a storefront a bit south of here and saw a lot of the construction that seemingly everywhere in this city. I love having the freedom to just go wherever I want. It's nice to know that I can explore after dark without being afraid. It's so funny to note people's expressions when I show up in unexpected places. Often I'll see people do a complete 180, totally rubbernecking it, to get a second glimpse. The downside of such adventures is witnessing another side of China. On this particular walk, I was very close to a new highway and could see the migrant worker housing. Similar to the States, there is a huge migrant worker population and many often live on-site of their current project. It is necessary to see all sides of life here in China, but I find it difficult to process and to know what the proper reaction should be.
  • Sunday afternoon: We went downtown early where I got some more granola for breakfast and relax at Starbucks before Fellowship. It was in that shopping mall where I stumbled upon this gem:

We haven't heard much about the bird flu so we did double take in the bathroom. Among other reasons, I guess the bird flu is good motivation for proper hygiene.

  • This week was the first time that I went to the Fellowship here in Wuxi. The songs were in English, but the (long) sermon was translated from Chinese. It was great to hear the Word. It is still unclear about which one will be our home, but it is nice to know what opinions are available.

Other random thoughts: I haven't kept great track, but I'm pretty sure that Friday was the possibly first day since I arrived that I did not have at least one meal with rice. Our school meals always include rice, so I can guarantee that most days I eat rice for lunch and often for dinner. Friday they switched up the school lunch and then we had hotpot for dinner, so no rice.

The weather has been beautiful, nice and sunny and all I want to do is lay out. Yes, I know it's asking for skin cancer or something, but there is nothing like falling asleep in the sun. Finding a place to sunbathe is impossible here. I live on the fourth floor and there are no parks around where I would feel comfortable just soaking up the sun. It's almost like the sun is tauting me with its beautiful rays and then not letting me enjoy them. I guess it is all for the better anyway. The Chinese take the opposite approach. They do everything possible to keep their skin as light as possible. Cultural differences that find their root in imperialism, I guess.

There are some trees that are flowering right now. I can't quite figure it out, I've never seen trees flower in fall, only in spring. It's a nice surprise to be riding my bike and get a whiff of something flowery. The best part is a tree in our courtyard has a sign attached to the branches warning people against picking the flowers. If I think of it, I'll take a picture of it and post it next time.

On a personal note, if anyone still uses my Calvin email, be aware that that email stops on October 1. I have been using my Gmail address for almost a year, so I don't think that should be a problem, but I just wanted to make mention of that.

Please be thinking of our group. Tensions are running high and we are need of some unity that can only come from Gd. I would also ask for some healing for many of our members. We have had various sicknesses go around the group and in particular, I am having problems with my lower GI. We all need Gd's hand of protection, healing and reconciliation this week.


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