(12.23.07 Edit--I started writing this post a while ago, but I finally was able to finish it today!)
Currently watching: My Big Fat Greek Wedding
For Thanksgiving this year, I went to visit Wuxi--the city that I lived in last year. It was a wonderful time of reconnecting with old friends. I stayed at the apartment of a friend from my Fellowship. The evening that I arrived, she hosted the music practice for our Sunday meeting. The group is so diverse--Chinese, Australians, Germans, Rwandans, Filipinos, and one lone American (me!) While I had told many people that I was going to be visiting, word apparently didn't get around to everyone. It was heart-warming to see the look of shock and joy on their faces when they saw that I was back. Bittersweet is a good way to describe it--I was so glad to continue these wonderful friendships, but it was hard knowing that I was going to have to get on an airplane and leave again in just a few days. But it's comforting to know how easy it is to travel in China, so perhaps I'll visit again this summer! Anyway, I didn't have a traditional Thanksgiving meal or anything because I wasn't with any other Americans. It was a bit strange but being with local friends was a great way to spend the holiday.
On Friday, I was able to get reacquainted with the city. I enjoyed knowing what buses to take and the names of streets came back easily. Last year I wrote a few entries about how quickly things were changing in my old neighborhood but it was hard to fathom the amount of changes that just four months can bring. I went to my old school and finally saw first hand all the changes I knew they were making over the summer. A highlight was meeting up with some of my old students for dinner. It was fun to see how they are all doing.
Saturday brought a new adventure--going to the local sports stadium and playing badminton with friends from Fellowship. Badminton is a very popular sport here. It's easy to play and the only equipment required is space, two rackets and a shuttlecock. I can't say I've ever actually played before and, my goodness, my friends were competitive. Saturday's highlight was making rice pizza with my friend. She has a new apartment and even a small oven. Ovens are a complete luxury here. I didn't have one last year but now I do since our apartment is more Western-style. Anyway, her oven isn't a gas one like mine here in TJ, but it plugs into the wall. I was worried about finding mozzarella cheese, but good ol' Walmart came through. When we got back, my friend realized that she didn't have a can opener for the spaghetti (read: pizza) sauce. We solved the problem by attacking the can with a 3-inch cleaver knife. It worked! It was also quite scary! The pizza turned out great and they seemed to enjoy it. She has been Family for a year and her husband just made The Decision a month ago. We had great conversation about specific parts of the Book. My friend has a son in high school, so she is closer in age to being my mother than being my peer. It was so humbling to have her ask me for my opinion about those sorts of things. Although I grew up in the church, I find it hard being considered an expert at 24 years old.
Sunday was just like any Sunday last year. Fellowship and lunch out. And then a plane ride from my home last year to my home this year.
My classroom looked out over the foundation of these apartment last year. Over the summer the buildings sprouted up nice and tall.
Wuxi Oriental International School no longer exists but now the International School of Wuxi does.
This area used to have a bulletin board and my shining face listed on the faculty wall. Over the summer the space was converted into the new admissions office.
The beautiful but not kid-friendly garden was replaced with a nice, green astroturf field.
Last year this was used as a chess activity room, but sinks were added, doors were painted and supplies were bought to make it a kindergarten class.
My former students and I enjoying some pizza and good conversation.
My friend and her husband. Please Think of them as they continue to grow in their faith.
My friend and I waiting to play badminton together.
The hilarious Chinglish on the badminton racket cover.
Let the games begin!
My feeble attempt at playing badminton.
The girl in this picture became a friend over Thanksgiving weekend. Her story is amazing. She comes from a believing family (parents and grandparents!), which is quite rare. Many students come to faith when they are at university. She believed as a child, but in middle and high school became too busy and pushed it aside. She told me, "I was taught in school there is no Gd, but the whole time I believed that, I felt empty. Then I came to the university and got involved in this fellowship and I now feel whole again."
The other half of the gym was for ping pong. The Chinese are so serious about the sport--these athletes were amazing!
The amazing view from my friend's apartment.
Christmas break has officially begun! Now I'll have some time for posting. Look for more after I return from Guilin after the New Year.
Until then--Merry Christmas from China!