Pizza Party Good-bye

There are moments when you know you have come a long way (and that there is so much further to go…Amen?!)    I had one of those moments as I talked to one of the teachers at the orphanage.  They had planned a pizza party for our last Friday class together as a way to say good-bye for the summer.  My heart was so warmed!

I have been hoping for deep life-giving relationships with the workers at the children’s home.  I volunteered at the orphanage for a year in the past and never really was able to build relationships with fellow workers.  I still am in awe over the open doors and how favored my time at the children’s home has been since our return almost a year ago.

 

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They bought all the ingredients for the pizza and set it up in the orphanage “apartment.”  One of the classrooms is set up like a home, full kitchen, living room and bedroom, to teach the kids what a home is like.  Both of my classes crammed into the tiny apartment and with remarkable attention watched as I mixed the dough and made pizza for them.  I looked up from kneading the dough to their sweet faces starring at me – it felt like we were a family.  I love them all so much, at times I feel like I could just burst.

 

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We were using the common oven you can find in these parts; they are the size of a toaster oven.  There was a lot of waiting as we baked the dough, put on the toppings, baked again.  The pizzas were very small so we went through this process four times.  The kids waited patiently and entertained themselves by looking at photos of themselves as I took them.

One Chinese teacher carried the first pizza over her head and exclaimed to the kids – “Your American pizza party!”  It made me laugh as I took in our small square treat.  They had decided to top the pizzas with Chinese hotdog (it is like spam in my opinion) mutton, carrot, onion and tomato.  I did put my foot down and told them I would bring the pizza sauce.  “No, ketchup is not what we use in the States as Pizza sauce!”  HaHa.   So “American pizza” is a term I would use loosely when describing what we ate…but the kids sure did enjoy it.  The beauty of these kids, they are honest.  So I know they weren’t pretending to like it!

 

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The second pizza was cut into tiny squares and carried up and down the hallway of the orphanage to be shared by the kids who are not in my classes.  It was so fun to hear the excited exclamations over eating pizza…and in between meal time at that!  We also had a steady stream of nannies coming to take a peek at the recipe which led to us planning a shopping trip over the weekend so I could introduce them to the import store where you can buy mozzarella cheese.  Relationship building at its best and I think I might just have started to become a part-time cheese supplier.  Who knew?

What a great way to end the semester.  I hate to see it come to an end; it feels like we just got things rolling.   I have high hopes that the 6 weeks we have off won’t set us back, but I will be able to pick up the relationships right where we left off come the fall.

Hmmm….maybe we will have to start the fall semester with me planning a cookie party for them at my apartment?  Already planning and dreaming for next semester!

Kicking Tail

IMG_7394The last two weeks we have been in the full swing of things….and it is kicking our tails.  We just can’t seem to catch the rhythm of everything.  Hubby and I are both teaching, homeschooling, open houses with English students and just day to day living here (which takes more work.) When I type it out it doesn’t seem so much, but we are feeling it at the moment.

Yesterday, after scrambling to get all the homeschooling done in time to pick up the paper I needed for art class at the orphanage, I forgot to make bread and hang up the laundry.  Crazy how forgetting one day of wash (when you don’t have a dryer) can really get you behind.  Breakfast with no bread wasn’t pretty either, I might add.  This isn’t even mentioning that I totally had to wing art class because I had forgotten that my class was changed to Monday from Tuesday.  Sigh.  At least I had bought the paint paper!

It’s times like these that I switch into Super Woman mode.  I pretend to have it all together even when I know that life is kicking my tail.  Maybe if I would run from the kitchen to the laundry I would be able to squeeze in the spelling test I need to give Roo.  When it doesn’t work – when my hurried steps don’t get me anywhere faster….then I want to throw up my hands and say I just can’t do it all.  {DUH!}

So I have been thinking a lot over the past week – how do I hit a rhythm.  Where do I dig when I need an extra something something to do what I am called to do.  That’s when I read a simple sentence that made me pause.  A coincidence that this verse was the next in my daily reading.  Totally not.

“He must become greater; I must become less.”  Jn 3:30

I stopped dead in my tracks as the words sunk deeply into my soul.

John the bapt!st was asked how he felt about JC bapt!zing and everyone now following him.  I can almost picture him not missing a beat and explaining that “a man can only receive what is given him from heaven.”  He explains that his JOY is complete because he has seen JC come and JC is to be greater and himself become less.

I know it doesn’t totally apply to our crazy semester – but then again it does.

How, did John have that attitude about his min and life.  I so want that!

In my busy season would that my heart say, ” GREAT.  BRING IT ON.  I only have what has been given me from heaven and may HE become greater.”

Yup, this semester is kicking our tails – may it be that He is greater as I walk through it.

 

New country same foot in mouth disease

For any of you who know me even just a teeny tiny bit, you know that embarrassing moments and stories seem to follow me.  Okay, maybe I have a bit to do with it.  I really don’t mean to be such a crazy white woman, but….well, sigh!  If you consider that I live in a country that is not my own, speaking a language that isn’t easy for this blonde to grasp – you can imagine the outcome is even more hilarious stories where I am turning red and wondering what went wrong.

This is one reason I love teaching art to special needs kids.  They get me.  They show me grace when I make mistakes, say the wrong things and I can be my crazy messy white self and have no fear.  Until…..

Oh friends….

I am in the middle of a very messy paint project that included straws and my declaration that we could paint fireworks  (we did by the way.  it was so fun!)   When our classroom was taken over by some very official looking people, the orphanage director and a camera crew.  My heart stopped.  I wiped the paint from my elbow and smiled a wobbly grin as the children jumped to their feet to greet the visitors.

Did you hear my inner groan?

I knew it was even more official and the people even more important than I at first feared when the children started greeting them with practiced phrases that I really don’t understand the full meaning of.

 

Now, I find that I can get by with a lot if I smile and nod.  It works for me.

Not today.

I was being introduced in front of the video camera as a volunteer teacher who also teaches at the university.  They turned to ask me what I teach at the university.  Wanting to set the record straight I jumped in with my best Chinese.

“Oh, umm, my LOVER is a teacher at the university not me.”

What?!

I am not even sure why the word LOVER came out of my mouth, but it did.  (The word that flew out of my mouth is a slang word which can mean husband, but usually means, well you know.) Hubby is my lover, too much info maybe, but the truth and I am not ashamed to say it….except in front of a TV camera, in front of my class of students, and in front of the director of the orphanage.  AHHHH.  I turned four shades of pink as giggles could be heard in the class.

All of a sudden the proper word for HUSBAND came to my mind.  I stood there wanting to bang my head against the wall repeating the word over and over.  Zhongfu.  Zhongfu.  Zhongfu.  During which time I missed the second question of my interview.

Lord have mercy.

I smiled and nodded.

Yikes.

“How long do you plan to teach art here?”

By the time this third question came flying at my befuddled brain I was a mess.  I shrugged my shoulders and said.  I don’t know.

It was over that fast.

My lover and I are teachers and we have no idea how long we want to be here.  Who knows what I agreed to in the middle.

There you have it.

May the interview not be on the five o’clock news…that is all I have to say.

 

I laughed till I had tears over the whole stupid thing with a friend later.  It felt so good.  I needed to laugh at myself like that.  Some days at the orphanage, loving those kids, but not knowing how to best advocate and help them….it is intense.  I often cry.  Today I laughed.

Maybe that is why Gd allows embarrassing moments to follow me.  He knows I need to lighten up a bit.

That is my story for tonight.  Off to make dinner for my lover, oh achem, I mean husband!

 

 

 

The End

IMG_6814Exams given and graded.  Class averages are now being calculated to be turned into the dean tomorrow.  Thus, completes Hubby’s first semester of teaching at the university.  (I am pretty sure Little Man was most helpful in getting all those averages calculated!)

The semester has flown by, but I think if you asked him, he is ready for the break.  It has been intense.  He has taught a lot of english, literature, and philosophy….but he also has had a lot of learning to do.  The key word has been flexibility as he has learned that the Chinese way of giving exams, planning a semester and turning in grades is done completely different than what we expect as Americans.  I keep telling him next semester it will be easier!  We shall see!

The students are now packing up and returning to their homes for Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), the largest Chinese holiday and the largest break in the school year.  The students won’t return till March. See even the breaks are opposite from the States (long one in the winter, short one in the summer.)  It takes some time to get used to.

As Hubby is winding down my art classes are gearing up.  Since November I have been meeting with folks at the orphanage getting one approval after another, submitting paperwork, evaluating children….you get the idea.  On one of the visits to the orphanage when I was trying to convince the director that the blind children could participate in my art classes…I began to wonder if my creative side that makes me think outside the box would be to much for them and we might never get things all arranged!  But, the time has finally come!  Classes start this week.

I am busy making a gazillion batches of playdough to get us started.  Nothing like playing with clay!  It is a great down the middle activity that should help me get to know the kids better.  I would appreciate your pr@yers Tuesday and Friday afternoons as i hang out with these special kiddos.  May they see the love of JC through playdough, paint, and a crazy art teacher who thinks even blind kids can make art.

Let the adventure begin!