Friday, November 18, 2011

Favorite Chrismas Songs

I will post a few videos of some of my favorite Christmas songs. Send me a link, or tell me a few of yours and I will see if I can add them. Little Drummer Boy by August Burns Red:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Week That Was: Oct. 30-Nov. 5

Well, a pretty good week in China. On Sunday, I went to the church with one of my "regulars" and we were joined by another former student who went once with me last year. We settled in and joined in the song practice. Somehow, we had missed the daily reading-probably due to the fact that we caught a later bus due to what I thought would be a time change in the service.

However, even with the time change we may still have to catch the 7:00 a.m. bus because I would like for us to be there for the entire service. I like the reading through the scripture and I also think it is important for the friends I bring to be exposed to that as well. Remember, God's word will not return empty to him:

So, whether it is from the preaching, or just reading, God's word is going out for His purposes. Pray for this, as for college students, 7:00 a.m. is rather early, especially when you consider they are arising for something that is not required of them. 

As I wrote last week, I hope to begin a small group study and made a connection with a fellow named Aaron. He arrived a little later in the service and we met him outside afterward. We then decided that we would all go back to the campus so that I could show him where I lived and then have lunch at one of the small restaurants across from the campus. I had actually hoped to have lunch at a restaurant around the corner from the church, but it was not open.  I had stopped to get some xiao bing (small bread) last week and met a little boy and his father who owned the restaurant next door and told them I would come back and eat at his place...maybe next week. 

Anyway, we again stopped at the place to pick up the bread on the way back to the bus stop. Aaron's English is really good.  So good, that my two friends did not believe he was really Chinese. They told him maybe he was from Korea, or ABC ( American Born Chinese-ha ha, I tell my students I am ABC-American Born Caucasian). He he, so he finally proved it by showing them his Chinese I.D. They were pretty impressed with his language skills as it is their desire to improve their English as well. 


 Aaron has hung out with quite a few Americans in X'ian where he went to school. He came to Zhangjiagang to work and because his girlfriend lives here. I will get to meet her next week. Mmm.. how to describe Aaron...maybe you could call him a hip-hop sort of fellow. That is kind of his self description as he says that he has learned and can teach hip-hop dancing as well as break dancing. He has a little bling in both ears. He is a very energetic and animated fellow who likes to talk with foreigners and he is also very passionate and is eager to talk with others about God and Jesus. He has been a believer for about 5 years now and wants to keep going deeper in the word. He also plays guitar and says he knows some worship songs, so maybe we can use his talent at the study to lead some praise and worship before we begin.

Aaron wearing the pumpkin sunglasses I bought for Halloween

 Ok, we had lunch and during the lunch I asked him about his testimony and he talked about how he had become a  believer at 17 but did not really start getting "discipled" until about 3 years ago. And some of the things he translated into Chinese because some of our "churchy" stuff  is not clearly understood in English. We talked about the fact that God is not strictly a God of "rules" but more about a relationship, a relationship that must include, at some point, acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God and the only way to have eternal life. John 14: 16   翰 福 音 14:6


Anyway, after talking and deciding on times that was best for everyone, we decided to begin the studies this week after church. So, I ask you to be in prayer for our study. Prayer has already brought forth fruit in that the studies will actually begin and that new connections have been made. Pray now for new relationships with Jesus to begin. 

Yes, I wore this to class!

So, Monday was Halloween, I bought miniature snickers and handed them out to my students if they said the phrase that pays: "Trick or Treat" I did this dressed up in a kid's pirate hate and eye patch I found at the local supermarket.  I did not get any pictures, so here is a reenactment photo:

And This!
Two of my students investigating the commotion

 I also repeated this for the kids who had my class on Tuesday so that everyone would get the chance for a Malone experience. One of my students gave me a scream mask on Monday. He he, I had to take the opportunity to get the Chinese students hearts a pumping. So, when it got dark I put on the mask and wore a hoodie and began to wander the campus.  Because most students were not paying any attention to just another "figure" walking to the classrooms, most times I just simply had to walk up to a student and say "hello" and they would jump and scream. I did this for about two  hours and maybe caused a commotion around campus because a security guard came to check it out. When I lifted my mask, he recognized me, laughed and went on his way. Ha ha, even a few of my students who had been in their dorm had heard about the strange goings on and came out to have a look, and of course to have a picture with their crazy teacher


Well, that was the week that was. In the coming week, I will begin teaching a new group of students the second half of their management course as part of a split teaching assignment. I will have two additional classes and they both have about 70 students in each one. Please be in prayer for me to be engaging in what will be mostly a "lecture" type environment. I have actually met a few of the students.Pray that I will find proactive ways to develop relationships with my students and that they will have the opportunity to see Christ in all that I do. I also pray and ask you to pray for those that Christ is drawing to Himself through our service here. May many relationships with Him be formed-regardless of whether or not we are allowed to see it or not. 


Have you ever wondered what nearly 400 Atomic Fireballs gathered in one place looked like? I didn't think so, but I am going to show you anyway. You may ask, (or not) " What in the world are you going to do with all of those Atomic Fireballs?" Well, if you are curious, you will have to check back sometime in the next week to find out.  It involves my students. Well, that is all I will say for now. 

A bigger question you may have is this, "How can I have eternal life?" Well, I am glad you asked! As stated earlier in the blog, there is only one way, and that is through Christ Jesus! John 14: 16    翰 福 音 14:6

You may say, "Yeah, but how do you get there?" Great question, there is a road you can follow and here is that ROAD  

Simply put, it means humbling yourself and admitting you are a sinner, a sinner who is powerless to save your self. Recognizing that God has provided a way to save you through His Son Jesus, who died on the cross so that "whoever shall believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." Then, simply ask Jesus to forgive you of your sin and save you from eternal condemnation. Then, commit to following Him through His word. There is no "work" you can do to save yourself, and you will be given no indisputable "worldly proof",  but the Holy Spirit will testify  that God is real, and that your faith in Christ is what gives you assurance of eternal life. You can ask someone to help you pray this, or just simply pray on your own. 
Until the next time...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ask, and It Will Be Given To You! 10/24/2011

The other day I quoted one of my home pastor's biblical paraphrase. Today, I will quote the Master Himself, Yesu Ji Du, or for my western readers, Jesus Christ. In Matthew 7:7-11   He says, "7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 馬 太 福 音 7:7-11

Today, God gave in abundance. Of all days to leave the camera home, this was a lousy day to do so. My former student and I decided that we could take the bus a little later as the church service time was going to change. (He he, a whole 15 minutes later). We arrived at the church and noticed that it was filling up pretty fast so we hustled in hoping to get the pew where we regularly sit. It was available, but we had to sit in the middle, which meant that even in my new slimmed down nature, I would not be able to "spread out" as much. 
You see, I carry a back pack sized bag that has my bible, my notebook, and the songbooks that my friend Liu Wen Yan had typed up for me. As things turned out, did not need the songbooks. As we settled in, the church was already a good ways into the daily reading. Today's scripture was Mark 10 and 11. I looked at the white board to see which songs we would sing and to see which Psalms would be read but the usual information was not there. 

I asked my friend what the writing was, but she could not make out the characters. So, we just kind of settled in. I did notice that there were no podiums on the stage and the lady leading the reading was doing so from a choir book stand down in front of the first pews. Something was definitely different today! 

The reading done, a prayer was said, and then out comes a young  boy and girl (my friend guessed they were in their mid-to-late twenties) and they started singing what was obviously not a traditional hymn. Well, the next thing you know, ol Jed's a millionaire-no, wait, just kidding and checking and to see if you were still reading. He he. 

It was a pretty nice song and I heard Yesu Ji Du (耶稣基督) and Shangdi (上帝) Jesus Christ and God were mentioned many times over in this song and the rest of the songs sang on this morning. Must have 6 or 7 songs. By the second song, the boy and girl were joined on the stage by another half dozen young Chinese youth and before I knew it we were clapping, jumping and having hands in the air spirit filled time of worship.

We even did some SOS type movements. For those of you not connected with my home church, SOS stands for Signs of the Spirit and is a Sign Language worship set to music led by our very own awesome Julie Thompson.  Wow! What was happening?!

Seems that we had a visiting choral group from the GongXiang Church from Suzhou, a nearby city that Zhangjiagang (my city) is attached to, kind of like a city-county relationship. They were really energized and they had the crowd energized as well. I could really feel the holy spirit moving. There were times I had so much joy I was move to tears. I did not interrupt my friend too much to ask questions as I could tell that she was really enjoying the worship and was singing right along ( we have a screen for the words, but, alas, not enough foreigners in my church to warrant English or Pinyin)  

After a bit, they asked if there was any there for the first time, and about 10 raised their hand. They then asked if they would come forward so that they could be prayed for and given some information and most of them did go to the front. Afterward, we continued the praise and worship. Normally, during the conventional service the singing and reading of the Psalms takes about 20 minutes or so. We were well into 30 minutes of praise and worship. Seemed like nobody wanted to stop, but as vibrant as that is, we know we have to have the bringing of the Word!
And so we did the passages were from Isaiah 43:19, Genesis 37:1-4 and 7:10. He spoke mostly about Joseph and his dream. I know that he later went to where Joseph had success because the people near me flipped back to around the 39th chapter and they read some more and he spoke for a bit more. 

Then we closed the service with some more spirit filled worship. As turns out, the small group leading the worship was just that, a small group. In the end the brought out the rest their worship team and I say it numbered around 30 people.
You know, this was all great, but that was not what I was praying for. But, wait, there is more. Today, the church was double packed, ( many from Suzhou attended today as well) so I waited around for the crowd to thin out before leaving (and I was hoping to talk to some of the group from Suzhou) As we waited, a Chinese lady approached and asked in very good English, "Where are you from?" I told her from Tennessee in the U.S and she told me she was from another city but was living and working in Zhangjiagang and was a member of the church. (Prayer answered: someone to be able to communicate with about the church). 

As the lady and I spoke, some of the visiting choir members began filtering down and standing around, as well as this young guy who was standing behind me. So, some of the choir members started chatting and asking where I was from and so forth. I told them that I thought they had done a great job and could really feel God's presence. This made them happy and they told me about their church in Suzhou. 

So, as we spoke we talked a lot "about" God. Well, you know me, I  had to ask the question. I looked at the girl (all of their English was pretty good too) asked her, "How does one get into heaven?" Without hesitation she said "there is only one way!"  "Oh", I said, " and just what way is that?" Ha ha, she gave the Jared Shelton answer (sorry another inside joke). Big smile on her face she said, "Jesus!" and then she quoted John 14:6:

約 翰 福 音 14:6

6 耶 稣 说 我 就 是 道 路 、 真 理 、 生 命 ; 若 不 藉 着 我 , 没 有 人 能 到 父 那 里 去 。

What a great way to end the day! But, I am not quite finished. The guy standing behind me  is just beaming the whole time I was talking to the choir members. He was just busting at seams to tell me he was a believer too, and was also a member of the church-he told me this in very good English as well! Ding ding ding ding! God is answering the prayer in abundance! Remember, I was looking to connect with the church even when my student friend could not go. I will call the young man by his English name, Aaron is eager to make friends and have fellowship. So, I have invited him to come over next Sunday and the friend that went with me today has told me that maybe Sunday is a good day for her to be involved in a study. Another prayer answered! Is there anything to big for our God! NO! Our God is a great big God. 


 So, next week I will meet with Aaron and my student. I will see if anyone else wants to come along. Now, I can also look into the possibility of seeing what is going on with the youth group there at the church. And because Suzhou is just an hour away, I will try to make some of their Friday evening studies. God has answered prayer today, and He even put icing on the cake buy allowing me to be a part of a great spirit filled time of worship. One other thing I learned today, start carrying my camera again everywhere I go. I would have loved to have been able to get some pictures and videos to share with you. I just hope the words adequately expressed what a great day it was. And you know what? I know many of you were praying for this as well! God has blessed us all today. I know many of you may have headed out to church by the time this gets posted, but I am praying for you all to have a blessed, spirit filled day as well. Until the next time...


Romans 8: 28

羅 馬 書 8:28



Saturday, October 22, 2011

Miscellaneous Updates: Oatmeal and Pregnant Cats 10/22/2011

Just a quick update on a few miscellaneous items: First up, my oatmeal and boiled eggs weight loss diet. I started in earnest on August 26th, and still have a hot bowl of oatmeal and two boiled eggs every day for breakfast. Nope, not tired of it yet! I still prepare it the same way, with a little salt and a about two teaspoons of honey. The perfect blend of salty sweetness is elusive, but that is what I strive for everyday.

Some days, the oatmeal is more salty, and other days it is more sweet. I do not usually try to adjust the balance and just eat as is. I have considered some of your recipes and actually was ambitious enough one day to chop up some apple bits and put them in the bowl, Not bad but, God has given me a tolerance for the mundane so, eating the oatmeal with the salt & honey is satisfying. One of the side benefits of eating breakfast every morning has been an improved prayer life and settled routine of reading the bible each day.

My morning routine consists of arising at 6:00 a.m. (most days), hit the on button for the computer, walking to the fridge and grabbing a couple of eggs. Once in the kitchen, I turn on the coffee pot  (the night before, I set the coffee pot up so that all I have to do in the morning is turn it on-no timer on the coffee maker), and put water in the pan to boil the eggs. I then pour my oatmeal into a bowl. Ha ha my Aunt Shirley pointed out that I must have a big bowl if I am using a cup of oats. As it turns out, I am using just about a little less than a half cup. I just pour some into a small bowl without really measuring. Then I sprinkle on my salt and honey, again no measurement, just what looks right. I bet my brother Jay is surprised to hear that! The water is not potable, so I don't put the eggs in until the water has begun to boil. (I know, it does not matter, but it helps the timing of  my routine) I also put the water in the water pot to boil that for the oatmeal

(Just to let you know, any words you see in the color yellow are clickable links you my find useful.)

So, coffee on, oatmeal mix prepared, and water set to boil, I head back to the bedroom and pull up either Our Daily Bread (ODB), or Strength For The Journey (SFTJ) and settle in for a bit of spiritual nourishment. I usually start with ODB and first click the link for the scripture on which devotion is based on. I will pray for God's wisdom and understanding to come upon me through His word, and I also ask for Him to show me clearly how that day's scripture and devotion should be applied personally. I also ask Him to help me live out the words that I read-to be a reflection of Christ to my students and others that I will encounter that day. By the time I finish praying and reading, the water is boiling good and the coffee is done. I get the eggs in the boiling water, grab a cup of coffee, precisely measuring 1 small spoonful of coffee mate and 1 small spoonful of honey (that was for my brother Jay, ha ha) and head back to listen and read along with the ODB or SFTJ messages (sometimes both, depending on their length). That is just about right timing for the eggs to boil. I have discovered that taking them out and cracking them a bit and putting them back in the water while I finish preparing my oatmeal makes them very easy to peel.

Now, both physically and spiritually nourished, I prepare to head out to my classes. As for my other meals and dietary practices, I have been eating a lot of chicken and when I go to the canteen I try to get at least two veggie dishes. Occasionally, usually on Friday's, I allow myself a little junk food. And when I have my chocolate cravings, I eat some Cocoa Krispies with some milk. I have been exercising sporadically, mostly some good long bike rides, but plan to begin a more regimented routine at the start of December.

 What have been the results? At the start of my program, I weighed in at 108kgs or 238lbs!. Oh my! Today's weight 100kgs or 220lbs. Still too heavy,  but a nice loss of 18lbs. I am pleased with the progress. I should mention that I pray about this as well. Not only to be more healthy, but as a way to give honor and glory to God. Hopefully, for those who are also struggling with weight issues, this will be an encouragement to you as well.
September 4, 2011 @108kgs (238lbs

October 22,2011 @ 100kgs (220lbs)
Second up, the Mei Nv pregnancy update. Approximately 50 days have passed and apart from some weight gain, I can see no other visible signs of her being pregnant. . Ha ha, I could be wrong (I am really hoping I am not!) but I do not think she will have kittens. Her back wound is really no better, but I have some things that I am going to try to help keep her bandages more secure while also not sticking to the wound. I am hoping that I can keep the bandages ( changing them frequently of course) secure until her wound scabs over and then naturally falls off. I am thinking that the scabbing process is what is making that area so itchy and thus, the constant scratching.

Mei Nv Resting Comfortably 10/22/2011

Well, other than to say the semester is going pretty well there is not much more to report. I will have another church update this weekend. Pray for our church and the students who attend with me. Pray that the most important of all relationships will develop (the saving relationship with Jesus Christ) not only for my students, but also for those who are curious and come to the church searching for what is missing in their life. Just like the churches back home, not everyone sitting in the pew believes in Jesus, but they are there because Christ has drawn them there. Pray for your church and my church to be faithful to preach the word of God and the Good News (The Gospel ) (的福音) contained within God's word. Until the next time..

 God is good!  上帝是好!

Romans 8:28   羅 馬 書 8:28

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Week That Was: October 16th

As my pastor back home, Brother Ron, is wont to say, "You have not, because you ask not." His saying is a paraphrase of scripture. I have never really asked him, but I know he gathers his pearls of wisdom from God's word. So, it could be a direct paraphrase of  the second part of James 4:2, or maybe even a summary of Matthew 7:7-11 (Extra, Extra, Read all about it Here). But, no matter, his saying has been particularly meaningful to me these last few weeks.

It has been almost a month since I have attended the Chinese church. The last time I went was on September18th. The next week the two students who had been going with me were busy. And the following week was the beginning of the the week-long celebration of the Chinese National Day which was from Oct 1st -8th and most of the students had left to go to their hometowns. I was becoming somewhat discouraged that I could not find someone to go with me on a regular basis and the words of my pastor had come to mind. ( I struggle with whether to just go by myself, but not knowing the language and having someone to discuss it with makes its difficult for me to be motivated. However, I do have a songbook that I can sing the hymns with, so maybe I will just go by myself when I cannot find a student to go)

To get back to how my pastor's encouragements have meaning, I had been asking the Lord to prepare an opportunity to find someone to go to church with me. I then thought about a student at the school who had invited me to be a judge at some English dramas last year. I had run into her this year and she told me she is preparing to take an English interpretation exam and wanted to know some ways to improve her English. It then dawned on me to invite her to church and ask her to take notes about what the pastor had said, and then she could explain it to me in English. I asked her to think about it while she was away on the holiday. I then sent an email to my ministry partners asking them to pray about this. The Lord has answered, but in His way! The student has not yet responded to my invitation.

However, the Lord has answered prayer in His way! I had invited a former student to come with us last year, but the hour to awake on Sunday was to early for her. Well, guess what? Last Friday, the 14th, I received a text message from this student asking me if I still go to the church on Sunday. I told her I did when I could find someone to go with me. She replied that she wanted to go, and indicated she would like to go regularly! I told her that was great and that she could meet me at the bus stop at 7:00 a.m. and she said ok.

In the meantime, I had asked the two previous regulars if they were free. One has a tutoring job, but the other said she was free and wanted to come along. I let the other student know this. She almost backed out of going. She said she wanted "just us two" to go. (I think she lacks self confidence around others). I explained to her that God means for me to share Him with everyone, and that I could not ask one to go and not ask another. She told me she would think about it and let me know on Saturday. I did not want to leave this to chance so, I prayed and asked God to send the Holy Spirit to let her know that God was calling her to Him. I also prayed and asked how I should intervene, if at all. God gave me the word to send her a message and I told her that we usually have lunch and chat afterward and that He would be very happy if she would come along with us. She said yes!

Sunday was a good day! As is customary, before the preaching, there is the reading of the Word and this weeks reading was chapters 8 and 9 from Mark. (<--Click That to Read) That was a great read! Reading of the miracles of feeding 4000, the healing of the blind man, and the casting out of a terrible spirit. And all of this topped off with a clear message of who Jesus is (Peter's declaration, and the Transfiguration, and Jesus' teaching) and what He has done for us. Awesome stuff for anyone, let alone a first time attendee to hear!

After that, the normal order of service proceeded and we practiced the songs for the day. You can click them and sing along: Wonderful Words of Life Jesus, Lover of My Soul and What A Friend We Have in Jesus

Then we read Psalm 32 (I really like how the church has a Psalm reading before the start of every service). They just seem to set the mood for a great time of worship.

If you have been clicking the links, you can see that my two students, and the rest of the church really received a gospel lesson before the pastor even began to speak! Just this alone confirms that I am going where God wants me to go. I don't say that to boast, but to compare the criticism of and condemnation of all "official" churches with what the disciples said about others casting out demons and Jesus' response to them in Mark 9:39-40:But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 40 For he who is not against us is [as]for us.

The pastor then spoke from Genesis 17:8-13. Unfortunately, I did not have to much time to discuss that with them, but I did find out that he also used that passage to relate to how we must make the right choices in life-the people we associate with and so forth. As we walked back to the bus, I took them back in a different way, stopping along the way to by some Xiao Bing, which is small pieces of bread that are baked in a barrel. There are two types, sweet and salty. I bought them the flavor that they liked and we walked back to the bus through the apartment buildings that surround the church. They were curious about how I knew where the bread was and how to get back to the bus from a different way. Ha, ha, I told them sometimes you just have to be willing to get lost sometimes to find your way, and that I have spent a lot of my free time riding my bike around the city to find out where things are.

I was not able to go to lunch with them as two former students from my second year had sent me a message and wanted to visit on Sunday, and I had promised them earlier that when the day came for their visit, I would make them spaghetti. Well, as is seems customary for my students, I was given only one day's notice. But, seeing how I only can seem them occasionally, I did not want to turn them down.

We had a nice dinner of spaghetti, garlic bread, and some vegetables we picked up at the cafeteria and for desert, fried apples! Mmm mmm good! . Of course, I got to pray with them before dinner, thanking God for the good food and the time to spend with them (they are not believers). Remember, try to take advantage of every opportunity, for God has told us that His word will not return empty to Him and will accomplish what he desires. Isaiah 55:11

And, because of what God says in Isaiah, that is the reason for putting this in a blog rather than just an email. Who knows who else will see this and respond to the scripture contained here? God does, and the Word will accomplish what he wants.

So, remember that many of you are partners in this ministry, and even though I am the only one physically here, the power of your prayers cannot be understated. Please pray for God to show me (and you) the opportunities He has prepared for us. Let us be ready "in season, and out of season" to be His faithful servant and to "Preach the Word." 2 Timothy 4:1-4 Thank you for your support and prayers, my prayer is that you will notice how God richly blesses your faithfulness and proclaim it to others. Until the next time...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pictures of Zhangjiagang

A Typical Single Family Home

This Home Has Been Renovated with New Brick Facing

New Offerings at KFC include Beef, Pork, & Chicken with Rice & Vegetables. Looks Tasty, but Have Not Tried Them as of Yet

A Calliope Outside of the  Mall

Would You Believe it if I Told You, ARMANI Shares Space with Wal-Mart?


As Does Prada!

Zippo is Very Popular in China. Expensive Too! Fits Right in With ARMANI, GUCCI, & PRADA

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Friday, September 16, 2011

A Visit to the Chang Jiang (Yangtze) River & Xiang Shan Mountain

Over the weekend of September the 10th, we had  3 day holiday as the Chinese celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival (<--Click That) culminating with the viewing of the moon on the night of September 12th. As 3 of my students and I prepared for the day, waiting at the bus stop, I found it touching that they knew the significance of this day (9/11). That being said, we headed off on our journey to explore a part of the city none of us had yet been to, the Chang Jiang (westerners know it as the Yangtze river) river port, and Xiang Shan Mountain.  We started about 10:30 a.m. and returned home about 5:30 p.m. A long, but good day-a very good day. Here is a link to some of the pictures of our day: 
A Visit to the Chang Jiang (Yangtze) River and Xiang Shan Mountain

I will tell you one thing, and then kind of let the pictures tell the rest of the story. We had one of my favorite food items Xiao Long Bao (<--Click That), usually called a soup dumpling, but actually a bit different than a dumpling in form. Xiao Long Bao is a delicious small steamed, ok, I will call it a dumpling, with a small pork meat ball in the middle, but what really sets it apart is the sweet tasting broth inside. Words don't, and can't really do it justice-you just have to try one. Take Xiao Long Bao and google it and you will find many who try to describe it and tell you how to eat it. I will tell you this, to experience it at its best, you should nibble a little of the the dumpling away, and then for lack of better word, suck the soup out, and then eat the rest. You can put the whole thing in your mouth, but if the soup is hot, as it usually is, you will be spitting the whole thing back out of your mouth. Opening it up like you see in the picture helps the soup cool a bit. 
Xiao Long Bao

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chinese Wedding

Ok, I finally have some time to write about the wedding of my former student and friend Shi Shao Feng( the bride) and Tan Kai (the groom). It was really quite interesting and a beautiful sight to behold. This will be a three part story: Getting There, The Wedding, and The Day After.

Getting There

Zou, my friend, former student, and Shi's classmate, and I began talking about our plan to travel Lianyuangang for Shi's wedding in June before I left for the states for my summer holiday. When I returned, I contacted her with my schedule and was wondering about the bus tickets. She told me that she would drive us, and another friend of hers would come along. This was good news to me, because I was not looking forward to a 3-4hr bus ride (no train to Lianyuangang). In June, Zou and I had gone to dinner and she drove us to and from dinner from my hotel in Zhenjiang. She was a careful driver then, so I had no reservations about her driving us to Lianyuangang.

So, on the morning of the 3rd (September) she picks me up at the hotel at 7:00 a.m. and we preceded to go pick up her friend Tao, who was Zou's co-worker and a friend of the couple. After we picked him up, I assumed that we would begin our journey, but we then drove to pick up another friend, Bao (not sure if the friend was a friend of Zou's or a friend of her co-worker). She did not go to the wedding. Seems that she was merely hitching a ride to see some old classmates. When we picked Bao up, Zou switched places with Tao and let him begin to drive.

Hmm...I did not know Tao, and had never driven with him so, I was a little concerned, but of course, I did not say anything. We all had buckled up for safety. Zou sat in the back with me and away we went. After a few minutes, my concerns were relieved as Tao seemed to be a very cautious driver and was actually driving a little slow. He and Zou talked back and forth about the best way to get to the highway (he he, we had a GPS,but that was for when we were on the highway).

Route to the highway agreed on, we are on our way. We are still in the city, and traffic is a little thick. ( I still did not know the exact time of the wedding, or exactly how long it would take to get there). After a about 10 minutes or so, Zou and Tao are having another conversation. Of course, because my Chinese language abilities are almost non-existent, I had no clue about the nature of the conversation. I quickly discovered that they were going change positions and that Zou would resume the driving duties.

As we were pulling over to a spot to do so, I asked Zou why they were changing and she softly, but emphatically whispers,"he drives too slow!" Here we go! Zou takes over and picks up the pace a bit to get us to the highway. Nothing out of the ordinary, Tao was driving a little slower than most everyone else on the road and I thought Zou's pace would be better for getting us there on time-whatever time that was. I had not asked the exact time of the wedding yet. When I did ask, I was told "maybe" around 11:30 (a.m.).

We hit the highway and even though Zou's car is a VW, we could have begun filming one of those Mazda Zoom Zoom commercials! Zou, who I had never known to be anything but a sweet mild mannered Chinese girl, had suddenly transformed into the Chinese equivalent of Mario Andretti! Foot on the gas and we were quickly at 125 KHM, which is actually only about 77mph, it sure felt like we were going much faster in the little VW, and that is the actual speed limit. There was not a lot of traffic, and I have driven with folks who drive much faster (think, Bro. Ron ha ha)so, I was not too concerned and even began to doze off a bit.

ZOOOOOOOOM! Jolted out of my slumber by a sudden burst of acceleration, I peeked up front to see how fast we had rocketed up to on the speedometer dial. 140kmh (86mph), and by now we were weaving in out of traffic to pass the slower cars. Funny thing is, there were also many cars passing us. From Mario Andretti-to-Tony Stewart! Ha ha, she was being very aggressive. I sort of grew used to that pace but, here is where I learned a little about Chinese driving culture.

The highway (actually the interstate) is only two lanes wide, three if you count the emergency( from here on referred to has the third lane) lane. Ha ha, you guessed it, if the left lane was unusable for passing, we used the third lane. And, we used it quite frequently. At first this was a bit unnerving. No, it was very unnerving. In the U.S. we just don't do that. However, the Chinese, the use of the third lane is pretty much standard operating procedure.

Zou was going to pass, be it on the left side, or the third lane, she would give two short toots and then scoot around the car in front.

Chinese drivers never seem to block you from passing, but they will cut very closely in front of you. I'd kind of been figuring this out after many many taxi rides where the driver would pass in the oncoming traffic lane. The driver he was passing would almost seem to move to the right a bit, while the oncoming drivers would move to their left a bit, giving the taxi driver ample room to make his pass. Just as I no longer have white knuckle syndrome driving in Chinese taxis', I grew used to Zou taking advantage of all three lanes to get us to the wedding on time. Ha ha, I had already prayed, and you know that the bible says, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" Hebrews 9:27(KJV). Well if this was my time, so be it, but I had a pretty good feeling that the Lord wanted me to be at this wedding.

Two more things about the drive and then I will get to the wedding. I settled into our routine enough to doze back off, woken only occasionally by the rapid deceleration followed by another rapid acceleration. I learned that the Chinese interstate has cameras placed along the way that apparently have speed sesnors, and that the Chinese GPS systems have this information built into them. The other thing is that we stopped once at rest stop. There are not a lot of cities just off the interstate like back in the U.S. So, the Chinese rest area has a a little store and a gas station as well as bathroom facilities. Zou had announced, "Ok, time for a rest" So, I got out, used the WC and wandered over to the little store to see if there was something I felt like snacking on. Went through the entire store in just a couple of minutes, found nothing, and headed back out. Ha ha, there was Zou, staring intently in my direction. So, I picked up the pace a bit and got back to the car and zoom, off we went!

As we arrived in Lianyuangang, Zou's and Tao's phones went off. It was Shi Shao Feng wondering where we were, and how long it would take us to get there. We were about 10-to-15 minutes away. Apparently, they were waiting on us to start the wedding (He he, I forgot to mention, that I have a small speaking part in this wedding). You should also know I had previously told Zou I was going to wear comfortable clothes to travel in:sweat shorts and a T-shirt, and she said that is fine, "wear whatever you want". I had figured I would have time to change in the motel. Not! We pulled up to the restaurant/banquet hall where the wedding was and Shi and Tan were standing outside waiting on us. I had no choice, I had to quickly change out in the parking lot. Fortunately, the dress shirt-tail was long enough that I did not have to expose anyone to too much of myself and my skivvies. Ha ha, you do what you have to do.

The Wedding

Dressed and inside, the wedding is about to begin. Shi Shao Feng takes her place at one end of the Hall and Tan Kai is at the opposite end. This is not a christian ceremony, but it was a beautiful thing all the same. Unfortunately, I did not get enough pictures to show how beautifully decorated it was. I did not want to be any more conspicuous than I already was so, I did not try to move up to get better shots. but I think you will be able to get a glimpse from the video (more about that shortly).

The Bride and Groom in place, the music begins, and Tan Kai begins singing a song to Shi Shao Feng, and she responds by singing back to him. Sorry, I can't tell you exactly what the song says, but I am sure it is a song that expresses their love for one another. Now, I guess is the time to explain the video. I was at the back of the room standing about even with Shi Shao Feng and had begun filming. Tan Kai, as you will be able to see is quite some distance away. Ha ha, this is when Zou got really excited and snatched the camera out of my hand, ran around a few tables and positioned herself about in the middle of the walkway between Tan and Shi. That is why you see a bit of shaking and blurring.

She positioned herself pretty well, and when she was not trying to capture every movement, she got a nice bit of Shi & Tan singing, with Tan coming to get Shi and then they joined together and sung their way back to where Tan had started from. Now, I got to say my part.

Shi has seen a lot of western films and TV shows and has always been moved by some of the wedding vows, in particular where the Groom and Bride are asked if they Promise to love, to honor, to cherish, to protect, and to forsake all others, holding only unto him/her (It now dawns on me that I left off the “until death do you part” section), and then I got to pronounce them man and wife. Well, with Zou as my interpreter, that was my part, and I was deeply honored that I was asked to be a part of their wedding. Technically speaking, they were already married. In China you go to the marriage registration office, fill out a form, and then you are married (sort of like getting a license in the U.S). The ceremony is is just that, a ceremony for the bride and groom and their friends and family. Don't get me wrong, just as in the U.S., this is a very special event, and I know from talking to my students, that just as the U.S., most Chinese girls begin to  dream about their wedding day at a very young age, dreaming of what they will wear, what the wedding hall will look like and so forth.

The wedding is also quite a production, with professional photographers and film crew down to the point of have Klieg lights so that the lighting is perfect for photography and film. This was a special day and Shi was absolutely radiant and so beautiful. Tan, a handsome young fellow, was also one big smile from ear to ear. I am very happy for them.

After I said my part, the wedding host resumed his duties and there were some toasts made with Shi and Tan interlocking arms and drinking out of each others glass. The parents were introduced, and they seemed pretty happy as well. And then, as suddenly as the ceremony began, it was over. Time for the meal.

The wedding and the reception are often held in the same place. All of us had been seated at round tables, with about 8 to a table. Zou and I were sitting at one of the tables reserved for Tan's co-workers. The meal was huge, maybe 5 or 6 courses not counting the cold dishes that were already on the table. By my estimations of table counts and guest per table, I would say there were about 300 guests in attendance. So, just as in the U.S., a Chinese wedding can be right expensive. I am not even going to try to guess how much it cost.

Fortunately, I was not sitting at a table where a host was serving me so, I could eat only what I thought I would like. I did try the turtle soup though and found it to be quite tasty. How did I know it was turtle soup? By the large, whole turtle (sans shell) in the middle of the serving bowl! He he, you have to remember in China, when it comes to food that comes from the water, it is usually served whole with heads and tails, and uncut. There was also shrimp and fish in their whole, unadulterated forms. They also served a dish I discovered last year called 大骨头
Dà gǔtou (gu towe)or Big bone (Chinese friends, if I have it wrong please correct me). This is a big big pork shoulder, and man is it good!

While everyone is eating, the bride and groom make their way to each table to have a toast and thank everyone for coming. He he, Shi and Tan know I don't drink, so I was able to "cheers" with my heart and a glass filled with OJ.

When it was all over, Shi took us to the hotel to check in. Along the way she had asked if I minded sharing a room with Tao ( who by now had taken off to visit some of his college classmates, he went to school in Lianyuangang). I had not planned on bunking with anyone, but I was also not aware that the bride and groom were going to pay for the rooms of their guests. I told her that she did not have to do that, but insisting would have probably hurt her feelings, so I did not fight too much, and I had no problems bunking with Tao. He was a nice guy.

After checking in, we headed to the seaside where Tan and Shi would take some more post wedding pictures. So, while they were taking pictures, Zou, and some of the other close friends and I just hung out a bit and waited to go to dinner.

Well, we end up going to dinner at a nice place and I was seated to the left of Shi Shao Feng, ahem, a place of honor. So, naturally, she would ask, "have you ever tried this"(various dishes). Some I had, some I had not, and the ones I had not, I would ask,"What is it?" And, she would reply, "Try it first, and then I will tell you." Oh boy! I have let too much time pass to remember everything, but I do remember that I ate some sort of green worm/bug. In the dish, it sort of looked like scrambled eggs, but upon closer inspection, you could see its larvae looking body. Actually, it was also quite tasty. However, Shi would not eat any!

The Day After

The next day before leaving, we had a lunch together with Tan,Shi, and a few more of their guests from the wedding. As you can see by the pictures, it was a pretty cool looking place. Kind of a rainforest cafe look. We had some pretty delicious food, and again a few dishes that were unusual, with the obligatory sampling. One, I recognized right away, the squid. I saw the legs. I had had this before when I went on a bar-b-que with some students. At that time, the legs were as big as the body, but this time the legs were separate from the body, and the body had some decent size to it and sort of looked like pieces of pork. Pretty good. Seems, that Shi preferred the legs, so that all worked out. I also tried some jelly fish. That was a little more crunchy than I thought it would be. Did not care much for it, but a least I tried it.

At the wedding lunch, I was able to avoid the shrimp (I prefer it fried), but of course I was offered some. Tan helped me a bit with it, letting me know that it you should remove the head and little swimmer fins first, and then peel the skin off. They had a soy base sauce to dip it in, and it was pretty good. And, I found good use for the discarded heads. We had an unusual lunch companion. A nice little kitty cat. Seems, he knew his way around and was accepted by the restaurant. Having developed an affection  for cats, I called him to my chair and set the shrimp heads down for him. You can see by his expression that he was grateful.

Well, that wraps up the day, and long, long, blog. The ride home was uneventful because we had plenty of time to make it back to Zhenjiang before my bus would leave to take me back to Zhangjiagang. Tao drove, and he drove rather slowly, but of course, he utilized all three lanes, giving a little toot toot of the horn when necessary. Here are some links to the pictures: The Wedding Day  The Next Day: Lunch 

Make sure you click the magnifying glass on our lunch companion. Ha ha, until the next time...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Oatmeal! Something to Ponder While Waiting for the Chinese Wedding Post

Oatmeal! Can't get anymore mundane than this. Actually, when I was a kid I loved oatmeal, and could, and often would eat it everyday on the cold days of winter. My mom used to make it for me boiling the oats with a little salt in the water. She knew that how to add just so much milk and sugar to give it that sweet creamy taste I like, with just a hint of salty flavor underneath.

I still love oatmeal, but have generally just too lazy to make it in the morning. Actually, for more years than I care to remember, a cup of coffee was my breakfast, and if really hungry, a couple of pieces of toast, or a quick stop at Mickey D's for a bacon egg and cheese biscuit. ( a side note, if Hardee's could combine Micky D's bacon with their egg and cheese biscuit, they would own the bacon-egg-cheese biscuit market-at least for those of us who prefer crispy bacon, but I digress!)

This summer I took a little trip with my family and when we would stop and get breakfast, my brother Jay would get a bowl of oatmeal and one or two boiled eggs. I knew that after "finding" 20lbs over the last year, I had to figure out a way to "lose" them and maybe a couple more of their buddies who have decided to hang out with me over the years. I have read and heard so many times how a good breakfast is key to a healthy diet, and would help you to not be so hungry during the rest of the day.

So, I have determined that I would begin everyday with breakfast, and have chosen the oatmeal and boiled eggs to be my main staple. Just so you know, I am one of those people who can go all Elvis on a meal, meaning I can eat the same thing almost every day and not get tired of it. Elvis would go on a kick and have his chef make him the same meals for weeks on end. (Think fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches) I discovered the same affinity for pizza while working for Domino's Pizza. People would ask, don't you get tired of pizza? Unfortunately, my answer was no, never!

In China, you can't drink the water out the tap, so everyone has a water pot to boil water quickly. I have discovered that is a perfect way to make real Quaker Oatmeal (yes, I get them in China)as quick as any instant.

I still make it mostly the same way my mom did, but instead of sugar, I use some honey. So here is my recipe: I pour about a cup of oats into the bowl, sprinkle about a teaspoon of salt over the top and then squirt about 2 teaspoons of honey over the top. When the water is done boiling I pour enough in to cook the oats and leave it with just a little creamy texture. I no longer use the milk, but I do have that lightly sweet taste with a hint of saltiness underneath. This seems to be working for me. Since I have been back I have "lost" a couple of those pounds who had found me.

So, Here is my question for you, Do you like oatmeal, and if so, how do you like to prepare it for yourself? Let me know in the comments. Like I said, I could eat the same thing for weeks on end, but a little variety never hurts. Until the next time...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Week Thus Far 08/30/2010

Well, it is Tuesday here in China and I have met with each of my two Consumer Behavior classes. They are the same students from last year's Management and Human Resource Classes.

The schedule for the first 9 weeks is pretty easy, I only teach one class a day, Monday-Thursday, which gives me a nice long weekend. The class sizes are more manageable as well. About a third of the students from each class have gone to Australia to study leaving me with 42 students in one class and 39 in the other. That will make things much easier (I hope) for the both of us. Communication should be easier and hopefully I can get to know them better. They really are a nice group of kids.

For those of you who love to go grocery shopping, you know, getting in your car, lugging the groceries home and so forth. Count your blessings. How would you like to do the same thing by bus-while it is raining? He he, that is my shopping adventure.

I have gotten used to that and can now usually get it done in about an hour. If it is too hot, or raining too hard, I will get a taxi to bring me back home and get dropped off right in front of my building. Try as I might to make a list, I always forget something! So, I just have to make do until the next trip.

T-Shirts in China

I see a lot of students who wear T-shirts with English words on them. Sometimes the words make sense, sometimes they do not. I may try to post a pic or two of the interesting ones I see( if I remember).

Many times, the students have not bothered to read them (so they tell me) or know what they mean, so I will read them and try to figure things out. However, yesterday I saw a female student (thankfully not one of mine) whose T-shirt left no misunderstanding of what the message was. In big letters were the words F OFF. (the whole F word was spelled out.

I just could not let that pass. I looked at her and said, "Your shirt is so nasty". Thinking I was giving her a compliment she said thank you. I said, "No, you don't understand, many people find that word to be very vulgar and offensive". This happened as I was heading back to my apartment after returning from the grocery shopping and she and her friend were heading to the bus stop. She seemed nice enough for the few seconds we encountered one another. Hopefully, she will toss that shirt out.

The Return of the Wandering Kitty

Well, I was able to coax Mei Nv to come back home. After class yesterday I went looking for her and found her by the building where she and her boyfriend were hanging out the day before.

As, I approached, she trotted off a bit, but then laid down in the street and let me come pet her. I picked her up and began to carry her part of the way home, but then decided that I would let her come on her own.

So, I put her down and started to walk back to my apartment. I called her and she began to follow. As we approached, she stopped and laid down again so, I picked her up and carried her to the stoop of my building and put her down there. I began to climb the step and called her to follow me, but she would not come in.

I figured she was hungry ( that no good for nothing tom cat wasn't feeding her), so I went up stairs and got the bag of food. I stood at the top and shook the bag, but she did not come. So, I went down the steps and gave her a whiff of the bag. Yeah buddy, she was hungry! She perked up and followed me inside.

But, she still was reluctant to come up the stairs with the smell of food as her only enticement. So, I poured a little out on the top of each landing and she came and gobbled it up. By the time we got to my floor (4th) she was ready to come right in.

Since then, she has made herself right at home. No more yowling. I would really like to get her wounds healed up but, if she becomes insistent on going outside, I guess I will just have to let her go. I would imagine, kittens may be something the future holds. I don't know what I will do then.

Well, that about wraps up the first two days of this wee. Yeah, I know, not real exciting. Such is life. God Bless, until the next time...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mei NV Update

After church, I went to check on her, She is still not ready to come home yet. I found her with her boyfriend. He is not a handsome cat. Maybe if he had a good bath! ha ha!

As I approached, they got up and walked away.
You can click on the pictures for a full size view.

Today in Church 8/28/2011

Well, this is my first Sunday back in China and I was able to attend church. Two of my former students who often went with me last year came with me this morning also.

Before I talk about today's service, I will give you some general information. I have attended church in Zhenjiang, Wuxi, Shanghai, and here in the city where I currently live, and the services are pretty much the same as far as order goes. So, this is how it generally goes:

The service begins by reading a few chapters of the bible. I believe they are reading through selected books. When I left, they were in Isaiah and the last reading was 59-60. Today, we read Matthew 21-22. We should pick up in chapter 23 next week.

The next thing, and I find this kind of interesting, is that they do a practice run through of the hymns. What I find most interesting is that the hymnal, instead of having the standard musical notations has the corresponding numbers to the Do Ri Mi scale. So, for the first run through they teach the tune using that scale, then they go back and do a practice run through using the words. Ha ha, I still can't sing.

After that, the service is ready to begin. One of the elders will pray. Sometimes it is a long prayer, sometimes it is short. I did not ask about today's prayer (what was said), but they usually pray for the church and the people.

Then we sing the first of 3 hymns. Today's first hymn was written by Yi Fan Shen and is titled "Help Me to Pray, O Lord"

Help me to Pray, O Lord, Calm thou my fret and fear
Fervently wait before my Lord, for Thou art ever near
Fervantly wait before my Lord, for Thou art ever near.

Then we pray again. Until I can understand Chinese, I will use this time to pray for the pastor and the day's service.

After the prayer, a responsive reading of a selected psalm is read. I need to pay more attention, because I am not sure if this a type of reading where the elder reads one part, and then the church reads the next line, or if the elder reads and then the congregation repeats. Either way, today's Psalm was a good one (aren't they all good ones!) We read Psalm 111. Here is a little taste for those of you who may not have been to church yet:

Praise the Lord!

With all my heart I will thank the Lord
in the assembly of his people.
2 How wonderful are the things the Lord does!
All who are delighted with them want to understand them.
3 All he does is full of honor and majesty;
his righteousness is eternal.

After the Psalm is read, the we sing the second song. The second song is "Follow On"
by William O Cushing.

Follow On

Down in the valley with my Savior I would go,
Where the flowers are blooming and the sweet waters flow;
Everywhere He leads me I would follow, follow on,
Walking in His footsteps till the crown be won.


Follow! follow! I would follow Jesus!
Anywhere, everywhere, I would follow on!
Follow! follow! I would follow Jesus!
Everywhere He leads me I would follow on!

Down in the valley with my Savior I would go,
Where the storms are sweeping and the dark waters flow;
With His hand to lead me I will never, never fear,
Danger cannot fright me if my Lord is near.


Down in the valley, or upon the mountain steep,
Close beside my Savior would my soul ever keep;
He will lead me safely in the path that He has trod,
Up to where they gather on the hills of God.


After this song, the choir will sing a special song. These songs are usually from a separate hymnal, and today I forgot to ask the name of song.

Ok, now it is time for the message. Today's message came from James 1:5-12, and from what I can gather from my students, the speaker did a good job of teaching these verses. I asked her to write the notes from the PPT in Chinese, and then after the service we stayed while she translated them into English. Mind you these were just bullet points, but I believe they were a good foundation for teaching.

After the message, we sing the third song. Today's third song was "More Love to Thee, O Christ" written by Elizabeth Payson Prentiss in 1869. It was really quite a beautiful melody, and now that I have read the words in English, I find it more beautiful.

More Love to Thee, O Christ

More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee.
This is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek, give what is best.
This all my prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Let sorrow do its work, come grief or pain;
Sweet are Thy messengers, sweet their refrain,
When they can sing with me: More love, O Christ, to Thee
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Then shall my latest breath whisper Thy praise;
This be the parting cry my heart shall raise;
This still its prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

I have the complete Chinese hymnal in pinyin (alphabetized Chinese) who a dear friend lovingly and painstakingly translated from Chinese characters into pinyin for me. So, I am able to sing with my Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ. Many times, we sing songs I that I am very familiar with from back home.

After this song, the pastor will give a blessing to the congregation. Then we will say the Lord's Prayer from Matthew, and then the doxology

"Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow"

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

So, there you have it, the order of service of the official Chinese church. I imagine it is a little different from what you expected or may have been told. As you can see, from the verses and the songs, Christ is preached. It may not be this way in all churches, but for the ones I have been attending for the last four years, it has been this way, and I know for a fact that people are coming to a saving relationship with Christ in these churches.

So, before I close, let me provide a little more background and information. The official name of the Church is the 3 Self Patriotic Movement Church. This church is protestant in nature. They also have a Catholic Church as well.

I choose to come to this church because as a guest worker in China I feel I should obey the laws they have set forth. I also know that when I extend an invitation to my students, I am not asking them to break any laws. In this way, they can learn about God, ask me questions, and I have someone who can help me understand what is being said.

In addition to the Sunday service (which begins at 7:30 a.m. and goes to about 10:30 a.m)they have meetings during the week for various age groups and they also have prayer meetings. I have not had time to attend any here as of yet, but back in Zhenjiang, I attended a youth meeting (ha ha their youth is 25-30 years old) and heard some powerful testimonies of Christ's changing power.

The attendance for today by my best estimate was a little over 600 people There are four rows with 19 pews in each row. In each row there is about 7 people. 4*19*7=532 When those fill up, they put little stools down the aisles, and there is another little room behind the main auditorium that holds maybe another 50 people

Well, if you have any questions about what I have written, or the pictures I have posted, feel free to ask, and I will do my best to answer them. In the meantime, I ask you to pray for me, and pray for the Church. For my friends and family back home, I believe you know what to pray for as we partner together in this endeavor.

Until the next time...

Romans 8:28