Sunday, June 8, 2014

May---Mountain climbing, Ostrich riding, and 15th Anniversary Dance Performance!!!

Another month has come and gone here in China and I was blessed to be able to experience many friendships and relationships become stronger. Much of the month of May was extremely busy with lots of dance rehearsals getting ready for the 15th Anniversary Performance on May 31st. May 1st-3rd was another national holiday so I went with a group of friends to a nearby city called DengFeng for the day. We hiked SongShan mountain which is one of 5 famous mountains in China. It was an amazing display of the creativity and beauty of G-d. There were so many stairs I thought my legs were going to fall off! It took us about 5 hours to climb the whole thing! At the end of the hike on the other side of the mountain is the Shaolin temple famous for Chinese Zen Buddhism and the monks who study Shaolin Martial Arts (Kung Fu). Shaolin is famous for its Pagoda Forest, a graveyard for the Buddhist dignitaries throughout the ages, and the Martial Art Training school.

 The back side of SongShan.....and the first of many, many stairs 
 The views were gorgeous! 
 Fun times with fun friends!
 A small Buddhist monastery on the back side of SongShan
A Buddhist temple near the monastery
 Grace and Isaac, and funny poses at a snack break
 Stairs up, then down, then up, then down......but all beautiful and breathtaking! 
 Tight and narrow passageways consisted of much of the trail 
 Caves and cliffs!
 Very steep, small stairs! 
 China is beautiful!
 So many stairs!!!! Cute baby and his proud moma 
Hanging bridge over 1/2 mile high chasm or 1 foot wide bridge with no rail?
 I love mountains....and more stairs
I had fun with Grace!
 Beautiful views! We had great weather!
 China's lush greenery
 Famous SongShan views
 More incredible views 
 Got to pr-y for this city and country from this view =)
 He knows the path we should take....Trusting G-d is always worth the risk!
Beautiful walk at the bottom of the mountain along a river....Me and Grace
 Me and Isaac practicing our Martial arts =) and more stairs.....
 The famous Pagoda Forest
The entrance to the Shaolin temple area
 Greeting gods in the doorway
 There were a bunch of people there because it was a holiday
 This lady was so excited to introduce her child to me, so I asked to take a picture with them. She was so happy! And I took a picture of a Shaolin monk who was not so happy with me. 
 Beautiful artwork inside the temple grounds from the fire bowl out side to light the incense to the paintings on the walls inside the temple
 Beautiful views of SongShan in the back ground and a incense holder 
 Beautiful architecture and many people! 
 Some of the gods in one of the main temples.....and the Creator of the Universe had me look up to see the beauty that He created =)
 Cute little kid and the prayer wheels

Anyone want to ride a camel? Beautiful ceiling in one of the temples
 Chinese buildings are beautiful!
 Some of the Shaolin martial arts students put on a performance
 A beautiful gate to the entrance of the Shaolin temple park

One of the foreign teachers and his family are good friends with Kirsti’s family and invited us for lunch at a beautiful restaurant in the local city I’m in. While we were there we realized there was a wedding reception also taking place! Outside the restaurant is a mill where a donkey grinds the wheat kernels. One fun thing we got to do was rent scooters to ride to the restaurant. So much fun! I also got to meet one of their friends who works for a coffee company in Western China that reaches out to the locals. Cinco de Mayo, one of my favorite holidays because of yummy food, was a highlight of the month of May. We got to eat at one of the foreign teacher’s houses and had salsa, fajita chicken, and tortilla chips! It was really yummy!!!! I also got to hang out with Karissa and Greg one afternoon and go shoot with a  bow and arrow. I had lots of fun!!!!
Riding our motorbikes! 
 There were upside down fans hanging from the ceiling 
 The trees and water cause each table to seem private and secluded
It was really pretty!
 Hua cha! Flower tea! Really yummy!!! 
 Fun times with Karissa and Greg!
 Yummy salsa!!!

We had our first midterm in Chinese language on May 8th….It was difficult as the entire test was in Chinese characters, but overall we did pretty well. I’m still amazed that I’m learning to read, write, and speak Chinese! After one rehearsal we met a Chinese guy and it was one of the first times I’ve actually been able to understand a whole conversation in Chinese and reply….for about 30 minutes! It was really exciting to realize that studying is paying off and has value. On top of that, he asked me what my major was in the USA, and I told him Theology. He proceeded to ask me all kinds of questions and ended up preaching the G-spel to me in Chinese by stating the beliefs of Chr-stians. The encouraging, and slightly scary, part was that he was saying it all in Chinese, so all of my Chinese friends standing nearby were able to hear the G-spel in their native tongue. I’m pr-ying that His statements and questions had an impact on their hearts and that they will come to know J-sus!

As we got closer to the show, rehearsals got more intense. One week we ended up dancing 40 1/2 hours! A lot of the seniors had to go back to their homes so that they could begin to look for jobs so that as soon as they graduate they have a source of income. Fangke, one of our dance friends, also had to leave. It was sad to say goodbye to her, but we really enjoyed getting to eat lunch together and celebrate with her. Also, one of our dance teachers taught the finale piece in one day, got married two days later, and then began show week on Monday. Mr Ma is and incredibly hard working!!!

 There were over 150 dancers in this performance!
 Our last day with Fangke (Bella) We miss her lots!!!!
  Grace and I are just a little bit crazy!
Mr. Ma's wedding!

On May 17th was the 8th Annual Women’s Symposium held at the school. Though we weren’t a part of the events, we did get to attend the dance performance where a bunch of our Latin dance friends were performing. They did such an incredible job and it was amazing to see a Chinese dance performance with the lights, the screens, the music, the costumes, and much more! A few days later was also got to see a famous China opera play that a touring group performed. It was a touching story of real stories from Chinese war times and children from that era. It was also neat to listen to as it was completely in Chinese! 
Beautiful clouds on the way to the performance
 Some of our friends before the show and a cute little kid who kept peeking at the foreigners 
 Flower dances to Latin dances!
 Even painting traditional Chinese paintings on stage! 
 One of my favorite pieces choreographed by Mr Ma (the green one) 
 Some of our Latin dance friends (Gao Hao Bing and Jing Tian on the left) 
The main guy from the martial arts piece 
 The holes in the chairs made perfect drink holders!

The next weekend, May 24th, we went to an adventure park for Maria’s 16th birthday party (one of the foreign teacher’s daughter). We got to ride an ostrich!!!!, play on different obstacle course sets, and enjoy a day off among all the dance rehearsals. It was fun to celebrate her life and to be able to bless her!
Some of the friends that went with us!
  Part of the park had a trail where you could see different life size dinosaurs
 The ostrich farm and a beautiful path way 
 You could ride down the hill in the blow up ball and a beautiful flower
Some of the fun obstacle course things to do!
 Me and Karissa crossing one of the courses (on the right) 
 Fun swings and new fun things to try!
 There were a bunch of tadpoles and frogs in the water
 A cool go-kart type vehicle you could drive 
 The China party bike!!!! Me and Kayla
 It was harder than it looks because the bikes were stuck on a really low gear, but it was lots of fun!!!

The next week was the show week! We ended up dancing more than 42 1/2 hours, and did the show at least 9 times that week. Not only did they have dancers from other Chinese Universities come dance, we also had some Belarusian friends come to be a part of the performance. When they first came in to one of our rehearsals, we gasped in surprise, leaned over to our Chinese friends, and whispered, “Wai guo ren!” which means “Foreigners!” They laughed at us because we forgot that we were also foreigners and not Chinese. With being able to converse with them in Chinese and having spent so much time with them in rehearsals, we forget that we are not also Chinese! It was also funny to see the Belarusians take pictures with the Chinese as some of the Belarusian boys were a good 2 feet taller than the Chinese girls and would stand with their feet far apart to get closer to the Chinese girls height. The Belarusian’s English was really good and we were able to meet and talk to Mary and Alicia a little bit. 
 The beginnings of seeing beautiful and interesting costumes!!! 
 The dragon dance also had puppy dogs that did incredible stunts on the tables! 
 On the way home one night we saw an outside performance going on and we also happened to run into our Chinese teacher (Liu Lao Shi) so Kirsti was able to say good-bye
Getting our costumes and trying on our Tibetan costumes!
 We actually looked more Chinese!
 Building the stage
 Waiting for instructions
Me trying on one of the really cool headpieces
There was a parade that week too for all the different degrees for the University

We got to perform twice on Saturday: once in the morning for the dignitaries and presidents from neighboring schools, and once in the evening for the students and teachers of our school. It was incredible to be a part of this performance and to be able to make friends with these precious people! I’m so proud of the hard work that all of our teachers and fellow students put in! During one of the times we performed the Tibetan piece, my heart was bursting with love for that people group; that they would know the power of His love and come to put their faith and trust in Him. As this particular people group has been on my heart since the last time I was in Ch-na, it was incredibly special for me to be able to represent them in a prophetic act of them w-rshiping and dancing for the one true King! My heart was overwhelmed while performing with how much He loves them and desires that they would know him!  
 Dress rehearsal waiting and practicing 
 The Mongolian dance and the Belarusian dance
 Other traditional dances...
 ....and Latin dancers!
 My favorite piece with the Chinese fans!!!
 Three different parts of the same dance....beautiful!
 The flower piece
 Getting ready to start the show!
Waiting, waiting, waiting...
  Pictures with friends!
 The back of the LED light boards... 
 Teachers! (Mrs Uen on the left and Mr Ma on the right) 
  We got the traditional Chinese glitter designs on our faces!
 One of the Mongolian dancers had 6 bowls on her head! 
 More pictures! And Mr Li (Latin teacher) 
 Sleepy little lions =)....the cake for the 15th anniversary
 Maria, Mary, Kirsti, and Mrs Ho
 Grace, Mr. Li, Karissa, and Kirsti.............Grace, Xin Yin, and Karissa
 These people are awesome!!!! I really enjoyed being able to get to know them!
 The Belarusians were so tall!
 Me and YaYa..........Xiao Yue fixing Mrs Uen's head piece
 My really good friend Xiao Wen! =)
The costumes were incredible!!!! 

The running opening piece we were in.....we got in good shape rehearsing this one!
 The Tibetan piece we were in...I'm the middle one kneeling to the left of the boy in the left picture and somewhere in the left clump of the right picture
 The Latin piece and a Miao people group piece
 The University piece and a Korean minority group in China piece
 The Belarusians' ballroom piece and the flower piece
 My favorite piece choreographed by Mr Ma (pictured on the left)
 The martial arts piece
 The Finale piece
 Backstage.....almost done!
Job well done!!!! Happy 15th Anniversary!!!
 Confetti and balloons!

 It was really fun!
 The group on the right are some of my closest friends at the University!
Me and Mrs Uen and a bunch of flower dresses
 Grace, Karissa, Mrs. Uen, Ashton, Mint, and Kirsti.......and the boys got to eat the cake!

The next day, which was technically June 1st =), we had a BBQ picnic with some of the teachers and dancers to celebrate all of our hard work! It strange to think that the performance is finished and over….I even have had a few dreams of needing to be at rehearsal and being late to perform. But I know that He is well pleased in us and in the job that we accomplished. This next month will consist of studying Chinese, getting to spend time with our Chinese friends, going to pr-yer meetings, and preparation for the month of July. School gets finished a week earlier than I expected and I’m still trying to secure plans for the month following school. Please be pr-ying with me that He will make His will for me clear for what I’m supposed to do.
 Chinese BBQ has some.....unrecognizable items! =) 
 Creating our skewers!
 Good group of friends!!! 
Beautiful view of the river
 Kirsti saying goodbye to our International dorm friends and our new Belarusian friends!

I’m so blessed to be able to live in China. I love this country so much!!!!! I love the food, the culture, the land, the language, but most of all, I love the people. His love for them is what captures my heart and causes me to want to serve them for my whole life. 
I love China!

Random pictures:

Campus waterfalls and Grace & Isaac being crazy
I had to get a new tire in my bike...and the sunrise over the soccer field

Kirsti's Chinese sleeve got stuck during class....and a cute little kid

More views around campus and me! I'm doing great!
 Clouds, clouds, and more clouds!!!
 This guy was balancing on a board wedged in the corner of the measures??? 
 That picture of 'striding' completely clears up my definition of striding! =) And no spitting....not a sign you generally see 
 Clear coke cans!!!!
 Pretty lights they put up on campus for the anniversary 
 My mom brought these for me for Easter! Yummy snacks!
 These were the cups that we had to hold while dancing for the Mongolian piece

Foods I've eaten:

Grace and I were given free coffee by our friend at the Bridge Cafe! It pays off to be nice to people! 
Garlic leeks, cumin mutton, and hot & sour potatoes.....and fried wontons!
5 spice mutton and a bacon wrap!

 Cherries and homemade pizza!!!!

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