Saturday, August 9, 2014

July-Life in remote Chinese Villages

July was an incredible month as the m-racles continued and G-d's provision over my life continued to be evident. For the first week of July I was still in Kunming, with my Chinese friend Joyce, at her apartment. I was able to take her to a dance show called the Dynamic Yunnan performance that displayed a lot of the ethnic minority groups and their dances from across the Yunnan province. It was absolutely incredible to see! They would use the drums and voices to create their own music. Two of my favorite dances were the Tibetan dance and the Peacock dance. 



Going to see the Dynamic Yunnan performance


The drum dance
More minority dances

The moon dance
The Tibetan dance
I love the Tibetan people!!!

The famous Peacock dance

It was beautiful!

Being in Kunming was really a good experience for me as I was able to meet other mixxionaries who live there and see what they are involved in. I got to attend the International Ch-rch on Sunday, see my friends who I met last time I was in China, go with Laura to see the bird and flower market, hang out with my Chinese friend Sally (who got s-ved last time I was in China), and much more. 
  The International Church
A Dai minority group restaurant! So yummy!!!!
Pineapple rice.....a special Dai food! 
 Cooking with Anna and Joyce!
 Learning to cook Chinese food
 Can you carry a sink, an old tv, and an old computer on a bicycle? =)
  Street markets and an underground mall
 Mopeds everywhere! 
 A Thai themed shopping area
 Lights at a Vietnamese hotpot place
My friends at the Vietnamese restaurant....the friend in the middle is a Buddhist, pr-y for her!
 Most amazing coffee in the Vietnamese restaurant 
 Interesting decorations in the local shopping district
 One of my favorite gates in China!
 Blind masseuses you can purchase
 One of the many mosques in the city and a bus during a 'normal' time
 One of my favorite restaurants was closed so I ate this yummy Muslim dish instead
 Me and my friend Sally and a cool design on the pavement
 Pigs, squirrels, chinchillas, and chipmunks for pets!


 Chinese food made by me! =)
 Some dear friends of mine
  A 'clean' looking restaurant in China =)
More Chinese food made by me
Food made by Joyce's mom and my last picture with my dear friend this time 

I took a train for about 8 hours to a northwest city called Dali. It was fun to get to meet local people on the train and get to talk to them. One of the things I've realized is that when you are traveling alone in a country where you don't speak the language, you have a lot of time to think and to pr-y. I really treasured this time I got to spend with my Father!
 There were so many people!!!
 Locals on the train with me
  I love taking the train!
 Arrived in Dali!
Mountains! 

I arrived in Dali on a Sunday evening and spent Monday as my shopping day around the old city. It is beautiful with the old city buildings! I also did a little bit of pr-yer walking around the city. That night also happened to be the monthly pr-yer meeting with all the mixxionaries who live in Dali, so I got to attend that as well. Tuesday morning I got to meet the team at SleepyFish. There are 4 women who work together as a team to bring light to this area of the world through running a business. They own and run SleepyFish, a hostel in downtown Old Dali (they also own Sozo, a cafe in Vietnam geared to helping street kids and which employs the deaf and disabled). Tuesday evening is the team pr-yer meeting out in their village house in their pr-yer room. After w-rship and pr-yer we started a project of writing pr-yer requests on sticky notes on the wall. It was really cool to be able to put many of my Chinese friends from school on the wall and know that they will be pr-yed for by anyone visiting the pr-yer room.
 Yummy rice noodles and downtown in the Old City
 Sweet Milo!
 The air is cleaner here so you get beautiful sunsets!
 Exploring Old Town
 Many minority shops line the streets

 The sweet lady I bought Bai minority handmade pants from
 A Bai headdress and an old arch in the city
 Fabric earrings!

 Grass on a really short roof and the streams flowing through the city
Old gates and shopping!

 The Bai version of a fried cheese dessert with chocolate sprinkled on it...so yummy!
 The old city is beautiful!
 Dali is famous for these walnut cakes!
 Milk tea!
 The mountains are incredible!
Grandma's parakeets had a visitor parrot for two weeks!           Beautiful native flowers
 Villages nearby and rice paddies!
 It is really beautiful here!
 Pr-yer notes on the pr-yer room wall

Wednesday I got to go visit a village to the north of the Old Dali with one of the team members. Both of the elderly people we visited are beli-vers and we go to encourage them, pr-y for them, bring them a little food, and just check up on them so they know they are loved and valued. Yang Ge Bo, the grandfather, has a horrible boil on his leg that is taking a very long time to heal, so please pr-y for his leg! It's very difficult for him to walk and to get around on his crutches. I believe he is also in a lot of pain. He held my hand the whole time we were there and just kept smiling at me. We were able to   pr-y for him and he teared up a little by the end. Then we went to go visit Grandma. She takes care of her two granddaughters whose parents died. The dad got kicked in the chest by a horse on accident and the grief was so horrible for the mom that she killed herself. The granddaughters are not beli-vers and so a lot of clashes arise in the household. We got to give Grandma a massage (she works so hard all day long!) and got to pr-y for them as well. One of the limitations in doing village ministry is that the inhabitants of the villages are the minority ethnic group called the Bai people. Their first language is Bai, so even for them Mandarin Chinese is a second language. Though communication is limited, it is still a blessing to be able to visit them.
 The Bai village
 They are famous for harvesting marble from the mountains
 Grandma getting a massage
 Yang Ge Bo and his boil on his leg
 A cute tea pot at the spot where I ate lunch.
Got to do a bit more exploring this day!
 Overlooking the ancient city from the city wall
 I got to pr-y for the city from up here!
 An adorable Bai grandmother and blue skies!
This part of China is beautiful! 

On Thursdays we would go visit a village called PanXi where the team has invested a lot of time and effort into creating relationship with the people who live there. A few friends from Hong Kong were also in town and went with us to go visit people. We went to visit Selena's mom (a little girl who comes to the kids outreach on Saturdays) as well as the poorest family in the village. They invited us to eat with them so we went to buy a few dishes from the local restaurant as well as the mom made a few dishes herself. She made two dried fish dishes....complete with heads, tails, fins, scales, eyes, bones, and insides! Part of Chinese culture is to serve your guests so they kept putting piles of food in my rice bowl faster than I could eat! It was yummy, including the fish, and we had a great time of fellowshipping with them. While we were eating, a rat ran under my feet across the room. Thankfully I didn't realize what had happened until a few seconds after, so I didn't even flinch or act like anything was out of the ordinary. Life in the village is always interesting!

 One of my favorite fried bread things and tea soaked hard boiled eggs for breakfast!
 Going out into the village!
 The yard of one of our friends...they have lots of harvesting tools, fishing equipment, and farming tools!
 The yummy fish she prepared for us.....heads, tails, scales, fins, bones, eyes, and all!

 My village friends and their home
 This is their kitchen.....it's pretty incredible!
 Their stable out back
 This village is really special to me!
 The beautiful ErHai lake!

 G-d is an amazing creator!


 Dali is the center for Zen Buddhism and is famous for its Temple of the Three Pagodas
 The Phoenix is a symbol in Zen Buddhism, and the Three Pagodas
 Sweet Ashima!!!! It was fun to have pets for a few weeks!
 Yummy food and another gorgeous sunset!

 Helping around SleepyFish weeding the sidewalk
ErHai Lake

Saturday the team goes out to PanXi and hosts a kids outreach each week. In the morning they have a class designed to teach them a character trait each week (like teachability, honesty, kindness, thankfulness, etc) and also to teach them a little English. We do crafts with them, play with them, and  love on them to show that they are valuable and cared for. A lot of their dads are not present and not a good influence, so we like to show them that they matter to us and are special. A team from YW-M happened to be there while I was there and they helped lead some games for the kids that afternoon.
 The river drive to the village is incredible!
 The Saturday outreach to the kids
 Making crafts and playing games!

A farmer walking his cows along the road.....like the food here, the animals are huge! 

Sunday I got to go to the local market with one of the team members. We were getting groceries to make a birthday dinner for another team member. I got to go pick out a live chicken. We paid the girl $0.75 to go kill it, take the feathers off, and clean it. When we got home it was my job to wash it, cut off the head and feet, stuffed it with onions, and put it in the fridge for dinner. I cooked the heart and liver for the dogs, and saved the head and feet to cook later. I haven't eaten chicken head, but chicken feet are delicious!
 The local market has meat, dairy, vegetables, fruit, and more!
 We got a chicken!
 Went shopping for some fresh vegetables
 Lots of potatoes!
 Thankfully having a dad who worked for a chicken company, I knew how to clean and prepare a chicken!
 Chopped off the heads and feet to save for later.....
 ......and voila! Dinner!         Starfruit! One of my favorite fruits!
Muslim noodles and a Dali donut! 

Monday is the team's day off so I went with one of the team members to see Dali University where she has studied Chinese for the past 4 years. It was cool to see a different Chinese university and look into possibilities for me to return there for language study in the future. We also got to go see the local Bai dance performance. They perform every night no matter the weather in an open air theater. Though our seats were covered seats, it was pouring rain throughout the entire performance. I was really impressed with them for performing in the rain! Tuesday is the team's fasting day and at the end of the day we got to have a pr-yer meeting for the village of PanXi. It was a really powerful time for me! Throughout my time at Dali I gained a heart for the Bai people and the village of PanXi. I hope that I'll be back sometime for at least a season! One of the things that struck me is that the Bai language doesn't have a written script, it is only an auditory language. They speak Bai in everyday life but use Mandarin for written things and school. This means they don't have the B-ble in their own language! Pr-y for translators to translate the B-ble into Bai and then for readers to read the B-ble out loud to them. 
 Birthday dinner for a team member!
 Dali University
 Mala hotpot...really yummy!
  The incredible outdoor theatre....It was huge!
It was cool to see the traditional Bai dance and see a story from their culture! 

Wednesday I got to help clean a house, scrub walls to prepare them for fresh paint, and hand scrub ceilings for 3 hours. That evening I went with one of the team members to an English class where she has given them all B-bles. Part of their class time is going through the g-spel of Mark verse by verse to learn English. I was so blessed to be able to witness this class time and get to meet these students! Thursday we spent time in the PanXi village walking around and talking to the locals. We got to visit Selena's grandma who has a bad infection in her lower legs and they are hardening and not getting better. We taught her to sing Peace Like a River in Chinese and got to pr-y for her legs. She was really blessed that we spent time with her. Later we went to Selena's house and sat with her and her mom in their kitchen. The first stage of their house has been completed so they were preparing food for 160 people on Saturday. Selena even told us she had been reading the B-ble that one of the team members had given her and asked me many questions including if I was a Chr-stian. We got to sing songs and just love on their family. It was a lot of fun. 
 Perks of staying near foreigners.....granola for breakfast! A shipping company downtown
 Running errands for the hostel at Walmart downtown
  Two adorable Bai grandmothers
 English class downtown
 Back in the PanXi village
 Going to visit Selena's grandmother in the fish wharf and her swollen, infected leg
 Me and Selena's grandmother
 The fishermen hard at work
Selena and her mom
 Their makeshift kitchen while their house/hostel is being built
 The rundown buildings on the right were right next to an immaculate and expensive appliance store!
 Stuff street! It's basically like outdoor Walmart =)
 Muslim food is the best!!!!
 A funny name for a shopping center and some team members with the dogs (Milo and Ashima)
 Painting the cafe!
Dinner with Malaysian friends! 

That Saturday was the god of the PanXi village's festival day, a baby dedication naming day, Selena's family's house party, as well as our normal outreach with the kids. It was a big day in the PanXi village! As we were walking around the village, we came across some guys who were preparing a pig for the baby dedication party. In the Bai culture they love to eat raw pork and pork fat (something I was served and ate last time I was in China). It was fascinating to watch them burn the hair off of the skin and then the process of cleaning out the inside of the pig. They knew exactly what they were doing and did it with precision. It was amazing! I quickly left once the process was complete because I didn't want to be invited to eat raw pork and pork fat! 

Much of my time was also spent helping around SleepyFish. I got to help post new signs in the rooms, hang up pictures, move furniture, help make beds, take out trash cans, fill up the fire wood pile, fill holes in walls, cook food, re-paint the cafe, go run errands in the local town and in the bigger nearby small city, wash walls, weed in the garden, clean, and much more. I also got to visit one of the worker's mom who came from Britain to live in China with her daughter. Grandma is 86 and a really good story teller! It was fun to be able to have tea with her and hear about her life in Britain. 
 Roasting the pig
 I left to go walk around the village, was given baozi (the yummy breakfast bread), and then came back
 Cleaning and preparing the pig....they even cleaned its nose and teeth!
 Cutting off the head

 Pulling out the heart....even the puppy got some
 He pulled all the intestines out in one pull!
 Splitting it down the middle
 The intestines were huge!
 Putting it on the cart
Some guys cleaning fish nearby
 Canoes for the lake
 Mexican food! 
 Playing games and making bracelets with the kids!

 Selena's family were making food for 160 people!
 Chicken feet were a main dish!
  The first phase of the house was complete so they were celebrating!

 Rice fields are so beautiful!
   An old Bai grandmother

 Mountains, sunshine, clean air, and rice paddies....It's beautiful!
 The courtyard of the SleepyFish lodge
A Bai woman on the side of the road
 Grandma and our newly painted cafe!
 The parrot loved to be scratched on the back of the head
 A beautiful walk where we would take the dogs for some exercise
 I love mountians!

 Last dinner in Dali....Hotpot!
 Many spices to choose from for dipping.......In China, everything travels by motorbike...including luggage! (I got on the back with 3 backpacks and two other bags!)
 The train station in Dali
 A group of Bai ladies and a squatty potty

 The passing scenery was perfect for my lunch
 The local ladies carry so much on their backs!
 Downtown Kunming on the way to the airport

 There are nice parts of town, and rough parts of town

 The new airport is incredible!!!!

 It's very beautiful and feels a lot like Thailand!


Sunday I started my travel back to the USA with a brief stop at my university for 2 days. It took about 20 hours to get back....I traveled by motorbike, to small car, to train, to bus, to airplane, to taxi, to personal car, to my school. It was crazy! I got to go swimming at the school pool with Grace, see my friend Chunyi (Carrie-who also is a beli-ver), see my friend PingPong, and gather my suitcases together. I began the long trip back to Kansas City early Wednesday morning. After having luggage problems in China, many delays in San Francisco, and more luggage hassle, I finally arrived home 34 hours later. I was even able to find American Chinese food in the San Francisco airport for lunch. =) While in the airport I just kinda sat staring at everything and saying, "Wow, people are so tall here...They have blonde hair, the bathrooms have toilet paper and soap!, the sky is so blue, they speak Spanish!...." And being able to understand passing by conversations was a new experience! I bet onlookers thought I was crazy! =)
 Back at school.....I was able to give all of this stuff (dorm room necessities: rice cooker, broom, plates, cleaning supplies, dishes, etc.) to my friend PingPong to give to Chinese beli-ving friends as they have need.
 Grace and I exploring the city on a motorbike
 The air quality was actually better the two days I was there

 Getting to see PingPong and Carrie again
Our dorm floor still looks kinda scary...Haha.....and then nasty weather again
 We went swimming at our school's pool!

 Last meal in China with great friends
 Muslim noodles!!!!
 I love these two!
 Headed from school to Beijing

 The smog over Beijing was a thick yellow 'pollen'-looking cloud as you can see in the pictures.....it was gross!

Beijing airport is beautiful!

I got to sit at the end of the terminal and watch the planes take off

 Landed back in the USA....notice the difference in the sky!
Had Chinese food for lunch =) (it was still very Americanized!)

Beautiful sunset to welcome me home

I miss China so much and am re-adjusting to American culture. There are so many differences between Chinese culture and American culture that I forgot about. Eating habits are very different! In China you spit bones that you find in your food out on the table, you pull out stuff you don't want to eat and put it on the table, you slurp you noodles, you chew with your mouth open, you lay your arm on the table, you pick your bowl up to your face, and much more. But in America, all of those things are very rude! In China I never really heard myself slurping noodles, but in America it sounds so loud! Traffic driving rules are also different. In China there really are no rules for driving. You can turn left at any time, turn right at any time, drive on the wrong side of the road, go around cars even if there is no space for them, go through red lights, ignore signs, and much more. Spitting on the ground, little kids pooping on the sidewalk, honking horns, loud voices, noise everywhere, smog and pollution, rough roads with pot holes, uneven sidewalks, food stands and restaurants on the streets, drinks are always hot water or hot drinks (never ice or cold drinks), saving face honoring system, trains/buses/taxis everywhere, random high pitch Chinese singing, and much more is what I'm accustomed to and have learned to love. In America we have empty land with no buildings on it, quiet neighborhoods, tall people, clean air, stars in the sky, bathrooms with toilet paper, expensive food, big napkins, and a very different way of life. 
 Trying on my Bai headdress, my Naxi pants, and my traditional Qipao I got last time I was there (I can only wear it when I have my 'China body'. I loose weight in China because everything is fresh, healthy food and can fit in the dress. But when I eat in America, I can't fit in the dress!)
 Missed my kitties!!!!
 Got to visit our local international markets....I felt very at home!
 They even have a cafe in one market that serves real Chinese food! I am blessed!!!!!

Having your heart completely transformed and given over to a different people group is definitely a supernatural gift from G-d. Wanting to give up my comfortable American life, leave friends and family, learn multiple languages, live in a foreign culture, and encounter much hardship despite receiving blessings is not something I would voluntarily have chosen. It's definitely a gift I've learned to treasure and nourish, and now can't live without. I'm so grateful G-d has given me a heart for this part of the world and my pr-yer is to carefully guard and treasure the gift He has given me. I know I'll be back in Asia very soon and I'm looking forward to moving there full time not long after completing my senior year at IH-PU in 2015. I will be starting to put together my support team soon, so please be pr-ying about financially supporting me as I serve Him full time in Asia! Thank you so much for everything you have done to support my while I've been in China. I really appreciate it! I'd love to hear how any of this might have affected you, questions you might have, and stories of what's going on in your life so please feel free to contact me! Thank you again!

Until He Returns,
Ashton

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful photos! I particularly liked your comparison of Chinese vs. American traffic, eating manners, etc. And the last paragraph "looking to the future with anticipation" was heartfelt.
    Love,
    Papa

    ReplyDelete

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