Tuesday, March 15, 2011
First of all, we’re safe. Qingdao has remained untouched by the earthquakes that caused so much damage in Japan and southwest China. Please be praying for the ministries and humanitarians who are already taking action to help the people who live in these places. Tragedy seems more realistic when you’re living close to it.
I honestly didn’t know much about the earthquakes until I talked to some of the people at church this last Sunday. What little news we receive is all in Chinese. So church was the first time I heard anything. I am attending the international Christian church in Qingdao. It’s a legal church for foreigners. Only foreigners. Chinese people are not allowed entrance due to laws by the incredibly “tolerant” government. However, we’ve heard through the grapevine that churches with eight or less people are only considered in-home meetings. I’ve met several people who have offered to take us to these meetings and show us around. Eight Christians may not seem like much but neither did Twelve.
Until then though, I will continue going to the international church. It’s amazing to see so many people from different nationalities worshiping together. And I’m going bowling with the singles group next weekend. Also, they’ve introduced us to the ExPats that live in town. ExPat, or Ex-Patriots, are foreigners from all over the world who have banded together in China. They have their own magazine, events, and helpful tips that can save a foreigner like me so much time.
Classes are still going well. We had our first test. It was all based on tones and pronunciations. There are four main tones in the Chinese language. One that is said at a high pitch, one that is ascending (like a question in English), one that goes down and then back up, and one that is descending (like a sentence that ends with an exclamation point). The trouble with these tones is that the same word can have several different meanings. The word “Ma” in the first tone means mother. The word “Ma” said with the third tone means horse. Not a good word to be confused about. I could say all the words correctly in a sentence and mean something entirely different than what I intended. This is a great country.
Oh and I received my Chinese name. It’s Lǜ dēnglóng. In an exact translation it means Green Lantern. I almost fell out of my chair when I got it.
Also this week I climbed the Lao Shang mountains. They were large but not very steep. It took us about four hours. We found a cave and we’re going to explore it on Wednesday. Luckily, I brought my headlamp and rope. Never leave home without your headlamp and rope.
I'll be sure to tell you how it goes.
Today I went to Kungfu class. The dorm offers lessons for all of the exchange students. Right now we are just punching the air and working on our form. It’s a great workout and everyone’s improving quickly. My French roommate, some of my German friends, and the American girls are all doing it with me. The teachers for the group are two short Chinese men. They look like they're pushing seventy and they can’t speak a word of English. So instead, the two of them just walk around kicking us until we get our form and position correct. For men so old, they still can pack a punch. One that was half my size knocked me backwards with a flick of his thumb. The more they punch the faster I learn.
Some of the students who attend the class are amazing. They have been at the university for several semesters. There are these two Italian girls who know how to fight with bow staffs and swords. If we continue training we might be able to get to this point too. I’m really enjoying everything and I will keep training until our Kungfu show in May. I’ll keep you posted on how things are going. Once I'm not getting punched as much I'll try uploading a video of one of our lessons.
My half Birthday
The American girls thought it would be nice to celebrate my half birthday. I didn’t know there was such a thing. But they insisted. So on March 10, Amy, Kim, Daniela, and Judith, went above and beyond on a holiday that didn't exist. And I am incredibly grateful.
I woke up to my room plastered with posters and streamers. They made me breakfast in bed and took me out to Pizza Hut in the evening. Now Pizza Hut is always a big deal but in China it’s a fancy restaurant. There are appetizers, fancy desserts, and classical music. And we’ve been living off Chinese food for the last three weeks so this felt like a real luxury. What’s more, the girls brought gifts and even a cake. Among the gifts was a bottle of Welch’s Grape Juice. I practically lived off the stuff in the states and it’s rare in China. It really meant a lot. There’s nothing better than pizza and grape juice.
The entire day they did things to celebrate. It was the best half birthday I’ve ever had.
Okay, this is less of a post a more of an observance. I'm not usually one for stereotypes but this keeps happening again and again. There are few people in this world that laugh more than the Koreans. They are the most giggly people I have ever seen. If I hear a high-pitched squeal from somewhere across campus I can be sure it's a group of Koreans. And it's not just when things are funny. They laugh when they're nervous and they laugh when they're confused. So in a place where their language isn't spoken they spend a large part of their days giggling. One of my friends has a Korean roommate. She practically communicates through giggles. There are few recognizable words. Just giggles. The French have their cheese, the Russians their alcohol, and the Koreans their giggles.