Tuesday, December 29

36

Topher. Chris. Topherious. Mr. Right. You may know him by many names. You may know him as "that guy who made a perfect score on the ACT and gets ragged for it daily." However you know him, you are bound to love him. He is...


...Christopher Jennings Wright.

Chris was a prime member of the youth group when I worked in Nashville at Crieve Hall. Still up to great things, he's at Freed now, majoring in Biochem, et cetera and generally living the dream. One of the things you need to know about Chris is that he can lead all eight verses of Just As I Am blindfolded in a hurricane and never lose the beat. No, that's not it. You need to know that he's going to Costa Rica to do Work for the Big Man. If you have a minute, send one up for Chris and his friends who are spending a week or so of their winter break serving in a foreign land.

Great talking to you, Jennings.

Tuesday, December 22

THE Power Couple



The image you see above is of the one and only Frizzell Family Power Couple. I am honored to have them pictured here in my blog. If this Power Couple's contributions to the universe could be written in books, the whole world could not contain them. Yes, they are a lot like Jesus.

Thanks for the Skype chat, Tim and Janie. Love to you.

Wednesday, December 9

Seat's Taken



Something about the yellow Thai curry tonight made me open up. Six of us were sitting around empty plates and talking about what it would look like to be obedient to the following charge:

Pray without ceasing.

The volume of insight that poured out of three words was impressive. It got me thinking. Then it got me talking of a time in my life not so long ago, when my relationship with the Big Man had a unique, personal aspect.

I think the idea came to me when I heard about all those people who close themselves in their offices every morning with two chairs facing one another, so that they can sit in one and chat with the Big Man, sitting a few feet away in the other seat. I think reading The Shack might've also had something to do with it.

Not long before we came to China, I started the habit of clearing out the passenger seat when I was alone in the car so that there was a clutter-free spot for the Big Man to relax. Other times, I'd walk on the left side of the sidewalk so he wouldn't feel too crowded walking beside me on the right. I think both parties were content with the arrangement. But sometimes I would forget, and throw my McDonald's trash in the passenger seat and feel like a chump for getting ketchup on the Creator of the universe.

Sometimes we would talk, you know. Just about whatever. But most of the time, we just chilled. Kinda sat there, you know, or walked or whatever. I don't know how it worked, but I think we got pretty close. Please don't think I'm weird or inappropriately cloven to Deity, but sometimes we held hands. In my manliest tone, I want to tell you that it was very cool.

Anyway, that's the best way I know to obey the above three words. So will I resume this old habit of hanging out with the Big Man all day? Let's just say that when I finish this blog entry, I'm going to turn to my left and fist-bump the Great I AM.

Sunday, November 29

We Remember



Today I took part in the most unique family meeting of my life. We broke bread on the second floor of a crowded McDonald’s in the middle of lunch hour, less than 100 yards away from a major intersection in a city of 6 million.

Long ago, a Great Man taught his followers to break bread and drink wine every week, the better to remember him. Two thousand years later, we still honor this tradition on the first day of every week. All around the world, people are doing the same thing, remembering the same person. Some are drinking wine, others grape juice. Some are eating wafers, others a modified saltine. Some have the meal in silence, others while singing a song. Sometimes people approach a table to eat and drink. Other times, men will stand solemnly at the front of a room with hands folded and heads bowed.

But sometimes, on rare occasions, a group of followers will meet in a crowded fast-food restaurant. And there, in the eye of a storm of people, they'll pour some grape juice into a few emptied McDonald’s cups, and with eyes open, heads raised, and faces smiling, will give thanks to the Father for a Great Man with a back strong enough to bear the sins of the world.

Amen.

Sunday, November 22

Forever Friends Through Eternity



This is more than a shout out. This is a salute. To what? Friendship. Not just the friendship a boy has with his dog, or a girl with her dolls. Not even a friendship that endures hardship, pain and loss. This is a friendship that crosses oceans as vast as this planet has to offer. It is a friendship that rivals that of Milo and Otis, the Little Rascals and even, daresay, Bert and Ernie.

Forever

Friends

Through

Eternity

Thanks for the Skype session, guys. I now display our screen shot for the world to see. Behold, world.

Wednesday, November 11

Come Needy




It's been raining a lot lately in Hangzhou. So much that they postponed the highly-anticipated Sports Meeting at the last minute because of all the mud and general sogginess of our campus. Rain is inconvenient back home because you have to get wet on the way from your door to the car, and if you drop the keys or if your hand slips on the car door handle, you'll be in the rain an additional 8 to 10 seconds. Here in China, the rain is slightly more inconvenient because you have to get wet on your entire twenty minute walk to the market and another twenty minutes on the return trip.

And our umbrella is broken.

After the last couple days, however, I've decided I wouldn't get and umbrella if it rained every day I'm here from now to June. Why? Because when you come needy, the good people come to you.

Andy is one of my students. His English is very good, but he is relatively quiet in class, sitting in the back with some of his guy friends. He didn't really stand out as someone I should pursue while here in China. But two days ago when I was ready to step out into the rain after class and make the half-mile trek home, Andy popped out of nowhere and demanded that he escort me. So we walked and talked under his umbrella for the next fifteen minutes. Wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been needy.

Chen Shu is an art student at our university. She is studying vocal art, perfect mastery of the Chinese language so that she can be a newscaster or television spokesperson. She studies at my university, but not in my college. I would have never met this girl, except yesterday she noticed me walking behind her on the way back from the market.

She asked where I was going and pulled me under her umbrella. We introduced ourselves and talked for twenty minutes as she kept me dry all the way to my building on campus. Chen Shu said she was interested in coming to our English practice meetings, where we use a good book to learn English. I never would have met her if I owned an umbrella. If I hadn't been needy.

A great man once sent out his followers saying, "Don't take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; no bag for the journey or extra tunic or sandals or staff."

Come needy.

Wednesday, November 4

I just ruined these pants

Chinese kids would not sing and hold hands with Barney the purple dinosaur. They would flee from his presence in horror.

We just celebrated Halloween here in China by devoting a portion of our classes to the famous Western holiday. All of our students thought Halloween was about Satan worship and animal sacrifices. We explained that it is simply a night for goofing around, getting free candy, and trying to scare each other with ghost stories. The only things sacrificed are pumpkins. Even God-fearing Christians approve of Halloween, especially God-fearing Christian dentists.

After explaining the holiday, I took some time to go over the generic Halloween monsters- the witch, vampire, werewolf and the zombie... How to escape from them, how to kill them, how to avoid becoming one of them. The students were surprisingly ignorant about these things. When I asked, "What do zombies eat?" They suggested "Rats?" No, no. They eat your brain.

At this point, even though it was 10:30 on a Thursday morning in a full classroom with sunlight streaming in through the windows, my students were starting to get visibly scared. Girls were holding hands. Guys were too proud to show it, but their darting eyes gave away their discomfort. So naturally, I played n their fears and told a story suggested by my brother, Kyle. You know, the one about the girl and her dog and the bloody writing on the bathroom mirror.

As the story progressed, a look of dread filled all the faces in the room. Except for one girl, who had enough and put her earbuds in. I took my time with the story, adding details and laying it on thick, talking just loud enough that they would have to really listen if they wanted to hear. I reached the end of the story and wrote "HUMANS CAN LICK HANDS, TOO!" on the board in my bloody red chalk. Their eyes grew wide as the implications of the statement sank in. Then the story continued, "So she went back to her room. And she looked under the bed..." Now, I'm ducking behind the podium. I wait for one or two seconds of complete silence, then jump up and scream, slamming my hands on the desks.

One guy jerks back so fast he elbows his friend in the head. Girls scream, then inhale, then scream again. The majority of the class is rapidly patting their heart like a really enthusiastic pledge of allegiance, Chinese sign language for, "I just ruined these pants."

Enjoy this video featuring Kris' storytelling and my screaming ability. Note the guy in the back who immediately stands up and the girl in the last frame who uses Chinese sign language.

video

Wednesday, October 28

New Name, New Home

Ok, so this is officially the new place to catch updates on life in China.  I sure would feel special if you'd keep up with me.  And keep our Work in your Thoughts.  So thanks.

Thursday, August 20

At Dawn, Look to the East

We are moving to China. You will hopefully be able to read about it at 7chinafriends.com. Love.

Monday, February 16

More Like Boo Lights


A couple of weeks ago, Kris and I went to Zoo Lights at the Memphis Zoo. Kris had been dying to visit the zoo for a long time (she loves pandas) and I was also looking forward to seeing some caged beasts. Unfortunately, the only animals we saw were some lame goats and ducks with no shame (pictured below).

The trip was not a waste- Kris and I had a great time. We took lots of pictures and I got to wear my new, very stylish winter hat (thanks, Kyle and Becca). We also decorated "free with the price of admission" sugar cookies and ate fake snow that turned out to be soap.

When we arrived at the Zoo, everything more than met our expectations. The lights outside were just like the picture on the website. When we got up to the line, a little man let us in the side door because we had already purchased an e-ticket. What a blessing! The inside track! Before we could fully take in the joy of passing all of those losers in the line, we noticed that it was snowing in the zoo!

Yes, snow was falling on our heads. It was sticking to my coat and Kris' hair. Joy! From where we stood, we looked into the zoo. We saw lion cages up ahead! And a horse and carriage ride!? Merry Christmas to us! But as we skipped happily along, we realized why Zoo Lights admission is half the price of regular Zoo admission- they hide the animals during Zoo Lights so all you get is the smell of animals and Christmas lights in the shape of the Eiffel Tower and the White House. Plus the carriage rides were not "free" like the sugar cookies and the snow was mysteriously limited to the area immediately in front of the entrance.

Still, we held out hope that there were animals somewhere. Kris was cut deep when we discovered the door to Panda World was locked. It sounded like there was something going on within the Panda World Fence, but we couldn't see any Panda World Action. It was probably a Panda Party. We were not invited- salt in the wound. However, there was a ruckus over in the farm area, so we went to investigate. Maybe there was an animal? It turns out the ruckus was a group of elderly folk fighting for a good vantage point of a dozen or so ducks "wrestling" on an island in the middle of a pond. I was, of course, offended by their immaturity. Clearly, the ducks were trying to make scene. There were plenty of private areas to procreate, but they chose to do the business on Duck Island for all to see. I can't say I blame them- this is probably the only night of the year that they are the main attraction. They would normally be overshadowed by more exciting animals like chickens.

Since we were already in the Farm Zone, we decided to take a look around. We were pleased to see there were goats and sheep and even some reindeer. The goats looked very scared. The sheep were very busy pooping, which really freaked out a funny black lady who, evidently, never expected to see animal poop at the zoo. The reindeer looked tired, probably because it was only a few days after Christmas and they hadn't fully recuperated from their lap around the world. We couldn't fully enjoy these animals, however, because it was at this time that we noticed a man who seemed to be on safari. He had one of those safari-man mustaches and he was dressed in all khaki. He had the hat and everything. If he would have been wearing a monocle instead of glasses, I would have pinned him as Panama Jack. And I think he was following us. Actually, I'm sure of it. However, I'm not sure he fell for our "go over there and I'll pretend I'm taking your picture" gag.

Before visiting the gift shop on the way out, we followed the sound of Christmas carols not to real carolers, but mannequins and a speaker. The carols sounded good enough, but the faux carolers were a might bit scary. Kris discovered she makes the same face when she sings "Felis Navidad." It's not so scary when Kris makes this face, as you can see. I wanted to take a picture with the scary caroling mannequins, too, but a gang of hispanics walked by and I didn't want to look foolish in front of them because they looked pretty cool. Not pictured here was the tenor-singing-scary-mannequin, whose sideburns grew into a fine mustache.

I hope I haven't given the impression that Zoo Lights was a drag. Yes, we were upset that there were no animals, but we didn't really come to see animals, but to have a good time together. All in all, that's exactly what we did. In fact, I think this will go down in the books as one of the best times I've ever had with my wife. And I am not going to hold this against the Memphis Zoo at all. I mean, where else can you be hunted by Panama Jack, be hatched out of an egg, impersonate plastic carolers, scare little children, visit the White House, and learn the birds and the bees from a dozen ducks? Only at Zoo Lights.

There were many more exciting Zoo Light moments that I simply couldn't put into words. A few of these moments were captured in stills. I have included these stills below. Thank you.