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.


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.





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.