Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tower of Refuge and Strength

Today we went to church in Hong Kong. It was the first time I'd been inside a real church - a sanctuary - since before we moved to China. It was as though I'd come home, and I spent much of the service peeking through tears of joy. I feel truly happy, in a way I haven't felt in a long time. The building, the service order, the songs - everything was so familiar. The church we went to has a summer-long vacation bible school on Sundays, and the boys had a great time. Alex asked if we could come back every Sunday from now on. The message wasn't too long (they usually last - I'm not kidding - about 45 mins here in the China church) but was challenging and powerful and funny. Ella behaved, and we sang one of my favorite songs at the end. We were well-received by some very friendly people, and I was yet again struck by the diversity of the faces in the congregation. It was lovely.

Then we went to Disneyland and had a nice lunch, went on a few rides, and got ice cream.

Took the train home, and had a quiet evening at home together before we start the week again.

I feel as though a something inside me has changed, been filled up with goodness and energy and love. Just the physical presence of being in a sanctuary and feeling the freedom to worship was truly missed the last six months.

It was a beautiful day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Here's the whole gang at Disneyland Tokyo...Ella is sleeping and I'm not sure why the sky was so important for the picture-taker to get that in rather than the baby...

Well, what would YOU name this blog?

Well, I've honestly been intending to blog lately...

We went to Japan and I didn't have time to blog. Japan is really wonderful - very clean and modern and high-tech and very, very non-English-speaking! We had a great time and were kept very, very busy by our tour least we think so...everything was in Cantonese! Cantonese is even more difficult to learn than Mandarin. Yikes.

Then when we got back Ella had caught a croupe-y icky illness from another little girl on our trip and was up all night for almost a week.

Then this week I got the croupe-y icky illness and I've been exhausted all week.

Alex as of this week is enrolled in an intensive Mandrarin class and is loving it. Andrew started a Chinese preschool summer program this week and is hating it. Ella tried it for one day and hated it so much she didn't eat or anything all day, just cried, and nobody called me. I was really upset about that!!! So, she didn't go back. Andrew likes it, really, he has fun as long as we're not looking. I know, I have spies who have checked it out and said yes, he's definetly having fun.

I'm still slogging along in my Mandarin class but it's really difficult and I'm kinda lazy. As of this week, I'm also taking yoga and pilates. Never taken either of them, but I decided to try them both here in China. Love them, but boy are they hard!!! I had no idea the strength and flexibility it all took! I always thought yoga was a bit wimpy but I now officially apologize to all yogis everywhere. It totally rocks, and it's much easier on me than being taught tae kwon do by a 20-something-year-old who has no idea what it's like to be closer to an almost 40-something! I have a long way to go before pilates gets easier but I plan to work hard on it and get physical, physical, I wanna get physical... (does everybody have Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" in their head right now???? I do...)

The best thing is, after my yoga class yesterday I felt really really good and barely sick at all. Of course, by dinner time I felt rotten, but it really perked me up for a few hours. Today my perk-o-lator was a foot massage. I'm sure you remember my previous description of "foot" massages here in China. Whole-body-completely-pummel-you-till-you're-pudding-like massage is more like it! Yeah, baby. I felt pretty darn good for a few hours after that one, too. Tomorrow I think I'll just feel rotten all day and hopefully I'll start to actually get better by tomorrow night. That's tomorrow morning for all you Westerners (are you a Westerner now, Beth??).

I simply must touch on a subject that many might prefer not to. Yes, I'm talking about Japanese toilets. They are a modern marvel. Not only are there heated seats (to relax you, man!) and the built-in bidet/sprayer thing. No, no, they are so much more than that. They also have a little button if you want to release a pleasant-smelling scent to cover up any not-so-pleasant ones. And a little button if you want to make a "flushing sound" to cover up any not-so-pleasant sounds. They're clean. They're simply lovely, really. And the Japanese use charcoal filters in their walls all over the place that absorb bad smells. We stayed in "smoking" hotel rooms the whole time, and I swear they didn't smell at all like smoke. I have a very sensitive sniffer (some might even say over-sensitive to which I say pooh-pooh, I can't help it) and didn't smell anything remotely smoky or even musty in the hotels. Those Japanese have got it going ON. Good times. I had a great time in Japan just using the potty. Too bad nobody spoke English, or maybe it's a good thing, because I would have been praising everybody I met for their toilet wonders.

You know the best part about our trip? It was really nice to get back home, to China. Our home felt like home, warm and inviting and comfy. Yippee!