Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Roller Coaster ride!

When I was a kid I would ride roller coasters with my mom. My brother was too scared and my dad didn’t like them.  To me the scariest part of the ride was that long slow climb to the top of the first hill. It almost always felt like it wouldn’t make it and the anticipation of the ride would build the closer you got to the top.  As the saying goes, it was all downhill from there, with a few twists and loops thrown in!

The other night I dreamed we were on a ride.  I think it was just a simple water ride, or flume.  One that was just a hill with water at the bottom that would splash all over you.  We were on the long climb to the top of the hill.  But as we would get closer, we would slip back and have to start the assent again.  We would get a little closer, and slip back some more….you get the picture.  I woke up before we ever made it to the top.

That is what this summer, or at least the last month, feels like.

We have had some trouble getting our visas figured out to go back to China.  There are two main reasons for this.  One is that Jon’s employer in China did not start the process on his end early enough.  We were supposed to have had all the paperwork on his end completed before we even left China.  That did not happen.  The other problem is that China changed some rules regarding visa regulations this summer. 

We knew there were some issues, but we thought that we could go enter China on a tourist visa and then take a short trip to Hong Kong (paid for by the company) and change the visa type to a working visa.  We were told that would work and we rushed and got our visas.  The day we received our visas we were then told that the regulations had been changed and now we (or at least Jon) would have to fly back to the USA in order to change his visa.  So we decided to change our tickets and wait for the correct visa to come. 

We were told that it would take 10 days for the paperwork to be done in China.  It took a week longer than that.  But that part is finished.  Now we are just waiting for the paperwork to arrive.  We hoped we would get it Friday, but we did not.  Since Monday is a holiday we should receive it Tuesday.  Then we will send off for Jon’s  “working” visa.  It should take about a week. 

We have a black and white copy of the paperwork and we noticed that the kids and Jenn are not listed on the paperwork.  We were told that it will be ok and we can change over when we get the residency permit, which we do once we are in China.  I really hope they are correct.  I think it will work.  This is what we did two years ago.

This is actually a blessing, because it means that we will not have to spend the money to pay for visas when we already have a visa (just the wrong type).  Jon will be the only one “wasting” a visa.

This is all very complicated but we are nearing the top of the hill.  Pray that we don’t slip back too much and that this ride will not have too many twists, and loops!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Our new apartment

I wanted to make another video of our apartment and I wanted the kids to help.  Hallie did not want to be on camera this time, so she offered to be the camera girl.  Eryn and Liam show you around.  We filmed some of this weeks ago. Hallie also did the editing.  When the video was finished it was 9 minutes long.  That is too big to be uploaded to the blog or to Facebook, but it is ok on Youtube.  So here is the link to the video of Youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtqR4KEwy4E

In the video, the shower doors look really dirty and there are still some boxes to unpack.  But if I waited until everything was perfect, I would never get anything finished.  I hope the video does not make you too motion sick--Hallie swings the camera around a little bit.  You could always come see us in person. We will see you all in a few weeks.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


One of the fun things about moving is getting to know a new area.  The other night we went to a new area that we heard was a good place to eat and shop.  We started to walk back to our apartment and we came upon a HUGE children's playground and a large square where people were dancing.

Every evening, in public squares or open areas people with gather together and dance.  Usually it is middle aged ladies that dance, but in this place there were men and younger folks too.  I will attach two different videos so you can enjoy this  Chinese phenomenon.

Girls' trip to Shanghai

I had been telling the girls that when it got warmer we would take a day trip to Shanghai.  We got up early and took the bus to the train station and took an 8:00 am train to Shanghai.

 This is a picture of us on the train.

We planned a day of shopping and eating some things we cannot get in Hangzhou.
We rode the subway several times.  Eryn liked to stand by the pole and hang around.

 She liked to spin around the pole.

 She caught me trying to take a picture!

One of our favorite treats in Shanghai is going to 7-11 and getting a Slurppee.  These slushy treats are only 5 or 6 yuan!

We spent the day shopping, eating, and just having fun together.  We went to a Western grocery store and bought some  DrPepper.  We enjoyed these drinks on our train ride back to Hangzhou.

We saw these pretty little flowers in a small garden.  I just thought they were pretty.  Hallie took this picture with my phone.

We are blessed  that we live close enough to take a quick trip to a cool place like Shanghai.


I posted here that we found a new apartment and we were moving to a new area in the city.  We actually moved April 29.  It was a holiday so many people including Jon and Frank had a few days off.  I thought it would be a good idea to move and have a couple of days to unpack before Jon had to go back to work.  

To prepare to move, we had to get lots of boxes.  We asked at a few small grocery stores and some would just give us boxes, but one charged us 1yuan a box.  We visited that store a couple of times a day for a week or so collecting boxes.  

We needed a lot of boxes.  We have been living in China now for about 5 years.  It is astonishing how much stuff we have accumulated over that period of time.  

 Eryn and Jon had fun playing with some of the boxes one evening.

 This is a little dark, but it is the living room ready for the movers to load up.
 This used to be Eryn's room.  Jon took apart the bunk beds to make moving them easier.

It took one more truck load than it pictured, but these two trucks carried our stuff to our new apartment about an hour away. We are thankful that it did not rain.

We were very blessed to have lots of help this day.  Our ayi came by and helped finish packing, as did Shelly (Shao Li) and Jane ( Gu Wen).  When we arrived in Binjiang with the trucks, Heather and 3 other American couples helped unload the truck and carry boxes to our new home.

We are nearly totally unpacked now.  I hope to have a video of the apartment to upload the the blog by next weekend.

Now Jon has to commute a lot further to his job at the University.  Please keep him in your prayers as he tries to finish the semester and commute about 11/2 - 2 hours (one way) 3 days a week.

We are excited about the possibilities for the Lord's work here in this area and we are very thankful to be a part of i

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Answered prayers and transitions

I have been thinking about this post and trying to compose it in my head for more than a month now.  It is complicated and may end up being a two-part post.  I can sum it up as: God will provide.

When we went to the U.S. this summer, our future in China was a little uncertain. We knew we were headed into the last year of our initial commitment with Clear Creek, and we were not sure what would happen after the 5 years were up.  We knew we were willing and wanted to continue in China for a while longer.  We are not finished here yet.  We were not sure what Clear Creek would want. 

We came back to China, knowing that we would stay in China at least another 2 years but not in the same place.  We had several options and all had good points.  We really were not sure where to go.  So we started praying. 

We have been praying that God will lead us where he wants us to be and where we can do work for Him.  Every time we took prayer requests, Liam would ask that we pray for guidance.

One of our options was to move to and work in Binjiang.  This is a district in Hangzhou.  It is still in Hangzhou, but it is about an hour (40 minutes on a good day) from where we live now.  We started spending more time with the group in Bj.  There is a need for some workers there and plenty of “work” that we can do.  We felt that maybe this was the place for us, but we wanted to make sure it was not just what we want, but what God wants.

Then Jon was reunited with Chuck.  He is a brother that Jon has worked with in the past, but he hasn’t seen him in quite a while.  It turns out that he moved to Binjiang!

There were a few simple coincidences like this that made us feel good about moving to Bj.  But Jon would have to find a job.  We started praying specifically for a job and still for guidance.

There are a few universities in Bj, but not that many.  We looked around some and even looked on-line at a few.  I think Jon may have even sent an e-mail or two out.  We even looked at a new elementary school in that area.  Then Heather (from the US) introduced us to Roger. 

Roger is Chinese, but he lived in the US for about 15-20 years.  He is starting an education company based here in HZ.  Actually it is a branch of an American company, and HZ will be the hub for all of Asia.  Roger said he needed someone to help with curriculum development.  That is perfect for Jon! 

Long story, shorter, Jon now has a new job (in addition to teaching at the University). This semester he is only part-time but next year he will work more full-time.  He helps with developing the curriculum and he also is in charge of hiring other foreigners to come and teach.  This could be great because it could be a way to get more workers here!  We are very excited about this. 

So, now we know where we will be next year, and we have a job.  Next, we needed to find an apartment.  We started praying for an apartment.  We looked at several.  The first one we looked at, was really too small for our family.  The second one we looked at, was nearly perfect, but it was really too expensive.  We kept looking and saw some that might work.  Then we received word that the price on the one that was too expensive was reduced by 1500 Yuan!  We signed the lease about 2 weeks ago!

We will move into the new apartment at the end of April.  Our lease for this apartment expires at the beginning of May. 

This is a time of transition for our family.  It is not always going to be easy.  We have to move all of our stuff.  Pack it up and then unpack it and organize it.  Jon will continue to work at the University which means some long commutes for him 3 days a week during May and June.  Since we are moving about an hour away, our ayi (household helper) will not be able to continue to work for us. We will need to figure out how to get around and where markets and shops are.  We hope that the kids will be able to find some friends and playmates.

We feel that we were lead to this place and we know that God will do wonderful things in Binjing.

Please pray for us especially during this transition.  Pray for the group we know we will be working with and pray for God to lead us to more work and people to share with.  

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Snow 2013

This has been a very cold winter.  It snowed three times (maybe 4 times)!  Ok, the last time it snowed, it it did not stick.  The other times we had plenty of snow to play in.

This is the small pond near our apartment during the snow in January.

The kids made a little snow man.

We were all walking to the store, and Eryn saw a large icicle on the sidewalk.  She wanted to pick it up, but I made her wait until we were on the way back.  She was really fascinated with the icicle.  Soon after I let her pick it up, she dropped it and it broke into several pieces.  She used two pieces to make the bill on this "snow duck".

snow on some New Year's decorations

 Snow in the city is not always beautiful.  These bushes are covered in frozen slush from the road, gross!

Tonight is supposed to be cold again, and then rainy tomorrow. Tomorrow night there is the possibility of some ice, but for the most part, the bitterness of Chinese winter is over!
We will all be very happy to have some warmer weather.