Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bethel Week 1 Update (China Post 2)

I figure the easiest way to give the highlights of my first week here at Bethel is with some of my favorite pictures.  So here goes!
I received a very warm welcome from the other Bethel volunteers on my first day.  We rode into the nearest village on this motor bike to have dinner at one of the favorite local restaurants owned by a very sweet lady we affectionately call “Grandma.”  The food was delicious and I enjoyed getting to know the people I will be living, working, and playing with for the rest of my time here.  The other volunteers are from all over the world: France, Holland, Canada, and a few interns from Harvard.
After one day of work, we all took off for a weekend in Beijing.  It was quite the experience, like I talked about in my last post.  One thing I didn’t mention is that I learned to navigate the Beijing subway system.  The girl in this picture with me is Crystal.  She proved to be a lifesaver for me.  We had a very interesting conversation one day on the way home from Beijing.  She randomly asked me what I thought about God, and I answered her as honestly as I could.  She went on to tell me about how China is an atheist country and very few people ever hear that there is or even could be a God.  She told me her story of how she realized there must be a God because of how things seemed to work out in her life.   She said that it couldn’t just be coincidence.  There had to be a greater power and plan at play.  Still, she said she had not made a decision on what she thought about Jesus and Christianity.  That conversation offered so much insight into the culture here and really got me thinking about the value of the Hope and Purpose that we find in knowing God.  These are thoughts that will keep me busy for awhile.
These are called Black Eggs, also known as Hundred Year Old Eggs.  These fermented eggs were by far the most interesting food that I have tried so far.  They were actually really good!  The meal that I had these at was more significant than the food though.  At this meal, I witnessed a true act of generosity.  As the girls and I were heading into town for dinner, one of the maintenance men stopped us and asked if he could take us out.  It was Crystal’s last night, and he wanted to share a meal with her.  After a great meal, where I gained a lot of insight into how things work at Bethel (both the triumphs and challenges faced by this ministry) we got up to pay.  Shin-shifu insisted on paying for us, though!  This was really touching to me because it was a 100 RMB meal and he makes about 1200 RMB a month.  Such a gift!
Ah!  The reason I am here!  On Tuesday, I got to start playing with the kids.  This little girl would probably be my favorite… if I were allowed to pick favorites.  She is really shy and sits by herself most of the time.  She has major eye problems (which make her a little scary to look at sometimes) and some skin issues.  One day I went and sat with her and started singing (singing to the kids has really become my way of connecting with them… it’s a language we all understand!).  Before I knew it she was laughing and dancing with me.  Then she just let me hold her.  There are so many kids like her here.  It’s such a blessing to be able to love them!
And here is my favorite part of the week!  I thought I was coming here to do office work.  Oh, but God had other plans!  On Wednesday afternoon, the headmaster of the school gave me my music lesson schedule.  It was a pleasant surprise.  On Thursday I began my first piano lessons with the kids.  Each week I work with 9 first-time piano students from pre-k to 1st grade, 2 preschool music classes, and a chorus.  What a testament to God’s faithfulness!  I remember talking about changing my major to music education a year and a half ago.  I had this vision of teaching music on the mission field as a way to connect to orphans.  It was definitely a driving force in my feeling led to switch.  I didn’t expect it to happen so soon!  Oh, I also took this piano pedagogy class last semester, just on a whim.  It wasn’t part of my degree plan, but I told my friends I had a feeling I’d end up teaching piano at some point in my life.  Oh, I love seeing the way God plans ahead!
So there’s the highlights of my first week at Bethel.  I’m still adjusting more each day and learning to love living life here.  I’m excited to see what else God has in store!

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