Student Baking Party

Our company, LDi, has an outreach to students from a local university. Over
200 students gather on Sunday evenings to improve their English speaking
skills. During the holidays we invite smaller groups into our homes for baking
parties. We hosted one of these. Most of the students were freshmen and far
away from home, living in a dorm. I think they really enjoyed coming into our
home and learning how to make cookies. Many said they had never made cookies
before. I showed them how to color frosting with food coloring, roll and cut
cookies out with cookie cutters, and of course their favorite part was
decorating with icing and sprinkles. My kids showed up right after school and
joined in the fun. Megan got lots of attention, but the students also enjoyed
taking pictures with Michael, Rachel, Jessie and Maddie. One of the girls had
attended the high school play last month and knew who Michael was, she was very
excited to meet him.

Pictures above and below, with our kids. I still can’t figure out why they
want to hold up two fingers in pictures. I asked one girl, she said it meant
victory. But all the Asians do this, especially the kids at TIS. Now my kids
are starting to do it in all their pictures (notice Rachel)!

In the kitchen after we rolled and cut with cookie

As they were leaving another one of the girls noticed our little nativity we
received from the Baileys. She studied it a bit, then asked, “Are you
religious?” then went on to say, “I’m religious.” The question took me by
surprise because in America people are not comfortable discussing religion. But
I am thankful that God put us in a culture where people are open and ready to
discuss issues of the heart. Please pray that we will be ready at all
times to give an account of our faith, and that we do this in love. Pray for
the students in this picture, that they all come to know The Lord.

Thank You Bailey’s

To our delight, we received a Trader Joe’s care package from our dear friends
in Tennessee. We had a guy come to our door on Thanksgiving Day with the
packing slip. He needed to verify who I was with my passport. Then Michael and
Rachel took the slip and my passport down to the local post office, to pick up
the box. We had such fun opening it and retrieving all the goodies. The kids
received candy, and pretzels, Nancy got me some baking supplies and plastic wrap
from Costco, and for Sean some yummy sesame crackers from Trader Joe’s. We sure
are enjoying the taste of the yummy TJ snacks from home. Nancy ‘s efforts
helped pave the way for all the questions my inlaws and parents had about
shipping stuff to us. Thanks, Nancy.

My Cornucopia

Well, one thing is for sure, the vegetables here in China are cheap! We can
walk outside our apartment gates and find numerous vegetable stands selling
every fresh vegetable imaginable. For our Thanksgiving dinner I planned to have
fresh vegetables and dill dip (a Gail Headrick tradition), a fruit gobbler
(turkey made of fruit skewers, see Jessie’s blog), potatoes for mashing, sweet
potatoes for baking, clementines for the table, and green beans…all of these I
found at my local vegetable stand, and more! Total cost of all these yummy
produce…under $15 American dollars!!

Chinese Traffic Outside our Window

As most of you know, we live on the 8th floor of our apartment building.
Last Tuesday night during dinner we kept hearing horns honking and honking. I
finally looked out the window to see what was the matter. I’m not sure, but I
think some may use the street in front of our building as a cut through when the
roads are jammed. So anyway, this road is a single street with two lanes. But
Chinese drivers don’t often pay attention to traffic lanes. Here’s a picture of
what drivers do when they are impatient in traffic. They just go into the
oncoming lane to make their way to the front of the traffic. But this causes
gridlock when new cars in the oncoming lane meet bumper to bumper with the
vehicles in the wrong lane. See below the white jeep with stuff on top is going
the correct way, but just to the right you see two vehicles facing the opposite
direction. They are trying to form two lanes out of one. The traffic was
backed up in both directions for at least 1/2 a mile.

Tianjin History #1

Did you know that Eric Liddell – missionary & Olympic gold medalist – was
born in our city, Tianjin? Yes — and he returned to Tianjin years later to
spread the Gospel. We visited his home, now a historic site, not far from our

The movie Chariots of Fire made famous the story of Eric Liddell. During the
1924 Olympics he found that his best event – the 100 meter dash – was scheduled
on Sunday. Beholding his commitment not to run on the Sabbath, he dropped out
of the race. But later that week, Liddell captured the gold in his worst event
– the 400 meter – setting a long lasting world record.

“For Eric Liddell, however, this was not the ultimate race. The son of
Scottish missionaries to China, he saw his whole life as a race: a race for the
Kingdom of Heaven. That is why, two years after taking the Olympic gold, he
sailed to China, to become a missionary himself. Having seen the Chinese need
for science education, he had devoted himself to science studies at Edinburgh.
In China he became a teacher at the Anglo-Chinese school at Tientsin.”
[Tientsin: a translation for Tianjin.] –excerpt by Christianity Today,
taken from

See what the Chinese officials wrote on the plaque below:

Bike Wreck

I wrecked my bike on Monday going to school. A van was turning out of a
tight alley at the same time I was turning into it! (I should have been more
careful – I was going too fast.) I have no memory of the impact. All I
remember afterwards is standing there wanting the driver to pull forward so that
I could get the bike wheel out from under the van. I got a bruise on my left
leg, a couple of scratches, and almost unnoticeable damage to my coat. However,
the front of the bike got twisted pretty good. (And it was new new from the
Giant store just a month ago!)

The driver – a middle aged Chinese man – jumped out. Of course I didn’t
understand anything he was saying. Another American stopped and was able to
translate. The driver was worried that I was hurt. He also wanted to fix my
bike. I replied in Chinese: ‘may wenti, may wenti’ (no problem – no problem).

I’m thankful for divine protection, I actually walked away from the accident
unharmed. And I’m thankful for a lesson learned — BE SAFER.

Corn Crib

It was a pleasant weekend: we visited a remote village in our province —
rest, hiking, clean air, and sunshine.

On the two-hour van ride there, we drove past several makeshift corn cribs
(like the one pictured below). From this, I conclude that despite the fanfare
around the Beijing Olympics, China is still

By comparison, I go back 30 years ago when I played around my grandfather’s
corn cribs in South Dakota farm country. Each crib held at least 150 times more
grain (that’s 15000% more) than these roof-top piles of corn cobs in China.

In the same way China seems to be under-developed with respect to:
infrastructure, food quality, finance, education, social welfare, and yes, even
spiritual welfare.

But I get excited when I think about China’s God-given potential.

Think about how 200 years of US development has impacted the world in so many
great and positive ways (especially with respect to spreading the Gospel and
helping disadvantaged peoples all over the globe.)

What will happen when the peoples of China are reconciled to their Creator
and follow in His steps?

Three Months

Today is our three month anniversary in China!

  • Q: How is it?
  • A: I don’t know yet!

It all seems like a blur. One thing has been different: as a family we are
spending a lot of time together adjusting and talking. Helping each other think
about the new classes, new teachers, new apartment, new friends, different
food… I’m so thankful that the entire family seems to be taking root in

The kids actually like it a lot. They each have more than one close
friendship. And they enjoy new freedoms that they did not have back home (e.g.
shopping in markets & going out to eat on their own).

Susan misses having the older ones at home, but finding her schedule filling
up without them. She joined a weekly playgroup for Megan and goes to the market
more than once a week with friends.

As for myself; I’m only beginning to relax as I see the family is just now
getting into a pattern. I do think I will really enjoy my job at the school as
much or more than anything else I’ve done. But this is only a prediction…

This three month marker feels like a turning point — maybe we are finally
settling down?