Cooking Class

I was asked to teach the Enrichment Cooking Class this year at TIS.  The kids meet once a week for enrichment classes like hand bells, art, chess club, cooking club, etc.  I teach eighteen 1st through 3rd graders for about an hour.  It is pretty challenging to keep them all organized in the kitchen; thankfully, I have two Chinese teacher assistants to help.  Ding Laoshi is pictured in the lower right.  She is the one who also came to our Christmas cookie party.


My Cooking Class and helpers

The day before Thanksgiving, we made what I call, Turkey Fruit Gobblers.  You take skewers and make fruit kabobs with bananas, purple grapes, pineapples, kiwi, etc. and use them as the turkey feathers on a large youzi fruit.  For those in the States, a large grapefruit will do.  Then you take a cut piece of apple, red bell pepper and pineapple and form the head and feet.


The kids had a great time making their very own smaller turkey using oranges for the body and toothpicks for the feathers.


Thanksgiving Holiday

We are very blessed to have special friends here to share our American holidays with.  This year for Thanksgiving, we invited one of Michael and Rachel’s Taiwanese friends, along with two other families in our community and a last minute addition, Melanie (a gal I met in line at the post office, who has only been in our city three months).   We were able to get a turkey from vendors here who import from the States.  I was so excited that it even had a pop-up timer!   The taste of turkey is so yummy, when you only get it once a year.



The kids had to go to school for half the day on Thanksgiving Day, so we decided to celebrate a day later, on Friday.  Jessie and Maddie helped me cook some desserts.


Jessie making pecan pie


Yummy desserts

Our high school guests get to sit at the coffee table with kiddie chairs!


Michael and Tommy

Here are rests of our guests…Where’s Jessie?  Maybe she’s the one taking the picture.


Fall or Winter?

Yay!  Fall is here!  Or is it?In China some seasons are very intimidated by others.  Seasons like Fall and Spring are very shy, and no matter how much we compliment them, they refuse to stay around more that a few weeks.  Summer and Winter drag on with their extreme stuffy heat or frigid cold weather.  Here, you would know when Spring has made it’s prized visit, when green leaves start to unfold giving you a happy sense of new life.  But this beauty is short-lived, soon dust layers itself over the new leaves, giving them a new brownish coat.This being my second Fall in China I have observed two things.1. Being in China there are not many things to get you in the Fall-ish mood, such as a fully stocked candy aisles in the grocery store, or new cute fall fashion sections in  my favorite clothes stores (Gap, Old Navy, American Eagle, etc.)2.  Because of the lack of Fall spirit in the local people, when there is a hint of a chill in the air, you get the urge to whip out the winter clothes, make jack-o-lanterns, eat candy corn and caramel apples, make apple cider, etc. !!!So as you can guess I was ecstatic that Fall was here!  This year we did get to make caramel apples and eat candy-corn (which is a big thing because coveted items such as caramel and candy corn is more expensive because it is imported)!!!  Sadly, Winter is already pushing Fall out of the way it seems.  The temperature this morning was a chilly 39, and we are expecting a freeze tonight.  After this cold weekend I fear Fall will not return.Is this the last I’ll see of Fall’s cool crisp weather until next year?


Maddie and I making Caramel Apples!


My Jack-O-Lantern in progress.


The finished prodject. Isn't in adorable?!

Family Through Thick and Thin

There has been many changes in my life in the past year.  More than most people have in 10 years of their life.  Imagine taking all your belongings, picking the ones most important to you, and having a garage sale (At 6 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon) and watching things that you’ve had for a while go to people you don’t even know!  Then traveling around the country you live in and saying goodbye to your friends in family, not exactly knowing when you will see them again (at least we have skype!).  Finally flying as far away from your home as you have ever been in your life to a new and different country!  It as if you are standing on (what you think is) firm ground and then in a moment (or in my case, less than a year) your world is turned up side down and shaken vigorously!  Today, all of that seems so much like a day dream.  It is amazing how He gives one the ability to be so flexible and resilient.  Though when I think of all the challenges I have faced in this year of change I can not imagine it without my family!  My Mom, who is so resourceful and supportive.  My Dad, who is so encouraging and thoughtful.  My brother, who is so cheerful.  My sister, Rachel, who is so creative and considerate.  My fun, bright, sister, Maddie.  and finally our little joy, Megan.  Every member of my family He carefully and thoughtfully picked out to inspire and encourage me in my life!  I find that though the local grocery store here in Tianjin is not decked out with Thanksgiving decoration and food, it wouldn’t matter if we had not Thanksgiving decorations at all, it’s being together with my family that make the holidays seem special.  Especially this Thanksgiving, today, when I got to cook pecan pies with my mom.


Mom and I are making pecan pies.


This Thanksgiving we had two families over for dinner.  Both of the families go to our school and we were glad they could come.  I had a lot of fun cooking with mom.  I helped make Special K Bars. They are like rice crispie treats, but with some chocolate and peanut butter.  Some dishes we made were Turkey(of course), mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and a lot of desert. Some of the deserts were Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Cheese cake, and whipped cream. This was a great Thanksgiving!  We ate a lot of food and the desert was delicious!


This is me and my friends Josie and Amelia.


Spirit Week

One week around November our school has Spirit Week! It is a week when you dress up into different costumes and get points for your house. It is a very fun week and I enjoy it very much. Some of the costumes I dressed as was a nerd, a colorful day, and 100% Grey. I’m also looking forward to next years Spirit Week.



Public speaking is not one of my strong points, so you can imagine the anguish I felt preparing for the sermon this morning.   It feels good to have that over with!This city has one fellowship for foreigners that is sanctioned by the local government.  For  complicated reasons we have no admin or pastoral staff, so everything is arranged through our volunteer elders — including arranging speakers for Sunday morning services.  Obviously with a continuous flow of guest speakers we can’t do much to control quality, but hey — we’re the only place in town; we control the market!  :)Honestly, the place is filled with wonderful devout believers here from all over the world.  They are not attending for quality, they are attending because we all need community.  We all need a place to refuel on the Word.I probably reaped most of the benefits speaking today — my heart is full from the 12+ hours of preparation in the Word.  John 5:16-30 has become one of my favorite passages.

First Snow

One Sunday I woke up to the sound of my dad telling me it was snowing! I was really tired so I went back to sleep but when I woke up it was still snowing! We went to church with no problem but then we couldn’t get a taxi back home! so we decided to go on a bus my dad found out what bus to take and we got on one. after we got on and rode for a while we realized that we were not going to be dropped off very close to home. the bus stopped and we got out to start to walk. our other friends were with us in the bus and thankfully they knew where to go. So we started to go on our LONG walk. it was freezing cold, snow was pouring down, and we were starting to get really cold and tired! We finally got home into our semi-warm house and started to get dry and warm. Then we had leftover soup with friends and played poker with Chinese coins. It was a great weekend even though we got cold and wet it was fun.


I Never Saw Another Butterfly

Excellent performances by Rachel and Michael last night — the story was both grave and touching.Hundreds of thousands (including 15,000 children) passed through Terezin, the last stop before Auschwitz. This play is based on a true story and poetry created by children including Raja [played by Rachel].Honza [Michael] is Raja’s dear friend who brings life and purpose to otherwise dead and hopeless days.  I almost cried when Honza told Raja he would be in the next shipment to Auschwitz.Certainly I am proud of Rachel & Michael.  I was also affected by the story.I want to tell Rachel what was told to Raja:  “Now you are not alone.  And you must not be afraid.”I want to tell Michael what was told to Honza by his father: “You are a good boy [man]… you are not a coward…”I want my family to give to the community what Honza gives to Raja:  a reason to go on another day and find hope,  True Hope — forever not alone, and not afraid.I Never Saw Another Butterfly a play by Celeste Raspanti


Chinese Pumpkins

In China we have not seen the usual Halloween pumpkins in the vegetable markets.   The only ones to find are small.  (See Jessie’s blog on her jack-o-lantern)  Also, if you want to make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving or Christmas, the cost of canned pumpkin imported is about $3.50 per can.  We have found a nice Chinese pumpkin called “nan guar”.  I can purchase one of these for about fifty cents, and get enough pumpkin for 4 pumpkin pies!  But it takes a little work and patience.


Start with this...looks sort of like a gourd

Next, find a helper!!


Remove the seeds, peel and cook until tender


Mash and store in 2 cup containers for future use


I find this pumpkin very flavorful, and even sweet.  It sure makes yummy pumpkin pies, and at a fraction of the cost!