Every year we take a trip out to Ohio for Thanksgiving where JK’s brother and family host us and a lot of other family members. It’s 4 days of family, food, and relaxation. Everyone looks forward to it. This year was no different and we had a great time. We also got to share our plans for moving to China to room full of family.
Usually, we pack up our bags and head back to New York early on Sunday to get back to school and work on Monday. But this year we decided to head South for another week of vacation with my parents. This really worked out quite perfectly for us. We were already more than half way to their house by being in Ohio and there wasn’t another time that we would’ve been able to easily visit with them before we headed to China.
Though it didn’t seem like we did a ton of stuff, we really did accomplish alot. Our first priority, of course, is just being the family. And we did just that. But Jacquelyn had a determined mind to get to my brother’s house and clean out some of the storage we put in their attic 6+ years ago. She spent a couple of days doing that and got rid of a bunch of stuff. We also took a large load of books to McKay Books and got a good amount of store credit and then promptly used it all to buy some Christmas presents for the kids.
Of course, Eloise’s job was to be cute. And she accomplished that quite easily.
Anna was determined to get to Opryland Hotel. She has good memories of going there with the family last year, so that’s what was on her mind. We walked around the hotel with my parents and my brother’s family. The kids seemed to have a great time and we all enjoyed the time together.
On our last day we went to the Opry Mills mall. I’d been trying to get there the whole week so I could stop at Cinnabon. It made me sick. To be fair, Cinnabon usually makes me sick because eat too much, but this time was different. Within 30 minutes I was not feeling well. I had a headache and just felt basically uncomfortable.
Usually, when I start to get a headache I can prevent it from turning into a major headache by taking some Ibuprofen. Unfortunately, this time I didn’t do that. And I paid for it. After seeing The Martian with my brother at the theatre, my head was hurting pretty badly and I was nauseous. We found an open store and I bought and took some Ibuprofen. But it was too late, it didn’t help. On the way home, I was so sick I thought I was going to hurl in my brother’s car. Thankfully I didn’t, but I wasn’t much of a conversationalist. Afterall, it’s hard to avoid throwing up while having a conversation. (Sorry, bro.) When I got home, I went straight to bed and slept like a rock.
All in all it was a great trip. My only regret is that we didn’t get a chance to see my other brother and his family. But it was just too hard to get down to see them with all of our schedules.
We arrived back in the States just over a week ago. We apologize for the delay of this update as we’ve been traveling (literally) around the world. After a short stay in Korea to visit family, we headed for the UK to visit some very dear friends. We had an incredible time there debriefing with them about our time in China and the family camp that we were a part of. England is very different than China! Now that we’re back in the States, we’re happy to catch up with many of our family and trying to get settled. We’re looking forward to what He has in store for us here.
We’d love to tell you about our time down in the south of China at the summer camp. Jacquelyn and I both blogged about the whole experience ministering there. Unfortunately, this email will only touch the surface of what we did. So, for those interested, please feel free to read about the specifics on the blogs (addresses below).
*Review* As most of you know, we took the whole family down to Beihai, China to minister at Family Camp. Family Camp in this case was Chinese elementary-aged kids joining in with our family to do various activities and culture sharing. We joined with Living Stones Village (LSV) which runs an orphanage for disabled and abandoned children in Guangxi, China to do the work. Please see the initial support letter on our blog for the full details: http://blog.jalopyhead.com/2011/06/03/update-from-the-carmans-in-china/.
*Successful Camp* The camp was a great success. We had so much fun playing with all the kids that attended, but especially enjoyed the 5 kids that were put into our family unit and the LSV kid that assisted us throughout the week of camp. It was so fun to see their personalities unabashedly on display right from the beginning. The array of personalities was wide: funny, shy, sincere, super fun, and snobby. It was such a blessing interacting with them for the week.
We did lots of activities with the campers including making Western Food (Omelets), Chinese and Western Games, Skits, Songs, etc. We also got to go to one of our campers’ house and had a feast of local specialties. Again, for pictures and specific details, please go to our blogs. (Click here for the Skit video http://blog.jalopyhead.com/2011/07/20/doctors-office-skit/.)
This was really the first organized effort in outreach for LSV. As such, it is really a stepping stone for future ministry with the local people. As spreading to the Word to children in China is always sensitive and frowned upon by the governing forces, we did not have a sharing time in that regard, however, the in-roads that were created are going to be foundational to the future ministry there.
Another purpose of the trip was to see whether or not God would have us join with this organization on a permanent basis. For various reasons we have decided not to do so. However, we trust and pray that God will continue using LSV to help the orphans that they have been commissioned to care for as well as reaching out to their neighbors.
*Thanks* We really want to give a heart-felt “Thank You” to each of you as you have been thinking about us, lifting us up to Him, and giving to us financially. Lifting us up to Him, I believe, really sustained us when we encountered some difficult times down there. All the money that we needed came in plus a little more. It’s was such a blessing and encouragement to us that He provided for all our needs yet again. That encouragement is what is keeping us going as we head into the next part of our journey.
*Good Transition* We spent a total of 3 weeks in a very rural part of China. In many ways, we really felt like it was a good end to our almost 8 years in China. We had ample opportunity to reflect and debrief about the last 8 years. He has really blessed us during our time in China. Although we are sad to leave this place, we are trusting that He has a great plan for us. We look forward to what he has next for us.
*Where are we now?* We have moved to Jacquelyn’s hometown near Poughkeepsie, New York. Anna is enrolled in Kindergarten and will start September 7th. Lucas and Micah are adjusting to the new time zone nicely and enjoying the attention of family. Please pray for Jacquelyn and myself as we “get into our element” in the US. Please also pray that I would find a job rather quickly. Please don’t hesitate to offer any job suggestions if you know any.
Thank you again for being a part of our journey for the last 8 years. We’ll try to keep you updated as He leads us. Definately check our blogs from time to time and you can see what’s going on with us.
*Attached are just a few pics from our time.
Never have we stayed in such a rural place in China before. It’s so cool to be able to stay in a place that has not been very influenced by the big city life. Yes, of course we are dearly missing having access to cheese, coffee, and let’s face it, McDonald’s, in our backyard. However, to be able to look up and actually see the stars filling the night sky is such a difficult and precious thing to find in most places in China.
The people are different herel. First, there are the obvious things like language. The people in this area speak a dialect that is somewhat intelligible to those who speak Cantonese, but I’m assured that it is not the same. However, each town has a slightly different dialect than the next. For example, we visited a friend in a town literally 40 minutes away, and their dialect is very different than the city we’re staying in. Mandarin is also affected by this. Though most people are able to speak Mandarin, it is not their preferred language. I’ve been told by several local people that my “Guoyu” (“China’s Language” – meaning Mandarin) is better than their own – and I have to say that I mostly agree with them. 🙂 When people hear me speak Chinese, they laugh. But it’s not a mocking laugh. Many have never seen a foreigner before – let alone one that can speak Chinese.
Aside from that though, these people are country folk. Their lives are simpler. They are extremely nice and sincere.
The scenery here is different as well. Everywhere you go you see Water Buffalo. Today in the car I couldn’t stop singing the Water Buffalo song by the Veggie Tales. It was funny because everybody DOES have a Water Buffalo! They are used for working the land. These animals are huge. You often encounter them on the road and the cars definitely yield to them. If you hit one of these, the damage will be worse on your car than on the animal. It’s really funny to see these Water Buffalo in the middle medians of the main road eating the grass. I’m told these guys go for about RMB 5000 (USD 775).
Housing styles are different as well. Because it’s so hot here in the summer the houses are built to be cool. But another interesting thing is how the houses are built “up”. The below picture was taken at our friend’s house from his 5th floor…that’s right, 5th floor! Each floor doesn’t have a ton of space, but it sure makes good use of a little bit of property. For our friends, each level belonged to a particular member of the family. Even though they have 3 siblings, 2 of which are married, all of them live in the same house…and it’s actually quite spacious.
Each town’s street market is lively with business. There’s no need here for shopping malls. Everything is done at the market…and probably daily for most families.
One of the most interesting things about this to me is just how close the country side is to the city. This is pretty much true of most cities in China. The word “Suburb” means something else entirely here. Suburb as thought of as an American city practically doesn’t exist. Outside of the city there are no shopping malls, or fast food restaurant chains, or comfortable doctors’ offices…or for that matter, comfortable anything. There’s a strong push for urbanization in China. Part of that push, I believe, is because if you’re not in the city, you’re in the country…and that’s just not hip.
Check out these video clips of Anna Mae while we were on vacation in Vietnam. The last clip is back home in Qingdao, China.
Here are some pictures from our beach. Enjoy!