Graduation Ceremony

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The last day has come. We’ve taken all that the kids have learned and done in these last few weeks and compiled it into a 1 hour show. In the planning meeting the night before, the group elected me as the MC.

We started out the ceremony showing the parents what we learned in English class. The kids did great showing off their Zoophonics that one of the families brought over from the US. Zoophonics uses animals and hand motions to help children learn phonics.

Next, we had 2 campers, one worker, and worker’s child come up in front and share what they learned over the past week. Everyone did a great job.

Then came the best part of the ceremony. Each family, from the first day that we met the campers, decided on something that the kids would perform. There was much variety. There were songs, drums, and dramas. Our family decided to do a skit. The kids were hilarious in both practicing and performing the skit. We’re very proud that these elementary kids were bold enough to perform in from on their peers and family. See the video below for our skit.

The last thing we did as a performance was “Lean on Me”. I played the guitar and JK taught and lead the kids in the motions and words. She did a great job and the kids did tremendous performing it.

And that’s it! We’re done with camp! We’re still hanging around here for a bit taking in the sights and waiting till the LSV International Director arrives so we can chat about our time. I’m planning to blog some more with more pictures and more videos later, so stay tuned!

Sports, Beach and Celebration

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Thursday was a super busy and fun day. After English class we got to play some sporty type games. We played a balloon game where you have to get a balloon and pop it without using your hands. Inside the balloons were letters. The object was to make as many words as you could. You got double for words that were longer than 5 letters. Surprisingly, my team won! I’ve never done well at those types of words games.

We also played a game where you have to get everyone on to a piece of paper. Each round the paper gets smaller by half. Eventually, my whole team was standing on my one foot with Anna on my shoulders. We tied for first.

Another game we played was Steal the Bacon.

After each lunch, we headed off to the beach. We’d been telling Anna that we might not get to go because of the rain. On the way to our apartment-unit, she said, “Daddy, when we get back to the house let’s pray to God that there won’t be any rain while we’re at the beach.” When we got to the house we prayed. God answered Anna’s prayer. Although it was forecasted to rain all day, the whole time we were at the beach it didn’t rain a single drop. As soon as we were headed back to LSV in the bus, it started to rain. In order to keep 30+ kids safe in the water at the beach, we decided that 4 men would go out a bit and create a wall that the campers were not allowed to cross. The ladies were on shore also watching from that side. It proved to be very effective and we were able to keep an eye on all the children the whole time.

When we got back, and released the kids to their parents, we sat down to dinner. At dinner it was announced that we were celebrating that LSV was able to obtain the necessary permits to continue operating. This is no small feat in this land. We celebrated with cake and soda.


































What is American Cooking?

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In our travels in China we often talk about the cultural differences between the US and China. It’s actually a dificult question since the US has such a diverse population – we all come from somewhere else, ancestorally speaking.

Not so in China. There is quite a bit of diversity depending on where in China you go, but it’s still generally called Chinese food.

So, in order to share some culture, the camp prepared a day for each of the families to cook for the kid in their group. After much deliberation, we finally landed on Omeletts.

The kids helped us cut the food and selected what they wanted and then we cooked ’em. It turned out quite good. All the kids liked it and ate it all except for one little girl who, I’ve come to learn over the course of this week, is quite picky about a lot of things.

Also part of the exchange was the kids bringing in fruit and games. I ate a ton of Lyche, Mangosteene, and Huangpiguo, “Yellow Skinned Fruit” (sorry, can’t find a translation other than that). One girl actually hauled her keyboard in to play for us. *See Video. She was quite good. An LSV kid taught Uno, which is always a hit. Anna finally got to play Red Light, Green Light. *See Video. (She’s been planning it for weeks.) Another girl taught us a game similar to Duck, Duck, Goose called, Shou Diu Juan.

In the evening we ate at one of the camper’s houses. We had a ton of food (more Lychee, too). After dinner they poured us some nice Oolong Tea.

It was a fun and busy day!

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Colors and Tie-dye Shirts

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Tuesday has come and gone. We had a great time with the campers.

The day’s theme was colors. We taught for awhile and played a bunch of games. One of the games we played was “color basket”. Other games were facilitated by yours truly on the guitar.

After games we had a snack and prepared to make tie-dye shirts. The kids did great making them. Only one girl’s dress got a stain in it. That’s pretty good considering it could have been a lot worse. Anna had fun and her shirt came out very nicely.

To continue with the theme of colors, we made a mosaic. JK was off feeding Micah, which left me in charge of the creativity aspect of the project. It turned out fine, but it probably could have been a bit more organized.

We ended the day by going over our skit. This time we showed them the youtube video of another group doing it and they loved it and each improved their own parts. It should be pretty good when we perform on Friday. We also played a bunch of games including bang, bang, pop, pop and another “don’t pay attention to the obvious” type game.

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The Campers are here!

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The campers finally arrived!

We started out with English class. The children learned simple phrases like “hello, how are you”? We split in small groups to reinforce it.

At the end of the week, we’re planning on doing a performance for the children’s parents. One of the things we’re going to do is singing “Lean on me”. Jacquelyn taught the kids the motions while I played the guitar.

We also got see which children are in “The Carman Family”. We’ve got 2 boys and 3 girls. One of the girls, whose English name we gave her, Angel, and Anna have really hit it off well. They spend most of their time together.

At lunch each family sat together at one table and it was fun getting to see their personalities even from the get-go.

After taking a short nap at their own homes, they came back and we took our family to our apartment. The main point was to get to know the kids. We shared by showing pictures of our families. Most of the children also brought pics from home. Some were too shy to share them, unfortunately. But we still had a good time.

We’re planning to do a skit at the aforementioned performance. JK and I found a funny skit to do with minimal lines. The kids are going to do great! They are very funny.

At about 4:30 we took them to meet their parents.

It was a very fun day! My voice is having issues, now, though. And I think I’m getting sick!

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Anna’s Ready for Tomorrow

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For weeks we’ve been talking about coming to Beihai. Anna has been intrigued by this mysterious place that her mom and dad insist is still in China. All she knows about this place is that we are going to be living there for a month, and we’re going to be playing games with new Chinese friends.

Today she did something that really showed me her heart. While we were busy cleaning the house, Anna was busy playing. We hardly noticed what she was doing. When she was finished doing what she was doing she called us over and showed us. She had tied and taped together several chairs. She explained to us that she had made a game. We had to put something under the chair. Closing eyes and guessing where the object is also entered into her explanation, but I can’t be too certain since it’s a 5 year old’s explanation…:) We said that it looked like a very fun game, but we needed to straighten up and untie the chairs to get ready for tomorrow. And she said, “No, it’s for our Chinese kids tomorrow to play a game!” The more I think about it, the more I’m touched that she would be willing to do this. Anna is very shy around new people, so, it’s brave of her to come up with a game to play. It really makes me remember what it was like to be a kid and try to imagine something like going to a new city and meeting new friends.

The second thing she did was bring out a bunch of books and layed them all out. She even organized them by English books and Chinese books so that those who could read English could use the English books and those that could only read Chinese could read the Chinese books.

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Cafeteria Food

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I was so disappointed when we didn’t get a chance to eat at the Burger King at the Shanghai airport. Instead, we ate at a noodle shop with typical Chinese food. It’s not that I don’t like Chinese food, because I do. It was because I knew that we were going to be living in rural China for almost a month. There are no McD’s here (well, there is 1 single McD’s an hour away), let alone a decent Turkish place, or Vietnamese place, or Indian place, or a bazillion Korean places that we’re used to in Qingdao. The only option here is the cafeteria food that LSV provides.

Don’t get me wrong, the food here is great. Being a coastal area, we get some great fish and nice shrimp. But I do have to say that any type of food gets old after awhile.

Each day we have Congee and corn steamed buns for breakfast. For lunch we have a toufu dish, a vegetable, and a often a fish. Dinner is leftover lunch plus 1 more dish. Again, I like all those dishes, but it does get old. 🙂

It’s not all bad, though. The south of China is known for a bunch of fruits. We’ve got some pretty awesome bananas, watermelon, Jack fruit and my personal favorite – Lychee. Lychee brings us back to the first city we lived in here in China. It has a very short harvest time, and when it’s in season they are a dime a dozen. Luckily, we’re here just in time for Lychees!

After eating the kids run around playing ping pong and what-not.

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Cooking Run-through

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Getting buy-in from the LSV kids is a pretty big deal around here. There are 14 kids that live on site ranging from middle school and up. It’s the staff’s desire to see each of them involved in the coming camps. As mentioned in a previous post, we’re doing various activities with them so they get used to us and maybe they will be willing to join our activities.

We’re planning an activity during the camp to introduce Western cooking. There’s actually not much we can do in such a rural area. Pizza – no ovens; hamburgers – no buns; tacos – no cheese or spices (or tortillas…although, those can be made). So we finally agreed on Omellettes. The kids can choose what they want in their own and lots of people can be involved.

So, in order to make sure all could make one and get the LSV kids on board, we decided to do a run-through. Lots of fun.

Our kids are missing from the below pics b/c they were taking a much needed nap. They slept for over 3 hours! They are feeling much better now.

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A Trip to Beihai

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Today we went to Beihai City. Although LSV is technically in Beihai, it’s actually about a 50 min drive from city center.

It a relatively small city with about 1 million people. They have a pretty cool tourist walking street called “old street”. The architecture is old with a lot of European influence.

They also have a really nice beach called Silver Beach, which is actually pretty incredible. The sand is really soft making for a pleasant bare-footed walk. The water was really, really warm. Later at the place we ate dinner, the swimming pool temp was 32 C (89 F)!

Anna loved playing with her new friends at the beach. We didn’t schedule a lot of time to play, but it was great. At that time of day, though, in the sun’s beams, you don’t really want to be out there very long, anyway.

Afterwards we enjoyed a nice buffett dinner. Unfortunately, our children are not feeling overly well, so that made the trip a little stressfull. The restaurant had Tom & Jerry playing (a fav here in China) and kids watched as the adults conversed.

Overall, it was a good trip.

When we arrived back to LSV, we were informed that there was no electricity again. Since it feels like 98 degrees F, this was bad news. The kids went to bed straight away, but JK and me couldn’t quite get cool. So, we layed on the bare tile in the living room. This was actually effective and I dozed off for a bit. At about 11:30 Lucas woke up and his temp was really high. We gave him some meds, but we wanted the fever to go down abit. So, he joined us on the tile floor as we applied a wet rag to his skin. About 45 mins after he woke up, the power came back on and we were a lot less stressed about it.

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The Routine

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Today we started to get used to the routine a bit. After eating breakfast Anna plays and has a ss-type class while the parents (and kids too afraid to be left with somebody they don’t know…that would be Lucas) go and also have ss-type class.

We take a break which gives a chance to do laundry and other chores, meet w/one team-member family for about 1 hour for encouragement, and then it’s off to lunch.

After lunch we take naps and/or play a game. We brought with us Forbidden Island and Carcassone. In the afternoon we have meetings in preperation for next week’s camp. Today’s meeting was actually meeting w/LSV kids to see if they would be wiling to help us next week. We played several games together as kind of an ice breaker (see pics), and then we asked them to join us next week. Some are resistant b/c many of their classmates will attend the camp and are afraid of the stigma associated with living at a home like this. In the end it seems most agreed. 🙂

We then hung out until dinner. Lucas was cranky, so after dinner he went straight home while me and Anna went to the “reflection” time.

JK and I play a game and/or blog, then off to bed.

Next week things will be quite different. But right now we’re happy for the much needed rest.

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Dealing with the Heat

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In the night Anna was still feverish once the meds wore off. At about 3am she was calling me from her room. When I got there she was distressed because her pink blanket (that her grandma gave her, she’ll happily remind you) was making noise. Before I realized that she was hallucenating, I tried to make sense of what she was saying. I thought she meant her bunny that she also sleeps with, which rattles a bit, was bothering her. When I suggested this, she said, “It’s this one.”, holding up the blanket, “And it’s doing it right now! Make it stop!” as she covered her ears. I removed the blanket from her room and told her to go back to sleep. She did.

In the morning we decided to let Anna sleep in a bit and Lucas and I went to breakfast. Afterwards, I headed to our fellowship time. Don’t let the picture below fool you, Lucas did not play in the kid’s room during this time. He cried every time I tried to leave the room. I eventually took him w/me.

Later on Anna and mommy joined us. Anna was feeling much better by now. It was perfect for our tour of NanKang – the town that LSV is in. On the tour we saw Sugar Cane, Mangos, Lychee, and Longan growing everywhere. Sugar Cane is the main product of the area. Cows were out and about, as well as chickens. We also saw some pigs. (Sorry, no pics. We were in a moving car the whole time.) Lastly, we went to a huge project where they are building a massive port.

NanKang is home to about 60,000 people. It’s a far cry from Qingdao’s 7-9 million. Even if you compare all of Beihai (which includes NanKang) they only have about 1 million people. It’s really rural here. Life is laid back compared to city-life.

In the afternoon we had our nap time. JK got to go on the site tour, but I opted out since I’d seen it before.

After that we had a strategy meeting w/all the families and started to address some specifics of what next week will look like. Anna played with her new friends during this time and we’re happy to have her acting herself again.

This evening we had a time of reflection. Micah and I laid on the cooler floor as music played and we thanked the Father for His goodness.

Oh, and just before writing this blog, JK and I beat Forbidden Island on the hardest level. Just an FYI.

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Day 1

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Last night we made it to Beihai. It’s hot here. Thankfully the unit we are staying in is equipped with air conditioning.

After mentioning to our host that we hadn’t had dinner yet, he and his wife whipped us up so eggs and noodles. We were very grateful. Almost all the meals are provided in the cafeteria since they are usually feeding about 25 people. But by the time we arrived, the kitchen was already closed.

Today, we woke up and Anna wasn’t feeling well. We’re not sure why exactly, but we’re pretty sure it has something to do with staying up so late and playing very hard at school and with our friends.

After breakfast we had praise time while the kids played. When we were done, Anna was lying down by herself. If you know Anna, you know that’s not like her at all. It turns out she was running a fever. So, while we went to orientation, Anna slept while a baby sitter watched over her.

Lucas and Micah are doing well. They are enjoying playing and just plain looking cute.

We’re now on our Chinese-style Siesta – which is much needed in hot Beihai.

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On the Way to Beihai

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Well, we had a little trouble getting to Beihai yesterday. Waking up late + lots of luggage + taking an unfamiliar route + construction = missed flight. Quite embarrassing, actually.

After trying our hardest to still make it yesterday by changing tickets, we just couldn’t manage it w/o spending a ton of money to buy more tickets w/o the guarantee of a refund on the old tickets. So0 we decided to wait till today.

Our spirits were still high and we weren’t too frustrated (after all we did get an extra day w/our friends and 1 more meal at Canvas), so we headed out with renewed vigor and only slightly damaged egos.

The only hiccup today (though anticipated it still hurts) was an extra baggage charge that was like paying for another ticket. JK has packed and repacked trying to make it work, but with 5 people and an extended stay in a rather remote area of China, it just wasn’t possible for only 60kg. (Infant tickets don’t get any luggage allowance.)

Well, I guess there is another hiccup. We’re curently at the Shanghai/Pudong airport waiting for our delayed flight to Beihai. At least I could upload these videos! Hope you enjoy.

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