Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sleeping Arrangements

Anna and Elijah have been sleeping in the same bedroom since we returned from the USA with Rachel.

That has worked out really well. Though, I think that is partly attributed to the fact that Elijah still thinks he's participating in one long sleepover party. He still refers to the room as "Anna's room". Not sure when his little lightbulb when come on and he realizes, "Hey, when is Rachel gonna leave my bed?"

The kids have done some interesting things while sharing the same room. They have switched beds on a couple of occasions (Anna goes to the blue, Elijah gets "in touch" with the pink bed) in addition to ending up in the same bed. I'm not sure how the latter one evolved but the end result was still satisfactory.

These pictures were taken with a flash in a dark room. From Elijah's occasional sleep in our bed, we already feel badly for his future wife because he hogs everything and goes on the attack without knowing it. As you’ll see, he's begun the confrontation with Anna. Fortunately for her, I rescued her from the imminent danger.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Turkey wrap

From Noel's sight,

I found this quote from Abraham Lincoln regarding Thanksgiving-

"…I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union."

- President Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863

Our family has so much to be thankful for. God has been good as we "adventure" with Him here in Shanghai. On a lighter note, I was especially thankful that a friend smuggled (??-I'm still not clear what the rules are related to importing frozen birds) 2 frozen turkeys into China on a return trip from the USA. What a pleasant surprise that was. Those 2 turkeys added to a Chinese turkey equated to lots of bird meat for the 12 adults and 18 kids, all associated with our small group from church.

Ryan worked through the holiday but the weekend was relaxing for all.

Pictures are from the Thanksgiving feast. The x-ray is of another small group friend, Nathan's hand. He joined myself and 6 friends from work for some basketball Saturday morning. He left the court with a severely dislocated finger. After some pain killers and a strong pull from the ER doctor, he is back in the saddle again.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Da Ming Mountain Range

It's a very famous, if not the most famous, mountain range in China. It took a 5 hour busride, 1 way to get there.

The range is found in Guangxi province, which you can learn more about here.

We did an awful lot of hiking. The main peak is 1764m tall. For reference, the 3rd tallest peak in the Smoky Mountains is 2010 meters tall. The scenery was great considering I've been living in one of the largest urban jungles on the entire planet. It was great to get out and away from the congestion.

It was equally good to spend time with colleagues. Many of them are new hires in the last 6 months that I haven't really gotten to know. I think for some of them, they are just delighted to have pictures with a real, live, breathing American. If one person asked for a picture in a scenic spot, 3 or 4 of them wanted pictures with me too. Strange.

Beware, there are 2 pictures that were “photoshop’d” by Zhao Jianqing. See if you can find them.

Look for the one with me "laying" in the bottom of a ravine. I'm levitating in the other one.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

6 in one hand, 1/2 dozen in the other.

This is code for the timing associated with our return to the USA. Can you decrypt it?
And the units are months, not years, minutes, days, or fortnights.

We have decided to over-stay our commitment to JCI here in Shanghai, China. We acknowledge the mixed emotions for you all in this update. Would you continue to pray for our next 6 months here in China? We believe that God has built a lot of bridges here that connect us to others, both expats and the Chinese nationals. We look forward to how those "bridges" help our relationships grow in new and exciting ways.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cinderella Ballet

Today, Anna and I went to a ballet with some of our friends. For the past 2 weeks we have been counting down the days until "the day". It was a ballet by a New Zealand company and was beautiful. As you can see all of the girls dressed up and were princesses themselves. It was so fun to answer all of the sweet questions-- Mommy, where are the mice? Why are they dancing like that all the time?... It was a very special first ballet for both of us.

Shanghai Halloween

Believe the hype.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Rachel with better lighting this time.

If you want to see/hear baby Rachel, click below.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


The NBA season has started and I've learned that the Chinese assign their own Chinese nicknames to various "high profile" players in the NBA. They don't use their English names typically. Rasheed Wallace is one particular player who plays for the Detroit Pistons. He also has a reputation that, evidently, has stretched across the globe.

China's name for Rasheed? "Nu Hao Tian Zun" which directly translates "Angry Loud Sky King". I think they have him pegged.

Go Pistons.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Cinderella Story

One of the best ways I've found to connect with guys from work is through basketball. They love the game but struggle to find a place to play. Those of you that have read the blog for a while have seen pictures of those guys at our neighborhood "half court".

Well, these guys took the court in a corporation wide "Olympics" basketball event that included a tournament followed by a gold/silver/bronze medal game. There were about 15 teams represented total. Evidently, our team had never done well in previous competitions. Apparently, we had never won a game in previous contests.

In addition to the lack of victories, these guys had really never played any "organized" basketball. In the USA, we have dozens of opportunities during our youth to join and play organized sports. Ample opportunities do not exist in China to learn team sports---this also means that you never learn how to execute a basketball "lay-up" or play zone defense.

And so we began the tournament. Game 1 was tough and against a team that wore matching Dallas Mavericks jerseys. I quickly learned that matching jerseys spelled a tough match-up for our mix-and-match bunch. Our guys learned a lot in that first game. The biggest lesson that I taught them was that you don't smoke cigarettes during timeouts and halftime. We went on to win that first game. There was chest-bumping, hooting, hollering, and of course cigarettes. You'd have thought that we were NBA champs. The guys didn't leave that dirty, outdoor court until the sunlight had completely disappeared.

We won again in week 2. People I didn't even know started stopping me in the factory and, with their broken english, wishing us luck in the next game. The buzzing had started.

I had big plans for our team in week 3. With the help of Zhao Jianqing translating, we taught the team a zone defense. It was the 2-3 zone. Now, the amateurs in China play man-to-man defense which consists of 2 simple steps:

1. Pick a man
2. Chase him

So, going "zone" was a big deal. They picked it up great and it absolutely befuddled opponent 3. We won in a landslide. More chest bumps, cigarettes, and company buzz. I was thanked for bringing them this new "defense play".

There was a lot of anticipation for game 4. The guys were anxious but excited to see if our zone defense could shut them down. Our lesson for game 4 was a pre-game lesson. I taught the guys how to execute a "lay up" line. WHERE WAS MY DIGITAL CAMERA THAT DAY?!?!?!? These guys lining up and figuring out the timing associated with catching the pass, running and shooting, followed by the opposing line leader grabbing the rebound and sending to the next guy. Sounds simple until you ask 12 chinese guys to do it for the first time.....and half of them don't speak english.

The zone defense bent but did not break. We had earned a berth in the gold medal game. The entire team was ecstatic. People could not believe that little JARC (Jixiang Automotive Roof Trimming) had earned a berth in the corporation-wide championship game.

The final day of the Olympic event was truly "olympic" in nature. There was an opening ceremony and the medal games in all the vents: track and field, ping pong, soccer, and of course, basketball.

Our gold-medal opponent wore coordinated San Antonio Spurs jerseys. Uh-oh. Then, we learned that they were also playing "our" 2-3 zone defense. Again, uh-oh.

We took some early timeouts so I could walk the team through basic counters to the 2-3 zone. Our best big man got into major foul trouble in the first half. Despite the challenges, we found a groove late in the 2nd half and closed the deficit to 2 points. Both sets of fans were going nuts. I had lost my voice encouraging the guys and challenging our fans to get louder than the others.

Our deficit was still 2 when the referees blew the final whistle. What a tough loss but every cinderella story comes to an end. I reminded them that they had a lot to be proud of. To look at how far we had come. And with that we headed to the final ceremony.

I was shocked to find us up on a large medal stand, in front of probably a thousand people. We each received our silver medal and JARC was presented with the 2nd place trophy. Then we were ceremoniously doused with champagne by the gold medalists. It was a fitting end to a cinderella run.

It was probably the neatest experience I've had here in China. Building into people here happens in multiple ways and basketball was one way that hit close to home. I was thrilled to share it with them.

Enjoy the pictures.