Thursday, March 24, 2011

Japanese Noodles in Shanghai

Aimee and I really enjoy eating Ajisen Ramen noodles at their restaurants around the city. We found them a few subway stops away tonight. We last ate there with all 4 kids and basically had to feed each of them for lack of their chopstick skills. There was no silverware to be found. Kindof zaps the whole eating-out-for-fun thing. Followed up with a caramel frappacino (sp?) and Aimee was flying high. Oh, and that's the restaurant mascot below. Maybe Shoney's little sister?

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Saturday I had the privilege of going to Huge Grace, an independently run orphanage in Shanghai with others from our church. It was such a blessing to be there! It was a large, clean, light, beautiful house where children with special needs are loved, and cared for. It was amazing!!! So different than the picture that I had in my mind before we arrived. I am so thankful that God has provided this home and staff to love these beautiful children. It was a fun morning of loving on and interacting with these kids. When we arrived, it was lunch time so I had the privilege of feeding the little boy in the above picture. At first, I didn't know what to say because we speak different languages but quickly realized that he was a child who loves to laugh so we just made silly noises and laughed together. So fun! I wish I could have taken him home with me! The rest of the morning held coloring, and just observing the children as they did their normal daily life of playing. What a blessing! This was truly a dream come true! I am praying for an opportunity to more regularly volunteer in an orphanage--waiting for God to show me which one and to work out all of the details.

Time to get our school day rolling!


This is Aimee again. I've been wanting to thank everyone for your prayers and encouragement. Last week was much better than the previous but I know that this journey of faith that we are all on has its easy days and its hard days. It has definately helped me to allow myself to grieve and to know that non of us can do what God asks us to do on our own--it is only by His grace and power that is working in and through us.

I love Kari Jobe. God has been using the truths in her songs to teach and encourage me. Three of my favorites are:

Come To Me

Take me upon you. I will give you rest.

Come to me, you broken one.
And I will give you peace, I will give you peace.
Come to me, you broken one.
And I will give you peace, I will give you peace.
I will calm your waters, and I will whisper,
'Peace be still.'
Take me upon you. I will give you peace.

Come to me, you burdened one.
And I will give you joy, I will give you joy.
Come to me, you burdened one.
And I will give you joy, I will give you joy.
You will rise like eagles, and my joy shall
be your strength.
Take me upon you. I will give you joy.

Come to me (x3)
I have been waiting for you here.
He has been waiting for you here.
Come. Come to Him.
Come and find your peace.
Come and find your rest.
Come and find your joy.
He is waiting here for you.
He is waiting here for you with open arms.
To hold you, to embrace your heart, to love you.
He is waiting here (x2)

Your loves Captivating
Here in Your hands,
You have Remade me

All of my heart I give You now
Laying aside my fears and doubts
You are the life from which I draw my breath

Breaking my heart, You beckon me
Desperate for you I ever pleaI
You are the hope from which I gain my strength
I have been Remade

Softly, Gently
Holding me closely
You are the comfort that I seek

All of my heart I give You now
Laying aside my fears and doubts
You are the life from which I draw my breath
I have been Remade
I have been Remade
Gloriously, gloriously remade

Breaking my heart, You beckon me
Desperate for you I ever plea
You are the hope from which I gain my strength
I have been Remade

Take My Life
Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love
At the impulse of Thy love

Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee
Take my voice and let me sing
Always, only for my King
Always, only for my King

Take my silver and my gold
Not a mite would I withhold
Take my moments and my days
Let them flow in ceaseless praise
Let them flow in ceaseless praise

Take my will it is Thine own
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my heart it is Thine own
It shall be Thy royal throne
It shall be Thy royal throne

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love
At the impulse of Thy love

I'm sorry that I don't know how to post videos--if you haven't heard these songs, I think they are available on YouTube. Check them out.

Thank you again for your prayers. I so appreciate them and humbly ask that you continue to pray for the adjustment for all of our family. We all have days that are really hard--where we miss family and friends and "normalcy". Could you also pray for God to enable us to hear and understand and remember the Chinese that we are learning? Four out of six of our family members are now studying Chinese. Anna and Elijah began Rosetta Stone last week so now that is a new part of our daily school routine. Anna was not excited to add yet another subject to her "very long" school day but after the first lesson, seems to be enjoying it. Elijah loves it and after every new thing that he learns, he yells out to me "mom!, this is how you say ....!"

Thanks for your love and your prayers! We love you!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dating in Shanghai

Aimee and I are officially dating more than we did in Michigan. Thursday night is date night. We have a stable full of great babysitters next door and have them on standard scheduling. Tonight we headed off to a restaurant street a few subway stops away. The street was great with a good mix of western/asian restaurants and even a donut shop. We went for pasta, and of course donuts afterward. They could not compare to "Good Times" donuts on 8th Street in Holland, Michigan though. : (

Thursday nights = less crowds = pleasant
The smile that can even light up a subway station!!!

Go Spartans!!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Guilin Park Pictures

We hit this traditional chinese park on Saturday with the Meyer family. Great spot to hang out with lots of cool architecture, gardens and places for the kids to run and play. The park was built in the 1930's with funding by a gangster named Huang Jinrong. All I can say is that the Wooden Shoe Bandits (Holland Michigan) and Minnesota Rummy (Minneapolis Minnesota) were the only gangs representin' on Saturday. See below for gang bangin' details.

Lots of cool architecture in this park.
Some of the pit bosses from the 2 rival gangs. But fortunately, they had signed a truce this day.
The Chinese warlord that typically runs the Tulip City Bangers but currently on loan to the Wooden Shoe bandits.
One of the multiple hideouts in one of the rock gardens.
A very intimidating picture of the Bandits with a wanna-be that snuck into the background. We threw molotov cocktails soon after this was taken.
We were marking our territory with the photographs. Aimee preferred marking territory in a more primitive way but Sugar Ray (Rachel) explained that was not appropriate.

One other highlight of the weekend was getting McDonald's delivered. We've always seen the delivery bicycles with their little hot boxes mounted on the back but never tried it. It was surprisingly simple to get all the unhealthiness of McDonald's in China.

Step 1: Dial the universal phone number Mcdonalds Shanghai
Step 2: Press 2 for english
Step 3: Place your order with an english speaking teller
Step 4: Receive your food less than 20 minutes later
Step 5: Clog arteries China style


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Napoleon Dynamite

The weather hit upper 60's here this weekend. My condolescences to all the Michigan people out there. But our warm weather won't stick. It cools off again mid-week.....probably down to the 40-50s. :P

We had a great weekend with friends, including a visit to a great local, Chinese garden/park called Guilin Park. The kids really enjoyed it and we'll try to get photos to upload soon, but tonight, the system is slow or erring out. So, I've just got a few pics.

What does it take to have a whole bunch of the neighbor kids come over for a couple hours? Pop in Napoleon Dynamite. The majority of these guys have the movie memorized. One even did his own rendition of Napoleon's dance performance after Pedro's speech. A lot of fun. Rachel did not see all of the movie for a variety of reasons.

And below, we've got a couple of pictures of our 1st floor, with all the decorations up. Things have settled in pretty well.

We actually bought this painting from the artist in a popular art shopping street. The shops are often run by the artists themselves. We bought this tulip picture from the artist and even had him tweak the colors to better match our Holland home (during our first China go round). But we never hung them for lack of space. So, they've made the return back to China and have a great place to hang out. You must come and see it in person for the full effect though!!!
Here's the living room with lots of seating. It's been fun to be able to host larger groups of people. With the extra space, lit backyard, and the freshly assembled grill, we are ready to start hosting shindigs. Should be fun. We could use as much community/fellowship as we can get in this big city. Having a close knit group of friends makes China life all the better.

More pics from the weekend to be posted soon!!! Thanks for checking in. Also thanks for the prayers and kind words on Aimee's previous post.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


It has been a while since I have posted! I have good intentions and take pictures for the blog and think of what I could write but I never take the time to sit down and actually put any of that effort into writing! Sorry!

We are getting more and more settled and for me that means time to think. I remember around this time last China trip was really hard for me and it is again. Even in saying goodbye, I push the tears and sadness aside, I swallow it down because it is easier for me to hide behind toughness and independence than deal with my emotions. There is the excitement of what is to come and what God is going to do and that is still there, but now I am beginning to deal with the emotions of what comes with living in a different country. I miss people so much. I miss normalcy of life. I miss knowing the language and being able to do and say things by myself. I miss solitude and the beauty of God's creation undisturbed (not that I have ever seen that, but I miss being able to look out and see only trees and grass for miles and not building after building). So in a nutshell I am sad, lonely, and frustrated. :) Hows that for honesty?

I have begun the journey of learning Chinese. I know that it is going to be a long journey but am trying to remember the encouragement of a friend that every word that I learn is a step forward, it is more than what I knew before. I am so thankful for this perspective but admit that it is still very frustrating that I am not able to talk with people! Yesterday, our helper didn't move the book basket away from the bathtub when she was cleaning the bathtub-- each book is now spread all over my bedroom floor-- each page separated to try to salvage them from being ruined by the water. It would be so easy to ask, next time you clean the bathroom, can you move books out of the way of running water? And yesterday I asked our wonderful neighbor how we go about changing the light bulbs of the house (there are unique IKEA lights in every room and seriously I don't know how to get the old light bulb out without breaking the whole light and breaking my neck in the process because of the high ceilings), she responded that you just call the maintenance guy and have him come over to do that. That sounds easy to do, right? Well my vocabulary of good morning, afternoon, evening, thank you, your welcome, I'm sorry, and that's okay just doesn't get the message across! She is so gracious and honestly will be the one to call when I remind her that I can't but I am tired of having to rely on people to do just the simplest things. I feel so helpless.

I am learning that it is okay to be sad. It is okay to cry. It is okay to be weak--actually best to be weak. 2 Cor 12:10 I just need to keep turning to Jesus to be my strength, to fill me for what I need in that moment. I am clinging to the above verse and Phil 4:13.

On a lighter note, I love our helper. It is such a blessing to have her help with the house. I am able to devote all of me to our school time instead of having my to do list always in the back of my mind. And when the school day is done, the house is clean! She is such a sweet girl and goes out of her way to be helpful. She enjoys the kids and they all like her. Funny story--I have already mentioned that my vocabulary is very small so mostly what I say to our helper is (shi shi) which means thank you. I say it all day long actually--I am so thankful for each thing that she does. Rachel loves to play ayi (pronounced I E) So she grabs a diaper wipe and goes around the house wiping down walls etc smiling, nodding her head saying shi shi, shi shi. And Sammy thinks that her name is shi shi so he follows her around the house, saying shi shi, candy? hoping that she will give him a piece of candy--which I haven't figured out why he associates her with candy, but it is really cute.

I was going to load some pictures but just noticed that Ryan took the camera memory card to work so that will have to be a different day. I hope that it is not weeks from now! Thanks for checking in on us!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Financed Fritos?

Found my favorite fritos in the local western food grocery store. $7.21 for a small bag. I passed this time but not sure how much longer I can hold off. The box of Cocoa Puffs was over $10 for the box. Ouch.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Better late than Never?

My apologies for the delay on this blog. I got a fairly good variety pack of the foods that are often offered at work. A preface: my employer is a joint venture meaning my employer (Johnson Controls Inc) has a partnership with a Chinese company. The company provides a subsidized set of meals through the day and night (we are a 3-shift operation). I typically join for breakfast (~4 times/week) and every day for lunch. The price for all employees: white collar, blue collar, operations is the same. 2 RMB for breakfast and 2 RMB (Chinese RenMinBi) for lunch. Given the current exchange rate, each equates to to a whopping 30 cents. I actually look forward to the lunches. The breakfasts are not as appealing. They consist of a hard boiled egg, a bread bun with veggies inside, and a bowl of hot noodle soup. Find below several days' of lunch fare with play-by-play:
You are going to certainly notice a pattern and the white rice comes standard, along with that blue carton which is a yogurt. They stab the yogurt with a straw (no spoons here). Chopsticks on the left edge. For each pic, I'll start top left corner and go clockwise: Each lunch includes a choice of meat. Always 2 or 3 choices with one typically being fish. This day included some chunks of meat and bone. Probably pork and the bones go right into the bowls. They don't do any sorting of bones. Some chunks are just bone. You don't know it until it's in, and if confirmed bone, purge. After making the meat selection, up comes choice #2. It's often a choice that includes tofu, bean curd, or some other mystery non-meat. On this day, it was a noodle type food of which I don't know the material. But it tastes alright. Then the standard bowl of sticky, white rice. Each lunch includes a bowl of soup. No choice here, you just get what they offer. It's always piping hot. It was eggdrop this day. The other choice is 2 of 3 or 4 vegetables. There's always something green available like cabbage, cucumber (I think), bok choi, sprouts.... I chose the sprouts and baked beans this day. These baked beans are not real hot and sauce is not thick. It's typical to use your big bowl of sticky rice as a "plate". You bring the other foods over to it, dump sauces on the rice, and generally just flavor the rice as you see fit. Rarely does one eat the entire rice bowl plain.
Ok, remember top left clockwise: Sliced onions in sauce, have no idea, chicken with all sorts of bones mixed in (I think they just took a big machete to a carcass with no regard for butchering 101), rice, green vegetable, maybe cabbage, egg drop soup again.
Egg drop soup, tofu (ewwww), rice, dry fish (packed with bones and hazardous to one's esophogus, eat with care) and more greens. Must have been a rough day because I only took 4 small bowls including tofu.
Pork/Bone chunks, crispy greens, cabbage I think, rice, sprouts, non-egg drop soup (I don't know the correct names, and I mean english names, for most of this stuff)
Fried pork/bone, cooked celery (everything is always cooked, never raw), light colored cabbage, funky egg drop soup, sprouts, sticky rice
Egg drop soup, cabbage, cauliflower, rice, complete fish with head, fried with orange sauce, more green veggies. So, I could not bring myself to grab one of these fish so I snapped this photo of my friend's tray. Mind you, complete fish show up regularly in a variety of presentations. When they are not fried, they look even more fishy. Fried just has an amazing ability to make anything look more appealing. Anyone getting hungry yet?
Lettuce, Mushrooms and green shoots, KFC-like fried drumstick, rice, seems like more cabbage but these have not all been the same cabbage, more like cabbage 1, 2, 3, 4 or mystery green veggie A, B, C, or D. ?-drop soup. Not sure it was egg that they dropped in this one.
Cauliflower with beans, rice, ? with a carrot, fried fish, cabbage F, soup.

And now you have a week and a half in the life of Ryan at the canteen for work lunch. I do enjoy the lunches and you certainly can't beat the price. My colleagues always remind me that this is hardly quality chinese food but I like it. Maybe my expectations are too low.

The pictures loaded super fast today so maybe you'll see more blogging from the Bowman's. Have a good weekend.