Book of Mormon

Standard

(Warning, long post!) For my birthday, instead of a big party or something (since I turned 30), I asked for descent seats to go to a Broadway show. We’d heard – interesting – things about Book of Mormon, and my husband REALLY wanted to go, so we decided on that show. I had a vague idea of what I was getting into, knowing who the writers were (South Park), but I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I know it takes a whole lot to offend me, and, while I was expecting the show to touch on Christianity in general, not just the Mormons, I certainly didn’t expect the show to 1) make me cry, 2) make me pity the audience, and 3) feel convicted. Laughter, a touch of anger and disgust I expected, and I got that in spades. It was not a good show, by any means, but it was certainly a show that made me think, and it was definitely time well spent.

In case you were curious what the show looks like from an Evangelical Christian standpoint, here you go. I’m cutting it here because this is a LONG LONG post (and very possibly offensive).

Continue reading

Moroccan Mint Tea

Standard

As Part of our Missions conference, we decided to have a prayer and tea time. The head of the missions team thought it would be neat to serve a Moroccan tea in three parts, which goes with the saying:

The first glass is as gentle as life,
the second glass is as strong as love,
the third glass is as bitter as death.

In our group, we prayed in three rounds, each time reading a story from the Bible and using that as a jumping point. One problem though… someone needed to actually make the tea! I volunteered as I love to learn new things and I love me some tea. I spent a while looking around the internet for a good recipe. You can find a great one with pictures here, but if you want the recipe I used – for a bigger pot, and the simple steps, I added them below. It was much easier than expected, just took a bit of time

Moroccan Mint Tea

  1. The basic recipe is: 3.5 tbsp gunpowder green tea (4 if you want it stronger), a handful spearmint leaves, 1/4 -1/2 c sugar and 4 c water (what my teapot holds). This is the tea I ordered, and I picked up spearmint at Trader Joes (though you can prob find it elsewhere). If you don’t have a good strainer, I recommend getting one that holds a lot – the gunpowder tea expands a lot. This is a great one for a 4c teapot.
  2. I put the tea in the strainer, poured boiling water in and let it sit for about one minute. I then poured out the water (it cleaned the tea)
  3. I added the mint leaves and sugar (if using sugar). Then poured water over to fill the pot.
  4. Let the tea steep for 10+ minutes.
  5. Pour a cup of tea. Pour it back into the teapot. Repeat 3 times. This makes the pot of tea have a consistent flavor (esp if using sugar).
  6. Remove the tea and mint leaves (optional)
  7. Pour – traditionally at a height to get bubbles in the tea (but I can’t do that with my nervous tremor).

This tea was AMAZING – some of the best tea I’ve had in my life. We had some wonderful time praying and went home quite full of tea. I highly recommend it!

 

Air’s Birthday

Standard

Tuesday was one of our student’s birthdays. Somehow we managed to get a student with a birthday both last year as well as this year (and we love it!). Last year we threw Nancy a birthday party with all the students – complete with cake, presents, pin the tail on the donkey, and a pinata. She cried and told us she’d never EVER had a birthday party before.

Pinata

Not Air – Another student

This year the director of the program wanted to do a birthday party with the students during class time, so we gave Air the choice to do something with family (us) or with her friends. She decided to stick with family. So – on my crazy Tuesday – I drove my daughter to my friend’s VBS, then drove back home, gathered some supplies, then ran to church (where the Chinese students have their classes).  I met the teacher and she and I spent an hour decorating the gym for the party. Air walked in with the other students to her surprise party and my daughter putting a crown on her head. We sang happy birthday, played basketball themed games (she named herself Air after Air Jordan), and hit the pinata. She was incredibly happy.

Birthday Party

From there, I drove my 3 girls (my daughter, Air and April) to meet my husband for dinner at Chili’s. After dinner, the waiters came and sang Happy Birthday to Air, and she was so surprised and a bit embarrassed. Many of the patrons of the restaurant clapped – it was wonderful!

Go cartsAfter dinner we drove to Boomers. We had found a great discount through groupon for unlimited rides/miniature golf, so we played for a few hours until they closed. The girls – including my 4 year old – LOVED the speedway. They all went one time, then we played miniature golf, which does not exist in China. They were pretty good and had a great time. Air kept saying she had a wonderful day – that it was one of the best days of her life. I am so glad that we got to experience such a special time with her!     IMG_3706IMG_3729

 

 

 

Food and Gospel with Air and April

Standard

making cupcakesOne of the things that was really interesting was baking with the girls. Most Chinese people have never used an over (and many have never seen one) – they just buy baked goods from the store. Since they had so much fun making the cookies, April asked to make cupcakes as well. It was funny because Air disappeared for a bit, so I let April choose the colors of the frosting, and when she got back, Air decided that she was going to use all the green frosting, and decided that April was going to get all the purple (even though April had chosen both colors). When I asked if they were ready to switch, Air said, “No, I’m good!” and April just tilted her head. Since April is much quieter and more passive, I pressed, “April, do you want to switch?” She looked at me, and stood straighter, and said in a defiant tone, “YES, I do.” Air looked offended and replied, “No, you are happy with that,” and then loudly talked in Mandarin for a moment. I interrupted and cheerfully said, “we need to share – let’s switch!” Air frowned and April had a huge smile. April – as I mentioned before, has a sister, and Air does not. I think Air is very used to getting her way and has not had to really share before. It was an interesting experience for all of us. They decorate their cupcakes very differently too (Air’s are first, April’s are second).

air's cupcakes april's cipcakes

 

The food was another thing that was very different for them. They weren’t used to eating such heavy food, or having so many sweets, or having raw salad for that matter. Most of the food they enjoyed, but a lot of it was new, and some clearly was not a favorite (to put it nicely). They did both enjoy cereal, and told me that they wished they could bring back some milk with them since our milk (2% in our house) tasted so much better than the milk in China.

Our second Sunday, I went out to get donuts – because I figured they needed them at least once. I got a huge box of them (and was very sad I couldn’t have any). We all sat down for breakfast before church, and had a serious discussion that luckily was very lighthearted. Since they were joining us at church, I asked them how much of the sermon they had understood the prior week (“not much” they confessed), and I asked them what they know about Christians, Christianity, and Jesus. Again, they confessed, “Not much.” I asked if they mind if we explained a bit to them before church so that they could understand it a bit better, and they were really excited. The prior Sunday we had explained the basics of the Bible and how to use it and what it meant to us (and given them their own bilingual copy), but this was the important stuff.

We started with sin and how we believed everyone sinned. We explained how in the Old Testament people made sacrifices to try to make up for their sins. We then explained that Jesus was the son of God, sent down as the one perfect and final sacrifice so that if we put our faith and trust in him, we are made clean. We talked about how we were believers and that we try to live like Jesus and we have a personal relationship with God, which involves prayer and forgiveness, and that we use the Bible for guidance. They asked questions and we got into a discussion about the Da Vinci Code, which was great because it brought the Gospel into everyday perspective. It was a wonderful conversation because it was presented in an educational manner but still conveyed the truth without being pushy in any way: Here’s what we believe, and this is how we (and Christians) understand things, and why certain things are important. What was the absolute best part: when we went to church just after, our pastor presented the gospel again, and I could see the girls nodding their heads; I knew they understood what was being said, even if they didn’t believe it. And as much as I love culture-exchange and learning about other places, my ultimate goal is to share the truth, and hosting was a marvelous opportunity. We were incredibly blessed by the time with the girls.

freedom – ask about all govnt posit commun, but people can believe other things – thoughts?

Catching up and making cookies…

Standard

My life has been incredibly hectic for the last few weeks… my daughter’s birthday, family visiting, VBS, VeggieTales event, and now we have visiting Chinese students with us. I keep trying to catch up on posts from way back when, but I decided that what I need to do is just post from now on, then catch up when I can. So here we go, jumping in in the middle, no background. It’ll come in a bit (hopefully next week when I have a bit of time).

Last night there were no plans, so I thought I’d have the girls make cookies. In China, most people don’t own an oven (except the very rich), so they have never baked cookies, a cake, anything. They have no idea how to mix the ingredients, or how the oven works. Since we had some time (and they are going to Disneyland today, which means they can enjoy and share them!), I figured it was the perfect time.

baking cookiesAfter I got dinner started, I called them in the kitchen. My 4-year-old was bouncing off the wall excited. She loves cookies – both making them and eating them. I decided that instead of the girls trying to work on one recipe together, I’d give them 2 different recipies. I opened my Betty Crocker baking book (from 1979!) and found the chocolate chip cookies and the snickerdoodles. I pulled out all the ingrediants and the measuring tools and explained the basics. My daughter kept trying to do the measuring and mixing since she bakes with me all the time, and I needed to remind her that she needed to let the girls have a chance because they had never baked before. It was hard for my daughter to understand that someone older than her had not done something – that she was the more experienced one.

finished with cookiesAfter mixing everything up – very nervously and carefully! – they rolled everything into balls so they could cool while we ate dinner. After dinner, I had them pop the cookie dough balls onto the cookie sheet, set the timer, and we waited. After a few minutes, I showed them how to remove the trays then move the cookies to the cooling racks. It was fun to watch them go through all the steps being very careful as they learned, then growing in confidence and actually enjoying it. (Grown ups learn much faster than preschoolers.) By the end we had nearly 100 cookies, all perfect, and they were very proud of themselves. April turned to me and said, “Cool. I’m so cool!” Yes, yes you are.

cookies!

Visiting Chinese Students

Standard

Once again, our family is hosting two girls from China. We did this last year and had an absolute blast! Connie and Nancy*, our students last year, were so wonderful and so much fun we just didn’t want them to leave. By the end of their 2 week stay they really were a part of the family – they were doing dishes and reading my daughter her bedtime story. We went to dinner, went to a show, and experienced American culture – we are so excited to get the chance to do it all over again this year!

Air and April arrived late Thursday night. Air loves basketball and is incredibly outgoing. You would know her what she thinks the minute you meet her. She got her name from Air Jordan. April is more of an introvert – a reader, and a bit of a mystery. Her name came from her birth month. Absolutely fascinating to me – April has a younger sister. I didn’t know that was possible in China with the one child law, but I recently found out (before they came), that more than one child is possible, provided you pay the government a fine.

Their classes are incredibly fun and interesting. In a two week packed schedule, they have a bit of in-class time (which is located at our church), then they have a bunch of field trips. They visit Chapman, UCLA, Disneyland, Hollywood, a fire station, library, police dept, senior center, and much more. It’s a really neat program. At the end, they need to prepare a report then present it to the class. Weekends they have free with their host family (as well as breakfasts and dinners).

My Mulan Bookmark

My Mulan Bookmark

We are looking forward to the weeks ahead with them – visiting new places, trying new foods, exchanging cultural experiences, and bonding as a family. (When they arrived, they brought us some wonderful gifts – bookmarks, key chains, coasters, a cool paper cutting, and a god luck charm for my daughter. They were well thought out gifts – very like the girls they came from.)

*Chinese students often have an English name when they have class or when they visit. Last year Nancy’s real name was Nan (so Nancy was close). Connie didn’t have an English name, so we got to choose one for her. We talked about her personality and characteristics, and chose Constance for her, with the nickname Connie – it fit her perfectly.