Monday, September 23, 2013

Inner Mongolia

 This is the main road of the town.
There is a mixture of severe poverty and newly built 5 story buildings. The building in the background is the hospital where we will have our medical clinic.

Recent floods damaged many homes.

As their livelihood, this elderly couple has been collecting trash for many years.
The recognized religion is Lama Buddhism.
In the upcoming medical clinic, we will stay at an inexpensive hotel. (There's only two hotels in town.)
My friend Samuel and I as we prepared to board the train back home.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Through his work with the Handicapped & Rehab Association here in our city, Kevin made a connection with a woman who founded an acrobatic troupe for teenagers and adults affected by disabilities. We had the chance to go to their training facility, where they put on a performance for our family. It was so much fun!
Molly & Hudson were mesmerized! The song in the video above is called "Fly Higher," which was also the theme music for the adult seminar during the Family Retreat weekend.
This performance included a man in his wheelchair on a rotating platform while he balanced two other people in gravity-defying ways.

The video below shows part of a routine involving eight performers with hearing impairments. I think of it as the human slinky dance. :)
Afterward, we took photos with the group, and had the chance to tell them how much we enjoyed their performances. Molly has mentioned several times how she'd love the chance to do acrobatics while Hudson says he'd rather just watch. This sums up their personalities quite well. :)


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Molly turns 6!

Molly turned 6 on Saturday, September 7 and we had a party at our apartment to celebrate.
I felt like all of our worlds were colliding since we had friends from preschool, international fellowship, our charitable organization and our neighborhood all together. It was fun to see them meeting one another and interacting. Including Molly & Hudson, there were 10 children in all, and five nationalities were represented.
A couple of weeks ago, our apartment's microwave oven stopped working. Instead of replacing it, we decided to get a toaster oven. We chose the smaller model over the larger one since I'm not very confident in my baking skills. Molly was very excited with the idea of baking cupcakes for her party this year, but I was nervous about how they'd turn out, not to mention having enough for 20-25 guests. I dutifully bought Duncan Hines "classic yellow cupcake mix" from the import aisle and got to work the night before her birthday.
Cupcake fail! Since our toaster oven is labeled in Chinese, I inadvertently turned on only the broiler for the first batch and it was a sad sight. The next six were much better, and I had been smart enough to make a couple of contingency plans. I had a second box of cupcake mix for our friend Cathy, so she baked a dozen in her oven that morning. And Molly and I ordered a cake from a local bakery so all our bases would be covered. Isn't it pretty? She picked it out from the bakery catalog.
The import aisle offered cupcake and cookie mixes for a great price but was completely out of frosting. Thankfully, our Canadian friends came to the rescue and brought a tub of vanilla frosting to the party. We let the guests choose between vanilla frosting or Nutella for their cupcakes and both were delicious. Of course kids always love putting sprinkles on top. :)

I added a big bowl of grapes to the table as an attempt to balance out the sweets, but it looked exactly the same when the party was over. The chocolate chip cookies went fast, and just a small slice of cake remained.
Here's the birthday girl playing with balloons before the guests arrived. We used the desk behind the love seat as our craft table and the kids made paper-plate animals from kits Kevin's mom brought in August.
Molly had quite a few gifts to open! We had a family time that morning for her to open the presents sent from family members. Kevin and I surprised her with the Mickey Mouse basketball goal with a Minnie Mouse ball that was also heartily enjoyed by the kids during her party.
That afternoon, she sat in the love seat and was surrounded by her friends as they watched her open the gifts they brought. A birthday party like this isn't common in Chinese culture, but everyone certainly got into the spirit of things. :)
The day started with our Heart to Heart English classes that morning and lunch at McDonald's (Molly's special request. We had about an hour and a half before party guests arrived at 2. Afterwards, we cleaned up and prepared a simple dinner (bean burritos - one of our favorite treats!) before another group of friends began arriving for our Saturday night Genesis study. By the end of the night, we were exhausted! It was certainly a very full and very happy day.

School Pics

This summer, Molly & Hudson had school pictures taken at their Chinese kindergarten. I had no idea this was happening -- very likely due to the fact that I can't read Chinese so I don't pay much attention to any signs posted. Molly came home after school one day and said it was so fun because she got to dress up and get her picture taken. Then a week later, the administrator asked me to come down to the school and look at photos. There were so many to choose from! We had different package options, and I chose to buy a hard-cover book with 16 images. They let me put photos of Molly and Hudson together in one book, plus included a framed 5x7 and a photo CD with all 16 high-res images. The total cost was about $40. Compared to preschool pics in Texas, that's a great deal! And definitely a neat cultural experience.
Such a fun keepsake!