November 12, 2006

Two additional students, Norman and Edward, joined the regular gang and me this Sunday for church service. We had to split the group and take two taxis into the city. We first stopped for breakfast before heading to the church. Neither Edward nor Norman ever had eaten a western breakfast and we all had good time watching, laughing, and encouraging them in mastering forks and knives. This week’s Communion Service started with the hymn “Jesus Keep me Near the Cross” and “I Am Coming to the Cross”. The service concluded with “His Grace Abounded More”. The sermon began with the congregational reading of Psalm 98 leading to the message of Nicodemus’s visit with Jesus in John 3:14-15 and the story about the bronze snake in Numbers 21:4-9 outlining the danger of dishonoring the CEO by the sin of unbelief. At the end of the service the Pastor invited everyone to come forward to receive communion.

Several Sunday ago I meet a Chinese church attendee who befriended me with his son and several other friends. He is a very vocal worshiper, singing and praying without any inhibitions. As we were waiting to partake in Communion he wouldn’t join us. When I asked him why he didn’t want to come forward he told me that he had some unresolved sin this week and that the CEO would not be pleased with him to be a hypocrite. When I asked him if we could pray for and with him he confessed that he needed first to get right with the person he offended this week before asking for forgiveness from God. He refused taking communion. For lunch we went back to the South American BBQ Restaurant where Norman and Edward enjoyed for the very first time this type of buffet style food experience and couldn’t stop going back for several large helpings.

After lunch John went back with Norman and Edward to the University since they had several afternoon classes to attend. James and I went to China Mobile to get a new, local SIM card for my mobile phone since I couldn’t resolve the recharge problem of my Shanghai account. In the interim, my friend in Shanghai that I consulted last week called me this week to let me know that she was able to replenish my account with 500RMB. Now I am the owner of an international and local account with only one mobile phone. I have no other choice than get a second mobile phone to be able to use the two different SIM phone cards unless I want to switch the microchip each time I want to use the other account. Well, as I said before, there is never a boring moment here in China. My students love it since local phone calls for them are now considerably less expensive.

Our Sunday evening fellowship had to be cancelled, as I got very sick again with severe stomach cramps and diarrhea for the second time in the last 3 weeks. I should have known better the night before not to eat salad washed in restaurants with tap water that is contaminated. As a result I was in bed all day Monday and miserable for most of the week. The cold weather and lack of apartment/dormitory heat also didn’t help my cause and is the central point of discussion among students on campus. We all wait anxiously for H-Day on November 15. That’s when the University supposedly turns on the central radiator heat for all campus buildings.

On the teaching side I have been very busy this week preparing Midterm exam tests papers coming up in two weeks. I also borrowed some ideas from my teaching time in Urumqi and introduced to each class three different Skit plays where each student must act out a part in the play. The best class performance then will be given the opportunity to show the winning play at the English Corner gathering on a future Saturday evening for all the students on campus to see. I further gave each class this week Debate ideas and generally accepted rules how to agree and disagree, advice on how to debate an issue, how to agree strongly with an opinion, how to half agree, how to disagree politely, how to disagree strongly, and how to put forth reasons and evidence for or against arguments and how to persuade or influence the other side.

This is one of the most successful oral exercises to get students to freely talk in English. I give the argument for and against to the students the week before the debate. They will, however, not know in advance which side they will have to argue for or against. I then choose one side and give them an argument topic for or against. I pick one student to start. He/She gives a point on the side they are on and then they choose someone on the opposite side and ask, “Do you agree with me?” They are to answer the person and then give a point of their own and ask someone if they agree and so on. I insist that you cannot disagree with everything. I also tell them that the ideas are not always the true feeling of each student but to just practice in talking and debating. Students usually get really excited and go on for hours debating.

From the home front I learned that the Memorial service last Monday for Sherri’s mother was well attended. Sherri and her brother Art gave some eulogy comments and Art’s wife Debbie sang and played the piano. Afterwards a luncheon to celebrate her life was held at the Carriage Oaks Retirement Center where her mother had lived for the last 4 years after she moved to Illinois from Michigan to be near to her daughter. From the overflowing turnout of residents and guest who attended the luncheon it was obvious that Bobby had made many new friends during her stay at Carriage Oaks. Bobby’s apartment has already been turned over to someone on the waiting list who is eager to get into the retirement home by mid December. Together with the help of her brother and family members, Sherri has been busy all week to clear out furniture and personal belongings so that the place can be refurbished. Thank you all for the many prayers that went up to God on behalf of the families and for His guiding hand in taking Bobby to her eternal home.

Life is a dream walking, death is going home. Chinese Proverb

Until next week…

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