So I’ve been meaning to write an update for over a month… but then again I’ve also been sick for over a month. I got a cold just as I was recovering from my camp cold and I’ve been close enough to house bound for the past ten days or so. I’ve been too exhausted to do anything most of the time. My cross stitch has got a work out, but sometimes I’ve been too tired to even concentrate on that. Still, I’m feeling a lot better today – I’m actually able to concentrate on reading and writing emails so I’m trying to catch up on correspondence from the last two weeks (so if you wrote to me and didn’t hear back, hopefully I’ll be in touch soon!)
I think you all know that I’m currently working full time at my church as the interim youth director – a position I’ll give up once a new person is employed. I’m told they’re hoping to have someone in February, but we’ll see. 12 applicants have been whittled down to three shortlisted so that’s encouraging.
Anyway, it’s been a busy month here! We had our two Fall youth camps (yeah yeah I know, “Fall” is a nonsense word…but that’s what they’re called so…I just have to deal with it!) November 9-11th was High School Camp – that’s American high school, so grades 9-12, about age 15-18. The following weekend was Middle School – grades 6-8, about age 12-14.
HS camp was the biggest HS camp ever – the first over 200 people! We had 225 people, about 185 kids and 40 leaders. MS was about the same number of people, but a higher percentage of leaders, because we had about 30 high school students come back as assistant leaders. This is the first time that I’ve been here where the High School camp had more students than the Middle School camp. This is mostly due to the fact that a Korean boarding school in the area sent us 65 kids to HS camp. Last year they sent about 30, but they had such a good time that twice as many came this time! A bunch of the same kids returned, and their faces just lit up when they recognised some of the leaders. That was really sweet.
Our theme was “Uncharted Waters” and we encouraged everyone to come to dressed as… pirates!! That was really, REALLY fun! I took a little creative license with my costume – I was a very Tanya-style pirate. Yep, reallyreally fun! Except for the whole losing my voice thing. I was sick at both camps and couldn’t sing hardly at all but by Saturday of the second camp I’d lost my voice. Sunday morning I literally had no voice. I would try to talk and these squawks would come out… rather bizarre! And fairly amusing, I guess. I’m going to send you some photos as soon as I get them.
It’s definitely winter here now. It’s been sub-zero overnight for two months now, but the real clincher was when I got up one morning and realized that none of the trees had leaves left on them. It’s not completely desolate yet, but it’s close. It snowed yesterday morning. There was hardly anything left by this morning, but it was still nice. The funny thing is that the cold isn’t bothering me at all. I mean, the temperatures aren’t stupid cold yet but still at Canberra mid-winter level (it’s been -6 to 5 this week). I guess I’ve adjusted to it? Or maybe our complex is better heated this year? I don’t know, but I’m not complaining about it!
I did something the other week that I said I would never do…. ba guan!!! For the uninitiated, that’s the Chinese cups treatment (拔罐). Basically, 16 glass cup-like things are heated and then applied to your back, where the heat sucks your skin into the cup a bit. It doesn’t hurt – there is sensation, but it’s not really pain – but it leaves these AWESOME purplish marks on your back, like huge circular bruises. They don’t hurt either though – you can poke them and everything – no pain! And then a week or so later I did the cups again, this time after doing gua sha (刮痧) – another bruise causing treatment, this one where they scrape your back with wooden stick things. A little painful but not really, and feels good how it works on the back muscles. You could see where I’d had the gua sha when the cups were done – the areas that had be gua sha-ed didn’t go anywhere near as deep purple.
Even more pleasant than THAT fun stuff was an outing on Saturday night to a performance of Handel’s Messiah. I was totally exhausted after a day of doing nothing (oh the joy of being sick) but I started to perk up during the second half. It was a good performance. The choir was really excellent. The orchestra is apparently the only one in China able to play an authentic baroque style, and they weren’t half bad.
Even more exciting was the recent arrival of two boxes from home! Yaaaay!! I hadn’t had mail for AGES so it was really fun :) Manda and Mum sent me some things I left at home and also some fun Christmas presents! I got some lovely chocolate and eyeliner from Manda and some amazing cookware from Mum. So obviously the cookware had to be tried out – they’re a few of those flexible baking tins, so I made chocolate cake! Yum! And I copied Christina’s recipe with the tinned cherries thrown into the batter. So good!
It will be Christmas soon. I have no idea what I’ll do to celebrate. Most of my friends are leaving town but I’m sure I’ll work something out. I just don’t know who/what yet!
After Christmas I’m looking at taking a little trip. If I can scrape the cash together in time to buy the ticket, I’m planning to spend 10 days in Texas in mid-January. I’ll be in Houston for the wedding of two very good friends from my first year in China, and then I’ll travel a couple of hours to visit two very good friends from last year. Fingers crossed I can get a hold of some money this week :)
Anyway, that’s the news from Beijing! I hope you are all well.