Took me longer than I planned to get to writing this update – sorry! I’ve been pretty busy over the past month. Lots of youth ministry activity, I’m working hard on the Youth-in-Asia stuff, and I finally went to see a doctor after a couple of bad migraines. (It’d been over a year since I said I’d make an appointment, so… right on time?)
I want to tell you a little about some things I’m working on, and then, as promised – story time!
30 Hour Famine
About 100 teenagers in Beijing will participate in the 30 hour famine this year (yes, it’s 40 hours in Australia, but we register through the USA where it is only 30 hours). Last year our kids raised $25,000 USD – this year we’re expecting it to be at least $30,000 USD. If you would like to contribute to our fundraising, you can visit the World Vision site online and contribute to the general team fund or to my personal fundraising account. We are directing our funds toward rebuilding efforts in Haiti. (Visit our group page here).
Youth in Asia
This is the network I am setting up to resource and support youth workers in Asia, with a focus on those working with TCKs – like me. TCK stands for Third Culture Kid and refers to kids who grow up overseas. Unlike the children of immigrants, TCKs grow up as foreigners who will return “home” one day. My current projects are getting the blog up and running, and planning a retreat for TCK workers, which will happen in Thailand this October. I really believe in this work – it’s where I’m heading, future-wise.
I’m really excited with how the blog is going. While I know not all of you have a vested interest in this ministry, for those that do (those who are TCKs, are raising TCKs, or have worked with TCKs) I would absolutely love your feedback, especially as comments on specific articles, sharing your perspective. I’d like to point out a few articles I’m proud of (some I’ve written, some written by other youth workers):
- Airports (Christina Valenti)
- The Oscar for Youth Pastors (John Sorrell)
- 10 Things To Consider When Running Games (Tim Carigon)
- TCK Perspective – advice from a TCK (Arie Pittman)
- What a youth leader’s influence looks like
- TCK Identity Issues
- “Building a Fire” night game (If you went to one of the camps where we played this, I’d love your feedback!)
- Favourite Camp Themes (Go, ID, Mythbusters, Uncharted Waters, Nothing…)
Just before Chinese New Year I had the chance to meet a family my sister knew in Australia. They’re Americans who lived in Perth the last 5 years and just moved to Shenzhen (in southern China). When they came to Beijing on a visa we got together a couple of times. It was really fun! So strange that they’ve seen far more of my sister these past few years than I have in a long time. Anyway, one day we went chair skating. Chair Skating Chair skating happens in a lot of places around Beijing. In winter the temperature is low enough that most waterways in the inner city freeze solid. We went to Houhai, which has one of the biggest chair skating set-ups. We rugged up against the chill and wandered to one of the admission huts by the lakeside. In recent years everything has become more high-tech. We paid a deposit against the rentals, took a swipe card, and walked down a short ramp onto the surface of the lake and chose our equipment. One the ice, workers scanned our cards with a list of the equipment we borrowed. When we left, we were charged 5 RMB per person for being on the lake, and 20 RMB an hour for the sleds. All up it was $15 for 3 adult and 3 children to have an hour of icy fun.
Houhai is a medium sized laked surrounded by restaurants and bars. At night the whole place is lit up with coloured lights. In summer there are paddle boats for hire, and people place candles in little cardboard boats on the surface of the water. There’s a small island in the middle of the lake, and marble bridges around the sides wherever it branches out to other waterways. I’ve been there many times in summer. I’ve taken family and friends on the paddle boats, I’ve eaten in a bunch of the different restaurants, and I’ve walked the whole way around the lake. I’d never been chair skating there before, though!
There are lots of ways to have fun on a frozen lake in Beijing. There are regular ice skates, ice bicycles, two types of chair sleds, and even bumper cars. The bumper cars looked fun but are far more expensive so we didn’t try them out. We chose the double-seat chair sleds – an adult and a child paired up on each one.
Picture a small chair, the sort you’d find in a primary school classroom. Put a little wooden box in front of it (maybe 20*30cm?) and a piece of carpet on top of each seat. Next, mount the whole thing on a simple metal contraption, with two runners forming slides underneath (like on a sleigh). Now put a kid on the front box and an adult on the tiny chair and take two pointy metal sticks and you’re ready to go chair skating! You use the metal poles to propel yourself along the ice and once you pick up a little speed the whole thing whizzes around quite smoothly. Well, considering the much picked at surface of the ice, anyway. There was lots of racing, and toward the end the kids played at pushing us in the sleds instead of being carted around. We spent about 45 minutes on the ice, I suppose, and it was a whole lot of fun.
One thing I loved was looking down into the ice itself. In Australia, frozen lakes aren’t exactly standard fair. I don’t think I’d ever stood on a frozen lake, seen the scuffed and uneven surface, and the bubbles beneath. Little air bubbles showed down as far as I could see. It looked like layer upon layer of ice, frozen bit by bit. I could have stared down at it for hours.
After working up an appetite we went to Hutong pizza and had a great meal. As we were leaving the area I even found a place selling toffeed strawberries – my favourite winter street snack. All in all, it was a wonderful afternoon.