My fourth year in China was hard, but it was a pivot point. I learned more about what I wanted from life. In some ways it was the end of youthful angst. My attitude was shifting, and my direction in life becoming more clear.
There’s been a lot of great stuff happening in youth ministry over the past few weeks. It’s hard to explain how much preparation went into all these events, how much joy I find in them, and in each of the students who were part of them.
The last two weekends were my last Fall Youth Camps in Beijing. Youth camps are a LOT of work but worth it. The shared experience of camp helps lasting friendships develop. It’s also a chance to get away from “real life” and have space to think.
I struggle to tell you what I actually do in an interesting way. The highlights of my work are people and I don’t feel comfortable sharing stories that don’t belong to me alone. But I love what I do, and I want to share it with you.
Part 2 of my Great Wall Adventures spans 2006-2013 and includes Mutianyu, Badaling, Laolongtou, Zhengbeilou, Huanghuacheng, and even Yumen Pass in Gansu province. But my favourite is probably Mutianyu covered with snow!
A fun thing about my trips to Cambodia is relationships with the TCKs there. A highlight of the trip was when two students made comments about “saying goodbye to Tanya is easy – I know she’ll be back”. In TCK world, that’s a big deal.
My church expects to lose 30% of the total congregation every year. Last year the youth group lost 50% of our regulars. Cleaning out phone contacts I removed 39 people without deleting recent graduates – from a phone only 9 months old.
As my cab pulled up to the train station I suddenly realised I didn’t have my passport with me. Tianjin is so close to Beijing it didn’t feel like travel and it hadn’t occurred to me to bring it, but as I arrived I realised I would need it. Problem.
I thought I would be sad to leave my apartment, that I would miss it a lot, but I mostly feel thankful – for all the things I learned during 3 years in Yinling, and all the memories made there. This post is thank you and farewell to my first real home.
EPIC was a 2.5 day conference – that’s 50 hours to cram in 5 worship sessions, 3 talks and a LOT of activities. There were 100 participants. I led a worship band of boys – they live in four cities, and come from the US, UK, New Zealand, and Korea.
Siem Reap is 6 hours from Phnom Penh, on small two lane roads through rice paddies, wooden stilt houses, palm trees, haystacks, and skinny cows. We stopped to buy snacks – fried tarantulas, bugs, pineapple, green mango with chili salt.
It’s been a wintery, Christmassy week in Beijing. I had plans to shop with friends at the Christmas market and snow falling all day added to the Christmassy mood. Some plastic display trees had fake snow, others were covered in REAL snow!