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That about wraps it up!

It has been a phenomenal year. I have really enjoyed keeping up this blog and sharing my stories, thoughts, ideas with you. Thanks for reading!

If this is the first time you have seen this blog, DON”T WORRY! This blog post is for you! I made this video that basically sums up all the exciting things that happened this year! Enjoy!

 

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After four months of training, dragonboating has come to an end. We finished by participating in one of the biggest races in Hong Kong. It is actually a national holiday and the tradition dates way back. The beach was absolutely packed, which added to the excitement and energy!

We had 4 of the 178 boats that were competing. All of our boats did well. I think my boat  finished in the top 25 or something like that. It was great to do well, but reflecting back, the greatest prize was the friendships that were formed over the season. I know it sounds cheesy, but it could not be more true.

When I was sick, several Arkers came to visit me in the hospital, and helped get me to Hong Kong. It was awesome to see God’s love shown through these amazing people.

On race day along with our trophies, we also won the “Best Teamwork” award! How awesome is that??? Our entire team is so supportive. It seriously has been amazing to be part of this  community. All this fun doesn’t actually stop with the last race. There will be activities throughout the year, and plenty of chances for more fellowship.

Well… start the countdown. 8 more months till training for next season starts!

Count me in!

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Junk Boat

One really popular activity here in Hong Kong is renting on a junk boat. The boat provides the food and drink, you choose 20 of your closest friends, and where you want to go, and your day is set!

A friend from church invited Chrissy and I to join them on their junk the day after my last day of teaching.  What better way to kick off the summer???

Typically the day is 8 hours of swimming, sun tanning, eating, relaxing and fellowship. Well, the weather for Saturday had different plans. The entire time on the water we saw about 10 minutes of sun. It was still warm, but the rain and the mist kept the entire boat inside, or under the covered area in the back.

I still went swimming, and had a blast meeting tons of new people. I even met a teacher that will be at CAIS teaching 4th grade next year!The food was amazing, the highlight being a toss up between a Greek veggie salad with goat cheese, and “Rocket Salad” with seared tuna. YUMMMMM! Oh yeah, the chicken, curry, potato salad, pasta with smoked salmon were also amazing!

Maybe not the ideal 1st junk experience, but I had a blast! I can’t wait for my next one… maybe with a bit more sun!

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One thing that is pretty popular in China is “cupping.” It is a kind of traditional Chinese Medicine that involves fire, glass cups, your back, and your torturer (oops, I mean masseuse).

The process starts with the masseuse lighting a fire and placing the first cup over it. Once there is enough heat in the glass ball, they quickly suction it onto your back. The first cup prepares the skin. They do this by rubbing vigorously up and down the back using the glass cup that is still suctioned to your back. I thought that this must surely be the most painful part of the process. Wrong.

After the back has been prepared. The glass balls come out in full force. I had a total of 19 glass balls placed all over my back, including once that was definitely below my belt line.

Each glass ball sucks up the skin into the glass ball, eventually turning your back into looking like some type of modern day dinosaur.You are left to “relax” as the balls transform your back.

By the end the skin feels so tight that it made deep breaths difficult. The balls sit on your back for about 15 minutes before they are removed, instantly providing relief from the constriction.

The end result is a back that is covered in perfect circular hickeys. At first, each circle is raised about 1/2 an inch. this quickly goes away, but leaves quite the mark.

Now some of you might be asking WHY WOULD YOU EVER DO THAT? Hmmm.. good question. One that I asked myself several times during the process. I have been told that the balls pull the blood to the surface of your skin to release toxins from the blood.

Well, it is an ancient tradition in China that I decided to try out while I was still here.  I  have several days left in China. Will I do it again? No thanks!

Well, last week I wrapped up my first year teaching!  It has been great to reflect on the high-points and the low-points of the year. Overall, I had a fantastic year with an amazing group of kids that I will never forget. They taught me so much, and we had a great year learning together.

I have about two more weeks before I fly back to the states at the end of June. I can’t wait to be back in Oregon, and I am diligently working on my “to do before leaving China” list. (more details on that list to come in later posts!)

Looking forward to seeing many of you!

 

One Tough Bug

These last 10 days have hands down been the most difficult days I have had in China. Two Wednesdays ago, I went home during the last hour of school while my kids were at PE. My hips and lower back started to ache a bit. I went home and rested, hoping to be at full health in the morning. Over the night the pain spread into a “full-on knock you on your back” disease. The pain was intense. Head, hips, back with a fever floating in and out. Constant pain that would not allow me to find a comfortable position. I suffered in bed for several days with no change.

I decided I needed a doctor. I went to a clinic, who referred me to a local hospital, who referred me the the university hospital. I was finally able to get to a doctor at the emergency room after visiting about 5 counters. He barely looked at me, as my translator whipped through my symptoms. I was prescribed Chinese medicine in little bottles, and cold medicine. “Hmmm.. well, I will give it a try” I thought.

One more day with no change, I decided I needed another opinion. This time I went to the same hospital on my own. I knew the tedious steps to take and finally got some face time with a doctor. He ordered blood and urine tests and a pain killer injected in the butt. Not my ideal treatment, but it felt better than the first run.

After still no change, and the fever getting really annoying. I decided I needed more help. I called Juni, my Chinese teacher. She knew a friend who is a doctor that could give me a real thorough check up. I visited him at night, and he poked and prodded my whole body. He asked lots of questions and confidently came up with a solution. I was given antibiotics and pain medication. There still was no answer to exactly what I had.

Days later, still no change. I decided that it was time to get answers in my our language and speak directly to doctors fluent in English. Chrissy and friends from dragonboating picked me up in Shenzhen and took me across the border to the Queen’s Hospital in Hong Kong. They checked me out and recommended for me to stay the night. It was a tough call, because I knew it would be good for them to monitor me, but I was a bit nervous of the more “American health care” costs. I eventually decided to stay and had the worst night of my life.

I was in a room of 15 other patients all with different ailments. But the one thing they all had in common was that they were able to moan. I didn’t sleep at all listening to beeping, buzzers, moaners, and screamers. I was still exhausted when the sun rose in the morning. The day were spent trying not to die of boredom. I couldn’t nap with all the activity around me, and it was all I could do to not go crazy until visiting hours. Chrissy was great, bringing me treats and helping me (forcing me) to eat my meals.  Several other Arkers visited which really meant a not to me.

Despite the environment, they did a lot of tests and were able to give me a diagnosis. They think I have rickettsia. Some virus and bacterial infection. Transmitted by bug bites. Meds for the fever, and antibiotics. So glad it was not malaria, or influenza.

I spent another night and they next day they doctors said I could rest at home. I was so excited to sleep in my own bed where it was quiet and safe. The first night back I slept 11 hours! Awesome. Every day I started feeling stronger and stronger. My fever went away the first day back from the hospital. I had blood taken today to do some check up tests. I hope all is well.

Like I said at the beginning, these were the most difficult days in China. I also learned a lot. I learned about patience, especially dealing with systems that I feel are heavily flawed and inefficient. Speaking about my body through a translator, and hoping the doctors understand what is really happening. I also learned that there are times when I need to let things go because they are out of my control.

Being sick really brought me to my personal low. I was completely drained of my own strength and only made it through trusting and relying on God.

We all have these times where we feel like nothing could be worse. I firmly believe that we grow the most during difficult times. These are like “free masters classes” in life. We should be grateful and snatch up the chance to learn and grow through difficult times.

Oh, I have also been blessed with many gifts during my sickness. Cards and letters from my kids, chips and nutritional drinks from Arkers, a dozen peach roses, because those are my favorite, homemade soup, and homemade juice. Plus all the things I make my roommate pickup! I am truly blessed!

A Perfect Fit

I have officially found my new favorite sport. Yes, Dragonboating fever has taken over! Last weekend our team had our first race to seal the spot as my new top sport. After months of training we were finally able to see how we compared to some other local teams. It all came down to all day on the beach, and 3 races taking just over 2 minutes each.

We competed in the Deep Water Bay race, which is a 500m race, almost twice as long as our main race that we are still training for in June.

Right before our final race of the day, a massive thunderstorm decided to roll in. The team was loose and in good spirits as we danced our way through the staging area for the race. As soon as we loaded in the boat, the storm lifted and we had a clear weather for our last race of the day. After the earlier two races yielded less than desirable results, our team was able to pull together to nose our way to coming in first in our heat.  It felt awesome to feel our entire boat working together as a well oiled machine. As soon as we were back on the beach, the eye of the storm passed and water once again began to pour down from the heavens. Already soaked to the bone from the race, there was no point in trying to get dry. The post race celebration included swimming in the ocean, building rivers for the drainage water to divert it away from our tent, photo taking, and captain dunking. Eventually the rain lifted, leaving the beach fresh and clear. Our day ended with Thai food watching the sunset over the bay. Not bad I say!

At the end of the day I was totally spent, but entertained as the highlights of the day replayed multiple times in my head. Just a quick re-cap as to why this is the perfect sport for me:

  • -All day on the beach!
  • -Music
  • -Community
  • -Volleyball
  • -Dancing
  • -Scrabble
  • -FOOOOOD
  • -Napping
  • -Swimming
  • -Sun (and some rain!)
  • -Oh yeah, and occasionally a fiercely competitive race that gets your adrenaline pumping and leaves you utterly exhausted.

One more race coming up this Saturday and then the Grand-Daddy of them all in late June. Can’t wait!

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One thing that you cannot miss in Beijing is the history. This ancient town is teaming with remnants from fallen dynasties that controlled the city at various times.

We stayed in a cozy hostel that was tucked away in the back alleys near the Forbidden City. The middle of Beijing is surprisingly full of neighborhoods will 1 or 2 story buildings. Skyscrapers find their home in another part of town that we had no desire to visit. We were content exploring around locals that call these alleyways home.

To celebrate our time, I decided to make a movie/slide show for my dad. Check it out!

 

 

This post is dedicated to good friends from OSU now living in Bend. Keith and Melissa own several self-serve yogurt shops in Central Oregon. My tastebuds were treated to a chilled creation on a hot July day the summer before I came to China.

Before leaving their shop, I picked up some sweet shades to help spread their empire to the far reaches of Asia. They held up like champs protecting my eyes from harmful rays, and keeping me stylishly cool.

This one is for you! Can you name these three famous locations around Beijing???

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Two Mr. Glogau’s!

I sent my dad off with coins in his pocket for the bus, and money for a taxi this morning after his two week visit. We had a blast going everywhere from HK to Beijing!

One special thing about this trip, was that he was also able to spend some time in my classroom. Lets just say the kids were more than a little excited to have two teachers. Wow, what a ratio!

Before my dad arrived, my students were working hard on making their own poems, memorizing poems, and singing poems. Dad was able to come along and offer some finishing touches on the poems.  Along with 2nd grade, we put together quite the show, with Mr. Glogau (Sr.) topping it off with a performance of several of his famous songs. We invited parents and “packed the house!”

His appearance in the class was a welcomed change, and his presence will be missed! Thanks dad for all your help!

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