CHINA JOURNAL‹Thursday, April 18, 2002

            Today is Thursday and I had submitted my edictŠif my middle school bike escort was not here by 9:50, I was riding my bike over to the middle school solo. One of the administrators arrived on his bike at 9:30! I even got to enjoy a cup of tea before class began. I like to get into a classroom ahead of time, set things up and be available to students. The ladies in the office don't want me to go over to my classroom until just as the bell ringsŠ(makes for a more dramatic entrance, I guess)Šbut I do anyway. The 10th grade has finally warmed up to me and we had a good session today. Learning to think is hard when that is not what has been asked of you in the past.

            At a sidewalk soup stand I saw a variation on the plastic covered soup bowl. After the man slipped the plastic bag over the bowl and turn it down over the sides, the noodles and soup and other goodies were put in the bowl to measure a full serving of soup. He then set the bowl down, turned up the plastic bag handles, tied it closed, lifted it up and set it in another plastic bag held by the customer. She was getting a take-out order of soup and noodles. The plastic bag approach both measured the amount given and gave a carrier.

            This afternoon at school was class picture day, which really features each teacher with at least some of the class. I had my picture taken with each class. It was fun to walk in the fifth grade room because they had their desks all moved around out of the rows and doing all sorts of fun things for taking pictures. It struck me that what I was seeing was what an American classroom looks like all of the timeŠvery active and interactive. But as soon as the picture was over the desks went back in their rows.

            I happened to discover today that the Chinese voice we hear over the intercom before morning exercises is actually leading the students in self-acupressure. I'm never in a classroom then and didn't realize what it was. I want to watch (or participate) in the whole thing. What I saw involved pressing on three areas on the face and ears.

            After school was out, Ran Heiying's first grade daughter came so I could help her with her ``Boy Who Cried Wolf'' recitation. What a doll she is! She came bouncing in with a smile as wide as her face (just like her mother) and said, ``Hello, Granny. Thank you for helping me.'' She has great stage presence. The third grade teacher heard her and asked her to recite for the third grade class, which she did graciously and well. I helped her on a few words that were a little hard to understand and then helped her get more action into it. How I would love to see her in the competition next week. She'll wow them.

            The difficult part of being away has just reached me. Yesterday I received an email that Howard Shumate died during surgery. He and his wife Dolores are dear friends in the Wesley church family, and I long to be there with them and for them now. As I think back over the people in that church family who have died, including John, I realize how very blessed I am to be part of such a wonderfully loving family of really special people. When one feels pain, we ``circle the wagons'' and surround that person with love. I'd like my wagon to be in that circle right now, up closeŠbut I know that when I return that circle will open and gather me in again. Meanwhile I'm part of the circle in spirit. Count your blessings!




Email message from Jerry with a picture attached:

If you can open the second attachment, you'll get a fun surprise. This is a picture taken during my second week, described in the journal on February 26. The pretty woman whose face shows in the left side of the picture is my hostess Zhang Fu Ling. True to his word, the TV photographer who took this just sent me an album of sixteen pictures taken at the same time. Enjoy. Jerry