Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In the Great Mosque with the Guys

We took a quick trip to Xi'an last weekend to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. Seems like something you should do if you live in China. The warriors were impressive, and I'll post some photos, but the twenty minutes Caleb, Seth and I spent in the Great Mosque complex area was a high spot in the weekend for me.
The mosque was founded in the height of the Tang dynasty, in 742, although I'm sure all the buildings are not that old. The compound was comprised of many buildings arranged in courtyards, with beautiful landscaping throughout.
We visited the mosque after 6 o'clock at night, so there were very few other people around. I was going to go into the mosque area by myself while Scott and the kids hung out in the little alleyways of booths in the Muslim shopping area.
I was in the process of buying a ticket, when both boys said they wanted to come in with me. Both boys wanted to come tour an historical site? Hmmm. It made it extra special that they joined me, knowing that maybe they just wanted to be with me! We had fun taking pictures of each other and just fooling around. I drank in the landscaping and architecture, and they talked about movies. :-)
Look how tall this guy is!
Isn't the symmetry of these courtyards gorgeous?

Below is a peek into the prayer hall, which non-Muslims are not allowed to enter. You can see all the prayer rugs arranged on the floor inside. One man, with his white cap on, was inside straightening the rugs.
Thanks, guys! You made my day. :-)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Seen on the Street

Just in case the picture is too small on your monitor to read this sign we spotted on the outside of a building this weekend, it says, "Friend-making clubhouse at half past eight."

Interpret it however you like! :-)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Another Adoption Miracle

Our family's dear friends, the Allens, are in Beijing this weekend adopting their new son. They met this boy last spring when helping with a new adoption project for older children. He actually asked Rich and Sue if they would adopt him! He is twelve years old, perfectly healthy, and has lived his entire life in a Beijing orphanage. His world is changing 180 degrees right now! The Allen family already had four children... now they have five!

You can read their story as it's happening this weekend by clicking here.

Psalm 68:6 says, "God sets the lonely in families." He has done it again for this sweet boy!

Caleb's comment~ "The Allens are so lucky, they get to adopt again."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Goodbye For Now, Grandma

Ruth Erdmann, who was 101 years of age on this earth, is no longer an stranger, alien, expatriate, or pilgrim. She has reached her final destination! As of early Tuesday morning, she has taken up permanent residence in her true home, in the presence of Jesus and all those who had gone before her and were waiting for her arrival. I weep to think of the joy of the reunion she is experiencing now!

There's a song that was popular about twenty years ago with the following chorus~

May all who come behind us find us faithful.
May the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe,
And the lives we lead inspire them to obey.

This was my grandma's life. Faithful to her Savior, and pointing all who knew her to Him. What a privilege to be a part of her earthly family, and to be able to look forward to joining her in heaven someday.

If you know Jesus, you will have the privilege of meeting my grandma in heaven when your life here on earth ends. Be there... you won't want to miss it, and for more reason than this. :-)

*This picture of her blowing kisses was taken just 15 months or so ago, at her 100th birthday party.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Closing in on Boracay pictures...

Well, it's been a month since we returned from Boracay, so I'm guessing that the statute of limitations for posting vacation pictures is about up. Trying to squeeze in a few more here to convince you that God might be calling you to serve Him on this beautiful island! :-)

Seth runs to jump on his skim board... he and Lance rented a couple from some local boys one afternoon for an hour and had a great time!

Gwen was forever trying to catch one of the elusive little fish that swam by the shore. One day Lucas actually got one for her, pictured here in her bucket. She's pretty pleased!

Snorkeling day, heading from one spot to the next~ Caleb, Scott, Rich and Sue

Lucas, Caleb, Lance and Seth do their daily workout on the boat.
Here's Gwen's version of snorkeling. With a life jacket and goggles, she managed to get her head under the water enough to get a pretty good glimpse of what was under the sea!
At one of the places we stopped to snorkel, this fellow on his teeny little boat was peddling coconuts from boat to boat.
Shell search
I guess that's all for now... can't promise I won't do another post, though! We got together with the Allens the other night to swap all our photos, so now I have even more to work with. :-)

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Madelyn and her cousin Meredyth, 7000+ miles away from each other, are taking turns playing songs for each other on the piano while the other listens on the phone.

I think these girls are a pretty good example of making the best of a situation. :-)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Beach Boy

So Seth decided to go for a new look while we were in Boracay. Not sure what you'd call it... anyone have an idea what this lovely hair style should be named? Check below for a closer look.
Isn't it crazy? Seth didn't keep it in for too long, because it was pretty painful, the rubber bands were so tight. His buddy Lance, whose hair is a bit longer, had his blonde hair corn rowed. Together they were quite a sight!
Seth is modeling not only his crazy hair, but also a fresh mango shake. There were many, many little stands making fruit smoothie/shakes along the beach walk. Our hotel made wonderful mango shakes... they day we arrived we were all served a complimentary mango shake, which was a pretty smart marketing ploy, because it got us hooked! We enjoyed quite a few of these fresh fruit shakes during the week we stayed there.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


The bus came five minutes early. Doesn't seem like much, but it was five minutes we needed.

When we heard the honk of the horn announcing the bus's arrival, Gwen was still in the kitchen chewing the remaining fruit off the mango pit from her breakfast. No time to brush teeth now.

"Hurry up!" I called.

I helped her with her coat, noticing that she had mango around her mouth.

"Lick your lips!" I commanded as we ran to the door. Instead, she wiped her mouth on her clean pale pink jacket. Bright orange smears across the sleeve of pink fleece. Sigh.

As she climbed on the bus, I noticed matching orange smears down the side of her pink polka dotted pants. Obviously her hands had been hastily wiped off on the polka dots.

Sigh again. :-)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Favorites From Her Birthday

We celebrated Gwen's birthday at home last night with a simple, yummy dinner of homemade chicken soup, bread & butter, and cucumbers and tomatoes, with a pudding pie for dessert. I really like this photo Scott took of the kids and I before Gwen blew out the candle on her pie~ nice composition, with our faces all close together and the glow of the candle in front. I liked it even better once I switched it to black and white.Thought this one of Gwen and Caleb together was really sweet... both looking the same direction, his arm around her. Cute how she is brushing the hair away from her face with her finger, too.
We have a tradition at birthdays of hiding the gifts and playing "hot or cold" for the birthday person to find them. Gwen needed a big boost from Caleb to retrieve this gift from its hiding place up high!
Gwen was genuinely pleased with her gifts, exclaiming over each one. Love that look on her face in this picture! This miniature shopping cart from Seth and Madelyn had tiny packages in it, each filled with candies. What could be more exciting than that?
One of Caleb's gifts to Gwen was a real red lip gloss, which she put to use right away. How does she know how to apply it so expertly? I loved this photo in B&W also, but it seemed a shame to miss the bright red of the lip gloss and her bow, so I kept in in color.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Life Goes On...

I served fruit for Gwen's birthday breakfast this morning in the beautiful cut glass bowl that my 101 year old grandma was baptized in as an infant on Kaskaskia Island...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sky Scrapers and Home School's End

Yesterday at out home school co-op, the kids completed a unit taught by my dear friend Lisa (pictured here with all the co-op kids) on skyscrapers. They were each assigned a Shanghai tower to research and then draw, at a scale of 20 feet to 1 centimeter. Yesterday they presented to each other what they had learned, and then all posed for this picture with their drawings. If you've been to Shanghai or seen any photos, you might even recognize a couple of these structures! Madelyn's tower is the King Tower, located just a block from where we live here in Jinqiao.

Madelyn and I are coming down to the last few weeks of home schooling, so taking this photo of our co-op friends yesterday was bittersweet. She will be starting at Concordia for the last quarter of this school year, beginning April 6th. It's been an interesting road with her, to know what is the right fit for her education, and God has been so gracious to give us these last couple years together at home, just the two of us. She is incredibly excited to start school, but apprehensive at the same time. "Do you think my teacher will like me?" has been asked on several ocassions. Scott's answer has been, "Of course she will like you! How could she not? But maybe not quite as much as your current teacher does." :-)

Boy, do I ever. I'm going to miss this girl like crazy. I am so thankful for God's clear direction for us, for the timing and situations for our children's learning. I'm also excited to begin a new stage in my own life. A year ago the thought of not home schooling, which has been my life for nearly the past eleven years, would have been really sad and overwhelming. But now I feel like I'm ready to do new things. I'm not sure what they will be, but I look forward to exploring the options.
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

School Birthday Party

This morning was Gwen's school party. Her teacher does such a great job of making birthdays special, with a crown, throne, birthday song, gift and games to celebrate. The birthday child is encouraged to bring a little treat in for all their classmates, so Gwen put together small containers of candies for everyone that she and I chose from the bulk section at Carrefour.

Madelyn and I took in this kitty birthday cake that I managed to put together after 10 PM last night. As I was trying to figure out what to do for her cake, I remembered a post I wrote a few years ago on Caleb's birthday, about what a big deal his first friend birthday party was. I drove all over town hunting down special red food coloring to make the fire engine frosting a true red color... hmmm. Things seem a bit simpler now that I know that as long as the cake tastes reasonably good, it will be fine for kids. :-) It was fun because Caleb hung around the kitchen with me while I made Gwen's cake last night, so he and I talked about my evolution into a mom that is getting better about not stressing over things like birthday cake. I was actually please with how this little kitty turned out. I think the satin bow on her ear made the look!

Cutting the kitty cake to share with everyone.
Reading the Chinese characters with her teacher on the big birthday card from the class.
A game of "Freeze Dance"! Gwen was so pleased to have Madelyn participating.
Gwen's actual birthday is Sunday... can't believe how she is growing up!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Head in the Sand

Caleb, have you lost your head? Please pick it up and put it back on your shoulders where it belongs!

All the boys buried Gwen up to her neck one afternoon... fun to watch the struggle to get out of the sand!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

At the Feeding Sites

During the time we were in Boracay, we went to six different feeding sites. These sites are located in the poorest communities on the island. Each one is visited only once per week. Local Filipino believers associated with the mission run the sites. They faithfully teach God's word to the children, feeding them a meal and taking care of basic first aid needs afterwards.
Our part was to sing some songs with the children and then just to interact with them, giving them some personal attention. We took 1600 pipe cleaners with us to Boracay, and used every one of them up! The kids had never seen them, and we had great fun making glasses, butterflies, spiders, etc. together. The pipe cleaner glasses were very popular, as you'll see in the pictures.
The children that attend the feeding sites regularly are all given the "Jesus Loves Boracay" red t-shirts. It was neat to see these t-shirts being worn all over the island- great advertising for the ministry.
Gwen loved being involved with the kids at the feeding sites. Above she's passing out cups of chicken soup. The children in the picture below are waiting in line for their meals.
Dishing up dinner for a crowd!

Caleb, Seth, Lucas and Lance found an eager group of boys at most of the sites to play ball with them. A couple of sites had makeshift basketball courts; at the site in the picture below the hoop is attached to a palm tree trunk.

I took a storybook with me to the sites about how much God loves us. At some of them, I would read the book and the local Filipino worker would translate in into Tagalong, the native language page by page. Many of the children understood basic English, but they are still learning.

Sue with a group waiting to be shown how to make magic with their pipe cleaners.
If you look closely, you'll see a chicken and a pig in the background of this photo! This group of children was so happy to play Ring Around the Rosie, Duck-Duck-Goose, and Looby Loo with me.
Rich is handing out vitamins... Gwen watching.
More pipe cleaner fun..
Working at the feeding sites was definitely a highlight for me. Scott graciously took on the role of photographer at the sites, consequently there are very few pictures of him, but when he wasn't taking pictures, he was also a popular pipe cleaner artist and did some first aid, too.

The last two days we were on the island, we took some time off and didn't go to feeding sites. We actually missed going... it was truly a gift to get to love on those children!