Saturday, October 30, 2010

Singing with the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland

Seth and Madelyn, as members of middle school before school choirs, had the opportunity to sing in a concert at the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center with this amazing orchestra from Ireland. The Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland, which includes bagpipes and electric guitars as well as traditional orchestral instruments, came to Shanghai to perform at the World Expo. While they were here, they also performed at some of the international schools and then did this concert with a combined choir of nearly 300 international school students. So many students singing together, accompanied by this amazing orchestra and its solo tenor, couldn't help but sound fabulous!

The Concordia choir directors decided that special outfits were in order for this special concert. Here are Madelyn and Seth in theirs, right after the concert. I love their smiles!
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Any Ideas?

So the description of this bakery product reads, "Chicken tail exhaust packet." I'm a bit stumped... any guesses as to what it could be? I asked Mr. Wu to look at the Chinese characters and he was also a bit confused, said it said something about chicken tail. It's actually more the "exhaust packet" bit that has me wondering....
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Thursday, October 28, 2010

APAC Tournament in Hong Kong

Presenting the 2nd place winners of the Boys Varsity Volleyball Asia Pacific Activities Conference! We had a great three days in Hong Kong last weekend watching both the boys' and girls' teams playing lots of volleyball. The boys lost in the championship, which was a bummer, but were pleased to come away with 2nd place in the tournament.

I loved how the boys began each game with the starting players standing together, arms around each other, before advancing towards the net to shake hands with the opposing team.
No rest for the weary, basketball try-outs started Monday and went through Thursday. Found out this morning that Caleb made the varsity team! Next sport, here we come!

Monday, October 25, 2010

One Last Vietnam Post

So much for all the history in Ho Chi Mihn... we left that behind and made our way via a small prop plane to Phu Quoc island, on the west side of Vietnam. We had a couple of fun days there together, at a tiny little hide-a-way called Cassia Cottages. It was the perfect place for our group to play together.

Whiffle ball on the beach with Daddy... check out Gwen's stance!
Four Liptaks on a team for homerun derby... looks like three of them weren't talking about who should catch that hit!
Lots of football played with the dads and guys
Caleb running Jason and Gwen down the beach to get them out of the way of the football game.
The whole football crew!
A little gymnastics...
Look at this crew of our guys racing into the surf after Seth and Caleb's baptism. Love it!
Seth with two of his pals, Jack and Lance
Lovely pool water hair styles on Madelyn and Elise
Part of our crew on a motorbike outing that ended up in a fishing port of a little town.
The main path through Cassia Cottages
Some of the ladies posing at a nice dinner out at a neighboring resort.
Me and my girl!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

After Dinner Fun

Madelyn introduced Gwen to the idea of hanging a spoon on her nose last week one night when the two of them were s-l-o-w-l-y finishing dinner. I was surprised to see that a spoon would actually stay on Gwen's flat little nose! She was pretty pleased to be able to do what her big sister was doing. :-)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Little Bit of Chinglish

These signs posted in a park where I walk made me smile one morning last week. Enjoy!

This one is my favorite!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Boys Varsity Volleyball

These guys won first place in the Shanghai International School Athletic Conference tournament last weekend! Today they are heading to Hong Kong to compete in the Asia Pacific Activities Counsel tournament this weekend. Scott and I going to follow the team to HK with some of the other parents... looking forward some exciting games!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Beach Baptism

Guest post by Scott
The New Testament is pretty clear about the significance of baptism. Jesus himself was baptized by John the Baptist. After Christ’s ascension, his disciples each proclaimed a gospel that taught about the necessity of belief, repentance and baptism. In one interesting account in the book of Acts, Philip has just explained the good news of Christ to an Ethiopian man along the road in Jerusalem. After he believed, as they continued along the road they came upon a river and he asked, “Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” So he and Philip stopped the chariot straight away and went down and he was baptized. I have always thought that baptism must have been an important part of their conversation for the man to have wanted it so quickly.

Our church in Shanghai offers a baptism service a few times every year for anyone that is interested in experiencing this act of obedience. Last year, Madelyn heard about the service and asked if she could be baptized. It was a special experience for her and a neat time for our entire family. At that time, both Caleb and Seth commented that they thought they should be baptized too.

A few months ago, I saw in the church bulletin that there was another baptism service scheduled this Fall. After seeing the announcement, I mentioned it over dinner one evening to Caleb and Seth. Seth said he was definitely interested… however, he wanted to know if he could be baptized in the ocean in Vietnam during the vacation we had planned for the October holiday, instead of at church. After pausing for a minute to digest what he had asked, Lynne and I both thought that was a really neat idea.

Seth and I did a short study about what baptism is and why it is important. We resolved that it is a voluntary act of obedience, a profession of one’s faith to others, and a step of submission to God as a believer. At some point during further conversations, Caleb decided that he wanted to be baptized at the beach as well.

We were accompanied by 4 other families from our church on our trip to southern Vietnam. It made for a really special beach baptism service. As a father, it is a pretty cool thing to watch your two sons stand in front of a group of friends and testify to their belief in Christ and their need for His grace and redemption. It was with complete humility and joy that I baptized my two sons in the Gulf of Thailand on a beach on the tiny island of Phu Quoc in Vietnam in the rain. The presence of God was very near. I am thankful for His amazing love!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

At the Cu Chi Tunnels

One of the interesting sites we visited while we were Vietnam was the Cu Chi Tunnels, about 70 km outside Ho Chi Minh City. The tunnels were originally built for the local farmers to hide items that they wanted to avoid being taxed on by the French, but the tunnel system expanded during the war to stretch from the South Vietnamese capital to the Cambodian border, more than 250 kilometers of tunnels.
The intricate system of tunnels, several stories deep, included innumerable trap doors, living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals and kitchens. The tunnels allowed the Viet Cong to mount surprise attacks wherever the tunnels went, which was even within the perimeter of the US military base, and then disappear suddenly into hidden trapdoors without a trace.

Here Seth is disappearing "without a trace", lowering the trapdoor covered with leaves on top of himself.After the other kids have had a chance to stand on the trapdoor with Seth safely inside the tunnel, he reappeared. Of course all the kids wanted to try getting in this little tunnel opening.
Gwen wanted to try it too, and did, but wasn't too pleased when her brother put the trapdoor over her, leaving her in the dark. He quickly rescued her, though!
The American troops in the war were unaware of the tunnel system for a long time, and used various methods, including large scale ground operations with tens of thousands of troops to scour the jungles and chemical defoliants to clear the area of trees and undergrowth. Eventually they found the tunnels and sent men down into them, but the casualty rate for Americans in the tunnels was extremely high. They also used dogs to sniff out trapdoors and guerrilla soldiers. The dogs were not able to avoid the many booby traps the Viet Cong set throughout the tunnel area, and many dogs were killed or injured.

In these two photos we're checking out one of the booby traps. It is a rotating platform, with greenery on both sides to disguise it.Not a happy landing if you ended up in this trap.
Finally the USA declared the Cu Chi tunnel area a free-strike zone, meaning little authorization was need to shoot at anything in the area. In the late 1960's, American B-52s bombed the whole area, destroying most of the tunnels and everything else around.

The kids are standing in a B-52 bomb crater.
There was shooting range at the tunnel site, so all the boys took turns shooting a variety of Vietnam War era weapons at targets that really were paper tigers.
Our whole crew of five families, posing on a US tank.
Entrance to a tunnel... want to wiggle in past that root?
Gwen is heading through a tunnel! The tunnels were all carved out of the clay by hand, over a period of many years. Of course these tunnels have been made a bit more comfortable for visitors to get through than they originally were. Even so, Gwen had to crouch down, and in some places, we were on our hands and knees.
Emerging into the sunlight!
Checking out some Viet Cong soldier models, seated on the ground in uniform. Looks like our little friend Jason, next to Gwen, has his own stick gun. :-)
Scott and Rich checking in on work emails at the tunnel site... Singapore and London don't celebrate China's National Day holiday!
At the end of the tour, we were given a chance to taste tapioca. No, it's not the pudding your grandmother made, but the root vegetable which I understand is also called cassava. The starch from cassava is what tapioca pudding is made from. It was boiled, I guess, and there was a sweet and salty spice mixture we dipped it in. Apparently this was one of the foods the tunnel dwelling peasant soldiers lived on during the Vietnam War.