Monday, June 29, 2009

When the cat's away, the cat will play

The people of Beijing use the extensive grounds of the Temple of Heaven as a park. We came upon a plaza where a hundred or more people were dancing to piped-in music. A lady in a green t-shirt kept motioning to our group, inviting us to join in the fun. 

This is about the extent of my dancing ability. I'm looking forward to the REAL temple of the real HEAVEN when no dance lessons are required.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A heart for children with disabilities

On one particular day, our path in China crossed with a kind of work that is especially close to my heart. Most of my ministry that isn't with Bethlehem is with and through Joni and Friends. JAF's focus is outreach to people with disabilities.

Near Beijing, we visited the Shepherd's Field Children's Village, operated by the Philip Hayden Foundation. The Village is provides foster care for orphans with disabilities and serious medical conditions. 

As it happened, on that day a small team from Joni and Friends was finishing up a short term there, and it was a pleasure to meet James Rene from the JAF headquarters in California.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Infamous Beijing Left Turn--LIVE!

In 1995, bicycles were everywhere in Beijing. Now bikes have been replaced with cars. It doesn't take a physicist to figure out: The roads of 1995 were planned primarily for bikes . . . A car is lots larger than a bike . . . Road building can't keep up with car purchases . . . Therefore . . .

I'm so glad I don't have to drive in China. Here are a few scenes from the streets of Beijing, including live footage of a left turn--as viewed from the front seat of a taxi.


A few examples of Chinglish I was able to catch with my camera. You can click on any of the photos to see it better.

Not too bad. But what exactly does Cafe de Sofa cause?

Okay, okay. I won't scratch.

Talenty English -- Would you want to learn English here? 
As Jo comments, "I'm guessing that they are going to have 
trouble establishing their credibility."

My personal favorite. Don't you just hanker after that aftertaste?

This is the explanation of a tourist village. 
I leave it for you to figure out how much it explains.
(click the photo to get the full story)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Illustrated Chinese Etiquette Lesson

1. Hanging out with friends works in any culture.

2. There's always room for one more at the table.

3. If your food glares at you, don't stare back.

4. Chopsticks: Practice makes perfect -- sort of.

5. Chopsticks: If rule number 4 fails, 
your spoon is your best friend.
6. Slurping--especially noodles--is encouraged 
(don't tell my children).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Home and 1st video

Our group arrived home yesterday evening--all healthy and glad to have been in China. Thank you so much for your prayers.

The Lord was good to teach us a lot. You may have wondered if I was only playing, but there were lots of very important and informative conversations. It's just that it seemed better not to be too specific as we blogged from there. 

You can see a bit more if you go to the Desiring God blog and scroll down for the daily reports from China.

And you can continue to get a taste of China by following Jo's blog. In fact, her most recent post lists the principles of our trip.

Now, I promised you videos, and here's the first -- the amazing noodle puller of Yuci.

If I ever test a recipe for pulled noodles, I'll let you know. Don't hold your breath.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Last Day

11:30 pm, Saturday in Beijing

Tomorrow early we leave for Minneapolis. We all are eager to see our families and thank them so much for sending us out for this rich, informative time.

Today was the first day in which we have had no ministry planned. It was a day of soaking up some of Old China. This morning we went to the Great Wall and this evening we strolled through some of the hutongs (lanes) of Old Beijing and had supper at a Hakka Restaurant. Hakkas are one of China's minority people, living mainly in the Southwest.

Pictures of the day are at:

The wall is indeed great, and a great reminder that our God is much greater--the one who made the men who made the wall and who created the mountains that dwarf the wall.

I hope to be posting some more pictures beginning a couple of days from now, including some videos that I myself can't wait to see.

(I encourage you to subscribe to Jo's blog for regular glimpses of life in China: )

Friday, June 19, 2009


Friday, 10:55 pm

Thanks for praying about my speaking time last night. There were about 50 students and young career-type people from lots of nations. I told them the story of Gladys Aylward within the context of Hebrews 13's encouragement toward biography: remember, consider, imitate your leaders who have spoken the word to you -- those who have gone before us in the faith.

I thought it was going well until q&a time when one woman asked unsmilingly: "Why did you choose THIS story? Where's the practical application to my life?" I stammered something, pretty much repeating what I'd already said about us having the same God as Gladys Aylward and that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Well, I THINK it was better for others.

I've posted more pictures:

Be sure to check out my friend Jo's blog. After years here, she continues to enjoy and share the oddities of life in China: . Today's post is about a very-familiar/not-quite-familiar shop sign.

(Sorry you have to copy and paste the links while I'm here. Also, when I get home, I'll post some cool videos I've shot here.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Thursday 3:30 pm

I'm out the door in about 1/2 hour to eat dinner with a group and then speak to a regular gathering of expat 20-somethings. I'll tell them Gladys Aylward's story. I expect most of you will read this several hours after I've spoken. So pray for God's continuing shaking of the ones he wants to shake into even greater challenges.

I don't know if I'll have time to post again later tonight.

AND I forgot to mention last night that we had Mongolian food for dinner, including sheep's stomach soup. Not as bad as it sounds.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Check out the DG Blog

The Desiring God blog is a great way to keep up with the vision aspects of our trip -- . (Note: Day 1 for the rest of the group is Day 7 for me, since I came a week early).

This morning we did our first sightseeing before we settled down in the afternoon to some more purposeful activities. I'm sorry, but it's too late to sort and upload pictures tonight. It's going on 11:30 pm here, even though it's only 10:20 am at home in Minneapolis.

Still, if you haven't seen the pictures that are already posted, you can find them at .

(I can't make the links work here, so please copy and paste addresses.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beijing Driving Lesson

I've been trying to capture in photos the traffic amoeba I find myself part of when I'm riding through Beijing. It's practically impossible, because something is happening all the way around.

My advice: don't ever try to drive here. But in case you do, here's a hilarious, invaluable step-by-step lesson:

(Since I can't make the links work correctly here, please copy and paste the addresses.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Langfang and Friends

Monday, 6/15, 11:20 pm

Today was a full day and the men who arrived LATE last night held up admirably, as did Joann who met them and got them to their hotel.

One of the highlights of the day was our visit this morning to the town of Langfang, just outside Beijing. There we visited the Shepherd's Field Children's Village, operated by the Philip Hayden Foundation. As you know, here in China I can't link to other sites, so please copy and paste to visit their website -- . You might also be interested in the report on their work presented by NPR --

Children's Village is rare, if not unique here -- a Christian organization that provides home, love, care, therapy, and education for orphans with special needs, with the prayer that God will place many into adoptive families.

Then we went to visit Jeff and Sarah and their family, friends from Bethlehem who live near the Children's Village and have been in China several years.

Jeff has a web design business, and one aspect of his work is helping Chinese clients adapt the look of their sites to be appealing to western users.

Sarah is definitely a FULL-time mother to their 8 children, 4 months old up to 12 years. The kids were very cooperative in gathering together for some photos.

The Children's Village and family photos are at .

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Barnabas's mother

Monday 6/15, 6:25 am

Jo and I joined hundreds of others 10 am on Sunday at the 3rd service of the Gong Wa Shi Christian Church. Hymns were traditional, hymnal bilingual. Afterward we did what seems normal--stood around in the courtyard talking.

A tall man walked over to Joann and me and asked, "Which of you is Barnabas's mother?" --not a question I was expecting in the middle of China, but easy to answer. It was Dr. Martindale from Wheaton College. He was one of Barnabas's teachers when Barnabas was at Wheaton, and apparently had seen him recently. Mrs. Martindale was there too, as were Dr. and Mrs. Chuck Weber. They were at the end of leading an Asian Studies session here.

Afterward we had dinner with some of Jo's friends at a nearby restaurant.

Later in the afternoon, Jo, one of her friends, and I worked out at the gym in the apartment community.

You can see pictures:

The rest of our group arrived safely and in good spirits late last night (Sunday).


I've posted the link to pictures from my 1st day in China, Tuesday in Beijing. I've posted the link to Thursday-Saturday with Mark and Rene.

There's a missing link -- Tues-Thurs with Jonathan and Carol in Taiyuan. The photos are at:

Those days include getting a taste (literally) of Jonathan's workplace at the Cheese Factory, visiting the clinic where Carol works, meeting some of the Evergreen staff in Yangqu, and having a great time with Esperanza and Trini.

That almost catches us up to today, and that's good, because tomorrow our group begins our Beijing itinerary and that will be filled with more to see and tell about.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Back in Beijing

After only 2 days in Yuci (yoo-suh) with Mark, Rene and kids, I'm back in Beijing with Jo. Tonight, Sunday, we expect the rest of the group to arrive. (Bill Walsh writes about the trip at .

The days in Yuci were full and good -- visiting the Evergreen office and meeting staff there, sitting in on a seminar for church visitors, wandering around an old-style village with cave houses dug into mountainsides, walking through old-town Yuci getting historic perspective from Mark, visiting the clinic where Evergreen medical staff work alongside the Chinese staff, eating Rene's homemade pizza, and of course getting to know Bjorn, Marit, and Anders. Oh yes, and buying gifts for my daughters-in-law that I'm pretty sure no one has ever given them before.

You can see pictures at .

That includes a photo of my first visit 14 years ago, when Alma Bjork and I were part of the ceremony in which little Bjorn was dedicated to the Lord. Alongside, you'll find a current re-enactment of that old photo.

There are also a couple of photos I made at the family's favorite noodle shop. The noodles for each order were made on the spot--pulled noodles, starting with a big lump of dough--pretty amazing handiwork. I have a video of it, but I can't get through to YouTube. So I'll post it when I get home.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Since the website isn't acting like it usually does, I haven't been able to link to photos.

So here's a better idea. Instead of 2 or 3 photos at a time, I'll send you to my photo site and you can see as much as you want. Here are photos from the day I arrived, when I was in Beijing before traveling to Taiyuan and Yuci -- .

Sorry, you'll have to cut and paste the address. That link isn't working either.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

In Yuci

Now I'm in Yuci with Mark and Rene and their children, Bjorn, Marit, and Anders. Mark is China Director for Evergreen Services.They arrived home yesterday morning by train from a few days of vacation. Then just a couple of hours later the welcomed me.

Almost fourteen years ago, I visited Mark and Rene when they lived in Taiyuan, the city where Jonathan and Carol live now, about an hour's bus ride away. At that time, Bjorn was only a few months old. Alma Bjork (my traveling companion and an old friend of Rene) and I led a small service in which Mark and Rene dedicated Bjorn to the Lord. At the end, we presented him with a quilt made and sent by Bethlehem's White Cross ladies.

This morning I'll walk to their house from the place where I'm staying--an Evergreen apartment that is between families. After breakfast, I'll go with Judy, one of their coworkers, to a seminar for church workers helping them think about helpful, effective approaches to home visits.

As far as I can tell, Evergreen people live in the heights--almost all the apartments I've been to are 4-6 stories up, and there are no elevators. Mine is on the 6th floor--120 steps. You don't want to forget and leave something behind when you walk out the door in the morning.

I had hoped to include a couple of photos, but the website is not opening in its usual format, so maybe later.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cheese in China

Jonathan, Carol, Esperanza (San San), Trini (Mei Mei), Noel

They are in China with Shanxi Evergreen Services, which specializes in community development through means of various sorts of projects and work.

Carol, a family practice physician, is part of the medical team and works part time at a neighborhood clinic.

Jonathan, is working with the Evergreen-related Cheese Project , helping to manage its financial procedures and books. Cheese is not a normal part of Chinese diet, but sales are good to foreigners in China and to hotels who serve them.

Jonathan wants his friends to know these are not go-go boots, but part of the required hygienic uniform in the cheese processing area.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It's 9:30 pm here in China. I think that makes it 8:30 am in Minneapolis.

I arrived last night in Beijing. Slept at Jo's last night in Beijing and flew one hour this afternoon to Taiyuan.

For the next couple of days I'm with Jonathan and Carol and their girls Esperanza and Trini. The girls attend Chinese preschool and switch effortlessly between English and Chinese.

Tomorrow I'll go with them to a village where they work.

God answered your prayers for safe travel. Now I'll be thankful for prayer that I listen well and learn a lot and that I be an encourager all along the way.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

It's My Pleasure

This afternoon I leave for two weeks in China. Yesterday was the anniversary of a very important day in my personal history. 

There seemed to be a connection between China and that anniversary. The story is at the Desiring God blog. 

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Jumble Thrift: My New Shopping Destination

Tomorrow I leave for China, but first a story.

A couple of weeks ago, Talitha and I drove 3 hours down to Fulda from Minneapolis to see our Fulda family and to deliver birthday hugs to Millie.

Of course, we couldn’t leave without shopping at Jumble Thrift, the new venture of Millie's family. After I had paid for my purchases, I wandered some more, waiting for Talitha to finish.

Up high on the shoe shelf I glimpsed a familiar-looking heel. Unbelievable! It was a brown pair like my favorite black shoes—the style I’ve been searching for on Ebay for years. (You know how it is. As soon as you find a pair of shoes that are comfortable and you like the way they look, immediately the style is discontinued. Aaargh!)

Well, there they were. AND, also unbelievable, they were my size. How often do you think I find women’s 11M in a thrift shop? AND only $1. How much do you think I’d have had to pay on Ebay if I HAD ever found the shoe.

People flock to the Mall of America from surrounding states. Not me. I'm flocking to Jumble Thrift in Fulda. You too?

P.S. I don't know any other thrift shop with such an active and entertaining blog.