red and orange and blue

i wish that i could show you or make you feel
the things i see and the way i feel them.
one of the happiest days of my life consisted of 24 first graders and one parachute,
a yard sale in china that felt exactly like a pumpkin festival in the united states,
cupcakes i made that sold for 5 kuai each,
down by the banks of the hanky panky,
and a thousand blown kisses from this little boy.
i know it's bad to have favorite students, but he is unquestionably mine. 
something about his light reminds me of my little brother's.
china feels like home now, because it is.
this is my city.

fun fact for you, to put weihai in perspective:
if it was in the states, it would be the third largest city, behind new york and la. 
we are in china, however, where it doesn't even make it on the map.

well, i'm off to go fishing at the beach with a second grade teacher and her family. wish me luck!


tee-cha hannah

and when i'm walking through the cafeteria

or into their classrooms,
and they yell "tee-cha hannah!" at the top of their lungs,
or they run to give me the hardest high-fives they can,
show me how well they can do the macarena,
teach me words in chinese,
or blow me kisses,
that's when i'm pretty sure there's nothing better i could be doing with my life at this very moment.
i'm exactly where i'm supposed to be.


great wall

on friday i climbed the great wall of china.

repeat: on friday i climbed the great wall of china.
how crazy is that?
it's this place that i've seen hundreds of pictures and videos of.
heard stories of and imagined.
it exists in real life though, 
just as real as anything.
and it's just as beautiful as they make it look.
stunning, actually. i couldn't believe my eyes.
i took a cable car up and i hiked down, 
and it was one of the coolest things i have ever done in my life. 
i don't know if there's anything deep i can say about it,
but i set foot on one of the seven wonders of the world.

life is big. you are big. you are capable of getting yourself just about anywhere.


a weekend in beijing

a few days ago i watched the sunrise over china
from the middle bunk of a sleeper train to beijing.
the sun rose red, like a sunset in reverse.
maybe that's the pollution--but at least it's beautiful.
it rose over countless apartment buildings, factories, and green green fields, 
just like it rises over mount timpanogos.
i thought about the mother and daughter beneath me. 
last night they had conversed with jesse and i for hours without either of us understanding the other's language.
the tiny three year old girl taught me how to say frog,
and i folded her one out of a gum wrapper.
the mother taught me how to count to ten.
language is a big barrier here but not so much when you both have open hearts.
i ate a fig for the first time, 
out of a shoebox, offered to me by this chinese mother,
and i thought about love and how universal it is.
i thought about how god loves them equally as he loves me,
and is still very present in their lives, even if they don't know it.

china is beautiful.


savoir & connaitre

have you ever thought about what it means to know somebody?

the french have two words for "know":
je sais,
i know as in i know what that is.
je connais, 
as in i know him.
the difference between these is simple.
to know something,
or to know someone; to be familiar with something.
my point is this:
there is a difference between knowing facts and knowing people. 
you can know with your head, or you can know with your heart.
heart-knowing doesn't happen as often.
i mean, 
how many people do you know like you know the headlines of the newspaper, 
and how many people do you know like you know the lyrics to your favorite song?
i think a lot of people need to be heart-known these days
because there's a big difference.
a big, distance-crossing difference.


adventure is out there

is it possible to put into words my first week in weihai?
these nine days have stretched into what feels like years.
from 33 hours on planes and in airports, 
to landing in the greenest, lushest place i have ever seen.
i had my fair share of culture shock for the first few days,
hating my life & wishing for a mattress and AC more than anything.
today, i'm used to the weather and i don't mind sleeping on wood too much.
i love china 100x more than i did nine days ago.
i love what it's already given me:
the chance to feel like a celebrity everywhere i go,
and to dance the macarena on a stage in the town square, for a crowd of picture-snapping chinese people.
to eat things and have no idea what they are, and to discover a love i have for pigeon.
& to eat pounds of rice every single day, and enhance my chopstick skills.
i have found the best fried chicken in weihai,
been to the beautiful beach,
climbed thousands of stairs (quite literally: every time we go home, we climb 237 steps),
and played with baby white tigers.
i've touched turtles, giraffes, tigers, and elephants at the zoo,
i've climbed to the roof to watch the sun set,
stood in awe of a pagoda,
become terribly frustrated at internet censorship,
and laughed my face off at chinese t-shirts that try to have english sayings on them. (i.e.: "ya got no acne").
i've become a teacher,
and fallen in absolute love with 48 first and second graders.
i've listened to 7 year old asians sing "baby" by justin bieber.
and i've named 9 chinese children: dean, mack, milo, tasha, poppy, liz, sam, jones, and teddy.
they own my heart.

man, all i can say is that it's true.
adventure is out there.

testing testing.

well, you know,
i'm in china. 

let's see if this blogging works.