Christmas Morning

Elisabeth and her precious stuffed animal, Bingo. She had already chosen him in the store and named him. He was “matched”, and is now finally adopted!

Naomi opens some of her gifts. A crocheting bag!

Jeremy received a cell phone this year to assist in all of his business endeavors.

The men focus hard on some 3-D puzzles!

Chesnuts Roasting on an Open Fire…

I know that it’s not an open fire… but they really were roasted! I just don’t have the pictures. Chestnuts are delicious, especially when they’re warm and soft. I honestly don’t think I had ever imagined actually eating one before we came here, but they’re quite the winter-time nut!

Guess What Naomi wants for Christmas?


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Our last month has also been filled with exciting transitions.

In the English School, the new semester began, and we welcomed about sixty new students and twelve new teachers.  We’ve been enjoying getting to know some of the new students this semester.  Ben has been an assistant each morning in one of the English classes.  We invited all the students from that class, along with their teacher, to our house for a pizza making party.

They all seemed to enjoy making their own pizzas.  It was a challenge to cook all eight of them in our toaster ovens, but we managed to do it, and see them eaten about as soon as they came out.  We look forward to getting to know these young men and women a lot better as the semester goes on.

Here are some pictures of the culinary creativity.

Birthday Buddies

: Jeremy gets from help from Samuel and Ethan to blow out the candle on his birthday apple pie

As many of you know, we’ve just begun the busy birthday season in our family, with four of our five children having birthdays in the month of October.  Jeremy celebrated his birthday with a morning bike ride with some family and friends.  Then, he invited two of his best buddies over for a birthday party in the afternoon.

Samuel and Ethan are two of the three boys in the Foster Home that Jeremy has been spending time with one-on-one each day (the third has a heart condition too serious for him to spend much time away from the Foster Home).  What fun it was to see those little guys enjoying a birthday celebration with their big “brother”.


Claire, a cheerful six-year-old, is the oldest child living in the Foster Home. She’s also been fighting for her life for the last week. We would appreciate your prayers for her.

Claire has already experienced more challenges in her six short years than most of us will face in a lifetime.

Last week, she went to the hospital for a surgury to remove a tumor and deformity from her lung. The surgery was successful but, after the surgery, her bleeding would not stop.

She was losing an alarming amount of blood. She was given two transfusions of 1000 ml each, but it still wasn’t enough.

On Wednesday, as they rushed her to the operating room for an emergency surgery to try to stop the bleeding, Claire’s heart stopped. Thankfully, they were able to revive her.

Just this morning, we received the good news that Claire’s bleeding is stopped and dangerous clots around the surgery site seem to have dissipated on their own. She’s not “out of the woods” yet, so we appreciate you lifting her up.

A Weekend in the Life…

by Mommy
As our weekend comes to a close, I want to share with you some of what took place. As I share our stories, those who are involved in cross cultural relationships will be smiling with that knowing smile of “been there, done that”. Those who may not have had many cross cultural opportunities will probably be smiling with a better understanding of some of the experiences we find ourselves having.

Today, we had the opportunity to host our friend, Hannah again at our house. We had planned earlier in the week to meet to study the Book together. We had had a full day yesterday with a trip into a shopping mall in Beijing (only our second since we have been here). The whole family went with two other friends and this time we took the bus in. If you are going to live in East Asia, you need to learn to use public transportation . We survived the hour and a half ride into the city while standing squished between the other folks on the bus, and actually came home with some clothing items to replace those that we had worn out through our village treks. Hannah and Jeremy were inspired by their bargaining skills, and Ben was so worn out that he actually wanted to spend some time alone today; a rare experience for Ben. We ended the day buying some locally made honey on the side of the road near our apartment complex which promptly fell through the thin bag the jars were being carried in and rolled down the hill. The vendor was very nice and wiped most of the dirt off the side of one of the jars and gave us a replacement for the broken one and put them in 2 bags so they wouldn’t break again. Supposedly eating honey made in your local area helps with allergies. Perhaps we will develop immunity to more than just the pollens after eating this honey. We then put our things away, ate a hurried dinner and went over to another apartment to help celebrate the college graduation of one of the interns who was missing her college graduation because she is here. Brian stepped in as the commencement speaker for this remote graduation. While there, we met the new interns who had just arrived for the next six weeks. All in a days work.

Today, we enjoyed some time of fellowship with some of the other families at our foster home and English school, and then bought some groceries on our way home. We got into a conversation with our fruit lady and then went on to buy some items from some of the other vendors. As we were about to leave the market area, we saw our fruit lady running down the street toward us waving for us to return. As I walked back toward her, I knew why she was coming. I had (for the second time) forgotten to take the fruit that I had bought. I learned a new Chinese word “wan le” which I believe means “forgot”. She is a sweet friend, and we will have tea together on Tuesday.

We then spent some time straightening up the house a bit (because we hadn’t had a chance to do our Saturday chores before we went out for our shopping trip) and preparing some pizza for dinner. That was a bit tricky too as I realized after adding a cup of water to the tomato paste (to make sauce), that tomato paste in our village is actually tomato sauce from the start. We set that aside for another meal and started over again. We expected Hannah at 4:30 pm. Our plan had been to meet for a Book study for an hour or so and then invite her to join us for dinner if she wanted to. We were then hoping to watch a family movie that night (which we would invite her to join us for if she wanted to). We were all pretty exhausted from the weekend and we had postponed our weekend family time for a few days because of some unexpected events. Just before she came ,she called and asked if her sister in law could come to. We said sure and smiled as we thought, “Wow, we really are having opportunities here”. They arrived about 30 minutes later than expected and we spent some time meeting her sister in law. After about 45 minutes we had an opportunity to ask if she still wanted to do the Book Study. She said ‘yes” but then said maybe next time (since her sister in law was here). So, we regrouped and Brian slipped away to finish preparing the pizzas and we invited them to stay for dinner. We had a great time and had a bunch of laughs. We finished the meal and went into the living room for some more conversation and sharing of a couple of songs from the Mary Poppins video (because the boys had been singing the “I love to laugh” song during our meal. Around 8pm, they said they should go. We asked if we should call a car for them and they said “no” and that Hannah’s brother in law was waiting for them. We found that he had been waiting outside for the past 3 hours because they had thought it was too much to ask us last minute to have 2 extra people beyond Hannah. She had apparently text messaged me earlier in the day to ask if she could introduce us to them, but we had not seen it. That is a new piece of technology in my life than I am only just beginning to use. Her brother in law then came up (just as sweet and gracious as can be) and we fed him the leftover dinner and spent another hour getting to know him. We are so grateful for the opportunity to get to know her family, but are so reminded of the cultural differences and the many opportunities to mis-communicate and to make mistakes.

As I write, the dishes are stacked up on the kitchen counter and the table is not yet completely cleared. How quickly we can go from orderly to disorder. Tomorrow, we plan to take the evening off and just hang out together as a family and be quiet – if we are able to get up in the morning.