April 28, 2012

This week, Doug and I have been running rehearsals during just about all of our free time.

There’s still quite a lot of work to be done, but here are a few fun photos:


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Too many names

April 27, 2012
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I forgot that, in Christianity, Jesus can be referred to as both Jesus (耶稣) and as Christ (基督).  I had only learned the “Christ” name last week, so this week I was really confused who this other dude was.  Turns out it was the same guy.

In other news, going to Hangzhou (杭州)on Sunday.  🙂

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Blocked emails?

April 26, 2012
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Although I’m taking a two year break from signing any petitions, I still receive Amnesty International’s emails.  I used to keep informed about what they were protesting where until about a month ago when I suddenly could no longer open emails from Amnesty.  If I get on VPN, I can open them with no problem, but somehow, when I’m using Chinese Internet, it knows that those emails are coming from a place they don’t like, and the messages refuse to open.


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Made from scratch

April 26, 2012
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For some reason, I thought you needed special equipment to make homemade pasta.  This is not true.  Unless you’re trying to make really thin noodles.  Here is pasta that I made entirely from scratch and shaped with a rolling pin and knife.

Last night, we had homemade everything: bread bowls and chunky tomato soup (by Doug with help from me), homemade noodles in the soup (by me), and fantastic sweet and sour marinated vegetables (by Sabrina).  I was missing the St. Louis Bread Co (aka Panera), but now I feel pretty satisfied.


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How to make tea

April 25, 2012

Pick the young tea leaves.  Only take the light green, new leaves that snap off easily.  For descriptions of the photos, hold the mouse over them.

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Picking tea

April 23, 2012
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Yesterday, I went tea leaf picking in the beautiful hills of the nearby village 歙县.

We woke up at 6am and took three buses and walked for a while before finally reaching our destination.  We picked tea from about 8:20am until about 11:40.  It was one of the most relaxing mornings of my life.

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Youth Group

April 23, 2012

On Friday evening, Sabrina and I went to youth group at the local church.  Actually, it’s more of a young adults group.  The members ages range between about 22 and 35.  There’s a separate group for college kids.

When we arrived, we sat in chairs in a big circle and scanned the room.  A friendly guy who we’d met on Easter was practicing on a drum set at the front, two girls were practicing a dance routine, and somebody was setting up the projector.  A guy (who later turned out to be kinda the main dude in charge) talked to me and Sabrina, welcoming us, asking us questions, and giving us booklets about the church.  Our friend stopped playing with the drums and came over to greet us as well.  A girl poured us some tea.  Gradually, the room filled up.  I’d say there were between 25 and 30 people total.  The meeting officially began.

We started by singing a song.  The lyrics were projected on a screen (Chinese characters of course), the song was pretty slow, and we repeated it about fifteen times, so I got reasonably good at it.  Then, one of the three girls leading the singing talked about Jesus and trusting in him, after which we went back to singing.  Next, we sang a different song about how nice it is to be together with other like-minded (Christian?) people.  This song had simple choreography to match the lyrics, and everyone stumbled over their feet trying to mimic the dance that two girls were leading.  Sabrina and I couldn’t help laughing because we repeated the song at least twenty times, and everyone in the room (definitely including us) was so awkward at trying to do this dance.  We were all clapping off beat and whatnot.  The music stopped, and we figured it was time for the next order of business, but it turned out it was just time for the foreigners to be invited up to the front to lead the dance.  I wished I could send a message to my past self from two or three years ago and say, “Hey, in two or three years, there’s going to be a moment where you’ll find yourself leading a Chinese song and dance at a Christian youth group at a church in rural China.”  Just one of those Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime” moments of, “well, how did I get here?”

When the singing finally finished, the guy in charge gave a talk about a passage from the book of Mark.  It involved “他“ (him) (who I assumed was Mark) “睡着” (sleeping) on a 船 (boat) and something happening 忽然 (suddenly) and some 门徒 (which I assumed meant gate keeper because I know 门 is door/gate) waking “him up.

This is Mark 4:30-4:40ish, by the way.

I didn’t understand why there were gate keepers on a boat or why they were waking Mark up, or what Mark did about it.  I thought I heard someone in the group comment that the gate keepers wanted money.  I did catch that this was somehow a verse about faith, and having faith in difficult situations.

In conclusion, I was wrong about almost everything.  I read the English verses later on and learned that “he” was Jesus, that 门徒 means “disciples,” and that they woke Jesus because they were afraid their boat was going to sink in the sudden storm.  He told the wind and waves to be calm and solved everything.

Despite my confusion, I still understood some of the related life stories the leader told, and I was able to understand the assignment for the next activity: in small groups, talk about a time you suddenly faced a problem, how you felt about it at the time, and how you feel about it now, looking back.

I didn’t really have any good stories, and neither did anybody else in my group.  We all finished telling our pretty irrelevant stories with a lot of time to spare, so everyone in the group turned to me (Sabrina was in a different group because we had counted off to decide who was where) and started asking me questions.  Pretty soon, one girl said, “So, you’ve always been a Christian believer, huh?”

“Actually, I’m not Christian.  I’m Jewish.”

“Oh… What do Jews believe.”

“Well, in Christianity, there are two important books.  In Judaism, we have one important book, and it’s the same as the first important book of Christianity.”

“Oh… so, who do you believe Jesus is?”

“He was a very kind and good Jewish person who helped many people.”

“Oh!  Where is your 弥赛亚?”

(I for the life of me couldn’t figure out that “misaiya” was messiah, so the conversation paused for a while until they called over a girl who spoke excellent English from another group).

“Oh!  Messiah.  Um… we believe the messiah hasn’t come yet.”

“What?!  When will he come?”

“I really don’t know.  We’re just waiting and trying to be good.”

Everyone was pretty shocked to learn that I was Jewish, which is understandable.  Jewish people don’t usually just show up at church and participate in bible study.  Especially not foreign Jewish people in China.  After everyone got over their surprise, they concluded our conversation with remarks like “well, we all believe in the same one god,”  and “it’s all the same, really,” and told me how welcome I was to come back even though my beliefs are different.

I think I will go back, in fact.  I’ll go back every week that I can, because it was really interesting to learn about the bible, really helpful to have those Chinese songs drilled into my head, really fun to laugh as I stumbled over my feet, and really great to practice my listening and speaking skills in a small group.  Plus, everyone was really nice.  I’ll just try to read the relevant bible verses ahead of time in the future so that I don’t mistake any more disciples for gate keepers.

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Homework help from a ten-year-old

April 21, 2012
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I have to write a short essay in Chinese.  I was working on that today when my neighbor’s nephew, who’s about 9 or 10 years old, wandered over here and asked me “可以一起玩吗?” (Can we play together?)  Sadly, I’ve been so busy lately, that I usually tell him I’m working and send him away.  But this time, I had a brilliant idea.  This kid has been speaking Chinese for about a decade.  That’s ten times longer than I have.  He could proofread my essay for me!

我:可以一起玩啊!我们会玩一个非常好玩的游戏。这个游戏叫 “看看孔老师写的汉语散文。”  好吗?(Me: Sure we can play!  We’re going to play a very fun game.  It’s called ‘look at Miss Corbin’s Chinese essay.’  Okay?

他:好的!(Him: Okay!)

He sat next to me and read my essay out loud.  It was actually really cool hearing this kid read what I’d written.  He read it slowly and carefully in his native Chinese accent with all the right tones.  It’s not that I’d never heard a Chinese person read before–it’s that I’d never heard a Chinese person read so carefully before.  Reading characters isn’t easy, so even ten year old natives have to think pretty hard to read everything correctly.  In the end, he told me to take out a couple awkward sentences and fixed some punctuation.  I’ll show my essay to my tutor on Monday and see how many more billions of things she takes out and changes.  Haha.  This ten year old was not a proofreading expert, but, on the bright side, he told me that he could understand everything I’d written.  If it’s not idiomatic, at least it’s comprehensible, eh?

To repay him, I quizzed him on some of his English vocab words (girl, boy, Good morning, etc.) and pointed out that watermelon is spelled with an l rather than a t.  He’d written “watermeton” in his notebook ten times, and the teacher had marked it an A+.

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More hairstyles than I’ve ever had before

April 21, 2012
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My haircuts usually consist of me asking someone (occasionally a professional) to take scissors and cut straight across.  But, I’ve always wanted to see how I look with short hair.  Thanks to Aaron’s great hair cutting skills, I now know what I look like with quite a few short styles.


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Photo booth modeling

April 20, 2012
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Today was fantastically full, I went to Tunxi with Sabrina where we first studied  for a while at KFC and then spent some time wandering around, window shopping, and even buying some things.  We ate dinner at KFC and then went to the church for youth group.  I’ve got a lot to say.

For now, just a fun, quick note before bedtime.  While we were wandering in Tunxi, Sabrina and I found a photo booth in the back of a dusty and dimly lit shop.  We couldn’t resist.  We asked the boss “怎么玩啊?” (How do we play with this?) and she gave us a quick tutorial on how we could select the number of pictures we wanted, select the background, select the foreground, etc.

There were so many options, we didn’t know how we’d ever choose.  Until we saw the perfect one.  A foreground that looks like a Japanese magazine cover, but the only English words are “Poop Models.”  We complimented it with an angry octopus print background and knew we had a true winner.

So, here are Sabrina and I, on the cover of PINKV magazine, the special “Poop Models” edition.  Somebody needs to double check their translations…

Unfortunately, there’s some glare on this photo of a photo, but you get the idea.  I’ll definitely scan the original for my archives.  hehe.

And yes, I have very short hair now, and I love it. 😀

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