“Sichuan Style” Green Beans

Big news: Our garden has started producing Green Beans!

That means it’s time for me to make the one vegetable side dish that I am good at.  I make some mean fresh green beans.  Will loves them, his family likes them, my family likes them, and they are on my friend Kayla’s top ten list I am pretty sure.  I’ll have to make them for her when she gets home from Africa.

green beans

These green beans are a home run. They are WAY better than canned green beans and steamed fresh ones.  They take hardly anytime at all to make.  They have abundant flavor.  They are very aromatic and will make your kitchen smell great (unless you burn them like Kayla and I did once…)! They are nice and crispy, not mushy like baby food.

she snatched up this green bean when it fell on the floor while we were cooking

she snatched up this green bean when it fell on the floor while we were cooking

and proceeded to gnaw on it all evening.

and proceeded to gnaw on it all evening.

There are two ways to make my green beans- Traditional/Garlicky or “Sichuan Style.”  I put that in quotes because it’s not an actual Chinese recipe; it’s just my attempt at copying something amazing that I had when I was there the last time.

Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh green beans (a good sized handful per person)
  • Minced Garlic (a clove per 2 servings of beans)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (a teaspoon per two servings of beans) *Omit if you want the traditional/garlicky style
  • Garlic Powder (yes more garlic, I’d say about 1/4 tsp per 2 servings of beans)

Onion Powder (again, about 1/4 tsp per 2 servings of beans)

Directions:

  1. Snap or chop the ends off of the green beans.
  2. In a skillet, large enough to spread your green beans out in, put in some olive oil to heat up. The amount will depend on how many beans you are cooking.  I would say a Tablespoon or two for 2 servings of beans, but you should be able to eyeball it pretty well. 
  3. Turn the skillet on to medium high heat.  This recipe moves fast because of the high heat, but it is also what gives you seared, crisp, flavorful green beans.
  4. While the oil is heating up toss the green beans in the skillet and stir them around to get them coated in the oil.  This helps the spices to stick to the beans and not burn to the pan.
  5. Now add your minced garlic and toss it all around.
  6. Add the rest of your spices and toss again.  (omit the red pepper if you don’t want the spicy sichuan style green beans)
  7. You’ll need to watch to make sure that these sear a little, but don’t burn. Let them sit then toss them around and let them sit again.  You don’t need to constantly stir them or they won’t get seared.
  8. Once they are all seared a little and hot, turn off the heat and serve them!  I usually make these at the very end of cooking dinner because they don’t take long.  The more green beans you are cooking the longer it will take, and I suggest having a pretty thin layer of green beans in the pan not piling them in there.
in the skillet tossed in the oil.

in the skillet tossed in the oil.

here they are in the skillet with all the spices cooking

here they are in the skillet with all the spices cooking

Green Beans 4

These green beans really can be put with any meal.  We ate them Sichuan style with pork tenderloin last night, but that’s because we love spicy food.  If you don’t like spicy stick with the garlic version.  It will never fail you.  Just take my advice, don’t learn the hard way like Kayla and I did.  Make sure you keep enough oil in the pan to keep things from burning, and don’t burn the spices. Your lungs will not like that smoke.

This was about a year and a half ago, at my college apartment.  They smoked so bad that we carried them out into the stairwell! lol

This was about a year and a half ago, at my college apartment. They smoked so bad that we carried them out into the stairwell! lol

Soon I will be posting an awesome new spinach side dish that Will has been making.

Surprises, jet lag, and culture shock

Well I made it home!  It was a long journey, but really it was not bad at all.  When I got home I had my family waiting with huge excited smiles for me, and Will was waiting at Waffle House ready to surprise me!  It was a great welcome home.  And it was nice to have something other than oatmeal for breakfast.
Monday and Tuesday were pretty brutal with the jet lag. I spent half of them falling asleep on whoever I was sitting next to, in the middle of the floor, one time on the stairs (yes, I have talent), in the car, and oh yeah occasionally I would actually fall asleep in my bed.
Last night I slept long and at the right time, and today I have been going strong.
Since I have been home I have been to the movies, been shopping, swimming, running, I have celebrated my father’s birthday, and I have been accused of defacing my roommate’s car.  What can I say; I like to jump right back into things.
 All in all I miss China, and I miss the people who I grew to become very close with while I was there.  But I am glad to be home. It was time.
Here is some of the reverse culture shock which I have experienced:
·         Not nearly being run over when crossing the road
·         Having rules when driving
·         Having to abide by the concept of the line
·         Actually having toilet paper provided for me AND being able to flush it.
·         Not having tons of people around
I think that the thing that is really interesting is that it felt completely normal for me to be in China and now that I am home that feels normal too.  I hadn’t seen my family or Will in over 70 days, 2 and a half months, but once I was with them again it was like we never skipped a beat.  I hadn’t been around Americans, used American food, been to an American mall, and so on for a long time but America is normal too. 
It boggles me how two very different countries can feel so normal to me.  They both even feel somewhat like home.
It blows my mind how seeing people and doing things here in America picks up like I never left. 
Now there is a major transition to take place before August 15th (and 5 of those days will be spent in Kentucky).  Now I have to process my trip, take care of a decent sized list of things for school, catch up with an equally long list of people, and kick my butt to get into shape for soccer (which I began this morning).
Thank you everyone for your prayers and your support this summer.  Thank you for sharing in the experience with me.  Don’t stop checking this page every now and then.  Life is an adventure, so I will still have adventures to write you about sometimes.

Zàijiàn Zhōngguó

Jīntiān wǒ qù měiguó (Today I am going to America).  I am used to weekend trips, but this trek is going to top my 26 hour long train ride. 
So pray for divine appointments for ministry, for adjusted sleep patterns, humorous sightings, a starbucks, and just easy travels.
To be honest traveling by myself hardly fazes me now.  You just pack, leave, and go with it.    Pretty simple, and airports are easy.  Traveling is good for people watching and having adventures.  Also a good chance to read, journal, day dream, plan, scheme, sleep, and listen to music.  Oh and do strange things like brush your teeth, wash your face, wash your bangs and proceed to dry them under the hand dryer in the public restroom (I have done that before… more than once).   The nice thing is that here it’s no big; I am just the crazy foreigner.  In the states…. In the States I am just crazy. Lol.
But just to give everyone a picture of what my trip home looks like here is how I plan to get there:
Step one: put hair in pig tails
Step two: find some ruby red slippers
Step three:  click my heels together and say there is no place like home
…hopefully since Like Dorothy my name begins in D and I am from Kansas this plan will work.  It will teleport me home much more quicker than my back up plan, and it will drop me off in my bed already as well.  But in case I can’t find the appropriate footwear, or heaven forbid it doesn’t work as well as it did in the movie the following is plan B:
  • Yinchuan to Beijing.  
  • change terminals and check in again
  • at 4:15pm July 24th  I will take a flight  to Vancouver.  The tricky thing is i arrive at 11:30 Am on the 24th… technically that is 5ish hours before I left China.  Yeah I know it’s pretty cool.
  • Then after another 4 hour layover I leave for LAX.  
  • YAY CUSTOMS!!!!!
  • Check in for the 3rd time on my travels home…
  • And six hours later at midnight thirty I will get on a flight to Minneapolis.  I arrive there at 6:06 am (meaning it is really only a 3 and a half hour long flight)
  • then  leave there an hour later and finally land at KCI at 8:30 am on July 25th… convert that to China time and it is 9:30pm July 25th.  Therefore making the entirety of my journey about 37 hours.
  • Hug my family, get my bags, and then…..
  • WAFFLE HOUSE!!!
  • Home to shower and do laundry.
That is a total of 5 flights, 5 planes, 4 layovers, 3 check-ins, 3 countries, 2 longerish layovers, 2 times paying to check my 2 bags, and 1 long awaited waffle house stop with my fam jam.
Thanks for keeping me in your prayers as I travel.  I will post again eventually, possibly not till I have recovered from jet lag.  Just know that because my summer here is over doesn’t mean my blog is.  I still have a life full of adventures to share about, one that I really believe will lead me back here someday.
Well, I am leaving on a jet plane today, and I don’t know when I’ll be back again…
Li Ai

The Final Countdown

It is the final countdown.  I will be home so soon. This has been my last full day in China, and even though I have started packing I still cannot fathom the fact that tomorrow morning the gun sounds and i leave from the starting blocks here in Yinchuan on my way home. As of right now i only have 45 hours till i am home, only about 16 more in China.  Looking back I can remember the day I left very visibly, and it does not seem like it was 10 weeks ago.
 
The last two days have been very relaxing.  I have had a lot of personal space and alone time to get my head and my heart ready to come home. I have worked out, helped cook and eaten Chinese food, i have fellowshiped with these people, played games with them, learned from them, served them, and been blessed by them.  I just finished babysitting the two daughters of one of the families in this complex so they can enjoy a quiet night about with each other. 
That is something that i have definitely grown in this summer… my ability to take care of children.  Not the reason I came to China, but hey a bonus is always nice.
 
Less than 12 hours from now i will be headed to the airport for leg one of my journey home… I better finish packing.  I wonder if Anderson Cooper will be there waiting to give me my first set of instructions and then leave me little challenges along the way till i get home.  My own little mini amazing race.  the benefit is that since i would be the only contestant i would automatically win!
PS… i am a fan of the show The Amazing Race.  I think it would be super fun to be a contestant on that show. (shout out to my Aunt Marilyn)

Well i don’t have much else to write.  I am in the middle of this transition so when I have processed through it some more I will fill you in.  In the mean time I think the best words to leave you with to describe my journey home are those of Peter Pan’s “Second star on the right, then straight on till morning.” Because I really will be going straight on till morning.”  

Wanan (translation: good night) for the last time from China
Devra

Bitter and Sweet

We tend to be fans of combinations.  We don’t like things to be completely one color, just one texture, or just one taste.  We put black with white, crunchy nuts in smooth peanut butter, salty and sweet.  Another combination we like is bittersweet. 
Today has a large hint of bittersweetness.  3 hours ago I went to the airport to see the family off.  That was bittersweet. 
Sweet because I think this will be a great time for them as a family. Sweet because it means I am close to leaving as well (but that in itself is bittersweet).  Sweet because the kids were all so excited to be flying to America. And it was sweet because I know that I am going to have adventures of my own still.
There is no mistaking the bitter after taste though. That family brought me in alongside them all summer; they made me a part of their family.  I was much more than just a teacher.  I am used to having Gabriel’s head peeking over the couch at me, snoring in the bed next to me or hearing him knocking on my door in the morning (depending on where we are living lol).  I am used to Ariel coming and sitting in bed with me in the morning and reluctantly letting me brush her hair for her.  I am used to hiding my stuffed camel from Abby because she thinks everything is her baby. 
I am used to watching Cindy and learning what it is to be a loving, humble wife and a dedicated selfless mother from her.  I am used to running errands with her in the afternoon when we share details about our lives.  I am used to making her laugh with my ridiculous slang, crazy American ways, and my overall Devraness. I am used to our inside jokes and how we just look at each other a certain way and start laughing. I am used to one or the other of us making tea for the other person most nights.  I am used to how we try to find small ways to bless each other. Her’s is a fellowship that I will greatly miss, and losing its constancy makes today as bitter as the last cup of coffee in the pot. 
I think I will see them again.  Maybe in China after a while, or maybe in the States since they will be there for a while.  Either way that family has ministered to me greatly and taught me so many things, probably without their realizing it.  They have seen me through good and bad days, healthy and sick days, and great adventures.   I look forward to keeping tabs on how the Lord continues to use them in the future. 
Two things I think summarize that goodbye:  First, the look in Cindy’s and I’s eyes as we hugged and exchanged a few words knowing that there was volumes more behind the surface. And second when as Gabe was about to jet off in excitement to security, he turned around and grabbed hold of my arm.  He tugged so I would bend down and listen, and this is what he had to say before leaving on his great adventure, “Devra, can I have a butterfly kiss now?”  I taught him what butterfly kisses are.  They always cheer him up, and probably 2 or 3 times a week either I give him one or he comes and asks for one before bed. 
I think that I left my mark on that family, and I know that they have left theirs on mine.
Now to compliment that large amount of bitter, here is something very sweet.  Today, on Thankful Thursday the countdown dropped below 100 hours till I make it all the way home to Kansas.  I can’t believe it is that soon.
I am spending the next couple days living with a young newly married couple and their neighbors/colleagues who are another long term American family. I think it will be a very fun last couple days. In my 3 days here I have already learned much from them and am enjoying their fellowship.
Thanks to everyone for their prayers. The family is super grateful; please continue to pray for them as they have only just begun their journey.  And thank you for the prayers for my health.  I am feeling much better already!  But please continue to pray.  Thanks!
I pray that all of you are very aware of the things that you are thankful for today…. Enjoy my favorite day of the week!
Less than 100 hours left,
Devra

Thoughts from a Snuffaluffagus

Here is an interesting fact: the family I live with… they have a curse that has been following them.  That curse would be no running water.  The last place we lived the water went out a lot, and here we have had water for only a couple of hours the last 2 days. 
Now before you think that I am living in some barbaric place, a hut, or a dilapidated apt building that should be condemned allow me to clarify that I am indeed living in a very nice building with all modern furnishings (hence internet access).  It just happens that either something is wrong with the pipes, OR this is just another case of the Chinese not making any sense to me.       
But who needs running water when you have Jesus.  He is living Water, and He has provided enough water for our needs. Do not to take water or good plumbing for granted. Lesson learned.  Check.
I have a couple of prayer requests.  Beyond just that the Lord would continue to move here and strengthen those who are here full time.  Beyond that He would continue to fuel the passions He has given me and give me His heart for this country.  Here are the two more pressing prayer requests that I have now:

1)Pray for the family:  They start their journey to America tomorrow.  Pray for safe travels there, safe travels in America, that the kids would behave well, that they would be met with favor wherever they go, that this time in the Americas would be restful and would clarify the vision God has given them for their lives, and that all their needs would continue to be met.

2) Pray for me… I am battling allergies, or a head cold or something.  I would really like my sinuses to be clear before I fly, because flying congested is not pleasant. Plus it is just not fun to be constantly sniffing, snuffling, and blowing.  It makes you always sleepy.  I feel like Snufffaluffagus (the wooly mammoth from Sesame Street, in case that reference went over your head)
this would be Mr. Snuffaluffagus

God is good.  Today was a wonderful Wednesday and tomorrow will be a thankful Thursday!  As I learned from Psalm 112 today, if you delight in the commands of the Lord and fear Him then your heart will be established and the your faith will shine like the city on the hill Jesus calls us to be. 
Only 4 days left now.  Here’s to making the most of them, loving God more at the end of them, and getting home safe.
Ziajian,
Li Ai 

Shout outs, Short Stories, and Starry Skies

So since I last wrote to you about falling on the stair while running much has happened. I suppose the biggest change is the one in geography.  I am now in a different city again.  We finished moving apartment number 2.  Now that I have left two apartments barren and desolate, boxed up their lives and put them in storage, and packed up mine I definitely feel ready to come home.
I said goodbye to Lee yesterday.  No tears there.  I am not one to have a weepy goodbye, so that wasn’t so bad.  Here in a little over a day I will be saying good bye to the family too.  Then I will be staying here with their friends for 3 more days before I begin the trek home.  That journey will take me approximately 36 hours.
Ok.  Enough with the looking forward, I need to fill the internet world in on what has happened in the last 5ish days.  As I mentioned we moved out of the second apartment and are in another city visiting with friends for a few days.  But before that I was able to eat with Lee at our Chinese friend’s house again. This time it was a much smaller group of us.  We spent some time worshiping together again, and one of the sisters has the most beautiful worshipper’s heart.  You can just sense the Spirit around her intensifying when she sings.
I hope to have that kind of passionate love for and satisfaction in Jesus.  I hope that it can be as visible in my life as it is in hers. Also she and I became somewhat of friends that night.  We talked about cooking, school, and how I hope to live in China some day. 
This woman’s focus was so on the Lord that when she found out I had a boyfriend her very first question was “Does he know Jesus?”   She sang for a while, but she sang the scripture.  The crazy thing is that though her Bible was open her eyes were closed.  She just knew it.
Those two dinners were a real blessing to me.
Another blessing is the internet.  Thanks to the internet I am able to communicate with people back home easily, which in the last week I have done a lot of that.  Shout out to: my mom, my dad, Will, Tiff, Mel, Paul, Brooke,and Kate, and everyone else who I have talked to recently.  It is great to have your support and encouragement.  And to Tiff Leah, Kelsey, and Kevin I love reading your blogs and hearing your escapades in your own foreign countries this summer. 
As for my escapades, Gabriel has developed this obsession with looking at pictures on my computer.  Lately we have been looking at the pictures of Kate, Alex, and I’s excursions in Beijing.  Looking through those pictures makes me realize how much I miss Kate and Alex.  I loved that fellowship.  BUT thanks to the internet I can still talk with them. 
Beijing was a good experience.  I am sure these last few days will be too.  The Lord is faithful to reveal Himself to us when we seek Him.  I have done and seen a lot this summer, but I want to see more of God’s heart and glory.
I was able to see watch the world cup live on Chinese TV on the internet.  I watched the semifinal US game and the final.  Those were in the middle of the night for me.  Good thing I am a pretty natural night owl.  It was really refreshing to watch, well not physically.  It helped continue to make me excited for coming back and getting back into soccer… it is going to be brutal trying to get into shape and get my touch back on the soccer ball in just a couple of weeks once I get home.  BUT I am totally pumped for it.  I have been running some and working out a little here.  It is my senior year, and not only do I want our school to be threepeat national champs, but I want to do my absolute best for the Lord this year.
Humorous story about the World Cup.  On Monday morning Lee asked me how it went, and I replied very downcastly that Japan beat us in pk’s.  Lee’s response, “Well that is ok.  We beat them in World War II.”  HAHAHAHA
Yesterday as soon as we moved out of the apartment a Korean family (here for the same purposes as all of us) moved in.  Literally, we packed the car and went to lunch and they called to see if we were still there or not because they were ready to move in.
On the way to where we are now we stopped in Lanzhou to visit with some other friends who just had a baby.  This baby was only 8 days old and soooo tiny.  He still had his umbilical cord!  I had never seen that before.  The fact that 8 day old babies even have little fingernails confounds me.  I don’t understand how God designed us so intricately to start so small, to grow, and to learn.
The other thing that just inspired so much awe yesterday was the stars.  The stars on our late night drive were so numerous and so bright.  I can’t imagine what they must have looked like when God told Abraham to look at them, and then promised to make his descendants a blessing to all the nations. I was just reading in Galations 3 today about how through the saving work of Jesus I am one of those descendants.  To think that the promise God made to Abraham thousands of years ago is still coming true, and I am a part of it… blows my mind.  It blows my mind how creative, how vast and infinite, how powerful, how glorious, and how faithful God is.  When I see the stars they hold me captive and cause me to gawk at my Creator.   What a mighty and worthy God we serve. 
Today I went swimming… more like splashing.  I don’t have my swim suit here with me so I just waded around in the kiddie area splashing and being splashed by Gabriel.  I was completely soaked…
Anyway Chinese swimming pools are quite the experience.  There were soooo many people there.  They almost all wear swim caps. The men all wear little tight shorty shorts, or they improvise and just swim in their underwear… that was a somewhat scarring experience.  But all in all it was a pretty fun time.
Well my friends, that is all for now. I am sure that I will be writing more over these last few days and hours here.  Going to make the most of them and try to glean all I can from this experience.
Much love for China, God, and all my fam and peeps.
I will be seeing you soon,
Devra

Devra vs. The Stairs

There are two things you should know about me.  1)The first you probably already knew, but I like to run.  I run a fair amount. Tonight for instance the Ge2 Lee and I went for a run at 9:30pm.

2)The other is something that you may not know about me: the stairs and I have had a lifelong enmity between us.  They do all they can to get to me to fall down them or trip up them.
Apparently I give them the upper hand when I am unable to clearly see them because it is dark outside.  Who knew?
The stairs did… they took advantage of such a great opportunity and sneak attacked me.  Like a ninja they came out of nowhere!
With no warning I was suddenly completely sprawled out on the sidewalk.
Thanks to my sturdiness and all the extra calcium from the extra nai in my nai cha (milk tea) I came away from this brush with my rival the stairs without any broken bones, strains, sprains, or truly inconveniencing injuries of any type.
BUT the stairs managed to draw some blood… so my white leggings are soaking to get the blood out and my left knee is sporting an “I <3 converse" Band-Aid and extra Neosporin.

The inconvenient part of this injury is that since I live in a Muslim city and have to wear long pants or leggings whenever I go out no one outside this apartment will have the pleasure of seeing my awesome Band-Aid.  If it were a superhero Band-Aid I would really be depressed…

Keeping the first aid kit handy,
Devra

Not Just Another Thankful Thursday

As I have mentioned before, Thursday is my favorite day of the week.  It is Thankful Thursday, and it has been a good one.  I started my day by staying up till 2:30 watching the USA women’s soccer team beat France and advance to the World Cup finals (on Chinese TV from my laptop).  If you ask me that is a promising start to one’s day.  After my good night’s sleep things only got better.
So being that it is Thankful Thursday Lee (or Ge2 as I refer to him because gege is Chinese for older brother) and I pao le jintian xiawu (translation: ran this afternoon).  Running is a good way to celebrate Thankful Thursday by thanking God for lungs that breathe, legs that zou de kuai (go fast), sun that shines on you, and the fact that we as Christians are temples of the Holy Spirit! That was a great run.  Waged some spiritual war by prayer running instead of prayer walking as we went too.
The climax of my Thankful Thursday was dinner with Lee, another American, and several local believers.  Other than being thankful that I have the ability to eat way more than I should since the Chinese are so hospitable and keep feeding you, I am thankful for the chance to encourage them and be encouraged by them. 
We worshipped and prayed together in Chinese and in English, which was such a great glimpse, or preview of the throne room in Heaven.  What I experienced tonight was only a fractional dose of what John saw in his vision in Revelation 7:9-10.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
The other realization that I had at dinner is that since these believers are my brothers and sisters, my family and comrades in the blood of Jesus, essentially our dinner was communion. The fact is that apart from Jesus none of us would have been in that room together.  Lee and I would not be in China, and those Chinese friends probably would not even know each other.
So today I am thankful for so many things.  Some are simple and others are more complex, some subtle and some obvious, some spiritual and some physical, and some precious and some taken for granted.
I am thankful that I have one more Thankful Thursday left in China, but at the same time that saddens me.  I have only 3 or 4 more days in this city that I have come to really like. While my time left here is short, I am thankful that I have had time here at all.  These people are amazing and beautiful and they need the light of Jesus.  China, well the whole world, is a dark place but luckily as John 1 points out the Light that is Jesus shines in darkness, and the darkness can’t keep him out.
So I challenge you to list your answer out: What are you truly thankful for today?
Wanan (good night),
Devra

Blitzen, Blitzkrieg, Blitz till the End

So it has been 1, 2, 3, 4… 4ish days since I wrote to you last.  There is quite a bit to catch you up on. Some of it has been eventful and others parts need to step up their game a bit.  But all in all life is still a daily adventure here in Zhōngguó (that is Chinese for China ps).
So backtracking a bit… last Thursday and Friday I helped pack and move the family’s stuff out of the apartment we lived in at the beginning of the summer. On Friday evening we went to a 1 year old birthday party with a bunch of other foreign families bursting with children.  Seriously, sometimes it seems like these people all have small armies.
Saturday I spent most of my day helping test elementary school students on their English and then went and moved some more. So those were long, busy, crazy scheduled 3 days.
Now Sunday is when things get interesting.  Ok, actually they weren’t that interesting because I laid in bed literally the entire day.  No joke.  Sunday morning I woke up feeling sick.  This was a major bummer because it was my last Sunday in Xinning and I wanted to go to some various fellowships, see some friends, and maybe climb an oversized hill as well. But apparently God had other plans.  I spent all day queasy and not eating anything.  Then when my stomach started feeling better I had chills and aches like a fever.  Turns out I got some nasty little 24 hour stomach bug from one of the small army members (aka kid) at Friday’s birthday party.
Well 48 hours later I am proud to say that I have risen from the dead.  Ok, so I am being dramatic, but really I am healthy again.  I got to play soccer last night after I got a pedicure with some friends!  And then today I met up with a friend of Will’s from UK who happens to be in the same city as me at the university that is literally across the street… Crazy huh?!  That was a lot of fun!  And my first time ordering a meal on my own at a restaurant without a picture menu… scratch that it is the second time.  The first time was my second week in China and I was not nearly as successful lol.
After that I came back and hung out with the kids for a while.  A bit later I went running, which was quite an adventure.  Adventure is all in the eye of the beholder, but allow me to recount the events of this evening’s run for you:
-I run around the corner (after I already smiled at and said hello to the security guards here… I like to be friends with law enforcement) and as soon as I get around the corner there is Corrie (the girl from lunch who knows Will) and a bunch of people going to dinner (those are the moments you don’t feel like you are in China).  I stopped and said hello and she told them all how she knew me.
-then I kept running to the soccer field where there is a track
-As always, I  have my headphones in so I don’t notice the stares from everyone I run past.
 -I get to the field and they are playing baseball on one end and some guys taking shots (as in kicking a soccer ball) on the other end.  The baseball team did not look that good.  One guy seems like a decent hitter, and their 1st baseman is good… really agile and limber.  Unfortunately he was wearing a yankees hat. I picked up a few stray balls and tossed them back as I ran.
-After running about a mile there I stopped and just jumped in with the soccer guys.
-after I did that for about 15 min I ran another lap and then ran home.
…now my story is more comical.
-in my typical graceful fashion…  I totally tripped over the gate to the apt complex.  I mean big time tripped. I hit my whole foot on the bottom of the gate and WIPED OUT (if life had a background track that Beach Boys song would have been playing).  Now I have a nice scrape that will leave a good bruise all up my left shin.  The gate keeper came out and there was a man right behind me…  they probably thought I was drunk or something…
-Then I walked past my security guard friends again and asked them if they had eaten (common Chinese greeting.  It is the equivalent of “what’s up” or “how ya doin?” in the States).
-After they answered to the affirmative and asked me back I chased down these two boys on Ripsticks and said “wo keyi ma?” (can i?) and they said “keyi” (yes) so I rode on that a bit. 
Anyway it was an eventful run.  Tonight I made peanut butter cookies with Ariel and Gabriel.  That was a lot of fun.   Honestly, I think those two can roll dough into a more spherical ball than I can. 
Tomorrow we head back to Gansu province, and tomorrow night at midnight I hope to watch the USA women in the semifinal of the World Cup.
I only have 11 days left before I begin my travels home.  I can’t believe it is so soon.  I feel like I am right in the middle of the best moments here though.  Best worship, best fellowship, fun adventures, and just a lot of joy and grace from the Lord.
Please be praying for all the ministry going on in this country and for all the teams who are here to be used by the Lord.  They need your prayers.
Check back in soon!
Devra