China Jubilee

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Be at rest once more, O my soul June 26, 2014

Filed under: Life — missjubilee @ 11:54 am

“Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you!…
I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the LORD – in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Prase the LORD.” (Psalm 116:7, 17-19)

I’m a week and a half into my job search. It’s one of those things in life that you enter with no idea how long it will take to “complete” because it’s not just up to you.  (Come to think of it, in that way it’s similar to the desire to be married – except that at least there are straight-forward ways to “put yourself out there,” network, and negotiate a new job quickly once you find it, whereas the process of finding a spouse is so much tougher to navigate!)  You don’t want to read all the places I’ve tried and responses I’ve gotten or am still waiting to get, and I don’t want to go back over them for that matter.  Job hunting is one of my least favorite things to do, within the realm of my current experience, but I want to focus on TRUST, and resting in what God has done, what he has said he will do, and Who he is in my life.

“Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you!”

I want this to be my verse for the job hunt.  He has done so much just in this transition, in addition to all he’s done before in my life, and in addition to his great works of salvation and sanctification in my life.

:Realizing that I’m a more qualified, experienced job hunter than last time I sought a job in the US right out of college and then right after being fired from my first job. It’s funny to actually feel like I’m competent at some things.
:Safe flight and luggage all arriving without extra luggage fees
:Comfortable, familiar, and convenient place to stay until I find that job (the house where I grew up)
:Time with family, one-on-one and together
:Generous amount of money in the bank. I am quite capable of spending it WAY too easily and quickly, but I’m trying to be careful and not immediately go out and replace everything I parted with in Qingdao before moving back, nor grab at every special-to-this-location experience such as egg rolls, movies, or Busch Gardens
:Able to give joyfully to various places, thanks to the aforementioned money in the bank
:Car to drive, generally in good shape, and money to rent my dream car (Prius) for a road trip in July
:Plans to see people from fellowship and honor a friend’s wedding on that road trip in July
:Technology to stay connected with friends who are traveling for the summer or still in China, including what I *think* is a good cell plan
:Various international interactions – a party with people who live internationally, a weekly outreach to international students who are working at the beach for the summer, weekly prayer and hearing reports from missionaries,… even just checking that the food is gluten free for mom in Chinese and having the waitress easily switch languages with me, somehow that made me even happier than when people stop to exclaim over my language abilities. J (Plus it was almost like real Chinese food, not just American Chinese food – I’m grateful to the friend of a friend at the party who recommended this new place!)
:And best of all, supportive people – Michelle J, Eric W, Joan C, Beth F & others in that group, my family, and maybe a new friend or two.

“I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and… fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,…” When I first read this I thought, “When I finish my job hunt, that’s what I will surely do!” But reflecting back on verse 7 and how the Lord has been good to me, I want to thank him NOW before others!  God, you are so overwhelmingly good to me!  My soul CAN rest in you for the future without worry, because I have seen your generous blessing and guidance in my life as well as in the lives of others* and in your Word.

*Footnote: I’ve been reading “Goforth of China,” and I highly recommend it! It had me crying on the plane in conviction and joy, and standing in awe of what God can and will do through one life to touch tens and hundreds of thousands, and how he worked mightily in China ten or eleven decades ago.

 

Welcome back to the USA! June 15, 2014

Filed under: Life,Shopping,Travel — missjubilee @ 9:09 am

This may or may not be the first in a series of posts, but I wanted to keep a list for my own memory and to share a little what I encountered when returning to the US.  I’ve put it into 3 categories: Things I’m glad to (re)discover about America, Things I’ll need to re-adjust to, and No country’s perfect.  I’ll try to keep that final category to a minimum. I don’t want to focus on the negative, and while I’m sure I’ll have days in the next few months where I deal with reverse culture shock in huge doses, I think a lot of it will come back to me re-adjusting, not issues with things outside of me.

Things I’m glad to (re)discover:

  • Blue skies with puffy white clouds in the day, stars at night, regularly
  • Time with family, such as helping out around the house with my brother, going for a walk with my mother, and sitting at a cafe with my father
  • The convenience of having a car waiting just for me a few meters from the front door of the house
  • The variety of things available in the grocery store (this fills me with joy on every. single. visit.)
  • The convenience of centralized air conditioning (conditionally)
  • Being able to access my blog, other blogs, videos, and social networking without a VPN and at playable speeds
  • Walking into a bookstore, being greeted by the clerk who knows me from past visits, and finding what I want on the shelf.  (Probably also the large public library system, but I think I’ll avoid that till I find a job, kinda like eating your brussel sprouts before having some cheesecake.)

Things I’ll need to re-adjust to:

  • Waxed apples. I didn’t mind before I got used to eating them unwaxed, but now I feel like “How can anyone ever choose to wax an apple?”  Oh well, I may not enjoy my daily dose as much for a while, but I’m pretty sure I can get used to this… and maybe find a good source of fresh-off-the-tree each fall!
  • The variety of things available in the grocery store. Ha, yes, this is on both lists.  I think I need to make a rule for myself that I can only spend $5 on items not on my shopping list when I go into Kroger or I’ll come out with an overflowing basket and an empty bank account.
  • Climate-controlled buildings that make me wish I was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt in the summer.
  • Working in the US. Well, looking for work first of all! But I know it’ll be different from the last few years. Also finding an apartment here, and working out somewhere/how, etc, etc.
  • Daylight savings time. Even if I didn’t like 4am sunlight (weirdly, I do), the bright light outside at 8pm is making it hard for me to fight jet lag by going to bed early!  I am going to have to re-learn how to do life in summer here, especially if I actually get a job that doesn’t have summers off. Now there’s a new thought!

No country’s perfect:

 

  • Arrive in China as an English-speaker and you may be a bit confused by the Beijing airport, but it’s generally well labeled in English as well as Chinese and some people speak enough English to help you.  Arrive in Singapore from anywhere and there are 4 different alphabets on the signs not only in the airport but all around the city.  Arrive in a major US city’s international airport and you get yelled at in English if you can’t read the signs for which customs line to get in – some airports have Spanish and English on the signs, some just English, so far I haven’t noticed anything with a different alphabet at all.  I actually talked to someone about this in Chicago, and she said some airlines supply a translator to assist people with finding the right customs line (eg an airline employee who speaks Japanese waits there when a flight from Tokyo arrives) but others don’t.  I say, why doesn’t the airport deal with it intelligently? At least signs in one Romance language, Chinese, Arabic, and maybe a Cyrillic or Southeast Asian language, would that be too much to ask? It still leaves out some of the world, but it would cover a pretty large swath of its population.  English may be a popular language, but there will always be people who chose something else to study or who simply didn’t learn it (eg Chinese grandparents, I’ve helped a few of those over the years…). Could we require all airport staff who work in that area to spend a month living overseas somewhere they don’t speak the language, perhaps?
 

Recent photos September 8, 2013

Filed under: Cooking,Craft,Life — missjubilee @ 7:53 pm

Life is staying full here, though I’ve had some down time this weekend. Here are a few little things.

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Supper in under five minutes. Leftover leftovers and fresh fruit. Leftover celery, cooked rice, and a little leftover eggplant were combined with some onion, garlic, salt, curry powder, along with a can of kidney beans and an egg, the last item only because I am apparently incapable of frying up anything with leftover rice without putting in an egg. Anyway it made two dinners for that week plus one more in the freezer that I ate tonight. I’ve never had anything quite like it, and this time at least I can say that with a happy rather than “blech” face!

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Here’s the blech – mold on two books I took from home when I finished high school. So sad. I will replace Hind’s Feet but the other would probably be difficult to find since Mom bought it in college so I’ll try wiping it down with vinegar.

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Last night I babysat an actual baby for the first time in a while. Isn’t she cute?

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Today while I was picking up some shirts from the tailor I also picked up more blue & white fabric half-meters. I’m not sure yet if the quilt it becomes will have the yellow mixed in or just more whites. Or even if it WILL become a quilt, since I’m pretty busy now and I don’t plan to ship fabric to the land of JoAnn’s and such when I leave! At least not quilting fabric. Maybe a bit of the batik blue & white prints that I’m basing this selection around (in the foreground).

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Such pretty beans growing in the cul-de-sac by my building.

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Stella watching the sunrise. It was the physical connection to a message I’d heard last weekend from John Piper about the glory of the Lord being revealed.

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Psalm 121. My heart has been tender as I’ve been stretched. It’s not easy learning to rely on the Lord for strength. Right now for instance it’s Sunday evening and I’ve felt a lot less urgent and hungry in my prayer and reading times the last 48 hours because it’s not crunch time – it’s school that is pushing me beyond my strength. But oh how this psalm ministered to me one day this week.

Posting these photos reminds me, I’ve posted most of them before, some on FB and some on WeChat. It’s been great to connect with friends on the latter app, especially people I knew in ZZ. Have you tried it? It’s the English version of an app that’s actually Chinese (I think), and it’s similar to Voxer but with more features. Plus easier to find people – so far I have about 30 connections on the one and about three on the other! The main feature they share is the ability to send short audio clips back and forth, like a time-delay walkie talkie. Not very delayed, unless your Internet speed is slow. If you haven’t tried either app, pick one and give it a go!

 

American in China August 31, 2013

Filed under: Life,Travel — missjubilee @ 8:11 pm

This weekend I’m at a training conference in Shanghai for the math curriculum our elementary school uses. I’ve been to Shanghai twice before, both times in transit to other places but with a short stopover planned to see or do things here. This is the first time I’ve actually come TO Shanghai, and the first time I haven’t had any special plans related to location. Not that things haven’t happened anyway.

Last night our whole group went for dinner at a steak house in the same part of town as our hotel (which in a big city like Shanghai isn’t saying much in terms of closeness!) I would estimate that our group ate about 2 kilos of pure beef, ten potatoes’ worth of baked/mashed/fried goodness, plus my Caesar salad (ever since summer I’ve been trying to eat minimal meat so that was about the only thing on the menu for me – but someone did share a couple bites of his steak with me and it was delicious!) So that was a very special meal.

Today the conference started. On the bus from the Best Western – which is pretty standard for here, nice but since it mostly caters to Chinese people I could give you a long list of ways it differs from one in the West – as I was saying, on the bus to Shanghai Amer. School, another teacher warned me about the shock of the area we were going to. She was spot on. We drove through a pair of ornate gates into a manicured expanse of golf course, suburban homes, and extensive school complex. O.o Wow. We were all staring around ourselves wondering if the Enterprise had come back in time again and Scotty had accidentally beamed us all to an upper-middle-class neighborhood in the States, or perhaps dropped a suburb from there down in China.

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After the meetings today I stayed an extra three hours to work on assignments for my current grad class with the wifi in the secondary library. It was good to have some alone time. More to come when I get back to the hotel hopefully (most of the staff was planning to go out and see the city tonight). I borrowed a couple books to read, then went out to wait for the taxi that had been called for me.

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While waiting in the gorgeous Shanghai evening, I watched frequent groups of electric scooters buzzing past on the mostly-deserted roads. My thoughts over time:

-Hm, I expected foreigners here but those are Chinese folk. I should not have made assumptions! Chinese families can afford super-ritzy homes too, after all. (Make no mistake, they would be upper-mid homes in the States, but on the edge of a crowded Chinese city these places are opulent.)
-Wow, there have been a lot of Chinese people going by and no foreigners at all. Hm.
-Oh look, a white mom and daughter walking the dog and roller blading.
-Wow, a white man walking up with a drink in his hand, walking past the guards and into the school, I bet he’s a teacher going to get some grading done on a Saturday evening.
-Oh, some white, English-speaking boys playing in their yard, how cute.
-There goes another… and another… and another electric scooter with a Chinese person on it.
-Hm, I’m noticing two different trends here. White people walking around. Chinese people all headed towards the exit on electric scooters.

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Suddenly I felt like I was in a scene from “The Help,” China version, though presumably (hopefully?) without the bigotry and prejudice that underlay the American story. The work day was ending and the hired help were headed home. At least, that’s the story I settled on in my mind, in this little piece of American – and Chinese – life in China.

Input from others? Information I’m missing regarding the situation? For the record, I have hired help of my own here, have BEEN hired help myself one summer in the States, and I mean no judgement on the institution in general nor on this specific case by comparing it to that movie/book – it’s just not something I grew up with and thus a surprise when I notice it all over again in a new context/way. Surprise makes us uncomfortable and hopefully reflective. So I thought I’d share the moment of surprise here to look back on one day, and for feedback from readers.

 

People in June June 19, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — missjubilee @ 4:18 pm

June is a great time for group photos.  Here are a few from the last three weeks.

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Yi Jing area staff bus on the last day of school

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Women’s Goodbye Dinner – all the women in our city who are attached to our company, honoring the 8 women who were leaving

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Staff End-of-Year dinner, with a “small” group of my co-workers and friends!

end-of-course class photo

The last day of our cohort’s first summer class in Beijing

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The requisite silly group photo!

 

Lamb & Eggplant March 31, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — missjubilee @ 9:14 pm

Since lamb seems somewhat traditional with Easter, I bought half a pound of ground lamb when I was at the store on Friday. (The lamb chops were pricey and small.)  I didn’t really know what to do with it, but I figured if I didn’t get any inspiration, I could always crumble it with some sort of sauce and eat it with rice or pasta.  At the local shops today I bought some eggplant, figuring both lamb and eggplant are middle-eastern.  Then at dinner time I fired up the AllRecipes app on my phone, did a little Googling on the laptop, and came up with this:

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Starting with olive oil and minced garlic, I browned the lamb, then added the spices from AllRecipes’ Grilled Spicy Lamb Burgers (minus most of the cumin and red pepper flakes) and a chopped up eggplant.  A couple minutes later I dumped in a guesstimate of the liquids from the burger recipe, a can of chopped tomatoes, and the vestiges of a long onion for color.  I let it all simmer covered for a while and then uncovered to thicken.  Meanwhile one Metro pita from the freezer got thawed out in the toaster oven while I dealt with a partially-peeled pineapple for dessert.  Hurrah, a yummy dinner, and I have enough of the main dish left to fill the other two pitas in the freezer tomorrow or the next day :)

 

Make the Bread February 19, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — missjubilee @ 2:12 pm

It’s another bread-making day today.  Why?  Because I wanted to try a new lasagna recipe.

Train of thought yesterday evening: Oh, I will need ricotta for lasagna.  I guess.  It was the main reason I didn’t like lasagna as a child, the texture grossed me out, but… yeah, I’ve made my peace with ricotta now after having it on fresh bread and toast so often.  OK, ricotta it is.

That means I will have the perfect amount of warm whey for some bread or bagels!  But I REALLY don’t have time to make bagels tomorrow.  Ooh, good thing I finished up the bread for breakfast this morning then!  I’ll make some fresh bread.

So, this morning I made ricotta & let it drain, then made bread dough with the whey and set it under the radiator to rise, then used half of the ricotta for a half-recipe of zucchini lasagna (I’m not fully convinced I’ll like it better there than spread on the bread, so I couldn’t bear to use it all in one go).  The lasagna is now covered with foil and waiting till 5-ish to go in the oven, the dough is still rising, and I’m taking a break!

A break means time to type up recipes!  The bread didn’t rise enough the first time I made it (just one loaf’s worth thankfully).  I think the problem was that it called for room-temp water and my kitchen is way too cold.  Since that first loaf I’ve wised up and used warm liquid like I do any other time I make bread, specifically the whey from ricotta, topped off with a little water if needed.  It got rave reviews when I made it last weekend, and I’m going to be sharing some of today’s batch as well – the whole reason bread recipes make 2 loaves is because you eat 1 loaf the first day when it’s still warm/fresh and then eat the other loaf slowly over the next week, isn’t it?

Ricotta

from Smitten Kitchen, though I looked at the below book this time too because I ran out of lemon juice last time I made this and haven’t been able to find a bottle since then

Pour a 1 liter box of milk into a heavy saucepan.  Sprinkle in about 1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt (or table salt?)  Glop in somewhere between 1/2 and 1 cup of heavy cream (if you have it. If not, it’s OK.)

Heat the milk, stirring constantly (or at least almost constantly) until it’s almost boiling.  This time I was looking really closely during short stirring breaks to try and get it just right, and I noticed the surface moving a bit though bubbles weren’t breaking the surface, so I figured that was a good place to stop.

Take the pot off the heat and pour in ONE of these acids:

6 Tablespoons white vinegar OR 3 Tablespoons lemon juice.

Give it a couple gentle stirs, and leave it to sit for 5 minutes.

Line a colander with some cheesecloth (I use a triple-layered cheesecloth, ie a longer piece that I fold twice) and put it in a bowl to catch the whey.  Check that the milk mixture looks curdled, and pour it into the cheesecloth-colander-bowl stack to drain.  (If it isn’t curdled, as happened to me once, I’m not sure what to do – maybe add more acid and see if it helps, or maybe shrug, pour it in anyway, and use what manages not to flow through as sour cream or something.)

After a short time you can pour out the whey to use for bread – by the time it’s cool enough not to kill the yeast, it will be almost finished draining.  Leave the ricotta longer to drain more if you like it really thick, but you can go ahead and use the bulk of the whey while it sits.

EverydayBread

adapted from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter

In a large bowl, sprinkle 1 Tablespoon yeast over 3 1/2 cups warm whey or warm water.  Let sit for 5 min or so.  While it sits, grease 2 loaf pans.

Add the dry ingredients:

1/4 cup ground flaxseed (optional, but why wouldn’t you use it?)
7 1/4 cups of flours*
4 teaspoons kosher salt (or about 2 tsp table salt)

(* My flour mix is different each time; this time it was: 1/2 cup wheat germ, 1 cup graham (whole wheat) flour, 1 3/4 cups bread flour, 4 cups all-purpose flour.)

Mix well.  That’s right, mix, but no kneading needed! Of course, you can knead it if you want to. I tend to stir it for an extra 60 seconds and call it good.  Put half into each loaf pan and spread it more or less evenly.  Cover them with a damp kitchen towel and place somewhere warm to rise until level with the top of the pans (2-5 hours or possibly longer, depending on where you leave it).

Preheat the oven to 450 F.  Sprinkle loaves with a little kosher salt and put into the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Then remove the loaves from the pans, return to the oven, and bake about 15 min longer, until the crust is a nice crusty color and the loaves sound hollow when tapped.  Place on a rack to cool.

Let cool as long as you can stand it, then cut into one and enjoy it spread with nice fresh ricotta and any fruit spread you have on-hand, or melt some butter on it if you didn’t make ricotta!

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Rising bread dough – below the radiator, with an old towel draped over it to trap in heat.  My mini loaf pans fit perfectly on top of the radiator and rise like nobody’s business! but the full-sized ones go under it and rise more slowly.

 

 
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