A New Howard Family Addition

•February 27, 2018 • Leave a Comment

 

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One of the happiest moments of my life. 

 

The past year and a half have been completely life-changing. God finally brought me back to China, I met my soul-mate, I got married to her and yesterday God gave us the cherry on top Noah Connor Howard. This was one of the most difficult things I have ever experienced, but it was also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

These are some of the photos of our new little Howard addition to the family. Isn’t he beautiful?! I learned a few things just within the last two days, that I hopefully will never forget. God has really blessed me with one of the most amazing women I have ever met. My wife Elizabeth is made of the strongest fibers. She was willing to go through the pain of childbirth because she deeply loves me and wanted to give our family children. That is one of the greatest acts of love any person has ever shown me. My only wish is that God will bless me with a full life to share my love with her and my gratitude for all she has done. Being with her during birth was a great time of reflection for me.

The second thing that I learned is just how much God really has blessed us. After they released Elizabeth and little Noah back to their room, we dedicated Noah to God and re-dedicated our family to the Lord. I want the Howard family to wholeheartedly serve the Lord. This birth has placed a lot of things into perspective for me in my life. My life was changed in a moment, but I wouldn’t ever wish to go back. I cannot see my life without my dear wife or Noah!

Farming for Dragon Fruit

•February 24, 2018 • Leave a Comment

If you would like a closer look at some of these photos included,
please feel free to click on them. 

 

I was going through my photos this afternoon and I stumbled across some photos that I had originally wanted to share with everyone. When I first came to China, I got locked out of my WordPress account because I had enabled Two-Factor Authentication. Instead of using my Google Voice phone number, I used my local Ting number (back in the USA) to set up two-factor. Just a friendly reminder, don’t set up two-factor if you might lose access to your phone number. I kept my Ting account back home, but their service does not support international roaming. Anyway once I got access back to my WordPress website a couple of months ago, I just now realized there are so many things that I have not shared with you all back home or my other friends around the world.

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火龙果 or Huǒlóng guǒ or Dragonfruit is a fruit that I always thought was kind of weird looking. I really had only seen this type of fruit when I traveled to Hong Kong or Mainland China, so for all I knew, this was an Asian fruit.  My current place of employment was so kind enough to organize a special retreat for all our teachers to travel to a farm that specializes in organic Dragonfruit. It definitely was one of the prettiest farms or plantations I have ever been. I was having a conversation with our head supervisor, Amos, and he mentioned that Dragonfruit is not indigenous to Asia, but actually Mexico. He said that the Spaniards during the Age of Exploration had brought the fruit to Asia to trade for other commodities that only were available in Asia. He also told me that the pepper was not originally native to China also, which equally surprised me. I thought it was interesting to see how globalism has really impacted a country and it’s cuisine. When we think of Szechuan or Hunan cuisine, we think of super spicy peppers. But to think that it was because of globalism that really brought these foods to another continent and allowed parts of the Chinese culture to adopt it into their everyday life, it’s pretty cool.

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As you can see, this was really a breathtaking sight. I also learned that Dragonfruit is actually a member of the cactus family. This particular cactus grows along the ground, but there are some insects that will eat away the Dragonfruit if left on the ground. This particular farmer built these concrete constructions in order to secure his crop from spoiling. This was a very nice destination I got to travel to in Guangzhou when I first moved here. I hope you guys learned a little and enjoy the photos! I have some exciting posts that I will be working on in the upcoming weeks! I am looking forward to sharing them with you all! So please stay tuned!

 

This is a Gun Issue, This is a Mental Issue, and More Importantly, This is a God Issue.

•February 16, 2018 • Leave a Comment
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Hebrews 13: Love and Sacrifice Go Together

I am tired of hearing about “this is not a gun issue” or “this is a gun issue” for that matter. Or “it’s a mental issue” or “it’s not a mental issue”. Wake up, everyone! IT’S BOTH! And we need to fix BOTH!!!!!!!! Now how do we fix both? I dunno, I believe in the second amendment, but I also don’t believe our American forefathers anticipated this to happen in America’s future. America has fallen into a country that mocks right and praises wrong. We allow everyone to define their own truth/ reality. But we have had a long history of mentally ill in America (since the beginning of mankind for that matter) and guns have existed since the foundations of our country (with the Second Amendment). There is only one thing that has changed. 

 
You cannot teach a handful of morals to a person and expect them to decide based on circumstances or however they feel at that moment. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it”? Jeremiah 17:9 “…and for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Romans 3:23.
 
I recently watched a TedTalk- you can watch it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtAR_OGzlcg&t=827s I am going to state the obvious, look at the statistics mentioned in the video and look at the dates in the decline in America’s moral compass. This guy is not even a Christian, but he makes some very interesting points!
 

Then let’s look at this idea of the “new normal” for America. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bX4qUsgHa4Y. Don’t try to tell me that this is not related, it’s a symptom that our country and it’s people are breaking and are flawed, corrupt individuals. It’s time to wake up America, do it for our future.
 
It says in 1 Peter 5:6- Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you. The same words are echoed in James 4:10. It’s a simple process, “Repent, therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.” Acts 3:19.
There is no hope for the future of America without God at the center. There is no hope for your life without God at the center. America and the people of America, you are all in my prayers.

Why I’m Furthering Myself from Social Media

•February 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

 

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Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

When I first came to China, I was getting pretty upset almost daily with the restrictive nature of the internet here. Almost access to every western or non-Chinese website or app are blocked here in China. That means when I first got here, I had restricted access to almost everything that I used regularly on a daily basis. No Facebook, no Google, no Twitter, no WhatsApp, no Youtube, well you get the picture. In fact, there are many websites that are blocked because they rely on other websites that are blocked. The websites that are not blocked, typically are slowed down to a crawl. But even though there are days in which I am a little annoyed with how slow a website that I might use is going because it is not a Chinese website, it is becoming more of a blessing than I originally realized. I thankfully still have access to some News Podcasts and Tech Podcasts that I follow, but I want to talk about some of the issues I have been reading or following up on concerning social media and the news media in particular.

Long story short, I have been listening to a very well tech journalist, Leo Laporte, since I was back in high school. He used to be a tech personality on the TechTV cable network, but eventually, the cable network went under. So Leo Laporte decided to take his ideas and passion for technology to the internet. He launched his own technology network online under the title Twit (This Week in Technology). He has podcasts or shows that literally talked about everything with a chip in it. I cannot keep up with all of his shows, but to name the three I try to keep up with are Macbreak Weekly, Windows Weekly, and This Week in Google. I used to keep in touch with his radio broadcast The Tech Guy, but unfortunately, I just don’t have the time anymore.  One of the main topics lately on one of his shows in particular (TWIG- This Week in Google) has been the social hacking of some of these IT tycoons like Google, Amazon, and Facebook on us. I used to think when I was younger that things like internet addiction weren’t really a thing, but as I am been experiencing more of life, I see that it is becoming a big problem, particularly with the youth.

 

I have been a teacher for the past six years now, I have been blessed to teach in my home country of America and I have been equally blessed to be currently teaching Guangzhou, southern China. I have been able to see the impact of social media in two countries and being removed from my old social networking habits, I have been able to reflect on them. Students are sometimes downright aggressive when you try to separate them from the phones or laptops. I’ve even had some students in America tell me, “I will die for this phone”, here in China, I have had students yell trying to be confrontational. What is exactly happening to our youth and for that matter, ourselves?!

I didn’t really see just how much time I was focused on social media inside the USA than I really was. But the topic just doesn’t end there. I noticed that media itself was beginning to consume my life. The 24-hour news media cycle, who basically constructs stories in order to keep you glued to the news (which by the way are entirely negative stories), the TV networks are all dedicated to distracting you from what really matters. I cannot really fathom just how much of my life has been lost because of these forms of mindless entertainment. Now I have realized I have been talking quite a lot already, so perhaps I should end my thoughts here, but I would like to make two closing points.

I have been mentioning American or Western social media networks competing for our addiction, but the same is happening in China. Corporations like Tencent (they developed WeChat and QQ) are using the same social hacks that make us constantly reaching for our cell phones.

The second thing I would like to say is that I have come to the conclusion that these mass media corporations are pushing an entirely different culture on me (even us!) and are trying to rob us of our independent ideas. Please keep these words in mind from the Apostle Paul, “15 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision – you’ll see it yet! 16 Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. 17 Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. 18 There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. 19 But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites” Philippians 3:15-19- quoted from the Message translation of the Bible. 

I will write some more on this topic in the near future, but for the time being, here are some of the articles that I have been reading in the meantime that pertain to this topic. I would like to encourage you all to check some of these out. God bless

Harvard University Article on Social Media Affecting Health
Cornell University Article on Internet Addiction
The Vice Article on Facebook Addiction
The Guardian Article on Facebook Addiction

Uplifting Music for the New Year

•January 18, 2018 • Leave a Comment

It makes my heart sing when I see Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese express a love for Christ. I have been looking online for Christians songs from all across East Asia and I thought it would be nice to share some of these uplifting songs. It’s rare to see or hear good clean music anymore, so I hope that God will bless you through this music. May God move your heart for Asia and this will inspire you to pray for Asia.

InValuable Love

•December 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Attention my Chinese Followers– If you do not have access to YouTube, please check out the Video on Youku
中国的粉丝们请留意——如果你们无法使用YouTube,请尝试链接Video on Youku

Recently my amazing students here in Guangzhou were asked to complete a video project. My goal was to get them thinking about camera angles, learning different ways of telling their stories and expressing their individual creativity. I am currently teaching my S2 students American History/ Culture and Journalism/ Yearbook. Here is one of the projects a group of my students put together. I am very proud of them for their hard work. The first story is a parody of a Chinese television program called Love Apartment or 爱情公寓 and the second story is a parody of the Japanese horror film, The Ring. Good work guys! I’m very proud of you!

Exciting Announcement!

•December 13, 2017 • 6 Comments

God has blessed me so
much this past year.

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It’s a Boy!

As most of you might know, I recently got married in June of this year. God had confirmed to me that Ms Elizabeth Kuang would be my future wife and I proposed to her shortly before June. We are happily married and God has already blessed our marriage tremendously. This has been something that I have been praying about for years, ever since I was little and God has finally brought Elizabeth and me together. Well, we found out shortly after our marriage that God has blessed our new family with a baby. We found out at the beginning of July that Elizabeth was a couple weeks pregnant. Needless to say, we were so excited to hear the news and thankful to God for all that He has blessed us with.

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Elizabeth and I at a Parenting Class

Here is Elizabeth and I at a parenting class we are taking in the city centre. It is a bit of a travel from where we live, but it is a nice little school. My Chinese has kind of improved since I arrived here last year, but sometimes I still struggle with the language. Either way, the teacher is very accommodating and tries to help where she came given the fact I am not a native Chinese speaker.

 

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I love you Mrs Howard!

 

This year has been full of blessings and I am so thankful to God for giving me two great gifts. He definitely is a Father, who gives good gifts to His children. In the book of James chapter 1, it says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…”. Well, Mrs. Howard is one of those good gifts from above and pretty soon, our little baby boy will be an additional good gift from above! I cannot wait until you guys can meet my wife and my newborn son! Currently, I am praying God will give me the right name for our boy, but as of right now, I like “Conner” and “Noah” as possibilities. Maybe you can give some suggestions in the comment section below? God bless you all! Thank you for your prayers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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