Summer Trip ’23

•April 30, 2023 • Leave a Comment

Greetings everyone! I have been meaning to write on the blog for sometime but I will not deny, this has been one busy year. As some of you probably already know, that since this past November, China has officially opened its borders again. Since 2020 due to the Pandemic, China had closed its borders and purchasing a plane ticket for those who still wanted to leave the country were averaging around 5-10,000 USD per person. Thankfully with China abandoning the ‘zero covid’ policy, things have begun to get back to some normalcy. Before moving to Macau, we thought things would be a little more like Hong Kong in terms of opening up early, but that was not the case.

I personally have never flown with Turkish Airlines, but apparently right now they are one of the most affordable airlines to travel back to the USA. The journey on the other hand is going to be a rough one, we will be flying westward over Europe back to the USA (this route is around 10 hours longer than crossing the Pacific). We will also not be able to leave from Macau, but we need to take the ferry over to Hong Kong and then board our long flight to Washington DC. Not only could we not fly from Macau to North Carolina, but we could not even fly from Hong Kong to Raleigh. Instead we are flying to DC and then we will be driving from DC to Fayetteville. This troublesome arrangement helped us to save close to $1700 USD.

Either way, we just wanted to provide you guys with an update! Even though I’ve never seen tickets this expensive back to the USA, we are finally coming back for the summer! Tickets are still expensive, but praise God they are manageable, unlike the last three years ago as previously mentioned. We will be traveling back in July and staying about a month. We would love to meet up with family and friends again! We will keep you all posted and again, we are looking forward to seeing you all!

Year of the Rabbit

•January 2, 2023 • 1 Comment

Happy 2023 everyone! This post is more of a reflection than anything, but I do want to provide an update to how we are doing and life here in Macau.

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for praying for us over the past two and a half weeks. As Mainland China and Macau scrap their “zero-covid policy”, the entire Howard family here in Macau caught Omicron after three years of dodging the virus. I was particularly concerned with my wife and two boys who are not vaccinated, but thankfully and prayerfully God has helped us through this endeavor. Fortunately, we no longer are positive. Our youngest one though, little Daniel, still has a pretty terrible cough and we are keeping a close eye on him to make sure it does not turn into something else. But thank you all for your prayers, I have wanted to write an update sooner rather than later but I have been particularly lethargic and preoccupied helping the Howard family recover.

It had been an eventful 2022 to say the least, God has provided in countless ways. 2022 was probably one of the busiest years I have had on record and I am hoping to change pace here in the year of the rabbit. Going into this new year, I wanted to post some goals for myself as to better help keep myself accountable. I plan on providing updates throughout the year regarding some of those goals and adjusting when needed as I go along. The primary areas of focus this year will pertain to my Faith, my family, my career and several hobbies that I hope to take it up a notch. I want to find more of a balance in 2023 because I felt like 2023 was extremely busy in terms of completing my masters degree in Applied Linguistics and TESOL Education, training for Cambridge AS/ A Level History/ IGCSE History, completing all of the requirements to maintain my teaching license from British Columbia in Canada. 2023 was primarily focused on my professional development, but not only am I burned out, I cannot continue to these extremes.

Most of these goals, I have not entirely settled upon how they will be implemented throughout the year. Unlike years in the past, I think it is alright to decide as I go along as opposed to trying to have it all figured out before the new year.

Family Goals
1. I have sacrificed a lot in 2022 to accomplish all that I have, this year I want to dedicate more to my family. I would like for us to establish more traditions or hobbies geared around all of us. Family nights and hobbies to do with just my wife and with my boys.

My Faith
2. I finally finished the Bible in its entirety in 2022, but not in the year as I had wanted. It was a check off list that I had started two years ago. That being said, I want to devote more time to my quiet time, evangelism, Biblical history, memorization of Scripture and completing the Bible in one year.

3. This was a definite area that I lost focus on in the past couple of years. In 2023, I want to pick up the Ukulele again and try to practice it a couple times a week. Perhaps find some personal training to give me a better understanding and then pick up an online course.
4. I also want to pick up photography again because it had brought me so much joy in the past. I plan on combining this in with another interest I want to dedicate to is the Christian heritage of Macau here in on my blog. If you guys have any suggestions on some stories, events or places here in Macau linked with Christian heritage, please let me know.

Language Development
I no longer see language as just a tool for communication, but as part of an identity and a calling on my life. I wish to better hone these language abilities in Mandarin and Cantonese because of the people group that God has placed into my circle of life and made part of my family. I have a strong desire for my boys to have as much of a connection with their Chinese roots as they do with their American roots.
5. My Mandarin is alright, but I always find there is room for improvement. I want to continue on the pursuit of native-like comprehension and try to work on eliminating my accent. I also want to continue dedicating my time to learning written Chinese (Traditional) and reading Simplified. I would like to take the HSK 3 this year for Mandarin Chinese.
6. Another passion of mine is picking up more Cantonese. This was one of the primary reasons for wanting to move to Macau, but since we moved here, I have been getting by with English and Mandarin. So hopefully, I can continue on my Cantonese. I need to learn Jyutping (Cantonese Pinyin) and learn how to read the Portuguese Cantonese pinyin that is in use here in Macau.
7. I am not entirely sure to what level I would like to develop to in terms of Portuguese, but I definitely want to be able to read it. Currently, a lot of my friends tell me I am reading it like Spanish, but that is because I grew up “learning” Spanish. If anything, I would love to have a basic conversational level of understanding in Portuguese just to talk with many of the Portuguese here in Macau.

8. Being head of the department in history at my new school has come with its own rewards and challenges. As a way of giving back to my current school in providing me with this privilege and working over the colleagues in my care, I want to focus on developing my leadership skills. Instead of focusing entirely on my own professional development, I want to better equip myself to help those under my care develop themselves. I also want to better assist in making my current school a better place, serving God to the best of my abilities. In terms of myself, I want to become an expert in the new content I’ve been instructing in the Cambridge curriculum and better understand different educational laws and requirements here in Macau, particularly those given by the DSEDJ.

9. Last but not least, my health has been one of the last areas of focus in my day to day life since the pandemic hit. Covid restrictions and lock downs have taken a hit on my emotional well being and physical person. I want to develop a consistent work out schedule on a week to week basis, nothing extreme, but that will promote a better lifestyle for myself. I also want to get more rest and eliminate the need for caffeine. Instead of treating caffeine as a necessity, I would like to use it as a treat. Here in Macau, it is easier to find decaf coffees and other caffeine free alternatives to some drinks that I like.

Anyway, I will keep you guys posted. I have a general idea of how I want to work out these goals, God willing, but I have not committed anything to stone as of yet. I would like to keep a general plan and adjust as needed as I go along. There will be some definite goals, but in terms of logistics, that is opened to some flexible adjustments. In the past few years, I overly planned and became disappointed with the results. Perhaps this semi-structure approach will prove better. Anyway, God bless you all and I wish that God’s providence will guide you throughout this year of the rabbit!

End of November Update

•November 19, 2022 • Leave a Comment
Only 5 Days Quarantine in a Hotel and 3 Days at Home

Greetings everyone! I hope everyone is doing well! I just wanted to provide an update as it’s been a while. It’s been crazy busy and I should be working on something else, but I’m taking a break.

If anyone of you have been wondering how come we haven’t come back home to visit these last couple of years, the picture above is a good summary of why. Unfortunately, China has a very different approach to the “pandemic”, I’m sure you guys are familiar with it, “zero covid”. In short, it restricts people from leaving and coming back to China. We thought that moving to Macau would be a little more like HK in terms of them opening back up to the international community, but they aren’t. It’s been extremely expensive purchasing tickets to visit and we’ve been worried about having a similar situation as the last time we left to visit the USA. That being said, they have now lessened the time needed to quarantine coming back to Mainland China and Macau is adopting this policy themselves. Macau has also mentioned that “blue card” holders will be guaranteed entry back into Macau. So that is some major cause of celebration, the only problem is that flying out of Macau or Mainland is still around $2-3000 USD a ticket. Times that by three and half of a adult ticket cost for Daniel, it’s still crazy expensive to fly at the moment. Please help us pray for these concerns to be addressed and the tickets will decrease in price.

The family is doing good! We have some terrific news, we figured out a way to get back together sooner and God has allowed us to figure out a way to get Elizabeth, Noah and Daniel’s visa paperwork finished much sooner than expected! As of this month, Noah was able to officially start school (K2- basically kindergarten) at Macau Anglican College with me and he absolutely loves it! Daniel is officially 5 months as of this month going on 6 months! It’s hard to keep track of the time…

In terms of Elizabeth though, she will need to leave Macau temporarily with the boys so she can change her VISA over to my VISA arrangement. We never would have imagined Macau would have been so difficult to bring family after receiving a work visa (more on that process in another post). So if you could also help us pray that everything will get situated quickly, though we’ve been assured it’ll be much quicker on the Mainland side of bureaucracy.

Overall, we love Macau despite some of these difficult situations. Once we get Elizabeth situated, there shouldn’t be any other problems. We have found a church that we have been attending and feel like we’ve begun to find a community of friends and believers in Christ here. We would like to also find another church, preferably for a Bible study on another day besides Sunday, where we could directly participate more with the locals here. I’d love for my Cantonese to get better, while learning more about the Word of God and how to evangelize in Cantonese. We also want Noah to continue in his Cantonese language acquisition. His Mandarin is now on par with his English, but we feel that as a “Guangdong ren”, he should learn both.

Anyway, I think that about wraps it up here at this time. I’ll continue to keep you guys posted and write another post on the whole process bringing family to Macau and what we are planning to do for Christmas in terms of ministry! God bless you all!

Guia Fortress Outing

•October 4, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Greetings, I have been thinking about different directions that I would like to take this blog and what exactly do I feel is important in the world today. It is no secret to most of my friends, but my faith is vital to my life and family. Not only has the Christian faith been of the upmost importance in my life, but the Christian experience in China and Chinese territories or regions around the world. After living in Mainland China (specifically Guangzhou and Dalian) for the past six years, I have been praying and reflecting on my time in China. One of the main reasons we moved to Macau was influenced by witnessing the hardships of the Church in Mainland and its direct impact on our family. As a Christian, lover of history and seeing a need for preserving Christian heritage in China, this is a primary focus I will be moving forward with my blog in the future. Many Chinese believe that Christianity is a western religion, but the Lord has a long history with the people of China and Christianity is a religion for all cultures and people. The way that I can portray this narrative on my blog is yet to be completely decided upon though, please help me pray for guidance and inspiration.

I have shared a few photos from a recent outing with my oldest boy and myself. I hope I can perhaps write about this topic more in the future. One of the iconic historical landmarks of Macau, Guia Hill hosts a beautiful Cathedral, a lighthouse and fortress. It was an intentional effort to take my oldest son to this UNESCO heritage site to inspire my boy with the lasting impact that Christ has manifested Himself through the work of His followers. Though we could not take photos inside the Cathedral and that is it no longer serving as a place of worship, it’s symbolism and serenity continues to serve as a reminder of Macau’s Christian heritage. It was an honor to pray inside such a historical landmark overlooking Macau with my son for the Lord to continue His work in Mainland China, Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

My family’s identity consists of a biracial identity (American and Chinese) and a Christian heritage. I am seeking a balance between sharing that cultural/ religious understanding with my two boys and even the greater Christian population to some degree. We are increasingly becoming a people detached from our history and believe that antiquity has no place in modernity. As a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, I hope that this blog can inspire Christians (especially Chinese Christians and non Christians alike), that the Word of God is true and God has inspired generations of individuals across two millennia to share His love to the nations.

Family Reunited

•September 25, 2022 • Leave a Comment
Latest photo of the Howard boys

Greetings family and friends! Since the last message, a lot has happened here in Macau. When we first arrived, we thought Elizabeth and the boys could stay with me no problem until my visa paperwork was completed. Unfortunately the Macau government denied our request and they were forced to return to Zhuhai. We were separated for close to four weeks, but finally we found another way they could come back much sooner than the three months they originally told us.

Us hanging out at the Macau House of Literature

Needless to say I was quite depressed while they were gone and didn’t feel like doing much except my work. Things are quickly on the uptick and God has been taking good care of us. Though getting set up in Macau have been quite slow (it definitely seems Macau is on island time), life is settling down. God has been confirming our move here in several ways and we are really loving Macau. This will just be a quick update, God bless you all! Thank you for your prayers!

Goodbye Mainland China 再见中国大陆

•July 18, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Greetings everyone! I just wanted to provide a short update on our family and then get to the meat of this post! Daniel and Elizabeth are doing really good! Daniel is now officially a little over one month old and Elizabeth has recovered. Thank you for all of your prayers and thoughts! They helped us get through that difficult time, but now our family is doing well. Noah is even adjusting really nicely with his newborn little brother.

Last Time We Were in Macau

This is a difficult post for me to write, but there have been a lot of changes recently in China. I do not want to get political or anything, but most of those changes have occurred within the church here in Mainland. It has been extremely discouraging and heartbreaking to see some of these changes, which have begun to greatly impact our family in terms of how we want to live and raise our family.

Though our plans have changed over the past year, God has recently officially opened a new door for us. The second week of August, we will be moving to Macau. Currently we are living in Zhuhai, until the covid situation gets better in Macau. Unfortunately, things have become even more complicated because of Covid. If you all could continue to pray for us, we are going to need it. I need to go to Macau first to apply for my work permit and then I can apply for Elizabeth and the boys to come in attached to my work permit. We have been told that it can take anywhere from 1-2 months for this process to be completed. The good thing is that I should be able to come visit them in Zhuhai on the weekends and then Elizabeth and the boys will be allowed to come visit Macau for up to 7 days each time she comes into Macau. So hopefully this will lessen the blow with being separated from each other. Please pray that the process is faster than they said, my new school also said they are wanting to write a letter to help advocate a faster processing time for my family’s VISA process.

I had messaged a Christian school a back in November- December of 2021 in Macau, Macau Anglican College, and sent them my resume. They had no official openings listed on their website, but I felt that it was worth a shot. I was so excited when I found this school on the internet. Recently they contacted me back and we had scheduled an interview. It turns out, they eventually would be in need of searching for a social studies teacher! The current lead social studies teacher announced his leaving and the school reached out to me. I am extremely grateful that God has led me to this school and I am excited to be teaching at a Christian school! Though the name is Macau Anglican COLLEGE, it is a Pre-K to 12th grade school, that uses the Cambridge curriculum. It was set up by the Anglican Church in Hong Kong. This also means that Noah will be able to attend a Christian school!

Some of you might be a little confused with my opening paragraph and my third paragraph. Since Macau used to be a Portuguese colony, they like Hong Kong, have certain freedoms or abilities that do not exist in the Mainland. So even though Macau is part of China, they enjoy a greater sense of religious freedoms. This means they can have Christian schools, openly proselytize, go to church whenever and where ever they want, etc.

It has been a little difficult getting my head wrapped around the fact that we will be leaving Mainland China, especially since this will be the end of my 6th year since I first moved to Mainland China. These six years have been monumental in my life, so many GOOD things (gifts from God) have come out of coming to China; meeting my wife, having my two boys, working with our church, making new friends, etc. The good thing is that I now have a new VISA to come back into Mainland China, so it is not goodbye to Mainland China (especially Guangzhou), but a see you later. Since Macau is so close to Guangzhou, we prayerfully hope to be able to make the trek here once every few months. 

June 2nd Update on Daniel

•June 2, 2022 • 4 Comments

Hey everyone! Here is the only good photo we have of Daniel that’s good. We also have an update, little Daniel is off additional oxygen and he is breathing on his own normally! The doctor also said his jaundice is under control at the moment and it seems the antibiotics are working against the infection in his lungs!!!! He still has 3 days though in NICU… they want to observe him. But we will keep you all posted!

Update on Elizabeth and little Daniel

•May 31, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Hey everyone, I just wanted to give a quick update. Thank you so much for your prayers, we definitely need them to continue. Elizabeth is in the back room today and they are trying to induce her contractions. The good news is there are no infections and Daniel and Elizabeth are safe! Please continue to pray and that God will continue to protect Elizabeth and little Daniel! That God will give them strength, mercy, grace, favor and wisdom! And that we will be able to hold little Daniel safe and sound some time today!

The Past Lingers On Without History

•May 2, 2022 • Leave a Comment

These last couple of days we have been hanging out in one of my favorite places in Guangzhou, Shamian Island. Every time we come here, I feel some connection to a time that I could never know. It’s wonderful seeing the historical buildings that were constructed by Europeans who traveled to China for all sorts of reasons, some nobler reasons than others. Eitherway, I especially feel a distant connection with those immigrants who traveled to China so long ago.

It has been a personal dream of mine to travel to China ever since I first came to southern China to do ministry back in 2008 with Manna Church. God revealed so much to me throughout my first trip here to southern China and I dedicated so much of my time/ effort to finally move here to China. Today, as my family were taking an afternoon nap, I went for a walk and spent some time of self reflection while enjoying a latee at a local coffee shop.

As I walked the quiet streets of Shamian, listening to the trees and birds, my mind began to ponder what Shamian Island might have looked liked a century ago. I imagined a missionary living close by in one of the small French inspired flats hearing the church bells ringing throughout the streets and gathering his things as he walked out the door to the church. While the missionary was not attending to the church, he would spend a majority of his effort learning Cantonese so he could teach the locals more about God. As my mind began to drift back to the present, I started thinking about other things.

As I sat in the little coffee shop, sipping on my latee, I began to think of all of the old buildings and the history that they experienced. If only we could ask them of what they have seen over the years. If any of you have ever traveled here to Shamian, you might know that there are many historical buildings, but many of them have been repurposed into other uses. Several of these older buildings are now modern franchises and it seemed such a waste to see such history turned into a tourist attraction. It made me think about something that I have been seeing throughout China. I saw the same thing in Lushun up in Dalian, the same thing in our home of Shawan and here in Shamian. We are increasingly a people who are disconnected to our past, our culture, each other and even ourselves. What will future generations say about us? Will they just be as lost as we are ourselves?

The past seems charming at times, while the present seems cold and lacking personality. As modern creatures, we seem to constantly trade aspects of who we are as people for “comfort”. We seek to embrace the future at all costs and completely disregard the past or tradition because we don’t value what our ancestors accomplished. We are too often ignorant of our roots, often by design.

My Current Dilemma With Evangelicalism

•April 22, 2022 • 4 Comments

I have been raised an evangelical all my life, while I don’t really want to go into details about my past, I do want to share some current things that I have been struggling with personally in my evangelical faith. More specifically, the current dilemma I have with American Evangelicalism. Well, some of you might be wondering what exactly is an evangelical or you hear this term being thrown around a lot in the media. I am going to link toward a very interesting discussion done on the 10 minute Bible Hour concerning this very topic of defining evangelicals.

There have been several high profile evangelical Christian pastors who have been found to have had alternative lives, committing such atrocious sins I believe if Paul were still alive, he would refer to these sins in a similar fashion as he does in 1 Corinthians 5… Paul even says in response “Purge the evil person from among you” in the last verse of chapter 5. Just as this fellow YouTuber below describes in the video below.

Brian Houston’s latest scandal definitely hit me hard personally but one that I struggled with for months was concerning Ravi Zacharias, who I grew up listening to on the radio and often thought of as a great Christian apologist. There is something very wrong with the Church in general in our modern society and unfortunately it is just the evangelical church in the USA has taken center stage…

I’m not even sure where to go exactly with this blog post… This has just been a pressing matter on my heart these past fews months and I have been struggling with an overwhelming sense of not belonging or perhaps even a sort of identity crisis. My Faith in the Lord is unshaken but I am struggling with how I personally wish to define myself as an evangelical and I have been rethinking a lot of my Christian framework in general. Please be praying for the Church and praying for those who have been equally disturbed by these horrific actions committed by “men of God”. I don’t know too much about the situation with Brian Houston, but Ravi definitely disturbed me to the point where I couldn’t even stomach much of what was unearthed in his private life.

We Are All Called to Be Leaders

•April 5, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Greetings family in Christ! God bless you all and your families. I hope this message finds you all in good spirits. This morning I saw a disturbing devotional in which a passage from Scripture was taken out of context to fit a politically motivated message. This message couldn’t be farther from the Truth. It is rather discouraging to see so many “Houses of the Lord” becoming corrupt and politically correct. I also saw another reference to how a mom in the state of Virginia is being demonize for wanting to ban certain books from public school libraries because they are extremely graphic in a sexual nature. I’m not sure if she has any religious affiliations, but her work is of vital importance. It has left me to one conclusion, we should not count on any one else to train our family, other than ourselves. We as heads of our households, or future households need to train our families in the Way.

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil”. -1 Timothy 3:1‭-‬7 ESV

「如果有人渴慕監督的職分,他就是愛慕善工。」這話是可信的。所以作監督的,必須無可指摘,只作一個妻子的丈夫,有節制,自律,莊重,樂意接待客旅,善於教導,不好酒,不打人,只要溫和,與人無爭,不貪財,好好管理自己的家,使兒女凡事敬重順服。(人若不知道怎樣管理自己的家,怎能照料 神的教會呢?)初信主的不可作監督,恐怕他驕傲,就落在魔鬼所受的刑罰裡。作監督的也必須在教外有好聲譽,免得他被人毀謗,就落在魔鬼的陷阱裡。聖經新譯本(繁體•神字版) (第二版, 1 Ti 3:1–7). (2005). 環球聖經公會.

Now a quick disclaimer, I believe this Scripture can equally be applied to both parents of the Household. If a family doesn’t have a husband/ father or perhaps the husband is not a Believer, it is the job of us as parents to take charge of our families’ education. We should stop relying on the Church or Schools to educate out children.

We are instructed by the Lord to instruct our households in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, to be leaders of our household. If you are not currently married, begin to train yourself deeply in the Word, if you are married and do not feel qualified to led your family spiritually, dive deeper in the Word and find trusted godly mentors that you can share these concerns with.

James 1:5- If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. -James 1:5‭-‬6 ESV

你們中間若有人缺少智慧,就當向那厚賜眾人,而且不斥責人的 神祈求,他就必得著。可是,他應該憑著信心祈求,不要有疑惑;因為疑惑的人,就像被風吹蕩翻騰的海浪。聖經新譯本(繁體•神字版) (第二版, Jas 1:5–6). (2005). 環球聖經公會.

God will provide and embolden you to be that leader or provide a leader of your family. This is the traditional stance from many early Christians and most recently by the Puritans. They saw the influences from outside the family as uncertain and took it upon themselves to train their family members in the Way.

March 1st- Long Needed Personal Update

•March 1, 2022 • 2 Comments
Taking Some Family Time Before School Started Back After Lunar New Year

Greetings everyone! It has been a long while since I had last written a blog post. I just wanted to give an update regarding some events going on at the moment. Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts. We hope that this pandemic will end soon so we can travel back to the USA.

Year of the Tiger

The primary reason why I have gone dark on my blog and haven’t replied to a lot of you or posted online a lot these last few months is because I have been working on completing my master’s degree dissertation. This was one of the most challenging things I have ever completed, mostly because unlike my college days, I’m a full time teacher and now I’m a full time father. If you have a desire to further your education, it might be beneficial finishing those things prior to marriage, just my personal opinion. But I am very thankful for my wife, Elizabeth, who was very supportive of this entire process. I just wish Noah could have understood what I’ve been doing these last two and a half years.

Sincerely Missed Dimsum; Southerners Just Make Better Food.

I completed my dissertation a couple of weeks ago and now we are just waiting for the results. I spent countless hours and days on this research project. My only prayer is that I passed! My research question related to “How does anti-Asian language influence the development of the Asian identity in North America”; due to recent events and situations we’ve encountered, I was inspired to choose this particular research topic. I wanted a relevant research topic and this topic is of personal interest of mine given the background of my family. I thought that I could learn or gain insight concerning experiences they might have eventually.

Never Thought I’d Be Back in Shawan

It is nice being back in Guangzhou, but it is surreal being back at my old school of Xiangxian. I feel as if Shawan was left in time and I was the only one that moved on. It’s kind of a difficulty feeling to express I guess, hopefully you guys can relate. We love Guangdong and now that I have finished some things, I want to get back to learning Cantonese.

Above the Streets of Shawan

At the moment, we have some big decisions we are making. They are still at the early stages, so we think it might be best to wait to announce them. Life is definitely slower than before, but I still have a lot of additional projects or events that are happening. Our second son will arrive late May or early June, so we are really excited about that. We have even decided on a name already, but I’ll announce that as a surprise when he comes! Then I am currently working on a teaching training course and two courses I need in order to keep my teaching license from British Columbia Canada. I worked really hard to obtain a conditional license and I want to be able to convert it to a non-expiring professional license by completing these two classes. One class I completely agree with them asking me to complete, a Canadian history course, while the other course I’m not in agreement with the education bureau in BC to complete. They told me that I needed to complete an English literature course, but because they asked me to complete it, I’m just going to finish it up before our second little one arrives. Thankfully, a majority of the additional courses I needed were marked as completed with my masters degree.

Christian Blessing in Chinese

As always, please continue to pray for my family in the USA, our family here, American Chinese relations and that the church in China will continue to grow! Thank you all again for your friendship and love/ prayers. God bless you all and I cannot wait to announce some other big things in the near future.

We’re back in Guangzhou

•July 15, 2021 • 2 Comments

Well everyone it’s official! We are finally back in Guangzhou! My old school asked me to come back and we decided Dalian wasn’t really working out for us. You can take the boy outta the south, but you can’t take the south outta the boy! We will keep you all posted! More to come! It’s good to be back!

All Seasons Come to an End

•July 3, 2021 • 1 Comment

I wrote this a few weeks ago but because some students didn’t want to have their pictures posted (which is totally understandable), I procrastinated with editing the photos! Haha

Yesterday was the official last day of school and my last day as a teacher at Maple Leaf Dalian Girls Campus. It’s hard to imagine two years ago we moved here to the northeastern part of China and now this season has come to an end. Despite the challenges of living in Dalian and teaching at Maple Leaf, there are quite a number of friends we’ve made along the way that I will sincerely miss. Two years ago, I know this is where God had called us to come. These last few weeks have been a reminder of the impact that each and every one of us can have on our surroundings; this is often something I forget, especially when life gets so busy as a teacher. The fast pace and in particular here at Maple Leaf often causes us to forget the most important aspects of education (establishing friendships, inspiring others, being a role model, invoking contemplation, self-reflection, and paying it forward) and more specifically why I became a teacher. One of my favorite authors once said,

“People forget their faces when they are busy”

-Natsumi Soseki; And Then.

My faith in God, my family and my students this year in particular have encouraged me to remember my real purpose in life as a Believer, a husband, a father and a teacher. Our season in Dalian has brought us a lot of life experiences and meaningful friendships. Here are just a handful of these memories I’d like to share especially from my time at Maple Leaf. May God bless you all in your endeavors and I hope to stay in touch!

A Snapshot in the Lives of Private School Students

•June 28, 2021 • 2 Comments
六一兒童節在幼兒園- Children’s Day at the Kindergarten

Noah has been attending Kindergarten here in Dalian for the past few months and him starting school has got me a lot more interested in getting to know more about life for the average student here in China. I have been privileged to teach at both public schools here in China and private schools, though I have not really sat down to speak with students about their struggles they experience day to day particularly in China. Obviously as a teacher, I have spoken with students about issues they experience, but I have decided to actually sit down with three of my top students and ask them some specific questions. For the sake of this post, I will refer to these high school students as: Student A, Student B, and Student C. These are the opinions of three exceptional young students and provides some insight into just some student’s lives here in China. Thank you girls for taking the time to answer these questions! I wish you all the best in your academic endeavors and life! I know you all can succeed in anything you put your minds toward!

Student A-
How long have you been attending an international or private school? Have you ever attended a local public school?

I attend an international school since the second semester of grade 8, so it is been approximately three and a half years. I did attend local public school before I came to the school I am in now.

What is your opinion of the gaokao? Did it impact your parents or your decision to go to a private/ international school?

I think gaokao is a really competitive exam because most students in China will attend this exam and compete together to apply for a good university. Therefore, this causes huge pressure on students because this exam is so decisive. Your future is determined to some extent by the results of gaokao. That is because the university you attend will limit your job placement by what you can choose and apply for. In my perspective, I don’t think it is meaningful to only give students one chance to decide their future. Gaokao cannot represent students’ personal ability (communication skills, cooperation skills…). These are all important factors in judging a students’ ability and is not able to be shown on an exam. I think there are already some changes on the gaokao policy that the final score will be divided to a small exam each year and the combination of them will be the final score. However, the weight of the college entrance examination can still play a decisive role, but I am happy to see the progress and changes that have been made. This teaching program causes students to have to stay up late and study till maybe 1 a.m. everyday, which I think is harmful to teenagers. It is true that gaokao became one of the reason why I choose to change to an international school. I personally will easily get sick and my body cannot support me to stay up that late to study. Also, I don’t like this way of learning as it causes me to loose interest in studying. I like to effectively communicate with my teachers, which I believe is an important way in effective learning. I find myself really adjusting to the way of learning in an international school and although I feel tired each day, I am happy and enjoy life.

What kind of pressures do you think you encounter being a student in China specifically?

First, I think the environment in China is so competitive and this causes many students to have mental pressure. This also can lead to some mental disease in students and mor likely to commit suicide in the future.

Second, some excellent students cannot perform well during this huge exam. A lot of students work poorly under pressure, especially for those excellent students this can cause them to fail at their only chance. They cannot adjust the teaching environment they are currently in, so this can impact students in loosing some talents.

Third, I think the exam rank of students is also stressful for students. I think although some of the schools these days already make changes where they only publicly display the high ranked students name. However, for most schools, the situation still has not changed. This can lead to a blow to a students’ self-esteem and a backlash when parents criticize them.

Fourth, students in public schools need to learn many subjects, and they will receive homework from all those classes. It is extremely difficult to finish up all the homework. Some students are even afraid to attend school, especially for good students because they did not finish all the work.

Why did you choose the country you did to eventually study abroad?

I personally really like Britain, especially London. I love the buildings style there and have always dreamed about living there. However, I had take into serious consideration about the university that I wanted to go attend. There are many top universities in Britian and currently a lot of students in our school applied for those universities. Of course, I have to say that I need to consider about the political situation now so some countries I will not choose to go. However, I always wanted to go to Britain for studying, so this hasn’t influenced me a lot. There are students who changed the country that they choose to study abroad because of this factor, so I wanted to mention about it here.

What do you think is the biggest difference between a Chinese education and a Western education?

I think it must be the way of learning. I think Chinese education focuses on listening during class and always trying to study about knowledge and you must understand it by yourself. However, the western education focuses on practice and group work. I think that these methods will fit different children. Like for me, I would like to have more communications with my teachers during class and have more discussions to share different ideas. Long time of receiving knowledge without practice is not a good way of learning for me. With different study methods and personalities, these two ways will benefit more than the other in different situations.

Student B:

How long have you been attending an international or private school? Have you ever attended a local public school?

I went to a foreign language international school in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, because I am not a Dalian local. It’s similar to this school, which has a primary, middle, and high school. I stayed there for nine years.

What is your opinion of the gaokao? Did it impact your parents or your decision to go to a private/ international school?

Yes, not only because of gaokao, but also because of the student’s final exam in middle school that might determine a students’ future. I wasn’t particularly gifted in math, but I excelled in liberal arts. My parents did not want me to be limited by the Chinese school system or rely on it to determine my future, so they put me in this school.

What kind of pressures do you think you encounter being a student in China specifically?

To begin with, the Chinese school system, particularly in Hebei Province, is rife with restrictions. We must cut our hair because we are not allowed to have long hair. Any form of entertainment is seen as a sin that is unrelated with study. It’s also crucial to have good relationships with peers and teachers. Some of the students enjoy showing off and laughing at someone assomething funny. Poor students may even be subjected to bullying at school. Every student in China has enormous learning constraints. They don’t have time to relax or have fun. Every second counts, and a student’s mind can be broken down by a mountain of homework.

Why did you choose the country you did to eventually study abroad?

I chose Britain, because the requirement of Britain when applying university was easier than others. The British gentleman style and architecture is very attractive to me. Edinburgh is also in the top 10 of the world’s most beautiful cities. So while studying, I can also experience the beautiful scenery.

What do you think is the biggest difference between a Chinese education and a Western education?

I think the difference is an open teaching model, and the focus on practice. Western teaching does not restrict students too much and does not define them. Grades are also relatively confidential and are only available to that student alone. This is very beneficial to students in terms of their personal growth. Chinese teaching is too strict and as a test-based education system, it places too much of a heavy burden on students, leaving them unable to freely develop extracurricular activities and hobbies. In addition, emphasis on practice in Western teaching allows students to learn from practice, rather than simply knowledge from textbooks and memorizing it by rote memorization as in Chinese teaching.

Student C:

How long have you been attending an international or private school? Have you ever attended a local public school?

Till now I have attended an international school for 11years. I started to go to this school in grade one, and I have never attend any local public school before.

What is your opinion of the gaokao? Did it impact your parents or your decision to go to a private/ international school?

I don’t like Gaokao only because I think it is meaningless, and Chinese parents only focus on their children’s grade in the Gaokao, but not the growth or experience of their children. They make Gaokao seems like a child’s only entry of success, for me that is a wrong perspective. My parent never bother me, so I’m super appreciative of their respect. I have a brother who went through Gaokao three years ago. Apparently, my parents knew how hard it was going to be for students who are facing the Gaokao, so they listened to my opinion, and didn’t send me into public.

What kind of pressure do you think you encounter being a student in China specifically?

I think the biggest pressure in being a Chinese student is related to stereotypes and profiling, which I think it’s a common phenomenon, but basically a wrong conclusion. This is the way in judging whether you are a good child or not, just by looking at your score, and nothing else. This idea is such a shame to have.

Why did you choose the country you did to eventually study abroad?

I want to go aboard to the US, UK or Canada because I feel it can open my mind in doing things, and prevents me from being swayed by traditional Chinese thinking. To be honest, I choose go aboard because I like English, it let me feel free. Same with language, the places I choose can also allow me to have freedom, and experience different cultures.

What do you think is the biggest difference between a Chinese education and a Western education?

The biggest difference between Chinese and Western education is that China tends to be theoretical; teaching how to solve problem on test paper. Western education tends to be more practical, and wanting student to solving problems in real life, and how to use it in daily life.

Lee’s Coffee Shop- 李小姐的咖啡店

•June 15, 2021 • 1 Comment

Greetings everyone! I have successfully finished my classes this semester for my masters and now have more time to spend writing again. This post is a little different, I thought I could do something a little more interesting than just writing about my travels, I thought I could start documenting or recording life in China (for myself and others). I decided to interview a local small business owner here in Dalian and wanted to give some insight into local business here. What are some struggles they have in starting a business, what are their expectations, etc. I hope you enjoy it and if you are around the area (Jinshitan- 金石滩), please visit this coffee shop! It’s always better to support local businesses over franchises (like Starbucks).

Lee’s Coffee Shop- Dalian Jinshitan Shuimuhuating Community 4-3-102:
李小姐的咖啡店- 大连金石滩水木华庭4-3-102

What interested you to start a business? (什么激发你的兴趣去创业?)

回复: 首先,我本人非常喜欢喝咖啡,从高中开始就喝咖啡了,喝咖啡的时间超过了二十年。其次,我经常光顾一些咖啡馆,当我喝他们的咖啡的时候,我认为有些店的咖啡豆非常好,而有一些的咖啡豆非常一般,店家的服务也很一般,感受不到温度,,而我想开一家属于自己的有温度的,使用好的咖啡豆的店,我想提供给大家好喝的咖啡,当然,更方便自己每天喝咖啡。

Response: First of all, I personally like coffee very much. I have been drinking coffee since high school, and I have been drinking coffee for more than 20 years. Secondly, I often visit some cafes. When I drink their coffee, I think the coffee beans in some stores are very good, and some coffee beans are very average. Sometimes the store’s service is just average and I can’t feel a welcoming atmosphere. I wanted to open my own store with a welcoming atmosphere and good quality coffee beans. I want to provide everyone with delicious coffee. Of course, this makes it more convenient to drink coffee every day.

How difficult is it to start a business in Dalian? (在大连创业会遇到什么困难?)

回复: 在大连创业,说实话,很难,困难重重,因为大连的经济现在并不好,大连的发展也不够好,这就导致了人们的购买力不够强,而咖啡不是大多数人们每日生活的必须品,它是可以替代的,甚至考虑经济因素,人们可以在家里或者在公司里喝速溶咖啡,假如没有品质要求的话。另外,很多人的消费观念和对商品品质的要求并不高,可能很多人宁愿花费更少的钱喝很一般的咖啡而不是多花点钱喝好的咖啡;而另外还有一些人,追求品质,追求品牌效应,他们可以花更多的钱去买星巴克或者其他很有名的产品,而不愿意去不知名的小店消费。

Response: To start a business in Dalian, to be honest, is difficult. The economy of Dalian is not as good now and the development of Dalian is not good as it once was. This has lead to people’s insufficient purchasing power, and coffee is not a necessity for most people in their daily lives. It can be substituted, even considering economic factors, people can drink instant coffee at home or in the company, as long as they have no requirements in quality. In addition, many people’s ideas on consumption and requirements for product quality are not high. Perhaps many people would rather spend less money on regular coffee instead of spending more on good coffee. There are some who will pursue good quality coffee. Many people might spend more money to buy Starbucks or other well-known products instead of going to unknown shops.

Question: What makes your coffee shop unique? (是什么使你的咖啡厅独一无二?)

回复: 我认为,首先我的咖啡豆都是经过严格挑选的,自己烘焙,这样可以保证咖啡豆新鲜和品质。另外,就是我的服务,我可以根据每一位顾客的要求去调整每一杯咖啡的浓度,甜度和各种口味,在这里,我们没有固定的套用模式。

Response: I think that first of all, my coffee beans are strictly selected and roasted by myself. This means that the freshness and quality of the coffee beans are guaranteed by myself. In addition, it is personally made by myself; I can adjust the coffee ratio, sweetness and or other flavors of each cup of coffee to the customer’s preference. Here, we do not have a fixed standard that needs to be followed like other shops.

Question: How and where do you get your coffee beans? (你在哪里和怎样采购你的咖啡豆?)

回复: 我家的咖啡豆主要来自非洲的埃塞俄比亚产区,100%阿拉比卡

Response: My coffee beans are mainly from Ethiopian in Africa, 100% Arabica.

Question: Do you think Chinese are changing their drinking habits and adopting coffee? (你认为中国人会改变饮食习惯而习惯喝咖啡?)

回复: 我认为改变人们的饮食习惯不容易,不是一朝一夕的事情,咖啡馆并非可以轻易的改变人们的饮食习惯,我认为咖啡馆现在越来越趋向于成为人们消遣,休息或者三五好友谈心的一个场所,可以说,去咖啡馆坐坐是一种文化,有时人们甚至还不习惯喝现磨咖啡,但是他们喜欢去咖啡馆坐坐

Response: I think it’s not easy to change people’s eating or drinking habits. It’s not an overnight thing. Cafes can’t easily change people’s preferences. I think coffee shops are becoming more and more a place for people to go for entertainment, rest or even talk with friends. It can be said that going to a coffee shop is a kind of culture. Sometimes people are not even used to drinking fresh brew coffee, but they like to go to a coffee shop.

Question: What do think the demographics are for drinking coffee in China? (在中国有哪些年龄段的人喝咖啡?)

回复: 据我所知,还是以年轻人和中年人为主,老年人比较少。

Response: As far as I know, it is still mainly young and middle-aged people, while the elderly are relatively small market.

Well everyone, I hope you found this entry interesting. While China’s taste in drinks are swiftly moving from tea as a dominant preference, many Chinese are adopting coffee as a go to drink. That being said, many Chinese seems to be price conscience about certain things, especially with convenience store’s offering coffee or other fast foods places. That being said, there can be a lot said for a barista that can really cater to the customer. Overall, I had a nice time chatting with Mrs. Li about her little coffee shop. Mrs. Li is very interested in using the best imported products to make her coffee and doesn’t skimp on the cost in using good quality ingredients for items on her menu. She is currently working on preparing a new set of drinks and sweets/ snacks (all-natural ice cream, Hainan coconut drinks, etc) for the oncoming summer months here in Dalian. Though her shop might be small, it has a peaceful and neighborhood feeling vibe to it. Mrs. Li is a local Dalian woman who has a passion for making friends with people from all around Dalian and to share a good cuppa with anyone interested. As I mentioned earlier, support local businesses and check out her shop.

Hanami in Dalian China

•April 11, 2021 • Leave a Comment

Greetings everyone! It’s been a while, I have been swamped with the teaching (marking, prep, blah blah blah), working on two projects for my master’s degree and trying to spend the rest of that time with my family. I’m not going to lie, this has probably been the most difficult semester I’ve endured so far with my master’s degree. I cannot wait until I start my dissertation in a few months so I can get done with this part of my life.

I saw the first video pop up in my YouTube feed from the South China Morning Post (SCMP) almost two weeks ago and I remember thinking that these cherry blossoms were so beautiful. I know that a lot of Japanese have a special place in their hearts for this particular flower. I have always thought this flower was very beautiful, along with maple leaves and azaleas. Apparently it is a thing in Japan during this time of year to get together with friends and family under the cherry blossoms to have a hanami party. Anyway, another YouTuber I follow, Asagi’s Life, also ended up doing a very interesting video about the same topic and how these hanami parties look differently this year. Hearing about these Hanami parties from her and the SCMP made me really think about what a shame it is that this year people cannot carry on such a quaint tradition. While I have seen cherry blossoms in Raleigh or Charlotte, North Carolina (I don’t remember which city) and Washington DC, we do not have that tradition of gathering around with friends for a picnic under the cherry blossoms. But I’m somewhat envious about not having such a similar event to spend with family and friends, though we do like to get together with friends and family for a good ole barbeque in the South around this time of year leading into the summer time.

Anyway, this post is just to share some of the cherry blossoms surrounding our school (大连枫叶国际学校/ 大連楓葉國際學校). While I was taking these photos, I realized that I didn’t noticed them this time last year because we were stranded in the USA due to the pandemic. Apparently, cherry blossoms have a very short timespan for blooming. It’s hard to believe it has already been six months since we have been back to China. When I reflect back over that time, it seemed like a dream I was back in the USA after having been gone for so long and now that I am back to China, it seems like the dream continues. Anyway, enjoy some of these photos. I took them at different times, when they were just starting to bloom and after they had bloomed. While you may or may not be able to have a cute little get together with your family or friends in public, just remember to make an effort to keep in touch with them during these restrictive times. May God help end this pandemic very soon all across the world! Until next time, 下次见!

My EDC in China

•February 18, 2021 • 1 Comment

My EDC in China- 在中國我的日常攜帶品

Over the years, I have become quite used to carrying a bag with me everywhere I go. Though the size of those bags have changed over time, lately, I have decided to carry a much smaller bag. Perhaps the size of a liter or half a gallon. The items I carry look quite different here in China than what I carry while back home in the USA. In fact, many of these items I would not carry on me, but I would leave in my car to have access to them if needed. Unfortunately, I have yet to get my Chinese driver’s license. My international driver’s license doesn’t qualify me to drive in Mainland China, only Hong Kong, Taiwan or Macau. Unlike other EDC blog posts or videos you’ll find on YouTube, I want to give a little insight as to why I carry some of these items with me as my EDC. Some of these items might seem strange to westerners who haven’t been to China otherwise.

Before we get started, I just want to remind everyone that their EDC items might be completely different. Please share some of your EDC items in the comment section below. These are just some ideas to help you navigate your stay/ residency in Mainland China. Alright, lets get started.

UniQlo Mini Messenger Bag 優衣庫包

I have decided to go smaller and lighter with my EDC bag because I do a lot of walking on a daily basis. Carrying around a large heavy bag can become tiresome or cumbersome after a long day. On average, I walk around 10,000-20,000 steps daily. I decided to go with this smaller bag from UniQlo that probably is about the size of a liter. As I get older, I am less interested in flashy brands and labels plastered all over myself, I like this minimalistic style bag. I think it also attracts less attention, which is a good deterrent from the occasional pickpocket. This particular bag I can swing around to the front with ease when on public transport to better keep an eye on my belongings. Pickpocketing is becoming less of an issue here in China (in my personal experience), but as living in any major city, I think it’s good to be mindful of these things.

Key Bag, Wallet, Passport, Handkerchief, 2 Fountain Pens (black, blue), a Mechanical Pencil, a 1200ma Battery Pack, Swiss Army Knife, Red Packet, the Gospel of John in Chinese.

Most of these items are self explanatory, but I do want to make a public service announcement. While living in Guangzhou, I went to a seminar conducted by the Guangzhou police concerning expats. We were told by the local authorities that as foreigners living in China, we are required to carry several documents on us at all times living in GZ. We should carry our passport at ALL times (I know some foreigners who carry a photo or printed copy, these types of ID may or may not work depending on the officer you may encounter). Two other documents that you should carry with you at all times are your foreign expert certificate/ 外国人工作许可证/Wàiguó rén gōngzuò xǔkě zhèng (if applicable) and your temporary residence registration/ 境外人员临时住宿登记表/ Jìngwài rényuán línshí zhùsù dēngjì biǎo. We were told at least in Guangzhou (2019), that if you do not carry these documents with you at all times, if you were to be stopped by an officer, you could face a 20,000RMB fine. Now that I am living in Dalian, apparently I do not need to carry my foreign expert certificate, but it is the law in China to carry your passport and temporary residence registration with you at all times. If you are not sure how to obtain these documents, please speak with the HR department at your school/ company to ask them or you can go yourself to the nearest police station to obtain the temporary residence registration. My recommendation would be to ask the local police what additional documents you might need to carry with you as my personal experience is that many schools or companies in China might not know or be up to date with the law (as it often changes) or they do not want to give you these documents because they do not want to be hassled with this responsibility.

Another quick note, I often carry a handkerchief with me around China because most bathrooms do not carry paper towels. Those that do might even make you scan a QR code to trade your personal information for a paper towel or even TP. That being said, I have also seen plenty of studies that have shown that TP or paper towels in public restrooms are the dirtiest objects in the restroom, even more than the toilet seats.

My wallet and key bag I keep in my two front pockets. It is more difficult for a pickpocket to get items out of your front pockets than back pockets. Especially when you can put your hands in your pockets on a crowded subway train.

Wallet, Passport, Traveler’s Notebook, Writing Utensils, Swiss Army Knife, Cetirizine (allergy meds), Portable Charger, Tide to Go Pen, Gospel of John, Tylenol, Seirogan, PM 2.5 Mask, Toilet Paper

As previously stated, most public restrooms usually do not carry toilet paper or paper towels in China. If they do, you might need to pay for them, trade personal information via WeChat to get some. If your lucky, there might be one TP dispenser located outside of the stalls in the bathroom (usually by the entrance/ exit, sinks or trash cans) and you will need to grab some before heading to the stalls. So I always carry with me some TP just for this reason. One time when I first began traveling to China, I was in Dandong China. I remember going to a public restroom with a man standing outside the restroom selling TP. He asked me if I wanted to buy some and I thought, “why, there will be some TP inside the stall”. Well after using the bathroom, I realized that there was no TP in the stall. I called out to the man and asked if I could buy some TP and he raised the price! He went from 1.5 RMB for TP to 3 RMB for some TP. He laughed and said that next time I should listen, I learned my lesson and have never again been caught without TP in Mainland China.

One thing that I often took for granted in the USA was the fact that I could buy allergy medicine or Tylenol almost anywhere. Whether your at a gas station, Walmart, grocery store, it was common and easy to get these if needed. As stated before, I would keep some in my car at all times in the US. Here in China it is a different story, these types of drugs can only be carried by licensed pharmacies. You will not find them in grocery stores or convenience stores like 7eleven, Family Mart or Lawson. I cannot tell you how many times I went to a different city for travel or work while in China and was caught with a terrible migraine, upset stomach or allergy attack and just had to deal with it. Pharmacies in China (especially in smaller districts or cities) will close fairly early and now because of the pandemic, a lot of them will not even sell you Tylenol without an ID because the customer might be using it to lower a fever, which could be related to Covid. There were several times where the only pharmacy close to me were in a local hospital and I would have to get a doctors prescription just to buy some Ibuprofen. Obviously pharmacies outside a hospital wouldn’t need a prescription. So I always carry some traditional Japanese medicine good for food poisoning or upset stomachs (Seirogan), Tylenol or the only allergy medication that seemingly works for me (Cetirizine). I have yet to find Cetirizine in China, so I would often have to go to Hong Kong to purchase it. But if you are alright with a different brand, Claritin is also available in most pharmacies in China.

Air pollution is quite a problem in most of China. Before I started taking air pollution serious, every time I traveled to China back in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, I would get some kind of upper respiratory infection. While there are times were wearing a mask is not necessary, there are times were especially in Guangzhou, the air quality can deteriorate. During the winter this is especially true when more people are burning coal or using gas to heat their homes and there is less rain to help clean the air. I would highly recommend carrying an extra PM 2.5 mask with you in case you drop yours or the air quality changes when you are outside. Since I have taken a lot of these precautions, I can count how many times I’ve gotten upper respiratory infections in China during the last 5 years.

ESV New Testament, alcohol wipes, Fitbit tracker, Hand Sanitizer, Lightning Cable, Earplugs, Earphones, Medical Mask, Solid Cologne, Fisherman’s Friends, Toilet Seat Sanitizing Wipes, and an ICE Card.

While I do not use these often, there are times were I am grateful to have them. If I am in the office/ library and trying to focus or more riding on the metro, having these earplugs are a life saver. Those people living in Guangzhou know just how noisy the train cars can be at times, especially line 7! Some of the lines are not as noise proof as they should be and especially the newer lines are not built to the same standards as maybe line 1 originally was built.

On the days were the air pollution is high and wearing a mask while teaching seems to not be working, I like to carry around some Fisherman’s Friends to help ease my throat. My good friend Steve got me using these. Lately, I have been enjoying the lemon or blackcurrant flavor.

While this might seem like overkill, PM 2.5 masks are great for fighting air pollution, but not for fighting against viruses. During the flu season at school with my students or protecting against COVID-19, I like to use these imported medical masks that are BFE, VRE and PFE rated from Japan. Supposedly, they also help with PM 2.5, but they don’t offer as tight a fit as most PM 2.5 masks I have worn in the past, therefore I am a little skeptical of how effective they might be in regard to pollution.

Lastly, I want to mention is having an ICE card. ICE stands for In Case of Emergency. I think this is good to have on someone where ever they might be, but especially when you are traveling. I have even seen some people take pictures of this information and leave it as their lock screen wallpaper on their phone. That being said, while this system might be expected for first aid responders to check for in the West, I do not think it is as common in China. Therefore, I have one side in English and the opposite side I have translated into Chinese. That way, whoever happens to find it in case something happens to me in China can understand it or if I am traveling abroad, I can use the English side. Unfortunately, I cannot find the original file I created with the help of, but I am including a PDF copy where you can print out and write in your information.

Important Vocabulary Words 重要词汇

  • Bag 包 Bāo
  • Key Bag 钥匙袋 yàoshi dài
  • Wallet 钱包 qiánbāo
  • Passport 护照 hùzhào
  • Handkerchief 手帕 shǒupà
  • 2 Fountain Pens 钢笔(black, blue) gāngbǐ
  • a Mechanical Pencil 自动铅笔 zìdòng qiānbǐ
  • a 1200ma Battery Pack 充电宝 chōngdiàn bǎo
  • Swiss Army Knife 瑞士军士刀 ruìshì jūnshì dāo
  • Traveler’s Notebook 旅行笔记本 lǚxíng bǐjìběn
  • Cetirizine/ Claritin 佳力天过敏药 jiā lì tiān guòmǐn yào
  • Tide to Go Pen 汰渍便携快速去污笔 tài zì biànxié kuàisù qù wū bǐ
  • Tylenol 必理痛 bìlǐtòng
  • Seirogan 正露丸 zhènglùwán
  • PM 2.5 Mask- PM2.5口罩 PM2.5 kǒuzhào
  • Toilet Paper 厕纸 cèzhǐ
  • ESV New Testament 圣经新约 shèngjīng xīnyuē
  • alcohol wipes 酒精卫生湿巾 jiǔjīng wèishēng shī jīn
  • Fitbit tracker 计步器  jìbùqì
  • Hand Sanitizer 免洗洗手液 miǎn xǐ xǐshǒu yè
  • Lightning Cable 手机电线 shǒujī diànxiàn
  • Earplugs 耳塞 ěrsāi
  • Earphones 耳机 ěrjī
  • Medical Mask 医用口罩 yīyòng kǒuzhào
  • Solid Cologne 固体古龙香水 gùtǐ gǔlóng xiāngshuǐ
  • Fisherman’s Friends 渔夫之宝 yúfū zhī bǎo
  • Toilet Seat Sanitizing 便圈清洁纸 biàn quān qīngjié zhǐ 
  • In Case of Emergency Card (ICE Card) 紧急联系卡 jǐnjí liánxì kǎ.

Are there some items that you carry around with you as your EDC that I did not include but you think would be equally important? Please comment below and share! I would love to hear your EDC or recommendations.

Dalian and the Pandemic

•February 16, 2021 • 2 Comments

It’s been almost 4 months since we’ve returned back to Dalian, China. It’s hard to believe that this time last year we were being informed that our return flight to China was cancelled because of the pandemic and we were unsure how to get back to Mainland China. In this post, I wanted to show my family and friends how Dalian is handling the pandemic. 

Toward the end of December, beginning of January, there were a several cases that broke out here in Dalian/ greater Liaoning province. The local municipalities had required our school to close and we were all back with distance learning. During those few weeks, the local government here tested almost everyone in Dalian three times! Just to give you some better perspective, Dalian according to Wikipedia, as of 2010, had a population of around 6,700,000 people.

In the photos above are an example of what my health QR code looks like. If your code is green then you have not been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 and if the code is red, then you have been around someone who was exposed or you yourself have caught COVID. The rest of the photos consist of the various signs plastered all over the walls, doors of different malls or metro stations in Kaifaqu 開發區. In some of the pictures you can see the people lining up trying to get their codes to load and then a gentlemen standing at the entrance checking people’s temperature. The blue card 通行證 was a physical permit we had to carry around in order to prove that we live in our apartment complex so that we could come and go freely. Thankfully, since the cases have now dropped to none, our apartment complex is no longer requiring us to carry those pieces of paper.

Well here in Dalian, the biggest thing that has been widely adopted to “help prevent” the spread of COVID-19 are QR health codes. All residents here are required to register for a Liaoning health codes, whether through WeChat 微信or Alipay 支付寶. Residents/ visitors are then required to show this health code to most establishments in order to go inside. This is especially true for using public transportation, like the metro or bus system. Most major shopping malls around Dalian are checking people’s temperature. 

As of today, February 16, 2021, there have been no new cases of COVID-19 for almost two months. While I’m not sure how accurate these health codes are, the precautions taken by the Dalian municipal government have seemingly worked. I know this is a sensitive topic around many countries with implementing this type of health code or health check passport, but I’ve heard other countries have begun to implement such practices. Several of my friends back home in the USA have wondered about this and to be honest, it really hasn’t affected my daily life that much. That being said, I’m wanting to leave my person opinions out of this post and just share what Dalian has implemented during the pandemic. Do you guys think this type of health check/ COVID prevention scheme would work in your home country or area? Let me know in the comments below and please let’s remember to be civil. 

September 8, 2020- Update

•September 9, 2020 • 2 Comments

Hi everyone,

We just wanted to provide you all with a very short update and a prayer request. God has definitely got the ball rolling for us to finally start expecting to go back to China. Two weeks ago, I finally received a new VISA, even though my previous VISA had not yet expired. Apparently, my previous VISA was cancelled since we were outside of the country during this pandemic time. This VISA is only valid until November for my to travel to China, so needless to say we have some time, but not much time. So God has definitely been blessing us.

I recently posted on Facebook saying that my son’s travel document (or 旅行证) would be easy to apply for a new one. Well, at the moment they have been dragging their feet to help us. I know they are definitely swamped during this time and are probably working around the clock to process application and help overseas Chinese or foreigners traveling to China, but we could really use some prayer in this circumstance.

These last three weeks have been difficult, my school has returned back into session in China and I have now been working nights from 8pm-4am Sunday-Thursday. It is hard for me to get motivated to do much these days and I’ve been fairly exhausted. I do not sleep well during the day.

Please be praying that God will grant us favor for my son’s special travel permit, that God will allow the Chinese embassy in DC to see our request, to sympathize with our case, give my son his travel permit and God will allow us to return to China by mid-October.

Welcome Home Daniel!

•June 5, 2022 • 1 Comment
Our Little Boy Daniel!

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 7:7–11.

「你們祈求,就給你們;尋找,就尋見;叩門,就給你們開門。因為凡祈求的就得著,尋找的就尋見,叩門的就給他開門。你們中間哪一個人,兒子向他要餅,反給他石頭;10 要魚,反給他蛇呢?11 你們雖然邪惡,尚且知道把好東西給兒女,何況你們在天上的父,難道不更把好東西賜給求他的人嗎?

 聖經新譯本(繁體•神字版), 第二版. (香港: 環球聖經公會, 2005), Mt 7:7–11.

Holding him For the First Time

The Bible verse referenced at the beginning of this blog post was a set of verses that I held on during this entire past week. I often reminded God of this verse, among others, while I was praying throughout the week for my family. God is a mighty God and He gives tremendous gifts, especially to those who put their trust in Him. We are eternally grateful for the mighty miracles God has bestowed upon us this week. Daniel is well and is finally at home with us! A full two days earlier than expected!

This past week has definitely been one of the hardest weeks of my life. Last Sunday when we found out Elizabeth’s water broke, it was very much the same manner in which it broke when Noah was born. May 29th, Elizabeth’s water broke just a little in the late morning. I prayed and thought that we needed to go to the hospital to check it out (same as last time), but Elizabeth wasn’t sure it was her water that broke. Needless to say, since everything was looking similar to the last time and this is our second child, I was a lot more calm and collected. I thought that everything was safe and sound taking Elizabeth to the hospital. Man… I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Once we got the hospital, sure enough, her water had just broke a little and the countdown had begun for delivery. That being said, it wasn’t that straightforward. We waited almost 72 hours for Elizabeth to give birth and eventually June 1st, Daniel was born (one day shy of being a May baby like his daddy). This long drawn out process had us worried already quite a bit, but Elizabeth was assured that the water didn’t completely break and she had some time to delivery Daniel naturally. Unfortunately when Daniel was born, sometime in the delivery process, he swallowed a considerable amount of amniotic fluid (for someone his size) and he developed a lung infection shortly after birth. His breathing began to grow faster and his O2 levels began to drop. We were greatly concerned that something terrible was beginning to happen. Shortly after he was born, he was admitted to NICU. While he was in NICU for the first 12 hours, he quickly developed jaundice on top of the other issues that he was admitted.

Admitting Daniel to NICU only after 3 hours of being born, not even really being able to see or hold him was especially difficult. The hospital we were in here in Guangzhou was extremely strict, they wouldn’t even allow us to see little Daniel through a window. We were now separated from our newborn child, without the ability to hold him for the first time or even get to spend a lot of time with him. The doctors wouldn’t take any photos or allow us to call and put the phone close to his bed.

Thankfully, today, the doctor mentioned to us that after the first three days of antibiotics and one day observation, they believed he was well enough to go home! Daniel was now breathing on his own, infection cleared up, amniotic fluid was clear from his lungs and the jaundice had subsided. The doctor did warn us that his jaundice could become a problem again over the next 1-2 weeks, but thankfully we were recommended this interestingly little gadget from the hospital. It is called the Bilibaby, it is a smart device that allows us to check his bilirubin levels at home and will automatically send a report of each check to the doctors at the hospital to make sure his jaundice does not come back. What a cool idea!


In closing, there is a lot that God has taught me this week and I would love to write another post about some of those things. They are life lessons that I believe one can only truly learn from being married and having a child. I wrote them all down in my journal while waiting for Elizabeth to give birth on one of those first three days. Thank you everyone for your prayers, they have made a tremendous impact in our lives, emotionally, physically, psychologically, and SPIRITUALLY! We also owe you all a great deal of gratitude! It was amazing to think there there were people praying from almost every continent in the world! You all are amazing friends and I consider you all to be family! We will keep you updated and I will write another one writing about some of those life secrets the Lord shared with me over this roller coster of a week! God bless you all!

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