Second Update on Travel Plans

•March 7, 2020 • 2 Comments
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MiCasita, Oh How I’ve Missed You!

Hey everyone! I am beginning to get a lot more email messages on Facebook/ my email about whats going on with the Howard family. So I wanted to provide a short little update.

First off, though this trip has definitely been difficult and filled with unexpected outcomes, God has provided for us the entire way. I was just reflecting on this this morning, it could have ended up a lot worse. So before I get started, I just think I should give a major shout out to our Heavenly Father for taking care of us!

So now for the short update, we are still in my hometown in the USA. My job back in China has officially begun online teaching with Canvas, so I do still have a job. Our school is not opened yet in China, Maple Leaf has been instructed to remain closed (as well as most schools in China) until further notice. Our school has been speculating when they will open again, but I’ve been in China long enough to know, this is pointless. It is impossible to speculate what the government is thinking and especially how a virus is going to react. But that being said, they are a business, so I feel like they have every right to begin planning as much as they can.They have been asking us to return, but we are not the only teachers in this predicament. I would say over 30% of the teachers at my school are in same circumstances and our school operates campuses all across China. They have similar reports at their other campuses across China.

We were really hoping to fly out mid this month, but we have been notified if we were to fly through either Korea or Japan, then we would be quarantined in a facility in Dalian (because these countries now have “higher infection rates” than China at the moment). So needless to say, we are not interested in that. We have been looking for alternative routes and flying through Canada seems like our only feasible option. Unfortunately, Elizabeth needs a VISA to travel through Canada (even the airport), so we are in the process of applying for a travel VISA to Canada for her. Please help us pray that it’s a speedy process because at the moment it looks like it’ll take this entire month to process it.

Currently, in the state of North Carolina, we have had our first two reported cases of COVID-19 in Wake and Chatham County. I am not sure what to believe about how prepared the USA is in regard to this virus, but it seems like we are not exactly prepared. Please pray for all of the countries affected by this virus, especially China, ‘Merica, S. Korea, Japan and Iran.

Well that’s about it at the moment, I will continue to keep you all updated! It has been a major blessing to be back home, but it still has been a mixed bag of things. Thank you all for your prayers and please continue to pray for us and others safety/ wellbeing.

https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article240915536.html

https://www.wcnc.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/raleigh-restaurant-says-it-was-visited-by-covid-19-patient/275-8e34ea4a-8112-4f73-8609-29b8fa60fd93

https://abc11.com/5982249/

Travel Update

•February 13, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Coronavirus

I have been purposely not posting much about this debacle for the past few weeks. There has been a lot of talk concerning this pandemic and we have had our shared experiences of people giving us funny looks when they heard we were coming from China. Though, I haven’t said much, the Howard family has been praying for China and any other victims of this virus since it became such a serious problem. Our hearts are with the Chinese people and may God bless you all with good health/ safety. It breaks my heart to see this event take place in my second home.

This post is mostly an update about our stay here in the USA and let our friends and family know about what is going on with us. We arrived in my hometown back on January 21st and have been enjoying good quality time with friends and family. I cannot believe it has been 3.5 years since I have returned to the USA. Most days that I have woken up in the morning, I feel like I’m in a dream. Looking in hind sight now, a lot of my friends were asking why we would travel back to the USA during Lunar New Year and not the summer. Well, I honestly think this was all part of God’s plan.

He has been taking care of every step of the way. With this pandemic that has struck across China, if we have had arrived in the USA just a few days later, Elizabeth would have been quarantined for up to two weeks in the USA. This is the end of our 3rd week here in the USA and we have been safe and healthy. We were supposed to leave back for China on the 10th of February, but now they have cancelled all flights returning back to China for sometime. At the moment, we are not sure when we can return, but it seems like perhaps the end of this month or beginning of March.

God has kept us safe this entire time, allowing us to be comfortable here in the USA sparing us from this tragedy. My school has delayed school until March 2nd and they are quite positive that we will not be able to meet again until later. They have recently purchased a license to work with Canvas (a Learning Management System) so that we can try to get on with school despite these precautionary delays. Even in this regard, it is a blessing to still have a job even while we are stuck in the USA and that we live in such a connected world where I can still teach while not being in China.

Either way, please continue to pray for the people of China. I know most people are safe from this type of virus, but there is still a lot of uncertainty among the Chinese people about what they are facing. There is still a lot of emotional stress, psychological pressures, financial struggles with people who cannot go back to work, etc. We need to pray that the blood of Christ will be poured out over China and that God will grant officials, doctors, people the wisdom on how to deal with this issue.

中國加油!上帝祝福中國!阿門!

Leaving for North Carolina!

•January 18, 2020 • Leave a Comment

I originally made a video, but I didn’t like the way it turned out. So I decided to make a quick blog update in regard to our Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year) update! I have successfully finished the first semester at my new school in Dalian China. So that means the Howard family is finally on the way back to North Carolina! I have been thinking about home at lot these past few weeks in particular. I know it may be hard to believe, but I left for China back in August 2016 and was expecting to be able to come back during the summers since then…

Well, God blessed me with a beautiful wife in 2017 and unfortunately we had difficulty getting Elizabeth a VISA to visit. Then we ended up having a beautiful son and it was equally complicated applying for Elizabeth to get a B1/B2 Visa… Well God finally answered our prayers and last year when we applied for the 3rd time, the US consulate finally granted Elizabeth a B1/B2 VISA with a 10 year timespan! It was a reminder that even though things may be out of our control, we should continue to keep our Faith in the One who made us. So we will be back in Fayetteville North Carolina.

We have had a lot of friends and family messaging us so we can all meet up! Elizabeth and I are soo excited to be seeing everyone and we are thinking that having a potluck several times over the time we are in Fayetteville will be the easiest way for us to meet up with everyone! So we are asking that if you are interested in attending a potluck with us, please leave a comment below so we can create a Facebook group and start working out the details! FAYETTEVILLE!!!! HERE WE COME!

Golden Pebble Beach

•October 3, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I have already posted these photos on Instagram, but I thought it would be nice to share on my blog also. These photos were taken close to my new school here in Dalian 大連 or Jinshitan 金石灘. This part of Dalian was one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen. The sea was so beautiful and surprisingly blue. It is the end of line 3 on the orange line. They apparently have a really pretty park inside, but when we dropped by, it was already closed. Anyway, I hope to post some pictures of my new school soon! God bless you all!

Next Step in Life Update

•October 2, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Hey everyone, I have been meaning to post this message for sometime. I guess this week is better now than never! As most of you may already know, we have moved to a new city here in China. Back in August, we all moved up to the northeastern part of China in a city called Dalian. I had found a new job with a Canadian school and so far, I am really enjoying the new school. I know, it is a little strange for an American to be teaching at a Canadian school (especially since I’m teaching Canadian culture and three Canadian history classes), but this school has been helping me acquire a BC teaching license. Once the British Columbian Teaching Regulation Branch helps me process my application, I will be licensed to teach in Canada also.

The change has been difficult for all of us though, the Northeast part of China is extremely different from Southern China. The food is different, the people are different, their Mandarin is VERY different (in fact I’m having difficulty understanding them and them me). We also more importantly miss our church, our friends and the convenience of Guangzhou. But as a praise report, we have thankfully found a wonderful small fellowship to attend on Sundays here. So praise God!

To add to this big change of curriculum, schools, moving family, I have recently begun my masters degree in Linguistics and TESOL education through Anglia Ruskins University in the UK, online. It is probably not the wisest move, but my twin sister really inspired me these last couple of years to really shoot for my masters degree. Despite the big environmental changes in our life, I think now is a better time than ever to begin this next step in my education.

Anyway, I hope to post some pictures of my new school soon! Thank you guys for reading, I’ll keep it short! God bless you all and I cannot wait till we go back to visit this January!

Goodbye Guangzhou- Hello Dalian!

•August 7, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I wanted to take a chance to write a post about some upcoming big changes for us here in China. As most of you know, I moved to China back in 2016. These years have definitely passed by so quickly; I’ve shared my case of the ups and downs, but ultimately I know that God has called me to China. For these three years, I have traveled a lot within China, but I have exclusively lived in Guangzhou, Southern China. Today though, this post has been scheduled to release as we are boarding the plane to another city in China.

Most recently, a door has been opened up about a pretty big opportunity here in China. A few months ago, I was offered a new job by another school here in China. This international school system is known as Maple Leaf. The only catch? Maple Leaf does not operate in Guangzhou, but they operate throughout a dozen cities across China. So where are we moving you may ask? We will be moving to a city named Dalian in Liaoning Province (simply put, we will be extremely close to the Korean border). You can check out the map below.

3540-dalian-locator-map

This will be a very big change in my life, my wife’s life and my son’s life. Thankfully, Elizabeth is a little familiar with the area already having been close by for some time. Our little boy has only known Guangzhou, but I think it will be a nice change for him too! For me, this is a Canadian school. So I have been assigned to teach Canadian history and some English Language Development courses. Needless to say, I have been studying a lot of Canadian history for this opportunity. My studies at university were primarily focused on American and East Asian history. But I think this will be a really nice change of pace.

We will definitely miss Guangzhou, it is an amazing city in southern China. It is in close proximity to so many cool places, like Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Malaysia, the list goes on! It has been a blessing to find such a loving family here in Guangzhou, though the city is great, you all will be missed more than any other aspect of the city. May God bless you all! Don’t worry though, we hope to visit again often! I will keep you all posted about Dalian! Stay tuned!

Photos from Macau

•July 31, 2019 • Leave a Comment

In comparison to some other places around Southern China, Macau is definitely a small city with a lot of history jammed packed into it. The history of Macau actually dates further back than places like Hong Kong. Portuguese merchants had been traveling to Macau since the 1500s, though it didn’t become a Portuguese colony until the mid 1500s. Macau remained a Portuguese colony until it’s return to China in 1999. Below are some photos I took on several trips I had previously taken to Macau.

Unlike Hong Kong, the harbor surrounding Macau is not a deep water port and this actually significantly changed the development of Macau. When the British acquired parts of Hong Kong through the First and Second Opium Wars, Portugal began to see around the 1800s what potential Macau might have. But Hong Kong had it’s deep water ports and the British eventually turned Hong Kong into a Free Trade Zone and a financial hub on East Asia. Macau did not have the same environmental advantages. Therefore, the Portuguese decided to turn Macau into something a little different. Instead of a free trade port, they would focus their energy on the development casinos all throughout Macau. Till this day, Macau is the only place where you can legally gamble throughout China. Well maybe Taiwan also?? I’m not sure.

But the main aspect that I love about Macau is the amount of Christian history that is surrounded in this tiny space of China. The Portuguese brought Christianity (specifically Catholicism) to Macau and dozens of churches can be found throughout the city that are hundreds of years old. This one in particular in the photos shown above are very close to one of Macau’s most famous attractions, the Saint Paul Ruins.

The St. Paul Ruins are definitely a historical masterpiece. What remains are the walls that previously surrounded the church before suffering a horrific fire. Unfortunately, this church had suffered a couple of significant fires that ultimately destroyed the church. Churches were primarily constructed of wooden structures during this time. All that remain is this beautifully constructed wall. The St. Paul Ruins have so much Catholic symbolism throughout it. Perhaps you can look at it closer and leave a comment below describing some of the symbolism you see.

Many very famous Christian missionaries traveled through Macau or to Macau. People like Mateo Ricci who mastered the Chinese language and traveled all throughout Asia to spread the Gospel. For me personally, it was really inspiring to see these things and makes me proud to be part of this history as a Christian.

Whether you have an appreciation with written Traditional Chinese 繁體字, a blend of European and Chinese architecture, or love the creativity of Macau, there is a little bit of everything for everyone in Macau. Some Chinese may tell you Macau is not worth visiting or seeing for some extended time, that’s definitely not the case. You should check it out for yourself.

Cultural Decades Projects

•May 23, 2019 • Leave a Comment

One of the many responsibilities I have at my current school is to give a cultural presentation every month for the students outside of our international program. Recently, I gave a short talk on the difference between musical trends in the USA VS. China over the past century. My Senior Two students were also able to join this little presentation. We enjoyed the topic so much that I decided to give them a similar more in depth project on cultural trends in America and China throughout the past century. Each student had to make a presentation from their assigned decade and dress up from their decade (either from America, China or Singapore). These are my students in their amazing outfits.

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My students did a great job on their presentations! Their PPTs looked amazing and I was very interested in which singers/ bands they choose from their decades. I wish I could post them all, but unfortunately that would be too many. If you are interested in the PPT that I used for the cultural presentation, you can look at it above or download it with the link below. If you want, you can add to my presentation or change it, you are more than welcomed.

Download PPT Presentation

I have a lot of music tracks that I included in my presentation, but because of copyright restrictions, I thought would be best to not include. But perhaps I can include some YouTube links in another post. If you are more interested in me expanding on this post/ topic, please leave me a comment below.

Noah’s First Photoshoot

•May 7, 2019 • 2 Comments

I have been wanting to do this for a very long time and thankfully we finally were able to get some family photos taken! I cannot believe how time flies, Noah is already a little over one year and Elizabeth and I have been married for almost two years! God has greatly blessed me and I am thankful for the beautiful gifts that He has given me. As most of you know, I am American and my wife Elizabeth is Chinese. That makes Noah ethnically half white and half Chinese. I have been thinking of this a lot lately; I want Noah to equally embrace both of his cultures. So I wanted him to wear some Chinese clothes or locally known as Hànfú 漢服 and some Western clothes. Anyway, I hope you guys can enjoy the photos! God bless you all!

這些天我真的需要拍家人的照片和現在我很開心我們拍了。我覺得怎麼可能時間很快。諾亞是1歲多,我太太和我已經已婚2年快到了。上帝給我兩個很好的禮物,我太太和兒子所以我要說謝謝上帝。很多人已經知道了,我是美國人和我太太是中國人所以我們兒子是一半的中國人一半的美國人。我要諾亞愛都文化。所以我們給他漢服和西方的衣服。你們可以看一看!上帝祝福你們!

Witnessing through the Gospel and Chinese Tradition

•February 6, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Happy Lunar New Year everyone! The day has finally passed, I hope everyone is spending good quality time with their family and friends. May God bless you all in the year of the pig! For my Chinese friends, this topic is a common tradition in China, but my American or other friends might not be familiar with it. If you are already familiar with it, perhaps this idea will inspire my Christian Chinese friends.

In Chinese traditions during the lunar New year, families with children are supposed to give other children in the family like grandsons, granddaughters, nieces or nephews little packets of lucky money. In Chinese they call it 红包 or hóngbāo. The little red envelopes usually have some traditional Chinese greetings for good luck in the new year and some money. Depending on who gives the hong bao, it could range from 10-100RMB or $1.50-16 USD. As you can see , we have a lot of different kinds of Hong bao. We actually ordered some hong bao with Bible verses on them but we waited too late in the holiday to try and order them. So instead we had a lot of little evangelism cards we got from Hong Kong and stuffed them in with the lucky money.

We figured this would be another great way to utilize a traditional Chinese custom and again share the love of Christ with others. The only downside is that these cards are written in Traditional Chinese characters and not Simplified (used in mainland China). I wish we could find or make some cute ones like these using Simplified characters. A lot of mainlanders can still read these cards though, so that’s a blessing.

Either way, it’s good to remember your family and friends during this time of the year, but also make sure to share God’s gift with those that you love! This is a great chance to do so and show them that Christianity is not a western religion, but it’s a religion for everyone and can definitely be a Chinese religion.

 
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