Friday, September 26, 2008


I'm an expressions copier. I always absorb other people's sayings. Some people have a knack for coming up with just the right words and just the right expressions for every occasion. I don't happen to be one of them. I have several friends who are always updating their expressions, and if I'm around them long enough, I quickly adopt their vernacular. My most recent appropriation comes courtesy of Barry. Ask him how he's doing at any given moment, and his response is always "best day of my life". It's amazing how powerfully motivational and attitude-changing that phrase can be.

The last two days have been the best days of my life. Wednesday began with an excellent study of Isaiah. Jessica, Barry and I meet three mornings a week for an enlightening and convicting discussion of what is becoming one of my favorite books (though I often find that whatever book I happen to be studying at the moment is my favorite). Isaiah's been a great study. This week each chapter we've read has been an in-your-face reminder that YHWH is YHWH and fear has no place in our lives because of that incontrovertible fact. Best day of my life!

I may have mentioned this before, but at the end of next month (in 32 days according to the city's official countdown calendar), Shiyan will be hosting the Third World Wudang Kungfu Festival (by Third World, they mean Third International). It's a big deal. Lots of people from around China and around the world will be descending on our remote city like its the Beijing of Kungfu Olympics. In preparation for so many foreigners visiting our fine city, countless numbers of students are going through rigorous training for tour guide positions. Only the students with the best English...and best looks...and decent physical health have been chosen to be translators and guides for the anticipated swarm of waiguoren (foreigners). But what, mind you, will happen when lost foreigners stumble into an average citizen's corner convenience store and no English-speaking student is to be found? It's a terrifying prospect, but one we've no need to worry about. The local TV station through government funding has created a simple English language program which began airing two days ago and will continue for several more episodes. By the end of the program's airing, the average citizen in Shiyan should be able to say 100 simple phrases such as "I'm a police officer," and "What color is your lost purse?" Peace and stability will reign in Shiyan as foreigners need not fear an inability to communicate in Chinese. The best part of all this is those Shiyaners who really follow this English language program can come away from it speaking English with a beautiful Oklahoma accent; that's right, yours truly was commissioned to read each of the 100 English sentences twice to provide a standard English pronunciation. It was a fun gig, and the TV personnel were wonderful in the filming of the series. My friend Romano works in the Advertising Department at the TV station, and he was the host of the program. He was decent enough to invite me to participate, and the rewards of that opportunity keep coming. Wednesday, after our awesome study, Romano and his colleagues invited Barry and me to join them for lunch at a special restaurant in the mountains. The restaurant is famous for serving up a whole goat barbecue style. It's rather expensive, but the restaurant is a patron of the TV station and invites them out for a meal a couple times a year. We were fortunate enough to join them on this occasion. The meat was delicious, and they served real bread which seemed to bring Barry nearly to tears. After eating what felt like pounds of meat, we were brought to a back room for a second meal of organ and blood soup. It was better than it sounds.

Wednesday only got better with a meat-induced nap, a game of volleyball, and a losing bout of poker.

Today was yet another awesome day: Isaiah study followed by the best post office experience of my life (I left the building smiling!), a delicious and recently improved (if one can improve upon perfection) crunchy taco, the first meeting of the Finer Things Club where we discussed One Hundred Years of Solitude and practiced our Spanish pronunciation of the same four names (for thirty some different characters), Muslim noodles for dinner, item after item checked off of my list of things to do, our weekly John study, China launches into space, sweet sisters (another Barry phrase!) watching Hairspray, and a full house to round out the day.

Tomorrow we leave for Beijing. It's already the best day of my life.


Anonymous said...

I am an American looking to teach English in Shiyan, Hubei, China. I was wondering if you could give me any advise or if you know of any place that I can find a job. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

By the way, my e-mail address is