Friday, April 24, 2015

All good things must come to an end—8 weeks

In some ways time as has gone by so fast, it seems like we just got here and settled and now it is time to leave.  In other ways, it feels like we have been here for a long time, we have done so many things, the days have been long, and it has been a great experience. 

 Our Easter celebration

 Sharing the Good News!

 How to dye an Easter egg

They had never seen anything like this!

A typical day during the week has included getting up, a time in the Word together, Scott goes to work, and the rest do school.   Homeschooling has been challenging in many ways.  Some children do not always do their best and prolong work that could be accomplished in a much shorter period of time.  Unlike most homeschoolers, we did not go through a homeschool “curriculum” and tried to stick with our local school because the kids will re-enroll when we return next week.  After school, we would typically go to the park near the apartment where we have met many people and developed many relationships that have led to some good, meaningful conversations about life, God, and eternal things. 

 Playing on the Wuhan University main campus

A great visit with old friends

Some days we cook dinner in our small apartment and other times we go and enjoy the local cuisine, which is very inexpensive and often times cheaper than cooking in! 

A going away banquet with colleagues

Now that our time is coming to an end we really want to try and see all of our new friends to have an appropriate good-bye, visit some of the famous sites in Wuhan, and end our time well.  Everyone has been so nice, hospitable, and giving.  In so many ways our cultures are so different…but we are so alike in many ways as well.  Everybody is searching for “something” to satisfy them…whether American or Chinese, we try to satisfy ourselves with knowledge, entertainment, money, and many things of the world.  The consistent thing between us is that none of it truly satisfies, we constantly want more, more, and more.  Fortunately, we have the knowledge and relationship with the one true God that can completely satisfy everything within us.  The people in China are looking for this just like the people in America, we are just fortunate to be able to find Truth with much more freedom.  We will share more on this later.  Our love for the people and culture as grown with our time here, and we have an even deeper yearning to tell them the true meaning of life and our hope in Christ.  They are so open to the Truth and the Lord is moving in many ways here.

When we told a friend we were Christian he wanted
 to show us one of the only churches in Wuhan!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Time flies when you’re having fun—5 weeks

 The cherry blossoms at Wuhan University (main campus)

Since the last update we have settled into our new routine and been able to take a little adventure/business trip to another city.

 A view of the top of our apartment building from the hospital where Scott works.

Life here is very different than Birmingham.  Because we do not have a car and most everything we need is within walking distance, we spend a lot of time in a very small radius.  Many people live and work in the same area, which has both positives and negatives.  For example, Scott’s office is a 10-minute walk from the apartment (including the journey down 6 flights of stairs).  Between the office and apartment is the large teaching hospital where he spends time and a park where we all try to go to get some physical activity (a track, soccer fields, basketball court, and exercise equipment that the kids use as a playground). 

A place nearby for a quick lunch ($1 for eggs and fried rice)

What is interesting is that, even though we spend our time within a small radius, when we have to go anywhere outside of our local area, or venture to the grocery store (20 minute walk), everything seems to take so much longer.  We were just discussing this with our friends from Texas who have lived here for several years.  We have no practices to get to, games to rush to, meetings, etc… but we cannot seem to get the kids to bed before 9:30 every night!  Maybe it is the fact that we only have 1 bathroom, no dishwasher, and hardly any space to store much food, which means a trip to the grocery every 2 days!  Just going to visit our friends, who live 2 stops away on the subway takes about 45 minutes.  We need to walk 15-20 minutes to the train, go 2 stops, wait for a bus or walk another 20 minutes to their home.  I would guess that’s only traveling about 5 miles!

Some friends from the hospital took us fishing

The children do not watch a lot of TV in Birmingham, but not having a TV here has been a blessing.  We have been able to read books aloud, which when you have a good book, all of the kids have looked forward to that time.  Based on some recommendations from social media, Scott heard about a book called the Green Ember and downloaded it before we left.  It has been a great book and the kids ask constantly if we are going to be able to read it each night.  

The Bell Tower in Xi'an (taken with an iPhone!)

 Using the "selfie stick" on the Muslim street in Xi'an

Finally, our trip to Xi’an was a tremendous success.  We got to visit our friend Jenny, who traveled from Beijing to meet us and we got to explore this ancient city.  Xi’an is about 3,000 years old and many of the sites are well over 600 years old. To put this in perspective, think about Christopher Columbus leaving Europe for North America in 1492; that was about 520 years ago!  We visited the famous Terra Cotta Warriors, which are thought to be around 2,000 years old and were just discovered in the early 70’s.  A farmer was digging a well and found them.  Due to the fact that the government owns all of the land, they gave him 30RMB (about $5 today) and turned the site into a large tourist attraction.  They are still working on the site and recently discovered some new items.  We also visited several other sites that were close to our hotel and got to ride bikes around the city wall.  While there, Scott and Jenny visited the local hospital to tour their rehab department.  Scott gave a lecture and then they saw a few patients.  In return, they provided us with the hotel, tours, a driver and English speaking tour guide, and a few wonderful meals…what a blessing!

Terracotta Warriors

The city wall

Dumpling lunch (they have been making dumplings for >100 yrs!)

Only 4 more weeks...

Friday, March 13, 2015

Wuhan Update—17 days

A dinner selfie...our space is a little tight!!

Things have definitely improved this week.  The adjustment period has settled down.  To help record our adjustment progress, we have created the Bickel Boohoo Cry Chart!  We record who cries and how many times!  It really has been fun and the kids are really into the recordings!  We have created some motivation to keep the crying down by having a “party” at night in their room (they all sleep in the same room, 2 bunk beds).  We have gone from some kids crying 6X in one day to no tears!!  They finally were able to have a “party” late in the week! =)

The deli!

Homeschooling has become easier but it does continue to be challenging in that there is one teacher and 4 needy children!  =)  This week has proven to be better though and look forward to continuing to improve!

Scott’s work has settled as well.  He has to remain flexible in that they add to his schedule and give no warning of the changes!  The school really enjoys having a professor from the States and are using him to the max!  A funny thing is that we plan on meeting a friend on a trip to Xi’an and a doctor found out about it and wants Scott to work while he is there!  The hospital in Xi’an wants him to come and help them!  The Chinese people are such hard working people…. They don’t really understand the concept of a “vacation”! 

 The hospital department

 Doing a little teaching...

 Trying to convince a mother and several physicians that there is nothing wrong with this child!!!
They kept telling Scott that his legs were different sizes

Treating riding a bike

We have been meeting many people and making relations.  We have really been able to connect with a family that is from Texas that have 5 kids, who live here permanently.  They have been such a blessing to our family and really shown us the ropes on how to get around and plugged us in to help serve our Father!!  They have connections that allowed Nanette to meet with some friends who are going through a hard time to help encourage them!  Our Father is so good and ALWAYS takes car of His children!