Monthly Archives: August 2012

Tiger Leaping GORGEOUS

            Let me begin by introducing                …drum roll please…              the beautiful, the magnificent, the gorgeous, T i g e r  L e a p i n g   G o r g e !

(too bad i don’t have a wide angle lens)

That blue-hooded gal is Bee — see how tiny she is compared to those mountains?!

In southern Ch1na, there is no hike as spectacular as the one in Tiger Leaping Gorge. It’s well-worn trails hug the cliffs of one of the deepest gorges on earth, winding through beautiful rugged landscapes, hundreds-of-years-old N@xi villages, and even passing over a cascading waterfall, all while facing the magnificent Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

Bee and I set out for the trailhead last Tuesday, prepared to hike the nearly 7 hours (depending on how fast you hike) to Halfway Guesthouse. After a fairly easy first couple hours, we began to come upon some steeper inclines leading up to the 28 bends, which lead to the peak on the west side of the river. Bee could have sworn she counted 33 bends and said it felt like 52. She demands a recount.

We weren’t the only ones who needed to cross – look at the cute little calf!

But after what we saw them do in it — well, don’t drink the water.

There is never not enough corn in this country. Never.

  Travelers looking to tackle this hike usually take 2 days. The first to hike the 28 Bends to the top, and the second to hike down to the raging Yangtze riverbed. Completing the first day felt great! Especially since we knew the second day would be only a couple of hours to hike – the big chunk of the work was finished 🙂

We ended up meeting a German couple and a Chinese guy that we had the pleasure of hiking with. The German couple had been traveling around the world for about two years now and had some great stories. It’s always fun to share these kind of adventures with people you meet along the way.

Looking down toward the world’s 3rd largest river…There are truly no words to describe the beauty.

There are some amazing views from the tops of cliffs literally kilometers above the beautiful Yangtze River below. However, it can be quite a struggle to catch your breath if you are not acclimated to the altitude!

While a good portion of the hike is at a breathtaking height of only about 9000 feet, the opposite peaks (which are not part of the hike we did) reach head-spinning heights of more than 18,300 feet tall.

It was SO loud.

Although Bee had a rather difficult time because of the altitude, with a few rests along the way, we were both able to reach the top. I was so proud of her for pushing through! Despite the difficulty, being able to sit up there was definitely worth the struggle.

The trek still wasn’t over.

On our way back we had to walk a couple kilometers to find a bus. We wouldn’t have had to walk if it weren’t for the

landslide

that took out an entire section of the road three weeks prior. The pictures hardly convey how extreme the damage was. They’ll have to cut through it to re-build the road. For now, people have to drive about 200 km out of their way around the other side of the mountain to get to the town just beyond the rock-slide.

Our trip was beyond amazing. If you ever find yourself in Liji@ng, don’t pass up the opportunity to do this hike.

Now that we’re back we’ve shopped, celebrated birthdays, hung out with friends and now find ourselves packing up our Liji@ng home and getting ready to start the trek back to Be!jing, then finally to the States. We’ll try to keep you posted during our travels back home. Just a handful of days left!? Blows our minds.

Almost home,

Oz & Bee

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You Still there?

So — I think we’ve discovered a new kind of busy. All great and fun and exciting,  just non-stop. And now we have only 4 days left in this beautiful country and are experiencing a mixed bag of emotions. We’re looking forward to seeing our friends and family and gorgeous sunny city, but also sad to leave the amazing friends and experiences we’ve had here. If only China and California were closer…

I’ll get to our processing of our departure later. First, we want to show you a bit of what life has looked like this month.

A few weeks ago, we got an invite to celebrate Huo Ba Jie (Torch Festival) in our friends hometown village on Yulong Snow Mountain (about an hour-ish away). In a nutshell, they all get together and have a massive feast and light torches at night. We spent a few days with her family, and they made each of us feel so welcome in their home. It was an unforgettable weekend. Here’s what it looked like:

We got to wake up to this each morning. Such perfection.

The second day we went hunting for mushrooms. E knew exactly what to look for. She’s what we call a pro. Before this hunt, I assumed all wild mushrooms would kill me. Especially the bright ones.

E taught us so much  – but that doesn’t mean I’ll be picking mushrooms and cooking them for you back home. I don’t trust my mushroom picking skills that much.

We crossed over the most amazing stream that flows from the top of Snow mountain. It tasted so fresh and pure. Here we are standing on a rock under the walking bridge. I could have listened to the water rush by all day.

How cute are all things miniature?! E told us we could eat these mini wild strawberries.

They were a bit tart, but so cute!

Watching the sun go down behind the mountain was amazing. Who could manage ignoring this?!

Every view was dreamy.

We all sat around the grill and ate lamb, pork and potato dipped in spice. I think we ate more than our usual amount of meat in one sitting — but it was the tastiest ever.

Finally, it was time to light the torches!! See that little one behind us?! Not long after this picture was taken a couple of E’s family members did their traditional dance around a pile of lit torches. (They love dancing!) It’s nothing more than just having fun and celebrating – which they do quite well. And then, they suggested the four white kids (us) dance too! So with four minds thinking of what to do, we whipped out our greatest idea ever — we did the Macarena.

No shame.

Our last morning, the ladies of the village dressed us up in their traditional dresses. We felt so honored!! The headdress was my favorite — so cushy and soft. They made us feel like family. This little guy had a blast seeing us in these clothes. I don’t think he’d ever seen a non-Yizu woman in them. He was the cutest.

We love E dearly and had SUCH a blast in her village. She is a sister we’ll miss so much. We’ve gotten to see her almost daily, so I imagine it’ll be weird to be without her! Love you, E!

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We had a couple days to recoup before we teamed up with a group that came to do a dental clinic. We focused on a village that most of the long-termers hadn’t been to yet. The clinic ran so smoothly, which helped to build great relationships with the leaders there. The long-termers were really pleased by the week and feel like follow-up in the future will be great. To be apart of it was more than a blessing.

Our amazing dentist is on the left. By the third and final day of the clinic he had trained our medical doctor to pull teeth as well — I’m amazed at their skills! They saw aver 170 patients in just three days. What a way to use their talents.

While waiting to see the dentist, the kids had their own training on how to brush their teeth and why its important. By the end, they each got their own toothbrush and toothpaste. The hope is to follow up with the village and see how they’re doing with brushing. Then by a third or fourth follow up, hopefully see that they are brushing on their own – that they’ve made brushing a daily habit.

We all had jobs for the week. Most of the time, I got to take pictures of the patients and put together their file. I LOVED my job. Getting to see everyone up close was so fun. I feel like I got to personally meet each of them.

Oz and I also got to spend lots of time with the kids. We taught them the hokey-pokey, sang songs, played games, etc. Oz was – of course – a natural and a pro with them. It was so fun to see him interact with them so well. Not to mention, the loved him. The next group of photos includes some of my favorites.

The week was great. It was such a great way to love the village in a practical way – to love each individual. We are so excited to see what Father is going to do in their lives.

Oz had his 25th birthday on the third day of the clinic. We celebrated with birthday cake Oreos. 🙂

Love you, babes.

The clinic would not have been as great without E being our translator. Her first language is Yi, then Mandarin, then English. Most of the older patients and children didn’t speak Mandarin, so she was with the dentist all day each day, being not just a translator, but a comfort for the patients. She was used in MIGHTY ways! Woo hoo, E!

There was so much beauty in the village. Oz captured so much of it.

Lunch is served!

They  l o v e  their potatoes. As do I.

A good-lookin’ group!

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After this week of the clinic, I’ve really felt like we live here. I have grown to love and adore the people. The Father has really given me my own unique love for this country. One that perhaps compliments the love my husband has for it. What an answer to pr@yer. I feel so blessed to have been here for these three months, investing in all that we’ve had opportunities to invest in. And thank you, Father, for the friendships we’ve gained. They will be forever. I can’t believe we’re wrapping up our week and going home so soon. However, we feel certain that for the next season of our lives we are to invest in California again. And because of that, we are excited for it and are looking forward to what the Father has in store. His plans are perfect. I’m just grateful that we’ve been able to develop a home here for the summer. It won’t be the last time we come. In whatever capacity that is, it will be on His timing, in His way, just as the last three months have been.

So, there is a recap of our past few weeks. We got back from hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge last night, so we’ll give an update on that either tonight or tomorrow. Also, don’t forget that Oz has more pictures on his Facebook and we’ve been updating on our instragram. Search for ‘iamzulu’ to see more immediate picture updates.

Now, we’re off to lunch and a bit of birthday shopping! Oz’s was last week and mine is today! (At least in China, I’m still 24 in America, but why not celebrate twice?!)

With love,

Bee

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An Update-ish

We are back from our weekend trip to our friend’s village. It was SUCH a great time! There were so many moments where I stopped and told myself to realize where we were and the amazing opportunity we had to join in on such authentic cultural experience. We will have a proper update soon. We took tons of pictures!

We’ve got another four days here before we head out for one whole week to help with a clinic in another village area. We are so thankful we can partner with this team and know it will be another amazing trip.

Happy mid-August!

-bee

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The Lake, The mango, the bee, oh my!

Going to the lake this last weekend was a fantastic way to get insight into the lives of some of the many Chinese ethnic groups that live there as well as see how our friends here cultivate relationship and work alongside them. We were able to meet and develop a friendship with a friend of J+L’s by  enjoying Yak Butter Tea and conversation in his traditional style home while learning about his family. What a blessing to see what our Father is doing among this beautiful and unique group of people! Here are a few pictures from our trip. Click them if you’d like a bigger view (aka – you can’t find your glasses)…


A typical view of a village

This view was more amazing in real life!

The traditional dress. Their hats indicate that they are married and have children.

Single women wear smaller versions of the hat.

Fishing boats docked near our hotel. It was so peaceful to wake up to this lake view.

Lounging around on a water buffalo.

Inside a traditional house. It’s like a life-size Lincoln log house!

No nails to hold it together, yet it’s such a strong structure.

Yak butter tea with barley flour. You take a spoonful of the barley flour and throw it in the back of your mouth (not too far or you’ll have an embarrassing coughing fit 🙂 ) then drink the thick, soup-like tea to wash it down. We each had about 3 cups full! Its a tasty, buttery and salty experience! Something we’ll never forget and always be grateful for the experience.

Grandmother and mother of our friend. These women have seen so much — I wish we could sit down with them all day and hear their stories…but they do not speak Mandarin. Most of the older generations do not. Our friends J & L are hoping to start their minority language classes soon to get started on building more relationships with people from this group. When Oz spat out the few sentences he knows in their language, they lit up and became such chatter-boxes. It was such a blessed time with them.

Our dinner view of the lake. It never got old.

We really enjoyed our stay!

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Since we’ve been back we’ve caught up on sleep and just relaxed. Oz finished his morning teaching class before we left, so he only has his afternoon tutoring for two hours. It has given us time to hang out together, meet up with friends and deepen those relationships. One evening we were treated to dinner by one of our Sisters here and went back to her house for some fun. We watched TV, including some of the Olympics (Go USA!), enjoyed some home-made rice wine (delicious) and tea. She showed us some of the most natural honey we’ve ever seen. It’s cultivated in her village  – I think her Uncle bottled it for her. Anyway, this honey made Trader Joes au-naturel style seem like a joke. We found an actual dead bee in the mix and chewed the wax. It definitely made our tea more…adventurous. However, the sweetness and texture was a b s o l u t e l y divine. Here, take a look at our evening:

Oz picking out the best fruit at the market. I didn’t even know a Mango could get that big!

Our yummy bowl of noodles. We also had lamb kabobs, but they were eaten up too fast to get a picture.

She heated up the rice wine and we enjoyed every spoonful! It had a strong alcohol flavor with a bit of sweetness from the rice. See how excited he is!?

Underneath the thick stuff on the top was creamy golden honey.

 The picture on the bottom shows a big hunk of drenched honeycomb.

We had a really great time hanging out with our friend. We felt so honored that she invited us back to her place — such a great night!

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So, one adventure finished and blogged and ready to head out this weekend for another one! We have been invited to celebrate Huo Ba Jie (Torch Festival) at our friends hometown village. We’ll leave tonight and spend two nights with her family. We are SO looking forward to celebrating this festival in our friends village! We’ll get an authentic and traditional experience and I’m sure, have a fantastic time. We hope you guys have been having a great week — can you believe how fast this month is going?! Pretty soon Oz and I will be back home and this whole summer may feel like it was all a dream. We’ll (gladly) wait and see. 🙂

Back on Monday,

Oz & Bee

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A Special Celebration

Well, we are back from our weekend get-away, but before we update you on that, I want to take a special moment to dedicate this post to a very special Mom.

It’s her birthday!

With only hours left, (or a day late, if you consider the time-zone…) I want to invite you to join in and celebrate her with us! Happy Birthday Mom!! Love you so much and we hope you had a wonderful day!

She has been a wonderfully dedicated and precious mom to all her kids.

A lovely wife.

One of my best friends.

And forever a Babe.

Love you, Mom! We are believing this year is going to be the best yet.

Poised and graceful you are. Thank you for being such a great example to me in so many ways. When we get home, lets get pedicures!! 🙂

Mostest,

Bee

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On the Road Again…

We packed our hiking bag (yes…only one) and are getting ready to head out the door for a weekend trip! We are SO excited to tag along with J&L to drive up to the Lake to visit with their friends and check up on a couple investments they’ve made there. It’s a six (ish) hour drive and the Lake is beautiful. We will be gone for three days — so we’ll give an update when we get back. We are looking forward to this trip also because it will give us a more flavorful taste of what J&L have been investing in. Please join us in asking Papa for the following:

safe travels

a rich time with J&L

to be a blessing to those we visit

and anything else you feel on your heart to pray for 🙂

{{This is the lake where we’ll be…Oz took this when he was there about 4 years ago.}}

Happy weekend everybody!

-Bee

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Trust and Persevere

W O W,

is it really already August? It’s crazy how quickly time can get away. I’m simultaneously excited that we have a month left as well as a little uneasy that it’s only a month. There’s so much possibility for growth in a month – so much can happen. Yet how easily it could be wasted if we aren’t careful and focused on our goals. It’s exactly that recent lack of focus that is serving to create an anxiety in me about the length of time we have left. It seems my mind feels that time is running out.

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               What if G0d doesn’t reveal any next step or purpose?

 

                                      What if we fail to solidify those good spiritual habits?

 

                          What if we come back and nothing has really changed?

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Trusting in G0d should be easy seeing as how I can tell and retell countless stories of the good He has done for both me and so many I’ve met. How is it then that I so quickly resort to my own self-sufficiency? Futilely trying to take things into my own hands, forcefully pushing forward for answers that I somehow feel are overdue. As if G0d can’t handle what He’s lead me into? As if He doesn’t have a plan just because I can’t see it? What an outrageously hilarious lie! How prideful and arrogant of me to assume that my understanding of a situation might determine reality. How mundane and predictable the world would be if my own perceptions were the edge of the map.

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                                                            I declare that they are not!

                                                (Job 12:13, 42:3)(Proverbs 3:5)(Ezekiel 28:3)

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I declare that, in the face of even the most hopeless of circumstances, my G0d has a plan.

                                               (Jeremiah 29:11)(Daniel 3:17, 6:20-22)(Genesis 45:4-8)

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                       I declare that my G0d is a good G0d and I eagerly anticipate His goodness.                                                                                       (Psalm 27:13)(Psalm 23:6)

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When we find ourselves in a place of doubting G0d’s sovereignty, let’s produce fruit in keeping with repentance as exemplified in Pslam 51…

 “Have mercy on me, O G0d, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. … Create in me a pure heart, O G0d, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (51:1-2,10)

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Let’s remind ourselves that no matter the problem, He can handle it. Let’s stop believing lies about our G0d’s faithfulness and instead determine to turn our hearts to Him in praise…

“Why are you downcast, O my soul?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in the L0rd,

for I will yet praise him,

my Savior and my G0d.”

(Ps. 43:5)

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“Praise the L0rd, O my soul;

all my inmost being praise his holy name.

Praise the L0rd, O my soul,

 and forget not all his benefits –

who forgives all your sins

and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit

and crowns you with love and compassion,

who satisfies the desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s”

(Ps. 103:1-5)

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               “Wait for the L0rd; be strong and take heart and wait for the L0rd”

(Ps. 27:14)

        

   ~OZ

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