Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas 2009 (a little late)

Well, Christmas and now New Years has come and gone here in southern China. I have been trying to post for weeks but due to the "Great Firewall of China," my interent would not allow. Anywho...this year's holiday proved to be new, different, special, and memorable (such a change from last year. ugh). Praise God!

My Christmas 2009:

This holiday season I have been more aware, I think, than ever before, just want this holiday is truly about. As I struggle to share my life and therein my faith with those around me, my lack of words, my lack of close relationship, and the barriers and blocks of an ancient culture deeply rooted in tradition, have left my heart sobered and thoughtful as I gaze at the faces I pass daily. They don't know my Jesus, they don't know his grace, his hope, his joy, his freedom, nor the life that he brings. So I desperately tried to share that joy in the small ways.

Christmas week at school I scrapped "real" learning and we did crafts and learned holiday words. The kids were gearing up for their big dance performance anyway, and didn't need a load of new English words on top of their little pressured heads. So why not have fun?

we made hand-print Christmas trees:

I let each teacher make the star - to be a part of our tree :)

we made paper stockings that they sewed together with string.

I then filled them ALL with candy the night before Christmas for them to find the next day at school. It was a total hit ---> :)

we also made snowmen which ended up all sorts of fabulous colors:

And then Christmas Day afternoon the kids put on their dance and song performance. Pictures to come...too many to sort through right now.

My holiday weekend (in which I was given 3 days off this year! woo!) finished with the self- assigned challenge of cooking an "American Christmas" dinner for several dear friends I have made here. After 2 1/2 hours of cooking, 6 potatoes, 4 breasts of chicken, 2 lbs. of green beans, lots of yummy caramalized onions, 2 sweet potatoes, 1 loaf of French bread, and a box of Stove Top stuffing somehow balanced between 2 stove burners and limited cookware, equaled a pretty tasty dinner all eaten in paper bowls with chopsticks - Chinese style.

I don't have enough dishes to entertain and it's silly to buy them, so paper it was.
And no one here likes forks anyway.

My roommate Sammy even joined for a little while (that's amazing, trust me!).
R to L: Joy, Sammy, Johny (Evan's future boss and friend), Terry, and Anita.
These people have been an answer to many prayers.

beautiful people. beautiful experiences. a beautiful life.
I am truly blessed.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Joyeux Noel and Christmas Bells

I watched this movie last night, Joyeux Noel, and wept.

I wept because it honors the story of the historical cease fire that occurred on Christmas Eve during WWI between the Scottish, French, and Germans.

I wept because it displays how ugly people can be, fearful, prideful, arrogant, ignorant, capable of so much harm.

But I also wept because it so beautifully displays people and their desire and capacity for good, for love, peace, friendship, desire for home, the desire to do right, even in the bleakest of times and toughest of circumstances.

I wept because it showes life, our broken world, the horrors that have happened, the lives that have been lost, history that has been shaped for good and bad, and the never ending cry of a world needing a Savior.

I wept because it was beautiful, the message was so absolutely beautiful. And something I so needed to be reminded of this Christmas.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow writes in his poem (also about war times) "Christmas Bells:"

I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

This poem chokes me up.

Living overseas has opened my eyes and heart to this world in more ways than I ever could have imaged. I resonate with Longfellow's cry about a world filled with hate, mocking, and war. I have experienced (albeit on a much smaller scale) just how real that is. I have been broken. I have cried. I have been left standing in awe, absolutely confused about all that is behind, beside and before me.

But I have also heard the bells peal victoriously that "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men!"

I cling to those words daily. The bride of Christ is broken and ugly, be she is still the bride, and she is ever growing, ever changing, ever bettering, daily. I am a part of that body of Christ. And I have been called to love a world that does not know the hope of eternal peace, that hates, mocks, and fights. But He is coming back! He is alive! And this Christmas I am clinging to this truth and promise more than ever before.

Joyeux Noel, Merry Christmas, from my heart to yours!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


This Thanksgiving 2009, I was fortunate enough to go home for a dear friend's wedding right around the time of our holiday of thanks, so I swung my holiday time to include my country's beloved festivities before I headed back to the PRC.

Though my family is small (um, 3 of us), our holidays have always been fantastic, A+, amazing in every way, from decorations to food, festivities to family traditions. Yes. But this year, my family and I went north to Evan's home in Modesto to spend the holiday with his family = woo!

I didn't do much shooting because, well, basically, I just wanted to sit back and enjoy the people (sometimes I get so wrapped up behind the camera that I spend the whole time shooting, which can be good - I guess it has it's pluses and minuses...). I'm not around people who know, love, like, and don't stare at me often. ;)

It was big. Let's see, 18 people I think?

Loud, warm, yummy, wonderful...but waaay too fast.


THE bird.
26 lbs. of it!

Evan and THE bird.

Megan and Dustin's new kitty, Monkey.
yes, the cat's name is Monkey.

family :)

Tayla - how adorable is she?

Grandma Maggie's hands
making bread for over 80 years.

Grandma Dorothy
I think I just have a thing for grandmas :)

my amazing mom :)

the kid table
oh, Dustin... ;)

the adult table


5 homemade pies baked by my very own mother!

If getting accepted into the Conrad/Ford family
was based on the taste of pies,
we're SO in now.

Modesto was even nice enough to give me a good splash of fall color before I left.
Not much yellow in subtropical southern China.

I have so much to be thankful for (even though it's December now and almost Christmas):
- my salvation
- God's grace and love
- my wonderful family
- Evan
- wonderful friends
- this opportunity to serve and learn in China
- the list goes on and on

As we are a few weeks out for Christmas, may Jesus truly be the reason for the season, for your life, for the reason you wake up everyday, for love. Today and always!

Let the world see that today in you!

Friday, December 11, 2009


My dad sent me this video link the other day to this fab Chinese artist working out of Beijing...

Check it out! it's so work the click -----> Liu Bolin aka "The Invisible Man"

Also check out his info and photos of his work on artnet = yum!

As someone who has been to Beijing and seen the change he addresses taking place first-hand, his work seems to be something that can really speak to China right now, as well as our ever changing world. With China's history of war, warlords, cultural revolution, to communism, holding to the past while moving forward is a constant push and pull for all people. Also, Beijing has a really influential and active art community, if you didn't know.

Thanks for the link, Dad!

yay for art!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

just because.

It's not just because he's handsome, is wearing plaid, and is climbing around in the mountains ---> all very good things. ha.


I just really enjoy these images.

so enjoy.
because I do.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A quick trip home: Allison's Wedding and Julian

7 days + 4 major events + 1 holiday = one amazing but busy week!

I just returned this past weekend from a whirlwind trip back to California for a week to be in a dear friend's wedding, take a trip to the mountains outside San Diego, up to LA to see my girlfriends, and celebrate a beautiful and blessed Thanksgiving up in Modesto with Evan's family.

**Side rant: I say up because Modesto is north and north to me implies up. Evan always says down, which to me implies south. And it can't be south because we drive north. San Diego is south, down, Modesto is north, up. ha. Seriously, opinions anyone?


7 days of jam-packed activity, fighting off a cold, jet lag, and major time difference, but it all was covered by prayers of dear friends. I survived (barely) and after 3 planes, long layovers, and horrible airplane food I am back in Shantou.

My trip began with celebrating Evan and I's 2 year anniversary of dating...

I made him a paper crane mobile from copies of journal entries about him over the past 2 years ---> :)

Then the gorgeous wedding of Nathan and (now!) Allison Van Egmond = yay!

Allison and I have been friends since before we were born.


Our mothers met in an pregnancy aerobic class and we were born 2 1/2 weeks apart.
We have been to every birthday and major life event over the past 24 years so of course, though I currently reside in China, I had to be there and was blessed to be a part of it.

Isn't she beautiful??

Then it was off to a day trip up the mountains outside San Diego to the small town of Julian.

which of course turned into a photo shoot. ha.

The hills and mountains were gorgeous in their fall color!

I have SO learned to the love the desert and it's beauty growing up in San Diego and it's surrounding area.

Julian was quaint and lovely as always...

We, of course, ate Mom's pie (but not as good as my mom's)...

And we, of course, tried on hats.

many hats.

because we're rad like that. :)

My mom is lovely as ever.

And the setting sun as we drove down the mountains back to San Diego was just stunning.

dusk is my absolute favorite time of day!

AND that was just my first 3 days back! whew!

My amazing (but fast!) Thanksgiving up in Modesto with Evan's amazing family photos coming soon!