About ebrock36

Teaching English in China

My vs. Our

My last trip to Korea I had a friend explain to me why I can’t introduce family as “my mom, my dad, etc.” He said they use “our mom, our brother, etc.” I thought this really interesting and completely in contrast with the US.

I can’t speak Korean, but in learning the few phrases I have, I’ve already noticed a change in the mindset of Korea vs. US. In Korea, and probably most of Asia, the idea within the family is “OUR”, whereas in America, everything is “MY”. In Korea, within the family, everything is shared; house, money, food, child raising, parent caretaking. And it spills over into friendships; paying for meals, bringing back gifts from trips. Even something so simple as grabbing an extra coffee for coworkers in the morning regardless of whether or not you’ve asked. It’s IN THE CULTURE to think of others. I really love this. I find myself saying “my” and “mine” so often, and I see how it’s led me to be stingy with my money and possessions. It’s hard for me to freely give because I’m always looking out for #1. I wonder how our society might benefit from letting go of a possessive attitude to a shared attitude. I mean, it’s things…stuff, for cryin’ out loud.

the battle

I’m writing this without much consideration of writing etiquette…raw, like i like it…would you really expect anything less of me?

Today was a day of reflection, partly due by something my prof said in class yesterday. He said…

“You do all this research and studying to know it all, and then to wake up one day to find you don’t know anything at all.”

And I thought to myself, “I wonder if these guys who’s lives revolve around research and discovering new things, who are so proud of all their work in the field, who’ve had so many papers published, stop and think, ‘What’s it all for?’ only to realize that it is the relationships that counted the most in life.”

Now, I don’t think we should all up and quit what we’re doing and go hug the people in our lives. I’m simply reminded today that I need to watch myself. I need to care for others more than I do myself, that my decisions affect others, and that my actions should reflect more compassion and love.

I’m thankful for days like today. It’s kind of a Debbie Downer, but it’s a reminder that God is still working on me.

Some people make loving others look so easy. That IS NOT the case with me. I’m kind of a jerk.

Accidents Happen…

I can totally see the Chinese boy, who spotted me on bench press today, having his own version of “She touched my leg!”

“Yesterday was one of the greatest days of my life. Emily asked me to spot her. She told me her name, asked for mine. I touched her boob!”

Oops!

They’re already afraid of me to begin with. I hope he’s not too embarrassed to show his face around the gym anymore.

Scrambled Eggs and Overhead Squats

It was pouring outside today so the pansy princess in me said, “Ew, your shoes are going to be sopping wet when you get there…all for a pull-up bar?!? Uh, no.” Because you see, the only thing needed in my WOD today was a pull-up bar.

“BW Fifteen” – found in WODBook I bought at the VA Showdown
35 squats
25 push-ups
15 pull-ups
7RFT

Little did I know how much this would change between then and the time I ACTUALLY did the WOD.

6pm rolled around as I swivelled to and fro about my desk chair.

Me: *Sigh* “Do I need a day off? Should I use the hammy as an excuse?”, groping behind my thigh for a sensitive-to-the-touch feeling that would surely send me over the ledge of self-pity into the well of laziness.

Myself: “Nope, just need to warm-up. Get up. Go.”

Me: “You’re so annoying.”

**Have I mentioned how much I love scrambled eggs and tomatoes? It’s a peasants’ dish here in China, but it’s my favorite! Mmmm! I love it when 阿姨 (“Aunty” in Chinese) makes it.**

I go downstairs to my little workout nook, do my warm-up, stretch out the hammy and decide, “I’m going to sub out pull-ups and do sit-ups.”

Myself: “But your butt is still raw from yesterday and the day before!”

Me: “True, I did just do sit-ups, A LOT of sit-ups 3 days in a row…with no husband to rub Vaseline on my backside after either! I deserve a break, all alone, no one to take care of me…”

Sorry, that’s a different post.

Myself: “But if you take out sit-ups, that’s just squats and push-ups and you just did bench press and squats yesterday and hella push-ups the day before. Remember, with all the sit-ups?”

Me: “Ok, ok, I got it.”

35 OH squats (metal mopstick)
5 wall-walks
7RFT = 24:23

WOD for snails

I’m not even sure why I brought my timer other than to have one other piece of information to write down in my nerdy WODBook. (I have GOT to add that tape to the nose piece of my glasses. I keep meaning to do that!) I was moving slower than snails making sure my hamstring was ok. Even walking up the wall, I had to be careful.

It’s amazing how much we notice our muscles’ use when they’re really hurt or sore. I’m constantly like, “Wow, who knew you used your hamstrings so much to scoot around in your rolly desk chair because you’re too lazy to actually get up and walk anywhere, or pulling off your shoes without untying them because you’re too lazy to simply bend over, or putting on your swimsuit just to hang out in because you miss the beach.” It’s really quite eye-opening, a learning experience for sure.

So, what’s the take-home message after all this huff and puff about my strained hamstring?

Running is stupid, never do it.

“That’s How I Roll!” – China

Scenario #1:

Time: Saturday, Sept 22 8:52am

Grey’s Anatomy is playing on Hulu while I sip on a cup of coffee…..ok ok ok, I’m cross-stitching too. (I’m going to make an amazing REAL grandma someday, even if I never have children.)

*Phone rings*

Me: “Hello?”

Lady: “Hi, Emily. It’s Vivi. You were supposed to be in class this morning. Did they tell you about the make-up classes for today?”

Me: “Yes, they told us today would be make-up classes for Friday afternoon. I have class at 1:30pm today.”

Lady: “No, you were supposed to make-up Friday afternoon classes this morning.”

THAT DOESN’T EVEN MAKE SENSE!

Da Scoops: The Chinese National Holiday is coming up in the first week of October, so we were scheduled to make-up classes on Saturday, Sept 29. “Fine, ok. It’s in my planner.” (I’m pretty sure “plan” and “schedule”…just like “weekend” do not exist in the Chinese language.)

Yesterday(!) the government (the GOVERNMENT!!) decides to change that make-up day to THIS Saturday, Sept 22…not even 24 hr notice. They F’ed up the message so bad, no teachers showed up for class today b/c apparently there was a time change that got lost along the way.

And people wonder why I lose my mind here…..”76 more days, Em. 76 more days.”

Dear World,

Don’t be afraid of China.

Emily B.

No, I will NOT take off my clothes!

Today I had the BEST misunderstanding in class.

They both need to get outside for some fresh air!

Look at these 2 pictures in our book. We decided “Anna” on the left looks really hot (temperature, people!!), maybe stressed, possibly needing a drink of water. “Ben”, on the right, is clearly angry. (In fact, he reminds me of myself when our internet goes out and I’m interrupted in the middle of watching Grey’s Anatomy. Have you SEEN that show?! Man, it’s good! If I had no conviction for compassion I’d totally be Dr. Yang. She’s such a heartless witch and it. is. HI.larious.)

This unit was about making requests, offering suggestions, and…..whatever, stuff like that. Before we practice ourselves, the book gives examples and we have to decide which person, “Anna” or “Ben”, would be appropriate to say the phrase too. For example:

“Could I turn on the air conditioning for you?” – that one is clearly for “Anna”

“Would you like me to help you fix it?” – this one’s for “Ben”

Here’s a doozy: “Why don’t you take off some of your clothes?”….Now, this seems relatively reasonable for “Anna”. She’s wiping her forehead. Her face says, “Frick, it’s hot in here!” HOWEVER, she isn’t wearing her jacket/blazer anymore. What else is she supposed to take off exactly?!?! She’s already tried that one. Soooo………this is the 1st funny thing about class, to which my students got a good laugh.

I’m so glad there’s a 2nd misunderstanding, which revolves around this same phrase, to tell you about.

So then we practice using different phrases to ask for help and make requests…

Me: Kara, If you were “Anna” and needed to make a request, using “Could you please…”, what would you say?

Kara: Could you please give me a drink of water?

Me: Awesome, that’s a great idea! Ok, um, Vicky, if you were offering to do something for “Ben”, what would you say, using “Would you like me to…?”

Vicky: Would you like me to call IT?

Me: Yeah! Good one!….Mandy, what if “Ben” was making a request. What’s something he might ask for?

Mandy: Could you….Would you please…uh, um *scanning over page frantically, looking for something to say because she hasn’t been paying attention* Would you please take off some of your clothes?

Me: HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA!! You want me to take off my clothes?! I will NOT! *jokingly pulling my cardigan together*

Class: LAUGHTER ALL AROUND!

Best part was, this all happened in my first class and I had to teach this same lesson 2 more times. Ooohh, it was good fun! I LOVE making my girls laugh!!

Fasting from the Book of Faces

In efforts to have more vision from the Lord, my mentor suggested we all do a 3 day fast. I immediately heard God say, “Yep, do it! You know what I’m talking about.”

Facebook….fast from Facebook.

Now, along with everyone else, I agree. It’s a huge waste of time, filled with a bunch of crap from other people’s lives that I don’t give $.02 (2 cents) about…(that reminds me, whatever happened to the “cents” sign? I remember writing a small “c”…or backwards was it (?), with a vertical line through it in school. Is change really that unimportant now?) Anyways, I don’t care that people are going to bed, and I REALLY don’t care that people are going to the gym. BUT when you’re living in the desert (a.k.a. China…there’s more to it but that’s another story) there’s things you find interesting that wouldn’t normally tug at you…pics of Hawaii, someone’s kid’s tooth fell out, people having the sniffles…I’m already starting not to care. If for nothing else than the pure fact that you have a pseudo-connection with people to keep you sane and make you falsely feel like others care about what YOU’RE doing. That’s me.

Because when I turn off Facebook it’s just me and God…hmmm, a novel idea. No distractions? Why don’t I want more of this? (God usually doesn’t give instant gratification that my generation has been raised to expect, and I, for one, hate that I’m a victim an addict to it just as much as the next person.)

So, at 7pm (Hawaii time, because that’s what my computer’s time is still on) yesterday I “x”ed out of Facebook, not to be turned on until 1pm Sunday (China time). [Oh yeah, and speaking of fasting; aren’t you, like, not supposed to tell anyone?…Well, this preacher’s-kid has never been one for rules and regulations. It just brings out the rebel in me, and I DO NOT need anymore of THAT lady.

So naturally, I immediately log into Twitter. “You specifically said Facebook, God. You didn’t say anything about Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.”

I went on to “tweet” something stupid that no one cares about and will never see…No, wait, that’s wrong too. I attached Twitter to my blog so people will see it now. WHY DO I DO THESE THINGS?! “The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, Emily.”

I can remember a time when the only time I checked Facebook was in the computer lab at school because I didn’t even own my own laptop and Tweeting just sounded dirty. (It may have come out the same time as that song with the “skeet skeet skeet”.)

So, this morning, while doing my devos I committed to fasting from ALL social media. I figured, if nothing else, it’ll inspire me to write more and hey, look, here I am! I told God in my devos today “I don’t even know what I’m looking for.” To which he reminded me of Romans 8:26. Then I just simply said, like I do everyday “What would you have for me today, Lord?”

English AND Chinese…double whammy!

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9

That’s it! We fast for discernment, to know what’s best. And isn’t it true that we make better decisions when not distracted?! Thanks God!

I prayed this over my sisters in my Bible study group. For me, yes, I struggle with wanting to know details, but I’m always reminded to keep it simple. Seek HIS will, not my own. Bring glory to HIM, not myself. Build HIS kingdom, not my own. The rest is gravy!

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter.

Hwa Nan Women’s (??) College

I’ve officially witnessed history being made. Hwa Nan Women’s College now has male students. What a sad day. All the tradition and history, and quite frankly, the only selling point of this private school, down the drain. As I cracked open my journal today, sipping my coffee, I turn to look out my window at the adjacent dorms to find a shirtless boy brushing his teeth. (Their sinks are out in the lanai…can you imagine when it gets cold? No thanks, Hwa Nan.) If I didn’t know any better I’d be dragging him and whatever girl outta there by their ear lobes! Lucky for him, he’s been properly admitted to this school and I can’t argue.

In other news, today was my 3rd (and final) 1st day of classes. It’s amazing what can happen in a day in China. Let’s review, shall we?

First off, how does this happen so quickly?? I don’t consider myself a neat freak, but I’ve been here for a 37 hrs, for cryin’ out loud!

Who needs a lesson plan?!

Next up we’ve got Ms. B in full force, high heels and all! I love it! My feet were killing me, but totally worth it! I can hear you already, “Who are you and what have you done with Emily??!!”

Can I be to blame if my girls can’t take any good frontal photo shots? I don’t know what to tell you.

I’m feeling good. I’ve got the girls smiling and laughing. I’ve already decided today was going to be an introduction day and “real” learning would start on Monday. Then this happens:

Me: Does anyone have any questions for me?

Student A: How old are you?

Me: Does anyone want to guess?

Student B: 25!

Me: I love you, but no.

Student C: 40!

Me: Get out.

I guessed I asked for it, but I gotta admit, it was hilarious.

I had a full morning and still half the afternoon to go. Everybody’s in for the 1:30pm class when I spot a shirt. I can’t make out what it says, but it’s hilarious, nonetheless. And of course, the girl has no idea what she’s wearing.

Then I told them that while English is really important and useful in life, sometimes it’s of no help. Yes, I want them to learn English, but I’d also like for them to be able to take away something a little deeper. So everyday I’ll try and come with something in Chinese that we’ll translate together.

1. I write the Chinese characters on the board.

2. They help me with the pinyin (English alphabet spelling of the sound of the characters)

3. They tell me different ideas of meanings in English.

4. I give them my translation.

5. We discuss what that means in our lives.

 

Here’s today’s:

The word of God never goes out void.

I did this with all 3 classes I had today. At the end of my 3rd class a girl walks up and shyly asks me if I’m a “chr-christ-christian”, spelling it out with her pointer finger. I tell her yes. “Me too” she replies with a big grin on her face. I give her a soft and subtle high-five, “Thanks God”, my soul sings. If even to be an encouragement just for this one little sister, I’ve found purpose of my being here.

Best 1st day of classes ever.

We proceeded to take pics with their names…none of which I can read in the photos. *backfire*

Cheese!!

Don’t be shy!

Yeah!

This is one of my bigger classes.

 

 

 

Cindy made me cry today.

WOD for time:

21 Wallballs (16lb)

1 Rnd. of “Cindy

15 Toes-to-Bar

2 Rnds of “Cindy”

9 Burpees

3 Rnds of “Cindy”

“Cindy” = 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 squats

As soon as I finished the WOD I immediately walked back behind the house so no one could see my tears start to run down my face. It’s been a while, and usually only happens in China (emotional rollercoaster and sensory overload with which exercise seems to filter and sift through), but today my frustration (stinkin’ “toes to bar”! I don’t why I had such trouble with this one!) and fatigue brought out my emotions. After wiping my face I strolled back around the house, sat down and immediately thought, “Someone give me a pen and paper. I need to write a journal entry. This is prime time, when the thoughts flow, emotions are high, analyzation begins. What brought me to this point? Why now and not earlier? I wanna filter this all out on paper. Jesus, what’s going on with me? Help me understand so I can pinpoint and deal with it…or simply let you take care.”

“I’m leaving.”

And I don’t have the comfort of knowing I’ll be back in 18 weeks. I’m leaving for, what’s looking like, 2 years. And yeah yeah yeah, “people do it all the time”, “the time will fly by”, “you’ll be back before you know it”, but it’s still 2 YEARS(!). A lot can happen in 2 years. You can have 2 kids in 2 years! You can compete in several different competitions and even cross the Molokai Channel in 2 years (given you did the regatta and long distance season working up to that goal…some people do it SEVERAL times per year)! You can make major gains in athleticism in 2 years! Bah! That list goes on. So, what I’d like for everyone to do is just HOLD ON a quick second while I go get this masters degree and wait for me to get back before making any other moves. Ok? Thanks!

Now that that’s settled, let me shift into my wiser side and turn to Jesus before melting into a pile of sap on the floor….or little kid kicking and screaming, which I tend to do with impatience (in my head).

…much like this

This summer has filled me with such joy from so many awesome people, most of which I’ve just recently met: my morning Crossfit workouts, volunteering reception at church, Manoa Weightlifting workouts, Fridays at the beach, intimate coffee talks, dinners with girlfriends. It’s never the event or the location, it’s the people. I’ve been welcomed in to so many different families here and I just couldn’t be more thankful for who God has placed in my life. So instead of focusing on my sadness of leaving, I’ll say thank you.

I’ve never met a more welcoming bunch of people. Mahalo Crossfit Fifty, can’t wait to return!

Thank you to all those that invested time with me even though I’m leaving, sharing in experiences, family time, just getting to know me. You could’ve easily brushed me aside knowing we may not keep in touch (although I’m going to do everything in my power to not let that happen). I have so enjoyed laughing with so many of you, learning your stories and walks of life, even walking with you, and appreciate all your encouraging words of support in return. I’m so blessed and humbled by God’s abundance in provision for family and friends. It’s really kind of ridiculous how He spoils his princesses. I’m so eager to return already, but will “enjoy the ride” God has me on for now.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches me may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19

My utmost prayer is that you all know the love of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, His covering, grace and mercy. What freedom there is in that! Accept that and give it to others. It’s our calling.

See you in 2 years…unless, of course, YOU come visit ME.

Alive In Christ

My bible study/mentor/small/best friends group back home has switched gears a little. We’re moving from “sheep to shepherds”, each in our own lives, so we’re making it top priority to share our devotional times in our small group meetings instead of simply debriefing the week, which usually keeps the focus on ourselves and what we’re getting from God verses the other way around. Last night was the first meeting since the change. Last week we covered Ephesians 1, this week is Eph. 2. I wouldn’t normally share my devos for obvious “public laundering” purposes, but today’s was a coverall lesson, a simple reminder of where I was, and through God’s amazing grace, where I am today, which I think applies to EVERYONE. So, without further ado, here’s my sermon. (lol, jk)

Ephesians 2:1-6 “It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.” (version: The Message)

First thought: Holy Shnikees! (Chris Farley, anyone?) This is one of the most humbling verses (and versions) I’ve ever read. It makes me think about how prideful smoking is (cause of the inhale/exhale part…random, I know, just wait). “I’m going to inhale this trash, destroy myself and then exhale death onto those around me because it’s MY body and I should have a choice.” We choose what we “inhale”, are influenced by. We choose our friends, our music, and what we allow our minds to dwell on. Then, as if we DIDN’T have a choice, we “exhale disobedience”. We’re pulled down by our friends’ influences and wonder why we’ve made such silly decisions. We contort the image of relationships because of the message that filthy music gives. We think about things we shouldn’t be with the excuse of “just looking, not touching”. And instead of throwing us all out, God gives us 2nd, 3rd…..9837493742934th chances to wipe the slate clean again and again. And it is by nothing of our own, nothing good in our hearts, nothing we worked up to, just grace and mercy, so huge, it saves us from the depths of hell, and lifts us up to eternal glory with Jesus. I am humbled.

Here’s the insane part, it doesn’t stop there, people! It’s not just about the after-life. He EVEN has an extravagant life for you here on Earth! He wants His name to be SO big, SO well-known, he’s willing to use you to do it, despite our idiocy. We don’t even have to feel equipped! In fact, I think he’d rather us feel inadequate therefore forcing us to rely on Him. How’s that?! You ever applied for a job you know NOTHING about and been their first choice? That’s our God! Don’t try and understand it, it doesn’t make sense. God’s bigger than sense.

The application of this in my life is huge. I gave my life to Christ a long time ago so I’m a veteran, I should know better. But I’ve made some pretty poor choices that, at the time, seemed irreversible. But nothing is impossible with God. He’s given me a second chance, but not without painstaking work and discomfort. “Yes, baby girl.” He says, “You can have all that (my seemingly particular dreams that become more specific every day), but I need to wipe the slate clean. Let me do that. Let go. It’s just stuff, and I’ve got a plan for you that you couldn’t imagine even if you tried.” So I let go. By the end of this summer I’ll have no place to call home, nothing to call my own, no keys to anything. After all the hard work I put in to get myself free and clear of debt, I’m about to dive in all over again for a Masters in Sport Physiology. (And let me tell you, going back to school, not under the covering of your parents is a whole new ballgame.) God never lost his patience with me though. He never said “Oh for the LOVE! Nevermind!” I simply said, “I still want YOUR plan, not my own.” He said, “Let’s DO THIS!” I’m so grateful. I may not know what lies ahead, but will simply take the steps God shows me at the appropriate times to take them….because I’ve been made alive in Christ.