I realize I have been completely slacking on blogging recently. In fact, I think this may be the longest I have gone without posting since I moved to Shanghai over 10 months ago! I decided to write up a quick (or maybe not so quick) post to let all my faithful readers (Hi Mom, Hi Dad!) know that I am: a) still alive b) still busy enjoying life in Shanghai and c) just lacking inspiration or motivation to write/be creative.
The last post was about a trip that happened a month ago! Wow… time flies. So here are some highlights of my November.
First of all, I have been attending a Saturday evening church service since mid-August or so. It is in Pudong (across the river, the part of town where I formerly never went), but it is worth the trek to be able to attend a church service. Before finding out about AGIF’s (Abundant Grace International Fellowship) Saturday evening service, I wasn’t attending church regularly as I work all day Saturday and Sunday. Of course, the fact that Saturday night features amazing worship with a very talented team, great sermons from down-t0-earth, relate-able speakers and is the home of many newly developed friendships, helps motivate me to go after my long Saturdays at work.
I have also become part of the ‘Core Team’ at Grace Extended (AGIF’s Saturday night service is called Grace Extended), the core team consists of some of the people who had the idea and the initiative to start up a Saturday evening service and others who are willing to serve to make it possible. Grace Extended is less than a year old and this past Saturday night we had a record 259 attendees. So my Tuesday nights are now spent with the Grace Extended team in fellowship, bible study and planning of Saturday services.
(Check out www.adventconspiracy.org to learn about what we are focusing on this Advent season.)
Because of Grace Extended and my new found friendships there, I learned about and was inspired to attend GLS, the Global Leadership Summit on November 10th and 11th. GLS is an annual two-day leadership training event which was started by the Willow Creek Association. As stated on the GLS website: The Global Leadership Summit is a two day event featuring world class speakers, along with live worship, music, and drama created especially for leaders. With state-of-the-art video and huge projection screens, the Global Leadership Summit brings together the hearts and minds of tens of thousands in an amazing, Spirit-filled way.
GLS is held at locations all over the world, in 70 countries actually. Shanghai is lucky enough to host the conference and I was blessed to be able to take two days off of work to attend. It was an incredibly motivating, educational and inspiring two days of speakers such as Wess Stafford (President of Compassion International), Steven Furtick (Elevation Church), Michelle Rhee (Founder of Studentfirst.org), Cory Booker (Mayor of Newark, NJ) to name a few.
GLS also featured awesome worship with the worship team from Grace Extended who was accompanied by Jodi King and her band. Jodi King is an up and coming artist from Canada who is incredibly gifted. I got the chance to hang out with Jodi and her band a bit before they took off for the Philippines on tour. They are a pretty awesome & fun group, doing what they can to spread the love of Christ with their musical talents. (Check out Jodi’s music on her website: www.jodiking.com.)
Another something-something I was apart of in November actually was a by-product of my blog! Not only did I have my busiest day/week/month EVER after being featured on WordPress.com’s Freshly Pressed, but even before that my blog got a little recognition from a filmmaker in New York. I was quite astonished when I saw the comment from Ruth on my post Beijing – A love/hate asking for my help on a film she is working on.
Ruth, Director/Producer at Horns and Tails Productions, was headed to China and wanted to do some filming here for two of her projects, one on street sweepers and one on how emotions, specifically tears, are expressed and perceived in different cultures. Since I live in Shanghai and she was going to be in the city, she asked me to gather together some Chinese people who were willing to be interviewed about their emotions, how they are expressed, the last time they cried, etc.
I met Ruth at the place where she was staying, just two subway stops away from me in Tianzifang, and spent about 6 hours with her discussing emotions and tears. It was quite interesting, and that afternoon/evening she interviewed and filmed 9 people (including me). Seven Chinese, and two Americans. It was a really fun, new and totally different experience for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product when it comes together.
The following week, I had two visitors! One expected, and one not so much. My good friend David, from grad school, has been living in Shenzhen, China (down south near Hong Kong) since May; however, I hadn’t seen him since I left the states last January. David is working for EF (English First) and had to come to Shanghai for a week of training. Of course he was very busy working all week, but he arrived Sunday evening, so we were able to grab some dinner and drinks Sunday before his work began.
The next morning, I was on a break between Chinese classes, when my phone rang. When my friend Roger, who used to work at Kid Castle but moved back to London in June, was on the other line, I didn’t seem to grasp the fact that he was calling from a Chinese number. I was shocked enough to hear from him, but I had received a call from London in the past and thought he was just catching up. When I asked what he was up to, he responded by saying, “I’m in front of the H&M on Huaihai Lu.” (Huaihai Lu is in Shanghai, not London…) This is about the time that I probably shocked a few dozen people in the vicinity as I proceeded to scream in excitement, exuberance and disbelief. Needless to say, I was very happy to hang out in Shanghai with Roger for a Monday afternoon. Unfortunately, he was also only here for a week and equally busy.
I was very thankful to get to hang out with two very good friends who were both visiting Shanghai that week, though. The day before Thanksgiving, my boys in town and I went out to a late evening meal, hot pot, chocolates Roger brought me from England and lots of laughter.
My Thanksgiving day in China was somewhat uneventful, I worked in the evening and ate pepperoni pizza from Papa Johns with a cheap Chinese beer for dinner at 10:30pm. Not really the holiday I am accustom to when in the states.
So that is (in a rather large nutshell) the recap of my November, other than the things mentioned above, I spent my time at work, school and pondering (aka stressing over) the question of my life, “What to I want to do with my life?” My year contract at Kid Castle ends on January 18th, 2012 and with that my visa expires. I’ve been questioning “what to do” since about May of this year when this time comes, and as of today, I honestly can’t tell you what I will be doing. The planner Julia has no plans…