Tag Archives: God

Before you Tweet…

Disclaimer: I am in no way trying to claim innocence or cast stones at the guilty.  I will be the first to admit, I am as guilty as anyone of spewing out words that I later wish I could take back, or making swift, bitter, comments in the heat of the moment without slowing down to realize the impact of my words. Therefore, I write this as a reminder to myself, as well as a reminder to others because I think we all need it from time to time.

I feel the world changed for the worse on November 6th, 2012 after a long heated season of campaigning, debating and speculation. It wasn’t the outcome of the election that was the problem – it was the instantaneous explosion on social media. For the first six days of November social media was filled with Today I’m thankful for… in the spirit of Thanksgiving netizens were using twitter, facebook and other outlets to say each day for the month of November what they are thankful for. Joy, happiness and gratitude were instantaneously spread throughout the world as millions focused on the positive.

But around 11:15pm eastern time, Obama was declared to be the next president of the United States of America and all gratitude, warm fuzzy feelings, appreciation and consideration went out the window. The world (by way of the web) exploded with exclamations of the tragedy, the horror, the end of the country we love, the agony and pain that we will experience over the next 4 years and a loss of hope as our country will surely go to ruin. On the other side, there was gloating, pride, in-your-face-suckers smirks, rubbing dirt in the face of defeated opponents.

The morning after the election when I woke up to a news feed full of ranting and raving, I posted this: so much hatred on facebook today. Seriously people? I get that half the country is pissed off, but do we have to be so bitter and hateful? Is that really going to help anything? I ♥ my friends, democrats and republicans alike. I’m glad y’all care about your country and got out to vote. So now show that you care about America and your fellow Americans by having a little respect and making the most of what we have.

Which, again, I should have prefaced with – I know I am guilty as well, just as both sides of the political realm are guilty.

But today, as I read beautifully written blog post by Jo Ashline (click here) and her view on the “Sad and Tragic Day for Our Nation“.  I began to think more about how grateful we should all be in light of, or despite of the outcome of our election. I began to think about how my own attitudes and words should be a bit more humble, a bit more appreciative and a bit more grateful. I began to think about how I should stop, think and reexamine my words before I go off on someone, or something in anger, impatience, disappointment or selfishness. How maybe I should think more about how I have been blessed and less about how much better things could be if….. (fill in the blank).

You may disagree with Obama’s politics.  You may disagree with universal healthcare, foodstamps and abortion.  You may believe that our government is falling apart and only encourages freeloaders who don’t want to work or pay for their own needs.  You can believe whatever you  want, but maybe you could consider how good you have it to be born in and to live in this country, whether Obama or Romney, Bush or Clinton, or Big Bird or Rush Limbaugh is president.

As Jo mentioned so eloquently in her blog, Some are elated tonight, and some are downright depressed, but know this: we get to pick again in 4 years. Before you bad mouth our country, try living somewhere else, where there is No choice and truly No hope. Count your blessings America, because there are many.

It is only four years, then America can choose again.  We have the right, the freedom, the ability to chose.  Four years seem like an eternity to you? Why don’t you consider this:

China – where I recently spent 14 months – is choosing a new leader soon who will serve for the next ten years along with a small elite group of individuals from China’s one political party, the communist party.  These the leaders will be chosen by 2200 delegates of the communist party in an incredibly secretive selection process in Beijing.  What about the other 1.3 billion citizens of China?  Oh well, they don’t have a say.

If those other 1.3 billion individuals do want to talk about what they think of the government and politics, they certainly can’t do it freely, not even on the internet. They live in a world where YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and countless other websites are restricted for most people, and their own social media outlets such as Weibo and Renren are heavily censored.

While I was in China, LinkedIn was suddenly shut down without reason or notice for several days, later determined to be because of talks of civilian protests online.  At one point, the Chinese name for Hillary Clinton was censored and any comments about her were blocked because of comments she made regarding human rights in China.

Whether or not you think the government should regulate healthcare and payment for healthcare, shouldn’t you be grateful that you have healthcare?  Think about the little girl that came to Shanghai to receive medical treatment in the summer of 2011 – I blogged about her and two other children here.

Lu Guo Yin, studies at Qiao Man school, has no medical record. Her eye was injured because a thorn poked into her eye. Because she lives in a very rural area, she couldn’t get treatment immediately, now she has lost her eye sight in her left eye.

Normally, to receive any sort of medical treatment these kids would have to travel over 7 hours.  Even then, the treatment would be primitive at best.

She ended up having her eye removed and received a prosthetic eye.  With access to healthcare, this would have been a minor injury, easy to recover from with full vision. She, by the graciousness of strangers, traveled for two days far far away from home and went through a traumatic surgery in a run-down Chinese hospital. Yet we complain about healthcare.

India – Another 1.2 billion people, another booming third world economy, another example of oppression, extreme poverty and lack of freedom. Before you talk about how Obama is a terrorist and having him in office is suicide for our nation. Then drive your $40,000 car to the church of your choosing on Sunday, and take $5 out of your Louis Vuitton purse to throw in the offering to do your part for those less fortunate – why don’t you go meet some of the people I met in India last year.

Go talk to the family who lived on $20 a month, and dedicated their lives to spreading the gospel. Spreading the gospel in a place where it is forbidden.  Every day facing the reality that they could be beaten, killed or thrown in jail for sharing their faith with others. Continuing to spread the word of God even after being beaten and thrown in jail, and watching the same thing happen over and over to friends and family. Continuing to pack one room shacks with one light-bulb and no plumbing full of people in villages of “untouchables” to hold church services. Go spend time with people who have absolutely nothing but their faith which they are persecuted for and then tell me how awful it is that you have to live through 4 more years of Obama.

Thailand – Did you know this is part their constitution? “The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action… Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.”

How would you like to spend 15 years in prison for mouthing off about the president? Be grateful, you don’t have to.

Burma – Did you know that only 0.2% of citizens have internet and only 1% of individuals have a cell phone?

Cambodia – Did you know they were under communist rule until the early 90’s – if you studied something other than Russian or Vietnamese you were thrown in prison.  Just over 30 years ago, a quarter of the population of the country was killed.  Killed for being educated, killed for having an opinion, killed for the sake of being killed.

The internet has changed our lives, for better or worse.  With social media thousands of people around the world can hear your thoughts and opinions within seconds. Your words have a lasting impact on people near and far. I know we have differing opinions, beliefs, priorities and desires, but would it be too much to ask to just stop and think before your next rant online. Let’s go back to being thankful, thankful for being born in a country that provides us with more freedoms than most of the world could even imagine. Let’s be thankful for democracy, even with it’s imperfections. Let’s be thankful for the right to vote and be heard. Let’s be thankful for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Or, don’t. Complain, rant, insult, be hateful, bitter and ungrateful. That works too. Because you have freedom of speech and can say whatever you want.


A Busy, Blog-less November

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.

My co-worker, Emma, brought her 7 month old daughter along for the interview. Yo-yo produced some genuine Chinese tears for the film.

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.

I prove to David that China does have good beer at Boxing Cat Brewery!

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.

Rog and I chow down on Chinese food at some hole in the wall. The interesting dish of the day: Carmelized Eggplant. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it.

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.

Thanksgiving Dinner

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…

And a little Chinglish for your day, remember to parch your hands after washing them.

Love One Another

Since being in China, I have been involved in a small group from Shanghai Community Fellowship, an international church in Shanghai.  As my work schedule doesn’t allow me to get to church services on Sunday, I made it a priority to connect with a group that meets at a time during the week that I am available.  Since February, I have regularly attended “cell group” meetings, as they are called, with a great small group of believers from all over the world.

Over the past couple months, one of our group members, Esther, has been trying to organize an opportunity for us share God’s love with some kids from rural China.  That opportunity starts today as the children arrive in Shanghai.

Here is what we are doing and how it came about:

Several years ago, Esther went with a group of people to a rural part of Sichuan province, near the border of Yunnan, to help build a school in area where they were lacking the resources to provide a proper school for the children.  Since then, this town and the school has received some recognition and more funds have been raised for the maintenance of the school and the children’s well being.  Esther knows through her connections the headmaster of the school who is from Taiwan and has dedicated his life to helping the children and also reaching out to help children in other rural communities nearby.  It is because of these connections she learned of these young children who are having problems with their eyes and unable to receive medical treatment.

Another member of our cell group, who I have not yet met because she has been very busy in the past few months and unable to attend our group happens to be an ophthalmologist at a hospital in Shanghai.  She has offered to help by providing treatment to these kids.

Today, three children are arriving in Shanghai for medical treatment, they traveled several hours to get to the school near Lugu Lake, from there it takes between 7-10 hours to get to a city by car, where they spent the night in a hotel and got on a plane this morning to fly several hours to Shanghai.

Here is what I know so far of the children, information and pictures provide by Esther:

Lan Jin Mei, treated in Xi Chan two times, no medical report but given prescriptions. Chronic Conjuctivitis. June 2011, Shanghai Doctor Hong Liu sent more medication but still no improvement, decided to come to Shanghai for treatment.

Gu Xin Quan, age 13, his sister died because of Hepatitis B a few weeks ago, father alone at home. Suppose to be in Primary 5 but back to primary 1 because of eyes sight that affected his study. No medical record, his left eye can only see slim line, weak in articulating, shy.

Lu Guo Yin, studies at Qiao Man school, no medical record. Her eye was injured because a thorn poked into her eye. Because she lives in a very rural area, she couldn’t get treatment immediately, now she has lost her eye sight in her left eye.

Normally, to receive any sort of medical treatment these kids would have to travel over 7 hours.  Even then, the treatment would be primitive at best.

Today the kids will land in Shanghai around 1 pm, they will taken to the hotel which has been booked for the next 3 days to shower and then to the hospital for their initial appointment.  The plan is that the kids, if treatments are available, could be in Shanghai for around two weeks.  With them are two teachers from the school in Lugu, and one parent as one of the children was far to shy to travel alone.

Last night about 10 of us met to discuss what to do with the kids and the adults accompanying them while they are here.  The medical treatment, transportation costs and accommodations have all been funded by the grace of God. We plan on buying clothes and shoes for the children, bringing them to some interesting sites in Shanghai, providing them with meals and entertainment, as well as giving the adults some time a way from the children to relax a bit.

My task is to arrange a schedule for the children over the next couple weeks and coordinate the times everyone is available so we can take turns spending time with the children and making sure they are taken care of.

I will surely post updates on what we do with the kids, how their treatment goes and if the results of their trip to the big city are successful.

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. You love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.  – Jesus  John 13:34-35

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