Wednesday, February 29, 2012


we all set out on journeys during our life. and i know the critical importance of seeking out God's desire for these journeys so that you can learn more about him and therefore glorify him more fully.

i spent the last two days on the cardiovascular unit. and although there are many stories to share about that experience in itself, i can't pass over the spiritual struggle that i am having. where is God? and what is his purpose for me being here?

i cannot fully articulate what i mean when i say, God is really hard to see here. it's not that he's not here. he surely is. in fact, i firmly believe that God is the only constant, especially here. we all have been stripped of our support systems, of our language, of the 'familiar', and all that is left is Christ. but this is a communist country and it is illegal for me to 'evangelize'. that doesn't mean that i can't talk about God and that i am unwilling to talk about God. heck, how cool would it be to understand Paul's persecution on that level?!? (mom & dad- don't worry, i won't get arrested). and this is where i cannot fully explain what i mean... i'm trying, stay with me. it's just not something that is socially acceptable to talk about in these environments thus, our conversations and questions about God are sometimes limited to the 4 of us. it's hard enough to articulate things about God in english, ten times harder in another language. but quite frankly, the four of us don't even talk about the hard stuff. it wasn't until 2 days ago, jordan and i had our first serious pillow talk. yesterday, i broke down in tears trying to ask her the questions i was struggling with. and she had the same questions and no answers-- and we prayed that we would seek out the hard questions and asked for grace and overwhelming peace in this time where we don't see God so clearly.

and this is where we are left with God's test and real faith is developed. i know it's important how you act when you don't feel God.

"blessed are those who endure when they are tested. when they pass the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."- james 1:12

the last two clinical days, the only question i was ever asked by patients and families is "why would you, an American, want to come to China??" quite frankly i wish that i had an answer. and again with the articulation thing, i can't really say, "this is where God challenged me to go, and i'm seeking out the same answer". it just doesn't translate.

we are looking for neon signs. preferably in english. but we are foreigners. not only in china, but as human beings on earth. our time is limited. and this morning i finally understood.

one. discontentment is a place that God puts you because we are created for something better than earth. two. God speaks Chinese. not quite chinese but a language i don't understand. his small chinese whisper was translated for me in the words, "why china" from my patients and their families. it's that little small affirmation that my questions are on the right track. i need to ask why. i need to "Keep doing what's right! At the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up!" -Galatians 6:9 (thanks for this reminder zach, it didn't go out the other ear today)

this is God's unfailing promise-- God will never let you go. he's right there, speaking Chinese, whispering "why china" and rooting for you to increase your faith, but stepping out and listening to the small Chinese whispers.

Friday, February 24, 2012

[new names]

so yesterday we had our second chinese class and our teacher brought us gifts... chinese names! mine is on the bottom left. it means, (very roughly) talent beautiful flower. chinese class is really hard. i am learning that i am very lucky to have my intelligence, and school comes pretty easily to me. however, chinese is not easy. i was quick to be frustrated with my inability for this to come easily....
anyhow, i am currently at the library which is massive. we taught an english class this morning to the local community. we taught about american families. i learned two huge things. 1.explaining my family is complicated 2. america is a strange place. we move out from our parents home. we have divorce. we are lucky to have siblings. we don't value family the way we should.
i don't feel much like blogging, i'm nice and sick with a fatty migraine & belly ache. so i'll share some pictures instead!
class. our teacher is in the middle

and she scratches the blackboard with her nails when she writes

my tasty hazelnut carmel treat during class

cute coffee shop by school 

a fountain next to campus

our classroom

psych unit visit

in OR/PACU/day surg. my small glimpse of home. 
hope you are well. let me know if there is anything you would like to hear about from me :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

[visits&unconventional exercise]

so tuesday we visited the psych unit & surgical services (day surg, OR, & PACU).ironically these are the two places that i have worked at for my job at home. both of these visits were fantastic, almost too much good information. the psych unit is quite different than in the US. although they have patients with similar diagnosis' as we would in the US, the patients are required to follow the rules or they are sent home. this results in a much lower incidence of hostility and behavioral 'issues'. i initially was shocked when i saw the staff umbrellas in the hallway near the break-room, thinking that surely a patient would become violent with these. wrong. also, if they are on a "1:1" for suicide risk or something, it is not the staff that stays with them, just a family member. we had the opportunity to engage with a few patients. one was following us around for a while, come to find out she is an english teacher, and simply wants to talk with us in english. the charge nurse engaged her in some very therapeutic techniques and allowed us to observe what kind of 'communication' therapy they use. needless to say, this unit had a lot of wonderful therapies and avenues to help the patient.
next, we toured surgical services. i loved this. good thing, seeing as that one of my two rotations. this hospital performs over 100 surgeries a day! busy, busy, busy. honestly, most things i observed were standard practices that we would see in the US. we all got to go into several different OR's while surgery was in progress and observed the procedures for receiving a patient in PACU. then we went to day surgery. basically they have two 'slots' designated for day surgery, but these slots usually have 4 patients occupying them. i learned that this was the hospital's newest program, and it was launched in october. jordan quickly pointed out to me that, i have been working in pre/ post op at a large hospital for longer than their program has been open. when the nurse manager, sandy, learned that i had worked in surgery at all, she became so excited and told me over and over how much i will teach them. oh boy, the bar is set high. <---prayer request #1!
wednesday we had a skype sesh with our professor to go over things. and we worked on homework all day. with an occasional break. we were good students.
yesterday was our first mandarin class. let me tell you i was less than thrilled to be taking this class. i've already been responding to people in spanish, so i wasn't sure if my poor little brain could handle another language. overall the class was good. but the teacher moved SO fast. i like to think of chinese as a tongue workout. you make noises that you didn't know were possible. every time we learned a 'letter', everyone would repeat it, at the same pitch of the teacher. i kept giggling, half from our "song" and half from being so overwhelmed. and she told me "don't laugh"... that just made me laugh more. we did the class primarily in pin-yin. at the end of class she told us that we needed to have what we learned easily recalled tomorrow. "oh and the characters too!" WHAT??!?!? this is gonna be a long class.
we took the bus to and from school. what an adventure in itself... cramming together with our new bus- mates while the bus sounded like it would fall apart ever time the brakes were hit was quite the experience.
now i am happily sitting in my apartment, drinking instant coffee in my pajamas, denying the existence of my homework for a few moments. God is being so unbelievably kind and gracious to me as i reflect on this journey. and i want to thank you all for your prayers and love. it's making a huge difference. i've been feeling better the last 2 days. i'm still homesick, but the importance of that is beginning to be revealed. even if just a glimpse, it's helping me cling to God... the only constant in this adventure.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


i haven't posted since friday. it's tuesday night. lots has happened. more importantly i've felt a lot of things. and i would love some prayers (go to the end). so here we go.

saturday. we didn't do too much besides homework. it was raining too, so we couldn't really go very far.  in case, you didn't know, china censors the internet, so sites like facebook and pinterest and even blogspot are "blocked." not with my VPN. hence, saturday i procrastinated a lot. i cannot decide if getting a virtual private network (VPN) was a good or bad thing.

saturday was really friday in the US, and something very exciting started this day. eeeeep! i'll be able to disclose more about this later. gotta keep you on your toes right?!

sunday. NO RAIN. i like the rain, but it was great to be able to adventure around a little. first, we went to chinese church, all in chinese. it was translated (ish), but it was very hard to understand. this church was extremely full, 3 floors and several services. It was awesome to see the Holy Spirit manifest how he is moving in Hangzhou.

needless to say, although i am sure the message was great, i did my own devotional on psalm 139. so powerful and i felt like i was wrestling through and thinking about some of the same things that david was. verses 13-16 challenged me; if God created me, then i am a product of that wonderful, fearful, vast, continuous love. far too often, i don't think that i live in light of that reality.
after church, we went on a little walk... mostly to meet every stereotype of americans, that we love.... they really don't drink coffee here, but they know that we love it, the instant packs they give us and all! anyway, our walk was great! hangzhou is really beautiful, very urban, but so pretty. here is some of what we saw on our walk.
contrast architecture 

wittle dog

the bikes we can ride. except lesly & richie don't know how. that will be an adventure

finally some sun, so EVERYONE's laundry went out to dry.
monday.monday. we finally started 'clinical'. we visited the surgical oncology (breast & colorectal) and VIP wards. on the surgical oncology unit, we had a doctor lecture on breast cancer and the management of it in China. it felt so good to consider that a review... i know more than i think i know sometimes. he spoke great english too, so we got to have some dialogue afterward. it was quite a long presentation, so we did not tour this unit or interact with patients. 

afterward, we had lunch and were able to "have a rest" as they say. i took a nap. it was glorious. after my cat nap we went to tour the VIP units, on 4 floors. this is something unique, but i am told that we have similar units in the US. basically, the VIP unit has rooms that are private or semi- private, most like the ones we would see at a nice hospital, except with bigger beds. but there are suites too, with a bedroom, dining room, & living room. patients have to pay extra for any of these rooms and it is expensive compared to a 'normal' unit which costs about 40 yuan a night (~$6). However, on the other units you will share a room with 2-5 other patients. the VIP units also service government officials and anyone else that is willing to spend the extra money. i would consider these to be general medical- surgical units. 
the big bed for the patient, the smaller is for the family member
we also had a presentation by a staff nurse. her english was somewhere between conversational and fluent. but she thought she was terrible. wrong. i explained to her that i was so grateful for her attempt at english, as it was far better than my chinese. the effort means so much, even if you chop up every other word, which she didn't. most people here will come up to us (mostly richie, who is filipino) and start speaking mandarin. even when we respond with wo she migoren wo fuie eeyden zhongguo or  i am an american and i speak very little chinese they continue to try to converse with us in chinese. it can be quite amusing. not when they do it to me, but when they do it to richie. needless to say, it meant a lot that she tried!
the sweet staff nurse is in blue. ignore how terrible i look.
our day was over after this and we went and ate dinner. sometimes i feel like all we do is eat. it's great food but i am so full! yesterday evening, i didn't head for my computer. i headed for my book, journal, and bible. so refreshing. i'm reading "finding calcutta". it's a GREAT read, and i'm not even half way finished. she talks about how mother theresa approached her work, when anyone thanked her, she responded with  the 5 word gospel, "you did it for me". read matthew 25.37-40 if you need context. what a powerful message and a great way to share the gospel. this should absolutely be the way that i inform my work- interacting with every person as if everyone was Christ himself. honestly, i've been mean and hurtful to my fellow pals on this trip. i know why (and i'll get there), but there is no excuse. this really gave me clarity on how to be positive and not let my joy be stolen. 

yesterday & today, i cried. a whole lot. i am support-system-homesick. if you know me, i don't do talking about feelings well. and i do miss independent too much. but i learned just how important these people are and how dependent on my support system i am, even if i won't admit it. if you read [thebackstory] you can get a better idea of just how much i had going on. and my hurry-sickness, everything from work, to school, to people is a culture-shock in itself to not have. and sadly i miss my hurry- sickness.  although jordan has been one of my closest friends for a while, i am being close-minded-missindependent-hidingemotionsbehindmybrickwall and not sharing this home sickness feelings with her or anyone else. instead i am responding with a negative, leave me alone, hurtful kind of attitude. and that is not nice or fair. and i'm not okay with it. 

prayer requests
-for the devil to not steal my joy
-to seek joy
-understanding that this 'lack of support system' is not a 'lack of' God's presence & that i would rightfully lean into and trust God fully.
-to share my feelings with my pals. 
-to repent and be forgiven by my pals
-that my awesome support system (family, friends, homegroup, & RAstaffs) would be covered in love and grace.

p.s. i'll share more about today, tomorrow. i have the day "off" and i'll need something to break up the homework. :)
p.p.s i think the herbal tea worked!

Friday, February 17, 2012


this afternoon was our first real clinical day. as i said yesterday we had a lecture on traditional chinese medicine [TCM], today was a clinical day of TCM. this stuff is SO interesting! it's pretty complicated but has a lot to do with the concept of qi (the energy flow in you, kind of blood but not quite). first, we went to the pharmacy. here they had over 500 herbs, minerals, and animal parts. they had everything: snake skins, rosebuds, wheat, citrus, iron sulfate, turtle shell, berries, chicken stomach, tree bark, just to name a few. 

i even got these little white berry looking herbs to help my cough that our host has been concerned about. i've been coughing for about a month and a half; i've tried decongestants, dayquil, rest, allergy pills, flo-nase, and even a z-pack, but i'm still coughing. they weighed out how much i would need and told me to boil it with a special type of pear and drink it for four days. i'll keep you posted.
after, we wandered upstairs to this floor of the outpatient building of the hospital.

here we watched, got to experience, and i even practiced TCM. first we learned about cupping. this is the art of lighting a drenched alcohol cotton ball on fire and putting it in the bamboo cups and quickly putting it on the back. it creates a suction. jordan & richie volunteered to have it done. they both have hickey-like circles on their backs now... but they said it felt good.
next, we learned about massage. lesly got a nice back massage & i got a nice shoulder/ neck massage. the doctor showed us where pressure points are and different techniques that they use.
and last we learned about acupuncture. lesly even let me try it on her, but no one else wanted to try. when i had it done, after we pulled the needle out the doctor made a comment about my blood. he said i needed to have more flow in my qi. guess that's short for loosen up and stop sweating the small stuff. definitely has been my problem lately. i get all stressed out and upset over the littlest things, which is quite frustrating now that i realize it. the hardest part is going to be the attitude change. i will say i have been consciously waking up and deciding that today will be a good day if i choose to seek God's joy in the day. it works for the first part of the day. but i need a cheerleader by afternoon. i'm still not quite settled about being here so i am hoping that in settling i will be able to make it through the whole day and feel good about where i am.
before prayer requests pictures of acupuncture.

prayer requests
-keep on choosing to seek the joy ALL day.
-that we can be vessels of the light of Christ here in Hangzhou
-we start clinical next week, so that we would do the best we can!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


the last two days, we have sure caught up on our sleep and being lazy. we've gone to the supermarket to get junk food for study food, and watched 8 episodes of glee. our faculty member left back to the US, and we are on our own. and this is how we have spent our time.
saying goodbye

trip to the market

we clearly put lots of effort into our looks

8 episodes finished
i have done some homework, but i could always to more. to be completely honest this was a much needed break. besides our veg sessions, we have had a lecture on TCM and english salon. TCM or traditional chinese medicine is super complex, but super interesting. today we will be going to TCM clinical, which i am looking forward to. 
english salon is a place where some nurses from the hospital gather together to practice and improve their english. we watched a short clip from the movie "valentines day" to get the vocabulary. it's more challenging to explain the connotation of words than you may think. especially slang words like, "crap", "fluff", "moron", "immigrant mentality", etc. These words also opened up my eyes to the kind of attitude reflected in our speech as americans. generally speaking, we speak in slang words with negative connotations, putting others down by a simple expression of words. definitely challenged me to think about my speech as a reflection of my attitude. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


i got to celebrate heart day for almost 2 days (we are a day ahead here & then everyone from home celebrated today). i don't typically like this holiday, but the last two days were wonderful! 
heart shadow at dinner 

yesterday, we slept in, which is always glorious. i got to skype my boyfriend and talk to my best friend, katie a little! we skipped breakfast, which meant for once, i was actually hungry at lunch time. ellen, our director, got us all chocolates for valentines, which was so sweet! she took the 3 girls to the bank to exchange the rest of our money, which was quite a process. i also mailed 14 postcards/ notes, so one may be showing up at your door soon. (if not send me your address, and i will do my best). we ended up going to the silk market and hefang street, a traditional tourist site which used to be main street. i did do a little shopping, but not too much. hefang street is near the church we think we will go to, so we decided that we would venture back a day it was not raining. 

rain & umbrellas 


candy. lots of candy.

silk scarves

sugar coated fruit


richie joking with lesly and jordan!
since it was our faculty member's last day, the nursing directors took us out to another fancy pants dinner. SO GOOD. the nursing directors, joked with ellen about finding a boyfriend in chinese. so adorable to see adult women joke around about matchmaking.


chicken feet

bean trees on the coolest spoons

locus root

pigs kidney. i got out of eating this one since it had soy sauce

cucumber salad

tofu tower

mini treats. 

anyhow, we ended up at home and did a fun little skype sesh with all of the nursing students in south africa
now to talk about my favorite things, feelings... (note the sarcasm). this blog has been wonderful for me to process through my thoughts and feelings to what's happening. it's also been a wonderful way to reflect. i'm missing home a lot more than i thought i would, mostly my friends and family, not my freedom which i thought i would miss. this has been a wonderful opportunity to seek God through different avenues. i've learned that i don't put enough attention to God, not even here where i have been. i'm not about to join the convent but i wish i could spend days on end reading the word, reading peoples reflection on the word, and just in prayer. i'm also learning that i am still bitter about south africa (see my first post [thebackstory]. ) still processing through that, so we will see where that goes. 
prayer requests
-keep my attention upward
-my back. i got in a car accident in august, long story short its still injured. the beds are SUPER hard here, so my back is taking quite the beating 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


*posted late from yesterday
today was packed with some great memories.
first, we ate breakfast, which i was not looking forward to. You see, I've been eating 2 hardboiled egg whites and corn on the cob for the last week everyday, so clearly i was looking forward to eating the same predictable breakfast. i even looked up recipes to modify my eggs this morning. and guess what? God opened the flood gates of heaven, and just like manna from heaven, god provided potatoes, my favorite! so my bad attitude, was quickly checked with heaven sent potatoes.
after breakfast, my pals and i went to the emergency room and pretended to be patients. in china, privacy is not a strong value, so this experience was quite different. after paying, you can be triaged and then you wait to see the doctor. once you get to see the doctor, you are in a small room with at least 4 other patients and their family members. in this room, i saw a lady having some procedure being done in her inguinal area, with the door open, and everyone standing around. another interesting thing is after seeing the doctor, he will give you the prescription. you take the prescription to the pharmacy, where it is filled, IV bags and all. you take your medicine to the nurse, and then they administer the medication. crazy. then we went to the outpatient clinic, and did a similar procedure.
in the afternoon, we participated in the AIDET lecture once again. i met the nurse manager i will be working with in day surgery, "sandy" is her english name. she is a doll.
we came home and relaxed some. then i thought it would be a good idea to do some laundry. i mean the machine is in english and chinese, should be pretty easy right. WRONG. first it would just spin and not add water. then it would add water and drain it right away. needless to say, i ended up with wet, not clean clothes. i ended up having to wash them in the shower. it was quite a task.
then the four of us skyped some of the students in south africa. we took a couple screen shoots to share. here's one:
and then some other pictures to share =]
Jordan copied me

cleaning my purse while waiting


early v-day flowers ;)
some prayer requests:
-PRODUCTIVITY. i've had some free time, and i do not want to be productive. 
-i've been feeling really homesick when we aren't busy, so for my time to be filled with something that helps me focus on other things.