Beautiful Things

School is in full swing.

Which is to say, we've already had one break (Mid-Autumn Festival, aka "the mooncake one") and have another one coming up (National Holiday aka October Holiday aka "you are crazy if you travel during this week.")  Things are (sort of) settling into routines, I'm starting to recognize my students when I see them on campus rather than going wholly based on which ones wave and giggle when they see me, and I'm starting to know some of their names.  So that's cool.

We had an excellent training/retreat time with the larger city team during the holiday, spending some time learning together and also relaxing.  It's a beautiful thing to be part of a team that has a shared vision and heart for the specific area of the country where we're living -- an area that was devastated by the Sichuan earthquake in 2008.  That tragedy and the overwhelming number of deaths, particularly of schoolchildren, has shaped the stories of this region and many of our students from the area (which is most of them.)  It's hard to even begin to fathom the depths of pain and brokenness here -- but we are glad for the opportunity to live and work here, glad for front-row seats in the unfolding drama of how beauty grows from the broken, how death gives way to life.

Also, I love my students.  I love teaching.  Some classes make it easier than others; some of them are so enthusiastic and engaged (today that looks like applause every time a classmate gave a good answers and a spontaneous singing performance of "My Heart Will Go On" during break) that I can't imagine not loving them.  It's fun to see them plucking up their courage and speaking English in front of their whole class.  It's a joy to be in a position where I get to ask them questions that actually (hopefully) make them think: this week, lifelong learning, legacies, and purpose; next week, multiculturalism and racism.  It's a delight to get to love on them, to say and show that I am here because I care about them.  The Chinese educational system does not suffer from participation trophy systems, and encouragement is not a widely used tool.  I love telling them, "Hey, these are my office hours -- come if you want to play games or hang out or study or practice speaking English.  Really.  Come.  That's why Miriam and I are in China -- because we care about you and want to help you."  I loved, today, giving them some time and space to think about what sort of legacies they want to build with their lives.  I loved sharing Jon Foreman's words: You were born for the dance, not the fight, and talking about how I believe that each of them was born to have a beautiful life, to bring healing and wholeness and good into the world -- and how that means that they need to work at it.  Beautiful things don't happen by accident.  Good dancing, good art, is a result of practice and discipline, attempts and failures and perseverance, intentionality.  

I'm looking forward to seeing what this year holds.


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