Hello from China, U.S. friends!

Summer has come to Chengdu, in Sichuan province.  At the end of June, we’ll finish up the spring semester at Sichuan Radio & TV University, grading papers and final exams, and preparing for summer activities.

Hello from China, U.S. friends!

Summer has come to Chengdu, in Sichuan province.  At the end of June, we’ll finish up the spring semester at Sichuan Radio & TV University, grading papers and final exams, and preparing for summer activities.

With summer comes camp.  This summer, our daughter Mackenzie, 17, will be in residence at Pilgrim Firs camp near Port Orchard, Washington. Doors opened for her in the Pacific Northwest, and she’ll be going to Pacific University in the fall.  Thanks to the Chengdu 15–a group of UCC and DOC women who visited us in April–Mackenzie is being warmly welcomed and “parented” in the Northwest.  It’s hard having her continents away, but we know that her life is in much bigger hands than our own.  Please keep her in your prayers.

Traditional summer pastimes in China include some that are new to us.  It’s common to see people on the street carrying bamboo bird cages.  A few are hanging from balconies or in the small garden of our apartment complex.  People here love to keep songbirds, so their notes in the morning are our alarm clock.  People also keep crickets for their song, in small bamboo or metal cricket keepers.  Birds, though, are a bit more rewarding pets: some migratory birds are taught to perform tricks, for example, and pigeons have been trained to fly in a formation.  Small whistles are attached to their tails so that their passing overhead makes a curious hum.

Of course everyone who has the time sits outside at a table playing “Go,” or Chinese Chess, or Mah Jiang with friends, and drinking buckets of green tea or flower tea to keep cool.  A special summer favorite is chrysanthemum tea with sugar.  You sip it through a straw, hot, from a tall glass.

Heat can be oppressive in China.  Classrooms and dorms can be perishingly hot.  When the power goes off from too many people using too many fans and air conditioners, it’s humid, muggy, and steaming enough to take a cool shower two or three times a day and change into something dry.  Most people wear cool natural fabrics such as silk or linen and try to find a cross draft to claim space in.

Kites are a summer tradition in China.  Steamy summer days can seem still and airless, though, especially in the cities. Chengdu is kind of at the bottom of a bowl, surrounded by mountains.   When the wind does rise, however, people flock to parks for kite flying.  Some try out their own elaborate and painstakingly engineered creations.  Most of you have seen the beautiful dragon kites, or long-tailed kites–huge high flying rice paper kites.  Sometimes one wonders how so many kites can rise and dip and float across the sky and not get their kite strings tangled up with each other.  It’s a miracle!

Swimming takes the sizzle out of summer heat worldwide.  Our son Mickey, 12, has been hanging out at the pool with friends, pretty much as he would in the U.S.  Four of his five closest friends are returning to their passport countries this summer, so there will be more tearful goodbyes.  Living a life bridging continents mean that our children become very good at saying “Hello,” and “Goodbye.”  Nurturing long-term relationships, however, is something they learn to do over great distances.

And summer means graduation, at the Sichuan Seminary as well as at Dian Da.  Our good friend Phoebe will become a “Rev.” on July 1, and will continue her leadership at Guang Han church.   At Dian Da, teachers from Tibetan, Qiang and Yi schools in Aba and Liangshan, will complete their two-year CGMB supported teacher training program in July.  Looking towards this fall, we’re preparing to welcome another group of Tibetan teachers from Ganzi.

Most of us will have some summer holiday, but summer school is one of summer’s gifts, as well.  Elizabeth will be working with pastors in a summer training program near one of the most revered scenic spots of China: Yellow Mountain, or Huangshan, in Anhui province.  Pastors will study, sing, and share devotions in an English immersion program, in the hopes that they can read English books and, perhaps, receive advanced theological training in the U.S.  This is the second year of the Yellow Mountain program.  Scott Brown, who taught there last year, and Beth Eliason, an Amity teacher from Luzhou, near Chengdu will be there as well.  Six UCC/DOC teachers have committed over six weeks to the program, and we’ll all return home just in time for the fall semester.

Mickey and Douglas will have their own summer school in Chengdu, too, studying intensive Chinese and home schooling right through the summer.  So far, Mickey’s home schooling has been successful, but we do find that it’s best to have continuity, especially in math and science.  Left to his own devices, he’d probably play Runescape online with his friends 24/7.

We hope this catches you up on our news.  Please share yours with us, too.  We love to hear what you’re doing.  Write with your curiosity and your questions, won’t you?

And have a wonderful stateside summer!


The Searles in China:

Douglas, Elizabeth and Mickey (and Mackenzie, just arrived in the U.S.)

Doug and Elizabeth Searles work with the Sichuan TV and Radio University in Chengdu, China. They both serve as English teachers.