I've been away since Wednesday, aside from a brief stop at home on Friday night. Tuesday morning, our little guy got picked up by his ayi and went to her apartment where he will be loved and adored by her, her husband, her daughter, her in-laws, her mother and her sister. It might be quite a disappointment to come back to us! We sent him there because I needed to be gone for five days and in between that and Paul's work schedule, he needed consistent and loving care. So off he went.
On Wednesday I left with the middle school portion of the International School where I teach. Every year, they go on a fall retreat to build unity. It really was so much fun. I don't get to see most of the students since I only really see some of the ESL students. These kids were just super fun to be with and we all had a great time. We played games, did team building exercises, hiked a mountain during the day and went out on a night hike. The place was only about an hour out of our city and it was just really lovely. I achieved one of my language goals as I brought some knitting along and talked to some of the hostel women about knitting in China compared to knitting in the US- different needles and style of knitting. I also got to know the foreign and China staff a little better. I spent most of my time with one of the Chinese office staff that came. She is just a dear sister and I loved getting to know her.
The kids were good sports even though they worked hard. One of the games is called Mission Impossible. It is done in the dark. Basically the teachers go and hide in the dark. The kids gather at one place and they are all given a chopstick. Their goal is to get it to a bucket. If they get a certain amount of chopsticks in the bucket, they win. However, there is no way to win. The teacher's are too many, too fast and too well hidden. As the kids creep towards the goal, the teacher creep out of the darkness and hunt them down. The thing is, the kids love the game even though there is no way to win. The hostel was great for this game-they turned off all of their lights and it was pitch black except for the moon. Fabulous fun.
Below are some of the pictures of the place.
School security policies prohibit posting pictures of the kids anywhere on the internet. However, I can post pictures of these people who were at a wedding reception at the hostel...they paused to stare at the incredible collection of multinational teachers and students. They truly seemed to enjoy watching the kids play games and enjoy themselves.
I can also post these pictures of these very cute little Chinese school kids who were in the area picking apples! They all waved and smiled and said "Hallo!"
The food was to die for and yes, that is a fish head in the middle.
More of the fish head.
This was a kind of Korean style hostel and we slept on Korean style beds...well, let's be honest-they are mats. I shared a room with an American teacher and a Chinese teacher and we all asked for an extra mat. No, we didn't tell the kids.
Beautiful views when we climbed the mountain.
Zoo is relative term. Combat readiness is really war games- not a military thing. Do not fear!
The lovely outside of the inn. The lanterns were beautiful at night.
One funny story about the retreat- there were dogs there - small dogs. They were really friendly. One morning around 7AM, I was outside with a large group of boys. The dogs gave these city slickers quite the "farm education." There was hooting and hollering and a quick whipping out of digital cameras to take pictures...that we had them delete. It really was very funny.
So after a fun few day, I came home on Friday night, slept in my own bed and got up early to go to Qi Pan Shan for the international women's retreat. A church and organization in the US puts on this retreat every year and underwrites it. It's a blessing just to be able to go away. I shared a room my my good friend and that was good. The speakers were a little mixed but one or two of the speakers really resonated with me. We also had time to walk around the lake and just relax. It was a good two days.
View of the lake from our hotel room.
Buddhist temple off in the distance. There were several shrines in the area.
More from our hotel window.
Fortunately tomorrow is a holiday in China and I can stay home and relax a little. I am tired but happy tonight.