A Mountain in Tibet
I had not trained to hike a mountain. Especially not in the foothills of the Himalayas. Certainly not for a three-day hike while carrying a backpack weighing at least forty pounds.
But sometimes we do things we never dreamed of doing. Sometimes we face trials that we never expected. That’s what happened in the summer of 2004 for me. That’s when I faced the greatest physical challenge of my life so far.
I was spending my summer in a small Tibetan town in Sichuan, China. I was working with a family who was there long-term and two other short-term workers like myself. We taught English in schools, we visited Buddhist temples, we came together with the community once a week in the evening for dancing in the town square, we studied Tibetan and Mandarin, we tasted all sorts of exotic foods, we read by candlelight in the evenings when the power went out town-wide to save energy, and we rode mules into the mountains to visit with villagers–it was the adventure of a lifetime. For the sake of others, I cannot divulge many details about my trip, but I can say that it was a spiritual adventure and mission even more than a physical one. Continue reading “A Tale of Two Mountains”
I am afraid of heights. To be more accurate, I am terrified of falling from great heights. I imagine that’s what most people mean when they say they are “afraid of heights.”
My fear includes walking along high ledges, dangling in a ski lift chair far above the ground, looking down from the roofs of tall buildings, walking across suspension bridges, summiting the top of a high Ferris wheel, and other similar situations. I especially dislike going down steep stairs (which happens much more frequently in life than the other scenarios I listed); my head gets dizzy, my legs get all wobbly, and I feel like I am going to tip over and forward-roll my way down to the bottom.
Yesterday, we went on a tour to the Great Wall of China. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of it, but if you’ve never been, there’s no way to accurately imagine just how steep the steps are. Pictures don’t do it justice. For instance, here’s a photo that Charles took looking down the stairs we had just climbed. A friend and I are sitting on the ledge in the middle/top of the stairs. Trust me: it was steeper than it looks. Continue reading “A Lesson I Learned on The Great Wall of China”
The internet connection at our hotels has been inconsistent and slow at best. For some reason though, it’s working fast enough to upload pictures for a few minutes! So, I’m taking advantage of it and posting just a few pictures on the blog for now. I’ll post something that’s more organized and complete when I get back to Taiwan (including some videos). Hover over the photos to read the captions, or click on the photos to see them larger, one by one. Continue reading “China Update 4 (Pictures!)”
A lot has happened since I last wrote about Charles’ and my experiences in China. This will be a rather personal update, so I hope you will talk to Dad on our behalf as you read.
Last time I wrote, I had a good day at camp and made it through a teaching session. After that, things got rocky again, and I didn’t make it back into the classroom. I did go to the camp, interact with the kids on an informal level, and participate with the team, but I didn’t teach my own class.
On Friday morning, my dad emailed to suggest a new course of action since the camp thing was obviously causing major anxiety for me. Charles and I talked about whether I should leave China early to head back to Taiwan, but that didn’t seem like the best course of action. Charles felt led to stay in China for the second week of camp, and I didn’t want to take that away from him by making him return to Taiwan early (and I didn’t feel like I could go by myself). We did, however, decide that I should be free of any responsibilities during this second week of camp so that I could spend time resting in the hotel and doing only as much as I feel comfortable with regarding the camp. Continue reading “China Update 3”
Today was day #3 of English Language Camp, but it was only my first full day. Let me explain.
On Monday, I awoke with strong feelings of anxiety, and a rough day followed. I asked another team member to teach my English class for me because I just wasn’t ready to be back in the classroom. I went to camp because Charles strongly encouraged me to go, but I had a really hard day and left shortly after lunch. That evening, I decided that I needed a day to rest and talk to Dad, so I planned to stay home on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, I stayed home from camp and rested at the hotel. I spent time in conversation with Dad, and I asked “why?” a lot. Why am I here on this trip? What am I supposed to be learning? I’m having such a hard time, so what is my purpose? I’m still waiting on answers to those questions, but I did get a very clear sense from Dad yesterday that I am here for a purpose even though I might not know what it is yet. Continue reading “China Update 2”