a quarterly report!

I'm home in Oregon today, sitting in the dining room typing this post and trying to understand that 1/4 of my year in Beijing is already over. Time has indeed flown and already brought me back for a visa renewal that occurs every 90 days. As I've seen many friends in the past two days of being home, I've been giving short little updates in answer to that crazy question, "So, how's China been?" If you read this blog regularly, you have seen many of the tidbits and stories along the way. Now is time for me to step back a bit, see what God has done from a larger perspective by revisiting my original goals, and get ready to jump back in. 

My goals as I headed to Dandelion in August were: learn Chinese, learn some Tibetan, become a tea person, learn all my students' names, learn to live with less, and learn to see God at work. Today, I'm adding a very important goal: learn how to inspire my students to love and think

Learn Chinese - Many of you have been praying for my language acquisition, praying for the Spirit to give me the ability to speak this language that He knows inside and out. He has been answering that prayer faithfully and steadily. Just the day before I headed back to Oregon, I was buying some snacks in the grocery store and the sales clerks started asking me all sorts of questions because they had seen me last year as well. By the grace of God, I understood and could respond to everything they said, and they were amazed at my level of Chinese. I've done very, very little actual study of Chinese due to lack of time; I've simply acquired it through necessity and through the Holy Spirit. My most rewarding moment was getting to have an hour long conversation with one of the students about her culture's faith, Buddhism, their customs, their way of atoning for sin, their beliefs about the afterlife, etc. The Spirit truly works, even sometimes causing me to forget that I'm speaking Chinese! (My family has definitely seen that in action these past few days...) Praise the Lord, and keep praying for more, more, more!

Learn some Tibetan - This has become one of the highlights thus far. Writing this goal in August, I didn't realize that there would be 5 new Tibetan girls (plus the 4 from last year), and that we would become fast friends as we spend weekends together while everyone else has gone home. I've been teaching them piano, and they've been teaching me Tibetan! I usually get about 10 minutes with one of them each morning during the school week, then my own study time with flashcards and writing, and then more time on the weekends. I'm absolutely loving it! (Here's a video of the girls dancing!) So now I'm praying for the gift of language ability in both Chinese and Tibetan, as well as deep relationships with these 9 precious girls. 

Become a tea person - I don't know what I was thinking. I don't think I've made myself a cup of tea in all 90 days. It's hot chocolate or instant coffee the teachers give me because I'm American for me! 

Learn all my students' names - There are only 47 in my class, so the task is not too difficult. I've almost learned every English name (just a couple boys I always mix up), so I guess it's time to start learning the Chinese ones! Here are a few of their precious faces.

Learn to live with less - I've been amazed at God's provision, as always. Sometimes, I'll spend less than 10 Yuan per week (that's less than $2). He has not only curbed my desires for snacks, but provided them through various people as unexpected gifts. I haven't run into any large costs, and I was even able to buy a potentially 500 Yuan winter coat at the school's charity market for 5 Yuan. I've been learning to be content in all situations, and it's wonderful. Suddenly, the little luxuries aren't that necessary anymore, aren't even that satisfying. I'm understanding what Paul meant when he said, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (Phil. 4:11-13) Indeed, the secret is Christ. And it's no secret any more! 

Learn to see God at work - This has been easy. He has shown Himself all over! Reading back over my blog gives glimpses of the innumerable times I have seen Him in the small, every day details, propelling me forward in His strength. I've asked Him to teach me to pray, and He's answering. I've asked Him to fill me with the Spirit, and I've seen the Spirit in me act. I've asked Him to spark conversations with various people, and it happens. I've been honest with God when I struggle, and learned more about what "faith" means. I've asked to know more of what it means that God is my Father, and He has provided me with resources and passages and podcasts and examples everywhere. And so, so much more. 

Learn how to teach my students to love and think - This has become the ultimate goal of my class at Dandelion School. I'm finding that these precious students have never really thought outside their own lives, their own culture, their own country. They've struggled through poverty their whole lives in a money-centered culture, and it's caused them to forget that they can make a difference for others. We honestly have so far to go to reach this goal of critical thinking, taking action, and loving unconditionally. Please join me in prayer! 

One quarter of the year is finished, and I'm sad to see it go. But I cannot wait to see what my post-school year update will say. God is working, I have no doubt. I can't wait to spend the rest of this time, and the rest of my life, with Him. Let's go!


  1. I'm so glad to hear about the way God's working, Shelby! It's a beautiful thing to see how passionate you are about doing His work in Beijing. Keep it up! I pray God continues to use you in amazing ways! :)


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