We all know the horror stories people tell you when flying to another country for the first time. With those things flooding our minds, we sometimes get a knot in our stomach as we jump on the plane…only our imagination to accompany us for the next however many hours.
This has been the experience of countless people, as they head on a plane marked with the country name CHINA! I myself had heard the horror stories of the culture shock that was awaiting me. But like anytime you hop on a plane and fly around the world…there are going to be people living a life that is foreign to us…but that is definitely part of the adventure and what makes traveling around the world glorious.
And now without further ado…9 things people traveling to China should know!
#1 The first is one of the most important! Invest in your trip ahead of time. Read – Prepare – Pray. Especially, if you are going on a missions trip or working closely alongside the natives and orphans…you don’t want to just show up and hope for the best. You need to be prepared for both a culture and spiritual shock. Find scriptures that will carry you through each day and have them there to meditate on. Find a prayer partner that will keep you accountable on your trip. Prepare to be part of the culture…learn about their culture/traditions & learn some Chinese (even if they are simple phrases and compliments for your Chinese friends). Having this basis for your trip, will help you dive deeper into building new relationships with the people and learning to LOVE China! It’s not like the West… and that’s okay! In a world of increasing globalization and homogeneity, it’s refreshing to visit a place that is so foreign. Exciting new sights, sounds and smells will greet you at every turn. Keep an adventurous mindset and you’ll experience the trip of a lifetime!
#2 While driving, remember you’re not in Kansas anymore. In many places there are driving rules and regulations…in China, well they are more like suggestions. Believe me, it feels like the old video game Frogger and will be an experience can both terrify & excite you…giving you a road trip/drive you will never forget!
#3 Being stared at is to be expected and not considered rude but normal and very common in the Chinese culture.
#4 If you are going to be working with orphans, or kids in general…learn the song “Xi Yang Yang (Pleasant Goat)”. It’ll get you places with the little kids. It’s their jam. Not to mention that grown ups will be impressed that you know it.
#5 Squatty potties. Just the thought of them can make a person cringe. Sure, sometimes they’re gross and stinky but so are some American public bathrooms too. The trick to the squatty, is to pack a travel pack of Kleenex in your purse, backpack or pocket and then to go to the very last couple of stalls. It’s a secret but most of the potties in the back are the handicap ones and those are American style potties. And if you’re a germ-a-phobe, then you’re already packing gallons of antibacterial wipes and sanitizer, so you’re set to go.
#6 Shopping spree. Buy your favorite snacks before you leave. Snacks in China are not the same as America. Bring something along to curb hunger and keep you energized. Having said this…I love CHINESE snacks, so be open to finding a new favorite to bring home with you!
#7 Whether you’re adopting or volunteering or just being a tourist, tour the orphanage and give as many hugs and kisses as you possibly can. Step out of your comfort zone and find a way to love those who need to know that they are loved. From an adoption standpoint this statement is somewhat controversial, but these trips are never about us and always about the children. These kids want, need, DESERVE to know that they’re loved!
This is a snippet from the experience one of our friends had while visiting an orphanage:
“Last year, I toured our daughter’s orphanage and saw a beautiful young girl who was so sweet and clearly played a role in my daughter’s life. I took pictures of the two of them together, hugged her, immediately fell in love with her, and as soon as I was back at the hotel, e-mailed our agency and begged them to find her file. This sweet, beautiful girl has been deemed unadoptable though and will never know the love of a family. I’ve been given permission to write to this sweet girl and every letter, she tells me that she doesn’t understand why someone like me would care about an orphan like her. I love because God loved me first. If I could bring this little girl home and into my family, I would. Show love!”
#8 Practice your best sorority squat pose, duck face & learn a couple of Chinese words/phrases because chances are pretty darn good that you’ll be approached to be in a picture that will later float around on Chinese QQ. Have fun with it and take it all in stride. You can also take it to the next level and swap pictures…take a picture with them if they agree to take a “silly picture” with you!
#9 Last but not least, the food is remarkable! Try it! Break out of your comfort zone and give it a whirl! You never know what you will discover and crave for the rest of your life…or until you return to China. Oh, and while on this last point…please, please, please LEARN how to use chopsticks. It will be a lifesaver and make eating way more fun!
Night Walk is coming up on May 18, 2012. That’s just a few weeks away! We can’t wait to show our support of these kids during this awesome opportunity. If you haven’t yet heard of Night Walk, keep reading to find out more!
This year, our Night Walk and camp theme is “Love Like an Ocean”. For many of the volunteers who have spent time with the orphans in China, for many of the families who have adopted these beautiful children and for many hearts that long to bring these kids love and hope… an ocean separates us. But love, deep like the ocean, binds us to them. We love them through the love He has given us… and He gives us a love that surpasses knowledge (Eph 3:18).
Essentially what Night Walk does is it gives us another opportunity to show this “love like an ocean.” We have the opportunity to tangibly help these children who we love. We have the opportunity to share the kids’ stories with our friends, family, and sometimes complete strangers as we walk. At the beginning of the walk, we even get a chance to be on a call with some of the kids we are directly helping with the Night Walk. What a cool opportunity to be a part of something so huge! Be sure to share about it with your family and friends and let’s have thousands of people across the globe together for one cause!
For more info and to sign up, CLICK HERE! Sign up by Friday, May 4, 2012 and get an awesome official Night Walk t-shirt to sport for the Walk!
One hour. $30. The opportunity to change lives forever. Bring Me Hope Night Walk 2012.
At the fourth and final staff meeting in Fallbrook last night, our fearless leaders unveiled a pair of slogans that will remind you of Texas hold ‘em and visiting the dentist, respectively. They are:
“All In” and “Be uncomfortable.”
I came in on the tail end of the meeting, and these two catchy phrases were already written on the whiteboard. They are a little unconventional, but they encapsulate the attitude necessary to both enjoy and contribute to a service trip like the one on which we’re about to embark.
The irony is that, earlier yesterday, I was watching a poker tournament on TV. I saw three or four players go all in, and then go bust. But we’re not going to go bust. That’s just not how it works.
As they apply to service trips, the two slogans are linked. Picture this: You’re in a foreign country, acting out a skit in front of dozens of children whose language you do not speak. Playing it safe would mean maintaining your adult sense of décor and not committing yourself fully to the play. I’ve been there. The risk of “all in” is looking stupid in front of your teammates, the kids, the translators and maybe even your spouse and children. Any of you who saw David and Andrew Dickinson act out a skit last night—David playing the sheep, Andrew the wolf—recognized that there was the potential for embarrassment. But because they were so sold out to their characters, it was funny even to a bunch of American adults.
To go all in is to be uncomfortable. At least at first.
I think you’ll find, though, that it is how kids live—all in, all the time. So they will admire you for being on that level, too. I’ve done both on previous trips—played it safe and laid it on the line. I regret not having laid it on the line more often. I hope as a team we can create an environment where being all in is not quite so intimidating, and that, as individuals, we will see the value of our own discomfort in connecting with the children.
We want this blog to be a source of information and inspiration, a place to go to check your expectations of this summer’s work in Beijing, and a collection of any and all information that will help you prepare for the trip. We also want it to be interesting enough for your family and friends to read, so they can get an accurate idea of what Bring Me Hope is about, and have an up-to-date source of news from the camps in July and August. But there is another function we hope it will serve, and so far this one has been difficult.
We want this page to be a conversation. The “comment” function below each post is extremely easy to use, and we want you to. Tell us what you think, give us suggestions. I realize this is hard with some posts, the ones that are not interactive. But with this post, I hope to get our small group of readers into the habit of sharing their thoughts. I also hope to begin expanding our small group of readers.
The only thing to remember is to avoid certain religious language when posting comments.
So here are a few questions that I hope will stimulate discussion in the coming weeks. Any of these points that lead to a healthy dialogue in the comments section will earn their own posts, I can assure you of that. Here goes.
What part of the summer camps in Beijing are you looking forward to the most? Put another way, why did you sign up to volunteer with Bring Me Hope?
Is there anything you are worried about or not looking forward to?
If you are a staff member who went to China last summer, what one piece of advice would you offer the rookies like me?
How are your efforts to learn some basic Chinese words coming along? (See “Hope in Mandarin,” below.)
If you are not going to China with Bring Me Hope this year, how can this blog serve you? What kind of information would you like to see posted here?
For those who are going, I repeat the above question: How can this blog serve you?
In addition to these questions, we’d love to hear stories of God’s generosity in helping all of us pay our way to China. My wife and I received an anonymous donation for one of our plane tickets, which was immensely encouraging. We’ve now been given almost all of the money we need. For more than 100 volunteers to each raise around $2,000, there must be more stories like that out there. Send ‘em!