The Continuing Saga of the Broken Arm

imageOn the last Friday of my summer holiday in Vermont, my friend Dawn and I went hiking on Camel’s Hump, the iconic mountain just a few miles from our homes which we’ve hiked together several times in the past few years.  We planned to hike a new-to-me section of the mountain because I had never taken the trail that leads to an airplane wing left from a devastating plane crash in the 1940s.

imageWe had just started down that
part of the Long Trail when I slipped on a moss-covered rock and fell. I tried to catch myself, but as I had once broken my right arm in a fall doing the same thing, I immediately tried to release my left arm and let it extend straight out behind me. I felt a sharp pain in my wrist that hurt like the dickens and just sat there on the offending rock for a few minutes holding my arm and assessing the damage. After a few minutes, the pain eased up a bit, so we decided to hike back up to the main trail to call my mom, a nurse at a family practice doctors office, for help. I felt very Girl Scout-esque as we tried to put a splint on my arm and then tried to wrap my arm in my jacket as a sling, but those methods of support actually caused more pain. When we got to the clearing at the juncture of the trails, another hiker let us use his phone and we called my mom. At this point, it was hard to tell if I’d sprained my arm, broken it, or just hurt it from falling on it. So mom said we might as well finish the hike to the summit, since we were only .3 miles from the top, and then call her at the base if my arm felt worse and I needed to see a doctor.

So I learned that it is in fact possible to hike Camel’s Hump with only one hand. It’s a bit tricky, but possible.





By the time we got to the base of the mountain, my arm felt stiff but it wasn’t particularly painful. So I didn’t call my mom–my first mistake.

imageDawn and I went into Richmond and bought ice cream at a new restaurant–they serve maple ice cream with real bacon sprinkles! (For the record, my parents and I ate at Hatchet the next night, and it was fantastic.)

I started to realize that something more was wrong with my arm than I had thought when I dropped some of the sprinkles and tried to catch them with my left hand (my second mistake) and realized that I couldn’t turn or twist my arm. By the time I got home just a little later, there was an odd circular bump on my hand, my wrist was swollen and misshapened, and I couldn’t pull or grip anything. I also noticed a nasty bruise forming on the underside of my arm. (I didn’t take any pictures of the swelling, for some reason).image

When Mom got home she measured my wrist and it was 1 inch bigger than my right wrist. She said, “Why didn’t you call me?” She thought my arm was broken. Later when I couldn’t cut my meat at dinner, she said, “You really are in denial that something is wrong with your arm.”

Because  I was leaving for China on Sunday, I somehow managed to pack two suitcases that night while only using my right arm.

In the morning we went to Evergreen Family Health and saw the very kind Dr. Johnson. He felt up and down my arm and immediately knew that it was broken. Because I needed x-rays and don’t have insurance, he said “Let’s think outside of the box,” and he recommended that I go to an urgent care clinic that could do x-rays for a very inexpensive price ($50 as it turned out), while they would cost hundreds of dollars at the hospital. He gave me a splint, and my mom and I went to the clinic.

I found out at check-in that the visit would only cost a maximum of $250. I couldn’t believe it! I had to wait a while to see the doctor, but once I did everything went very quickly. The nurse did the x-rays for me, and I could tell by her expression that something was wrong. She said, “Yep, it’s fractured.” After taking the second x-ray she said, “You really did a number on that one.” They also x-rayed my elbow, because of how I fell and some lingering achiness, but it turned out there was nothing wrong with my elbow. The doctor said that I needed to wait 3 to 5 days to have my arm put in a cast because it was so swollen, and said that I was okay to fly back to China. He gave me copies of the x-rays to show the doctor in China and a prescription for pain medication.

imageI’m going to save the story about flying with a broken arm for a separate post, but for now here’s a picture of me packing while wearing a splint and headlamp, because as if it wasn’t hard enough to pack with one arm, the power went out during a thunderstorm, so I had to use the headlamp for light.

Other parts of the story coming soon: finding an orthopedic doctor to cast my arm, getting ready for school with a broken arm, and finding a doctor to take the cast off.





First Things: My New School

On my first Sunday afternoon here in China, I wandered around campus just before sunset and took some pictures. So, here’s a virtual tour of where I live and teach.

First, yet another view from my balcony. I’m sorry if you’re getting bored with this shot; I love how the view looks at various times of day and in different lighting.

The path that runs around our building. I had thought that I could run on this path, but the stones are slick, especially on misty mornings.

Dear Bob Jones University students (current and former), please notice that this school has barbed wire fences all the way around the campus. BJU is not the only school to do that, and BJU took down the barbed wire several years ago (from what I’ve been told .  .  . I haven’t done a walk-around inspection of the fences personally).

The canal looks prettier from a distance and at sunset. When you get too close, you can see bags of trash and other debris floating in it, and you start to wonder about the brown color of the water. . .

From this direction, the student dormitories are to the right. The students in our program live on the top floor, the 16th, of the tallest building. There’s no air conditioning or heat in the dorms, and you will usually see clothes drying on the balconies, because the students wash their clothes in the sink and hang them outside to dry.

The back of our building. Our offices are on the first floor. Our living quarters are on the third floor and our kitchen/dining room/living area/laundry room is on the extension that juts out of the main part of the building.

If you walk on the road beside the student dormitories, you will see the courtyard and our classroom buildings on the left. The American program nursing classes are taught in the building to the left, and the British and American English classes–as well as a variety of Chinese classes–are taught in the building to the right.

As you continue down the road, you’ll come to the track on the right and a classroom building is on the left.

The classroom building pictured above is gigantic and curves around a large courtyard.

From the arch in the center of the building, you can look back and see our building and then look toward the front of the campus and see the administration building.

As you walk back toward our building (Building 8), you’ll again see our classroom buildings on the left and the Chinese nursing program building on the right (which I apparently didn’t take a picture of on this tour around campus). I teach on the 4th floor of Building 6 (on the left).

If you walk into the atrium between the two classroom buildings, you’ll see a tribute to the international nursing program.

Here’s a picture of the hallway on the 4th floor where I teach.

The inside of one of the classrooms in Building 6.

The massive Chinese classroom building from center campus:

The front of our building from center campus:

The entrance to our building is on the right. There’s a good-sized lobby where we can meet with students and they can check in at the front desk. The hallway to our offices is to the left.

On the third floor, you can see our large meeting room/exercise room. The ceilings are vaulted and extend to the fourth floor; the acoustics are great, so our little group sounds great when singing in there. This picture makes the room and building look so warm and inviting.

First Things: The View from My Apartment

I love that my view faces the canal and farms. There are still, of course, many apartment buildings that block the view. The land is so flat that I could see for miles, if it weren’t for the cities that crop up on the horizon.

Here are my first pictures of the view from my balcony. I took these on my first full day here in China.

A new train station is under construction (in the center of this photo). It will be so nice when the line opens, because the gate to the station is right next to the gate to the school campus. If there were a way to walk straight across the canal, it would only take 5 minutes to get to the station, but we’ll have to walk to the front of the campus and then back around to the station. Either way, it will be easier than taking 2 buses to get to the nearest subway station.

(Yes, that’s a dump directly across the canal from my room. Unfortunately, we can smell it when the wind blows our direction or when they burn the trash.)

Here are some views from my balcony at night:


Construction continues late into the night.



The sky seems brighter than it actually was on the night that I took these photos, due to the long exposure time required for a decent night photo.

I took the following pics on Sunday, Sept. 30. The fireworks were in celebration of Moon Day/National Day. We’ve seen fireworks from nearby cities several nights this week.


First Things: Moving In

My life changed drastically on Monday, August 27th. Around 9 am, I boarded an airplane and began the long journey to Shanghai, China. This small-town, mountain-loving, Vermont girl has had to make many adjustments to life in the bustling, crowded, dirty, flat, humongous city of Shanghai.

I struggled through the goodbyes to my parents, but I managed to hold it together pretty well until I got to Detroit. While waiting in Detroit for the flight to Shanghai, I saw a tearful family on the tarmac waiting to be united with their fallen Marine’s body. A hush fell over the terminal as travelers lined up along the windows and watched the sad proceedings. The solemn ceremony was too much for me on an already sad day, and I ended up sobbing as I thought about my brothers (one a Marine Corps veteran and another a Marine Corps Officer Candidate) and saying goodbye to my family. Even though I’ve made this trip across the Pacific a dozen times, it’s not any easier to leave home or say goodbye to my family.

I met most of the team in the terminal of the Detroit Airport. I saw my friends Dave and Desiree Talbert for the first time in 6 years right before we boarded the plane. While on the long flight to Shanghai, we’d occasionally gather in the corridor between sections of the plane and talk and look at pictures from the summer.

The flight was unremarkable–I slept fitfully, watched a couple of movies, and read. As you can imagine, after a 15 hour flight, I was relieved to finally get off the plane in Shanghai.

I collected my luggage–100 pounds for 5 1/2 months:

The customs process went quickly (it was super easy), and before I knew it, we were loading up the school’s bus with our baggage and piling in for the 30 minute drive to the school campus.

(These pictures were taken on my iPod. Sorry for the poor quality.)

We all worked together to lug the bags up to our floor, and within a short amount of time, I was installed in my new room. Thankfully, the air conditioner had been turned on, but the room was dusty, so I spent the next two hours rearranging the furniture and cleaning the room.

A previous teacher left me a chair, ottoman, lamp, and bookshelf, and I am grateful for those additions to my room. In one of the spare rooms, the teachers store extra furnishings and decorations that they do not need anymore or that other teachers left, so I raided the stores and came back with some red-themed items which made my room look more homey and comfortable.

Here are some pictures of my room now:

This is the view as I walk into the room. There’s a bathroom on the right and a closet and cabinets on the left.

My bed and reading corner:

My desk, which I use all the time, and the TV, which collects dust:

We have the week off from school because the October Holiday and Mid-Autumn Festival fell on the same week this year (because the calendar is lunar based, many holidays occur at different times every year). Tomorrow Julie and I are going to IKEA, so I will hopefully be able to buy some plants, picture frames, pillows, and other decorative items to make the space more personal. My room is quite comfortable, and it is starting to feel like home.

Racial Profiling in the US

On September 7th, I heard an All Things Considered story about racial profiling: Under Suspicion at the Mall of America. It opened my eyes to the racial profiling that continues to happen since the events of 9/11.

Then, today I read a blog post by an Arab/Israeli American citizen who was detained, strip searched, interrogated and then released on Sept. 11, 2011, because someone reported the “suspicious activity” of going to the bathroom (and she was just sitting next to the two men who happened to go to the bathroom one after the other, which given the new regulations about not standing in the aisle to wait for the bathroom and the common practice of getting up to use the restroom when someone else in your row is already up is not surprising at all). I urge you to read her post and this news article, because I think it’s important that Americans be aware that things like this are taking place.

I also flew on Sept. 11–through Washington D.C., actually–so I expected tightened security and was glad to see extra TSA officials on duty, but I think the detention and interrogation of innocent travelers is ridiculous and un-American.

A Prayer for Japan

The videos and news footage are sobering. I’ve been thinking of and praying for the people of Japan, since the earthquake and tsunami. Here’s  A Prayer for Japan by John Piper.

Father in heaven, you are the absolute Sovereign over the shaking of the earth, the rising of the sea, and the raging of the waves. We tremble at your power and bow before your unsearchable judgments and inscrutable ways. We cover our faces and kiss your omnipotent hand. We fall helpless to the floor in prayer and feel how fragile the very ground is beneath our knees.

O God, we humble ourselves under your holy majesty and repent. In a moment—in the twinkling of an eye—we too could be swept away. We are not more deserving of firm ground than our fellowmen in Japan. We too are flesh. We have bodies and homes and cars and family and precious places. We know that if we were treated according to our sins, who could stand? All of it would be gone in a moment. So in this dark hour we turn against our sins, not against you.

And we cry for mercy for Japan. Mercy, Father. Not for what they or we deserve. But mercy.

Have you not encouraged us in this? Have we not heard a hundred times in your Word the riches of your kindness, forbearance, and patience? Do you not a thousand times withhold your judgments, leading your rebellious world toward repentance? Yes, Lord. For your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts.

Grant, O God, that the wicked will forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Grant us, your sinful creatures, to return to you, that you may have compassion. For surely you will abundantly pardon. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus, your beloved Son, will be saved.

May every heart-breaking loss—millions upon millions of losses—be healed by the wounded hands of the risen Christ. You are not unacquainted with your creatures’ pain. You did not spare your own Son, but gave him up for us all.

In Jesus you tasted loss. In Jesus you shared the overwhelming flood of our sorrows and suffering. In Jesus you are a sympathetic Priest in the midst of our pain.

Deal tenderly now, Father, with this fragile people. Woo them. Win them. Save them.

And may the floods they so much dread make blessings break upon their head.

O let them not judge you with feeble sense, but trust you for your grace. And so behind this providence, soon find a smiling face.

In Jesus’ merciful name, Amen.

Christ Awareness Day

For me this year, the day after Valentine’s Day was even harder than Valentine’s Day.

On Monday, I really didn’t have a hard time with the fact that it was Valentine’s Day. I had a good time in the Word and, by God’s grace, was able to spend much time thinking about God’s love for me and Christ’s ultimate expression of His love for me–dying on the cross and rising again, so I could have new life. I was also given chocolate and roses and cookies and cards from friends and students and received two packages from friends in the States and a card from my brother and sister-in-law with pictures of my niece, so I felt loved by God, family, and friends.

But on Tuesday, when I started seeing pictures of flowers and fancy dinners and heard of relationship status changes and read sappy posts on Facebook, I started to have a more difficult time.

I recently read an article entitled “Why Facebook (and Your Church) Might be Making You Sad,” which provides a helpful explanation and corrective for the slight depression that can come from looking at pictures of happy couples and families. I reread this article on Tuesday, because I felt bombarded with pictures and reminders that I was alone and not posting cheerful pictures on Facebook.

I was embarrassed to tell my students how I celebrated Valentine’s Day: I went running with a dear friend (definitely a good hour in my day), ate a lovely vegetable stir fry (by myself), and then went to school and graded papers (also by myself). I was very much tempted to be jealous and to start feeling sorry for myself and my single state.

However, on Tuesday evening, as I was pondering “Singles Awareness Day,” as some of my friends called it, and wondering what a Christ-centered response would be, I realized that “Singles Awareness Day” was really a “Christ Awareness Day.” During Valentine’s week, I most needed Christ and needed to find my satisfaction in Him. Human love is all well and good (and most desirable–don’t get me wrong!), but Christ’s love must satisfy me completely.

Psalm 36

5 Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.
7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.

10 Continue your love to those who know you,
your righteousness to the upright in heart.

Romans 8

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.