China 101

maoOk, enough about my democratic homeland, let’s return to a country that has never been a democracy: the People’s Republic of China!

1. Gender Equality

You have to give credit to the Communists for the gender equality in China. Especially when you look at China’s tradition of treating women as good for producing sons and not much else. These days girls are generally valued as much as boys (at least in urban areas). But one of the most striking aspects of this equality is how many women do manual labor. Chinese women are hard core! They work in construction, they do backbreaking work in the fields, I even came across women-only chain gang carrying ridiculously heavy stones up several flights of stairs.


2. Traffic

I would describe traffic in China as “ordered chaos.” In Kunming they had big wide straight boulevards with bus lanes, car lanes and even motorcycle and bike lanes. But having designated lanes doesn’t mean the appropriate vehicles are in the appropriate lanes. Motorcycles seem to consider themselves both cars and pedestrians, depending on whatever is most advantageous at the moment. And most of the motorcycles are electric so there’s no sound to warn you when they nearly run you over as your walking on the sidewalk. But what empresses me most was the bicycles. Many have a cart attached and the amount of things they haul is unreal, especially the one who carry styrofoam.

squatty potty3. The Squatty Potty

The squatty potty is the toilet of China. All squatty potties consist of a hole in the floor which you squat over to do your business. Some varieties have porcelain and flush, others are more like a concrete trough. I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of these WCs…. No, it’s not the squatting I have a problem with – I squat over all public toilets, even those with seats. The problem arises because the waste is kept in a huge cesspool under the open hole, and so, as you can imagine it gives off a less than pleasant aroma. In addition, many public toilets have no stall doors and even when they do have doors, many Chinese don’t bother locking them which can create some embarrassment when searching for a free toilet. Which brings us to our next topic…


4. Potty Training

No need to worry about changing dirty nappies here! The Chinese are the ingenious designers of crotchless trousers so that whenever little Li needs to poo or wee, he just pops a squat and goes for it. (Yes toddlers will do this out on the street.)

5. Squatting

To the Chinese, to floor is dirty so they would never think of sitting on it, even inside. So if they are waiting around and there’s no chairs, they squat. Even little kids squat. I actually find it quite comfy but it takes a bit of getting used to.

6. Spitting

You already learned in my earlier entry that Chinese spit in the street regularly but the good news is they make a hideously loud throat-clearing noise before they shoot which warns anyone nearby of the approaching projectile.

800px-flag_of_the_peoples_republic_of_chinasvg7. Privacy & Personal Space

There isn’t even a word in the Chinese language for “privacy.” Living in a country of 1.3 billion doesn’t usually grant you that luxury. Dan and I were once looking at the photos on our camera on the bus when the elderly man sitting next to us eagerly started looking over our shoulder for a good look. So we just decided to tilt the camera his way so he could also enjoy the slideshow. I was once on a bus where a woman was holding a complete stranger’s child on here lap and then the elderly woman sitting next to them started picking through the little boys hair. If a stranger said they’d hold your child on their lap in the West, there’d probably be a lawsuit.

8. Umbrellas

There are your constant companion in China – come rain or shine. In rain they keep you dry, in the sun they keep you cool.

9. V for Victory

A must for any Chinese when photographed. Even this little girl is learning how to properly pose with a little help.


10. English Names

Many Chinese take on an English name as well. Some of the best: Banana, Foggy, Orange Juice and Lovey.

Here at last!

our fireplaceSo yesterday we arrived in York to begin our DTS! It’s lovely to finally be here. We’re living in a Victorian house about a 10 min drive from the city centre. There are 10 of us living here and just 2 bathrooms, but we’re really lucky to have our own tub (jacuzzi!) & sink (but no toilet). The house is gorgeous, with high ceilings, wood floors & old fireplaces in almost every room.

There are 9 students, including us, and 7 leaders from 5 different countries. Sadly one of the leaders isn’t here yet because of visa problems and a couple doing the course have yet to arrived because their infant son had to have an operation. So we could use your prayers for all of them. YWAM York is also still short ƒ100,000 needed to purchase the church hall they’re hoping to buy.

Today we’re off to the Lake District (!!!) for the weekend!

view from our room of the garden our bathroom

Old York is where it’s at!

Right after Dan’s run we took a train to York where we met up with the leaders of the York YWAM base. We stayed with Carl and his wife Mel, who started the York base about 4 years ago. They have 3 adorable kids and were so welcoming and cool. YWAM York has a hip youth cafe with a prayer room in the middle of the city and is involved in all kinds of creative outreaches. We also met Jennifer and Doug, two other leaders, and got to explore the city of York. It is such a vibrant city; the centre is surrounded by medieval walls and there’s a huge area that’s pedestrian only and super-charming–cobbled streets, cute little shops, a German Market and of course, the breath-taking York Minister. Our visit was brief but it got us REALLY excited about starting our lives there in just over a month!

Meanwhile, we’d ask for your prayers (and financial support) as the York base is trying to raise ƒ150,000 to buy a church hall for the DTS course and other meetings. Our DTS will have 9 students (including us) and 7 leaders (and 4 kids!) and right now YWAM is just renting an assortment of buildings around the city so having a central building will be amazing and allow for us to develop more community based outreach into the area. Please let us know if you’re interested in supporting this!


Hey folks I’ve started putting pencil to paper to bring in a little money for next year. I do pencil, oils, portraits, landscapes, Christmas Cards and more. So if you haven’t come up with the perfect gift for Granny Smith or Uncle Noddy, why not consider a personal portrait? All I need is a photograph (easily sent via e-mail) and/or idea for other commissioned work.

Price may vary according to project. Contact me for more information!

Mangia! Mangia!


The Italian dinner last Saturday night was fantastic. We had about 50 people come and thankfully a lot of help as well (thanks L&C, mom & dad, et al). The menu was:

Antipasto: Fresh Cantelope with Procuttio Crudo
Primo Piatto: Rigatoni with Pizzo White Sauce
Secondo Piatto: Insalata Verde
Dolce: Gelato alla Vaniglia and Biscotti al Cioccolato e Caramello

Afterwords, my dear sis Sarah sang a great collection of songs, ranging from Italian opera to I Feel Pretty from West Side Story.

All I have to say is bravo to my Italian chef of a husband!


…Cooked by legendary chef Dan

& featuring live musical performances by my dear sister Sarah.

Saturday, July 28th 2007 at 7:30 pm
at Church of the Apostles
3500 Pickett Road, Fairfax, Virginia 22031

$15 per person. All proceeds go towards Dan & Anna’s YWAM training.

Please RSVP by July 23rd to Anna

Many moves in not many Moons

So, today I found out our course in Brighton with YWAM won’t start until January because not enough people have signed up for it yet.

This news is hard in many ways, but we’ve known it could be a possiblity for quite a while.  Dan & I have thought and prayed about it and decided to still move to England in September – in fact, we bought our plane tickets yesterday! We’re going to be living w/Dan’s family in the charming village of Haddenham and getting random jobs for the next 4 months. 

I’m especially looking forward to living with my charming and delighful in-laws and enjoying Pietro’s BEAUTIFUL garden (I have such a green thumb!). Dan lived with my family in Reston for 3 months while we were engaged. He lived on the second floor, I was in the basement and we could only hang out together on the first floor!  But that rule won’t apply when we move back there for a few weeks in August! And now I’ll get a chance to get live with his family!

So it’s family time central! We’d appreciate your prayers with so many transitions taking place!

 kidlare1.jpgwe move from this house 31 july  

  to this house   dscn1717.jpg

  and then to this house 3 Sept!   haddenham-house.jpg