Friday, December 16, 2011


I am amazed at the number of people who have expressed happiness and relief about my decision to NOT go to China.  I admit to being highly flattered that so many people wanted me to stay safely in the States.  I was seriously planning on selling everything I owned in order to go.  My car was priced out and I had a potential buyer already lined up.

If one knows where to look, one can find a lot of information about teaching in China.  My sister pointed me to this website:  I found it was informative and very very scary.  The number of scams that can be run on unsuspecting foreigners is endless, and there is little to no protection from these scams.  This did not dissuade me from going, but it did give me some relevant questions to ask my potential employer.  This site and Chinajobs both go into great detail on what a contract should contain and how it should look. Two days after I read this information, I received a contract via email.  There were many lines in the contract crossed out, dashes through some words, and it was obviously marked up.  The websites had said that the contract should NOT come via email, and that the school's SAFEA number should be in the upper right corner (it was not there). I replied back to the school requesting clarification on certain matters, and to this day I have not received a reply.

From the minute I posted "is going to China" on my facebook page, my phone started ringing with interview requests.  Recruiters doing searches online were suddenly finding my resume.  An email I had sent to a nonprofit group was finally answered and they wanted to interview me.  Suddenly I was in demand.  It felt good.  Since I was serious about going to China, I was careful about what interview invitations I accepted.    On December 7, I received a phone call that changed everything.

I was sick, and hadn't slept well the night before.  Text messages from a certain unnamed friend started coming at 8am.  I was finally falling back to sleep when the phone started vibrating.  Annoyed, I picked it up to put it in sleep mode.  "People leave me alone......Oh, it's Kelly calling me," I mumbled.  I took the call.  I'm glad I did.

Kelly and I had collaborated many times over the 7 years we worked at PwC.  She had been my "go-to" person for all assistance I had needed while I worked on the help desk.  She and I had a close working relationship built on mutual respect.  She is the one who dubbed me "Super G" -- the coolest nickname I have ever had.  She had a position open on her team, was I interested in interviewing for it?  Um, sure!  What else could I say?  The description of the job fit my abilities very nicely, and it would be a wonderful opportunity to gain knowledge and grow.  We finally set up the meeting for the 14th, and I was able to meet her team.  They loved me, and the feeling was mutual.  I was offered and accepted the position that evening.  We are still working out the finer details, but I will likely start around January 9th.

Let me be clear in stating that if my questions had been answered in a timely and satisfactory manner that I would likely still be going to China.  There is nothing I would not give up to serve God.  My Christian friends tell me they believe that God was testing me as He had once tested Abraham in requesting that he sacrifice his son Isaac.  That seems to be a convenient way of explaining away why I thought I was being sent to China, and why I am now being blessed with this amazing opportunity here in the USA.  What I do know is that God loves me, and He will never let go of me.  Even if accepting this job is a mistake, He will work it out for my good.  Even if I was supposed to go to China and messed that up somehow, He will work it out for my good.  When I was a little girl, I used to listen to this one song over and over:

*The life that I have given you
no one can take away
I've sealed it with my Spirit, Blood and Word.
The everlasting Father has made His covenant with you
and He's stronger than the world you've seen and heard.

So don't you fear to show them
all the love I have for you
I'll be with you everywhere
in everything you do.
And even if you do it wrong
and miss the joy I'd planned
I'll never, never let go of your hand.

God holds me.  He will never let go of me.  He works all things together for my good.

*Don Francisco:

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Last year my job was outsourced to India.  As my last day with the Firm approached, many people were very concerned that I had not found another position.  I had decided to go back to school instead.  With only nine classes to complete my BA, and a government grant to cover 100% of the expense of school (parking, books, tuition) I took a leap of faith.  Going back to school was a worthy goal, people conceded, but what about AFTER??  What will you do then??  I became a little flippant and a little serious.  "I'm not sure," I said, "but I think I'll go teach English as a second language in a foreign country.  Or maybe go work for a non-profit.  Either way, I'll be ok." 

I graduated USF with a BA in English in August.  I immediately started applying for Technical writing positions, and as I received no response, expanded to other jobs: administrative, technical, and training positions.  In October, I went to a job fair at USF.  I had carefully researched the companies, decided who I wanted to target, and what positions I wanted to target.  The recruiters for these companies were fairly alike in their response:  they handed me a business card, and told me to go on the website and apply for the position I was interested in obtaining.  Before long, I had a sour taste in  my mouth and my feet were killing me.  I went to one last employer in the far corner of the room, and next to this employer was The Yingbo Language School of Training.

Grace, the recruiter from the school was very sweet.  Very casually, and sort of off-handedly, I pulled out my resume and handed it to her.  I walked away from the fair, jaded and disillusioned, and forgot about Yingbo.  I started attending the Job-seekers ministry at church, and learned that job hunting is a weirdly different ball game than it was eight years ago.  Then, I simply walked into a temp agency, signed up, and started taking temp to perm positions.  Not so in these modern times...

I forgot about Yingbo until they emailed me a couple of weeks after the fair asking for an interview.  Again, I was fairly off-handed about it, and picked November 11 off the menu of dates being offered. Around November 2, I received another email:  USF was closed for the holiday on 11/11, and would I like to meet on 11/4 instead?  I agreed thinking that it would at least be worth the experience of an interview.

On November 4 I was not feeling great, and almost did not go to the interview.  As usual, I dressed up in my best suit, and felt extremely overdressed as I saw other candidates leaving dressed for class: ripped jeans and t-shirts.  Grace and Tu interviewed me, and while Grace was beautifully dressed in business casual, Tu was dressed like the students.  I felt kind of stupid.  We talked for about 20 minutes about why I wanted to go to China ("learn more about the culture") how long I would be willing to go ("spring term - to start").  Tu looked at me kind of oddly at one point and burst out "are you free to go to China??  I mean, are you married?"  I was a little shocked, and told her no I was not married.  She said "Oh, I saw your ring and thought you were married!"  I glanced at my left hand and realized that the purity ring I was wearing on my middle finger had given her a false impression.  I smiled.  "No, I'm free to go," I assured her. I left the interview feeling stupid.  They hadn't really asked me many questions about my qualifications as a teacher.  It was a strange interview. 

Weirdly enough, I treated going to China as a joke.  I was never serious about it, to be honest.  I posted something about it on Facebook.  It was the ONLY job interview I had since graduating.  In spite of not being serious about going to China, I had been having vivid dreams for weeks about going to a foreign country.  I was still surprised when a week and a half after the interview, Yingbo accepted me into their program.  I was even more surprised when my family enthusiastically supported the idea of me flying half-way around the world to take a position as a teacher.

I still wasn't taking it seriously.  I demanded to speak with someone who had taught for them.  During a skype video conference, I questioned the legitimacy of the program and everything I could think of based on the myriad of warnings I had seen on different sites related to teaching in China.  He reassured me on all counts, and I began to seriously consider going.

Communication with Yingbo has been primarily through email.  It was a long, tortuous process.  Having worked in "Corporate America" for so long, I was used to immediate responses.  Emails from China would take days or even weeks to answer.  I finally received all the answers to my questions, and agreed to have them send me the contract.  That is where I am at right now.  Here are the logistics of what I know so far:

  • Airfare is reimbursed at the end of the contract.  If you stay one term, it is 40% reimbursement, two terms is 70% and a year (3 terms) is 100%.  They have been burned in the past by teachers coming and leaving mid-way through the term, so they reimburse airfare at the end of the contract.  The year is February 8, 2012  through January 31, 2013.
  • Housing and food is provided, and they arrange for the appropriate work and housing visas the Chinese government requires for foreigners.
  • A small stipend is also paid on top of the food and housing already provided
  • The position is with Yueqing middle school in Wen zhou, in Zhejiang Province.
  • Yue qing secondary school was founded in 1939, the school has a first-class faculty and teaching resources, In recent years, the school entrance examination scores ranked at forefront in Wenzhou
  • Opportunities to travel during school breaks will be provided

Yes, I am very excited.  No, I do not have a plan beyond January 31, 2013.  What I do know is that if I don't take this opportunity, I will be missing out on something God has for me.  While the government frowns on religion, recent years have seen a loosing in regulations, and a growth in home churches.  I already have contacts in Wenzhou who can help me tap into these sources.  Obviously, I will be very cautious about talking about that side of my experience until I know exactly what way that wind blows, so to speak.  God is up to something, and I can't wait!

Monday, February 21, 2011

True Joy

I met my friend George when he was teaching a course on the Bible at our church.  He is currently battling cancer, and words cannot express how much he and his wife are missed at church, daily.  He sends out these emails, and they absolutely put life in perspective -- God's perspective.  I am publishing this email with his permission.  Thanks, George, you and your wife are in my daily prayers!
Are we having Fun Yet?

On the surface, happiness and joy are similar; they are both uplifting and blissful experiences. Yet there are more differences than similarities. Happiness is a self-focused emotion tied directly to getting what we want. I am happy when I hear that I am about to be served a favorite food dish.
Joy is a spiritual result of our focus on God
It is tied to our salvation and our walk with Christ. Happiness is temporary at best; it is subjective to our circumstances and moods. Joy is eternally-based and can be ours even in our deepest valleys (and trust me on this, with Joy… there are some incredible green grasses in those deep valleys). Happiness quickly leaves us when we fail to attain our goals or we become bored with our prizes. Joy is from God and therefore can never be stolen from us.

The trick here is to not let your Joy get blocked as you are seeking happiness.
How do you know you experience Joy? When even in a dark circumstance, a bad time or something that is totally contrary to “happiness” you still have a feeling of goodness and well being. That is because you recognize that ultimately our Joy rests within our relationship with God. Joy for me comes in that moment when life seem pretty dark and it is giving you one of its regular butt “whooping’s” and all of a sudden I will feel an almost giddy feeling, a closeness with God.

Joy is given through the Holy Spirit the moment we accept Christ as our Savior. As Christians, our joy can never be completely destroyed, although there are many pitfalls which can significantly diminish it or block our perception of it. Joy is a permanent gift from God, but it also a gift for which we must take responsibility for nurturing and protecting on a daily basis.

We can always find joy in our salvation, because our salvation is assured. Paul told the Philippians, "In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:4-6). The God who gave us salvation never begins anything that He will not complete. When He saved us, He saved us completely, eternally and forever. Jesus said, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:28).

You may have heard the acronym for “J-O-Y” representing how to gain joy through our priorities: Jesus, Others, then Yourself. But consider this twist on it I recently read: J stands for Jesus, Y stands for You, but O stands for Zero. When absolutely nothing comes between Jesus and You, you will find joy. At the center of our joy is our relationship with God; anything that stands between us and our Savior will corrode our joy.

One of the greatest threats to our joy is disobedience to God's Word. When we live in disobedience, we become a fruitless and joyless Christian. Jesus warned against fruitlessness: "No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:4, 5).

We also face pitfalls to joy through people and circumstances in our lives. (Hmmm, I wonder what that could mean?) We may encounter malicious people who resent our beliefs. We may lose our jobs, our best friends, or our homes or our life. Happiness may be out of reach—but joy is readily available if we know how to nurture it.

Paul was no stranger to experiencing hardships. He endured harsh criticism, prison, and near-death situations. He was not always happy, but he had found the secret to maintaining his joy. He remained focused on Christ instead of his circumstances. Rather than resenting his obstacles, Paul was able to say, "But what does it matter? The important thing is that…Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that…what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance" (Philippians 1:18, 19).

Joy does not mean that we will not experience pain or sadness or frustration when everything seems to go wrong. But unlike happiness, we can find joy in the midst of our suffering. When Christ is at the center of our lives, when His glory is our goal, when we refuse to be intimidated by life's obstacles, and when we live totally for Christ in obedience, we will find a joy that will carry us through the darkest of valleys.

Have you covered up your joy with the anxieties and distractions of this world? You’d be surprised how easy it is to fall into that pitfall. Have you taken you eyes off of God and your relationship with Him? Are you ignoring the convictions of the Holy Spirit to repent of certain sins in your life? If so, seek God's forgiveness today. Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to overcome the obstacles to living a joyful life.

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."  Romans 14:17

In Christ,

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year it's time for a change...seriously

This year is all about change...

My PwC life has finally come to a close. It was really really really dramatic. At 8:15am on 12/20/2010 I walked into a conference room, handed over my laptop, badge and a security device, signed some papers and walked out. In about 3.5 minutes, my 7.5 year stint was over.

Monday, January 10th, I start a six month self-improvement program. My goal is to be finished school (BA in English), debt free, and physically fit. These are all goals I set 2.5 years ago, and I'm so excited to be thisclose to being finished!!

I've spent the free time purging old stuff, and reorganizing the stuff I'm keeping. I'm so excited! For the first time in a very LONG time, I've got a place for everything, and everything is in its place. I love the way my place is decorated and organized -- which is good because I'll be spending a lot of time here in the next few months.

My other goal is to blog at least twice a week, consistently. More than anything, I desire to encourage others and affirm my own faith. It occurred to me that I rarely center my writing on scripture, so that is going to change also.