Tag Archives: Laos

Two years in China

Nanning at twilight!
Another image of city life in China.

It’s been two years of life for my husband and I here in China.  We’ve traveled to the mountains of Yunnan to visit minority churches, explored the ultra modern city of Hong Kong, explored, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Egypt, and the UAE and hosted our families and friends. He’s completed two years of teaching college-level English and I’ve finished two years of fieldwork with foster families.

On Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam.
In Tahrir Square, Cairo, on the one-year anniversary of their revolution with our friends Ben and Emily.
With a foster baby in Guangxi. Photos by Evan Schneider.

More than anything, as I look back through the past years, I’m astounded not only by the breadth of these experiences that I will carry with me, but also God’s provision and faithfulness.  

If you have time I invite you to check out the following posts which weave their way, highlighting some snapshots of our two years here, describing some of the highs and lows of research, faith, cross-cultural immersion, and our life.

From 2010

August 2010: Abide in me…  {thoughts on silent prayer in a city of 7 million, spiritual growth, and freeing oneself from distractions}

September 2010: Journeywoman  {on security, brokenness, and culture}

December 2010: Equipped by the Spirit (Yunnan Reflection #2)  {reflections on my first trip to Yunnan, and the tension between the need for theological training and the equipping work of the Holy Spirit in the Yunnan countryside}

From 2011

May 2011: Hunan Headlines: A Mix of Sorrow and Hope  {personal and professional reflections on the baby-selling scandal in a county in Hunan, which made international news}

July 2011: Church Renewal from Below  {thoughts on Richard Rohr, cross-cultural exchange, and Chinese solutions to Chinese problems}

August 2011: A Taste of Vietnam {evangelizing for one of my favorites, Vietnamese coffee!}

October 2011: Come on ride the train {snippets from a typical road trip to Guilin}

November 2011: Like a child  {reflections on fieldwork with children, disability, and faith}

December 2011: The Best Things about Winter in China {bundled up babies, chestnuts roasting, and hot pot, of course!}

From 2012

January 2012: Cairo notes: from the rooftops {a reflection on our first few days in another land}

February 2012: Thanking God for the woes  {on the beattitudes, justice, and God’s call}

March 2012: 72 Hours in Hong Kong {highlights from a weekend trip}

April 2012: Some Easter Thoughts from China {on Christianity, tomb sweeping, and culture}

May 2012: Consider the ravens, consider the blessings {on understanding, cross-cultural relationships, worries, and of course, blessings}

July 2012: Pinching myself {reflections on leaving China and savoring the little things}






International Travel Tips

Now I’ve only made one long trek back to the states since we moved to China in July 2010, but thinking back on 2011, I realized that when all’s said and done I’ll have spent time in over six different countries this year (Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, China, the US, and next on my list, Canada).  That doesn’t make me an expert, but it does make me a frequent traveler, who’s put a little bit of thought into the not-so-fun pre-packing, and long flights.

Here are my tips…what are yours??

1.  Pack Light:  I know, this is obvious, but I always tell people, have you ever actually packed too little?  Most of us over-pack, so when you have the urge to edit that last sweater, go with your gut and take it out.  You’ll be thankful that you have lighter bags and more room to bring home fun things from your travels.

2.  Pack a little detergent, a clothing line, and do your own laundry!  This is one place I’ve definitely adapted to the Chinese lifestyle.  When I travel with Chinese friends, they usually pack just two changes of clothing, and do laundry in the sink every night.  I usually only wash my workout clothes by hand, but this saves me precious space in my luggage.  I also do undergarments in the sink, because I usually handwash some of them anyway.  Make sure to bring lightweight or dryfit clothes that dry quickly, so you can be ready to run everyday.

The travelista on packing light.

3.  Skimp on the clothes, go wild on the accessories: The travelista has a great visual for what it means to pack versatile items, and then pack enough jewelry, scarves, and light sweaters to make each outfit morph into three or four.

4.  Pack gifts!  Chances are you like to pick up a few souvenirs for yourself when traveling, so what better way to leave space in your luggage than pack gifts for those whom you’re visiting.  Another alternative is to pack a light carry-on, and then pack a lightweight bag inside, and then you can check the carry-on on the way back and carry the extra bag, but I’m sure your friends would prefer the presents.

5.  Save some work for the plane.  “Air plane mode” means no distractions from the web, phone calls, or facebook, which, with a little music to block out the din of the engine, can be a great work environment.  I get antsy with so much time, and I tend to squander it, so I find it’s good for me to plan to hit the work first, and relax later, structure my time a bit so it goes by quickly.

6.  On board survival kit.  It sounds obvious, but for overnight flights it’s important to pack all the little things you might need (contacts, solution, glasses, facewash, mouthwash, toothbrush & toothpaste, medications, allergy meds, eye drops, sleeping aids, and cold medicine) in a reachable place.  This means they need to be small– under 3.4 oz–so you can carry them on.

7.  Stretch and walk around.  On long flights, it’s important to do some chair stretches every couple of hours and to get up and walk a bit.  It may feel awkward but it’s healthy, so get out and roam.

8.  Don’t be anxious about getting sleep on the plane.  I know it’s hard to sleep on the plane, but the anxiety over “getting enough sleep” can be paralyzing.  Plan a few days into your schedule to acclimate to your new time zone if you’re traveling internationally, rather than expecting the sleep on the plane (usually sparse and uncomfortable) to be something it’s not (relaxing and satisfying).

9.  Do travel with your comforts.  When I travel in China, I like to pack Starbucks instant coffee, because they don’t have good coffee in most towns.  Although they’re heavy, I also love magazines, because I devour them with pleasure, and then I can ditch them to another happy reader.  For this particular trip, I’ve packed a rather bulky sweater, but it makes me feel at home.  Maybe you travel with a pillow that gives your neck support or another favorite item.  Whatever contributes to that comfort (think one or two small items), don’t skimp on it.  This is something you’ll actually wish you packed, and think about longingly, so you don’t want to leave it behind!