Archive for December, 2006

Technical Difficulties

Hello friends,

Due to a massive earthquake on 12/26/06 off Taiwan, we have essentially been cut off from the internet (specifically any internet site with a connection to the US). All our email, Skype calls and blogging have come to a stand-still (just opening up this blog editor took about 30 minutes with no graphics! I predict another 30 minutes to post this short message). We hear that it could take up to three weeks to fully resolve!

Until then, Happy New year! We wish you a meaningful, rich and productive 2007.

We look forward to ‘connecting’ with you soon,

– Dan

for the Kennedys (and our house-guests Rachel, Melva and Jen)

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Monday night: Christmas Party with Sara’s Chinese teacher

When we invited Sara’s teacher (laoshi) and his family for Christmas, we knew it would be an interesting experience. Liu Laoshi is quite a character. We learned a traditional game (similar to Connect Four), ate more Christmas cookies, gave gifts, shared traditions (including the Kennedy tradition of reading a certain special story) and through an interpreter friend, answered questions and shared personal experiences. Laoshi even sported a cowboy hat for the festivities.

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Our guests: Liu Laoshi and his daughters with fellow language learners TJ & Phyliss/We read a special story together/Christmas goodies, complete with dip made from homemade sour cream (not recommending, but OK in a pinch)/learning to play wu zi qi.


Sunday night: “Christmas Night” at the AA English Club

Our much anticipated Christmas Party for the students of the local AA English Club was a great success! Organizers estimate 300 students crammed into three classrooms for the three hour event. In each room, students played games, ate cookies, and made cards. A rotation of drama, carols and discussion time followed. At the end of our time, the students gave us a wonderful performance of traditional music and dance. Please view the pictures to learn “the rest of the story …”



Students waiting to get into the classrooms/card making & cookies/learning carols


Students gather into groups to discuss the meaning and origin of Christmas traditions in the US (nativity scenes, St. Nicolas, stockings, ornaments, wreaths, trees, etc.)/instructions for the game time/Our drama featured Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus while the narrator read from Luke 2. The students were thrilled when Baby Jesus entered the classrooms!

Chinese Santa passed out candy canes with the Legend of the Candy Cane attached/a rousing version of “Jingle Bells”

Several students blessed us with their musical talents on traditional Chinese instruments


What a wonderful night. Thank you AA English Club! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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A Very Musical Weekend

Both the Elementary school and our local Fellowship held their Christmas programs last weekend. We captured them both on video. Just follow this link. Trust us; this is WELL worth it…

— Dan

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It’s Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas

In two weeks, we will celebrate Christmas Day, one of the holiest and most important days in the Christian calendar. Growing up in the US, cultural cues that the day is coming begin right after Halloween, and reach an intense pitch the day after Thanksgiving. Shopping, decorations, music, parties, food, even special clothes and jewelry are part of the festivities.

Here in China, we too are busily preparing to celebrate. In the absence of cultural cues, our community has seized the wonder of the season to share the joy and anticipation of Advent.

We wanted to share with you our Advent Season calendar – most importantly, because we covet your thoughts during this important time. We also want to assure our family and friends that we do have a Christmas tree, parties, caroling and even a few candy canes.

Our apartment, decorated for the season:


Welcome wreath/the stockings are hung by the (rope suspended between two exposed pipes) with care/the Holy Family/our Jesse Tree advent calendar (thanks Mom Kennedy!) and our Christmas tree (purchased locally for 68 RMB – a little over $5)

12/11 – Staff Christmas Party for our company. Carols, white elephant gift exchange, wonderful menu of traditional (even Virginia Ham!) and Chinese dishes

12/15 – Elementary School Christmas concert

12/17 – Christmas Program at International Fellowship in the morning

12/17 – Christmas Party at Local University English Club in the evening

12/18 – Christmas Party at our apartment to introduce my Chinese teacher and his family to our traditions

12/22 – Elementary School Christmas Parties

12/22 – Rachel arrives from Wuxi to celebrate Christmas with her Family in China

12/25 – Jen & Melva arrive from the US to celebrate Christmas

We are so thankful for each of you during this season of celebration, anticipation and beauty. Joy to the World!


Sara’s back!


Sara is home safely after having a well-worth-it visit with her Nanna and family. I will let her share more in the days ahead. The kids and I are still rejoicing (quietly, as the jet lag is kicking in…).

Just a small reflection of the kind of community we get to be a part of; each morning different moms on our team took turns watching Mia and Hannah so I could work part-time. One of the moms made this wonderful collage for Sara of their time together (click on the image below).
— Dan

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Sweet Notes from my Sweet Boys

As some of you may know my amazing wife Sara is currently back in the States visiting her grandmother who has recently had a series of serious health issues. The kids and I are managing okay, but we all just miss her. We are far less than 5/6 complete. 🙁

I just wanted to ask for your Thoughts for her and her family during this time. May it be a sweet time of joyful memories and encouragement. Her return promises to be challenging. Coming back after a week of Christmas time in Virginia with family and lots of yummy Western food (plus jet lag!) will be enough to put her entire world into shock.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t ask for Thoughts of energy, patience and grace for me while I take care of the home front. I am working a part-time schedule this week thanks to a lot of help from our community.

I thought I would share a series of notes from Noah to Mommy.

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And while we are on this theme, how can resist sharing these two unprompted letters? The first is from Noah to his teacher who has been away on similar family events and the second is from Zachary to his Chinese language & writing teacher (note he substituted several English words with Chinese characters – I can’t read them either).

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— Dan