KennedysOnline

Archive for August, 2007

Courage

Lessons often come from unlikely sources. Mine today was from my 8-year old.

I began reading a book today called “Byzantium”. In it a young monk offers an amazing prayer to God. I read it to our kids during our nightly ‘family time’. It reads:

“King of the Mysteries, who wast and art,

Before the elements, before the ages,

King eternal, comely in aspect,

who reigns for ever, grant me three things:

Keenness to discern your will,

Wisdom to understand it,

Courage to follow where it leads.”

After I read it once, I re-read the last three lines. I asked if any of them knew what “courage” meant. Zachary offered this definition (verbatim):

“Courage – is doing something hard, but its the right thing”.

I don’t know what is in front of you. But may He grant you have this kind of courage.
-Dan

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Zach is seen here in classic 3rd grade style – no two front teeth.

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Mind’s Eye

A wise friend of mine in Shenyang, China once asked “we see such surprising things here, wouldn’t it be great if we had a camera built-in to our heads?”.  I thought about this on my bike ride home yesterday.  I usually cut through a local market area where they sell raw fish, mops, ice, jeans, watermelons, tea pots – the ‘usual’.  As I crossed over the train tracks I saw three scenes in quick succession that really struck me (almost literally):

  1. A woman riding a normal-size bike that had two wheels on the back with a small rear area to carry stuff (very common here).  But she was carrying a load – not kidding – the size of 10 queen size beds.  It was held on by strings and wrapped in rice bags so I couldn’t tell what was in it.   So I swerved to the left where I was fortunate to avoid a big…
  2. Bulldozer coming out of a housing area.  My tension soon left as I passed…
  3. The sweetest Chinese couple walking together.  They must have been well into their 80’s.  The man tenderly held the woman’s arm across his chest as they carefully made their way through the pot-holed streets of the market.  It was just beautiful.

Here, most certainly, truth is better than fiction.  Sorry about lack of pictures on this post – I can’t seem to export from this mind’s eye…

-Dan

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1,090,620 Steps

There are 83 stairs between the bottom of our gate and our apartment landing. With six members of our family going either up or down at least 6 times each day over the course of the 365 days of the past year, the Kennedy clan has traveled 1,090,620 stairs at our home alone. Remarkably, in spite of tantrums, groceries, hauling strollers and backpacks and even moving furniture, not one of us has earned so much as a band-aid from a fall. I will add this incredible statistic to our Jar of Remembrance (see April 20, 2007 entry). What a good father we have!

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First Day of School – Autumn 2007

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Noah gives Mia a big hug as he drops her off at class

Mixed emotions – how could it be otherwise? Zach entered third grade, Noah into first and Mia began her school career with full day Junior Kindergarten last week. In this part of the world, entering school at the ripe old age of 4 1/2 is almost unheard of. In China, Singapore, Korea, Japan and most of our other Asian neighbors, full time schooling begins at least at age 3. The competition for middle school placements, which lead to ever narrowing high school placements, followed by the excrutiatingly small spots available in universities forces children to compete for their education younger and younger.
Nevertheless, Mia looked impossibly small to be boarding the gray school bus. Zach and Noah rose to the occasion by personally escorting her on and off the bus, to her class and checking on her during recess and lunch. She left home beaming and returned home the same way. She has been the first one dressed and ready each morning, and delights in sharing her day.

Hannah and I are navigating this new found time to ourselves enjoyably. We’ve done a lot of baking and a lot of biking around town. The weather is at least 95+ each day, so after 30 minutes or so, I’ve turned bright pink and she is a sweaty mess – nevertheless, we are having a good time learning more about our city and each other. Enjoy!  Sara
Here are a few pictures from the first day of school:

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Mia with mommy before school/the first school bus ride/Zach, Noah, Mia and Daddy share the Big Day

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Chinese Blimps & American Football

Breaking through the clutter is one of the greatest challenges in advertising. Where we live you might say breaking through the smog is one of the greatest challenges. The remarkable marketing people at Goodyear Tire Company seem to have done both. In preparation for coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics they have launched the iconic Goodyear blimp into China’s skies. It has caused quite the stir as no one here seems to have ever seen such a flying wonder. Pictures below.

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Now here is where it gets just fascinating. Doesn’t the last picture above look a lot like the picture below? I think so.

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The picture (now above) is actually a football thrown by me (my first perfect spiral) to my dear friend Joey in Akron, Ohio over the summer. Joey (who, with his family, visited us in China last spring – see April 7 post) is the one of the top marketing people at Goodyear! Coincidence? I don’t think so. You can see him effortlessly catching the ball and sauntering in for touchdown (granted we were playing several youth 9 and under). Get There!

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– Dan

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Bonus US Picture: Skyline Chili (Cincinnati, Ohio)

If you are not familiar with Cincinnati, Ohio this post will be hard to appreciate. Cincinnati chili is to Cincinnati as coffee is to Seattle. And its an acquired taste. It has a sweet flavor (they use a bit of cinnamon and chocolate!), can be ordered with beans and/or onions and is served over spaghetti (for die-hards out there, I always order the ‘4-way served dry, inverted’).

The picture below is of Hannah and I (yes, we are both wearing bibs – very common for patrons of all ages – the sauce tends to splatter). This was Hannah’s first taste of this delicacy and she loved it. We are still looking for Skyline’s China branch…

– Dan

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Fresh faces, fresh eyes

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Zach and Noah combat the 100 degree heat with water blasters

We returned to China a week ago. It was a hard week, complete with Zach down with the roseola virus (high fever, followed by skin rash) and all of us struggling with jet lag. We are through the worst of it now and so very glad to be home. We’ve enjoyed catching up with our dear local friends, wonderful teammates and neighborhood happenings. White flesh peaches are in season – its been wonderful to eat these like candy!

We’ve also been able to welcome new people onto our team, in particular, our dear friends from Grand Rapids Melva and Rachel. Its hard to express how blessed we are to have these true extensions of our family just a block away!

We’ve also welcomed several other new team members, including a great young family from Texas. They are seeing life here with the fresh eyes we seem to have lost along the way – for us, the sites, smells, sounds and daily experiences that make China such a rich place to live are now part of our normal daily routine. If you have time, you might want to check out their website journal to see life in our little corner of the world through a fresh perspective. Go to: http://gesweinfamily.com/

Another great resource for those of you interested in learning more about current events in China is zgbriefs. This is a weekly compilation and summary of some of the major stories about China as reported by major news outlets around the world (AP, Reuters, BBC, Xinhua, etc). The summaries cover politics, religion, Olympic updates, environmental and business stories. You can subscribe to this free email service at www.zgbriefs.com. We find this service to very helpful and interesting!
Thanks again to all of you who invested in our family during our trip to the US. We are blessed to be a part of each of your lives.

Sara

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The rest of our US visit

Recognizing that life is moving on I decided to quickly summarize the balance of our US trip. Come with me…

After an intense and wonderful weekend in St. Louis we took a mini-vacation with my folks to the Lake of the Ozarks. More flying kids, bubbles , and a 9 lb carp pictures at http://picasaweb.google.com/danielandsara/LakeJuly2007

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Then it was on to Cincinnati! While Zach, Noah & Mia stayed with Grandma and Grandpa (of which they are still talking about!), Sara, Hannah and I got to visit the Petersons, Hicks, Hicks, Saxbys, and Linams (just to name a few!). More pictures at http://picasaweb.google.com/danielandsara/CincinattiJuly2007

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Our final stop was the greater Akron/Canton area where we reconnected with the rest of our family. Not only did we get to commune again with the Viselli family, we were honored to witness the long-awaited and absolutely beautiful wedding of Jen Abbas and Niels de Jong. My stunning daughters in traditional Chinese dresses and more at http://picasaweb.google.com/danielandsara/DeJongWeddingJuly2007

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Wow! My wife is gorgeous!

– Dan

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Triple Delight in St. Louis

Continued coverage of our US trip…

  • WCAG group. Delightful time with dear friends from the fellowship where I grew up.
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  • China Adoption Reunion. Simply amazing. We met up with two of the families we traveled to China with 2 years ago (they live in Indiana and Texas!). So encouraging to connect with these special people.
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    • Mizzou Mates. We spent a lovely afternoon with my (Dan’s) college roommate/best man and his family. Look for more on the McBroom family as they are scheduled to visit China in October (brave souls!).
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      We continue our slow recovery from jet-lag. The process has been slowed by Zachary getting sick (104 temperature!). Please Think of him. Another request for this week – Sara has all 4 kids home this week as school does not begin until 8/17 and I return to work tomorrow.

      –Dan

      A few more pictures at http://picasaweb.google.com/danielandsara/StLouisJuly2007

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