It’s been 3 weeks since I returned to China on Aug. 6 and pretty much, it’s been non-stop ever since.
Leaving the States
After entertaining Chinese visitors in Illinois, which was a rare treat, I didn’t have much time to get myself in order for the flight back to Luzhou. There were last-minute shopping sprees for coffee and other goodies at the Walmart, stocking up on U.S. veterinarian supplies for my abandoned charges at the Xin Wang Animal Hospital (the Chinese meds are not really that great), saying goodbye to relatives and friends, getting in those final early –morning pool swims and making sure Lao-lao, our Chinese Chihuahua rescue, had plenty of pets before I disappeared until next year.
A Busy Return
Once in China, there was the new visa to deal with (I actually pick up my renewed residence permit this Monday), entertaining/advising a new Amity teacher and accompanying staff member for a week (Denise Mountain from Australia, teaching in Inner Mongolia, and “Lisa” Meng, her language trainer from the Nanjing office), putting together my textbooks for the new year (still working on that one) and waiting anxiously to hear . . . . when will I be moving?!
My move to the new school: Still hovering over my head
Yes, I am still located on the 22nd floor of the highrise apartment which I was supposed to have been moved out of in April, then June, then July and now last week.
Obviously, none of those moving dates have come to fruition.
The new campus, I’ve heard, will be ready when students are to be landing to settle back into their dorm rooms come Aug. 31st, before the school year starts on Sept. 5. The upper classmen moved in last month and dumped all their stuff before heading off for summer break. Lots of grumbles and protests took place due to no water, no ceiling fans yet in place, no WiFi Net access and overcrowded rooms with too many bunk beds in place.
Hopefully, those difficulties will be settled before their return or the school officials will have a student uprising on their hands.
The freshmen will be arriving mid-September, as is common in colleges and universities in China. They will have their military training (more like a bonding session) for 10 days and then begin courses in full.
I have yet to see the new campus since my visit last May but just know that we are on schedule to begin on time, so the administrators have said.
I do know the lease runs out to my rented apartment on Sept. 3 so I’m guessing that I should be out by then but without any news of an exact date, I am finding it very difficult to motivate myself to pack up my things. They are just sitting here, nicely arrayed and homey, and I am not dealing with it yet.
Sweltering Heat Engulfs All; Relief Hard to Find
Another big problem has been the heat. We’ve had the hottest summer in Luzhou in many years, so I was told. This brought out loads of swimmers to the Yangtze River at various spots in the city. Families, their doggies and the elderly found this a cheaper dip than the local swimming pools, which charged 30 yuan ($5) a day. (The Yangtze is free, although I’m not a fan of polluted waters, which the river certainly is.)
My sitting room hit 96 degrees two days ago as there is no air-conditioning unit except in the bedroom. Last Wednesday had us at 111, the hottest for the month, with days before and following always over 100 degrees.
I was melting every day, sweat pouring off of me as soon as I left the air-conditioned bedroom’s comfort in the morning. The pool swims were great but even then, the fitness center cooling units struggled to keep the entire building comfortable.
My volunteer duties at the animal hospital, dog walks at the clinic and cleaning cages, had poor Stinky the Yorkie needing a cool-off in pans of water. I’d prepare his pool dip before he took off down the block for our 10-minutes outing. After he panted his way back, he jumped right in to lie down for some relief in the comfy water, after which we’d go sit in the clinic’s air-conditioned outer room and watch the Olympics on their flat-screen TV.
I’m relieved to say that yesterday, we had a big rain which cooled everything down to the 70s and 80s. It was the first day back I actually was able to go out without becoming a puddle on the sidewalk.
Church Worship Just as Hot
Worship at the Luzhou Protestant Church has likewise been quite a challenge . . . for me, anyway, if not for the Chinese who are used to the Luzhou summers.
I’m sure many remember years ago when our US churches weren’t air-conditioned. I still remember fans blowing the smothering, oppressive air all around the sanctuary at the Marshall First UMC. Our poor pastor and layleader were wiping sweat from their brows constantly in July and August, much like our Chinese church leaders have been doing here.
The temperatures haven’t stopped people from coming to church, though. We’ve kept our usual constant of around 400 and in the evenings at 7 p.m., the young people’s 2-hour worship has likewise been well-attended, so I heard.
With our cooler temps now in place since yesterday, tomorrow should be a lot more pleasant in church, that’s for sure.
Thoughts Before Closing
The big move will probably take place sometime this week.
I have no idea what condition the new apt. will be in. Most likely, it will be very dirty from all the construction work, and the Internet may not yet be hooked up. There will be air-conditioners to install and the washing machine to hook up, plus the water heater and gas burner to attach for cooking.
My furniture will have to be re-assembled (bed and wardrobe) and hopefully, nothing will be broken this time around. The workers destroyed my bookcase in the last move. The school has promised to buy me a new one but maybe they should wait a bit. Might be something else broken on the final upcoming move that needs replacing as well.
One never knows!
From Luzhou, here’s wishing you many blessings for the upcoming week. Ping An (Peace)!