A Hardened Heart

“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

As mentioned in the previous post, a few weeks before making our change in decision, it dawned on me how much of a hardened heart that I had had for at least a few months. The negative impact from this was realized more and more when I actually took the time to stop, examine my heart, and pinpoint the reasons for struggles I was having in my work and my personal life.

Not only did my heart harden toward people, but I was not right in my assessment of particular issues. Therefore, I thought, said or did many things that were not me or the person I was created to be. These instances have been reminders to me quite often as of late and have helped me start to move in the right direction from a past where I misconstrued many things.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is that of Moses and the events it took for the exodus to happen. It is not surprising that this has come to the forefront of my mind at this time. Why? Because of the heart that Pharaoh had while Moses asked for the Jews, his people, to be released from slavery. Several times in Exodus it is somehow stated, “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart…” or “Pharaoh’s heart is still hardened.”

Things weren’t going Pharaoh’s way, and he wasn’t happy about it one bit. This is exactly how I felt many times these past six months. My way is best! Or so I thought. Little did I remember what inevitably happened to Pharaoh and his heart. Like him, I was blinded. I now know of at least a few more areas in my life that need to be surrendered, and it is time to deal with them.

A Clear Sign to Stay

In the week of May 27th this year, we announced we would be returning to Warsaw, IN upon my acceptance of a teaching job there. The weeks following that decision turned out to be the hardest for me personally as well as a couple weeks for our marriage. Toward the beginning of June, I informed my fifth graders (at that time) of our leaving the school. I was met by many students crying, faces of disbelief, and even later told of one student who didn’t eat the rest of that day. The days the students were told were Thursday and Friday. That following weekend for me, I cried several times as well. The weeks afterward, I had trouble sleeping. Something was not right. I didn’t feel peace in my heart for a move back to the US. Not yet. Not now.

As God has a way of working, my wife pointed out something. “Daniel, this could be an emotional response.” And she’s right. I’m an emotional person. In times like these, I can’t help but feel an assortment of them. With that said, Marta and I took the past few weeks to pray individually, pray together, and discuss the future along with its details. I would pray for my emotions to not be involved, and for the Holy Spirit to either give us peace to leave or conviction to stay. (Side note: I firmly believe in the practice of praying dangerously.) As we talked and prayed, Marta would repeatedly say America is where we should go while I would vote for China.

We both saw positives and red flags in both places. Certain things could happen in both places. How do we decide what to do if we don’t agree and neither one of us budge on our stance? It was then, on Friday, June 19th that I told the school of the ultimatum that Marta suggested and I agreed to. If we can obtain our visas before leaving, we will stay in China. If not, we’ll return to the US. Mind you, getting work visas in China usually takes twenty or more work days. We gave them three. It was in this circumstance that we had to wait on a miracle from God above if He wanted us to stay overseas.

After June 19th, I started to mentally prep myself for the move back. I also had to remind myself what was brutally true. My wife had been mentally ready for months since we made this call months ago. I couldn’t expect her emotions to change overnight. That would be ridiculous of me. I learned so much about myself during this time in regards to how my heart wasn’t right on several issues and how it was hardened (definitely more on this in another post). But now it seemed I was okay with going back, and Marta was softening to the possibility of staying. Personally, I found it hard to pray during this week. I thought that if God really wanted us in China, why did He have an extremely tough ultimatum set up? Even faith the size of a mustard seed felt like too much to give at this point.

But it was on Wednesday, June 24th that I received a call at work saying our visas had been approved and would be given to us the next day! It was truly a miracle!! When I told Marta, she smiled really big and said, “God really wants us here.” We chuckled and embraced. I was still in shock because my mental preparations weren’t necessary anymore. God had made it abundantly clear that He wants us to stay in China. What was more convincing is that our school didn’t use any 关系 (guanxi, or relationships) or bribes to make this happen. It wasn’t a matter of knowing or paying people, it was a matter of faith and believing in Him who can make all things happen.

My wife told me later that she was praying the visas would work out. It warmed my heart to hear this. I, on the other hand, found it quite hard to pray because I was upset, doubtful, and questioning (all in a bad sense). Time and time again in my life, God has proven Himself faithful and present. Not only had my emotions been stirred these past few weeks, but the Holy Spirit was also trying to tell us something.

Stay.

http://tinyurl.com/osfjsby
http://tinyurl.com/osfjsby

My dad once told me, “Daniel, if God tells you to do something, you run with it. If you think He is checking you, turn around and run the other way.” It’s been nothing but peace knowing that we’re now running the right direction, His direction.

Having a Baby in a Chinese Hospital

My wife and I arrived home hours ago from the hospital with our firstborn, Caleb Steven Scott. At birth, he was 7.1 lbs. (3.22kg) and 20.1” (51cm). What an event! I never imagined in my life that my first child would be born in China, let alone another country. https://twitter.com/danielscott_5/status/519032561125691392 It all started Thursday night, 8pm Beijing time when my wife started to have contractions. They weren’t too bad or intense until the next afternoon. But when late morning came, we were informed by our ride that the highway (the best way to get there) was packed and would have traffic jams. My wife, Marta, wasn’t smiling anymore. Thus, our ride came to pick Marta, our doula (and her 5-month old), her friend and me up to go on to the hospital. It took over an hour to arrive there when a normal day would take forty-five minutes or less depending on who’s driving. 😉 When we reached the hospital at 11:30-11:45am, it took at least a half an hour for paperwork to be completed and for us to be given a place to stay the next three days—this was the normal amount of time that Chinese stay after the birth. The time was longer than normal since we forgot Marta’s medical history at our apartment. Now you’re thinking…what? Her medical history? Yep because Chinese hospitals don’t keep the records. You do, on paper. This brought one of our doula’s Chinese friends to the hospital to make a delivery. An amazing support team, and this is only the beginning!

Marta met with a nurse to check on certain things in her medical history.
This was our room in the Chinese hospital. Quite nice, except for the beds. Oh well…

In the room, the nurses got right to work on checking my wife’s health along with the baby’s heartbeat.

This was Caleb’s pulse when we arrived.

Marta was 1cm dilated. Did we come too early? Was this a mistake? Questions like these and others came to my mind at that time and the hours following since a couple hours later she was only 2cm. It’s gonna happen tomorrow. We’ve got some time. But wait, this is really happening! At times, I couldn’t contain my joy while I had to maintain my focus on coaching. Her water had broken. Sweet mother! This is definitely goin’ to happen the next 24 hours! Or else the health of the baby wouldn’t be too good. Time at this point seemed to go slower than normal. Marta was moved down to the “Labor Room” so that a team of 2-3 nurses could check the baby’s heartbeat more frequently. She started to feel more pain here so our doula and I rubbed her lower back every time like it was the end of the world. I maintained my focus, as the Bradley method instructs you to do.

Here’s one of the nurses checking Caleb’s heartbeat in the Labor Room. Their support was fantastic!

We moved back up to our hospital room, and time was still slow. I regained my strength at this time with what our doula’s friend brought for us, Whoppers from the Burger King across the road. Perfect! As a team of three, we stayed on track while the feelings were becoming more intense for Marta but each one was only 45 seconds or so. It felt like only a couple hours later that Marta turned out to be 7-8cm dilated. Time was speeding up, and the delivery was in sight!

I’m not a fan of selfies, but our doula suggested I do one. If only you could see my smile behind it.

Here is where my joy was allowed to be shown, as I could infer from my wife’s nonverbals. We went to the delivery room at 7:30pm on Friday, October 3, 2014. At 8:41, Caleb was born. I spare some details for the sake of privacy and respect while others are necessary, right? 😀

Caleb looking into his mother’s eyes.

During the time of our stay to the moment we left, the hospital took great care of us. They took out our trash twice a day. They checked on Marta and the baby (sometimes too often, haha). The nurses changed the sheets daily. We were given time and space for ourselves and for Caleb once he was born. The nurses never once looked at us differently or giggled about anything out of the baby norm. There were only two times when a nurse we hadn’t seen before came in with one of ours, and then walked out asking questions. Probably rookies to foreigners. Who knows. It didn’t bother us. The next steps were explained to us (though our Chinese friend informed us that nurses on two different floors spoke of two conflicting ideas). One may say, “They didn’t do the right things. They are uninformed in today’s methods. They did this or did that.” You are correct, to a degree. But in the end, we had foreign and Chinese friends stop by to check on us, bring food, translate, hold Caleb and pray over us as a new member had joined the family. Blessings just kept raining down on us. It helps to have a wife who knows so much Chinese, especially the medical lingo. My heart was heavily touched, and it didn’t help that I was finishing up Andrew Murray’s The Master’s Indwelling also. Not even the cold sores on my mouth can stand up to the joy I have looking to my right and seeing my wife take a nap with our little Caleb Steven Scott.

Color Day in Qingdao

Yesterday was our school’s Color Day, and let me just be frank. I really really enjoy spending this kind of time with the students. The interactions they have with each other and the staff are priceless because they are quite different from the daily norm and grind of the semester.

I had two classes in the morning that went well, and I saw several students who really put effort into their color costume, face paint or whatever it would take to show the pride they have in their color. As I mentioned briefly on Instagram before, our school has this day where five colors represent certain values that we hold dear as a body. The colors are as follows:

Red: 精 (Excellence)

The young ones on the Red Team line up to move locations.
Time outside together while the colors walk across the stage.

Blue: 德 (Virtuous) – I just realized I have no Blue pics. Yikes…

Orange: 智 (Wisdom)

The Orange Team represent!

Yellow: 爱 (Love)

On my way to hang out with the yellow students…
The Yellow Team showing off. 😀

Green: 新 (Modern)

The Green Team! No Hulk this year… :\

Classes were normal in the morning, but after lunch the activities set in. From 1:30 – 2:15pm, the groups split into their colors and did team-building games at various locations on the campus. I took this time to just walk around, admire and take in the connections and memories being made among the collection of grades 1-12. The high school students came up the ideas for the activities and had to lead each group. The younger ones followed through and did their best to reach the goals.

I saw leadership, teamwork, laughs, focus, intensity, teachers, students, staff and excitement build as the time flew by. That’s what happens when you have fun, right?

The Best Dressed!

And when 2:30pm rolled around, it came time for the first round of “Best Dressed” of every color to walk across the stage (see above). As the staff and students walked by in their own individual fashions, much smaller groups from every color were chosen based on their costumes. It was such a good forty-five minutes to an hour of just natural bonding time with students that I know as well as others that I just met. But it didn’t stop there. The next ten minutes or so were when the colors took group pictures followed by a school-wide one. It may or may not have been a little toasty when so many gathered in one spot. As they say, 人山人海. 😉

Getting ready for the school-wide pics

While we walked away from all of the festivities, I reflected with the other elementary foreign teachers about the afternoon. One could immediately and totally learn so much more about students days like this. A prime example would be one of my 2nd graders. A boy, *Jason, at the outset of our time outside for stage-walking he clung to my arm and gave me several hugs throughout. Instantly I learned that this child needs physical affection. (Gary Chapman always comes back to me in moments like these.) Obviously I cannot fill the void that his parents should give, but I can be a source that he can daily reciprocate with in appropriate ways.

Students like Jason emphasize the reason why I am a teacher. We can guide students in their intellect all we want, but their hearts are what truly matter.

Ready to Re-enter China

My wife and I fly back to Qingdao early this Friday morning and will arrive Saturday evening (Beijing time). We’ve been in America the past two months, and it’s time to go! If we had more things to do or people to see, it might be a different picture. Let’s just say we’ve had some time on our hands. And since doing the Culture Shocks in China Series earlier this summer, I read a little more up on it. To my eyes came this heart-twisting quote.

Let’s not make an overly big thing of culture shock. Yes, it’s real, and for some it causes real problems. But for the great majority of missionaries it is but a temporary phenomenon. We said earlier that culture shock was basically disorientation. The solution to it, then, is to get oriented.
-Thomas Hale, On Being A Missionary

an insightful documentary
an insightful documentary

One way I’ve started recently getting more acquainted with the Chinese before re-entry is to know better their history. I decided to focus on the last century since their history spans for thousands of years, but I’m not too enthusiastic when it comes to this subject because it’s been hard for me to wrap my head around the whys of events. Nevertheless, this week has been groundbreaking. I completed a book last night called The People’s Republic of Amnesia by Louisa Lim. (Here is my review of it) Then, this afternoon we watched the first two hours of the China in Revolution documentary series. I won’t ever completely understand Chinese people because of obviously being quite opposite, American, but I started to grasp the reasoning why a few nationals think or feel the way they do. I intend to learn more about this in the future, but with a baby coming the end of September it might happen in a slightly slower fashion. Especially since I told my wife that I’d start reading a couple baby books upon our return this weekend.

That said, I feel like this summer has been quite personal. I’ve become more conscious of new ways that I can relate to Chinese as well as conversations that could turn out strange and/or extraordinary. Either way, I can do this, and it feels good to be where I am in relation to a group of people thankfully less foreign to me.

Now, being an English teacher and a fan of puns I recall a couple articles with lines that I put together in a couple ways using differing punctuation. Let them sink in.

I can get oriented.

I can. Get oriented.