A Just Walk (run, hike, etc…)

"…to the Rock that is higher…"

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This will make your day!

??????????????????????????????? Many of you remember JB – one of the precious abandoned children I had the privilege of caring for in China. I’m so happy to tell you that a couple weeks ago he was finally adopted and went to America with his Forever Family!

He was about 5 months old and only 8 lbs when I managed to place him in emergency foster care back in July 2009 (here is my original post and here is another post about him). He has been cared for by the same family these four years. Of course JB’s adoption is bittersweet for them as they have considered him one of their own for so long.

It has been so encouraging to witness his growth and development over the years I lived in China and to continue to follow his amazing progress after I left has been a blessing.  The photo at left is at his going away celebration.

Please do continue to lift up JB as he makes the transition to a new family and a new place as well as for his ongoing health care needs. As you think of JB, however, please remember to lift up all the other abandoned children, many with profound physical and mental disabilities who continue to languish in institutions in China and around the world.

JB with his foster mom of four years

JB with his foster mom of four years



2011 “Cha Bu Duo” Fun Run!

Last Saturday, 17 September, was the successfully fun second annual “Cha Bu Duo” 5km, 10km Fun Run! It is Shenyang’s premier running event –  it is the only running event in the city! For Mandarin-challenged readers, cha bu duo is Chinese for “more or less”, or “close enough”.

Thirty participants ran a 5km (new this year) or 10km course and the FUN is emphasized as there are no prizes for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd – every finisher gets a medal – and of course everyone finishes! Dunkin’ Donuts (the real thing!) were waiting for us at the end, along with water, bananas, and other potluck goodies.

The Run For Your Life Club! Way to go!

Personally, to have a bunch of people gathered to do one of my favorite activities is like a bit party celebration and a super way to end my time in Shenyang. I ran my “cha bu duo” marathon with a 20 mile warm up before the 10k. My Garmin said that I ran 26.29 miles in 3:39 – another BQ and not bad for stopping to take photos during the 10k part! It was a pleasure to serve as race director, do a bit of coaching, and get everyone pumped for the event! This was a big day for some as they participated in their first ever 5 or 10 km run and the first time they ever got a medal placed around their neck. I am so proud of them!

proud finishers!

This year I decided to make it a charity event to raise money for Chinese families who foster abandoned children. Families can get some support from the government but it is often not enough to cover some essentials necessary for proper development. We want these children to receive the best and these families who care for special needs children need our support. Last Saturday, we raised 2800 rmb ($439)! Thank you everyone! Way to go!

After the run, people were asking what is going to happen to the “Cha Bu Duo” next year as I left Shenyang this week. I can’t make any promises, but it would be grand to return to put this on again. As much as I can be in charge of my schedule, I’ll try to do it. I do have ongoing projects in the country, why not make the visits around September? Who knows what can happen?

Eva and I enjoying our reward! YUM!


Coast to Coast!

fried chicken, tofu, spinach, and mystery dish for lunch!

The first 90 days of 2011 found me traveling on 47  of them. Traveling in SE Asia – particularly China – ain’t no picnic, in the best conditions. I try to fit in core work whenever I have a chance on a hard tile floor.  The worst is losing  control over my schedule, as well as my diet (not like there’s a salad option on any menu). When I wasn’t traveling in January, the morning temperatures averaged -10 to 20 F. When I got back to Shenyang in March, the training temps were a balmy mid-20s. Kinda hard to do quality speed workouts with freezing muscles and wearing three layers of clothes. It is also not surprising that the week before my Stateside trip, I came down with a nasty head/chest cold, and I’m still trying to shake it.

Traveling in Asia, is not very conducive to marathon training – especially if  you are training for the Boston Marathon. If you are a gunner like me, anything less than a PR is likely to be a disappointment. So if posting these gripes and conditions ahead of Monday’s race sounds to you like I’m making excuses for a potentially disappointing run, well, you would be correct.

What I’m battling to keep in mind is that Boston is a celebration run – something special that I’ve earned through hard work. Sure, it is a  competitive race – all runner competing  there are competitive – we wouldn’t be there if we weren’t. Sometimes, however, winning means something other than beating my time goals.  This time is a reminder that a different perspective my mean different goals, and that I’ll come around to another PR when the conditions are better. My travels, while not conducive to high-performance training, reminds me that I’m not a professional runner. My travels take me to amazing places where people are suffering and serving and that is truly where I belong – right alongside them, wherever that takes me.

I head to Boston tomorrow, then all the way over to Portland, OR, then on down the California coast, ending up in Irvine traveling by train, plane, bus, and car. I fly back to the Midwest going up to Wisconsin and Chicago, and another round in Michigan before landing in the Fort Wayne area again in early June. All along the way speaking at various venues, visiting counter-trafficking projects, meeting interesting folks, and seeing beautiful places.I look forward to meeting many of you along the way!

Traveling in the States loses some of the “surprises” and oddities one can find in Asia, such as fried spiders at a roadway rest-stop in Cambodia. Here are a few examples from my travels, not that I’ll miss any of it!

hair dryer is available - if you don't mind grooming yourself in the hallway next to the elevator

honestly, sometimes I think I could get around faster taking a donkey for all the time waiting for public transportation

the crappiest crapper EVER! (but kinda makes up for the no-holes one I had to use in India)

ubiquitous equipment found in all hotel rooms in China

Heres an alarm to alert people who may be "fried" in a fire!


The Links

This isn’t about golf, sorry… I’d like to draw your attention to something that I really like about the blog format and that is the “links” section down the right side of the webpage. You won’t get these if you read the posts from your email, but if you have some extra time to read about China (and other stuff), skip over to the blogsite. I’ve posted some articles you might find interesting. I try to do extra reading to keep up to date with history and current events here, and will pass along some of the things I find interesting to you.

For example, a friend of mine recently shared this article and so I think you might enjoy it as well: “Smoke or be fined”, about one county’s solution to helping the local economy.

And because I can’t stop talking about running, click HERE (and scroll a bit) to view a few pics from the Dalian marathon. This is one with me in it!


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China’s Milk Scandal, and then some

It is so painful to watch the Chinese people suffer through yet another huge food scandal. It is also painful to know that the information about the tainted milk was withheld during the “People’s” Olympics to avoid a loss of face and a tainting of China’s image during their golden moment. Golden for who, exactly?

No doubt you have heard about the tainted milk scandal in China, where the poisonous additive, melamine was added to milk. Melamine artificially raises the level of protein in milk that is watered down. Now, the courts are refusing to hear the cases and give fair trial to the families whose children have died or badly suffered, as outlined in this NY Times article.

This obstruction of justice is not an isolated incidence. For all the talk about China’s developing capitalist market, the country is far from being a free and fair society. Sure there were official areas in Beijing set apart for protests. The catch was the protesters had to obtain prior approval to protest. Interesting that protesters were granted permission to protest. Not even the several 70 year old Chinese women who wanted to protest their homes taken from them to make room for new Olympic venues.

One of the most egregious and tragic stories happening now in China is that of Hu Jia, a Chinese dissident standing in the gap for the rights of people infected with HIV, and free government for all. Please read or listen to Scott Simon’s essay about him, and what he is suffering for, from the perspective of an American on the verge of a major election.

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Burma and China: Disasters in Asia

As I’m sure it has for all of you, I have been crushed with the news of the cyclone that wiped out parts of Burma and the earthquake that shattered parts of China.

With relief, I can say that Kunming and Yunnan province in general has not been affected as it lies to the South and West of Sichuan Province, of which the capital is Chengdu. Also, the people that I know who live in Sichuan province are all safe. The New York Times has an interactive map which is interesting and helpful. Another map from NPR. The health professionals and anyone available – especially those organizations who already have a presence there – are mobilizing people and resources into those areas. Now, a serious concern is the integrity and condition of dams which, if they collapsed, would greatly compromise power plants, wipe out villages and result in many more casualties. If you want more specific information about the efforts there, please ask or comment below.

The people of Burma continue to suffer in the wake of Cyclone Nargis as the military junta continues to restrict aid and aid workers. Some aid groups also claim that the military has absconded with aid and redirected it toward support of the military – for more click here. Furthermore, a referendum vote was held as previously scheduled on May 10. This referendum, if approved, would basically legitimize and cement the military dictatorship rule as constitutional. The vote has been reported as winning “massive support” from the people.

My friends in the Free Burma Rangers continue to give updates on what is happening in the area affected by the cyclone as well as the situation of villagers in other areas of Burma who continue to suffer brutality even as cyclone victims are denied assistance. Partners Relief and Development is an agency working with the Free Burma Rangers in providing assistance to cyclone survivors.

The situation in Burma has always made me sick, but this is beyond me to make sense of ANYTHING. I’m beyond asking WHY. To be brutally, humanly honest, I don’t know why God spared the military junta leaders who have been oppressing their own people for decades? Why couldn’t they have been washed away as well (although I have no proof that none of them weren’t)? This really isn’t what I want to think, but I’m throwing it out there. Where is God’s justice and mercy for these people? Haven’t they suffered enough? I have no answers to these questions but I can’t stop asking and pleading and praying. Praying for them, as well as my own heart in this. I’m glad I’m not God – I would have wiped them out long ago…

I’m sure that all of you have probably seen many pictures (perhaps more than you care to see) but I hope that you won’t grow fatigued in thinking about, learning about, and praying for these people in these areas. If you have questions or comments about any of this, I encourage you to write back.

I have been traveling and I haven’t found time to blog until today.