A Summer in Inner Mongolia

 

This post is dedicated to all who supported my venture to the Inner Mongolia region of northeastern China this summer, where I was able to volunteer at a summer camp. To all those who gave financially, prayerfully, and in any other way, here is my gift to you: the fruit of your investment.

 

 

This summer was very typical of each new adventure in my life; it didnt go how I expected it to. And thats a good thing, because it continues to humble me when I realize that my plans and my methods are often a far cry from what Gods are. This experience put forth challenges that Ive never faced before, stresses Ive never dealt with before, and trials that pushed me to step up or go home.

 

For those of you who followed my blog this summer, I dont need to tell you that Inner Mongolia is a fantastically beautiful place, largely still untainted by urbanization and other environmental problems China has become known for. Blue skies abound, animals both wild and domesticated running through seemingly endless green pastures, and a diverse culture full of relatively unknown minority groups abound in this region. Inner Mongolia is a cultural crossroad of Mongolia, China, and Russia, and little is known about it in the western world. This, of course, intrigued me as well as the fact that Inner Mongolia had a summer camp that had spawned from an existing summer camp in my also relatively unknown region of northern Minnesota. A few emails and phone calls later and I had received the go ahead to spend the summer there.

 

Like most things in my life now, I try not to have big expectations, especially when it comes to China because things change so rapidly here. This is not at all derogatory towards China; in fact its one of those cultural differences I find extremely interesting. And it really helps me to live day to day instead of by my 5-year plan. One of my favorite English idioms is: Hindsight is 20/20. Which, simply put, means looking back on life its clear to see what the Lord was doing and how He used my (and our) circumstances to make us, mold us, discipline us, and grab our attention. My life today is vastly different than what I thought it would be like 10 years ago; five years ago; one year ago.

 

Inner Mongolia is a place that exceeded even the expectations I did have. A place that I knew little about, but still a place where God is moving. It wasnt at all like what I thought it was going to be like; it was much much more than I had anticipated. So without further adeiu, I present to you a picture show highlighting the summer of 2010 in Inner Mongolia. Enjoy and be blessed.

 

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We bonded. Kelsey, myself and Tyler were the new ‘foreigners in town. These two were a Godsend and all of us mutually agreed that we would not have survived the summer without each other. Thank God for His Body. We also got to live in yurts.

 

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We were guests of honor. Mary, John (couple who run the camp), myself and Tyler (and Kelsey who took this pic) got to be special front row guests at a local middle school. The whole party was attended by thousands and basically revolved around our schedule and arrival. It was amazing, especially considering the choir sang the song He knows my name to close out the ceremony.

 

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We witnessed the spectacular beauty of rural Inner Mongolia.

 

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We introduced Ultimate Frisbee.

 

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We had water wars rafting down the river.

 

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We sacrificed a lamb.

 

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We ate said lamb, a very traditional delicacy in Mongolian culture.

 

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We had an Amazing Race each week.

 

 

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We made great friends.

 

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We played basketball against the local village police department.

 

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We conquered mountains.

 

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We fit 29 people in a 12 passenger van.

 

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We had lots of great bonfires and great conversations.

 

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We taught English.

 

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We performed. I dont think I, or the kids have ever laughed harder in our lives, nor have I ever acted so ridiculous.

 

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We danced. Then danced some more.

 

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We played Octaball.

 

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We performed some more.

 

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We hung out with camels.

 

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We were amazed by the beauty of Gods creation.

 

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We cooled off in the river.

 

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We performed some more.

 

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And we performed yet again. This particular skit was special though. Its entitled the Parable of the Hats. Hats represent sin and its a great skit because it covers all the way from creation to Christs coming, crucifixion, and resurrection, in very simple terms. Virtually every student, unless he/she was skipping rally time that day, got to see this skit, and they all loved it!

 

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We made loads of new friends of all ages. We had bountiful opportunities to share what Christ means to us in our lives. We had countless conversations that went far below the surface. We saw many seeds planted. We laughed together. We struggled together. We saw eternal differences being made in the lives of the students, staff, and fellow volunteers. God is moving in Inner Mongolia, and in China. 

 

And thats the bottom line.

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