I mean really bad.
I mean REALLY bad.
This was at 3pm - the sun tucked up behind layers of dusty, smoggy, dirt.
Can you seriously SEE the filth in the air. Its almost claustrophobic feeling sometimes, the air is so heavy. You just want it to lift so you can see.
So Julie has an app on her phone that shows the PM (I have no clue what it stands for except something along the lines of PSI) - its like a pollution meter. So apparently, a normal American city would be maybe 5 or 10. The worst polluted city in the states is around 50. Beijing, on a good day, a day that Julie and co feel like, its a nice day out, would be around 150/200. Yesterday was around 400 and today - today was over 500! I've had a headache off and on all day, which I'm blaming the pollution for. You breathe and your nose starts to hurt. Your lungs start feeling a little heavy throughout the day. And then, you pass all of these asian men walking around puffing on cigarettes and you think ...
I believe I can feel myself dying.
And then you look at all these poor asian people who are always in this city and you think - they can't have long to go between all those factors.
And apparently Obama will be coming for APIC the middle of November so start like the 7th or so of November, they're going to close all the plants and start regulating the cars more so that when Obama comes, the air is actually relatively clean. Apparently they do this other thing called "cloud seeding" where they fly above the clouds and drop like silver nitrate or something and it will make the clouds actually rain so that it helps to clean the air up more quickly. So it seems that I will have a few days where, thanks to Obama, they'll be cleaning the air for me. Yay Obama!
Today Julie met up with a friend, one that I knew, but honestly I just felt like reading this book that Julie had just asked me to bring over. She wanted to do it as a Bible study with some of the teenage girls she works with and then while we were talking last night she suggested that I should just read it while I'm here. So - because I do whatever Julie tells me :) Almost always :) I took it up and started reading it and was so taken with it I could hardly put it down so I decided to go over to the Starbucks instead of Wedame where Julie and friend were meeting. I sat over there for about an hour and read and was totally taken in by the book. If you want an amazing read about time and where to spend it - well, I'm only 5 chapters in, but I'd say that this is the book for you. Its called "The Best Yes" by Lysa Terkeurst. I think I always struggle with saying the word "no" when I'm asked to do something, but I am getting better.
Julie and Zach leave for their conference tomorrow after church and then I'm solo until Friday evening. Its school everyday except Wednesday and I'm so sad that I won't have the time to spend with Julie, but I'm so excited for what they get to do. Well, excited but apprehensive.
We were talking about this last night. They were talking about how when they came here they were thinking they were coming to help the work here, but it seems as if its almost been more for them. That God has been using this time as refinement with them and they've learned and grown so much in the past two year than they have in their whole time in Hungary.
And then the beginning of the year they were attending this small group and several of the people there had been through this program called LEAF out of Dallas Theological Seminary. They had all shared their LEAF stories and were talking about how God had really refined them through the program. About a month or so later, Julie got an email inviting her and Zach to go through this program. Its a pretty intensive program and can really put one through the proverbial wringer so she and Zach had talked about doing it and Zach had said, well, why don't we see if Alison can come and take care of the boys and if she can then we'll do it - but I really doubt that she's going to come all the way here for that.
Don't you love God's sense of humor :) Julie had texted me in April or so and asked "hey would you come watch the boys while we go to this conference - haha" to which I replied - "let me pray about it and I'll let you know next week". And for some reason, as soon as I started talking to God about it, it was just an almost automatic "yes" in my head. And then I thought - I'll look at tickets and depending on price, I'll say "yes". Which I looked at tickets and - jaw on the floor - a direct flight from Chicago to Beijing was just a little over $700. The "Best Yes"! Even before the week was up, I had texted Julie back and said - I'm coming.
So, this is the first that I really heard about the program and all last night and I loved how immediately I saw how God brought everything together for this to work. And then hearing about the program, it will definitely be a hard and defining week for them. There was a lot of intensive work they and others had to do before hand. There will be conference time with other people, but then Zach and Julie will meet individually with a counsellor/mentor and they go over paperwork for others and paperwork they've done before hand. And the jist of it is that they pull out the three words that you think of yourself as - three words that hold you back from being where God wants you to be - three lies that the world and your own self have made you believe about yourself. And then they find the three words that God uses to describe you - the three words that can transform your view of yourself and the way you live your life and the way you glorify God and show others him.
They're both expecting it to be a hard week and a long week, but a productive week as they grow their faith. And I'm so excited to be able to help them and allow them this time. They're seriously the most amazing people and I'm so privileged to have gotten to know them better and I can't wait to see where they wind up serving and how.
And in the meantime, I'm sitting watching Jasper finish his homework and I'm excited to see how God can use me this week and what fun I can have with two little blonde boys!
But for tonight - that smoggy air has just crept up into my head and made me feel like I'm so thankful that at some point in the far/near future, I can go home and breathe clean air. Thank you all the people who regulate and control things so we can actually see the sun and breathe fresh air. I can't wait to come back so I can breathe without feeling like by doing so, I'm slowly killing myself.