A Chinese Christmas Story – Part 1

Dr. Joe Profit

Tim Ulmer

Tim Ulmer, a former staffer for Illinois House Republicans (where I met him) taught English in China for a year almost two decades ago.

He, along with Dr. Joe Profit, has written a book on the experience, which is not yet published.

McHenry County Blog is going to serialize the chapter on his experience one Christmas.

Here is the first installment:

A Chinese Christmas Carol

Christmas has always been special in my family. However, two are brilliantly unforgettable. It’s breathtaking to me that both incidents happened thirty-five years apart—to the hour.

God’s presence in both was irrefutable, and both exemplify that national (and planetary!) boundaries are insignificant to Him.

Tim Ulmer on this first day on the job.

The first of these Christmases was when the iconic “Earthrise” photo was taken, on the first manned flight to the moon.

People were so mesmerized by its beauty that Earth could only be the creation of God.

He made it just for us.

That Christmas Eve, 1968, in Illinois was also Christmas Morning in China, and my family was glued in front of the TV.

And like us, hundreds of millions of people around the globe had just heard the astronauts read the Book of Genesis’ account of God creating the earth, and then heard astronaut Frank Borman say,

“And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas—and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.”

Although my second unforgettable Christmas was not exactly “out of this world,” it was on the other side of the world—in Changchun, Peoples’ Republic of China.

Like those astronauts, my new friends were making me oblivious to national boundaries at the time.

Nevertheless, my trip to China had already proven itself to be less than routine.

I’d been teaching Conversational English at Northeast Normal University for several months.

Tim Ulmer explains, “The picture with the bright blue shirt has my face scuffed from a fall during my first seizure in China. The surgical mask is because of the respiratory disease that was pandemic when I was there (Mom even wanted me to come home).”

I was also continuing to wage a life-long battle with epilepsy.

Epilepsy had challenged me since my head was injured while still a toddler.

Since epilepsy prompted many of the Americans with whom I’d shared my “secret” to erroneously doubt my abilities, my premonition that the Chinese would be even less understanding had proved to be correct.

It didn’t matter that although professors and my educator-students held my methods in high regards, I was immediately fired when I had a single, mild seizure in class.

Fortunately, a friend saved my job until the end of the semester. At that point, a university vice president wouldn’t extend a farewell handshake out of fear that he’d catch my disease!

= = = = =
More tomorrow.


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