December has been pretty much chaos around this place. We had programs, parties, lessons, grading, Branch and Christmas activities. We still aren't quite recovered. We still have one more day of finals and then grades to get out. I didn't sign up for this part. We leave day after tomorrow for our ice adventure in Harbin. I'm cold already!
Monday, December 29, 2008
Just before Christmas we attended the most special event of the season....Stella's baptism! She is such a gracious and special young lady. It was a touching and spiritual event. The young women sang "I am a Child of God." Stella asked Terry to confirm her and it was a beautiful blessing. We have been truly blessed to have this wonderful young lady share her life and testimony with us.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Celebrating our anniversary in China was fabulous! I’m amazed at how two years have flown by. After teaching we went to our favorite place for a two and a half hour foot and full body massage…..ahhhhh…..HEAVEN…..followed up by a scrumptious dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. We sat and listened to the piano play and enjoyed the enormous Christmas tree and “Western” atmosphere. There was a chocolate fountain and Cold Stone type ice cream. Yummy! It was nice to have a relaxing evening together and just visit and wind down. I can’t believe we are lucky enough to have found each other and to experience this together. I love you Terry.
Monday, December 8, 2008
We spent Thanksgiving in Beijing. It was wonderful. Although we did not have "turkey dinner," we were lucky to have several western meals that were delightful. We went to Sizzler and TGIF. We miss SALAD here in China. Our itinerary included the Forbidden City, Tienanmen Square, the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, Olympic Village, the Water Cube, the Bird's Nest and the Great Wall. We tasted Peking Duck and went to an incredible acrobat show. You pretty much cover your eyes the entire time because their feats make you crazy and you wonder if they have any bones in their body the way they twist around. The hotel was delightful. The company was wonderful. Oh, and did I mention bargain shopping....too much fun. Sunday we were able to attend the block of church at a real chapel (in a high rise office building) and the spirit was divine. No pun intended. We arrived back in Qingdao and my suitcase came up missing. Same one that was missing the first day we set foot in Qingdao. I told Terry he is packing in the "unlucky" suitcase next time. They did recover it three days later--I was ecstatic. We are so thankful for our blessings--our beautiful family, the gospel of Jesus Christ, great friends, our experiences in China and especially for each other. Love to all of you.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Terry has decided to try a new back medicine. Actually we were both going to try a little acupuncture, but she thought we wanted massage (most foreigners don't like needles) and only brought one set of needles. He needs another treatment, but isn't so sure he is going to get one. Big baby. I thought the picture would be better, but he has needles up and down his legs and in his back. They are so tiny you can't even see them....haha.....
My cute young women are so talented! They speak English, Chinese and Korean which is amazing. Christina plays the piano for church (all meetings) and did a violin solo last week. Stella is not a member of the Church, but comes every week and is so anxious to learn and grow. We are having a "cooking" activity this Saturday and I hope I can figure out a dish to cook in the Chinese oven...otherwise known as the "toaster oven."
Well, not quite the Jazz, but as close as we can get--The Qingdao Double Stars! Basketball in China and we are the number one fans. The city professional basketball team plays at our university arena and we have been attending the games. In fact, we were on the front of page of the sports section of the city news "Foreigners attend basketball game." Terry was giving high 5's to one Chinese student sitting by us and pretty soon we had a following of our own because everyone wanted to sit by "super fan." They had half time dancers and the equivalent of our dentist who sits behind the basket with his signs and bull horn. It was a good time and we are headed again tonight.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
We are so grateful for all we have and our opportunity to serve in China....some days more than others..... We really are blessed to have the wonderful family and friends that we do. The weeks are rolling by and it seems we never catch up. We will teach our classes about Thanksgiving next week. It is my favorite holiday (next to the 4th of July)! I look forward to talking about it, but do it with mixed feelings as it is hard to be away from our loved ones at this time. The last couple of weeks have been a blur. I had about 80 of my students over to this campus for a make-up class and the "International Fair." Terry was the hit of the party. They arrived toward the end of the Fair and so we gave them a tour around campus...library, basketball arena, theater, etc. They were able to try to different food and speak English for a while. The next day in class my student, Braydon, said, "I think your husband is very happy and you have a very happy life....I love him....!" They are so innocent and sweet.
The facilitators for the BYU program were here last week as well. They came to our classes and we had some meetings and meals with them. It was good to see them and find out we were doing our jobs okay....haha....
Last Saturday was the most incredible experience as one of the sweet sisters in our branch was baptized; something we never thought to experience here. Shelly is married to Peter who is Korean and thus she is able to attend our branch and follow her desire to be baptized. She has a sweet testimony and is so humble. She is trying to learn everything she can and is very grateful for the gospel. I hope we can all be grateful for the little things and for the gospel that gives us such light, hope and peace.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I don't know why I think there has to be a trip or something big before I post. We have been super busy and me a little stressed out. Seems to be no down time. The lessons take so much effort, but the students are so worth it. We taught them about Halloween last week and they had fun. We played some educational games--their teams had to draw a jack-o-lantern by having one person as the artist (who went out of the room during the planning) draw by giving him only instructions in English. They did team creativity trick or treating by coming up with a song, story, poem, skit, dance or whatever dealing with a Halloween creature. Each team member had to participate and speak English. They are do thrilled with every little thing. Little pieces of candy, little decorations, little songs. They thought it was hilarious when I put on a witch's hat and when I lit a little ceramic pumpkin in class they went crazy. Anyway, that was the week at school. We had district conference over the weekend and President Toronto from Beijing was there. Yes, he is John and Carolyn Toronto's cousin. So, we are cousins through a couple marriages or something like that. I can't believe it is Wednesday again and we are half-way through another week. I'm sorry we missed little Spencer's blessing. What a beautiful little boy. The photos we've seen from Halloween back home look great. Keep them coming.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Last week we had a beach party with a class of students. The day started out rainy, but cleared up and was just a little windy. The students (post graduates) were so excited to have a day on the beach. We played volleyball and tug-o-war with a long piece of material they found which they held up for a net and used for the tug-o-war. They are so happy with simple little pleasures. They are so gracious and accommodating to us. It was really enjoyable. We then spent the weekend traveling to QuFu and Mount Tai. This was the home and burial place of Confucius. We went to the Confucius Temple and then the cemetery. Mt. Tai is one of five famous mountains in China and probably the most famous. Many emperors made pilgrimages there. We took a mountain bus partially up, then a gondola and then hiked some 2,000 steps to the top. It was cold....until the hiking began. The views were breathtaking. The legend is that you can see all of China from the top. The locks in the picture signify "locking in your wishes." You can purchase a ribbon (wish) and a padlock to "lock it in." There was a temple at the top and much incense, praying and wishing going on. We wish all the best for our wonderful family and friends!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Well, I guess we have three anniversary dates to remember now. We just renewed our "vows" as part of the Qingdao Annual Beach Festival. They called on us, the token Americans, to join the wedding celebration part of the festival. It was quite the event--held at Bathing Beach No. 1. The festival included dancing boys and girls, speeches, kung fu, ancient Chinese dancing, sand castle/sculpture building and the wedding celebration. We marched onto stage to "dum dum da dum" and then they had the officiant do his speech and popped confetti firecrackers around us. There were then speeches from two gentlemen--a famous Chinese spokesperson and our own, Joe Goodrich, from BYU. We all took hands and went down to the sand for a circle dance and photos. Back up on stage for flowers and certificates and then more photos with the governor and mayor and a special tour of the sandcastle/sand art. The BYU boys had purchased huge, "diamond" rings for us and got down on one knee in the sand. I think we caused quite the stir. We were then driven to a nearby hotel for a special banquet including duck (w/head), fish (w/head), shrimp (w/heads), etc. We even got a special wedding gift--commemorative plate with stand, tee shirts and sheets. That night we watched the fireworks from the balcony of our apartment. Well, I did as my cold finally caught up with poor Terry and he was in bed.
Friday, October 10, 2008
In Xi'an we went to the City Wall and rode bikes 9 miles around the top. Xi'an is famous for the Terra Cotta soldiers that were buried during the Qin Dynasty about 200 BC. They are excavating more than 6000 Terra Cotta soldiers, horses and chariots. The last evening we attended a dumpling banquet and a Tang Dynasty music and dance performance. The music and dance were wonderful, but very different from American entertainment.
This famous city has over 1,000 caves that the Buddhist Monks inhabited nearly 1700 years ago. Inside some 300 caves are Buddhist Statues and other paintings and murals. This entry inside the door has a five-story Buddha in it. This incredible sight could not be photographed. The Chinese are recently learning how to preserve these artifacts and will not allow photos. There was a Buddhist Monk chanting outside of the Mogao grotto, known as the 1,000 caves. We were at the edge of the Gobi desert, where we rode camels out to an Oasis. The Camel ride was very gentle. Going up and coming down is an adventure! The largest sand dune is called Sound Sand Mountain and at the base is a small lake called Crescent Lake--in the shape of a crescent moon. You can tube or sled down the sand dunes as if it were snow. They were using the same tubes that we use at Magic Mountain.
China's National Day (our 4th of July) is October 1. The nation takes a week off (including schools) to celebrate. Terry and I joined other BYU China teachers for a week's tour of some great sights along the ancient Silk Road of China. We had paid our money and reserved our seats, but we were in doubt as to going until two hours prior to departure. The school was having problems getting our “resident visas” and they had taken our passports to the police station to get the paperwork done. We made daily contact to see if they'd speed up the process, but no results. We packed our bags and two hours before the bus arrived to take us to the airport we received a call that our passports and visas were back. Off we went to check out the Silk Road of China (ancient road transporting silk across China to Europe). We flew six hours to the farthest northwestern province of China (bordering Russia and Outer Mongolia) and worked our way down through the Gobi Desert, visiting ancient desert villages and ending up in Xi'an, the eastern end of the Silk Road. Our transportation included airplane, bus, train, donkey-cart and camel. All methods of traveling were enjoyed without mishap. On the train we were in sleeper bunks with four to a room (I use the term “room” loosely). At one point, we had over eight folks in our room laughing and having a party. I’m sure everyone who knows me knows how much I enjoyed riding that camel. It was my highlight! Very interesting when they are getting up and down--hold on!It was a glorious six days getting more acquainted with the people, geography, history and customs of these wonderful Chinese people as well as the great BYU China teachers who shared the journey with us. Our flight home was delayed about four hours so we got home, had a couple hours of sleep and went back to teaching classes. Exhausting, but worth the adventure.
Urumqi is 90% Muslim population. This is one of the many mosques in this city.
Urumqi is 90% Muslim population. This is one of the many mosques in this city.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Still Kickin It is a new week and I started my classes Monday. Terry is a seasoned teacher and I am a nervous wreck. I went to his class on Friday and watched the master in action. He is great with those kids. It was helpful because I did get some ideas and see how it was done. I have 70 students in class and that is a handful. Teaching back to back two hour classes is exhausting. I don't know how Terry and the other teachers have been doing it for two weeks now while I just try to "play house" in China. We have a banquet with the mayor that the BYU teachers were invited to on Friday and a banquet/fantango with the University on Saturday.We have a holiday here next week. National Day. We have the week off and we are signed up, paid up and ready to go on the "Silk Road Tour." Only problem is we haven't received our residence Visa. They are having trouble getting it and we have to have it to travel. We go to the police station tomorrow to try and get the ball rolling. We will have to leave our passports and it usually takes 10 days.....hmmm.....let's do the math. We'll see if we get to be tourists on the Silk Road or back to the U.S. on Saturday.