Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thoughts and Facts

Dear Family,
As I was walking to class this morning, I started to think that I had not told you so many things that are significant in China. Just, little thought about facts that I take for granted now. So, tonight I will try to remember some of them.
In China, at our University there are so many little things that are different. For instance, the heat to the buildings where we live will not be turned on until November 15... Also, there is NO hot water in our bathroom shower or sink BEFORE 6:30 a.m. every morning and after 9:00 a.m. every morning. In other words, hot water in the bathroom from 6:30 - 9:00 every morning ONLY. This is to conserve the hot water - for what? I do not know.
Another interesting thing that really causes us to fret when we are out walking after dark...... the automobiles, including buses, motorcycles,etc. DO NOT turn their lights on unless they absolutely have to...I am not kidding ! ! ! They drive down the streets with NO car lights on - IN THE DARK..... We are told that this is to conserve energy...
There are NO Stop signs in the country. Only traffic lights that are to be tolerated. Even if the traffic light is red and a bus feels like running the light - he does. Every day we see drivers drive on the wrong side of the road facing the oncoming traffic and then swerve to miss the oncoming traffic at the last possible moment.
And, the horns honking!!!!! We wake up in the middle of the night to the horns honking and wake up every morning to the honks.
The Chinese people cannot drive without that horn honking.
And the beds...... I have never slept on such hard beds. When we get home, our bed will feel so wonderful. The bedding is very unusual to us also. Every sheet set includes: 1 pillowcase, 1 flat bottom sheet and 1 duvet cover. No top sheet or fitted bottom sheet...All the beds in China have, as the mattress, just box springs. If you want to try out the way we sleep, just flip your mattress on the floor and throw a top sheet on the box springs and lay down and get some "shut eye".
We all have our way of doing things and I guess that I feel that my way is the best. Don't we all? The cultural differences are so very interesting. One way is not wrong, and the other way, right. Just different. And I wouldn't trade this experience for anything in the world! I love it here.
Today was a fun day - showing the Chinese our Halloween customs. They never cease to amaze me! Their innocence is so refreshing. I had 2 boys dance the "jitter bug" together for me. We also did an activity where I had 7 different pages, with pictures of Halloween representations ie. a werewolf, a vampire, a witch, a ghost, a goblin, a black cat, and a jack o lantern. I divided the class into 7 groups and gave each group one of the pictures to create a play, make up a song , or a poem. I gave them 20 minutes to do this. I wish that all of you could have been here to watch them ! ! They are so creative and it is so wonderful to watch them interact and create. They made darling "props' from discarded newspaper, the cleaning lady's broom and their clothing. I had the rare chance to glance into their individual personalities and really see them. I just watched them and smiled., I could not stop smiling... Oh how I love them.
Tonight is a cool one and I am sitting here in my windbreaker, but I have never felt so needed and appreciated and loved. It is all worth the small inconveniences, and I know that I am growing spiritually because of the humbling circumstances I see and experiences daily. I am thankful for all I have and I feel so blessed to be in China. Thank you BYU, thank you family and most of all - thanks to my Heavenly Father for my many blessings and the abundant life I live in the good old USA.
You are in our thoughts and prayers.
We love you very much,

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend at Confucius' Hometown, Temples and Cemeterys

Dear Family;
Just returned home last night late, from a great weekend. We went to Qufu - the birth and death place of Confucius and also to Mount Tai. We started the weekend early Saturday morning and traveled 61//2 hours to the city of Qufu.
In the city of Qufu, we visited the Confucius temples first - there were 13 of them. They were awesome! Most of the structures are 2,500 years old and there was a very special, spirit there. What a man Confucius was... So many of the sayings we use today, came from him. During the reign of Mao, so much was destroyed, therefore many of the writings of Confucius were buried or entombed. They have some of the original rock "slabs" or books displayed today. There was a very sacred feeling present. The sights were remarkable and we really enjoyed ourselves. I will send pictures. Then we went to the family cemetery, it has a rich history and it was very interesting. Those burial mounds are interesting and there are so many in that cemetery. From what the guide told us, even now, the descendants of Confucius can be buried in that same cemetery. From what the guide told us, Confucius actually had 13 sites or plots for burial. The reason being, there were many people that wanted him dead and wanted his wealth. The story tells of those who tried to make sure that Confucius actually was dead and proceeded to start digging up the sites. Confucius had predicted that the ones that tried to find his remains would be cursed and die. As the story goes, after the 12th grave had been dug up, and all the grave robbers died, the final site, being the 13th one was never dug up. However, a faithful servant watched the gravesite for 7 years to make sure that no one disturbed the site! Confucius only had one son and that son died before Confucius died. But he did leave an heir. It was all so interesting.
After the tour, we went to the city of Tai'an for the night. It was another memorable night in China! After arriving at the hotel, we were getting ready for bed and I happened to walk into the bathroom and I could not believe my eyes! It was a very small room with a vanity, toilet and the shower - no tub or surrounding - just the shower head and drain in the floor! I could not believe my eyes..But that was not all.....I have slept on some pretty hard beds in China, but that bed beat them all!!!! When I went to bed I could NOT get comfortable, no matter which position I moved. I actually felt bruised when I got up the next morning! Oh, and the next morning, as I proceeded to turn the shower on, it sprayed my hair down and wet the entire room as well. And, to add insult to injury, as I was putting on my makeup,the electricity went out....Needless to say, I just sat on the bed - or board, and laughed!!! It was so comical. China really does change people, for the better. You must learn patience and remember to take a deep breath.
In training, at BYU, they told us repeatedly, not to try to change China, that China would change us. How right they were!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We then boarded the bus once again and went to the base of Mount Tai. At the base, we boarded the tram and rode up the mountainside. Then, we had to walk about 2,000 steps, taking us 45 minutes, to get to the top of the mountain!!!! Have you ever walked that many stairs at a time????? I honestly have NEVER thought it was something I could possibly ever do. Guess what? I did it......The steps in China are all little, tiny, uneven steps that go straight up. You will see in the photos we are sending. I am so proud of myself. Now, I am capable of the StairMaster... Watch out Cedar City when I get home.... Once we got to the top, we had to get back down... Scarey! But, I survived.... I am so proud of myself. And, the view was breathtaking. Like NOTHING I have ever seen. Then, we came home....
What a weekend... One we will never forget. I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that I would ever go the places I have been or done the things I have done. Places I have heard about, but never thought that I would get the chance to see. How very blessed I am. What experiences.
The Chinese people are so genuine and loving. I can honestly that I will never be the same again, they have changed this old gal. They are such a gracious, loving, meek race and I truly love them. We never feel fear here, always so safe and protected. Foreigners (Americans) are treated like royalty - at least the BYU teachers are!
Will write more tomorrow or the next day.
Much Love, Mom

Friday, October 24, 2008

Starting to Celebrate Halloween Daily Now‏

Hello Dear Friends and Family,
Just a note to tell more about the festivities leading to Halloween. Yesterday and today were unforgettable ! My students are so special and I know that I will never forget them or the great experiences I have shared with them. They are the most unpretentious, innocent, loving, caring human beings I have ever had the privilege of associating with. I am in love with them - as you can tell... I always tell them that they are awesome and they just grin at me.
It is important to the Chinese students,to learn all they can about the English language and culture. Therefore, the celebrated American holidays are very interesting to them. I have been explaining Halloween and the customs to them for the past week and I will finish this next week. As you all know, I have the Freshmen one week and the Sophomores the next week. This past week has been a Sophomore week.
I have shown them how to trick or treat and they are so cute trying it out . They are not afraid to share their talents and they are talented. They have the sweetest singing voices and their pronunciation is so dear to me. I feel very defensive of them. They are so meek and mild - perfect examples of what the Savior taught us we should all be! They treat us BYU teachers like we are of royal blood. It is going to be very hard to go home and back to the life I had before coming to China. I am a changed person - and for the better, because of these wonderful people. I will be forever grateful for this experience.
Today, in my 2 morning classes, I was taught with love. You all think that I am over here teaching the Chinese, but actually, I am the one that is being taught! They are so patient and eager to listen to anything I say. I have their undivided attention all the time I am teaching. We talked about Halloween and I sang them a Halloween song, and they wanted to try trick or treating. They were so child-like in their enthusiasm and excitement, as they went out the door and knocked and yelled, "trick or treat". I always stand close to them as they sing or recite, I know how frightening it must be for them. And I can feel them trembling and even see their lips trembling. They look at me with such trust in their eyes that I cannot fail them in any way. It is a very spiritual experience, knowing they put all their trust in me. Oh, how I have learned to love them!
We had a fun game today,to help them with their speaking skills. They were divided into teams and each team had a spokesperson. The spokesperson came to my desk and I explained that each member, of every team, was to participate in the activity and they could earn a treat. Each spokesperson was given a different picture showing something to do with Halloween. They had to do one of four things: 1. explain the picture in detail or 2. tell a story about the picture or 3. do a play, explaining the picture or 4. sing a song about the picture. I then gave them 20 minutes to explain to the teams and come up with one of the above to present to the class. It was so much fun to watch them interact with each other. They are always so happy. I love to watch their faces and walk around the room and eavesdrop on the conversations. I learn alot from them. The presentations were unbelievable. I wish that I could have taped the entire day. They are so talented and inventive. They had great ideas and some very interesting ones. They did not want the class to end - they were having such a good time. So was I ! ! ! ! I wanted to take every one of those student into my arms and hug them.
Tomorrow we go to Gufu, the home town of Confucius. Also, to Mount Tai, and I hear it is quite the hike, up hundreds of stairs! We leave at 7:00 a.m. and go on a 7 hour bus ride. We will spend Saturday night and return home Sunday afternoon late. I am apprehensive to go - I have so many things to do to get ready for school next week. Hopefully, we will have a tame bus driver. Some of the bus drivers are pretty wild. The bus we rode home on last night was another wild ride. The drivers are out to hog the road and not allow others to pass or get ahead of them. It is so comical to witness - makes for great entertainment. Never a dull moment here.... I love it. Life in Cedar City seems so dull in comparison.
I will report again when we return home on Sunday.
Please know that we love you all so very much. You are never far from our thoughts and prayers. May the Lord bless all of you.
All our love,
Mom and Dad

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Celebrating Halloween!

Dear Family,
I have a new appreciation of Halloween as of today! I "took" Halloween to school today and what an experience...... These dear people - my students - really know how to celebrate the old fashioned way ! ! ! I showed them how our kids go" trick or treating". I wrote some Halloween tongue twisters on the blackboard and some of them read them and some of the students chose to sing me a song in English. They are so dear to me and they sing with such enthusiasm and gusto that it made me emotional. I wish that every one of you could have been there!!!! They REALLY got into the spirit of the holiday and we had a ball. The girls, as well as the boys, got up in front of the class and stood there and just sang their little hearts out. They are truly amazing. And this was only the first day of the next 10 days that we will celebrate Halloween. I am sure that I will have some choice experiences to report. And, those tongue twisters were unbelievable.. Wish that I could figure out a way to record those sweet voices, but I know that I will carry them in my heart until the day I die. They sang John Denver and Karen Carpenter songs as well as children songs.
After class today we went to the "RT Mart" - a wonderful store, with our little Chinese friend, Ariel. She knows where everything is located in the store and she can read all the labels!
What an advantage for us... She showed us where the yeast is located, where the dry beans are located and where the tomato puree is located.. These may sound like crazy things to all of you, BUT, believe me - they are of great importance to us. I have plans to make some homemade bread and some homemade chili. These things sound so good to us about now. We have been in the country long enough that we are getting hungry for some American "soul" food. I even bought a pork roast - which was easy to find, as the Chinese love pork. BUT, you should see how the fresh meats are displayed in the grocery store.....big slabs of fresh meat, just laying in the cases. And the chicken.... Oh my - it is cut up or whole, just stacked on top of ice! And the fish *0!#)+@**** there are fresh fish floating in big tubs of water, just waiting for someone to purchase and take home for really fresh fish for dinner. Not to mention the live grubs - what a delicacy. And people are allowed to touch, or feel,any of the fresh meat that is sitting out. What a different life, and the longer we live here - the more used we are to the differences. That is good. But, there are some things that we will never get accustomed to.
I just received a most welcome Skype call from my dear friend, Marion Whitney. It really cheered me up, as I am getting somewhat homesick. This time of year I start to think of home and all the beautiful colors and sights. Thanks Marion ....
I am going to close for tonight and write more tomorrow.
Much Love, Mom

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Our Wedding Day

Dear Family,
Just a short note tonight to tell you about our "wedding" today. Yes, we were married for the third time today, on the beach, in Qingdao China! The Foreign Teachers Office has been telling us that we were invited to our wedding on the beach , but we thought that they were just kidding. We were informed 2 days ago that the ceremony would be this morning at 10:00 a.m. We were told that we were to wear our "Sunday best" and be in the lobby at 8:25 a.m.
We were then taken to a gorgeous German building, on the beach, in one of the most frightening taxi rides yet!!! (As we approached the beach, the taxi driver made a sudden left turn and whip lashed us all, scaring us to death !) I thought that we were going to meet our Maker.
Then, we were literally "railroaded" into a room and listened to a little Chinese woman tell us what we were supposed to do and how to act. She was very comical to watch. All the proceedings were held on the beach, in all the sand, and us in our Sunday best! There were several Chinese dignitaries and several military couples, as well as 3 police couples. We then walked to the beach and there was a variety show going on with dancers, kung foo demonstrations, juggling acts, a young boys dance group and some older women did a little show with a ball and a paddle. We were held in the background to watch, until our "time" to go to center stage. The Governor gave a speech welcoming everyone and it went along with all the pomp and ceremony, as only the Chinese can do. When our "time" came, we were ushered to center stage,and the women were handed a bouquet of silk flowers and the ceremony was read and then they sprayed confetti in the air. The Governor then handed us all an offical marriage certificate and we had to jump off the stage and march on the sand and all hold hands and jog in a big circle. It was really something I will never forget - very cheesy. But, the Chinese make us foreigners feel like royalty, they shove their own people out of the way for us and give us the best of everything they have! I am sure that there are those that resent us.
After the big "to do" on the beach we went, in a van, to a fancy hotel for a banquet. The food and the facility were great . The food was very Chinese, with the entire chicken served, including the chicken head, complete with eyes and beak. - not forgetting those attached fried chicken feet , complete with the claws. A real delicacy...Also, a "real" crowd pleaser, (especially among the Americans) shrimp - in the shell, complete with tenacles and eyes...
After the banquet, we were all given a special bag for each couple that included a new night t-shirt for him and her, as well as a very ugly commerative plate - complete with a stand, a book on Qingdao - written in all Chinese (something we all can use!) and last, but certainly not least, a single bed sheet set. Isn't that wonderful?
Oh - one thing I forgot to mention. Before we left the beach, all the Qingdao BYU grooms, knelt in the sand, by their brides and gave us each a huge wedding diamond.........Apparently.last night, when we were all shopping in Taidong,at the night market, they somehow hid away and purchased the "rocks". Aren't they sly? Can't wait to show everyone my big ring...
All in all, it was a great day. After the big wedding,. I came home and two of my girl students came over and visited for about an hour - Holly and Sarah. Such dolls... They brought me a little gift - a Mickey Mouse picture frame. They are so thoughtful. And, my little Vivian called me tonight to invite me to lunch at her home, here in Qingdao. She spoke with her family and they all want to meet me - they all think it is so unusual to know and speak to an American...It makes me feel very humble and flattered. I know that I need to really set a good example for our country, as well as the church.
I know, for a fact, that these Chinese students are the future of China and that I am very priviledged to associate with them and know them. They are very exceptional and valiant. I cannot help but love , respect and admire them. How fortunate I am to be in China at this time in my life. I thank my Heavenly Father every night for this opportunity.
I will write more tomorrow and try to send some of the wedding photos.
Oh - almost forgot to tell you... Rog and I were interviewed by the largest Qingdao newspaper today,because we had been married the longest of any of the couples there today! They took several photos of us and ask us alot of questions... We may be featured in the newspaper...
All our loves,

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Can Not Waiting!

Dear Family:
It has been a fun, interesting day. I did not have school today, but all us ladies met at our apartment for lunch and to watch the Relief Society session of General Conference. We also counted it as our monthly Visiting Teaching visits! Everyone else had to teach this morning, so I fixed the lunch. We really had a good time and I made a big batch of rice and we had a feast. We had so much fun that we decided we would do this monthly from now on...
Today was a milestone for me... I went and had my first haircut in China.!!! Now, those of you that know me, know what a big feat that would be for me. I was so frightened....
I telephoned our little Chinese friend, Ariel who speaks very good English, to go with me. The little guy who did the honors, really did a great job. He was so nervous to do the job and tried so hard to please me - please me he did!!!!! Michelle Heinz, watch out - he is awesome... He is a master with the scissors, and I have never seen anyone use them in such a manner as he did. He used no styling gel, no round brush and NO HAIRSPRAY... Can you imagine that ? And, he didn't cut it too short.... He passed the test. Now, Rog has had his hair "cut" 4 times since arriving in China - this was my "first".
I have been texting a couple of my students for the past couple of days. One, wants me to come to a basketball game he and several of his classmates will play in on Saturday and Sunday. The second one wants to borrow some of the BYU teachers DVD's to watch. He loves watching movies - but has none! We have many movies, and I want him to watch what he wants to watch. He is so appreciative that I would consent to lend movies to him. I have agreed to meet him in front of the library tomorrow afternoon. When we finalized the time and place I received a text message from him that reads, "sure that sound great. I cannot waiting". It took me several minutes to figure out what he was trying to say. By the way, his name is "Never". Another student wanted some information on student unions in the USA and I emailed several web sites to him and he wrote back to me and was so appreciative and sweet. I just love these kids.....
Tomorrow I meet "Never" at 12:30 and then we will catch the bus and go to Computer City and then on the Tai Dong to meet all the BYU teachers for dinner and to the big evening, outdoor market. The "deals" abound on those outdoor markets - especially at night. You can barter and pay just about anything you want to pay for just about anything you want to buy. However, the "pick pockets" abound at the outdoor, evening markets as well.
Saturday morning we have our wedding ceremony at the beach. The mayor and the government want us to get re-married and they will photograph us and we will be on the local news and in the local newswpaper. Yes, you read it right - we are getting married AGAIN. For some reason, that idea really amuses the Chinese! We will send photos. I did not get a new dress, however. Oh - and we will also be the guests of honor at a special banquet following the ceremony!!! I will report all the details tomorrow night. You just never know about these Chinese and what they will come up with.. It is NEVER boring, I will say that.
Much Love, Mom

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

China Today

What a day it has been in China! I have a little friend that waits for me every morning to walk to class with me! He is Chinese and we met him in our apartment building and now he feels like it is his duty to accompany me to class each morning...It seems that he "just happens" to be at the same spot every morning when I walk by, on my way to class.
He just wants to practice his English and he rants and raves every morning on the way to class. By the way, his name is Leon. It seems that the Chinese favor certain names that are easy for them to spell or say - names such as Leon, Jane, Mary, etc.
My morning class of Post Graduates went great. They are the first group of students that I taught here at Qingdao University, on my very first day of teaching... We had a great morning and we talked about Halloween and I explained about the traditions and all the fun we have on Halloween. We talked about the costumes and the "trick or treats". They really were excited as I sang the Halloween songs to them. I meet with them again on October 28 and I told them that we would do a "trick ot treat" that day and that I would come to class in a costume. Their eyes lit up and it was really something to see. I also told them that I would have treats in class that day BUT they would have to sing me a song, or do a little dance for me, or recite a little saying to me. They were as excited as any small child I have ever seen. Bear in mind that these are adults ranging in age from 19-25! So refreshing to me... Oh, and I took some PVC pipe with the corner fittings on, resembling a telephone, so they could hear themselves speak English. What fun ! ! ! ! They had a ball. We talked about branches of the government and the cabinet, judicial system, etc. and I explained what the Treasury was.... You should hear them attempt to say "Treasury". I had the hardest time trying NOT to laugh at the pronunciation. What a delight they are to me. After class, I received a text message from "Fern" and she said that she loved me and that I remind her of her grandmother. She said that she loves it when I walk by her and touch her and that I am her "treasury". Wow... Made me feel pretty special. These people, who have so very little in the way of material things, are so generous with their love and affection. I am being taught so much more than I could ever teach them. They are so accepting and kind and innocent. Also, in my Freshmen class of 75 students, a boy asked me if I liked the weather in Qingdao. I replied with a definite, "Yes". He then said," Mrs. Halladay you need to stay here forever - we love you and do not want you to go home". These things come from the heart and are unrehearsed. Melt my heart. Love, love, love.
After class, my friend, Oliver Twist ( yes, that is his English name he has chosen for himself!) stayed after class to discuss the pronunciation of the words "employee and employees". He was very confused as how to pronounce them and use them. I agree with him, some of the words in the English language are very hard to say and understand and define. He is the boy who told me, several weeks ago, his Grandfather had just passed away with cancer and his Grandmother passed away just 6 months ago. He was so emotional and cried in front of me - I felt so very helpless and unable to comfort him...
Rog didn't have classes this afternoon and he came to walk me home and as we walked home, we watched a man sweeping the Fall leaves off some hedges!!!!! Yes, you read that right! There are various people always sweeping one thing or another all over in China. Today took the cake though.
I feel so very blessed to live in the good old USA and have all the priviledges I have alway had. I take so much for granted and I am so selfish. When I see what these people survive on, here in China I am very humbled. You have maybe noticed in the pictures we send home, that I pretty much have 4-5 outfits - and I feel so picked on! And then I look at my students and what they wear and keep wearing and it really puts me in my place..And they are ALWAYS so hungry. They do not have access to a kitchen where they live, therefore, they eat at the cafeteria or buy food on the street to eat. That is why we always see people walking and eating from a plastic bag. It is my prayer that I never forget these people. I know that I will never be the same person I was before China! I also know that I will take a part of each one of my 550 students home to Cedar City with me - in my heart. This year will be a highlight in the life of Jane Halladay - I assure you all...
Please know of our love for you. We feel the prayers that are rendered in our behalf - thank you so very much.
Much Love,

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Freshmen Classes‏

Hello from China:
Today was a beautiful day and I had a most wonderful time in the classroom! I taught my 2 favorite classes today. They are awesome and so very lovable. I just seem to "connect" with these 2 groups, especially my 8:00 a.m. class. They are so respectful to me and they literally cling to every word I say. They are sitting on the edge of their seats when I walk into the classroom and they even raise their hands and ask or answer questions! NOTE: Most of the Chinese students do not volunteer to answer any questions or they never raise their hands to answer a question. I hear that the Chinese teachers are always putting them down and do everything possible to belittle them. Six of the boys in that class are playing a basketball game on Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. and they invited me to attend the game. They were so proud to think that I would even consider coming to watch! And, a girl in the 10:00 class taught me how to cut out a cute Chinese paper character. Then, after class, the same girl gave me a present! She brought me a really nice book telling about the Chinese zodiac animals - she said that they made the book in her home town. I thought it was so nice of her to do that.
After class, we went to a really dumpy "Canteen" to eat lunch. The food was reasonably good, BUT as we walked out of the place, we saw the open door of the kitchen and about threw up! It was so filthy... And, there was a guy sitting outside stringing meat on skewers with his dirty hands. Luckily, none of us had ordered skewers! And, the cook just happened to walk out for a smoke and his clothes were so filthy, greasy and gross!!! You never know in China...
Rog and I headed to the market after the lunch experience and we had a good time. We had to go to the bank and get some money for our little trip to the birthplace of Confucius. We also needed some groceries. It is such an experience every time we get on the bus or ride the taxi. We never know what will happen. As with everything here - things ARE NOT what they appear to be!!!!!!
We have been busy getting lessons ready for tomorrow and Family Home Evening. I think that we will listen to "Jesus the Christ" tonight...Someone left the CD's here in our apartment and we started to listen to them last night and they are very good.
I am sending the photo's of the two classes today - my little sweethearts. Tell me what you think. They are so sweet and I love them so very much.
It was good to talk to Chad and his family this morning on Skype - it is the first time we have been able to see them at their home on Skype. It was so fun to see the little boys -Deken with this black eye and fat lip, as a result of him climbing out of his crib!!! And Rennen was so sweet. I cannot believe how much our little "Jack Mac" has grown and how well he talks. He always speaks so cute to us on Skype. And Marin - sweet, as always. It was good to see Erik and family too. Andy was busy showing us the art she was doing. We feel so very blessed to be able to see all of you on Skype and to live in a day when it is possible. It really helps with the homesickness. And yes, we are homesick for all of you.
We realize how blessed we are to have such a loving, caring family and we want you all to know of our love for you. We miss you more than words can describe. Even the mention of your names brings tears to our eyes, but we know that we are supposed to be in China now. These dear people have shown us such love and acceptance and we do love them. They are so kind and never judge, accepting of everyone and everything. They have never had much materially and therefore, they expect nothing, but they are so grateful for even a kind word or glance.
Think of you all the time and you are all in our prayers...
Much Love,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Beautiful Weekend

Dear Family:
Just writing to tell you of the great weekend we have spent. Yesterday morning we were able watch the General Relief Society session,the Priesthood session, as well as the Saturday morning session of General Conference. I guess that I have always been so very fortunate and taken so much for granted as far as watching or listening to General Conerence every 6 months. I REALLY missed watching them last weekend and have waited all week to watch them.
I really felt the Spirit strongly as I watched. The talks were so very inspired and I especially loved the remarks from Brother Dallin Oaks, from the Saturday afternoon session. By the way, we were only priviledged to watch the Saturday afternoon session yesterday and only the Sunday morning session today. The Prophet gave the most inspirational talk in that Sunday morning session. How I love and admire him, he truly is a man of God.
Dallin Oaks spoke about Sacrament meeting and reminded us why we partake of the Sacrament every week. He really stressed that we need to come to the meeting feeling of the Spirit. It really made me think about so many things. This morning, as we boarded the bus, I had many thoughts about the Atonement on my mind. I really thought of the supreme sacrifice Jesus Christ made for all mankind and I really felt the Spirit. As I looked at the many faces of the Chinese people on the bus, I felt so strongly that they too, are children of our Father. They are very special and I really feel a great love for them. I KNOW that we are just exactly where we should be, at this time in our lives. We are both homesick and we miss each one of you so very much, but, we know that we need to be here. They truly are a beautiful people and they love their families - especially their children.
Last night we had Jenny and Soong, a darling Chinese couple, come over and bring some dumplings for all the BYU teachers. They came to our apartment to cook them and we all had a good feed. Soong's parents had made over 200 dumplings for us and they were delicious. These people are so thoughtful of others - they are always giving presents or helping in some way. We have never even met his parents, but they wanted to let us taste the dumplings they make.. There were alot of left-overs, so today after church, I mixed the dumplings in with my left over chicken noodle soup, and invited everyone for lunch. It was great. We get togeher to eat once or twice each week, for potluck. We all just bring what we have or what is left over and eat together. We all live on the 3 floors and we run back and forth carting food to the various apartments. We usually eat at the Goodrich's or at our place tho. When we go home, this is what we will miss the most, I am sure. We do have alot of fun. They are a fun group of people. Terry Miller is so much fun - yesterday, after conference, he went to the beach to fly kites. By the way, kite flying is really big over here and everyone flies them - especially the older men! Last night he brought Rog up a huge kite in the shape of a big bird. It is made out of silk and the twine to fly it is on a huge spool. It is beautiful. He wants the 3 men to go out in the lot, by our building, and fly them.
The two little Chinese and Korean babies in our branch are so cute. One, the Korean, is a girl and the other one is Chinese - a boy. They both have long, black hair that stands straight in the air- about 3 inches long!!! The little Chinese Mommy straps her little one to her back and carries him everywhere. All you can see is that hair sticking out... They are so sweet and so loving.
I am preparing lessons for the week and I have to really work hard. I really can get side tracked easily. We are so busy, doing so many things, other than just teaching English! Tomorrow, after class, we will go downtown for groceries. Tuesday we have to sign up to go on a tour to the birthplace of Confucius ( it is an overnighter sponsored by the University) Then the home teachers will be here. Then, on Thursday, all the girls are getting together (about 9 of us) here at our apartment, to watch the rest of Conference and have a little luncheon. Thursday night we will go to another part of the University, by bus, to do a English Corner thing for 21/2 hours. Then, next Sunday, we have to speak in Sacrament meeting. We are really running all the time. But, it does help with the homesickness.....
In the mornings, as I walk to school, I always see the little Chinese Grandmas with their grandchildren. Makes me kinda sad. They are just as proud of their grandchildren as I am of mine and it gives us something in common. Although we cannot speak to each other, because of the language differences, we do understand each other in our love and pride in our grandchildren...
I will write more tomorrow.
Please know of our love for you. We miss you all so very much and you are in our thoughts and prayers. Please know that we pray for you daily and wish you the very best that life has to offer.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

We are STILL here‏

Just a short note to tell everyone that we are STILL here in China. We have had a hectic week, since our return back from our little holiday. Sometimes you wonder if those little holidays are really worth it all! We both came back with nasty colds and coughs. We just haven't caught up on our sleep.
This week has been a fast one for us and today Rog didn't have class, therefore, he moved all the furniture in our bedroom and cleaned while I was at school! Our bed was under a window and it is getting cold now.
My students are unbelievable. I really am loving the teaching and I especially love those kids. Yesterday, "Vivian" in my early class invited me to her home, here in Qingdao, for dinner. I told her that she would have to okay it with her mother first-in hopes of stalling her. Today, she texted me and wants to set a date - she says that her family is anxious to meet me. I am a little apprehensive to do that. I will wait and see when we can schedule a time. Sounds fun tho.
Tomorrow we will leave at 9:00 a.m. to go to the Koreans home and watch the Saturday session of General Conference. Then, we will return on Sunday to view the Sunday sessions. To go to church it is a 45 minute ride, each way. I am most anxious to watch conference, I am so sorry that I could not see it last weekend.
Rog just informed me that we need to go and help a friend move in about 10 minutes, so I must go for now. I will write more later.
Attached you will see pictures of the Canteen in our building.
Much Love, Mom

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Qingdao Polar Ocean Aquarium Pictures (September Pictures)

Silk Road Trip‏

My Dear Family and Friends:
We have been gone for the past 8 days on a most interesting journey across China. We left last Sunday, September 28 and returned October 6 at 1:00 a.m.(our flight home was delayed 4 hours!)
The day we left on our venture we arrived in the city of Urumqi at 1:00 a.m. to meet the other 40 BYU teachers from all over China. It was such a pleasant surprise to get to the bus, that was to take us to the hotel, and see other BYU "family" waiting for us. We have not seen them since our 2 week training at BYU in August and it was good to see them.
Monday morning we met in the Hotel lobby and boarded the tour bus to Heavenly Mountain. We all felt like we were back in Utah, the terrain was so mountainous and cool. However, when we arrived at Heavenly Lake, we knew we were in China, as there were pagoda's scattered on the mountain. It was gorgeous. We ended up at the Er Dao Qiaro Market, which we heard was a great place to shop. I bought some dried tomatoes that were so good-one could never imagine that tomatoes taste so sweet.
Tuesday morning we headed out to the ancient city of Jiaohe. It is a city that was located on a cliff. The archaeological finds reveal that the Cheshi people had lived there in the second century B.C. It was so hard to imagine that it was still standing. We also went to see the ancient irrigation well system in Karze.
Wednesday on to Turpan to visit the Tuyugou valley village and see the original Ughur customs. We were asked not to photograph the people in the village, as we were special guests there by invitation. That little village really made us feel like we were in a village that was similar to the villages at the time of Christ. All the "streets" were very narrow and the buildings about 7 feet tall. The wells were just like the ones described in the scriptures. We all felt a special reverence while we were there. The spirit was very strong.
Next we went to the Pachikli grottos on the cliff and took a ride on a donkey cart. It was fun!
Wednesday night at 10:30 p.m., we boarded the train for the overnight trip to Dunhuang. We spent the night in a "soft sleeper" with another couple in the same berth. It was like a giant "sleep-over". We all laughed and had a crazy time. The little beds are so quaint and "fun" to sleep on. The men slept in the upper bunks and the women, on the lower bunks. We all slept surprisingly well and arrived in Dunhuang around 10:30 a.m. where we went to the hotel for showers. NOTE: No showers on the train and the bathrooms were somewhat frightening. But, we survived...
Thursday we went to the desert for a ride on the camels... I was feeling a little sick - so I opted out on the camel ride.:( Rog agreed to stay with me and not ride the camels also.
But the highlight of the day, was the trip to the wall paintings at the Mogao grottos. Scholars estimate that the original date of building the caves is in the period of 460-640 A.D. So hard to imagine that they have been preserved for so very long. The caves were seriously damaged by the religious conflicts when Islam entered the territory in the 14th century. Also, many explorers from other countries stole or destroyed some of the treasures. So magnificant... There are many Buddha's there - the biggest one,35 meters tall (approximately 90-97 feet tall or 7 stories tall!) The paintings are so hard to imagine. It is hard to comprehend that they are so very old and still so defined. AND, they are still unearthing more of them. I would love to go back there to visit again. I could have stayed there for hours. Awesome.
Friday was the highlight of the Silk Road trip - the Terra Cotta Warriors and the horses at the tomb of Qin Shi Huang who was the emperor who unified China in 221 B.C. WOW!!!! It is everything I have ever read about or seen concerning the warriors. As we wandered around the ruins, I found it hard to imagine that I was there witnessing them. A feeling of reverence came over all of us - to imagine what had taken place in that location, so many centuries ago...
Saturday night we went to a fancy dinner and show at a swanky hotel and dinner club in Xi'an. By the way, Xi'an is pronounced, "Che - an. The food was all Chinese dumplings. The fillings were of many consistencies and textures. All of which, were very good. The show was great - alot of singing, dancing, instruments and acrobatics. A great way to end the trip.
Sunday morning was another highlight of the trip, for me. We decided that we should hold a special Sacrament meeting, in a hotel room, before we left to go home. It was one of the most spiritual meetings I have ever attended. So simple, but so very special! It was fast Sunday, as well as General Conference in Salt Lake City. We opened with a prayer and a song and then the Sacrament was blessed and passed, so humbly. Then, another song, which we could hardly sing, because of the feelings in that room. The Bishop bore testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and one sister bore her testimony. A closing song was sung and a closing prayer offered. It lasted about 25-30 minutes, but it was one of the most spiritual meetings I have ever attended. The Lord is very mindful of what we are doing here in China. We are not even aware of the job we are doing, but He is, and it is times such as this that we know we are here for a very special purpose.
We were delayed 4 hours on our way home and we came home tired, some of us sick and somewhat homesick. But, we all are keenly aware that we belong here and we have a love of the Chinese people that is unbelieveable.
We are grateful to our Father and all the protection we get from Him, and the prayers offered in our behalf - from all our friends and family. Thank you - all of you. We can feel of your prayers and we appreciate you.
Much Love,