Thursday, February 26, 2009

Last week before Spring Semester begins!‏

Dear Family:
What a week this has been - all the weeks are unusual in China. These are weeks like I have never before experienced. Just when I think that I have seen it all, or that nothing could "top' what just happened - it does.....

Sunday afternoon when Roger came home from church, carrying his huge bag with all the church files , he complained that his back really hurt. He spent a sleepless night in terrible pain. Monday morning, he could hardly stand on his feet. The only relief he had from back pain, was to lay on the living room floor.(The living room floor is wood and it is cold!) I was concerned, especially when he was in such pain that he could not go to Jimo Market with us. I went to the Market with the girls and called him several times to see if he felt any better. When I returned home, he was still in pain. We had everyone over for dinner Monday evening and the men gave Rog a blessing and that night he slept well.
Tuesday morning, he still could not stand up and would crawl to the bathroom, as it hurt too much to stand. I was concerned, but he still felt like it would get better. Tuesday night, the Home Teachers came and he decided that we should see a Dr. Our waiban, Shirley called and made all the necessary arrangements for our visit to Qingdao Municipal Hospital on Wednesday morning at 9:15 a.m. Another sleepless night.

Wednesday morning we went with a Chinese student, Leon, to the hospital. Roger rode, laying down in the back of a van, to the hospital. Terry Miller , thankfully, went with us.
It cost us the equivalent of $3.00 in RMB to see the Dr. . He checked Rog over and ordered an MRI and a CT scan. By the way, the Chinese hospital required that we pay cash for
all services rendered, at the time of the service! The CT scan and the MRI cost us the equivalent of $57.00, which was 390 RMB. By the time we returned to the 4th floor, where the Dr. was, the results of the CT scan and the MRI were on his computer screen! Hard to believe.... He said that Rog has a pinched nerve, between the vertebrae, causing much pain. He prescribed 2 pain killers and a muscle relaxant. It took 15 minutes for the prescriptions to be delivered to us - they cost us the equivalent of $20, which was 138 RMB!!!! All in all, the Doctor, the tests and the prescriptions cost us $80 !!!!! Can you believe that???
We came home from the hospital, he took the prescriptions and I went back to Jimo Market to shop !!!!!

Today is Thursday, February 23, 2009 and he is much better. He is very sore and still in some pain, BUT nothing like the pain he had before. I feel very blessed and thankful that is all that was wrong with him. It could have been something very serious. Heavenly Father is watching over us and blessing us and we feel so thankful.

Wednesday as I returned from Jimo Market, I stopped at RT Mart for some groceries. As Victoria and I waited to board the bus, we saw a sight we could not believe...
On the streets in China, there are various fruit and vegetable vendors selling their wares every day. And as we waited for the bus, we looked at the pineapple vendor and watched him peel a pineapple. There were also 2 different vendors selling bananas. We were talking and laughing, when we heard a commotion behind us. When we turned around, we saw 5 or 6 policemen apprehending one of the banana vendors and taking his weight scales away from him. But, the 2 pineapple vendors were running as fast as they could, pulling their carts behind them into the alley. Both banana vendors had their scales apprehended and they had to pay a stiff fine to reclaim them. We just stood there with our mouths open, staring in disbelief. Something we have NEVER seen before, and are not likely to see again. We felt so sorry for the poor vendors - people of the street. People who make their living, selling fruit on the street, having to pay a stiff fine.

This morning I went to a Medical Department staff meeting, to find no one at the appointed place! I called Aron Chen to check on the time and place and he apologized and said that the meeting was on Saturday morning, not Thursday morning! I wondered if I was loosing my marbles and he said that he had told me the wrong day and apologized. Typical China, where we learn patience and understanding and who we really are....

We love all of you very much and miss you. We thank the Lord every night for all of our blessings and for this beautiful country that we have come to love and appreciate.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Living Life as We Please...

Dear Family:
Just a few lines to report what we have been up to for the past few of days..
Monday, February 16, we decided that we would take a bus to Bathing Beach #1 and walk along the beach, and on the boardwalk, for as long as it took us to find the stone sculptures we have heard so much about. It was a chilly day and we bundled up. It turned out to be a gorgeous day and we walked for several hours and clocked about 5 miles of enjoyment. We took our time, even went down on the shoreline and collected seashells. I do love to collect seashells and it was one of those rare days that turn out perfect. We walked until dusk and stopped at the Sea Aquarium and had a ice cream and then took the bus home. A perfect day, as far as I am concerned.....

Tuesday we went to a Korean sisters apartment to have lunch. They live out by the Qingdao airport and it took us an hour and a half to get there. We took the airport shuttle and then Shelly came to the airport to drive us to Jennifer's apartment for lunch. Shelly is the Chinese sister who was baptized in November. Jennifer is Korean. The food they prepared for us was something right out of a food magazine. And it tasted wonderful. They are such special people, we feel it is a privilege to associate with them. What a grand time we had. It was a "chick day" and we even went to their spa and everyone had facials, full body and foot messages!!!! What a day - one we won't soon forget....

Today we have been to "Computer City" and then on to Jimo Market. I just keep buying pearls and they are all so very beautiful.. We had little Judy or Lulu with us and we were celebrating her birthday, which was January 30. What a great time we had and the "buys" were exceptional. Money here is unbelievable - what you get for the yuan..... It will be SUCH a hard adjustment, to have to pay the high prices in the USA when we return home. I am sure that we will seem like real "cheap skates" to everyone.

We only have a few precious days until school starts again - 11 days, to be exact. It is such fun to tour the beautiful city of Qingdao and find places we want to take our family that will hopefully come to visit us. Hint, hint, hint.....

We are also anxious for Joe and Diane Ward to join us, to teach for the upcoming Spring semester. It looks like Joe will come first, as he is the one with the teaching contract, and Diane will follow in a month or so. It will be such fun to have them here and to have the opportunity to get to know them better.

We have so very much to be thankful for, and we thank our Heavenly Father every day for this opportunity to live here and teach these special people. This truly is a chance of a lifetime and I treasure every day and dread the day we have to return home. We do love and miss our dear family BUT we are SO needed here and we are engaged in a worthy cause. How blessed we feel. Know of our love for each of you...

Much Love,

Sweet Letter from a Student

Dear Mrs.Halladay:
I'm really glad to hear from you. It's very happy to know that you have a wonderful time and enjoy youselves.
I'm very sorry to say that I don't know if you will teach us the next semester. Though we have the schedule, but they usually mistake the teachers who will teach us. But I really hope that you can teach us as you are so kind a friend to me and I love you. So does everyone in our class. You give your best smile to every of us. The smile is so sweet that we can get the feeling of warm sunshine. You are very patient to us. So when I talk with you, I don't feel nervous at all. Even when we can't express ourselves well, you smile, look into our eyes and try to help us. I think you are very smart as you can quickly know what we are trying to say in these situations. It's very happy to talk with you.
Thank you for the cares and I'm glad to say that my parents are in good health. But what makes me heartbroken is that my grandma become weaker and weaker now. She got cancer two years ago and the cancer cells spread very fast. She is too weak to take another operation.I'm very sorry to tell you that. She is very kind-hearted and loves everyone in our family. As I'm the only girl of her grandchildren, she often misses me. That makes us very sad.
I may come back to Qingdao at the end of February. I made a promise that I would teach you how to make dumplings and cook Chinese dinner.
So just wait me to come back(*^__^*)
I'm looking forward to your reply.
Best wishes for you and Mr. Halladay ^-^
Much love

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Dear Family:

As I sat here today I pondered on how fast the time is passing, and realized that our stay here is getting short. It makes me very emotional - I have learned to love this beautiful country and her people. I realize every day what an impact this year will have on the remainder of my life.

The people of China are so refreshing and loving and accepting. I know that I must sound like a broken record, but the things I say are so true......
Sunday when we went to our little Branch, the Korean members were so happy to see us and greeted us with such love. I have learned to love them as my family and they are so dear to us. The babies are just like our own grandchildren. I get such great "loves" from the Yoon's baby - he thinks that I am wonderful and allows me to give him kisses and hugs. And the Yoon children are treasures, just like their Mommy. And our little Relief Society is exceptional, with the Koreans sisters reading their portion of the lesson in Korean and us reading ours in English, both understanding the sacred feelings we share.

Today is February 11, 2009 and the Chinese are STILL doing their Chinese celebrating with fireworks.....
Monday night, was the celebration of the lantern festival. We went down to "May 4 Square" and there was a fireworks display like I have never seen before.
The Chinese were lighting paper lanterns and letting them drift into the atmosphere. The sky was covered with paper lanterns, of all colors. It was a beautiful sight to see. We went with the Millers and Victoria Brinton and it was one of those memorable evenings we will not forget. There were about 2,000 people there and they were all lighting lanterns and sparklers. And the sky, on all four sides of the square, was lit up with a breathtaking fireworks display. It went on for the four hours we were there and as we got on the bus it was still continuing. AND, it continued well into the night. . .
It still continues today !!!!

We have the Browns, visiting from Beijing and we took them down by the ocean today, to the Naval Museum. It was great - the men especially loved the ships, airplanes and the submarine that can submerge in 40 seconds. We spent the afternoon at the museum and met Marvin Woo and his wife Betty and little YoYo for a Cantonese dinner.
But the highlight of the day, for me, was this morning when we went to the little markets across from the University.
I have not been there for about 4 weeks and I saw all the little vendors I have grown to know. They were all so happy to see me and the little vegetable woman had a big hug and kiss for me! She always gives me the best vegetables and fruits she has and there is always a "freebee". And the little man, with the cockeye, that sells the coats and vests. I call him Charley - he is always so happy to see me and he loves to barter with me. He pulls the funniest faces I have ever seen - I love dealing with him. He makes me feel so happy, and glad I saw him. Another familiar, kind face was the woman in the bakery. How blessed I am to have such friends. We do not understand one word each other speaks, but we understand each other. People I will always treasure when I think of China and my time here in Qingdao.

We have been busy trying to organize ourselves for our classes next semester, it is nice to know and understand just what is expected of us. We are looking forward to the students returning - we miss them. They are the REAL reason we are in China and we are anxious for classes to start.

I know that our lives will seem very slow and boring when we get home. I have plans to take some classes at the University and finish projects I have started.
Please keep in touch with us - we need to hear from each of you.

Much Love, Mom

Friday, February 6, 2009

January 2009

Hello Everyone:
Just want to tell everyone that we just returned to Qingdao after 3 weeks on the road.
We finished our last day of classes on December 31 and we have been on vacation since... We do not return to the classroom until March 2, 2009......
On January 15, we went to Hong Kong for the BYU Teachers Conference and a temple session at the Hong Kong temple. Hong Kong is s huge city of about 12 million people and it is very American oriented. A person can get almost anything American in Hong Kong, if he knows where to look.

On Sunday, January 18, after attending a great church meeting, we took a bus back to Shenzhen and boarded an airplane to Guilin where we spent the night.
The next morning we took a 41/2 hour boat trip down the Li river - to Yangshuo, where we found some of the best shopping we encountered during the trip. The prices were very good and very negotiable. We were also treated to a ride in golf carts to see the countryside. We travelled the backroads and fields to see the lush farmland, rice paddies and beautiful scenery. That same evening, Rog went to watch the cormorant birds catch fish for the fishermen. I stayed in the hotel, as I was not feeling so good.

The next morning, we got on the bus and drove back to Guilin. The same afternoon, Rog visited the Reed Flute Caves, 240 meters underground, with dramatic rock formations, shapes lit by colored lights. I sat in the bus not feeling so well. However, one of the BYU Teachers who speaks Chinese, took me to a military hospital, to be examined. It just so happened that the bus we were travelling on, parked in the parking lot of a military hospital.... WHAT AN EXPERIENCE. It cost me approximately 60cents to get an appointment, and then we had to go up a flight of stairs to see a Doctor... It just so happened that there was a Respiratory Doctor RIGHT THERE!!!!! He examined me, doing all the necessary things that have to be checked out for ear infection and congested chest. He wanted to have me check into the hospital and have a 3-4 hour IV injection, but we told him that the bus would be leaving in 1/2 hour. He wrote out 4 prescriptions for me and we went down the steps to the Pharmacy - in the same building. What a miracle !!! The medicines all cost me about $20.00 and I walked out of there feeling very blessed indeed! That same evening, January 20, we took a flight to Kunming.

January 21, we visited the Stone Forest - a massive collection of limestone pillars eroded by wind and rain to shape fanciful shapes. That afternoon we boarded a flight to historic Lijiang, which is near the Tibetan border, in the northern Yunnan Province.

The next day we spent the entire day exploring Lijiang's Old Town - a delightful maze of cobbled streets, rickety old wooden buildings, gushing canals, bustling street markets - tended by merchants in traditional Naxi costumes. I loved this place and the bargins were in abundance. I love the bargining ..... We also visited the Shuhe ancient town near Lijiang with the minority people.

The day of January 23, we travelled a breathtaking bus trip to Dali. Dali is a gorgeous city - one that would be very easy to live in. This historic city is set against a stunning backdrop - the Erhai Lake, with the imposing Cangshan mountain range.
The next morning we took a frightening boat trip on the Erhai Lake to a little ethnic village - Bai. I have never felt so threatened on a boat, like I was that day. The water was very choppy and we were on a small ill equipped boat, which was frightening. I know that Heavenly Father was watching over us that day - I am sure of it.
That afternoon we boarded a flight back to Kinming.

The morning of January 25 (Sunday) we had a very spiritual meeting in the hotel with the Qingdao teachers.
In the afternoon, we boarded the airplane to Hanoi, Viet Nam...

Upon arrival in Hanoi, we visited the old part of the city and the Dong Xuan market. That evening, we attended a very entertaining water puppet show.

Monday morning, the 26 of January, we visited the "Hanoi Hilton" and I felt a very emotional, sad spirit there. There were many awful things that happened during the Viet Nam war in the "Hilton" and the feeling there is eerie. I could not help myself from shedding tears of sadness for all the American GI's that were there in the late 60's and early 70's.
We also drove to HaLong Bay, one of the world's natural wonders. We took a boat trip to the Bay and visited the island with some awesome caves. We were served a neat lunch on the boat and it was a fun time. The boat ride was exciting and we had a great time with all the teachers from the Kennedy Center.

The next day we went to Cambodia - to the beautiful city of Siem Reap. We visited the ancient 12th century capital of Angkor Thom. We saw huge statues - the South Gate - depicting the churning of the ocean of milk. We also saw the Bayon Temple with its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara. Also the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King.
In the afternoon, we visited the most famous of all the temples on the Angkor plain - Angkor Wat. This temple covers over 81 hectares and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. It's distinctive 5 towers are emblazoned on the Cambodian flag and the 12th century masterpiece is considered by art historians to be the prime example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Rog climbed Phnom Bakent and watched the sunset with a spectacular view of the western Baray and Angkoe Wat. There must have been 1,000 or more people that climbed to see the sunset - I chose to sit in the bus and read a most interesting book.

January 29 we continued the temple visits. Included were Prasat Kravan, Srah Srang (place once used for ritual bathing), Banteay Kdei, Eastern Mebon(guarded at its corners by stone figures of harnessed elephants, some of which are still in pretty good shape), and then Ta Prohm - one of the most beautiful temples. The Ta Prohm has been left relatively untouched since it was discovered.

Friday, January 30, we visited the floating village of the Chong Khneas, near Siem Reap. We took a wooden boat ride on the Tonle Sap or "Great Lake" - the largest lake in Asia. In the afternoon we boarded another airplane and flew to Hochi Minh City, Viet Nam.

January 31, we visited the Viet Nam War museum - a very sobering experience. There were so many things displayed that showed the Americans to be cruel and unfair. But the thing that was the most unsetting to me, was the pictures they had with Viet Nam writing and no English language to explain - in other words, they were things that were negative about the Americans and our involvement in the war. When I saw the American soldiers uniforms and clothing, cigarettes and fighting equipment, I must admit that I shed tears. There was such a negative, evil presence there. I was very happy to leave that place...
In the afternoon we drove to the CuChi underground tunnel, which was where the Viet Kong lived and used as a passageway, to attack the South Viet Nam Republicans and Americans, during the night. The tunnels were very small and tight - something a claustrophobic person would not want to experience! I chose NOT to enter the tunnels. Rog did however, and he was really glad that he had the experience. The space was very tight and hard to squeeze through. He saw many things that he could never have imagined otherwise. I will sent photos to show everyone.
That night, we had a lovely dinner on a floating restaurant on the Saigon River. It was so beautiful and romantic.

February 1, we visited My Tho town, in Tien Giang Province - one of the 11 Provinces in the Mekong Delta. We rode on a boat and visited a farmers house and garden. Lunch was on an islet on the river and then we visited a coconut candy store. This was our last day on the road and we were most anxious to get home, to Qingdao.

We really felt the Spirit when we were on the trip. It was a "once in a lifetime" experience. There are many places we want to return BUT neither one of us want to return to Viet Nam again.
Southwest China was one of the best trips we have ever taken. But, the time spent with the BYU Teachers and the experiences we shared were unforgettable. They are some of the most talented, remarkable people we have ever met. We love them as family and the things we have shared are very special to us and we will never forget them.

We realize, more than ever, how much we love and miss our family at home. The blessings we have are innumerable and we are thankful for this time in China and in our lives. These people, the Chinese, are chosen and very special. We continue to pray that our influence will affect them in some small way. Also, we pray that we will never do anything that will have a negative effect on them. We also realize that we will meet them again someday, somewhere else and they will remember us. This we are sure of....

Much Love,