Tuesday, September 29, 2009

WHAT a weekend!!!!

Dear Family:
What a weekend we have had.......
To begin - we had Branch Conference and your Dad was basically "in charge" of all the coordination of meetings and speakers. He really worked diligently to make it a great conference and he did a super job. You all would have been so proud of him, I know that I was!
The Beijing District Presidency attended and spoke as well, with President Steven Toronto presiding. It was a great conference and the Spirit was strong. Dad gave two talks and he did a great job. It was a great two days - a real spiritual feast.....

There was a BIG Communist National Celebration planned for Sunday night as well - the Communist party has been in China for 60 years and there was a huge celebration planned.....All us "Foreign Expert Teachers" were invited and we received a beautiful written invitation. When the invitation was delivered, we noted that we were to sit at the "VIP table"!!!!!!!!!! All the other teachers sat at other tables.... Shirley, our waiban, really likes us and we felt it an honor to be seated at the VIP table!!!
She told us that we would be seated by all the "big wigs" in Qingdao! She said that as soon as we arrived at the Hotel where the dinner was to be held, she would take us to the VIP room where we could relax and visit and have a drink. AND, she said that we would walk into the banquet after everyone else was seated and make an entrance...We were very intimidated by this!!!!!!!!!!!! But the BIG thing was.....we were to sit by the Mayor of Qingdao, as well as the President of Qingdao University!
There were cameras flashing and people walking around offering toasts everywhere. It was just like in the movies!!!!!!! Why we were the honored ones we will never know........
I sat next to the President of Qingdao University and visited with him all evening. Rog sat one person away from the Mayor and they chatted. What an evening.
Beautiful fresh flowers everywhere and some of the fanciest food we have ever eaten. I will include the menu.. And, the desserts and fresh fruit was unbelievable!!!!
Victoria took pictures and I will send them to you... You will get a big laugh at us....

We will leave in two days for the National Holiday/Moon Festival celebration... We will go to Guizhou - a very authentic ethnic village where we will see alot of the poor people dressed in their native dress...It promises to be an outstanding trip. I will try to send the information on it also.

I will send photo's as people send then to me...

I miss all of you and it is so wonderful that we can at least talk on Skype. I love to hear your sweet voices.

Much Love,

Friday, September 25, 2009

China News

Dear Family:
It seems like we have never left China, now that we are back and teaching school again. I am already dreading the thoughts of
having to leave this wonderful country and her people.
We have had some interesting things happening and I wanted to tell everyone what is going on here. As you all know, China as
well as the USA, has been concerned over the H1N1 OR "swine flu" epidemic. When we left the United States there had been
several cases we were aware of and when we arrived in Qingdao there wasn't much talk of the flu. NOW there is alot of talk about
the flu. On Friday we received word that an Art student here at Qingdao University had the H1N1 flu. My monitor in my 8:00
class told me that the boys in one of the dorms had been quarantined and therefore would miss my class that day. On Saturday,
our Waiban told us that we were to take our temperatures every day and if we had a fever, we were to report to her. We were also told
that we were not to have any students over to our apartment, not meet any students outside of the classroom, and not go anywhere
there are alot of people. This morning one of my students called and said that she could not leave her dorm - it was quarantined and
Angelina - another student, just called and said that she could not leave her dorm either. She told me to expect a call from the Medical
Department telling me that all classes had been canceled. I have not received a call BUT this is getting pretty serious.
Long story - short.... I have NOT been to class this week because the entire medical department has been quarantined and therefore unable to leave their dorms. They have stayed in their rooms for the entire week, never leaving the building! No baths either because they all bathe in the public bathhouses! Reports from my little Angelina say that the students are literally "hanging" out of the dorm windows. She said that all the entrances to the dorms are guarded by masked, armed, guards. I guess that a newspaper man came to the dorm to interview and take pictures and the students were all hanging out of the windows, waving and yelling as their pictures were taken. What a week!!!! One I am sure I won't forget...
Next week we will teach class Monday through Wednesday and then leave on a vacation to Guizhou for the National Holiday. We will be gone from October 1 through October 8. It is a place we are all anxious to see as it is very beautiful and one of the poorest regions in the country. We are promised to see many of the ethnic groups with traditional dress. I will take many pictures and keep a detailed journal to send home..
We are enjoying the time here. This is an especially busy weekend with our Branch Conference which will be visited by the District Presidency. I must say that President Halladay has been very busy getting the agenda all arranged... He has such great organizational skills and is so meticulous that I am sure that all will go well. He has had to prepare two talks and he has really been busy and stressed. Please include him in your prayers!
We have ordered food for the Brethren after the meetings tomorrow and we ordered it through Kentucky Fried Chicken. Due to the fact the we don't speak Chinese, Shirley - our waiban - agreed to order the chicken for us. She is so helpful and kind to help us but I have had a good laugh at her use of the English language! The Chinese call the chicken sandwichs at KFC "chicken hamburgs".... Also, a chicken breast was referred to as a "chicken chest" !!!!!!!!! We were told that if we ordered chicken from the Chinese KFC, we could get a "bonus" gift of 2 free chicken wings for every 75 RMB we spend OR a free egg tart for every 50 RMB we spend! Oh - and we must pay an additional 6 RMB to have the food delivered to us!!!!!!! By the way, 6 RMB doesn't even equal one U.S. dollar...... How we have learned to LOVE these dear people.
I will write more tomorrow telling you all about the big "shin dig" we have been invited to...
We love and miss all of you. You are in our thoughts and prayers ....

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Arrival in China

Dear Family,

We have arrived back in China and we are in "full swing" again. We are so happy to be all situated and ready for the coming semester.
Our trip over across the sea was much shorter - or so it seemed - this year, because we left the states at night and went immediately
to sleep on the plane!
We did have a little scare as the plane was preparing to land in Beijing though. It seemed that the plane was going much too fast to make
a landing and as we touched the ground the pilot hit full thrust on the engines and we started back up into the sky! I must say that my heart
was in my stomach and I was plenty frightened. I just bowed my head and prayed because I couldn't think of anything else to do!!!!!!
We circled the airport for about 5-10 minutes and then came in for a landing.
We did arrive in Qingdao on August 27, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. and we had the day to get unpacked and situated, unlike last year when we arrived
at 2:00 a.m.
Our apartment was a sight to behold!!!!! As you all know, when we left Qingdao in July to return to the USA, it had been raining and the rain
had leaked in our bedroom and there was a good inch of water on the kitchen floor. The University assured us that they would fix our
ceiling and the roof and then paint our apartment for us before we returned. And they did..............
There was paint splattered everywhere!!!! I have never seen anything like it. They painted, as promised, BUT they painted around the map
on the wall, splattering paint all over the map. They had splattered paint on our wardrobes - which were covered. And there is paint that
has dripped from the ceiling, down the tile walls in the kitchen. I was so upset, and then I started to laugh and could not stop laughing - it
is so funny !!!!!!!!!! Our bed even had paint splattered on the mattress (box springs!) Paint had been left to drip everywhere they painted!
Oh, and they painted within an inch of the corners with the paint roller and never finished the job in the corners! They painted around
anything that was in their way. How funny it has been to sit and look at the walls. What an experience...
As soon as we arrived, we met with our Department Co-teachers and were told when we would start teaching and given a copy of our Fall
teaching schedules. We had grand ideas that we would be the "returning, seasoned, teachers" therefore, having better teaching schedules :(
Unlike last year - my classes started immediately. Roger's classes do not start until September 11th!!!!
I have the "odd week and even week" schedule AGAIN... I teach 3 Freshmen classes, 7 Sophomore classes and one Junior class. BUT........
All my Sophomore classes and the Junior class are students that I taught last year!!!!!! Yeah for me - I was so happy to see them. However,
this means that I will HAVE to have an entire new set of lessons - more preparation............... Also, I have the Juniors every week, not every
other week. Yes, I have a much harder teaching schedule than last year and I will be constantly preparing lessons!! But I do have every other
Friday off :)
I will STILL have time to go to the Pearl Market though....

It was wonderful to see our dear Korean Branch members last Sunday and renew our friendships. They are dear people and very special to us.
The children have grown in the 6 weeks we were gone and it was wonderful to see each of them.

We love the people we are in Qingdao with this year. We convinced Victoria Brinton to return with us again and we are happy to be here with
Mike and Merlene Ellington as well - they are dear friends. We also have the Stevens' - John and Cathy here at Qingdao University. The two
couples at Ocean University are Burton and Pat Shields and Dave and Cherry Blake and we are looking forward to getting to know them better.

It was wonderful to see Judy (Lulu) and Andy again. They have recently married and they seem so happy. I cannot tell you how happy I am that
I have the opportunity to teach the same students again this semester! They are so dear to me and I especially loved the hugs and kisses they
each gave me on the first day of class. Also, my dear Post Graduates from last year have been over to the apartment to visit. And LeeYang was
here to walk me to class and carry my bags - as usual. We feel so welcome and appreciated.

We miss home and reminisce about the good time we had with each of you. Chad and family were so gracious to have us stay for such a long
time and we appreciate their love and patience. Lesa and Darren always make us feel so welcome and treat us royally - seeing to our EVERY
need. It was great to see our new Master bathroom, in our home and we appreciate all the efforts of Erik and Michelle on the re-model mess.
They seem to know just exactly what it is we need and will enjoy. Michelle is so talented. It was great to see Natalie and family and spend time
with them. You are our world and we love you all so very much. We appreciate your love and support.
Please know that you are in our every thought and prayer and we love you very much.