Sunday, June 17, 2018

Final Exams, Engineers, Shopping, Gifts, Shopping, Tests

 Monday was a busy day for David and me.  This was our last Monday class, and we finished up finals exams for them.  David had a really crazy schedule because he had a bunch of students that had to cancel the time that was originally set up for their finals, so he scheduled them for later Monday.  He also had some students that needed to make up for their individual presentations because their journalism teacher scheduled a special speaker for their presentation time, and they had to attend that instead of English class.  It was rather frustrating for David.  He came home for lunch and then had to go back to his classroom to finish things up.

I went to the hospital for Sister J’s appointment.  Things were not much better than the week before, so they had to increase her medications, and then they talked about when to have her come back for another appointment.  The next time will be after I am back in the US, so we will see what happens then. 

David had the engineers class in the evening.  This group seemed to have a little better skill in speaking English than the last two classes that he had, and it made it a lot more fun for him to be a part of it.  It kept him busy, but he felt like his time was worth it.
David's engineers class.

This is the "Fruits and Vegetables" PPT that we developed to help them improve their speed in recognizing words as well as learn vocabulary.  It is a game played in teams.  All our classes have loved playing this game!

David is helping some of the engineers to know how to take the orders of the other students in a restaurant activity that we do.  Some of the engineers wanted David to sign their textbooks on the last night of the class.

Tuesday was a full morning of finals.  What I like best about the oral final exam interview is to experience the growth that they made.  There were still those that struggled almost as much as at the first of the semester, but for the majority, we can tell there has been improvement.  As with anything, practice will pay off.

After lunch, we headed to the grocery store for our last shopping trip.  We only had a few things to get, yogurt being one of them.  We stopped by the refrigerated dairy section to pick up the yogurt.  One of the workers there was trying to tell me about the special they had going on for the yogurt.  If I scanned the QR code for the brand (it’s a brand that we like) then the store would give five yuan off if we bought four of them.  I thought that was a pretty good deal.  Of course, all of this is being done with gestures, a little bit of Chinese, a little bit of English and a lot of laughter!
The grocery store ladies that were trying to help me understand and then get the QR code to save 5 RMB.  

I had wanted to go back to one of the markets for some specific items that I had seen there.  I had tried to go with Eva last Friday afternoon, but our trip to the police station for our new residency permits took precedence.  I asked Kayce if she wanted to go, because I wasn’t sure that Eva would be able to go if she had meetings, and I didn’t want to put if off again and not be able to go.  The Chinese like to schedule their departmental meetings on the spur of the moment it seems.

Kayce and I had a fun time at the market and found the items that I wanted.  She was even able to find the last item that she wanted to get, so we were happy.  We made it back to my campus just in time to dump my stuff at our apartment, get David, and head over to the canteen for lunch with Eva.  After lunch, Kayce and I headed to the bus stop, so that she could go back to her apartment, and I could go to my painting class.

David doesn’t have classes on Friday, but I do, so he usually heads out to do different errands.  This Friday, he was off to find the lady on the street that does sewing repairs, so he could get his sandals fixed, buy some bread, and check in on the bank account.  My 8 a.m. Friday class has been a small class of twelve students that are all art and music majors.  Because it is such a small class, I had been able to do things with them that were not possible with my larger classes.  We developed a strong bond. 
My Friday 8 a.m. class.  From the left: Kevin, Eric, Lyric, Sophia Jiang, Isabella, Zoe, Grace, Zina, Hayden, Sophia, Tracy, Blake, and Dominic.

Friday morning, they all came in at about the same time and I’m sure they listened in closely to each other interviews.  As each one came up, they each had a gift for me.  Some were small and some large, but it was so thoughtful of them!  I have had certain students give me gifts, but not the whole class before.  It was very touching.  Here’s the part where David comes in… I needed help to get all the gifts back to the apartment! 
Beautiful and delightfully smelling bouquet from Hayden.

Hand painted fans from Eric and Blake.  The dragon's head was made by Eric.

Dominic drew this from my photo on my professor WeChat account.

Tracy is from Weifang, home of the International Kite Festival.  She brought me this beautiful display box for me.

Book mark from Isabella, wooden comb from Sophia Jiang, key chains from Zoe.  Grace gave me a bottle of drinkable yogurt, a brand that is really good.  Sophia gave me two packages of zhongza, a special food to celebrate dragon boat festival.  

We had lunch with Eva at the canteen.  We waited there for another teacher that was going to help us get some boxes of things sent off to the US.  Ms. Yu came to our apartment after we were finished eating and helped us take things down to the shipping store.  At first, we were going to have the company come to our apartment to help pack things, but we decided to save a little money and just take things to the store.  Between Miss Yu and Eva, we were able to get it all taken care of. 

Saturday, Eva wanted to take us shopping again.  She wanted to show us where an outlet shopping mall was in the north part of Jinan.  We rode the bus to a stop near her home that would take us to the mall.  It was almost a 45-minute ride, thank goodness we were on an air-conditioned bus. 
We had a fun time shopping and talking with people.  It is rather fun to have those that know a little bit of English want to talk with us.  Eva helped me bargain and get the best prices. 

When it was lunch time, we went to a local buffet restaurant.  When we walked in, every eye in the room was honed in on us.  There were very few tables open, but one was just being cleaned off.  The employees told Eva to take us to get our food.  After we got our food, we started to look for a table.  One employee ran over to Eva and told her there was a table that had been saved for us!  After the employee had finished cleaning the table, he sat there and kept it open for us to use!  It was good food, too.
I have been trying to capture this picture ever since we were here four year ago!  This is a family van, Chinese style.  Two kids and the parents on a scooter!

This bathroom takes a lot of courage for us Americans to want to use.  Little to no privacy.  At least there was a separate men's and a women's.  

David and I had been invited to a movie night at Kayce’s apartment to watch, “Mom’s Night Out.”  Aaron and Deneice were there also.  It was a fun movie, and we had a great time.  It is hard to think of being in Jinan again next year without Kayce there.  She is a fun person, and we will miss her.  I’m sure we will be seeing her when we are all back in the States!
The last two weekends, there have been some big national tests conducted on our campus.  These are the parents waiting outside one of the classroom buildings for their students that are inside. The tests are a big deal because they will determine what, if any, college you attend, and what major you may take.

It was interesting to see all these parents standing around to support their kids taking the tests.  While we don't agree with how much pressure is put on the children to take these tests, it was interesting to see the parents supporting their kids.   In America, we will support our kids in all their sporting and extra curricular activities, but do we really support them this  much in their education?

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Last Week of Classes, Engineers Class

After my classes on Monday, I went to the hospital to see what the latest tests showed for Sister J and to get them checked out of the hospital.  I was coming down with a cold and wished that I could have taken a nap instead, but I was needed, so I went.  Sister J and H were getting anxious to get home, and there was a time crunch for them to catch the last bus out of Jinan for their town.

The tests showed that her infections were clearing up, but she still needed more antibiotic, and her blood pressure was still too high.  The doctors sent her home with an antibiotic and the medicine for hypertension, with instructions for her to come back in a week so they could check her and see if the medicines were the right dose.

After they left for the bus station, I still had to get them checked out of the hospital and get the money back that had been paid toward their bill that was left over.  In the Chinese health care system, you pay money before hand and then get treatment. After you are released, you go get the rest of your money that wasn’t used back.  When I finished with that, I went back up to Dr. Tricia's office, and we visited for about a half hour before she had to leave for an appointment with a patient. 

All through Jinan, we have seen people painting these electrical power boxes.  It really adds a nice touch to something so industrial looking.  Most are scenes of trees and flowers.  I wish I had a picture of the one I saw today with lotus leaves, blossoms and gold fish.  Maybe next week.

All this week, David has been holding English Corner in the canteen from four to five p.m. each day.  Some of the students wanted to get extra practice in before the finals that are coming up next week.  He had a pretty good turn-out of students each day. I stopped in after my painting class on Wednesday, and one of the students there looked very familiar.  He stood and asked if I remembered him.  I said he was familiar, but that I didn't remember his name.  He told me his name was Stone, one of my students from last semester.  Stone wants to go study in the US and needs to practice, so he can take the IELTS test.   One of his roommates has David for a teacher, and so he came along with him for the practice.  It was nice to see Stone again.  I think he is a promising young man.

Dr. Tricia had invited me to come have lunch with her on Wednesday.  The last few Wednesday's, we have tried to have a private lunch, but she has had "working" lunches that have come up each time.  That doesn't give us much time to talk.  She didn't think she would have one this Wednesday, so she had ordered a special Dezhou chicken for our lunch.  Just as we were getting ready to leave her clinic office to go have lunch, her intern called to say that there was another "working" lunch today.  Dr. Tricia had already ordered the chicken, and it was brought to the lunchroom, but the lunch had been provided by the pharmaceutical company. She asked if my painting classroom had air conditioning.  I told her it didn’t, but she sent the chicken home with me anyway.  She didn’t want to believe that my painting classroom was not air conditioned, so she sent the chicken home with me convinced that it would stay good until I got home.

After riding the hot bus (it was almost 100 degrees F), sitting in the classroom for two hours, riding the hot bus home for 45 minutes, I was very leery about even trying to eat the chicken, so after we ate dinner in the canteen, the chicken came out of my bag, and was dumped into the garbage with the leftovers.  I'm sure that the Dezhou chicken is very tasty, but I wasn't going to risk adding food poisoning to the list of my experiences here in China.
We walked by this tree and just had to stop for some pictures!

Wish we knew what it was called.  Very pretty!

Friday afternoon, I had planned to go shopping with Eva.  There were some special gifts that I wanted to bring back from China, and I needed a Chinese speaker's help to get what I wanted.  While we were eating lunch together in the canteen, David got a text from Kang Ming, the head of the International Relations Office.  She said that we had to take our documents over to the police station this afternoon so that we could get our passports back in time to go home on the date we have our plane tickets for.  It wasn't what we wanted to do, but Eva drove us there, instead of the market that we had planned to go to, and we got the documents turned in.  Now we will have everything back by the day that we plan to go home.  It takes ten working days to get the documents back. 

David is busy teaching the engineers that are going to a foreign country again.  He started on Saturday morning.  The owner of the company, and the main guy in Jinan, Tony, invited both of us to lunch that afternoon.  The lunch is made up of about twenty different dishes, starting with very expensive sea cucumber soup! I tried, but after watching a video that our daughter, Rachel, had posted on Facebook earlier that day, I just could not even TRY to put it in my mouth!!  I have tasted it before, it’s okay, but that video really made it very unappealing!

At the lunch, there was the big boss, the area boss (Tony) another boss of some sort (I think he was introduced as the HR director), the young woman, Jasmine, who was interpreting that day, David, and I.  When the wine was being poured, David and I turned it down, and Jasmine tried to turn it down, but the bosses insisted that she have some. She confided in me that she doesn’t care for wine and would have liked to have some orange juice like we had.  When the toasts started, Jasmine sipped on her wine to complete the toast.  The bosses didn’t seem to like it, so they told her to make a toast and then she had to drink what was left in her glass down.  I know she felt like her job and future in interpreting was on the line, so she did. 
Fruits from our lunch on Saturday.  The watermelon, I'm sure, is very familiar to you.  There are some cherries in the back by the watermelon.  The lighter red fruit it lychee.  You peal it and eat the white center.  It has one semi large pit inside.  The darker fruit was one that I had never seen before.  It is called "yangmei," or bayberry.  I have had it in fruit drinks that I have ordered, but never eaten just the fruit before.

The inside of the yangmei (bayberry).  It is a little tart and dry to the taste, but it was good.  Also has a pit about the same size as the lychee.

Her glass was refilled halfway one more time, and with a few more toasts, it was empty again.  The wine seemed to affect her quite quickly, her actions changed some.  The man who was the HR director, seemed to notice.  After the first small glass of his wine, I noticed that he filled his wine glass with the tea and kept refilling it.  It was like he didn’t want them to even think that he was open to drinking anymore wine.   David’s orange juice was gone, so the HR director quietly went over to the server waiting on us and had her refill our glasses with orange juice and told her also to fill Jasmine’s glass with orange juice.  Personally, I was rather peeved that so much pressure had been put on Jasmine to drink the wine, but pleased that she didn’t have to have anymore, thanks to the actions of the HR director.

We had a fun lunch after Church today.  Marylin, a teacher from Maryland that lives next door to the Kinghorn’s, has been joining us for lunch these last few weeks.  She is a fun, delightful, and perky person.  She invited two Chinese people that she works with to join us for lunch today, Jason and Daisy. We had a great time getting to know them.  Jason spent a lot of time talking with David about education and politics.  Patty was also there.  Patty has been there many times, but lately, she has been too busy, because she was getting everything finished to graduate with her master’s degree.  She is finished now and has the time to join us again.  We all had silly pictures taken of us, and then she put on her graduation gown, and had more pictures taken.   
Patty in her graduation gown and hat.

Patty with David and I.  She decided that I needed a Chinese name today.  It is Pei Ying.  The Ying has to do with a kind, gentle person who is intelligent and smart.  The Pei is a Chinese surname that sounds closest to my maiden name.

Our group with Patty.  From the back L-R, Aaron, Kayce, Zina, David, Sue.
Seated on the couch, Marilyn, John, Parry, Deneice and Bonnie.  We all feel like family!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Hospital for Sister J, Former Students, Eating

We pass by this every time we leave our friends at the Hanlin Hotel to go home.  I snapped a picture of it today.  I knew it didn't look right, but never really paid a lot of attention to it until today. 

Monday morning started out with a lot of stress for me.  We had things set up for the Sister J from Lithuania to come into Jinan for some tests at the hospital, so that we could find out what problems she still had after the birth and death of her baby.  She had been dealing with problems from the preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome, and her husband’s family had no more money to spend on getting her the medical help she needed.  We set up through the Church to get her some help.

I had been emailing back and forth with her, WeChat-ing back and forth with her husband and one minute it was yes, we are coming on Monday, and the next it was no, we aren’t.  I had someone from the branch, who speaks Chinese, call him, and explain how the help from the Church would work.  It is hard to admit that you need help, but he loves her, and wants what is best for her in the end.

As time went on, and I hadn’t heard anything from them, I gave up, with my heart breaking, and was in the process of letting some of the key people know that they weren’t coming.  Just as I was about to send the message out to the second person, I get an excited call from Kayce to say that they called her and wanted to know which bus to take to get to her.  We also had Aaron, who speaks Chinese, ready to help, and they were able to get it all figured out.  I hurriedly told all the others that they were here, and that I would see them this afternoon, when I had finished classes and grabbed some lunch.

After lunch, David and I were getting ready to leave, when I felt a strong need for a Priesthood blessing.  I was nervous and pretty keyed up.  So was David.  That blessing calmed both of us down, and I know it helped everything go smoother, and in the way that it should.

After we arrived at Kayce’s apartment, we had a few minutes to visit with them.  Sister J gave me a big hug.  I know she was nervous.  We walked over to the hospital together at 2 p.m. and met at Dr. Tricia’s office.  Our first objective was to get the records from the other two hospitals.  Dr. Tricia explained everything to Sister J’s husband, H, and sent him off to the two hospitals to get the records. 

We waited in Dr. Tricia’s office for quite some time.  At about 4:30 p.m., we got a phone call from H that the printer at the first hospital was down, and it would take about a half hour to repair it.  That meant that he would not be able to get to the other hospital in time to get the records before the office closed.  As it turned out, it really didn’t make a difference if we had the records Monday or Tuesday, the doctor that she needed to see first, was not going to be available until Wednesday. 

The decision was made to take Sister J and H to a hotel for the two nights before she could be admitted to the hospital for the tests.  The Hanlin Hotel is really close, but it is rather expensive.  Dr. Tricia knew of another hotel that was close to the hospital and would cost less, so we decided to go there.  After the walk there, we found out that the hotel could not take someone with a foreign passport.  Rules are set up for those that can take them and those that can’t.  With no other option that presented itself right away, we decided that the Hanlin was the best option, even with the cost, because of how close to the hospital it was.  After getting them settled in for the night, David and I went home exhausted.

Sister J and H spent the next day seeing the sights of Jinan.  We decided to have a dinner with the rest of the Jinan group that could on Tuesday, so they could get to know Sister J and H.  Sister J doesn’t care for much of the traditional Chinese food, so having some American style food made her really happy.  It was a fun evening.

Wednesday is my day off of classes, so I arrived at the hospital at 8 a.m. to be with Sister J and H.  We met at Dr. Tricia’s office, and from there, we were taken down to the nephrology department to start a tour of discovery to find out Sister J’s problems.  She was admitted to the hospital, but there were no beds that were in the rooms available, so she had to have a bed that was just out in the hall.  I felt really bad for her, but there was nothing to do for it.  It is the Chinese way “because they have a lot of people.”  Needless to say, she didn’t get a lot of sleep there, and she has to ask to use one of the bathrooms in the rooms.

After we got them settled, and they started on the tests, Dr. Tricia and I left to go to her office and visit.  She found out that she had a “working” lunch with some of the others in her department, so we had lunch in the big conference room with them.  After the others finished their lunch, Dr. Tricia and I had a chance to visit.  We talked until it was time for me to leave and go to my Chinese painting class. 

Thursday, I went to the hospital in the afternoon to hear the results of some of the tests.  Since I knew how to communicate with Sister J best, I sat in while they explained everything to Dr. Tricia, and then she would explain them to me.  I wrote everything down in the notes on my phone, so I could show that to Sister J.  She understands English better when she can read it, rather than hear it.  I have learned so much about the HELLP syndrome and the havoc that it can wreak on a woman, that it makes me scared for those who get it.  It has been fatal in a little more than 20% of the cases, from what I have read.  Sister J is lucky in that respect.  It did some damage to her liver, but according to the results compared to the records from before, her liver is healing itself! 

Some of her other problems are starting to clear, but some will take longer.  In the meantime, Friday we had Sister J and H to our place for supper and talked for a while.  Sister J started yawning pretty good, so they decided to go home.  On Saturday evening, we got together with Aaron, his Chinese friend, Patty, Deneice, Sister J, and H, so that we could go eat at a pizza buffet restaurant.  Sister J loves pizza and there are no pizza places in their city.  It was really good-tasting pizza, and we all had a great time enjoying the food and the company.  It was better than some pizzas in the US!! 
Big Pizza Buffet!  Good food!  They did charge us a 20 RMB cover fee.  If you didn't destroy the place, you got it back when you left.  I assumed they had some wild parties there in the past.

Sister J and H came to have Church with us Sunday.  She was so excited to be able to partake of the Sacrament and then just be with us.  You could see the joy on her face.  This week in Jinan has been a great benefit to her and her husband in so many ways.  We have had fun getting to know them, too. 
Part of our Sunday dinner.  I made the pies.

The other part.  We had tacos today!  They were able to find tortillas in one of the stores!

One funny little story, when we came Tuesday to eat with the others at the Kinghorn’s room, I noticed that Sister J was wearing some very pretty earrings.  I exclaimed how pretty they were, and H started laughing and getting embarrassed.  He was so pleased that I had noticed this gift he had bought her that day.  We went up to Kayce’s room because we were a little early to go to the Kinghorn’s, and Kayce noticed them also.  Once again, H was just so pleased that someone had noticed and was very happy about.  Same thing happened when we went to the Kinghorn’s.  I loved his reaction to how we noticed those pretty earrings.

I was contacted by one of my former students from four years ago on Wednesday.  Faith has been so very busy with classes and her internship at the hospital, that we hadn’t had time to meet this whole year.  She is finally finished with her exams and has some free time from the hospital, so she contacted me.  We had planned to meet Thursday evening for dinner, but my business at the hospital took a lot longer than I thought it would, so we changed it to Friday at lunch. 

Faith and I.  She was a monitor (like class president) for her class.  
We met at the clock tower and I was astounded by how mature and beautiful she looked!  She had also brought another student from that class, named Zoe.  Zoe had slimmed down from four years ago, but didn’t grow any taller.  We had a nice lunch and then went outside to have pictures taken.
Just as we were finishing the pictures and saying good-bye, along comes another student from that same class!  Prince (his English name because he wanted to be someone that was noble), had just come over to the campus to relive memories from the first year and had in my class.  We had to take more pictures and catch up on what was going on with him. 

David, Zina, Faith and Zoe.
Prince and Zina. 

This is Zoe and Zina from four years ago.
Zoe plans to go into pediatrics.  She loves children, she says, and wants to be able to help them.  Prince will go into urology, so we talked to him about David’s cancer and some of the things he had been through these last few years.  They will all stay in Jinan at Shandong University and learn their specialties here.  Faith is the only one from their class who will be leaving the group.  She has been accepted at a prestigious university in Beijing to enter an internal medicine program, specializing in cardo-vascular.  I am so proud of all three of these students.  They have worked hard and will be a great asset to their country!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Hospital Banner, More Treatment, A Miracle

We went to the hospital on Monday.  This was the day planned to give the banner of appreciation to the Respiratory Department for taking good care of us.  We went to talk to Dr. Tricia early because I was still having trouble with my cough.  I had brought what I thought was a good supply of a good decongestant with an expectorant with me to China, but I did not plan on getting this sick.  I had used up most of my supply, and I needed some to get home with.  I have problems with my ears on airplanes, and this is the solution I have found to make airplane flight possible without pain.  We had tried to get something at a pharmacy here, but we can’t communicate to them what we are looking for.  The next solution as to see if Dr. Tricia could help us.
Our picture with the department head doctor, Dr Wu, and the hospital staff there were there.

With the Kinghorn's holding the banner.  Dr. Wu was actually Deneice's doctor while she was there for three weeks with pneumonia.  Dr. Tricia is the second from the left.

A close up of the banners.

We gave Dr. Tricia the outer package of the tablets and she looked it up.  She was concerned that I was taking this every night to help me sleep.  She prescribed a Chinese medicine that is made from the inside of the bamboo stem.  It works pretty well, but she also suggested that I come back on Wednesday morning and see Dr. Hu, the one who had treated me before.  

John and Deneince Kinghorn came over to the hospital at four, and we presented our appreciation banners to the department head and the doctors and nurses who had helped to take care of us.  These banners make them look good at evaluation time.  Sometimes people have a banner made and present it to the department.  It is a Chinese way of thanking the hospital.  

When we were finished at the hospital, we crossed the bridge over to the Hanlin Hotel.  Kayce had her daughter-in-law and grandson here for a visit, and wanted to have a dinner with them to introduce us all to them.  We ate at the hotel and had a great time.  We made more friends, laughed a lot, and enjoyed being together.  Kayce's family had to leave for their flight, but the rest of us stayed and visited until we had to catch the bus home.  
Kayce is in the red shirt, flanked by two of her former students.

The Kinghorns' and Aaron Tran.

Carol and her daughter, Sophia, are good friends.  We had so much fun talking with Carol.  She a fireball of fun!

We thought that Sophia could pass for one of David's nieces, Madylin.  This picture doesn't do her justice the lighting was bad, but when we showed Sophia a picture of Mady, she gasped because she could immediately see the similarities.

After we had lunch on Tuesday, we had to take some more documents over to the foreign languages department to finish getting our work permits for the next year.  At least, we hope this will finish it.  We had to stop at a copy and print shop to have our pictures taken first, because we didn't have any more of our passport photos left.  That took about fifteen to twenty minutes was all.  Then we got on the bus and headed to the Hongialou Campus.  

We got off the bus at the stop we needed, and headed toward the campus.  When we reached the corner to cross the road, a Chinese man came up to us, and had our work permits in his hand!  We were astounded!  How did he get those, and how had he gotten ahead of us?  David had put our old work permits in his fanny pack.  Somehow, they jumped out of his fanny pack (he had left the zipper unzipped), and the old man had found them.  I guess he convinced the bus driver to let him off at the corner so that he could give them to us.  This would have been very bad news for us if they had been lost.  It truly seemed like a miracle had happened for us to get those work permits back.  It seems like we are being blessed to have angels around us, supporting us.

Wednesday morning, I went to see Dr. Tricia.  She has wanted to talk to me about her father's death and some dreams that she had lately.  After I arrived, she brought Dr. Hu in so that he could check me out.  His diagnosis was PNDS.  Pose Nasal Drip Syndrome.  After severe respiratory infections like I had, you can often have a lingering cough that lasts anywhere from three to eight weeks.  It had already been four weeks since my release from the hospital.  I walked away with some more traditional Chinese medicine, called lou huang guo, an inhaler with an asthma medicine, a nasal spray with a steroid and Claritin for an antihistamine.  I feel some better, but still have a cough sometimes, and my voice doesn't tolerate speaking for long periods.  Not good when you are a teacher.  David still has a little cough, but his lungs are clear.

Wednesday afternoon, David went to see Dr Yang.  He is the head oncology doctor at Qilu hospital.  Since David's cancer is back, he wanted to talk to him.  Dr.Yang had trained at MD Anderson hospital in Texas, one of the leading cancer treatment centers in the US.  David thought it would be a good idea to be in touch with him while he is in China, especially since we plan to come back next year.  He can help with treatment while David is here and be in touch with his doctors back in the US.  

We had an interesting church meeting today.   Our Branch President was released from his calling.  He is getting ready to leave China, his job here helping to build a nuclear plant is finished. He has been in China for about 7 years and has served in the Branch Presidency for 6 years.  We are sad to see him be released, but we know that the new Branch President will competently lead us. 

The rest of our week was taken up with classes, shopping for groceries and a few other things, and correcting papers. We are in the final weeks of classes and will start exams soon. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

David Teaches the Engineers, Dinner with Elsie and Conner, New Tutoring Students

For the most part, this week was rather calm, but busy.  David had to make a special trip over to see Kang Ming at the International Office.  She needed our documents so she could take them over to get the process started on extending our work permits in China for the next year.

David spent his evenings teaching the engineers class from the China construction company that he did just before we left for home in January.  They had an opening ceremony on Sunday afternoon, and then he taught from 6:30 to 8:30 on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and then for one hour on Friday afternoon.  Some days were better than other for teaching.  This was a smaller group than the group in January.
Over last weekend, there was some competition or activity on campus where students could paint the manhole covers around the canteen and main library areas.  This was one of the cutest ones.  A lot of them were cartoon or superhero characters.  It was a little strange to see because most of the campus is so plain.  
I had my painting class on Wednesday.  It was a pretty rainy day, and Eva didn't meet us in the canteen for our usual lunch time.  The rain did let up by the time I went to my class.  It is still fun to do and the others in the class always try to come and talk to me.  I show them pictures of my family.  They look up my profile on WeChat and see the few pictures that I have on there.
The engineers that will be going to Thailand and one will be going to Nigeria.  One of the women is an engineer, one was an interpreter and the other one works for the construction company.

After class, I went to a store that carries foreign products.  I have used almost all of the decongestant/expectorant that I brought with me trying to control this cough that we still have, so I was hoping that they would carry it there.  They don't.  They also don't carry it in the pharmacy store near the campus.  We will be meeting with Dr. Tricia on Monday, and she said that she could get us something.  We are feeling mostly better, but the lingering cough still bothers us at times.

When we were going to lunch the other day, we met one of David's students from last semester that we had over to our apartment a few times with her boyfriend, Conner.  She had a bandage on her head.  It looked like it was terrible, but insisted it was nothing.  We decided to invite them over for dinner on Saturday.  Elsie likes to cook and so gave her the choice between learning to make banana bread or brownies. She said she wanted to learn to make brownies.

Dinner was fun.  Elsie ordered several dishes from some local restaurants that deliver.  As we were sitting around talking afterward, Elsie told David that the students from his class missed him a lot.    They all miss him and don't like the Chinese teacher because the class is boring and uninspiring for learning English.  The students in Elsie's major decided to formed a study group on WeChat. They called it, "Miss Professor David Every Day."  Talk about a tribute to a great teacher!

Sunday, we had to hurry home from Church after lunch so I could attend Branch Council Meeting.  None of the buses were cooperating, for me to make it on time.  We just barely missed the bus that we had to take from the Hanlin Hotel.  It was pulling away from the stop as we were walking up to it.  It was almost a 15 minute wait for the next bus.

Practicing trumpet flowers.
Practicing grapes and vines.
When we got off the stop for the next bus home, we had a long wait there, too.  David had gone over to look at the electronic board to see how many stops away the bus was (it was three stops away).  When he started to come back over to sit by me , a lady started talking to him in Chinese and indicating his watch.  She wanted him to take it off, and it seemed like she wanted to have him put it on her wrist.  He wrapped it around her wrist to be kind, but didn't let her keep it.  David just kept walking toward me and sat down.

Then she came over to me.  I wear an amber bracelet.  She kept pointing to my bracelet, wanting me to take it off, even trying to take it off by herself.  I refused.  Then she started pointing to my bracelet and her wrist, started counting on her fingers, and then indicated she would pay me shi kwai (10 Yuan) for my bracelet.  I said no.  She then said er shi kwai (20 Yuan).  I again told her no and then started hiding my wrist.  She looked at the wedding band on my hand and started to take it off!  At that point, I received a WeChat message on my phone, so I looked at that.  She finally got tired of bothering us and went to find someone else to bother.  She got on the same bus that we did, but thankfully got off of the bus at the next stop.  We really didn't want to have her following us to our apartment.  That was kind of creepy.  We haven't had that kind of person approach us before.  Just have to be careful wherever you go.

We have started tutoring two fourteen year old students.  William's and Helen's mothers are friends and they want them to learn English well.  They are nice kids.  We played a math game (Krypto) with them and I think William would have loved playing past the tutoring time.  He caught on quickly and he was fast.  Helen took a little more time to get it, but she enjoyed it also.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Jinan Botanical Park, Hundred Flower Park, DaMing Lake at Night

On Saturday, May 5, David and I had planned to go to the Jinan Botanical Park to see the peonies and what other flowers were there.  When we started talking in the morning, it looked like it was going to be a nice day.  By the time we got out to the bus stop, it was already starting to sprinkle pretty steadily.  We got off at the right bus stop and met Eva at the entrance.
Peonies in the botanical garden.
The rain was continuing and even starting to get worse.  At first we could avoid a lot of the rain because the trees were keeping us covered.  As we searched for the peony section of the gardens, the rain got even more aggressive. Eva had brought an umbrella, but that wasn't going to take care of all three of us.  There are always people that sit at the gates of the parks and tourist areas with things to sell.  So Eva and I took the one umbrella, while David tarried under a sheltered area, and made our way to the entrance where we could buy some umbrellas.

The woman standing there was more than happy to see us.  She shoved aside the stack of kids character umbrellas (although I was eyeing a princess one for David, he he!), and showed me what I could buy and the prices.  I picked out two, and because I was buying two, she gave me 10 Yuan off.  I was happy with that.  We made our way back to where David was, and he was busy having a conversation with some kids and mothers that were also standing there to get out of the rain.
A class of young saxophonists.  Some were still a little squeaky, but that's okay for now.

Close to the end of peony blooming time.  Happy we were able to find some still in good shape though.

We stopped at a small arcade/fast food place for some lunch and to get out of the rain for a little bit.  It started to clear up some while we were there, so we started out again in search of our peony patch.  It didn't take us too long, because we got on a sky walk bridge and found it from there.  There were still some good peonies to see, but if we had waited another week, they would have been all gone.

After we found the peonies, we stopped at a pavilion where a bunch of people were trying to wait out the rain. They had some musical instruments with them and had planned on playing and doing some dances, but the rain stopped them.  They decided to leave about the same time that we did.  I needed to get home and do some things for Sunday, so we left and when home.
Entrance to the botanical garden.

Pretty little pink roses.

The rest of our week was filled up with classes, correcting assignments, David planning for teaching one week of classes to some engineers, and other activities.

On Friday evening, David and I went to see the Hundred Flower Park.  It is the closest park to us, but we don't get there as often as we should.  It was so much cooler in temperature the minute that we walked through the gates.  It was really pleasant.  Different musicians were playing, lots of people walking, flowers blooming, and kids playing.
Trees in Hundred Flower Park.

One of the springs in the park.

We think we could take a different path each time we went to the park and not travel the same one twice.

These peonies were in better shape than the ones at the botanical garden, but still close to the end of flower time.

David with his ice cream.  The ladies running the little booth that had an ice cream display were thrilled to have him come and stop.  There is danger in being able to speak well the little tiny bit of Chinese that we know... they think you know a lot more than you really do...

Pomegranate blossoms.  Very pretty!

Part of a rose garden.

No one hardly ever walks on the grass areas.  They plant their grass like they do their rice, in clumps.

When we left the park to go to the bus stop, there was a precocious seven-year-old waiting there with his grandmother.  He wanted David to "high five" him.  Then he kept talking to us - in Chinese.  The grandmother offered us seats on the bench next to them.  It turns out that they were waiting for the same bus we were.  I think at one point, they were asking us what bus we were taking, and when they came back saying that bus 70 (qishi) was coming in two more stops, and they came back to the bench.  We tried out David's translation app, but the bus came, and we all got on.  It seemed to have made their day meeting us.

One thing that has been taking up a lot of my time has been the discovery of a member of our Church who is living in a smaller city, not far from Jinan.  "J" is from Lithuania and married a Chinese man.  She had been pregnant with her first baby and had preeclampsia and later HELLP Syndrome.  The family had to make the decision to save either her or her baby.  They chose to save her.  The baby was born by C-section, but because the family is a poor farm family, they didn't have the money to keep the baby on the respirator, so the baby died.  This lady was heartbroken and still struggling with the high blood pressure. 

"J" reached out to her friends and family in Lithuania and lamented that she didn't have people in the Church here to support her like there was in her old home.  It just so happened, that a young man who had lived in China, was a missionary there in Lithuania.  When the family told the missionary about J's problems, he told them that there was a Church presence in China with our ex-pat Branch!  Our Branch President was contacted, and he contacted me (as Relief Society President, this comes under my responsibilities to help with).

After contacting J through email and by phone (she reads English better than she can talk and understand), I decided that it was going to be best to go out to visit her in her city.  The problem was how?  J lives about 50 miles away from Jinan.  I don't drive in China (if you lived here, you would totally understand why!), and taking the bus would make this an all day long activity, for which I didn't have time to do.  One of the Priesthood men and a Chinese friend of ours, Simon, could go on Wednesday, but we couldn't get a car to drive us on that day.  We asked Simon to see if it were possible to "rent" a driver and a car for Saturday.  Simon was able to put us in contact with a driver who was willing to do it for 600 RMB.  I felt like that was worth it.  The train doesn't go there and the bus would have been three hours out and three hours back, at a minimum. 

Simon couldn't go with us on Saturday, but fortunately Aaron, our Vietnamese member who speaks Chinese, could go.  We met the driver and his sister at the South Gate of our campus.  I sat in back with the sister of the driver and Aaron.  It wasn't a very roomy back seat.  The driver had lived four years in New Zealand, so he spoke English quite well.  He was able to drive us there in a little less than one and a half hours.  He waited for us for the hour that we spend with J and her husband, and then drove us back to Jinan.  I was so glad that we could go out and help J for that time.  She needed a Priesthood blessing with the oil and also the comfort of a female, mother-type member.

After we had a rest on Saturday afternoon, we waited for a call from Eva.  Her parents had come to visit her and we were going to meet at DaMing Lake and walk around.  When she finally had time to call us, it was already time for supper, so we decided to go to McDonald's and then just meet them at DaMing Lake.

The bus ride there is always a crowded one, it seems.  It is made even worse right now because they are doing construction of a subway system, so several important roads are blocked off, and crowded down to just two lanes each way.  If you can imagine the traffic of several thousand people all trying to get to the lake, so they can walk around and get cooler, than you can imagine how bad the traffic was.
DaMing Lake at night.

We finally made it, and then had to wait for Eva and her parents.  We found a nice low wall near the entrance where we could sit and wait.  While we waited, we were once again, the attention of a lot of people.  Two kids were about nine years old and they seemed to keep coming closer and closer.  Finally, the parents got involved and wanted them to come have their picture taken with us.  We sat the kids between us and got the photo.  There was a guard standing around that seemed curious about us also.  I think if he had known ANY English, he would have come over and talked with us.  One mother sat with her three to four-year old next to us and the little girl was rather shy.  David pulled out his phone and started showing her pictures of our grandchildren, and she was interested.  The guard was interested too, but he couldn't show too much interest it seemed.  Later, David was reading a text message from Eva and the guard came by once more.  I really think he wanted to see some pictures.
A lighted pavilion on a romantic island.

The monument tower to a famous Chinese poet who lived there.

The Jade bridge that goes out to the romantic island.

We had a nice time walking around the lake.  At one pavilion, there were several saxophone players playing.  One of them had some nice track music playing, and he was playing the melody along with it.  It turns out that he was the master and all the other saxophonists were just practicing.  The master played a good dancing song, so David and I started dancing out on the grassy area behind the pavilion.  When that song ended, we had been noticed, so they invited us to come and dance inside the little covered area that the master was playing in.  We did one dance, where we were recorded by more than just Eva, and then sat and listened to him play a few more songs.
This is the master that was so good!
Dancing together, making a spectacle of ourselves.
Everyone insisted that we have a picture with the saxophonist master.
We continued our walk along the edge of the lake until it was time to find a bus to take us home.  We said good-bye to Eva and her parents.  Just as we were about to exit the park, we see Yi Bing (Bob's mom of Bob and Anna fame) and her husband (who we had not met before) walking by.  Yi Bing was so excited to see us!  After we told them that we were trying to catch a bus home, they insisted on walking us across the busy street and down to the bus stop.  Then when the right bus came, Yi Bing jumped in the bus first, paid for our fare, hopped back off the bus, and then waved good-bye as the bus left.  She wants to thank us for helping Bob and Anna with their English so that they could be accepted by Duke University in the US and go to school there.

We made it home safely, and today we went to Church.  We had to leave early because David is teaching the class for the engineers again and their opening ceremony was today.  David has to go introduce himself to this new group of engineers, and then he starts teaching them tomorrow.  I stayed here and helped tutor two fourteen-year-olds, William and Helen.  I think they will be some fun kids to get to know.