Sunday, March 18, 2018

Spring, Summer, Nope, Winter!

Classes have been going okay.  We have been discovering just how poor the English-speaking skills of this semester really are as the week has progressed.  When we are talking to them, or giving instructions, I see them watching my mouth closely with a blank look on their faces, and I'm pretty sure that not a lot of what I just said, in pretty simple English, was understood.  As we put them in small groups, the understanding is even less, because in most cases, the ones who did understand are not there to help them understand.  
My classroom looking from the front.  What you don't see are the cracked windows and the peeling paint.  It is old, but it serves the purpose for what is needed.

This is my classroom looking to the front.  The computer is fairly new and there is a projector hanging from the ceiling and a screen that comes down to show PPT's on.  No AC which I am concerned about, because the windows are on the south side, and when the weather REALLY starts to heat up, so will my class.  The saving grace will be the ceiling fans, of which two work.

The case in one of my classes left me shaking my head.  I was trying to explain what the play was about to one group that I had just assigned a Reader's Theater script.  One of the guys gave himself an English name of "Funny."  He is quite funny!  I would say a few words, and he is looking at me intently, he nods his head, and then bursts out laughing, because he really didn't get what I was saying.  I think he understands a little more than what he was putting on, but he is quite the joker and is always laughing. 

David went to the housing office to pay the rent on Monday.  After he paid the rent, Mr. Liu told David that his new computer chair was here and gave it to him.  He didn't offer to help him get it to the apartment, so David started off trying to pack the chair home.  As he was going, a Pakistani student came out of the building and offered to carry it for him.  David tried to refuse, but the young man insisted.  He said that he had been raised to respect teachers and older people, and that it was his pleasure to help him out.  So, the young man went out of his way to help bring the chair to our apartment with David!  So thankful to him for doing this!

After we had lunch with Eva in the canteen, I went to my Chinese water color painting class on Wednesday.  Charly was there during the first fifteen minutes to help interpret for me, but then he got a call, and said he had to leave to help take care of some administrative things and would be gone for about 40 minutes.  I was able to watch the teacher demonstrate what he was doing, but didn't understand any of it.  I was able to mimic his motions with the brush, but had to guess at the colors he was using.  We are learning to paint wisteria blossoms.  
This is my practice and first attempt at the wisteria.  It really looks more like a bunch of grapes than wisteria.

Charly got the teacher to come over and demonstrate for me while he explained what was happening in English.  The light purple at the top is the teacher's wisteria.  The more reddish one is my second attempt.

On Wednesday at 6 p.m., David and I were informed that there were some documents that needed to be signed and handed in the next morning by noon.  The problem was, we both had to teach the next morning!  Was it possible to print the documents off, fill them out and then send them in electronically?  Nope!  They had to be filled in, printed off, and handed in personally to the human resources office.  

David was informed while he was in class on Thursday, that it needed to be done online, printed off, and brought to Kang Ming's office by 1:20 p.m.  He was able to dismiss his class a little early, hurry home, type in the forms we needed, and print them off.  I made a quick lunch for him, so he could go.  I couldn't go, because we were expecting the new maid to come at 2 p.m., and we couldn't be sure that if we both went, we could be back by then.

David got to the bus stop he needed just as the bus got there, and he was able to get to Kang Ming's office by 12:45.  When he handed the papers to Kang Ming, she told him that she wanted these documents that day, so that she could get the approval of the government for us to teach here again next year.  If they were in by today, she would have word by Monday.  As it turns out, Eva was able to learn on Friday while we were with her, that the government has approved and now it is for the HR department to finish that approval.  Unless somethings else happens, we will be teaching here again next year!

David had his first monitor meeting in the canteen for this semester on Thursday.  He likes to meet with the students, get to know them a little, and teach them a game to play.  He also had a meeting on Friday for those that weren't at the Thursday meeting.  I wasn't able to meet him at the canteen on Thursday for dinner, but I did on Friday.  

Friday afternoon we wanted to go to the Old Market by the Hongjialou campus.  We were trying to find a new shower head.  The old one was leaking really bad and didn't spray out very well.  We had tried to fix it, but it didn't help.  We looked around and found a vendor that sold them.  When David took a shower the next morning, he found that it was okay, except it was too big of a handle, and the spray would point any direction except in the middle of the shower.  We only paid about $3 for it, but decided we wanted to go to the Hero Mountain Cultural market, that we went to last Saturday, to see the guy who sold the kind that we had before and maybe get a new one like that.  I also bought a "Gucci" bag for 80 RMB (less than $30.00).  I'm sure it's not real Gucci, but it will serve the purpose for which I need it, taking my assignments for the classes back and forth.  I will use my old bag to carry my paint supplies to class in.

Kayce wanted to go to the Hero Mountain Market on Saturday, so we went along with her.  We met at her campus and rode the bus.  We walked through the market and those that remembered us from last week waved and greeted us.  It is so fascinating to see all the things for sale! I wanted to get a holder for my paint brushes and a stand.  We watched one guy do a demonstration on a slicer/dicer tool.  Kayce and I were so fascinated by it!  We didn't understand anything he said except when he was counting the numbers of the tools available with it. It was just like on the infomercials!!  Of course we each bought one!  For two we paid 20 RMB each.  I used it to make supper last night.  Better than a food processor for making hash browns!
My new slicer/dicer, handy-dandy machine!  All the attachments store in the bottom of the slicer.
We ate some of the local foods and bought a new shower head that was like the old one we had that we liked.  Kayce decided to buy one for herself also.  The head is designed to reduce the amount of water needed to take a shower and still get the same water pressure.  Our showers this morning we really nice!  

To finish up the Hero Mountain market, we went through the area that they were selling crickets, birds, and other animals that we had seen last Saturday.  They were also selling small scorpions, too!  Then we walked to the bus station after buying some nuts and went home.
Basins full of scorpions.  Most were about an inch to no more than two inches long.  Not sure what purpose they were being sold for.

We didn't make it here until they were starting to pack-up for the day.  Last week this whole area was full of bird cages and birds for sale.  

Boxes and boxes of live meal worms, crawling and creeping over and over each other.

This is the canary I want!  I don't think Eva would like to take it for us while we are gone to feed and care for it if we did get it.  

One cage of these parrots was sitting on the ground.

More parakeets and canaries.

Cute cages!

If you haven't read "The Cricket in Times Square," you should.  These crickets were being sold with cute little cages and other containers to keep them in.  I'm sure that whoever buys them, carefully chooses the cricket that is best for them.

I call it a "Cricket Hotel."

Sunday was a fun time to have Church and a nice meal afterward.  David and I stayed after everyone else had left and played games with Kayce.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Classes Start, Baotu Springs, Painting Class.

Monday was the start of the new semester.  David had one two hour class at 8 a.m. and I had one two hour class starting at 10 a.m.  Both classes went well.  We were surprised at the level of English these classes have.  These are supposed to be the "B" level students.  That means that their level of English was lower that the students who we had in the fall, and they have studied a semester with a Chinese English teacher.  Where we had a lot of blank stares on the first day of the Fall semester, this time we felt like there were more who understood us right off the bat.

After David's class, he decided to go see if Dr. Tricia could help him with the problems he has been having with his back.  She had the old orthopedic doctor check him out and then he got a shock wave treatment.  It usually takes a few days for the treatment to feel like it is working, so right now he is just a little sore where they did the treatment.

We had planned to meet Kayce at Baotu Springs that evening about 5:30 p.m., so we could get in with our passports for free.  That afternoon, Bob and Anna had contacted us to see if they could come over, they had bought some special treats to give us.  We told them what our plans were, so they asked if we could all go to dinner and then go over. Anna had never seen it, and Bob hadn't been there for about ten years, he said.

They have several corridors decorated similar to this that you can walk through.  It all feels so magical!

Butterfly corridor.

Dragon display.

Me, David, and Kayce, just having fun!

Teapot display.
We went to the canteen to eat with them and then hurried to the bus stop.  It was in drive-time, so there were some traffic problems, and we had gotten a later start than we had wanted.  The plan was to meet Kayce at the North gate, but when we  were getting closer to 6 o'clock, and about to miss the deadline, we decided that getting off the bus and going to the East gate might get us in there before they started charging the evening rate.  We just barely made it!

Fish and under water.  The meaning was of contentment and being happy with what you have.

This display was about the morals that Chinese are taught as children.  Thinks like fidelity, trustworthy, brave, intelligence.  Kind of sounded like the Boy Scouts Law.

Paw Patrol.  I took this one for my granddaughter, Aleeyah!

This peacock one was beautiful during the day, but lit up night is even better!

The year of the dog.  

This display was to represent a poem about birds. The bird disrupted the water and send ripples out and away.

It was beautiful to see the displays lit at night.  They had music going, it was just fun. We stopped in the gift shop to check some things out, and while we were there, a young man and his family stopped and talked to us.  He was from Kansas and had come to China to teach.  He met his wife, Chinese from Jinan, and they have lived back and forth between the US and China.  They have one little girl that is a little over a year old.  We talked for a long time.  It was a nice visit.  It started to get a little cold, and we had seen all that we wanted to see, so we left and caught the bus home.

Tuesday's classes went well for both David and I.  We went to Dr. Tricia at the hospital.  She wants David to try some more traditional Chinese Medicine, so we met with the Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor.  She prescribed a concoction that doesn't taste as bad as the one last fall that he tried.  He still adds a little honey or syrup to it to help the medicine go down. (ha ha!)  We were there a long time while we waited for the medicine to be mixed up.

Dr. Tricia has started to take a class that is meant for people that want to learn to be interpreters.  She doesn't think she has the ability to do it, but she still wants to try and learn something new.   A new enviroment, she says, will help her to overcome her sadness and guilt about her father's death.  So while we were waiting, she practiced some of the reading she had to do on us.  She would read the passage to us in English, and then she wanted me to read it back to her.  In doing this, she could improve her pronunciation and also check for meaning of the words.  As soon as they brought the medicine to us, Dr. Tricia hurried us out the door, because it was getting close to 5 p.m. and she wanted us to get home before drive-time started.

Wednesday, David had classes, but I didn't.  I talked with family back home for a while when David was gone.  As soon as he got home, we hurried over to the canteen to have lunch with Eva.  We sat at a table that had another Chinese English teacher and also another teacher who spoke English quite well.  When we told her where we were from, she mentioned the National Parks that we have in Utah.  We were a little surprised.  It turns out that she goes to the US quite a lot because she has a son that went to high school in Virginia and graduated from college and now works in Washington DC.  We were surprised at her level of English, which was quite good.

After lunch, I met Kayce at the bus stop so we could catch the bus that would take me to the Shandong Institute for Elderly Learning.  Kayce has a student who's mother is director at the institute, and is taking a Tai Chi class there.  I mentioned that I was interested in learning Chinese water colors, so Kayce asked about a class for me.  It turns out that it is on Wednesday afternoons, so it works with my schedule!  Kayce introduced me to Charly, the director's son and sister to her student.  He showed me where the class was, introduced me to the teacher and the class, and then sat with me acting as an interpreter for what the teacher was saying.

The first class was from a teacher that specializes in painting birds. He went over the anatomy and some characteristics of birds, but never got around to painting. They took a break halfway through the class, and at that point, Charly decided to take me to a class on flowers.  This guy had already started showing technques of painting, the class was all excited.  They hardly seemed to notice me in the class, although a few of them smiled and nodded to acknowledge me.  It was wonderful to watch him work.

When the class ended, Charly took me to the director's office, and they decided which one of them would walk me to the bus stop to make sure I got there safely.  Charly's mom won. She speaks English pretty well, so we had a good talk on the way to the bus stop.

After classes on Thursday, I went with Kayce and Deneice to a shopping area that we had bought souvenirs from before.  Deneice was looking for some of the same souvenirs that she had bought before, but when we arrived at the shop, they had changed all the old souvenirs and didn't have the ones she was particulary looking for.  We found several other shops, but only one had anything similar, and she didn't want to pay what they were asking for there.  We wandered around, bought some cheese pies, and talked.  It was a nice afternoon.

After teaching my classes on Friday, (David doesn't have any classes on Friday) we had lunch with Eva in the Canteen.  She offered to take us to RT Mart so we could get some groceries that we needed.  We decided to take her up on the offer.  After shopping, we made our way home and then had a good rest, because we were both really tired.

My first class on Friday is a little strange.  It only has 13 people in it.  They are all Fine Arts majors, and they all have to travel from the Hongjialou campus for me to teach them.  The fact that they would have me teach a class of only 13 is probably the strangest part.  The smallest class that I have had before was 24 students.  I was afraid that I wouldn't have enough material to keep them going for almost two hours that the class lasts, so I did some looking through old material I had and found some things that I could turn into a learning game.  They really enjoyed playing it, lots of laughter in class!

Saturday morning, I went to meet Charly, so that he could take me to get the supplies that I needed for my painting class.  David decided to come along.  We had planned to meet at 9 a.m. at the place where the lessons were, because I didn't know the area that he was wanting to meet me at.  We had to wait for a bit before Charly came.  He arrived by taxi, and was going to get his car and drive us there, but he realized, he didn't have his key, so we ended up taking a taxi anyway.

Charly's five-year-old daughter was with him.  She knew a few words in English, but not enough to communicate.  She kept speaking to me, and if Charly wasn't talking to David, he would tell me what she was asking.  At one point, she wanted to tell me that my eyes were big and pretty!  We tried to learn a few small words from her.  She was delightful to be with.  Charly wanted to pick out an English name for her, so he said he was looking online for names and came upon the name of Rita, and asked if we knew the name.  I told him that I had an aunt and a niece with that name, and that it was a name that I liked.  So his daughter's English name is now "Rita."

My art supplies. I'm a little excited!

When we got close enough to the place we needed to go, and the taxi was at a stop because of all the traffic, we decided to get out and walk the rest of the way to the store. It wasn't very far.  It was a trusted seller of art supplies.  We got three brushes, small, medium and large, a set of water color paints, a palette, and 100 sheets of paper (it was the smallest size they carried).

After we purchased all that I needed for my next class, Charly asked if we wanted to go see the Art Market that was close by.  We said we did, so he stopped and bought us a bottle of water and a steamed yam.  Steamed yams are big here in China, at least in Jinan.  Lot's of shops sell them, and we see people eating them all the time.  They buy them with the skin still on and peel away the skin as they eat them.  They always smell so good!
Charly bought us a back of peanuts.  They were salted, roasted peanuts, and some were blackened peanuts.  They still tastes good, but I don't know that my eyes like to eat food that is black.  

We started to make our way through the crowd.  Very, very slow going! The way to the Art Market was crowded with shops that sold everything from art supplies, to underwear and socks,  to birds, to crickets, and mealworms. In some places, I was afraid that I would be pushed into the tables of the vendors because the crowd was pressing so hard to go somewhere. After about 15 minutes, we were able to get through the worst part of it and into an area that was easier to travel.

I couldn't resist buying this little, carved trinket from the market.  Charly explained that the meaning of this was "plenty is enough."  The word for foot, and the word for spider sound similar to the words for "plenty" and "contentment."  If you rub this foot, it us supposed to help calm you and not be anxious for what is to come. 
We walked through the market and stopped a few places.  One guy knew just enough English that upon learning we were from America, called Trump crazy and laughed a lot.  We bought a few cute little things and finally, Rita, David and I were tired, so Charly wanted to know what bus would take us back to our campus.  We finally decided that bus 75 was our best option, so we went to the nearest bus stop, but 75 doesn't stop at that one.  A man overheard us talking about bus 75 and told Charly what bus stop we needed, so he walked us to the bus stop.  Charly and Rita said good-bye to us and then we got on the bus.

After riding the bus for a while, we decided to get off at a stop that we knew where we could catch another bus that would get us closer to the campus than bus 75 would, so we got off.  It was also a shorter bus ride than the other one would have been.  It sure is nice to know the buses well enough to be able to make our own decisions.

Bob and Anna came over that evening.  Anna had bought some things online for us, so they were bringing them over. I had made brownies to take with us tomorrow for lunch, so we gave them each one.  Anna loves chocolate and fell in love with them. Bob likes them too.  They stayed, and we played some games with them.  Had a fun evening.

Sunday was our Branch Conference.  The District President and the District Clerk came to Jinan to preside from here.  We had a good lunch afterward and then more meetings at 2 p.m. for Branch Council meeting.  All of that finally got over a little before 4 p.m., so we headed home.  It's been a busy week.
The campus trees are starting to bloom!

Warm weather is on it's way!  David had stopped to smell the flowers on the trees when he was out running errands on campus.  A lot of people were there taking pictures of the blossoms, and when David was smelling the flowers he heard a lot of clicks from cameras.  They were taking pictures of him smelling the flowers!

Even the magnolia blossoms  agree that the cold weather is beyond us!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Back to China, Opera, and Lantern Festival

We had Seth drive us to the airport early Saturday morning.  We made our flight to LA and didn't have any problems getting the flight to Shanghai.  For some reason, the flight to Shanghai made what we thought was a strange flight pattern.  We don't know the reason, but the flight course on the seat screen showed that we went from LA up the coast north clear up to Nome, Alaska, over along the coast of Asia until we were just north of the Koreas and then turned sharply west and then came down over Beijing to Shanghai.  We are aware of the Great Arc that planes take over longer distances, but this was much further north, than any of our other flights to or from China.  I'm guessing that the Olympics may have been why they avoided crossing that airspace.   What has normally been a twelve to twelve and a half hour flight was thirteen and a half hours long.

We had arranged for a taxi to pick us up from Jinan airport and our flight actually came in a half hour before the scheduled arrival time, so we were worried that we would have to wait for our taxi, but as soon as we passed through the gate, he was there waiting for us. He took us right to the van and then let us know, without speaking any English, that this other driver was going to take us back to our apartment.  We suspect that he had to wait for someone else to come in, but as long as we got back to our apartment, we didn't mind the change of drivers.

As we got closer to Jinan, the driver started going slower and slower.  We were a little concerned.  I kept watching his face through the rear view mirror so make sure he wasn't nodding off.  He seemed to still be awake but we couldn't figure out why he was going so slow.  We eventually made it back but with the speed he was going, it was about ten to fifteen minutes longer than normal.  It was 1:00 a.m. when we got home.

After sleeping in for a while, we made some breakfast and then made plans to go shopping for supplies.  Before we left China, we had to get rid of anything perishable in the refrigerator because all electricity had to be turned off in the apartment.  We bought the necessary items and then came back to finish unpacking.

Kayce had invited us to come for supper, we had bought some things from the U.S. for her, so we took them to her and had a nice supper and played some games.  We had also bought sacrament cups for Sunday's and dropped those off at the Kinghorn's apartment.  While we were playing games, David and I started yawning so much, that we decided to call it a day and head home.  I think we were in bed before 8 p.m.

Tuesday, we made plans to meet Eva for lunch near Furong Street.  That is the street that has all sorts of interesting foods to eat.  When Eva got there, we went to where she thought there was a noodle restaurant that she and her husband had visited a while back, but it wasn't there anymore, so we went to a different noodle place.  At this place, they bring you a bubbling cast iron pot (I think it would hold about a quart of broth).  Your had your choice of pork, chicken, beef or fish meat added to the broth.  They also brought you two plates, one piled high with veggies and the other had rice noodles.  When the pot of broth was brought to you, the waiter scraped the veggies and then the noodles into the boiling water.  As soon as the broth stopped bubbling and cooled for a little bit, you could eat.  It was very good!

We walked along Furong Street for a little while.  David wanted ice cream (they have some good ice cream shops along there) and Eva and I picked up a few other interesting treats, but we decided to leave and go over to Baotu Springs and walk around.  This is the time for the lantern festival and they have a display competition in the park.  They design displays that are lit up in the evenings and everything is very beautiful.  We were too early for the lit up displays, but we still walked around and had fun seeing the displays.  It started to get cold and looked like it was threatening to rain, so we left and came home.  We were pretty tired, so an early supper and off to bed before 8 p.m. again.

The displays are all made of fabric and lights.

With Eva at Baotu Springs.

This was one of my favorite displays with the peacocks.

A beautiful walkway.

These murals show the different elemets of poetry.

I love the walkways with the lanterns hanging above.

These little flowers are very fragrant.  The smell is so heady!  The story of the plum flowers is that they are strong because they are the first to blossom and can withstand the cold and the snow.
Dr. Tricia wanted to come see us on Wednesday, so we stayed around the apartment and got some things done.  When she came she brought us a huge bag of apples and then proceeded to tell us some stories of why apples were her favorite fruit.

When Dr. Tricia was a girl, her mother would store the apples in a large wooden box.  Her father's parents lived a long way away from them, but they would come visit about once a year.  Dr. Tricia's grandmother loved apples, and especially the apples that her mother grew and picked, because they were so sweet.  So, her mother would save the apples for her mother-in-law's visit.  Her mother would constantly go through the box of apples and take out those that were starting to not be firm and nice anymore.  She would give those apples to Dr. Tricia and her brother.  They were sweet and so good to eat, she said.

The other memory about apples was that, Dr. Tricia's father went away each week to work in the oil fields in Shandong province, so her mother had to work in the fields to get the food they needed to eat.  Dr. Tricia had to go out with her mother to the field and sit and entertain herself on the edge of the field while her mother worked.  She would get tired, and bored, and hungry.  When her mother stopped working, she would come over to Dr. Tricia, ask her if she was hungry and then pull out of her pocket a big apple that was cut in half for her and her mother to share.  She thought the apples were always so sweet to eat.  As she was telling us these stories, Dr. Tricia kept one of the apples in her hand and would bring it to her nose to smell the sweetness of the apples she had just brought to us.

We planned to go see the Lantern Festival at Baotu Springs on Thursday night with Kayce.  We met her at a Pizza Hut close to the Springs and had supper.  When we got to the Springs, they told us we couldn't go in.  We didn't quite understand why, but they called over a woman who spoke a little English, and she was able to get through to us that we would have had to get to the Springs before 6 p.m. to get in for free.  They have a deal where people over 60 can get in for free, but I guess it is only during the day.  We decided that we would try to come on Monday before 5:30 and go see them then.
Since we couldn't get into Baotu Springs, we walked around Quancheng Square.  The nearly full moon was lined up perfectly 

Kayce came over Thursday morning, and we worked on stuff for Relief Society, and then we went to lunch.  While we were walking her to the bus stop, David got a message from Eva about a performance that evening, and did we want to go.  We said yes, and asked if she could get a ticket for Kayce also.  She was able to get a ticket for Kayce also, so we met up at a bus stop later that evening to go meet Eva.

It turns out that it was a special performance of Shandong Province specialty opera.  Some of the singing was hard to take because it sounds rather screechy to our ears.  The costumes and backdrops were stunning, and Eva translated what the basic operas were all about.  We had to leave the performance just before the last opera finished, so that we could catch a bus home.  Some buses stop running at 9 p.m., but some go a little later.  It was a fun evening.
The background screens were so beautiful!

Each opera song told a different story from different areas of Shandong Province, the province that Jinan is the capital city of.

This song was a love story of a girl who was being escort to marry a wealthy man, but she fell in love with the man who was escoring her to the wealthy man.  It was a song about why they couldn't be together,  Sad.

This man was 84 and still had a good voice.  He sang a song about being drunk and losing all his money.

A famous 78 year old singer.  The crowd gave her lots of applause.  We loved the beautiful costumes.

We had been bugging Eva to try to get our class lists to us ever since we got back to China, but they weren't having any meetings until Thursday, so she couldn't get them before then.  It is a little frustrating about the Chinese system, that we can't seem to get information in a timely manner.  Most of it all seems so "last minute."  She was finally able to get them to us late that morning, so we decided to try that afternoon to see where our classrooms were going to be.

The university has moved their Biology and Microbiology Departments to the Qingdao Campus, so those two buildings are available for classrooms now.  That is where they put our classrooms.  The buildings are closer to our apartments, but they are really old.  We wandered around in the Microbiology building thinking that we were both in the same building.  The room that with the number that I was supposed to be in was actually a broom closet!  I don't think we had the right room...or building...  We found what we thought was David's classroom, but it was locked so we couldn't see it.

We went to a different building to see if my classroom was in there.  We tried to ask some students, but they couldn't speak enough English, however, someone went to find a teacher to help us. The man that eventually came out, was able to speak enough English to help us, and he stopped what he had been doing, and went around with us to get the keys that we needed and helped us find our classrooms.

Mine turns out to be on the fourth floor of a building that doesn't have an elevator.  I don't think my knee is going to be thanking me for being here this semester.  My classroom looks pretty much like David's, old desks, dusty, etc.  David's classroom is on the 6th floor, but he  has an elevator to get to his.  We start on Monday.  They also added another day of classes to my schedule.  I thought I would have Tuesday and Wednesday off, but I only have Wednesdays off now.

On Saturday, David and I worked on our lessons for Sunday.  He was informed Saturday morning that he was to teach the Elder's Quorum the next day, so he was in a bit of a panic.  We had to make a run to the store, and when we got back, we still had some more work to do to be ready for Sunday. We didn't feel like we wanted to go out again, so we tried to order pizza delivery.  Mike's Pizza informed us that he wasn't open because of Lantern Festival, so we had to find another option for supper.

Sunday was a good day.  We met with Kayce, Aaron, and the Kinghorn's.  Aaron brought us gifts from Vietnam.  Mine is a beautiful fan and a HUGE BAG of COCOA!  He wants me to make more delicious desserts for our Sunday lunches!  HA HA!!

This is the beautiful hand painted fan that Aaron brought from Vietnam.  He brought one for each of the women in our group.  It was really hard to choose from the fans that he brought, but this one won out!

This bag of cocoa is going to make lots of brownies, cookies and cakes for Aaron!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Jen and the Brownies, Cooking with Catherine, Packing and Flying

On Monday, David had work to do on his presentation for the engineers class that night. I needed to go to the store and get some things, so I took off by myself.  When I got on the bus, someone gave up their seat for me.  That is a common occurrence here, to show respect for elders and those with young children. The man I was sitting by wanted to talk to me.  I used up most of the Chinese I knew with him, telling him where I was from and what I was doing in China.  I know he would have loved to talk more but that language barrier was too high.

I was able to run my errands pretty quickly.  While I was on my way to catch the bus home, a man had stopped on the side of the walkway.  He was carrying filled water jugs after his trip to get the day's water at the Black Tiger Springs that were close to the bus stop.  It is cheaper for them to go to the springs and get their water, but it does make a heavy load to carry back to their apartments.  As I passed, he smiled and said in Engish, "Good morning!"  I was quite surprised.  Then he asked how I was, so I stopped to talk to him.  Since he had better English skills than the first man, I was able to tell him a lot more.  I was getting a little nervous that the bus I needed to ride back was going to come by, and since I was in a hurry to get back, I kept glancing at the bus stop, so he let me go.

Jen came over for her tutoring lesson after lunch.  David worked on Science terms with her and then when he needed to take a break, I made brownies with her.  We started by melting the butter in a pan.  I let her stir it.  Jen seemed fascinated by the melting butter.  Since she had just finished Science terms with David, I mentioned that it was a physical reaction and how even in cooking, we use science.  After all the ingredients were in and the batter was poured into the pan for baking, I told Jen she could lick the spoon.  She was confused by the word lick, so I demonstrated it for her.  She tried the first lick and the let out a noise that expressed extreme delight!  The look on her face was a delight to see!  David heard me laughing and came in.  He got the spatula to lick.  Then we got the picture.
Jen stirring the brownies.

Hard to fit two people in this tiny kitchen. 
Jen's first time licking a spoon! 

Jen and me, just before she left.

After David had covered the last of the math terms with Jen, the brownies were done baking, and we still had about fifteen minutes of time left.  We decided to play some card games with her while we ate our brownies.  Then we sang a song for her, and it was time to go.  We are going to miss her.  It has been fun working with Jen, a delightful girl.  After giving her a bag with several brownies in it and a hug, we said good bye and good luck to her.  I sure hope it goes well for her.  Jen is a bright, intelligent girl.

 David worked with the engineers each night.  Monday, they were supposed to do some reader's theaters.  After two of the plays, he decided that he needed to back off of doing all four in one night, so he went on to other activities.

Catherine is a Chinese girl who is working on her Doctorate in Education.  She became familiar with some of the women at church, and they invited her to eat lunch with us.  She has become a regular for lunch now.  A few weeks ago, I brought a pumpkin roll for dessert.  Catherine fell in love with it and wanted to learn how to make it.  I invited her to come on Tuesday so that I could teach her how.  We had a fun time working together.

Kayce had planned to come with her, but ended up having to teach an emergency class for about an hour, so she came later.  While we waited for the pumpkin roll to set up in the fridge, we played some card games.  Catherine had never played before, so we explained the game to her and had fun playing.  She was the one who won the second game!  We all enjoyed a slice of pumpkin roll and then they left, each happily fed with pumpkin roll.

Wednesday was our last day in China for five weeks.  We spent the morning getting things ready to go, laundry, cleaning, etc. We had made an appointment with a young man for some tutoring that afternoon, but we had forgotten that we were going to visit Dr. Tricia that afternoon, so we had to try and arrange a different time for him to come.

A man that David had met with before named, Samuel, wanted to take us out to lunch.  Samuel is a man that is connected with the Rain Education group.  The goal of their company involvement with Rain Education is to have better understanding between China and the US and the world.  They think that because David was in the Legislature, he has political connections that would help them.  Samuel was there with his "big boss," and we had a pleasant lunch and some interesting conversations.  They wanted to know more specifically how the Americans felt about North and South Korea working together to create a good Olympics experience.  When we were finished with lunch, they drove us up to Qianfushan Hospital so we could have our visit with Dr. Tricia.
Some of the lunch that we had with Samuel and his boss.  Lots of seafood!  

Dr. Tricia has had a rough week.  She realized on Sunday that it was the one month anniversary of her father's death and she was struggling.  She still feels guilty that she didn't get her father treatment earlier, and that it may have provided him with a few more years of live.  We talked for about an hour and she seemed to be a little more calm when we left.  She also had a gift for us to take home to our family.  It is a special type of chicken prepared in a special Shandong way.  We are excited to share it with our family!

We met Eva at the Yon Ho restaurant for supper.  She wanted to spend time with us before we left.  She had some gifts for us also.  More than 50% of our luggage is gifts!  Some we have bought and some we have been given.

David finished his class with the engineers.  He hopes that he gave them some skills to help get them through and be able to do their work. 

While David was working with the engineers, I was helping the young man that we had rescheduled from earlier Wednesday. He is auditioning to go to Columbia University in New York.  He is nervous about what to say and how to introduce himself in the interview.  We went over some strategies that I hope will help him.  He seems like a bright young man.  His goal in life is to become a film and play director.

Lily sent this tie for David and the scarf for me.  It is beautiful hand woven brocade silk.
We arrived at the airport in time for our flight and everything worked well for getting back to the US.  It is a long, long time of flying and waiting at airports.  It was hard to sleep before the flight, hard to sleep on the flight, and then hard to stay awake until time for bed in America.  These next five weeks will be late Christmas, family parties, a trip to see my dad, and hopefully, a LOT of (busy) rest!
Shanghai airport. Waiting to leave China.