Sunday, December 10, 2017

Food, Eating, Food, Eating

This has been a week of a LOT of food!  We even skipped a few meals because we were still stuffed from the previous meal!

Our friend, Gilbert, and his wife, Lulu, were in Jinan this week.  Gilbert was a great friend to us when we were here before. They have moved to Beijing for Lulu's job, but they still keep an apartment in Jinan so they can get away from Beijing city life when they can.  We arranged to have dinner with them on Tuesday.

Gilbert picket us up about four in the afternoon and drove us to his apartment.  On the way there, Gilbert took us to see one of the villas that some people are buying.  They are sprawling houses similar to what you would find in the US, but with Chinese style.  One of the houses was 32 million yuan! That translates to just under $5,000,000 US. 

Lulu's parents live with them so that they can take care of their son, Marcelle, when they are working.  We had a nice visit and waited for our other friend, Ya Ping to come.  We still had to wait because Ya Ping's wife had to come from the other side of Jinan to join us for dinner also.  In the waiting time, we showed pictures of the family and had pictures taken with them.

Had to have a pictures with Lulu's parents and Marcelle.
Jinan is a city of seven million people.  It is hard to imagine a city with that many people in it, but it makes the city very big from one end to the other.  There are a lot of tall apartment buildings that house people, but it still takes a lot of land just to house people and the businesses that it takes to care for this many people. 

Dinner was at a restaurant that specializes in seafood.  We had so many different kinds!  I forgot to get pictures of all the foods, but there were octopus, scallops, oysters, clams and shrimp stuffed mushrooms.  Some of the foods were too spicy for me to eat more than just a taste of it.  We sampled everything, but then the food just kept coming.  All the time while we are eating, we are also talking.  Gilbert talks really well in English and Lulu has some skills also.  Ya Ping understands a lot of English but is afraid to speak much.  His wife doesn't speak or understand much at all. 
Marcelle, Lulu, Gilbert, David, Zina, Ya Ping

We talked and talked after the meal until almost 10:30.  It was such a fun night, but the food stayed with us all night long.  First, we get home late, then we can't sleep because the food is still in our stomachs.  It was a long night with not enough sleep and we both had to get up and teach the next morning.  We ate a bare minimum for breakfast because we were still full!

Wednesday we had lunch with Eva in the canteen.  We had talked about going to a different market area to see it.  Kayce (BYU teacher) wanted to go with us, so she came to our campus and had lunch also and then Eva drove us to an area close to her house so that she could drop off her car and we could take a bus to the market area.

Eva had dropped us off on a corner to wait for her so that we wouldn't have to walk all that far.  While we were waiting, a woman on a bike was crossing the street and all of a sudden, she fell in the road.  She was trying to pick herself up and checking to see if she was okay.  A part of her bike had fallen off close to us, so Kayce picked it up and took it to her and helped put it back on her bike.  The woman was so grateful.  She came over and bowed  to us to thank us.  She started to walk away but turned back to us and got her phone out to take pictures.  She got a lot of pictures of us and then thanked us again and finally went on her way, walking the bike.

The market was fun and we found a lot of fun things.  Eva was insistent that David and I needed hats and new scarves.  She found a hat shop and we tried on a lot of hats.  Finally settling on one for each of us and then bargaining the price down.  Then we found a scarf shop and bought scarves and gloves.  Kayce needed to get back for a class, so she left to find a bus stop.  She couldn't find the bus she needed, so she ended up getting a taxi home.

We were also looking for a new shirt for David,  He didn't bring enough with him for winter, so we were looking in several shops.  We finally went into a more formal mall connected to the market and after trying several places found the perfect shirt...at a fairly high price.  We ended up buying it because it looked so good on him and fit perfectly.  It is hard to find shirts in his size here, but we succeeded.

David's new shirt and hat.  Christmas gifts from Eva.

Thursday, Kayce wanted to go back to the market and invited me to go along.  We made it to the market by ourselves and wandered the shops.  After successful purchases for things we were looking for, we decided to go home.  We got lost in the maze of shops and couldn't find the entrance we had come in at.  We wandered for about 20 minutes and finally, I saw a shop that I had recognized as being near the opening to go to the formal mall where we had bought David's shirt.  I knew how to get to the bus stop from there, so we went and had more success getting on the bus and home! 

David had games in the canteen for his students, so I met him there and we had dinner with some of his students.  Conner and Elsie, two of the students, wanted to learn to make pies.  We decided that Friday evening would be a good time to make the pies.  Conner wanted a banana cream pie, so they would bring the bananas.

Elsie loves to cook.  She followed my directs exactly, except I was a little nervous about the pie filling burning and didn't let it cook as much as it needed to set up well.  We didn't get to taste it that night because of it.  I was ashamed to tell Elsie how I had failed her.  They ordered food and had it delivered to our apartment for supper while we waited for the pie.  The next morning, I made a new  pie that did set up and we used that one on Saturday evening when Conner and Elsie came back for pie.  We had a fun time both evenings visiting with these fun kids!  Conner is happy that Elsie can make banana cream pie for him now!

Saturday, David and I took the morning to catch  up with our class work that we had gotten behind on with all of the other activities this week.  We went to RT Mart and got some things that we needed.  Eva and Yi Bing (Bob's mother) wanted to take us to lunch.  Yi Bing was so excited to see us and thanked us profusely for helping Bob and Anna with their English.  The lunch was full of laughter and fun and lots and lots and lots of dumplings!  We ate until we were too full and we refused to eat the last of the dumplings.  Not really polite in Chinese society to do that, but we couldn't hold anymore!  We skipped supper that night because of Elsie and Conner coming over to eat pie.
Lunch with Eva, Yi Bing and us.  Good times!

Eva, David, Zina and Yi Bing.  We are outside of the Catholic church in Jinan.  They had just opened it for the Christmas season, so we went in to have a look.

Beautiful ceiling.

We loved the stain glass windows.





The south view of the Catholic Church.  The low building in front is where the nuns live.

After Church today, we had our usual dinner, but not so usual today!  Kayce had bought a cake, candles and balloons for my birthday!  They all sang to me.  We had two Chinese girls come to eat with us.  They have been there before.  It was a fun day.  Oh, we skipped supper tonight also, just too much food this week!
My birthday cake.  Kayce felt successful ordering the cake by herself.  The pigs on the top were cute. Neither Kayce or the bakery new anything of the connection with pigs in my life! 

We all had to put on the reindeer antlers that Kayce bought.  And then the selfie with our Chinese friend.  From left to right, Kayce, David, Deneice Kinghorn, Zina, John Kinghorn, Bonnie Hardman, Chinese girl, Sue Stubbs, Summer

Sunday, December 3, 2017

It's beginning to look a lot like...

We had planned to spend a quiet Monday afternoon at home, but David received a message that we were supposed to go to a meeting with the Vice Dean of the Graduates.  Last Saturday, just before our Thanksgiving dinner, Lynn, one of the other teachers in the graduates department had been told that she was being moved to the new Campus at Qingdao for the Spring semester.  The university is moving six schools (law, chemistry, biology, management, micro computers and physics) to the new campus and they have promised the graduate students that they would have a foreign English teacher to teach them.  Lynn was not happy at all and refused to go.  It would be a very hard move for her.  In the four years she has been in China, she has learned little to no Chinese and would not have a system of support people to help her there, like she has built here in Jinan.  She threatened to quit if they did make her move.  Thus, the meeting in the Dean's office on Monday.

There were four of us English teachers and three deans or associate deans at the meeting.  They explained to us that they needed an English teacher to go to Qingdao.  Beside Lynn, there was Machelle, a woman from South Africa that is teaching on the Medical Campus and David and I.  Machelle's husband is a Medical student at SDU and she was hired to teach English.  When Lynn vehemently refused to go to Qingdao and cited that she was contracted to teach in Jinan only, they turned to Machelle.  She and her husband are still newlyweds and he can't go with her because he is going to school.  They said they would pay for her to go down there for four days a week and then come back on the weekends. Poor Machelle just looked at them and simply said, "If I can't be with my husband in China, then I may as well go home."  She said that four days a week away from her husband was not acceptable.

Qingdao is a coastal city that is a two and a half hour high-speed train ride from Jinan and then an hour bus ride to the campus.  The campus was build where a small, quiet fishing village used to be.  It is a huge campus from what we have been told.  They are still finishing the buildings.  They don't have foreign teacher housing like they do here in Jinan.  One of the teachers that was here for 15 years is there now teaching and the other one that has been here for 17 years will be moving there in January.  They are building a subway that will make the trip to Qingdao a lot shorter, but the housing is a problem.  The one teacher who is there now, was fortunate to find an apartment that was already furnished by a teacher who was going to move there, but now he has been sent somewhere else and can't use it.  The other teacher has found an apartment that will be furnished by the time she gets there.

After the deans realized that neither Lynn nor Machelle were going to budge, they looked at David and I.  They knew right off that separating us was not even an option, so they suggested sending both of us there.  They have about 240 graduate students that they are sending there which really only requires one teacher teaching 7 classes during the week.  David looked at them and questioned, "You would send two of us to teach?"  They backed off of that proposal very fast!  At one point, they wanted to go out of the room and leave us to try and come up with a solution, but Lynn asked what good that would do?  The meeting ended in kind of a stalemate.  No real solution.  They said they would get back to us with a decision, but no one has gotten back to us yet... but we really don't expect anyone to.

We did have lunch on Wednesday with some of the other Chinese English teachers and told them about the meeting on Monday.  Evidently, the decision has been made to just make one of the Chinese English teachers go there. They don't have a choice like the foreign teachers do.  If the university says to go, you go or lose your job.

Eva had bought a present for David and gave it to him on Wednesday.  It was a new hat and scarf.  She had bought us both scarves when we were here last time.  I brought mine with me, but David hadn't so she decided to buy him another one.  I think they look good!  She wants to go shopping with me sometime to help pick out something for me.
David's new hat and scarf from Eva.


Friday afternoon, one of the BYU teachers at SDNU needed a prescription refilled, and so we made an appointment with Dr. Tricia to see if she would  be willing to do that.  We were there about 10 minutes before our appointment time and when I first saw Dr. Tricia, she looked a little sad.  She brought us into her office and after learning what the other teacher wanted and also helping David get another shock-wave treatment for his ankle, we sat in her office and talked.  Dr. Tricia wanted to know more about the other teacher and her life.

After a little while, Dr. Tricia said she wanted to talk a little more about what we thought about death.  Last time, she had told us that her father had liver cancer and was taking treatments for it.  I asked how her father was doing and she broke down in tears.  When she finally had enough control to tell us, she said that he was in the hospital and probably only had two more days to live.  She had called his brothers from the cities they lived in to come and say farewell to him.  She felt that it was her fault because she felt she had delayed treatment for him.

About a year ago, Dr. Tricia had given her father a physical.  In that physical, the blood test had shown that he might have a possibility for liver cancer.  At that time, she thought it would be better to get him some health insurance in case something did happen.  While they were waiting to get the insurance, the cancer must have spread fast, because in less than a year, he is dying.  She had some of her crying under control by the time David got back to the office, but he could tell that something was wrong.  Dr. Tricia had to step out for one minute to talk to the young man who had helped David get the shock-wave treatment and I let him know what had happened.  Then she received a phone call and had to get back upstairs to her father.  We hugged her and she cried some more and then we had to leave while she hurried up to him.

Kayce, a BYU teacher, wanted to do something on Saturday, so we went to lunch at the Subway near her campus and then decided to take her to see the old market that is near Hongjialou campus of SDU.  We have enjoyed shopping there before. It is just one of those experiences that is SO Chinese!  When Kayce walked in, her mouth dropped open!  She couldn't believe how packed it was with vendors and STUFF!  We saw a booth that had Christmas items and David and I decided to get some Christmas decorations for the apartment.  In the apartment, there were only two 10 inch little trees and some other small things from previous years left here.  So, we bought a tree that is about 30 inches tall, some lights, and ornaments.  We paid the equivalent of about $10 dollars for all that we bought.  Then we wandered around for about an hour and just marveled at all the stuff.  We have been there before and I knew of some gifts that I wanted to buy there, so we bought those and then left.  Even having been there before, we still get a kick out of going there and looking.
Some of the Christmas decorations on David's desk.
Our little tree and the wall decor.  We need to go back and try to find another stocking.  There was only one here when we opened the box to get the other decorations out.



This Sunday was my turn to teach the lesson for Relief Society.  It was on acting with kindness, love, forgiveness and service as Christ would.  Try to remember to do those little acts of kindness and service that may not be seen by others, but when they are done, will brighten someone's day, lift a load of burden, show someone that they are loved.

To my family: I made a pumpkin roll for the dessert for our dinner today.  It was well received.  I'll make one when I get home for you!  Kisses and hugs!  ;)

Wish I could run a contest to see if anyone knows what these are...

Kayce made them to help decorate for Christmas!

The lobby of the Hanlin hotel, where we meet for Church.  They have the outside all decorated with a large tree and lots of lights.  You would think you were in the US when you see it at night.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Thanksgiving Week

This week was a busy one.  David had a games hour in the canteen with his students on Monday and Friday afternoons.  This is a chance for the students who come to practice their English.  He only had five there on Monday, but Friday ten of the students came.  They like to ask questions about us as well as play the games.  We usually stay on the basement level of the canteen to eat supper on the days when he has the games set up.  Most often, students will stay and eat with us also, making sure that we get the foods that we want and answering questions about what some of the foods are.  It is rather fun.

Tuesday, we had to go to Carrefour and get groceries for the upcoming Thanksgiving meals that we would be having this week.  That evening, Bob and Anna came over to work on their English.  They had some specific questions about the IELS (English proficiency test) and also a paper that Anna needed to write as part of the test.  They are both very bright students and they really want this opportunity to go study at Duke University for a year.

Thursday, we left here about 4 p.m. to go to the Hanlin Hotel and meet with the BYU teachers there. At first, we were just taking the old foam mattress that we had on our bed up so that one of the teachers could use it there.  The beds in China leave a LOT to be desired.  They are basically just a box spring that they expect you to sleep on.  Some of the hotels that we have stayed at throughout China have been almost as hard as sleeping on the floor.  Most often, the beds for the China Teachers haven't been that bad because the past teachers have purchased foams and mattresses for the beds.  This teacher's bed didn't have anything on it, so we took the old foam to her.  We figured that she could at least fold it over if it wasn't enough in a single layer.

We were invited to come earlier and have a Thanksgiving Dinner at a restaurant with them and then go watch a movie in their apartment, so that's what we decided to do.  We rolled the foam up as tight as we could  It was about five feet high and a little over a foot wide rolled up.  David packed it down to the bus stop while I carried a large bag that had a zippered sheet to cover it and a mattress protector in it.  I wish now that I had a picture of him on the bus with it!  We had tried to pick a time to get on the bus when it wouldn't be crowded and we were fortunate that we were each able to get seats and that the bus wasn't very crowded so that it wasn't taking up space for someone to stand.  I felt a little funny walking in the front doors of the hotel with it, but the  alternative of walking in the back way and carrying that thing for another half mile was not acceptable.  (It is a half mile or more to carry it from our apartment to the bus stop.)

None of us felt like going out in the cold to find a restaurant, so we opted for one of the restaurants in the hotel.  We chose the buffet restaurant, not knowing for sure whether it was good or not.  It turned out to be a really good choice!  They had planned a "Thanksgiving" Dinner for the theme.  They even had turkey!  They had some really good fruit salads and shrimp, and a lot of other dishes that were very Chinese, but they were some of the very best dishes.  The restaurant was so excited that some actual Americans had come to eat tonight!  They made a big deal about some sushi that the chef had planned for.  One of the teachers was invited to come eat it and then took a lot of pictures of her and the sushi.  Two of us other teachers were sitting at the table with her (David was off getting more food on his plate at the time), so we were in the pictures also.  They might have given us some sushi also, except we didn't go up when they came to tell us about it (sushi for some, not for me).

Some of the best fruit salad, shrimp and a cute teddy bear Baoza from the hotel's Thanksgiving meal.
We had a fun time watching the Percy Jackson movie after the meal.  Mostly, we had fun making fun of certain parts.  David and I hadn't seen it before, so it made it a lot better to have the others be able to inform us of when a "scary" part was coming up.  Then it became a joke about the scariness and it all devolved from there.  We had to hurry after it was over and catch the bus home because most of the buses stop picking people up after nine p.m.

Friday was games in the canteen, dinner with Lily and making pies day.  Lily was in town for some lectures and met us at the canteen for dinner.  We came back to the apartment afterward and had a good visit.  She didn't stay late because we kept yawning, not on purpose, but I was glad she didn't stay too late, I still had pies to finish baking.

Saturday I had to finish making the banana cream pie and then we had to get the apartment ready for the other foreign (American and Canadian) teachers that were coming for a Thanksgiving dinner.  We borrowed chairs and tables from some of the other apartments, took the carpet, and removed the coffee table out of the living room and made the office ready to set up the food in there.

This was our China turkey.  Someone said they thought there was a place near Beijing that had started to raise them.  It wasn't a very big juicy bird, but it was still turkey.






Me carving the turkey, or trying to.
The turkey was delivered about noon and the other teachers all got here by about 12:20.  I was the only one with carving experience, so I took off my brace and started to carve. I think I was frustrating one of the teachers for how slow I was going because after watching me for about five minutes and how I was doing it, he offered to take over.  It was hard trying to maneuver the knife and fork around without pain.

Green bean casserole, deviled eggs, yams with marshmallows, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy and bread.
When you have a bunch of single men that don't cook come, you have an interesting meal.  One brought the small cakes, another brought the larger cake and one brought the grapes and another brought an assortment of chocolates.  Then there was my pumpkin pie and the square pan was the banana cream pie (I only had two round pie pans, so the apple pie was a priority over the banana cream pie for the round pan)

Zina, Kyle (Michigan) and Jason (North Carolina).




Lynn (Toronto, Canada) and Mark (California)

Kyle, Jason and a Chinese student that joined us.

Mr, Hiroshi (Japan, here doing research joined us also), David and Pam Holt (Texas)  Pam has been here for 17 years and has been a big help to us and other new foreign teachers.  Unfortunately, the university is moving her to the new Quindao campus in January.  She will be GREATLY missed!

We had an enjoyable visit with the other teachers.  Some we hadn't met before and we all agreed that this more intimate setting was perfect for a Thanksgiving dinner in China!

Saturday evening we were headed back to the Hanlin Hotel for our District Conference meetings for Church.  We decided to also give the other teacher the mattress topper that we had first purchased when we got here with the help of another student.  It just was not what it had been advertised as being.  With that and the foam doubled over, I think she'll sleep better.  We were once again carrying an extra large bundle on the bus, but at least this one had a nice cover to it.

Sunday we packed two pies and a large bag of apples to church with us at the Hanlin Hotel so we could have our Thanksgiving dinner with our church group.  After the conference, we had some other guests join us.  We had sixteen in total: seven BYU teachers, Aaron (Vietnamese young man who is a member), Emily Jonas and her three children (also members), Mohammed (an SDNU teacher from Sudan) and a Chinese National named Jack.  Jack was there because he has shared Thanksgiving dinners with BYU teachers since he first met them in 2005.  He also spent a few years at UMASS studying and he just wanted to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner again, he said.  He did bring a bottle of bourbon and some VERY spicy shrimp sauce with him as gifts for the meal.  We had to explain to him that none of us here could drink the bourbon because of religious reasons (Mohammed is Muslim), so he graciously took that back with him.
Our meal was chicken, rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy, fruit salad, apples, mixed vegetables, vegetable salad and then the pies.
For added ambiance, one of the teachers made these napkin rings.  So cute and such great company.

It was an enjoyable meal and a great way to finish out a Thanksgiving week!


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Brrrrr, Football, Cheerleading, Thanksgiving with Kids, New Mattress

Brrrrr

It started to get really cold this week.  Thank goodness the heat it is on, but we still have to supplement the radiator heat from the city with the electric heaters.  It was down to 19 degrees F. (-7 Celius) on Saturday morning.  That is the coldest we have had it here this year so far.  It wasn't so bad the first part of the week, and it will get warmer tomorrow and over the next few days,  but then it will get cold again.  Winter is on its way.  Glad that I brought equipment to handle it.

Football

Last week, we had played a game in our classes that introduced American Football to the students.  Some of David's students were really interested in learning how to play football, so they ordered a regulation size football from Taobao (China's Amazon), got permission to play on the school playground (an all purpose field that you can play basketball and soccer on) and set up a time for students to meet there.  I went along to take pictures.  Nine students showed up, eight guys and one girl.  David played quarterback for both teams as he taught them how to play "two-hand touch."  It didn't take too long for them to catch on and they were having a blast doing it.  The girl even caught the ball!  One guy had some good hands and was becoming an interception champion.  It was so fun to watch and see them enjoying it.





Cheerleaders

The university has different activities for the students to do in some spare time.  A few weeks ago, it was a choir competition.  Then there was a dance competition.  This week was a cheerleading competition.   They took the whole day and did team after team after team of competition.  David went over to the stadium to watch.  He had several students performing in it.  I had work to do here at the apartment, so I stayed nice and warm while he almost froze on his way to the stadium.





He was amazed at the uniforms and the dance routines.  We're not sure, but we think that the winning team was able to perform at a basketball game that was played later that afternoon in the stadium.

Thanksgiving with Kids

We were asked by Wang Jing, one of the other English teachers at the university if we wanted to do a little Thanksgiving presentation for a class of young students that are learning English.  It is Wang Jing's aunt that runs a private school for students to learn English.  We decided we wanted to do it, so we scaled down a power point that we had used for our English classes and went to the class on Friday evening.

The students ranged in ages from six or seven to one girl who was twelve years old.  Some of the kids were not afraid to speak to us, but others were.  Part of it was because they were in awe of these Americans who were coming. We showed them the power point and then sang the old classic, "Mr. Turkey" that I learned in Primary from Sister Sumner.  I will always be thankful for learning that song.  We sang the song once for them and then taught them how to say, "Gobble."  When they had the word down, David and I would sing the lines and them point to the students, one at a time so they could sing the "Gobble" part.  They had so much fun!  Then we talked about writing thank you notes.  Wang Jing's aunt had some paper plates that the students could write it on.
I didn't learn this guy's name, but he was a crack-up.  He really liked doing the "Gobble" part.


Doris is her English name.  She was rather quiet, but so sweet.

I didn't learn this little guys name, but he wrote that all himself.  They did have words on the wall that they could copy but I was still amazed how well they did.

Michael is Wang Jing's son.  He went to the US with her when she was studying in South Carolina.  He was in Kindergarten and then first grade, so his English is pretty good.  He rather likes David.  Wang Jing was telling us that after he came home from his first day of Kindergarten in South Carolina, he was so amazed that there was a toilet in the classroom that they could use anytime they needed to go.  There was also a drinking fountain that they could go get a drink from when they were thirsty.  In China, you go to the bathroom when the teacher takes the whole class and you go get a drink when the whole class does.

This is Ma Mong, my special friend.  She is twelve and plays the violin REALLY WELL!  She also speaks pretty good English.  She wanted to write to her parents that she was thankful for letting her play the violin.  Wang Jing was busy, so I was helping her.  I told her that I had wanted to learn violin when I was about her age, but learned piano instead.  We also told her about our grandson, Jacob,who is learning the violin.  She was really excited about that also.  She had to tell me about the violin books that she uses that are really good.  She asked Wang Jing to look it up on her phone so Ma Mong could tell me what series of books we should get for Jacob so that he can learn to play the violin really well.

And a picture with both of us and Ma Mong. 
Cute girl.  She was one of the younger ones.




David and I with all the students.  They are showing off the thank you notes they made.

This cute little guy is, Yu Yi.  On his plate is the life cycle of a Thanksgiving turkey!  It was hilarious!  

After the activities and a few refreshments, Wang Jing called a taxi for us to take us home.  Ma Mong walked out with Jing and us.  She seemed to be really attached to us.  Such a sweet girl!  We did fear a little for our lives because the taxi driver seemed angry.  After Wang Jing told him where to take us, he sped off up the street.  He only slowed down when he had to.  We did make it home safely, but didn't understand his anger.  So uncommon here in China to encounter that.

New Mattress

We have not been happy with the bed here in China.  It is hard as a rock and the old mattress topper that was here four years ago has gotten old and flat.  We have been trying to live with it, but I have too many sleepless nights where I wake up aching in my hips and back.  We had talked to Eva about getting a new topper and she thought we could get one at the old market, but we couldn't see what we needed the last time we were there. After Wednesday night's really bad sleep, we decided to ask Andrew if he could help us order a foam mattress topper off the internet.

Andrew suggested that we go to IKEA.  Yes, they have an IKEA store here in Jinan!!  He couldn't go until Saturday evening.  We offered to buy him supper before we left, so we met him at the canteen.  He got a taxi for us and started out for IKEA.  It was a long drive, made longer by the fact that the traffic was terrible.  Drive time... need I say more?

We arrived safely at IKEA and then had to wander through the store, stopping several times to ask if we were on the right path.  We found the place for mattresses.  They had some thin toppers and then they had foam mattresses.  After looking at the options, we decided to get a 14 cm memory foam mattress.  IKEA delivers! Andrew had a membership app and was able to get us about a ten percent discount on it!  We also decided to get some decent pillows and a larger comforter.  Most of the comforters here only come to just over the edge of the bed, so after you put a couple of bodies underneath it, the cold air can get in from the sides.  The cost for a comfortable nights sleep here in China?  $300!  (1994 RMB)  The mattress will be delivered on Monday afternoon.  My body can hardly wait!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Brace, Go My Son, Football Game, HEAT!

Brace

Monday morning, I found my way to the hospital to meet with Dr. Tricia and the orthopedic surgeon.  The office was super busy, so she gave me a chair to sit on while I waited for her.  They have an office that all the doctors in her department and all the doctors in the respiratory department on that floor meet in.  It was pretty noisy.  When she finally had time to get the orthopedic doctor to come, he looked at the x-rays.  Fortunately there is no broken bone!  Really relieved to hear that. There was still a lot of pain though, so he said I should get a brace, use an anti-inflammatory cream and also get some shock wave therapy for it.

By the time this was decided, the physical therapy department (where I needed to go for the shock wave treatment) was closed for lunch, so I wouldn't be able to have it done until they opened up again at 1:30 p.m.  Dr. Tricia went down to the cafeteria in the hospital and brought up some lunch for  us to eat in her office.  One of the containers that she had brought up was a very, very spicy dish.  I don't do hot and spicy.  I took one bite and my mouth was burning.  I told her I couldn't eat any more of it.  She gave me the other dish that was not so spicy and when she had eaten a little more than half of the spicy dish, declared that she couldn't eat any more of it because it was too spicy for her also.

My companion for the next few weeks.  It does help with the pain.  The doctor just said to go to a sporting goods store to find one, but we would need someone along with us that speaks Chinese to help us. We called up Andrew and let him know what I needed.  Andrew found one online for 48 RMB (about $7.25) and brought it on Friday when it came.  It does help with the pain and keeps it stabilized.
David ate lunch at our apartment and then came to meet us at the hospital.  She wanted him to meet with a traditional Chinese Medicine doctor because Dr. Tricia thought David looked pale and she thinks some of the traditional medicine will help build him back up.  The other doctor came in, looked at my hand and then David's hands and skin and then prescribed a traditional medicine for him to drink, and one for me to soak my hand in.  David's medicine tastes terrible and I'm glad that mine is one that I can just soak my hand and wrist in!

Football

In our classes this week, we have been showing the students about American football.  We have a power point that explains about football and how much a part of our culture it is.  Then we play a game with two teams, where they have to answer questions about the power point.  We have a team captain who asks a question.  When someone wants to try and answer the question, the captain throws the toy football (we brought a couple of them over with us so that we could play this game) to the person and then they answer the question when they catch the ball.  Then we have a very short football field that we have drawn on the chalkboard and "move the ball" down the field.  It has been a great hit in our classes.  Some of the boys want to try and play a flag football game, so they have arranged a time to play on the "playground," purchased on the internet a regular football, and let other students who are interested in playing know the time and location.  We will see how that goes on Wednesday.

"Go My Son"

David has been teaching some volunteers from some of his classes to sing the song, Go My SonHe has been able to get four or five from most of his classes to come and learn the song and the hand motions.  We have had practices, in the afternoon and evening at different times all week long.  On Thursday, the day we have classes in classrooms next to each other, he invited my class in so that we could listen to them sing.  They have had fun with it.  We had a practice tonight for the class that will be singing on Monday in class.  They said they have practiced and sang it so much that their roommate, who is not in the class, has told them they can't sing it in the dorm anymore!  They still want to sing it.
A group of David's students practicing "Go My Son."

Two dinners

Kim and Alan Malan, the supervisors from BYU that run the China Teacher's Program, came this week to check on how we were doing and also go to some of the classes of the teachers. They didn't go to any of our classes, but they did go meet with the Foreign Languages Department heads.  We  were informed at lunch that we were invited to have dinner with Kang Ming and another Chinese English teacher and the Malan's that evening.  They ordered a LOT of food and when not all of it was eaten, they bagged it up and gave it to us so that it wasn't wasted. Shrimp dumplings are wonderful!

Thursday evening, we had arranged to have the Malan's and the other BYU teachers from SDNU come for a dinner at our campus.  Eva had helped us order the private room and order the dishes.  They all exclaimed over the choices to say how pleased they were with the food.  We had a fun visit also.  One more time, we take most of the leftovers home with us.
Some of the food left over from our meal with the Malan's and the other BYU teachers.  That soup was super delicious!

Dinner with Bob and Anna

Saturday, David and I spent most of the day in our apartment getting some assignments graded.  It was kind of a cold day and we didn't care to go out.  We did get a call from Bob and Anna and they wanted to come over and bring us some apples.  They also wanted to practice their English.  We sat and talked for about two and a half hours.  They invited us to come eat dinner with them, so we since we had eaten most of the leftovers from the dinners this week, we said we would go.

They took us to a restaurant that does Hot Pot the old fashioned way and Chinese BBQ.  We had a fun visit and then walked to a place that makes what they call, "Fried Yogurt."  It is pretty much flash frozen yogurt and it tastes pretty good.  It is frozen so hard that it takes quite a while for it to soften.  Otherwise it is pretty crispy.
Bob and Anna and the traditional Hot Pot.  There are coals under the water part to keep the water boiling.
HEAT!!!

Very excited for this coming week because...  THEY TURN ON THE HEAT ON WEDNESDAY!!!


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Apartment Assignment, X-rays, Jinan Zoo

Apartment/Roommate Assignment
The in-class assignment that we gave our students this week was to furnish an apartment for $300.  We gave them a list of possible items along with the cost for each and then put them in groups of four.  They had to pretend that each person who was their roommate could not speak Chinese and that the only common language was English.  As I circulated the room, if I heard any Chinese being spoken, I would say, "Was that Chinese I heard?  Remember, your roommates can't understand you!"  They would titter as they looked at each other, but it really got them into using their English well.

It was also fun as I went around to each group and talked about what they were getting for their "apartment"; what things they saw as important and their reasons.  Probably the top priority on most of their lists was having air conditioning.  It hasn't been until recently that their dorms were equipped with that and the ability to have cool air in the summer and heat before the government allows the nation to turn on the radiators.  I think they like that...

One of the items on the list was curtains.  I listened to a group that had three girls and one boy in it argue about whether the curtains were necessary.  As I came around to listen to their group, the girls had just won the argument and were writing that on their list, so I asked what they had been talking about.  I just had to laugh when the boy insisted that the girls might need curtains, but he, as a boy didn't!

Another item of the list was pajamas.  One group that had one boy and three girls had on their list only three pajamas.  I asked who was going to go without pajamas and the boy spoke up.  He said he sleeps in the buff, so he doesn't need them!  In a different class, a group that had two boys and two girls only had two pajamas listed and the boys said that they didn't need pajamas.  I said I didn't need to know any more than that!  It was a fun activity with a lot of laughing and a lot of English being spoken!  Goal achieved!

X-rays at the Hospital
My left hand and wrist have been giving me a lot of pain, so Dr. Tricia (the doctor who helped me last time when I was here and landed in the hospital for ten days with blood clots) set up an appointment for me to meet with an old retired orthopedic surgeon for a consultation.  They have taken away this doctor's hospital privileges because of his age (he's 80 now), but some doctors will still bring him in on consultations because of his experience and knowledge.  He checked over my hand and did some poking and caused a great deal of pain.  Then he asked (though Dr. Tricia) if I had been injured.  I couldn't remember anything right off, but he considered it a serious situation and said that I needed an X-ray.

David had also been having pain in his ankle ever since we went to Red Leaf Valley.  We bought a brace for it and that helped some, but he was still having pain after almost two weeks, so the doctor also looked at his ankle.  He said that the problem with David's ankle was easy to fix and recommended having some physical therapy (a "shock wave" treatment) and then an anti-inflammatory cream to use.  He ankle has shown a lot of improvement.

They have young men that are pharmaceutical representatives that hang around the hospital and do favors for the doctors so that the doctors will listen to them about new drugs and things that come out.  Dr. Tricia called two of them and one of them took David to his physical therapy and the other took me to the basement where the X-ray machine was.  He got me signed in and it looked like I was to be about third or fourth in line, but when they called the next few people's names, they all insisted that I should be next!  They almost pushed me through the door! They were so kind to me and I thanked them as I came out and shook their hands.

So I got the X-ray, but it was going to be an hour before the X-ray was looked at and the results sent up to Dr. Tricia, so we went back to her office.  We were talking about how she would let us go home and then come back in a few days when a nurse came rushing and to say that there was an emergency with one of her patients, he was having a seizure.  She quickly said "Good-bye," as she ran down the hall and we assured her that we could find our way out.  We did.  I go back on Monday to find the results of the X-ray.  If they can't find something through that, they will order an MRI.

While I was getting ready for bed that night, I remembered that while we were in Guizhou for National Holiday, I had tripped on a rock that was in the pathway.  For some reason, the Chinese think that paving around a rock is beauty, so you have random rocks sticking out in the pathways.  When you are in a mass of people, it is hard to see those hazards.  I had scraped my knee and also had tried to break my fall with my left hand.  Now I understand why it has hurt so much!  I have had pain in that wrist from my arthritis so I had just assumed that it was a really bad flare up.  I actually brought the issue with my wrist up to Dr. Tricia to see if acupuncture would help it.  We'll see what the problem is tomorrow at my appointment.

Hot Pot Restaurant
Thursday evening, we had planned to go with some of the other BYU teachers to a "hot pot" restaurant. It is all the rage here in China and they say it has health benefits.  The Vietnamese man that meets with us on Sunday, Aaron, said he knew of a good restaurant south of the campus that those teachers teach at, so he led us there to enjoy Hot Pot. A hot pot restaurant has a heated basin of water or broth with spices and other things added to it.  You add the very thin sliced meats, tofu, and all sorts of veggies and cook  them as desired.  It was a fun evening.
The entrance to the Hot Pot Restaurant.
  
The heavy pan of water herbs and veggies was just put in front of us.  Below it is the hot plate to keep it hot.
The tiny table we all sat around.  The man to the left of the photo is Muhammed.  He comes from the Sudan and teaches Arabic at Shandong Normal University, where the others from BYU teach at.
A better look of the hot pot from above.


Aaron, our Vietnamese friend, did most of the cooking for us.  He's the expert!
Jinan Zoo
There are two students that we have been spending time with, Bob and Anna.  Bob is the son of Yi Bing, who is a friend of Eva's.  She went on a couple of adventures with us when we were here last time.  Bob and Anna want to improve their English so that they can hopefully go to study at Duke University in the US next year.  Bob's English is pretty good, but Anna's is not as good.  They are boyfriend/girlfriend.  Bob was able to pass the English test a few weeks ago, but Anna was not able to.  So the solution is to hang out with these two "old Americans" and learn better English. They really are a nice couple of kids.  They invited us to dinner on Monday at a nice restaurant.

We told them that we wanted to go visit the Jinan Zoo, so yesterday we met at the bus stop that we needed, and rode to the zoo together.  Our particular interest was to see the pandas.  Jinan Zoo has pandas and we wanted to see them.  The zoo is not particularly big, but it still takes some time to get around.  There is an amusement park near the entrance.  We made our way through the zoo, looking at exhibits that were of interest to us, all the time getting closer to the pandas.

They have two giant pandas in the zoo.  One is a recent addition to the zoo because their old one died.  They keep them apart and the panda on the left seemed to be trying to get the other panda's attention.  It was funny to watch.  No wonder everyone thinks they are so cuddly, that fur was just as fluffy as could be!
The two giant pandas.  I guess I was a little surprised at how big they were.
They also have a ring-tailed or red panda.  I tried to get a picture of that tail, but failed.  I was able to get a good shot of the face.  He walked around his enclosure and when he got to where we were standing watching him and waiting to get a good shot, he stopped and turned to face us!
Such a cute face on the red ring-tailed panda.

I discovered how much Anna likes to eat.  She had some flash frozen yogurt when we met for the bus (after having had lunch), then a bought a container of caramel popcorn when we first got to the zoo.  She wanted to try cotton candy when we were at the zoo (at first they were calling it marshmallows, but when they pointed it out to us, what she wanted to try, we told her the correct name), and then as we were leaving the zoo, they bought some cooked quail eggs on a stick.  They will put six fried quail eggs on a stick and then put some sauce on them after you buy them.  I guess being young and Chinese, she doesn't have to worry about the calories.
This is a Himalayan Black Bear.  They have signs that say don't feed the animals (at least that's what I read from the signs) but people still were doing it anyway.  The bear was just waiting for goodies.

A peacock in full strut mode.  Their feathers don't get very long because they pluck them out and sell them for souvenirs.  

These are Golden monkeys.  Beautiful color, but I would NOT want to tangle with those fangs!

It was a fun afternoon at the zoo.