Thursday, October 31, 2013

Day 64 - Bank Book, Electrical Work

Day 64

David had class today, but I stayed home and got through a ton of work for my classes.  He said his classes went really well.  One of my students sent me a text wishing me a “Happy Halloween!”  I thought that was so cute from her. 

I met Eva at 11:00 so we could go to the bank and get a bank book for our account.  It seems some of the foreign teachers either don’t know how to get their bank balance at the ATM or there is some problem with their accounts, so we all had to go to the bank and get a bank book and then email a scan of the book to the administrator over our finances with the name page on it.  That took over an hour, but we finally got it and then we went to lunch at a restaurant that we like.  It is a little more upscale, but the food choices are good and it’s not “too spendy”.  We had a good talk while we were there. 

We finished work in the afternoon and then Eva came back over when she finished her meeting and we showed her pictures of Alisa’s wedding that Tiffany had on her blog and we talked over a few more things.  We have been having problems with our toilet and the plug in that’s in the bathroom, so some workers came over and started working on them.  The toilet works fine now, but the plug in is in serious trouble.  The wires had rusted through and the plug that had been placed in there for a temporary fix (who knows how long ago), was not working any more.  They couldn’t do any more tonight because they have to go to get a new plug and all the places were closed by the time they figured that out, so they will be back tomorrow.  Meanwhile, we weren’t able to leave and go get supper or fix any here because we had no electricity to the kitchen while they were working on that. 

By the time they did finish, it was less than half an hour until David’s tutoring boy, Allan would be here, so I went with Eva to the canteen to see what food we could still get there or she would take me to some place to get take-out.  The canteen was mostly closed, but they still had a few dishes sitting out on the counter, so I picked out three of them and then the guy offered me a deal on them.  It came out to less than $2 for all of it.  When you get take-out in China, they put it in plastic bags, not too different from a small plastic grocery bag.  I carried my three bags home and warmed them up for us to eat after Allan left at 8.  Hate to eat that late, but that was all we could do.  There won’t be any heat for the showers in the morning, so I guess we will get to sleep in an extra half hour…

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tuesday and Wednesday

Day 62 & 63

Tuesday, I had my two classes in the morning.  They both went well.  David and I met for lunch at the teacher cafeteria.

Libby and Wayne Clarke came over for a home teaching visit and then we all went to a bazaar that they had seen on Saturday on the way to the Pace’s for our get-to-gather.  We wandered the aisles and aisles of stuff.  We found what we think will work for a dish drainer (they are hard to find here in China…) and a knit cap for David.  We thought we had brought one with us, but we can’t find it.  After that, we went to have dinner together at JinGren Pie.  We rather all like that restaurant a lot! 

David was going to do home teaching with Stan Pace, so after dinner, he went to their place and I rode home on the same bus that Libby and Wayne had to take.  As we got near the stop that I needed to get off at, the traffic came to a stop.  We were just inching along, actually stopped for most of that time, and it was right in front of the campus, so getting off right there would have been great.  I decided to sit back down until we actually could get off, not knowing how long we would be stuck in traffic to go another 100 yards, when the driver decided to open the doors and let those of us waiting off.  Yippee!

Wednesday, both of us had classes to teach today.  Because of the crazy way the plan to have “make-up” classes for the holidays that they don’t hold school on, I start teaching a new lesson for the Freshman on Wednesday and then I have don’t teach that lesson again until the following Tuesday, because on Friday, I am teaching the same lesson that the taught the Wednesday way before.  I don’t think you can follow that, but anyway, my Wednesday classes are a fresh start for a new lesson.  This unit is on food, so I decided that I was going to make it into a listening exercise and I made some banana bread (I had to have enough to feed about 100 students between my two classes on Wednesday) and then I gave them each a piece right after the hour break (for the two hour classes, we have a ten minute break in between).  They loved it!  I also made a power point presentation on how to make banana bread complete with pictures and explanations.  At the end of the power point, I give them the listening test.  They had to answer five questions about how to make the banana bread.  They all had a lot of fun with it, me included.  Then I divided them into groups of 5 or 6, making sure there was not an all guys group or an all-girls group.  They had to come up with a food they could make and explain the steps to make it… all in English of course!  It was hilarious!  Some put in actions and props (made on the spur of the moment) and we just had fun with it. 

With my sophomore class in the afternoon, we did an activity on order in an American restaurant. It is different in that in America, we order per person.  In China, you order for the table.  Many dishes are put before you and you take some out of the dishes you want and it is on a turntable that you turn.  There are a few more differences, so we had fun letting them choose off of a made up menu and then learn how to tip (also something you don’t do in China).  It’s been a good day.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sunday and Monday

Days 60 and 61

Sunday was started having trouble with the electrical in the apartment.  The one plug-in in the bathroom is loose and we can only have the water heater plugged in or the space heater or the hair dryer.  I was trying to cook potatoes and carrots for the potluck dinner and of course it went off right in the middle of cooking them.  We didn’t know where a circuit breaker was and why all of a sudden it was kicking it off.  Just as David went out the door to get some help, Pam, who lives above us and have taught here for 13 years, was coming down the stairs and showed him where the breaker panel was.  We got it turned on, but it kept kicking it off, so we decided that the heat was not an essential for this morning.  I was able to finish cooking the potatoes and carrots and then dry my hair.  I went in to check the computer one more time before I left and found the screen was a blank!  I was afraid that the power going off had damaged it.  There wasn’t anything I could do then, so I shut the lid.  I was a little upset by all this, but just knew I had to get to Church and see what we could do when we got back. 

We had another first in our Virtual Branch today.  The Branch President announced that at 4 p.m. they would be having a Sunday School class in Chinese for those members that understood in Chinese better than English!  I know there are areas that have Spanish and other languages that do this, but President Britton was quite excited about it as were we.  We also found out that they would be having a practice for the Primary Program in two weeks.  We are all wondering how that is going to go off, but we do have Primary, YM and YW in our Branch and YSA!  It may be all long distance, but it works!

Potluck was fun afterward.  We were missing two of our teachers because they had to judge speech contests on their campus.  One of the brothers had to leave right after we ate to go do that also.  We stayed around and talked for a while and then headed home.  Just as we were about to get home, Sophia from my sophomore class called me and asked if we could come join their class party.  She texted me the address of the place so that we could take a taxi and show it to the driver. 

We changed clothes and tried to get a taxi for about 20 minutes or so and then a car stopped and asked if they could help.  We told them what we were trying to do and he said that he would take us there when I showed him the address.  His name was Wang Bo and he had gone to college in Vancouver, BC and he said that he was shown kindness by strangers in Vancouver to help him get around and he wanted to help us.  It was really great of him to do this.  He asked if we had gone to Church that morning and we said that we had.  He wanted to know what the Priest had said.  We said we didn’t go to the Catholic Church and that we were Mormon.  He said he had studied Christianity but decided he didn’t believe there was a god.  He did believe in being kind to others and in doing good things.  I think that is good in life.  He may just need to find something else to make him believe in God. 

We called my students after we were dropped off and three of the boys came running down to get us and bring us to the apartment they had rented.  They said the place was a mess because they had all decided to try and cook something.  It was funny when we got there because you could tell there had been a lot of stuff on the floor, but they had gotten most of it cleaned up. 

We started playing Jenga and on the Jenga blocks are different things you have to do if you are the one who makes it fall over.  David was the first one to make the tower fall and the dare was to buy drinks for everyone.  Not having brought anything with us, we couldn’t do that, but one of the students brings over two cans of beer and proudly sets them before us.  Gulp!  We kindly say that we don’t drink any alcohol and they all look rather dismayed and even a little embarrassed.  It was a rather expensive kind of beer (at least that is what I have heard here; you buy that brand of beef if you want to impress someone).  There was a little discussion that went on and a few minutes later, one of the boys comes back from the store with bottles of orange juice and lemonade.  I’m not sure they ever knew that there was any one in the world that didn’t drink liquor. 

We did play some other games.  They were hoping that David would bring his guitar and they could all sing, but we didn’t bring it.  We did play another game and had fun with that.  We said we were going to leave about six and take a taxi back.  Four of the girls and one of the boys were leaving with us.  They tried to help us get a taxi, but once again, no luck in the taxi department.  After about 15 minutes of trying, two of the girls said they were just going to go catch the bus.  The other three would have stayed and helped us get a taxi, but we said we were okay to take the bus, so we walked with the two girls to find a bus station.  It was rather a long walk and since they were unsure of the area themselves, they had to stop and ask a couple of people where the bus stop was.  The other three walked back to campus.  We were able to get home without any problems. 


We woke up to absolutely NO electricity this morning.  Not even lights.  Had to eat a cold breakfast and then find out how to go about getting the electricity back on.  We are supposed to have 200 units of electricity provided to us each month from the university as part of our contract, but we are toward the end of the month and our little space heater may have used up more than that, or they may just be giving us 100 units, not realizing that we have two teachers in this room.  Whatever the case, we didn’t have power and David had to get to class. (No he did not take a cold shower… its bad enough not having heat in this place until November 15!)  That left it up to me to figure out how to get electricity. 

David told me where to find the office of the liaison for the foreign teachers, but when I got to the building, I went to the stairs that he said and climbed to the top and it all looked like a dorm, so I was not going any further.  I went to the desk downstairs because I had a hunch she could help me.  I showed her the card that had our apartment number on it and that I thought was supposed to be used to get power and indicated that I needed to get the electricity back on.  She took the card and said something about 100 (yi bai- the word for 100) so I took out a 100 Yuan note and gave that to her.   She showed me on the calculator 117, which I thought she wanted more money, but I realized later it meant that it would give me 117 more units of electricity.

I take the card back to the apartment thinking that they now just turn the power back on. Not so lucky…  I waited around for about 15 minutes.  Nothing is happening…  I up the stairs to see if Pam is there and she can help me.  No answer.  I go down the stairs and try to see if Mrs. Chen the housekeeper can help me.  No answer.  I go down to one other teacher’s apartment and see if she is there because she had to do this shortly after she got here.  No answer. 

I head back over to the place where I had to buy the power in the first place and see if she can’t help me.  Of course, she speaks NO English, and indicates that there is a place that I need to put the card into.  Okay, I go back to the apartment and look for a place to put the card in. There is nothing in the apartment.  I go down to the bottom stairwell and look at a panel with blinking lights and all out apartment numbers on.  I don’t see any way to put my card in there, but there is a panel to the right of that a ways and there is a slot that the card might fit in, so I put it in.  No change in the power.  I go back up to the office and the poor gal at the desk is sick of seeing me by now (not really, she was very kind) and decides to call Mrs. Chen for me.  I did understand that much of what she said for me!!!  Yeah me!

So I go back to the apartment and wait by the panel for Mrs. Chen (pronounced “chun”) and when she comes, she didn’t quite understand what I needed.  She speaks some English, but not a lot.  There are still a lot of gestures and guessing that goes on between us.  She says I need to go back over to the office and get them to put money on.  I tried to tell her I had, but she said to go back anyway, so I do.  Just as I am about to go back into the building, Mrs. Chen is riding up on her bike yelling, “Hello, Hello, Hello!”  She had not understood what I needed but now she did because she got the call from the office that explained it.  I went back to the apartment and she showed me where to put the card in and I had power again.  It wasted 90 minutes of my time that I needed for doing school work, but that is life here in China! 

We went to lunch on the 4th floor of the canteen and we found WARM food up there!  We were so glad to find warm food.  The free teacher buffet (we are given a free meal for every four hours that we teach) is supposed to be warm.  They have these lovely chaffing pans that they use, but there is no heat under them, so it is cold by the time we get there.  It was okay, but still on the greasy side.  We will probably go there again, but we have to pay for it.  At least, like I said, it was warm!

We were in need of some fruits and vegetables, and we had passed by a street that had a lot of vendors there that looked like they had what we needed.  We walked down there and we were greeted by lots of smiles.  After a while, we decided to start buying.  Several people that had their children or grandchildren with them wanted to show that their child could say “hello” and “goodbye” in English, so they would get our attention and have the child say it. That was so fun!  We will be going back there again!  It is closer than the one we had been going to down by the old campus and I think the foods are just as fresh.  They had live fish in containers and fresh raisins and nuts, it was all so fun!

This evening, David had a square dance group over and then his class monitors over for a meeting.  I showed them how to make cookies.  Butter, chocolate chips (well, we used M&M’s) and vanilla were all new concepts for them.  They did seem to enjoy the cookies though, and David is happy to have his stash refilled.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day 59 - Western Foods! Party at the Pace's!

Day 59

Gilbert picked us up to go to the Saturday School at about 8:45 a.m.  We started out with “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”  They like that one because they get to go faster and faster on it.  David brought the guitar today so it added extra interest.  We need to get them to start singing the words with us though.  We did quiz them on the words and they did know them.  It’s a start.  Then we moved to some scripted sentences for greeting someone.   After the children went home, Gilbert taught us some of the Chinese Calligraphy and some words.  I think I still remember them… 

When we were done with that, Gilbert took us to the Park 66 Mall and we went to the Ole grocery store that sells foreign products for an enormous price, but we were desperate for some butter and other things that we just can’t seem to find in the other stores, so we paid the price and got butter.  Then Gilbert bought us lunch and drove us home.  I think he would have liked to spend some more time with us, but David had planned to do another American football activity with some of his students and he was late for that, so he drove us back home. 

David took off for the place they were going to do the football, but because he was so late, no one was still there.  He was kind of sad about it because he is having fun with it.  We did work on some school stuff after.

At 4:45 p.m., we left to go to the Pace’s apartment to meet with the Clarke’s, Shauerhammer’s and Lily (Chinese girl who went on the Xi’an tour with us).  We all went to eat at Jingrin Pie and had a good meal.  They all seemed to like that choice.  Then we went back to the Pace’s apartment and watched the DVD on the opera.  We found we had an extra one, so we could give it to the Pace’s, especially since they didn’t get to go.  We also played Farkle and ate too many goodies.  Lily almost won!  It was a lot of fun. 

We stopped at RT Mart on the way home because we wanted to look at the price of some candy for Halloween for our classes, but we weren’t sure about it (and we did balk at the thought of what it would cost for us to give some to almost 650 students (David’s and my classes combined), so we just bought some more milk and walked home.  We finally found a brand of milk that is palatable!  

Day 58 - Alisa and CJ's Wedding Day...

Day 58 - Tears and Happiness

David and I got up extra early and got ready to do a Google Hangout at Alisa and CJ’s wedding dinner.  There were some technical problems to overcome, as there always seems to be with computers, but especially when you are getting five different computers going at the same time.  It’s pretty fantastic to think about having three different locations (the reception at the North Hampton House in American Fork, Caleb, Bethany and Aleeyah in South Carolina and David and I in China).  Eventually most of the bugs were worked out and we were able to be a part of the festivities surrounding Alisa’s wedding in a small way.  Not that I didn’t shed tears about not being there, but it was a small compensation. 
Alisa and CJ

Bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Alisa, just beautiful.
Alisa looked beautiful in her dress.  I wish that I could have heard Rachel’s song better.  It didn’t come through on the feed.  David and I gave a little advice.  I guess I should have found one of her cute antics from her childhood to tell, but I didn’t.  We would have loved to stay with them longer and enjoy more, but we had to get breakfast and get to class. 

Classes went well.  I had a girl approach me at the end of my first class and she wants me to help her improve her speaking skills so she can pass the GRE and TSOL tests. She wants go to American and get her Masters.  I told her to come to my apartment at 1 p.m. and we could talk.  I was a little late for my next class, but it sounds like they are getting used to me having a hard time getting from the one building to the other in the 20 minutes that there is between classes.  It would help if I didn’t have to climb four flights of stairs though. 

David and I had planned to go to the top-floor teacher canteen for lunch and see if the food was any better there, but we both got home late from classes and since we didn’t have any bread here for sandwiches, we decided to go to Yon Ho for some take out and eat back here at the apartment so that I could meet with the girl that had approached me between classes, Ann.  She was here waiting for me and we talked for over an hour and a half before we could eat our lunch when she left.  She reads English well and thinks that she hears it well, but she doesn’t comprehend what she is reading.  It is just words.  Now to figure out how best to help her...

David had a game time with some of his students this afternoon.  The two boys, Ethan and Benny, that helped us get the computer chairs and TV stand were going to come over this evening, but that didn’t happen, so we decided to go for a walk and get ice cream to “drown our sorrows” about not being able to be at Alisa’s wedding.  Maybe we were just celebrating…

Day 57 - Square Dance, Tutoring Alan

Day 57

David taught his class this morning and I stayed home and got things done for my classes.  Got through 163 emails, I have them email their homework to me.  That all takes a lot of time!  Have to figure out some way to streamline it.

We were going to take a taxi and try to get to Walmart for some butter and other things that we can’t find at RT Mart or TESCO, but I started to not feel well on the way to the South Gate, so we hurried home.  We had a lot of work to do anyway.  It wasn’t serious, just figured I better not be at the store at the moment. 

David had nine girls come for the square dance activity this afternoon and he used the tallest girls to be “boys” so that they could learn it.  It was harder not actually having boys there so it would have been easier to tell the “partners” and “corners” apart, but it worked out.  They had fun.

David started tutoring a high school boy this evening.  He wants to go to high school in the US next fall and his English has to be really good in order to be accepted into the program that does the student exchange, so he mostly wants someone to practice with, but also teach him history and customs.  He speaks quite well now, so it is mostly getting him ready for the US. 

After that, Gilbert, who is starting the school that he wants us to teach English at on Saturday’s for elementary school children came over and we talked about curriculum, salary and hours for teaching at his school.  He has big plans for his school and hopes that it will turn into something marketable.

Day 56 - Presentations, How to Kill a Chicken!

Day 56

David and I both had classes this morning.  Mine went well, as did his.  We just love how responsive these students are.  Today, I guess I am kind of slow, but it dawned on me that the reason they hang on every word I say (or seem to) is because they are trying to decipher what I am saying.  They want to know, they want to learn and I figure after the first day or so, they should be able to catch on, but they can’t that fast.  Two hours a week trying to understand a teacher who speaks a language that they have limited knowledge about is better than just a Chinese teacher speaking broken English, but they need more guidance and scaffolding.  I will try to remember to slow down more and break down the words better.  What they say in English is also different because the sound of pinyin (the Romanized spelling of their Chinese words) does not always match the sounds we have in English.  For example, “I” has an “ee” sound in pinyin.  An “a” has an “ah” sound.  Neither matches very often with how we say those sounds in English.  They want to learn and do their best. I will try to be better.

I had students doing “Two Minute Presentations” in class today.  This was the first time for this activity.  I want them to speak on things that are Chinese.  I gave them the instruction to tell me things about China that they would like me to know.  I had presentations of food, swords, history, political and patriotic ideas.  Some told me about their home towns or provinces.  It was all interesting.  I had fun with it and I think some them had fun planning what they wanted to teach me about. 

One of the funnier presentations was a girl who loves to eat.  Alice wanted to do a presentation on how to cook DeZhou Chicken.  It is a specialty where she comes from.  One of the first instructions was to kill a chicken!  She felt that as medical students (all my students are medical students, from dentists to pediatricians to research), they should all be able to do this and practice for their future in medicine.  I should also have you know that they had just had a lab a few days ago that they had to kill and dissect a frog.  She was hilarious and we all enjoyed her presentation!

I also taught my sophomore class this afternoon.  David came the last three minutes, and even though the dismissal bells rang before we got to sing one song, they all wanted to stay and hear a song.  They just seem to love that.

Day 55 - Opera Panel, Eva's Class Party

Day 55

I had to teach this morning, but David was picked up in a car by a professor and two of his students and driven to what they call the “Blue Hall” for a panel discussion of the Chinese opera that we had seen the past two nights.  They brought him into a room where there was a large U-shaped table and all the names around there were in Chinese, but there was his name in English.  It kind of stood out from the others a bit.  As the panel started, they went around the room and introduced everyone. 

David's seat at the conference about the opera.  They even had his name on a name plate.

The woman on the right with the brown bag on her shoulder was connected to the opera production.  The man next to David is Steve, who interpreted for him during the conference.  Steve is a big wig at the TV and Radio station for Shandong Province.

There were quite a few international people there.  They want to take this opera internationally and they are trying to figure if it would be worth the money they would have to put into it to do it.  The man who interviewed us last night, Steve, was there to interpret for David.  The head honcho over the whole Shandong Province Arts Program was the first to speak.  Then the woman next to David spoke for quite some time.  Then they asked David to speak.  He had been trying to think of things to say, but it kind of shocked him when they suddenly asked him to speak and he almost went blank.  He did manage to say some good things but the one that stood out to him was that the arts can speak to you in a language that words may be hard to convey.  Shortly after he was done, they said he could leave, so he did because we had promised Eva to help her with her class today and he needed to be back here in time.

David's picture by one of the general's costumes that was used in the play.

Goings on of the conference.

After lunch, we waited for Eva to pick us up.  We went with her to her class and they welcomed us warmly.  We did a presentation on places in the United States that we have been to.  Then the students did some performances for us.  In the class, they not only have them learning English, but they are also majoring in other languages.  The Spanish majors got up first and sang, “Take Me Home Country Roads” in Spanish, with David accompanying them on the guitar.  Then the Korean majors did “Gangman Style” and at the end, they pulled David and me up there to dance with them!  We didn’t do so well…  There was one girl who sang a song in English and another who did a dance in the Ancient Chinese style.  That was beautifully performed. 
This was the girl in Eva's class that did the ancient Chinese dance for us.  I love how they use their long sleeves to produce a graceful and beautiful performance.

They wanted to play an English game, so I made up a “Boggle” power point and we played some “Boggle”!  They seemed to like it!  We also sand a couple of songs for them and then it was time for class to be over.

Eva had to teach another class, so we went to a store that was close by to buy some things that were hard to take home when we walk, so we did that and then decided to go over the Stan and Nancy Pace’s apartment because we were tired of shopping at that point.  They wanted to hear all about the performance last night that they had to miss because they were teaching, so we told them.  They seemed to enjoy our visit.  We walked back to where Eva had parked and she drove us home.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Day 54 - On TV again...

David went off to teach his classes this morning.  We had planned to go to lunch at the Teacher Buffet, but David got home so late and we were busy trying to get things ready so we could go meet the other CTP teachers and get their tickets for tonight’s opera performance to them that we just decided to warm up from leftovers from Sunday and eat here.  I did some Facetime with Ammon’s and Seth’s families, because they were both over at Seth’s having dinner.  That was fun.

David had five students come over and he did a little square dancing with them and then we took off a little before 5 p.m. and caught the bus to the Hanlin Hotel and gave four tickets to the Purnell’s, Pam Carter and Steve Shauerhammer and then we got back on the bus and went to Wayne and Libby Clarke’s for dinner.  After dinner, we got a taxi to take us to the theater.  As soon as we got in the door, the woman that we had met last night that was in charge of the production, saw us and we talked with her for a little bit.  Libby and I bought a cute hand painted wallet each.  We all enjoyed the production, I enjoyed it even more than last night.  

Just two more parts of the performance that we really enjoyed.

As soon as the performance was done, a man named, Steve, from the Shandong Radio and TV station approached us and wanted to interview all of us.  They took us to a special room and talked to us one by one on camera asking about the performance and what parts we liked best and how we thought it compared to the Beijing Opera (which none of us had seen, so it didn’t matter).  It took almost an hour to do it all and then when we were done, they had arranged for a van to take us all to our apartments.  I could get used to this treatment…

Day 53 Con't - Chinese Opera Videos

I have had trouble getting the videos of the opera to upload.  I have more coming, but this is a start.

We were awed by the costumes, lighting and music.
This is probably one of my most favorite.
I couldn't believe what this clown was doing!  He amazed us!

The Chinese style opera is not the singing variety.  It is music and actions and we were so glad that we had the opportunity to attend.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 53 - Chinese Opera

Day 53

We got to Church in good time this morning.  The room was packed when we got there.  A group of LDS dentists that are going to be spending this week in the Ji’nan area doing humanitarian work joined us for our meeting.  We had a total of 27 members there!  Rather exciting for us.  We all brought extra food for the potluck and had them stay and eat with us.  We also had a non-member come.  His name was Mohammed.  He teaches Arabic at Shandong Normal School.  I’m not sure what he thought of it all, but he seemed to enjoy himself.  It was a good time.  After they all left, the couples that teach just sat around and talked for quite some time.  David and I were the first to leave.

This was our group at Church today.  It was fun to have so many there!

We were invited by one of David’s students to see a program tonight about the Costumes and history of Chinese opera. (Be very jealous, Rachel!) It was so amazing!!  One of the journalism professors was given some VIP tickets and this student is good friends with this professor and her daughter.  They picked us up in their car and drove us there.  We were plenty early and went in to see a jade show.  That was totally amazing also.  We did not know that there were so many colors of jade.  And all of them beautifully carved.  
Jade piece that had flowers.

I was captivated by the intricate carving.

Just beautiful!

This was all carved from one rock. Fascinating!

There were several that looked like they had all just been plucked from the ocean and frozen in the jade.

One rock, all hollowed out in the middle.  The color is the color of the rock.

Here are videos of parts of the Opera.

The show was something that will live in our memory forever.  The costumes were so gorgeous and the pageantry that was surrounded it was unbelievably incredible.  We had two of the students sitting next to us so that they could explain some of the reasons for the colors and the actions of the performers.  As we walked into the concert hall, a news reporter from one of the student news stations wanted to interview us, so the student that had invited us interpreted for us, well David.  That is who they talked to.  I just stood there looking wonderful…  So we went in and saw the show. 

This is a scene from a nightmare/dream that was being depicted.

A part of the opera had clowns in it.  I didn't get the one foot that was on the top of this guys head.  That is his belly button in the middle of his mouth.

This is the Emperor with his wife and concubines.  They were allowed to wear the fancy head dresses and no one else.

Immediately after the show, we were interviewed by the Shandong Province TV station and then we were taken to the stage and got pictures with some of the actors in their costumes.  As we were getting the pictures taken, a Chinese woman came up to us and asked where we were from.  We told her and then learned that she lives six months in Sacramento, CA and six months in China to help promote Chinese culture and she was the mother-in-law to the lead actress.  She then introduced us to the director of the show and he took us over to meet two of the women that were connected to the show and they all wanted to know what we thought.  They would like to take this show internationally and wanted our opinions about if people would come to it.  We believe that people would and in the process of talking to them, they invited us to come to a meeting on Tuesday morning to meet with the directors and some foreign people to try and get this taken internationally.  I can’t go because I teach on Tuesday mornings, but David has agreed to go and see if he can persuade the international people that this is a show worth taking to the world to see.  One of the students that was with us is going to try and get a copy of the TV interview.  Another fantastic day in China!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Day 52 - Teaching Football, Broken Cart Wheel

Day 52

David met eleven of his students at the volleyball field today so he could teach them to play American flag football.  There are not a lot of grass fields or playgrounds here in Ji’nan, I don’t know about the rest of China in that respect, but I haven’t seen a lot of grass areas for kids to just run.  He had boys and girls there that wanted to learn.  There would have been a lot more except there was a vaccination that several of them had to get and there were some involved in a school tournament basketball game.  At first they were more like young elementary students in catching the ball and when they did catch the ball they wanted to either pass it again or run from the opposing team that were coming at them.  It didn’t take long to have them grasp the idea of the game though and soon they were having a pretty good game and lots of fun.  There was a PE teacher waiting to take over the field after their hour was up so they had to end it, but as they were leaving the field, the teacher noticed that David had been using a soft football and she indicated that she thought that was good so the students wouldn’t get hurt.  He came home all sweaty from the fun he had had.

We worked on school work from then until about three p.m. and then we headed to RT Mart for groceries and a space heater.  We decided we better have one to be able to warm up until they turn the heat on in the building sometime in November.  We were pretty loaded down with groceries and the heater and a new frying pan (the non-stick coating was starting to come off in the food of the old one that was here in the apartment… not a good thing!)  One of the other BYU couples had lent us a little cart that we could use to go to the store and back and haul our groceries back with.  I think of all the couples here in Ji’nan, we are the farthest from a grocery store and to get to the bus is almost half the way we would have to walk to the bus stop, so we walked it.  I guess we could have gotten a taxi, but sitting around most of the day doing school work at a desk meant that we needed some exercise.  We were pretty tired by the time we got back with everything and just as David picked up the cart to haul it up the stairs one of the wheels fell off!  We were so glad that it had made it that far.  I know God is taking care of us!

I decided to make zucchini bread for the potluck dinner tomorrow.  So I spent the evening between that and school work and dishes.   

Friday, October 18, 2013

Day 51 - Chinese Students Square Dancing

On Fridays, David and I both teach starting at 8 a.m. and end at noon.  Classes went well for both of us.  I had several students after my first class that needed help with something that took longer than a few minutes and then I have to travel to a different building and walk up to the fourth floor (few of the building has elevators if they are less than six floors (good exercise, right?), so I was late for my second class.  I guess my students were getting worried because when I did walk in the door about 3 minutes late, they all clapped.  I think they like to clap.  Everything went well though for both of us.

Because we ate out so much yesterday, we just had lunch at the apartment today and then we got dressed up in our nice clothes and got pictures taken for Alisa’s wedding reception.  We were walking around to several places that we thought would make a nice back ground and then we would ask some of the students walking by if they would take our picture.  We wanted it to be mostly a closer up of us and trying to explain that to those with limited English was rather tricky.  We got some good ones and then one of David’s students, who was coming over for an enrichment class, came a little earlier and we were able to explain to him what we wanted.  Having better English skills made it go faster. 

So David had nine of his students show up for the square dancing enrichment that he was doing today, and they went down in front of the apartment building and after he taught them how, they did some square dancing.  Looked like they were having fun to me!

After supper, again at our apartment, we were trying to work and stay warm (they won’t turn the heat on here until mid-November, no matter how cold it gets) and finally decided that we needed to go for a walk to get warmed up.  We bundled up and got out of the building and discovered that it was warmer outside than in our building.  So we went over to the closest McDonald’s and bought ice cream cones (I know, being cold and the going for ice cream just doesn’t make sense) and then walked around a bit.  We love to go by the fountains on the south end of the campus because that is where the parents and grandparents go with their smaller children to let them play before going home to bed.  It is so fun to watch them play there.  Now we are back in our cold apartment trying to finish up some work before we go to bed.  And here I am blogging…

Day 50 - Getting Permission for Beijing, Meeting Saturday KIds

Day 50

David left for his class and I did laundry, dishes and school class work.  We met Eva at the teacher’s restaurant on campus and she helped us learn how to order dishes from there.  Until we learn to read some Chinese, we are just going to have to be guessing at what we are getting.  We sat and talked for a long time.  She took us to the office to see if we could get permission to rearrange our classes for the weekend that we want to go on the tour there with the other BYU teachers.  They will give us the permission because they believe that anything we do to better understand China; will help us in teaching our students here.  I agree.  Now I just have to find out when we can get those classes rearranged for…

That took most of the afternoon and we Eva had said she would drive us to Walmart so we could get some things there and we would take the bus home.  Traffic was very congested and it was taking a long time to get there, when David received a call from the Gilbert, who had talked to us the other day about doing a Saturday class for a school they are doing in their complex.  It is an after-school and Saturday program.  They wanted to take us out to dinner and then show us the classroom and meet the students.  Dinner was nice and we went to the school and all of a sudden, they are asking us to teach the kids!  One little girl knew a fair amount of English for a seven year old, but the rest were still on the basics of “hello”, “My name is…”  I decided to start out with “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”  That went over well.  What to do next?  Um….  “Wheels on the Bus”!!  Okay, that took another five minutes.  Gilbert spent time explaining in Chinese what we were saying in the song.  (Another three minutes…)  We decided to introduce ourselves since it seemed they wanted us to take over more.  Then they wanted the children to have English names, so those that didn’t have them, we helped give them to them.  I was a little taken aback because I thought that was something the parents should do, but they seemed pleased with the names we gave them.  One girl’s name sounded a lot like Susan, so that is what we gave as her name.  Another sounded more like “Lowell”, but after the experience I had in class yesterday with a tongue twister that had the name Lowell in it, I was reluctant to give a six year old that name to wrestle with, so we came up with Louis, which seemed slightly easier…

After about a half hour to forty-five minutes, they decide that we would do and we weren’t really prepared to just come in off the top of our head and do much more than that, that they could send the kids home and then take us home.  It was fun to work with the children those ages, they are the ages I enjoy the most, but I was glad to not be put on the spot any longer. 

Then it was back home to try and get as much school work done to be ready for tomorrow as we could before we crawled into bed. 

BTW:  the temps are getting quite cool and still no heat in the building.  They said they would be testing it on October 15, but we don’t think that happened…

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Day 49 - Singing with Sophomores, Teacher Restaurant Alone...

Day 49

Today was one of those days that the karma in the classroom was overflowing!  My two morning classes were so fun to teach and be around those young people.  The lessons went well and the students responded to everything.  My afternoon class went that way as well, also.  David had a good time with his students, too.

For lunch, we had to run some errands, so we went to McDonald’s.  I had a grilled chicken sandwich that I had a hard time recognizing the meat as chicken, but I guess it was close enough.  We stopped for meat at my favorite little meat market and picked up some fruit from the other vendor that I go to on the way out of the complex where the meat market is.  I will have to get pictures of these people to keep for a memory because even though we don’t communicate with the words, we do communicate. 

David came to my afternoon class of sophomores and we sang some songs with them.  I am using tongue twisters with them to work on the sounds that they need the most work on and they love it.  So we sang the song, “Mules,” because when you get going faster and faster with it, your tongue gets tangled.  That was fun!

We decided to go to the “Teacher” Restaurant that is in the canteen for dinner and try our luck at ordering some of the dishes that Eva did for us when we went with her the first time.  We were successful and had a good dinner.  We had to hurry home though, because we were to meet the family of a 14 year old boy that wants to improve his English enough so that he could go to the US to attend school next year.  They have asked David to tutor him.  It is a very nice family and he is a nice young man.  We got the details worked out for the time, place and payment.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Day 48 - A Trip to the Furniture Market

Day 48

It got the coldest we have had here in China so far, but still just jacket weather.  It cleared off very nicely after the rain yesterday and we saw a lot of blue sky today.  That was nice. 

I taught two freshman classes today. It went well.  The second class is small (30!) and they are very organized and easy to get along with.  Had a great time!  David came to get my bag and materials so that we could get away faster after class and they all clapped when I introduced him.

David and I met for lunch and went to the teacher buffet room.  Danny was there so we sat and ate with him.  Then we met Ben and Ethan outside the canteen and took a taxi to a used furniture market that they knew of.  We were looking for some computer chairs and a TV stand to make our life a little better here.  They sure knew the right place to go!  We found several chairs, but settled on some nice ones with lumbar support and neck support for me.  They were able to negotiate the price down for us so that we paid 210 RMB for each chair.  Then we found a little stand with drawers for the TV for 40 RMB. It was funny that the guy first told Ben that he wanted 50 RMB for it, but when I walked up to inspect it, he immediately dropped the price to 40 RMB!  It was like he really wanted me to buy it.  Then Ethan and Ben negotiated with a woman that had one of those motorcycle trucks to have it delivered to us.  Ethan rode with her to show her the way to our place and we took at taxi back to our place with Ben.  We got all of it; chairs, TV stand and delivery for about $100 US.  Works for me!

This is what the used furniture market looked like, well part of it.

David had six of his students that wanted to come over and learn to square dance today.  They went down on the sidewalk in front of our building and turned up the music.  He said they caught on pretty quickly and they were able to get through, “Oh, Johnny” and “Virginia Reel.”  He will be doing it again tomorrow afternoon.  I think there may be a little bit bigger crowd tomorrow if word gets around about how much fun they had.

David teaching square dance.

The Virginia Reel

We have also been approached by several people who want us to teach and tutor.  One of them came over this evening and talked to us.  They run a school in a suburb of Ji’nan that they want to have English instruction as a Saturday program for the children.  We think it sounds fun, so we will be going with them on Friday evening to meet the children and look over the program to make a decision about it for certain.  There is also a father here on campus that wants his teenage son tutored so he can go to study in the US next fall.  David will meet with him tomorrow to see if that will work.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Day 47 - Rain and Catching-Up

Day 47

It started out overcast today and soon it was raining.  David had left, but quickly came back because he felt it was going to get wetter and it did.  It was a pretty heavy rain by the time he got home at noon.  It rained most of the day.

I stayed home and worked on school work.  I had a week’s worth of emails to catch up on from my classes and the trip we took.  Finally, at 9:15, I am caught up and can look at something else besides students’ words in writing!  I did have a chance to video chat with Seth, Carolyn and family and Alisa, too.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day 46 - Sacrament and General Conference

Day 46

We were able to chat with most of the children and grandchildren today while they were doing the October birthday party before we left for Church.  It was great to chat with them, but not enough time and almost distracting with so many there.

We were listening to General Conference today.  Because of all the work we had to do on Sunday to make up for the last few holidays and being away last week, it had been a long time since some of our group had partaken of the Sacrament, so David got permission for us to do that before we watched the Sunday Morning Session.  It was great to hear the uplifting words. 

After that session, we had our potluck dinner with way too much food!  We try to coordinate what we are bringing, but we always end up with too much food.  We stayed and chatted for some time and then a few of us stayed to watch the Saturday afternoon session also. 

On the bus ride home, we accidently got off at the wrong bus stop, so we had an extra-long walk, but that’s okay, had to work off some of the extra food we ate. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Day 45 - Trip to Mount Tai

Day 45

We were invited by Shandong University to go to Mount Tai today.  We met Christina from the Foreign Teachers Office by the south gate of our campus at 8 a.m.  The Pace’s and Clarke’s came and also Danny, Lynn, Jason and two Korean teachers.  It was a long two hour ride to get to the starting point of Mount Tai.

Our first view of Mount Tai.  It was mostly hidden by the haze but cleared later.

The gondola ride up the mountain.

The Pace's, Stan and Nancy, and Danny on the way up.

It looked pretty scary in places, but ran quite smoothly.

Up to the top.  The guide said that there was a community of about 200 people that lived here year round.

At the "Gate of Heaven."  That's what they called it, so we all had to say we were at the gate of heaven today.

One of the views.

Another view.

Now we are on the street of heaven!

Yes, we did climb ALL those stairs!

One of the shrines.

David is holding a five yuan bill, that has this exact scene on the back of it, minus the people of course...

When a young couple in love climbs to the top of Mount Tai, they can buy a lock and "lock in their love."  Kind of cute.  We are at the shrine of the "Lady of Heaven."

The red ribbons represent prayers said.

Here is David playing the piano with the little girl and boy watching.  The guy in the yellow clothing is the Korean, Kim, who also sat down and played a few songs.

The little girl was so interested in watching David play.

Mount Tai is famous because is it one of the tallest mountains in China (outside of the Himalayas).  Emperors for many centuries have come here.  It is the only mountain in China that they allow three different beliefs to worship in the same place; Daoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.  There are several shrines at the top and people like to make a pilgrimage here to do their worshipping.  If you start at the bottom with the steps, there are over 6000 steps.  It climbs to a height of over 1500 meters (about a mile). 

When we arrived at the base of Mount Tai, we were loaded onto a bus that drove very fast up a steep, narrow, very winding road.  There were many hairpin turns and blind corners and there were other cars and buses going up and down the mountain.  Who needs Disneyland when you have Chinese drivers doing this!!  We did arrive safely at the top and from there we rode a gondola the rest of the way, well almost the rest of the way.  We still had to climb probably 300 more stairs to get to see it all. 

We were taken by a guide to see the different shrines.  Lots of steps!  LOTS of steps!!  At one point, Libby Clarke was so tired of steps, she asked if they would be coming back to a certain point and when the guide said they would, she decided to stay there and rest.  I stayed with her.  As we were chatting, we had several people ask to take pictures with us.  There was one woman that came and was standing really close to us and it looked like she was surreptitiously trying to have her picture taken with us, so I invited her to come stand closer to us.  Pretty soon we had the whole family around us and after the husband took several pictures, he handed the camera to someone else and they took pictures with him in it also. 

There is a hotel and a restaurant at the top of Mount Tai.  We had lunch there but had to wait for about a half hour or so before we could eat at the buffet.  There was a piano in the lobby that was covered up and because we have not had a chance to play for so long, David asked if he could play it.  They said he could, so we uncovered it and he played several songs.  The Korean man that was with us, sat down and played.  He has had no formal training, but plays by ear.  He was good, too.  I sat down and played one song, also.  David had quite an audience that included two young children.  A boy and girl, about 6 and 4 respectively it seemed, came up and wanted to get close.  The girl was wiggling her fingers toward the piano like she wanted to play.  At one point she started dancing.  They both came in quite close to watch.  We can say that we played the piano of the top of Mount Tai now!

After lunch, we made our way back down lots of steps to the gondola station and then the bus ride back down the mountain was almost as eventful as the ride up, with a little less traffic.  I just didn’t think you could take hairpin turns at 40 mph!

After we arrived back in Ji’nan and we were dropped off at the campus, we went to the International Student’s Office Building with the Clarke’s because they told us they sold Shandong Campus T-shirts there, but that is only in the summer.  For winter, they sell sweatshirts.  Not wanting a sweatshirt, we declined and just bought an ice cream bar.

We had to go get some printer ink and a few groceries at the Uni-Mart and stopped for some grapes at a street vendor.  One of David’s students came over to introduce us to a girl that will be helping us with some purchases on Tuesday, because he promised he would go with us, but he has to do a presentation in his own class then, so she will help us.  Had a video chat with Caleb, Bethany and Aleeyah before going to bed.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Day 44 - Friday Classes; First Time

Day 44

I had my last two new freshman classes today.  I got into the first class, which is in probably the newest building on campus, and tried to bring up my PowerPoint that introduced me to them, but it wouldn’t come up.  I asked for help from one of the students, because the writing is all in Chinese.  He said the version of the software on the computer is from 2003 and won’t run it. He was able to go get the building’s technology person and she came in and installed the newer version while I got the students working on another activity I had.  The rest of the class went well.  So did the second class.  I love their enthusiasm! 

David and I met after his class and went to the teacher buffet lunch that is ours for free for when we teach for 4 hours in a day.  My card did not work yet, because Eva has had problems getting the numbers to process that she needs so I can get credit for it.  We were both able to eat off of David’s card, so we did.  Most of the food was already gone, but we got enough to eat.  One of the male teachers, who were eating lunch there, talked to us and said that we had to get there earlier, but when you teach until 12, I don’t know how you get there earlier.  Anyway, most of the soups were gone, but after we sat down with what we had, one of the workers comes around with a pitcher of something warm, pours it into a bowl for each of us and then leaves.  It seemed like they were embarrassed a little that their foreign teachers did not have soup (they consider soup an essential part of a meal, they don’t usually drink anything else with a meal), that they wanted to make sure we had some.  It was so kind of them to do that.

David had some more of his class monitors come over and they talked over things for the class and he taught them some games like he did with the other group.  They all seemed to enjoy it and had a great time. 

I worked on getting my classes put in the grading program that we have and finishing up the blog posts.  Time for bed, now. 

Day 43 - First Haircut in China

Day 43

David had classes this morning, but I took the time to do laundry, get copies made and worked on the blog.  Got 4 days posted with pictures!  After class, he brought two young men home with him that had heard about his class and wanted to be a part of it.  They have promised to help us get some furniture for this place (decent computer chairs and a TV stand).  The one guy knows the right place to go. 

After lunch, we went to find a place to get our hair cut.  They all looked pretty much the same and we had no one who really knew us, so we just picked one of the 5 places that were on Shanda Lu (Lu means road in Chinese).  They did an okay job, but I think we will pick one of the other shops next time.  They are used to a much younger cliental. 

We decided to eat dinner at the canteen tonight.  We were able to get there before the onslaught of 25.000 students, so we easily found a place and it was quiet.  When we were almost done eating, one of my students came up to me and wanted to talk.  She said how she thought that David and I had such a wonderful love story and that she could see how much we loved each other.  She also said we had a beautiful family.  I thanked her for being so kind to come to speak to us.  We just worked on school work tonight.

Day 42 - Lessons Learned or Not

Day 42

Today was my long day for classes.  I had two Freshman classes this morning and the Sophomore class this afternoon.  The Freshman classes went well.  I gave them the powerpoint presentation on the Circus and then had then discuss if they thought they would like to attend one or not.  Their reasons for going, or not going were interesting.  Then they had to come up with a presentation for the class on why Shandong University is the best university in the World and why all students should come here. That was rather fun.

David had classes this morning also.  One of the girls in one of his classes came up and said to him he talks too much and that it would help her if he wrote key words on the chalkboard (yes, they still use chalk boards here).  He was a little discouraged because this is all mostly out of his comfort zone anyway.  Then he had the class monitors come over this afternoon and they pumped him up again.  He played Krypto with some of them and they had a great time.  All of this to practice English!

My afternoon class went okay.  What I had planned did not stretch out as long as I had hoped it would, so it was kind of lame toward the end.  I was searching for extra stuff that I had brought along on my jump drive and after a while, I just let them out about 5 minutes early.  They don’t like you to do that, but when I see their eyes glazing over, I think, “Five minutes is better than wasting their time!”

David massaged my back and shoulder and showed my some exercises to help ease the pain I am having.  The situation with the kind of desk I had to work with has aggravated my upper back problems that I was having after my car accident and I have been in a lot of pain from it for the last 2 weeks.  It helps for a little while, but the constant pain is very draining.

Day 41 Home Again

Day 41 – Home again.

We had breakfast at the hotel and then when we went to get our luggage out of our room, we found our key wouldn’t work.   David went back down to the desk and got it to work and we collected our luggage and met the others in the lobby for ride to the airport.  We had to wait around for almost 2 hours for our flight.  We were there extra early because one of the couples had a flight an hour before us.  David and I paid 10 RMB for twenty minutes in a chair massage.  Made my back feel so much better!

The flight to Ji’nan went well.  We took the shuttle bus back and didn’t get off where we should have but went all the way to the main terminal.  We had to catch a taxi back to our campus, which meant we had to go to a certain area, wait in a long line and then get the next available taxi.  He seemed like a good guy and his cab was cleaner than most.  We got home about 3 p.m.

We had no water when we got here.  I found out when I flushed the toilet.  It came back on about 2 hours later.  Our friend Sherry came over and we told her all about our trip and gave her the terra cotta warrior we had bought for her.  She sure is a bright young woman.  I hope she gets her chance to study in the US.

We decided to go out to eat tonight.  Just too tired and trying to do things to get caught up from the trip.

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