Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Day 305 – Our Last Day in China


We tried to get to bed early, but with going out to dinner and wanting to get the last few items packed for the morning, we didn’t make it.  I still had trouble falling asleep, even though I was tired… too much adrenaline in me I guess.  I finally did get some sleep, but it wasn’t enough because June 26 started at 4 a.m. for us.  We ran around that apartment making sure that things were put away for the Robertson’s who will be coming to replace us in two months.

We finally looked around and David said, “I guess we are ready to start taking our bags down.”  At that moment, we heard a knock on the door and it was John Tian and the car driver ready to help us take our bags down.  John kept saying he was happy to take us, even at the early hour of 5 a.m.  He apologized for not meeting with us more during the time that we were there.  We understood because he was in the middle of his doctoral program and very busy with that. 

We arrived at the airport the same time that the Clarke’s were dropped off by their driver.  John stayed with us while we got our tickets and our bags checked and we went through the area for security.  As we got to the counter for the security to check our passports, she indicated to us that we had to go back to counter 31, where they have us wait to until our bag had gone through security.  We went back to the counter and one of the “ambassador” girls that are there to help you told us that everything was okay with our bag and to go ahead and go through security. 

When we got back to security, we went to the same girl and she wanted us to go back again, but we told her that they had said we were okay.  She looked down at David’s passport again (it was David’s bag that had to be scanned twice), shrugged her shoulders and let us go through.  Now we just had two hours to wait for our plane.

The first leg of the trip from Jinan to Shanghai had some turbulence, but was otherwise uneventful.  We had to find our way around the Pudong airport, which has a lot of construction going on, and ask for directions a few times.  We had to go through immigration and hand in our exit cards.  We didn’t have to wait long after that for our plane, but then we sat in the plane for a long time waiting for clearance to take off.  That delayed our flight almost an hour.

Once we got in the air, we just had to settle in for the 12 hour and five minute flight as best we could.  Our seats were way in the back, only three rows behind us.  Clarke’s were behind us but it was hard to carry on any conversation with the way the seats were.  We watched movies, read, and slept.  The sleeping was the hard part, but reading was difficult also.  I wanted to read and they decided to dim the lights in the cabin.  I couldn’t reach the light so that I could read, so I either had to watch movies or sleep.  It seems I would just get to sleep and they would turn on the lights again to feed us something.  Other than that, the flight was as good as could be expected.
 
My view from the back of the plane.  What is hard is walking past the first class seats on the way out and seeing the nice recliners and the room.  Sigh...
Arriving in LAX was a relief of sorts.  We were on US soil, but we had to go through customs and then find our way through this airport that also has a lot of construction going on.  That was a little stressful for us because we had to say good-bye to the Clarke’s before we got to our terminal.  We didn’t know where to go, so we asked a man that was standing around that looked like he worked there.  He pointed us in the right direction which was back the way we had come. 

We got our tickets for the last leg of our journey home, turned in our luggage and then went through security.  Because of the worry about the weight of our suitcases, we had put some of the heavier gifts in our carry-on luggage.  One of those gifts contained some lead crystals and so my bag needed to be looked at in depth.  The man was very kind and first asked if I had crystals in my bag.  I didn’t think that part of that gift had anything in, but they were paper weights with Peony flowers in them, so that was the problem.  He swabbed the crystals and then sent my bag through again.  The man came back and said that we were okay to go, but not until they had also swabbed David’s bag to make sure his was okay.

The flight to Salt Lake City took off early and arrived about twenty minutes early.  Rachel and Alisa were caught in slow traffic because of an accident, so we had to wait at the airport for them to get there.  I went home in Alisa and CJ’s car and David when home with Rachel, who had also brought Elisabeth along.  We didn’t have time for long hugs there, so we waited until we got home for the big hugs from everyone.

Kadie had planned a dinner for us and we gave out some of the gifts that we had brought home and shared some of the candy that my students had given me to show my grandchildren what some of the Chinese candy was like. 


It is great to be home!  It was a marvelous adventure!  We may do it again in the future if that is what we feel the Lord wants us to do.  Now to get back to living on Utah time, not Beijing time, and get ready for more adventures here at home.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day 304 – Cleaning and Posting


We started the day about 7 a.m.  I had trouble falling asleep last night, so I was up doing things really late and didn’t get much sleep.  After breakfast, we tried to fit the rest of the stuff in the suitcases, but when we saw that it just wasn’t going to fit, we decided to send another box of stuff home by post.

Kathy Guo came about 9:30 and started cleaning for us while we tried to sort through things that needed to be organized or thrown out.  It was really hard to throw away the student information cards that we had collected at the beginning of the time with our students.  Too many memories and a desire to keep the relationships with them alive as much as we could were strong forces, but in the end, when you don’t have enough room to bring your clothes home, something had to give.  Thank goodness most of them have our email address. 

We had decided what we could send home by slow boat by about 11:00, so we put it in a small suitcase and David, Kathy and I rolled it over to the post office, with a stop at the bank to get some more Yuan.  We knew we wouldn’t have enough after spending our last 200 RMB on the boat ride yesterday.  At the post office, Kathy tried to get the lady to give us a box so that we could start getting it packed, but the lady said that she was helping some people that had been waiting there for two hours and we had to wait our turn.  Well, we did, for almost two hours, too! 

While we were there, David had to leave us so that he could go meet with a Church member who is in Jinan from Mongolia.  He served a mission in California and now he works here in Jinan.  He wanted to know about going to Church here and it was sad to tell him that until August, when more BYU China Teachers Program teachers came, there wasn’t much Church here.  He might meet with Kathy Guo until she leaves in mid-August.  I hope it works out for him here.

Kathy and I came back here and she was able to help clean for another half hour before she had to go pick up Hansen, her son, from school.  I couldn’t have been as ready as I am without her help. 

Eva came over about 4:30 and we talked and moved stuff to her hard drive for the teachers to use next year.  We waited around for Gilbert to call because he was going to take us out to dinner when he was done with work.  It got really late and was around 7:45 when he did call.  We went to a Chinese restaurant that serves up some more traditional Shandong food.  It was very good and we tried not to eat too much because of how late it was.  We had a great time visiting.  Gilbert is such an inquisitive person and he likes learning new things and expanding his knowledge.

After Gilbert brought us home, it was time to say good-bye.  It was pretty hard because of all the people we have met and associated with here in Jinan, they are probably the two most important.  It is hard to leave them.  Yes, there were tears because of how much they both meant to us.  It will be a wonderful day when we can meet them again and be with them. 


We are all basically packed and ready for tomorrow.  Being here in China is an experience that has been worth the trouble, missing family and the inability to communicate well with the majority of the people that we are around.  If the Lord wants us to come back to China, we are willing to do so.   

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day 303 – Moat Boat Ride


We went over to the bank about 10:30 this morning and found the manager that we had talked to yesterday and she helped us get the forms and take us to the teller that we needed to be at so that we could get the rest of our money and close out our account.  It took about forty-five minutes to get everything done. 

We were meeting two of David’s students for lunch at the teacher restaurant.  One of the boys was a little nervous to come because his girlfriend was in town and he didn’t know if he could bring her or not.  We told him that it would be fine, we had ordered enough food to feed five or more.  It was nice to meet her and she seemed thrilled to be eating with us.
 
With David's students: Liam, John, David, me and Liam's girlfriend.


We didn’t plan our time very well today, because we had planned to meet the Pace’s at one, but we weren’t quite done with our meal with David’s students, so we had to excuse ourselves and leave.  We were done eating, but they were still eating.  I hope it wasn’t too rude of us to do that. 

The children's play area at Five Dragon Springs.
David ran some things back to the apartment while I took care of our university cards.  There was still a little money on David’s card, so they gave us some money back.  Just as I finished with that, Stan and Nancy were there to meet us.  We took the bus over to Five Dragon Springs.  They hadn’t seen it yet and so we decided to go there with them.  We did a quick walk around the park and then we went over to see Black Tiger Springs.  We were going to walk the whole way, but it was a pretty hot day, so we got on a bus and rode there.  It was only a few stops, but would have been a pretty long walk and with the Pace’s pressed for time to get back by 5, it was a good thing. 

We parted ways after seeing Black Dragon Spring so that they could get back on time.  David and I have wanted to do the boat ride on the moat that goes around the old part of Jinan ever since we found out about it.  We decided that today was the best day to spend the last 200 RMB that we had in our pockets and that was how we wanted to spend it.  We had a very nice ride around the moat and through DaMing Lake that lasted for about an hour.  The breeze on the lake and in parts of the shaded areas of the moat were a cool relief from the heat.
 
The best part of the moat ride was being able to go through the locks at the dams. 

Opening the gate after we dropped about 10 feet in less than five minutes.

Design of the lotus leaf along the side of the moat.

Our "selfie"!  (It only took one try to get one this perfect!)

There is an area of the moat where they allow people to swim during the day.  The police are there to keep the swimmers safe by watching for the boats and not allowing the people to swim when one is coming.

We hurried to catch a bus after the moat ride because it was getting close to drive time.  We made it home in good time and then stopped in to see Eva.  She has been working at the school to grade papers and enter scores all day, so we dropped by to give her our “check-out” paper with all the red stamps on it.  We invited her to stop by for some supper and she ended up bringing something to eat from the canteen anyway.  We had a nice visit.


Alan, his Dad and his Mom came over for a little while this evening.  They had another small gift to give us.  (Thank goodness it was small because we are having a hard time bringing all the gifts we have been given home now!)  They stayed for a short visit and then we got busy trying to finish putting things in suitcases.  We decided we needed to mail another box home…

Monday, June 23, 2014

Day 302 – More Good-Byes


We needed to wait around here this morning until Eva could meet us at the bank.  We had a video chat with Caleb’s family and had a short one with Seth’s family before Eva called and said she was coming to meet us at the bank that is south of the campus. 

We still had to wait for her after we arrived and then it took some time to get all the paper work done.  We could have withdrawn and closed our account if Eva had remembered her ID, but she didn’t have the correct ID with her, so we were only able to withdraw part of our money.  As we were doing that, the bank manager came over and started talking to Eva.  As Eva told her of what we were doing, she offered to handle the paperwork for us tomorrow because Eva has to be working at the school tomorrow.  We thought it was so kind of her to offer to help us in that way.  Now we just go there tomorrow, ask for Manager Yu and we are set to get the rest of our money and close the account.

We were going to go to lunch at the teacher restaurant with Eva, but she we got there too late and there was no room.  We went to the teacher buffet instead, which had okay food, but not as good as the restaurant.  After lunch, we came back to the apartment and talked for a long time.  Eva wanted copies of some of the things that we did in our classes, so we copied what we could to her USB, but it only had a little room on it.  She will come back on Wednesday, probably and copy the rest. 

David had to leave for a meeting with Shifang, his co-teacher, and hand in his grades.  Eva left soon after and then Stan and Nancy Pace came with the toaster oven from their apartment that is BYU equipment.  David came back a little before 4 and then we all walked over to the Mingde building so we could go to the “Farewell” meeting with the assistant dean, Jin Rui, and Gao Yan.  They wanted our feedback on what are some things they could do better and what things were good.  For next year, SDU plans to put together a “Welcome Pamphlet” to make the transition easier for foreigners that come.  It was a good meeting and I think we were able to help them out.  They mentioned how they really appreciated our efforts and the relationship that they have with the BYU China Teachers Program. 
 
From the left: Gao Yan (Mary), Libby, Wayne, Stan, me, Nancy, David, Ge Gao (Melody), and Jin Rui. 
When the meeting was over, David had to come back here to meet one of his students, April.  She wanted to give him a present.  Then we went over with the Pace’s and the Clarke’s to the teacher restaurant and had a last supper with the meal credits on Stan’s card.  It was a good visit.  While we were there, John, who had helped pick us up from the airport last August, came in and saw us there.  He came over and talked to us.  He will be going up to the airport with us on Thursday to make sure we get there safely and say, “Good-bye” to us then.


We came back to the apartment and I made a last batch of Oatmeal Peanut Butter Raisin Cookies for David.  I was able to use up all the brown sugar, peanut butter, butter and eggs.  That was the main purpose, besides the fact that David has declared it his new favorite cookie.  I decided to add it to my cooking blog -  http://step-by-stepcooking.blogspot.com/2014/06/oatmeal-peanut-butter-raisin-cookies.html

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 301 – Last Sunday in Jinan


When we were headed to the bus, we noticed that the traffic on Shanda Lu was kind of slow.  After we got on the bus, it took us almost fifteen minutes to get past Shanda Nan Lu!  We could have walked twice that far in that amount of time, but then there wouldn’t have been a bus to catch!  We just had to be patient and realize that we might be late for Church on our last Sunday here.  They were doing some construction on the corner of those two streets and all the traffic had to go down to one lane.  The buses were extremely slow because they have to go to the right to pick up passengers and then have to try and squeeze into the left lane to get around the construction.

We walked in just as they were trying to log in for the broadcast.  The Arkidin Bridge was having problems again today, so we were a little late getting into the meeting broadcast.  The Pace’s were about fifteen minutes later than we were.  We had trouble hearing the first speaker very well and then they got it figured out for the second speaker so we could hear him much better. 

Dinner was a large feast again.  All of the teachers are trying to get rid of the food that we have that won’t last until the new teachers get her in late August, so there was a lot of food!  Simon, Kathy’s husband, joined us.  Lulu Pilson was also able to make it.  The Pace’s had invited Lily so that we could all say good-bye to her, too.  It was a sad afternoon of saying good-byes to all these people that have been a help to us in Jinan and also become our friends. 
 
Here we are with Kathy, Hansen and Simon.

I didn't get my camera out fast enough to get the pictures of Jim and Wendy Purnell with Kathy, Simon and Hansen.

Libby and Wayne Clarke with Kathy, Hansen and  Simon.  Libby was the Primary teacher for Hansen.

Stan and Nancy Pace posing with them.

Then the picture with Lily, Hansen, Kathy and Simon.  Hansen was so happy to see Lily. It was almost like he had a little crush on her and wanted ALL of her attention.

We stayed around and talked for a long time.  Gilbert said he would meet us at the Hanlin Hotel to give us the gifts that he had brought for us, so we went down to the lobby and met him and Leo (Ping).  Gilbert gave us three kites from Weifang, some paintings, and two barking lions.  The paintings and the barking lions are meant to guard our home.  We had a nice visit with them and Gilbert showed us pictures of the baby. 


After Gilbert and Leo left, we went back up to Purnell’s apartment and talked for another hour or so.  Got into some deep subjects.  Then we headed for home and enjoyed a quiet evening.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Day 300 – Saturday Baking and Packing


It was rather cool this morning when we woke up from the rain yesterday.  It still did not look like it was done raining, so I decided that today was going to be a good day to do some baking.  I am trying to use up ingredients that won’t last and would have to be thrown out when we left.  I made some brownies, peanut butter fingers, and Jell-O. 

Dr. Tricia and her husband came over at 2:45 so that he could practice English.  We played games with them: Krypto and Uno.  They seemed to enjoy them and had never played them before.   I gave them brownies for a treat.  They didn’t like them because they were too sweet.  We had an enjoyable visit until about 4:30 and then they wanted to see some of the other teachers that live in this complex that they know.

After dinner, we cleaned up the kitchen and went for a walk around the campus.  We love seeing the children and families playing by the fountains, but the fountains are not on this time of night usually, so they just play in the area.  We walked through the “small wood” where there was an event for the students with singing and talents going on.  We watched for a little while and then headed over to another fountain area where the fountain was on.  We were just enjoying the quiet night.
                                     This is the fountain on campus.


When we came back to the apartment, we decided we better start packing all the things we could pack at this point, which is most everything except for some of our clothes.  I had to pull some stuff out of one suitcase because we were almost ten pounds over on it.  I am determined to fit it all in!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Day 299 – Last Day of Finals


David and I both had our last day of finals today.  I was doing pretty good until about the last five interviews and some of the students just said how much they were going to miss me and how much they loved being in my class.  As I talk with each of these students, I can hear how much they have improved in their ability to speak English.  There were only about ten out of the 270 freshmen that seemed to have any trouble when I asked them questions that were outside of their memorized speech.  Several of them had gifts for me also.  I will miss these young people and hope that I can see them again someday.

After lunch, we had planned to go with the Pace’s to Black Tiger and Five Dragon Springs, but the weather was still threatening to rain, so we didn’t go.  We got some things done for our grades. I am having trouble putting mine in the computer because I can’t read the Chinese and the page that I went to last semester looks like it has changed.  Now I have to wait until I can get someone here to help me.


We met the Pace’s and the Clarke’s at the teacher restaurant.  It is Nancy’s birthday today and they were “treating” us all to dinner with their meal credits.  We were successful in using some of them up.  After dinner, they all came here and we talked and played games.  It was a fun evening, a nice way to celebrate a birthday.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Day 298 – Pizza at Eva’s


David had a hard time with the interviews for his Thursday class.  They have probably been his most favorite class this semester and he had to give a lot of hugs!  I stayed here and worked on the Primary music videos.

We had thought we were going to do some shopping this morning and then be back in the afternoon so we could do some check-out procedures with Eva in the afternoon, but she didn’t think we could make it back in time to do that, so we ended up staying here and getting some schoolwork done. 

Eva has wanted to have me teach her to make pizza, but without an oven, I don’t know that it would really work out for her.  We decided that I would make the pizzas here and then we would take them over to their home for dinner together. 

David got the check-out documentation done while I stayed here and baked pizza.  Then we met Eva just before the rain started and drove to her house.  You could smell the pizza in the car all the way there and she was getting hungry for it.  Eva hadn’t told her husband or her daughter, Alina, that we were coming.  She was afraid that her husband would be too shy to want to meet us and find an excuse to not come home for dinner.  He got there just as Eva was trying to put the cover on her car for the night.  He was surprised!

We were also concerned about Alina coming home in the rain, but we found out to our relief that she was already home.  The school had noticed the storm coming and did something that they rarely ever do, they let the students out early!  Alina said that the shout that came up from the students when they announced it was deafening!  She was really happy to see us.

Eva’s mother-in-law was busy preparing for us all afternoon.  She went out three different times to get special seafood for us for dinner.  We had so much food, and here we were figuring that the small pizzas that we were bringing would be plenty.  Well, we had to eat enough to show that we appreciated her efforts, so now we are still stuffed tonight.  Eva says we have to eat so much that our stomachs will burst! 

While we were eating, the storm came out in all its fury!  The sky was really black and there was lots of close thunder and lightning!  I was a little nervous with it, but Alina was so scared, she couldn’t eat any more.  It raged like that for about fifteen to twenty minutes. 
 
Dinner at Eva's.  Eva, me, Grandmother, Eva's husband and Alina.
When we had eaten more than we could hold, we wanted to teach Alina and her parents how to play Uno.  We had given the game to Elena for Christmas but hadn’t had a chance to show her how to play yet.  We taught both Eva and her husband to play, too and we were laughing so much that the Grandmother thought we were the loudest apartment in the building!  It was lots of fun. 


When the rain had let up some, we decided we better take the break in the storm to head home.  We had to give hugs to Alina and the grandmother and then Eva and her husband walked us to try and get a taxi.  With all the rain, taxis were hard to get.  We finally gave up and decided that the bus would be the easiest way to get home.  They walked us to the bus stop and then stayed until we got on.  By the time we got home, the rain had almost stopped and so it was just a trick to try and dodge all the puddles getting home.  Some very fond memories were made tonight.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Day 297 – Dinner at Harmon’s and Mangosteen


David and I both had finals to do today.  My first interview was with “Annie,” a girl that I have had a lot of fun with in class.  She has such a bright personality and happy smile that it is easy to love her.  She broke down in tears when we had to say good-bye at the end of the interview.  There were several more today that were the same way.  When I finished with the 8 a.m. class, they all came into the room and gave me a mug that had a picture of the class on it!  I was so touched!  They are all so wonderful!  Then “Ted” came up to give me a special gift that was just from him.  He gave me some postcards that had some special places on the campus, so that I would always remember him.  As if I could forget!

After lunch we had one of David’s monitor’s come help us mail another package to the US.  We just don’t think we will have enough room in our suitcases for all the gifts and our clothes, so we are mailing our clothes home so we have room for the gifts in our luggage and we hope that is the safer more sure way to get them all home. 

We had been invited, along with the Pace’s, to go to Brian and Sara Harmon’s for dinner tonight.  Nancy suggested I make a dessert to take along, so I made oatmeal peanut butter cookies.  Those are two items that I still need to use up before we go, so that’s what I did.  Another of David’s monitors came over and he was talking to her about Family Search and Ancestry.com because she is doing a project that is collecting histories of Chinese families.  She was very interested and glad for the knowledge of those two sites.  Hopefully, China will allow people to see them.

We took the bus over to Pace’s and then had to wait there for the internet repairman to finish so that we could leave.  It was a short walk to Brian and Sara’s home.  We had a nice dinner and a nice visit after.  They have two cute boys and we had fun playing with them, also.  They also had a fruit that we had never seen nor tasted before… Mangosteen!  We found out that we really like them!  They gave us several to take home with us.
 
This outside of the mangosteen.  The husk is a little hard.  You have to kind of crush the shell in and then start pulling it apart.

The white part in the inside is what you eat.  There is a pit in there that is easy to enjoy the fruit around it and then spit it out.  We really did like the taste!  Almost citrusy, but sweet tasting.

On our way home, we needed to get milk and a few things at RT Mart, so we stopped there.  David had to stay outside the store because he had the mangosteens with him and we didn’t want to be charged for them.  As I was coming down the escalator to check out, I heard someone speaking in English behind me.  I turned around and there were two young Anglo women standing behind me.  I said “Hello,” and then asked where they were from.  There is a group of college students here in China to teach English at a school for six weeks this summer.  I met four of the girls that were with the group.  After I had checked out, one more girl was waiting to meet me.  I told them what I had been doing here in Jinan and that I was a week away from flying home now.  Because David wasn’t with me, he didn’t get to meet them.


We took the bus home and then as we were walking to the apartment, we met a couple of David’s students when we were almost home.  John He and Sally Gong.  John has really loved David as a teacher and he wants to come by tomorrow night to say good-bye.  There are going to be a lot of good-byes!
This is a common way for students to get around on campus.  It is rather cute to see the girl riding side-saddle on the back.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day 296 – More Finals


I had my Tuesday class finals.  I was able to stay pretty much on time with the first class, but still went over time a little and that made me late for my second class.  I figured that it wouldn’t make too much difference if I was a little late because I only had nine students left to interview in the second class.  It is my small class of only 30 students. 

David mopped the floors and put the laundry out to dry, but the laundry wasn’t drying outside because of how humid it is today.  We ended up bringing the laundry in and blowing the fan on it so that it would dry.  Had a chance to video chat with Ammon today.

Eva helped Pace’s bring over some of the things from their apartment that belong to the BYU China Teacher’s Program to store here.  So far, there isn’t a couple to take their place on that campus, so they didn’t want things left there that future BYU teachers would need.  Then Eva took Nancy home and David and Stan went home teaching to Kathy’s house.


We decided to have dinner at the teacher restaurant tonight.  Then we had to get back here so that David could do an interview with one of his students who couldn’t make it to the final tomorrow morning.  We brought out the suitcases to start planning how to pack everything home.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Day 295 – Last Day on Baotuquan Campus


I had to leave early to catch the bus for Baotuquan Campus.  Whenever I start to enter that campus, one of the guards at the gate always greets me with, “Good Morning.”  That may be the only English phrase he knows, but I love how he says it.  I always greet him back the same way.  There is another guard that greets me with the Chinese greeting, “Nee Hao.”  They are just such friendly guards on that campus that it makes having to get up so early to get there a little better.
As soon as I got to the building for my first class, I had three students waiting for me.  One had not done his presentation yet, so I had him do it for me.  The other two were “self-study” students that I had help lay out a plan for so that I could give them a grade and I had to meet with all of them before I started with my regular students.  I had a good time interviewing the students, but I still got behind time.  It wasn’t as tearful as it is with the freshman students because I haven’t gotten to know the sophomores as well. 

When I was done with the interviews, I had to find my way to the south end of campus so that I could catch a bus to the Qinfushan hospital and meet with Dr. Tricia.  She has invited me to lunch today so that I wouldn’t have to go all the way home after classes before coming back to the hospital to meet with the surgeon.  I first of all had to stop and say good-bye to the guard that I gave the banana bread to.  He was always so friendly and so helpful to me.  He always tried to speak what little English he knew and understand what I was saying.  I hope I got through to him that I wouldn’t be seeing him again and that I appreciated his kindness to me. 

I tried to find my way out of the campus, but got lost and when I saw that the way I was going was not going to get me where I needed to be, I asked a girl that was ahead of me.  She spoke really good English and after I told her where I need to go, she started to walk me there.  On the way, I found out that she was one of Libby’s sophomore students from last semester that also helps to run the English Corner!  We had a nice visit on the way.  There was a little store on the way to the south gate and we stopped to get me a bottle of water.  They were busy having lunch and after I bought the water, one of the women offered me some of her dumplings that she had made.  I was very hungry, so I took one.  It was really good so I gave her the “thumbs up” sign.  The Chinese know that it means “good,” and then she offered me another.  It was just what I needed to get me to the lunch meeting with Dr. Tricia.  Just another case of the Lord sending me the people that I need in my life to help me here in China!

Dr. Tricia was waiting for me when I finally arrived and we had lunch together.  She had one of her helpers go get some lunch from a local place that was supposed to have a special kind of Shandong style chicken.  He didn’t get the right kind of chicken, but it was still really good… chopped up bones and all.  We finished a little before two, so we cleaned up and then it was time to go see the surgeon. 

Dr. Li has been a nice man to deal with, and he is very competent in his job.  He checked things over and pronounced me ready to go back to the states when it is time.  I will miss him and his kind ministrations to me.  It didn’t take long, so that by 2:30, I was on my way back to campus. 


David met me at the KFC and we stopped to have some ice cream.  Then we went home and after a nap, I got busy with putting grades in the computer for the sophomore classes and sending them to the person I needed to on that campus.  We had a light supper and then played some games this evening.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Day 294 – Foreign Teacher’s Party


We had to leave here early so that we could get to the hospital so that I could have my blood drawn for a test.  Dr. Tricia was there to take care of that for us.  She likes to talk A LOT and we were almost late for Church because she kept us until the last possible moment.  We like her though, so it is easy to stay.

After Church, we had a big dinner and then we stayed to talk.  It is such a wonderful feeling of family and camaraderie that we have here it is hard to part.
 
These are the women of our Jinan group in our Branch.  From the left: Kathy Guo, me, Lulu Pilson, Nancy Pace, Pam Carter, Libby Clarke and Wendy Purnell.  Some of the best women I know!
The Clarke’s, Pace’s and we were invited to an “End of the Year” party for the foreign teachers.  We had a fun time talking with the others and exchanging plans for the future and of course teacher talk!  We all have some great experiences and stories to tell.  We tried not to eat too much because we had eaten so much at lunch, but it was hard with all the goodies available.  I had brought the Oh, Henry bars and I was able to give quite a few of them away to the single men that were here. 
 
Some of the other teachers that have worked here at Shandong University this year.  From the left:  Morgan (teaches French), Danny (teaches graduate English), Lynn (teaches English) Mark (teaches English) and Mary (from the foreign teachers office).

Lynn brought this beautiful cake that was almost too beautiful to cut!  We did anyway though.

These two women are Robbie and Pam.  Robbie has taught here for eleven years and Pam has taught here for fourteen years.  They are the ones we ask for help first when we need to deal with the apartments or the university.  They have been a great help this year for us first year people that don't know anything!

David had his last tutoring session with Alan tonight because he is going to Beijing this week to get the process started for his Visa to go to school in the US.  Alan’s mom gave me a beautiful silk scarf that is all the colors that I love and it had peonies on it.  Peonies are like a national flower to the Chinese and they have great pride in the beautiful ones they grow here in China.  I was able to give them some of the Oh Henry bars also.  (Less to have in the house for temptation!)  When it was time for Alan’s mom to pick him up, she came up and gave us some cherries that are really good.  We were able to say good bye with hugs and warm wishes and a hope to see each other in the future!


It was Branch council this evening that David missed about half of it because we were talking to Alan and his mom.  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Day 293 – Cultural Market and Dinner


I made some “Oh Henry Bars” this morning for the dinner tomorrow.  We met the other BYU teachers plus Kathy, Hansen and Eva at the teacher restaurant at 11:30.  We couldn’t get a private room, so we just met there and put three tables together.  We had a nice time visiting and a good meal.
 
Our group for lunch today, after all the food was gone.

We had to wait for Eva to park her car and then we were going to take a taxi to the Cultural Market.  While we were waiting, we got to see a boat go though the lock by the dam.  

Eva then took David and me to the Cultural Market by Hero Mountain.  In all this time here, we have heard about it, but not had a chance to go there.  They have a lot of Chinese things for sale there: jade, paintings, pottery, etc.  We wandered around for several hours looking, bargaining and interacting with people.  Eva was a really good bargainer for us. 
 
At the Cultural Market, they were selling traditional Chinese Medicine.  These dried snakes are a part of that medicine.  There were lots of fungi and other weeds that they use.
We left the market at five, so that we could go meet Dr. Tricia and her husband for dinner.  He wants to improve his English so that he can advance in his job or get a better one.  We had to wait a while until he got there and then we talked for several hours.  He seemed to be improving a little bit from when we started, but it is hard to teach a lot in just a few hours.  He had to try and recall what he had known before.  You lose what you don’t use…


It has been a fun day and we were able some things checked off our list of what we wanted to do.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Day 292 – Chinese Square Dancing


It was another hard morning with tears as I interviewed and said good-bye to some of my students.  I still have another week of these interviews and good-byes!  How am I going to get through?

We had a quick lunch and then a short nap before we went to RT Mart for some groceries.  Then we were just being quiet here until we got a call from Eva at about 5:15.  She wanted to take us to Quancheng Square so we could see all the things that go on there and have us do some dancing.

We hadn’t had dinner yet, so we went to a nice restaurant first that Eva’s friend, Yi Bing, knew about.  It was good food and then we sat and talked for a while.  We walked to Quancheng Square from the restaurant.  Quancheng Square was built in preparation for the Olympics 2008.  It covers quite a large area and a large statue that represents the springs of the city.  Jinan’s nickname is “The City of Springs.”  There are over 72 springs in the city itself and many more in the whole area. 

We stopped at several places and watched people doing different activities.  We were watching a couple of people do a game that looked like badminton, but played with a ball that has a tail and a racquet that had a latex-like covering where the strings would be.  David tried his hand at it, but it is really tough to do and you have to have a really fluid motion, almost a dance move to do it.  As we were watching this game, a young girl, 9 years-old, looked up at me and I smiled at her.  She said, “Hi” in a shy voice and I said “Hi” back.  Then I asked her name.  She told me her Chinese name and then said that her English name was “Monica.”  I talked to her a little more, but that had about exhausted all of her English.  Monica and her mother went away happy.
 
This group was trying to cool of in the moat.  The water is pretty cold, so they jump in and swim the moat as fast as they can.  The person on the far right is changing her clothes under the sheet.  We didn't see a thing...

A kung-fu class for kids was a part of the activities on the square.

The guy in blue and the woman in brown across the net were pretty good at this.  Hard to capture it with the night lights.

Then we moved on to the part of the square where they were dancing.  The first song was a Cha-cha, so David and I were out there doing the Cha-cha.  When that was done, we were watching several other dance and moved to a different area to see them better.  David and I were trying to decide what the best dance step was for the song that was currently playing and I thought it was a Fox Trot, and since it has been a LONG time since we really went dancing, I was showing David how the dance went.  An older Chinese gentleman, who was probably a professional dancer at one time, saw me practicing and invited me to dance with him.  WOW, did we dance!  I was trying to catch on as quickly as I could, but when you are rusty, it takes a while.  I think I was doing pretty well by the time the dance ended.
 
Dancing with my Chinese gentleman.

David showing Eva some steps.

David showing Yi Bing some steps.  I couldn't get a good enough shot of her when she was facing me, so this is what you will see of Yi Bing today!

The next dance was a rather fast waltz, but it made me dizzy to try and waltz it that fast.  Along came the same gentleman and we started dancing to that one!  David took Eva out for a little while.  The man was trying to get Eva to dance with him, but she felt too shy.  We enjoyed our dance and then I went back to stand with Yi Bing, Eva and David.  A really catchy number came on and it was one that the Chinese have a dance to, kind of a line dance, and Eva was doing it, so I joined in.  I was doing it pretty well and then the same Chinese gentleman comes along and we are dancing again.  We had drawn a pretty good crowd to watch us by this time.  I think they liked that an American was doing a Chinese dance.  It was a lot of fun!


David and I tried to dance one more dance, but I was pretty tired by this time and it was 9:15 now.  Eva needed to leave so that she could be up early to administer a test at the university in the morning, so David and I got on the bus to take us home and Eva and Yi Bing got a taxi.  What an evening!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Day 291 – Saying Some Good-Byes


David had finals interviews with his class.  He was going so long in talking with his students that he had to leave his classroom and find another place to interview the last four people. 

I was able to record two of the videos for Primary music today.  I’m trying to get several done so they will have some them for when we all leave.

We met Eva at the teacher restaurant for lunch.  David and I got there first and while we were waiting for her to come, another teacher who spoke English quite well, came over and asked if we needed help or had any questions.  We told her that we were waiting for my co-teacher and that we had the menu translated.  We talked over a few of the dishes that we didn’t have translated and asked her if the translation on some of the others were correct.  When Eva arrived, the teacher who was trying to help us, looked up and she saw her, and had a look of surprise on her face.  She and Eva are co-teachers on the Hongjialou campus.  They knew each other and so Eva was able to tell her how we were connected. 

After we ordered the food, Eva and I went to try and reserve a room for the BYU teachers next Saturday, but the rooms were all filled up because of a special meeting they were having that day.  I reserved a room for the next Saturday just in case the others wanted to do that and ordered the dishes.

We had to be back at the apartment by 1:15 because David had a student coming for a final interview.  She couldn’t make the times set up for her class because she has to do something for another class.  After the interview, we had about 45 minutes before we had to leave again. 

At 2:20, we needed to meet the mother of Anna (one of the girls I tutored) so that she could show us to the Elementary School that is attached to the Shandong Normal School.  She also had a student with her that speaks English, Alice, to help translate for her.  We got a taxi and drove to the school where they took us to a nice room with a big table, soft chairs and air conditioning (that was important for the hot day that it was here!)
 
Showing the charts and talking with the teachers.  Anna's mother and Alice are to my left.
Six teachers that teach English at the school met with us.  We wanted to have an exchange of ideas for teaching better English in the elementary school.  We also told them about the phonics program that we had been trained in and if there was any way that it could help them teach English better.  It was a good meeting.  I don’t know how much we helped them, but we did give them a PPT that I had made with all the information on it.  I also gave them some ideas for games and activities they could do in their classrooms. 

At 5 p.m., Ashley and Adam, two of David’s students from last semester that have kept in contact with us, came over.  They wanted to give David a gift to remember them by.  It was a book of stamps of China from 2013.  There are some beautiful stamps in there.  Ashley wanted pictures and even shed some tears because we are leaving.  We did, too.  They are such kind people and we have enjoyed getting to know them.
 
Adam and Ashley.  She is so cute and Adam goes along with her.  They plan to marry as soon as they both graduate in a year or two.  I think Ashley would brighten any room she enters!


Gilbert and Megan (formerly known as Zinnia), came to pick us up for dinner at seven.  We had a great visit and talked for a long time.  Megan has the opportunity to go to school in Scotland, so she will be leaving to go there next week, so we had dinner with her today.  It was a fun visit and we had pictures taken.  I am becoming known as a “name giver.”  The Chinese usually take an “English” name when they travel abroad.  It is just easier than trying to have people pronounce their Chinese names.  Megan had asked me to help her choose a new name that either had meaning for her or was closer to her Chinese name.  Megan came very close to the last two syllables in her name and she liked it, so that is why I say “formerly known as Zinnia.”  Her friend that is going to Scotland with her had the name of “Claire,” but she didn’t really like that name, so I was asked to give her a new name.  I suggested four different names that might work, so she was going to take them to her and see what she liked.  The first name that came to my mind was “Yvonne” and Megan liked it the best, so we will see what Yi Yinghui chooses.   
This is NOT a good picture of Gilbert!  It is of Megan though.  

We are saying "good-bye" to Megan and wishing her well in her travels to Scotland and hope that she gets to travel to more places and see the world.  Someday, we hope that she can make it to the US and visit us.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Day 290 – Chinese Kindergarten and Last Tutor


David and I both had to do our final exams this morning.  I stayed pretty well on time, but David went over with his.  It is still sad to be saying good-bye to these kids.  I hope I have planted good seeds here.

After lunch, David and I met Doris at the north gate of the campus.  She wanted to take us to her son’s Kindergarten class to do some songs and games with them.  We had to wait until 2:30 because they have naptime and a snack afterward.  These are four and five year-olds and they are there all day from about 8 a.m. until 5 or 5:30.  It gets to be a long day for them, so the nap is essential, for them and the teachers!

I had brought some pictures with me to help with the language.  They really don’t know much more than “hello” and “good-bye.”  We sang some songs: If You’re Happy and You Know It, Old McDonald, Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.  Then we did “Ring Around the Rosies.”  Doris had told them that when we sing, “all fall down” they are supposed to fall to the floor.  We had those kids so riled up by the time we left that I felt sorry for the teacher that had to settle them down afterward.  They didn’t want to stop when we had to go.  They gave me a big bouquet of flowers and some foam crafts that they had made.  One girl was so proud of her gift, that she kept asking if I liked it. 
 
This was the Kindergarten class for today.  We had fun!  They teach them early to do the "peace sign" then they get a picture taken.

Here are my gifts from the Kindergarten.  

David suggested that for my four girls that I tutor that we should make cookies.  Since I have peanut butter that has to be used up or thrown away before we leave, I decided that would be a good idea.  I made the batter before they came so I showed them how to roll them into balls and put them on the baking pan.  Pretty soon, they started shaping them into hearts, squares, triangles and other shapes.  When they cooked, they all came out as circles, but they had fun.  We practiced some English while we were doing that. 

The first batch came out and they wanted to eat them right away.  I told them to let them cool for a minute, but the second I put them on a small paper plate for them, they were eating them.  They said they loved them.  When the second batch came out, I took them into the living room so we could work on some words and David finished cooking them.  After the lesson, we let them take most of the rest of the cookies home.  Just saved a few for David to put in his “stash.”
 
From the left: Summer, Lisa (Cece's Mom, who helped interpret for me), Cece, Me, Anna and Rose.  I am holding the flowers they brought me.  They could name all the flowers in English, too.

The girls, Summer, Cece, Anna and Rose brought me flowers and cards they had made.  This will be our last time together so we also took pictures and said our good-byes.  There are many things I will not miss when we leave China, but there are a lot of people and experiences that I will miss a great deal.  

Day 289 – Faculty Meeting


Finals with my freshman classes today were pretty hard.  Several tears were shed, and I got way behind time, so I ran over with both classes.  When I finally finished the second class, a whole half hour after the class was supposed to be over, Nerzahl, one of my favorites in that class, invited me to lunch.  I called David and he took us to KFC.  It was a nice visit with him.  Nerzahl is one that I will miss for his eager mind and thirst for learning.  His friend, Clip, came along also.

David had faculty meeting with the teachers and faculty from the graduate department.  There were several Chinese English teachers there along with the Americans.  David found out later that they had videoed the meeting and didn’t tell any of the teachers, at least the Americans. 


We went for dinner in the teacher restaurant tonight and then had a nice walk back home.  

Monday, June 9, 2014

Day 288 – Finals Begin


Today is my early day to catch the bus to the Baotuquan Campus.  I had to be there early to start my first final with one young man that I have had as a “self-study” student.   He couldn’t make any of my classes at the time they were held, so I set up some requirements for him to meet and he did that.  I got behind in my five minute interviews with my first class and I was a few minutes late for my second class.  I had to really walk fast to get there, too.

When I was all done and walking to the bus stop, the guard that I gave the banana bread to last week came out of his guard house and we tried to talk to each other a little bit.  I need to find some way to tell him next week that it will be my last week to come to his campus.  He sure is a great guy!

After lunch when I got home, David went to run some errands and I tried to take a nap.  Just as I was about to fall asleep, David called on the apartment phone (he had my cell phone with him to get a cover put on it) and woke me up.  I tried again after that and fell asleep for a little while.

David had a meeting planned with his class monitors at four o’clock and some of the students arrived here before he did.  They were fascinated with our “clay heads.”  He had a good meeting with them.
David's class monitors.


We decided to just eat here for dinner tonight.  We just wanted to get some things done here and it takes time to go out somewhere.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Day 287 – Branch Conference


We chatted with Alisa for a little while this morning before we left for Church.  We caught the bus and made it on time.  We were short on members because Wayne Clarke and Stan Pace were coming back from hiking in the Yellow Mountains and Kathy and Hansen were in Hong Kong to renew their visas.  It was Branch Conference and the talks were uplifting.  We had an enjoyable day and a good dinner. 

Brian and Sara Harmon came for dinner with their two young boys.  I got to hold six-month old Pacific and both David and I played with Toby.  He seemed to connect with us.  We stayed after they left and talked until after five just because we were having interesting things to say. 


It has just been a quiet evening at home.  We did get word from Evan that he has landed in the US and is waiting for his flight to Utah.  Soon it will be our turn.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Day 286 – Kerri Wu, BeiHai Park, Good-bye Evan


David, Evan and I met at the hotel at 6 a.m. and had them give us a ride to the train station.  We took the high speed train to Beijing and arrived about 9:30.  We really like the high speed trains and wish we had them in the US. 


This was our speed on the train.  It translates to about 188 mph.  Smooth ride, my ears don't have problems, comfortable seats, you can easily get up and move around when you want to and there USUALLY isn't a long wait time.


Evan knew how to get around on the subway in Beijing so that we could find his hotel and store his bag there until he could check in later.  It was a little hard to find the hotel.  We stopped three different people and all they could do, except the last one, was point that it was further down the road.  Evan booked this hotel because it was supposed to be close to the airport express subway.  It turned out to be a fair distance, but still within walking distance of the hotel. 

When we finally got to the hotel, they went ahead and checked Evan in so he was able to take his bag up to his room.  Then we found our way back to the subway so that we could meet Kerri Wu.  Kerri is a friend of our friend, Bob Anderson (they used to work together at Motorola), and when Bob found out we were coming to China, put us in touch with Kerri.  She had been a great help to Evan after the BYU group left Beijing, so that he could come be with us.

Kerri met us in the subway station after we got off at the BeiHai Park stop.  The BeiHai Park is a mix of traditional classic Chinese garden and modern western garden.  It was built around 600 A.D. and has been named as an important historical site.  There is a large tower that we did not climb to in the center of the garden and also a lake that a lot of people were out enjoying. 
 
This was a traditional Chinese instrument orchestra that we listened to.  We really enjoyed the music.

People out enjoying the lake in BeiHai Park.  The petal boats would have been fun.

David, Evan and I at the lake.

This is our new friend, Kerri Wu.  We really enjoyed our day with her!

By the time we walked to the south end of the park, we were ready for lunch.  Kerri knew of a great place to have Beijing Duck, so we took a taxi there to save our feet.  Lunch was good and the Beijing Duck at this restaurant rivaled the great one we had here in the hotel attached to Shandong University.  We sat and talked for a long time getting to know Kerri and enjoying being with her. 

We took the subway back to the train station and Kerri helped us exchange our later tickets for some earlier ones.  Then we found some seats in the station and visited some more.  When it was time to line up for the train, we hugged both Evan and Kerri.  It has been great having Evan here and show him all the things that we love about China and especially Jinan. 


After we lined up for the train, we found out that the train had been delayed for over a half hour.   We had to stand in line all that time until they were ready to let us load.  Our poor feet!  We finally loaded and then had a quiet ride back to Jinan.  We took a bus back to our place and reflected on a wonderful day.

Day 285 – Friday Finishing


Evan came to my class the first hour of each class day today and then went to David’s for the second hour.  My second class came up with some really good questions and I didn’t want to stop them when it was time to stop.

We met Eva at the teacher restaurant for lunch.  We decided to go with her to the old Hongjialou campus and look around there and then go to RT Mart and then she could give us a ride home when she was done teaching her classes. 

After looking at the campus for a little bit, we decided to show Evan the Muslim market place that was close by.  David got a new cover put on his phone and then we went to RT Mart and got some groceries for tomorrow.  We still had a lot of time to kill before Eva would be ready to pick us up, so we called up Nancy Pace to see if she would mind if we came over there to spend some time.  We had an enjoyable visit with her.  Stan is off with Wayne Clarke to hike in the Yellow Mountains this weekend. 

We left Nancy’s at 5:30 and headed to the old campus to meet Eva.  The wind started blowing and it looked like it was going to storm.  The original plan was to have Eva take us to DaMing Lake again and show us some of the evening activities there after we had dinner at a restaurant neat the Hongjialou campus.  That changed when Eva remembered some papers that she needed to have printed off on the Central Campus and the weather turned rainy. 

Eva dropped Evan and I off at the canteen so that we could order dinner and wait for David and Eva to get their things done and meet us there.  David grabbed some umbrellas and we were very glad he did for the deluge that happened shortly after David got out of the apartment.  He had to go help Eva get to her car from the place she had parked it to the restaurant. 

Dinner was fun and then we came back to the apartment and talked.


Alisa wanted us to call her.  She needed to tell us that Shilo had died that day.  It’s not easy to lose a pet, but he was pretty old and we didn’t think he would last this long after we left.  We just wish that he maybe could have held on for another three weeks, so we could say good-bye one last time.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Day 284 – Evan is a Rock Star at DaMing Lake


Evan went to David’s class for the second hour today.  When they got back from class, I had already recorded the Primary Music Video for this week.  We packed a lunch and then headed to the bus that would take us to DaMing Lake.

We walked around for a little while and just before noon, we found ourselves at a place where we could buy seats on a boat to take us around the part of the lake that has all the cool bridges.  We enjoyed the ride for the 15-20 minutes that it took. 
 
I just love the look of the bridges here. 
One of the sites along the lake.

From the inside of our boat.

When we finished our ride, we noticed this mother duck and her two little ones.  They acted like they wanted someone to feed them and there was a grandma with her granddaughter looking at them, so I took pieces of the bread from our sandwiches and threw them in the water.  The mother got most of them.

When we were done with the boat ride, we walked some more until we found some benches that we could sit down in the shade and eat our lunch at.  We were going to go through an area that had someone playing a harmonica, but we looked at all the brides in their wedding dresses and some in the process of getting the dresses on, and we decided to go to a different area to eat lunch. 
 
Some of the bridal picture being taken.

After they get the dress on, they get their make up and hair done.

After lunch, we walked some more looking at all the sights.  We stopped to sit on a bench and look out at the lake at one spot, and some young people that were on a tour, came by us.  One young man noticed Evan and asked if he could get his picture taken with him.  Evan stood up and for the next five minutes, he had all sorts of people, male and female coming in next to him to be the next one for a picture.  I even had some young ladies come sit by me and wanted a picture with me.  Evan was the real rock star though!
 
One of the guys that wanted his picture with Evan. 
These three girls crowded in as close as they could to Evan.

We finished our walk through the park around DaMing Lake and crossed the street so that we could go to the old historical part of Jinan that has the original buildings and springs.  As we went along the way, we stopped to try a few of the local foods that were being offered.  Some were better than others.  We passed by a sushi place and a woman was encouraging us to buy some sushi.  She spoke English and we said we weren’t interested, but she ended up following us.  She wanted to show us around and be our guide in Jinan.  We tried to explain that we had been here before and we were just showing our son the Furong Street.  She wanted to exchange phone numbers.  I felt a little funny about it, but she kept insisting, and gave me hers first and told me her name was Marie Jin.  She has traveled a lot and she really likes Japan.  Her mother was from Thailand.  Marie gave me a small silk handkerchief that was pretty.  I’m not sure what to do if she calls me.  I will be busy giving finals in the next two weeks and probably won’t have much time for more site-seeing.  We’ll see what happens.
 
Furong or Lotus Street.  It looses its charm when they start blaring rock music from the shops.
After Furong Street, we went to Ole to get some things.  Evan wanted some Gatorade and I thought we could get some there.  Then we caught the bus for home.  We were pretty tired, so we took naps and rested.  Instead of going out for supper, we just had some food here.

David and Evan went to the Little Woods again to talk with students.  I guess it has been successful for David’s students.  Then they came back here so that David could tutor Alan. 

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