Life Goes On

We are home to stay - at least for a while. We truly are retired now and looking for things to do. We really don't have to look too hard. There are plenty of projects around the house and we can always book a trip if we get bored.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Nepal - CHOICE Humanitarian Project

On December 4th I (Wayne) left on a two week trip to Nepal via Jinan China.  I stopped in China for 3 days to visit friends and then continued on to a humanitarian project in Nepal sponsored by CHOICE Humanitarian.  CHOICE Humanitarian is an organization that is working to help relieve poverty in small villages in several parts of the world by empowering people to improve their lives through health, education, and economic development projects.

I was fortunate that I was traveling to Kathmandu via China because 
my flight landed in Tibet and then went right past Mt. Everest on the
way to Nepal.  It was a beautiful clear day and  the scenery was spectacular!  
I was lucky to get this picture from the window on the plane

Kathmandu is a busy, bustling, tourist friendly city with lots of interesting things to see.  I arrived around noon and only had one afternoon before we went to our village the next day. After checking in to my hotel I went to see one of the main attractions, the Boudhanath Supta.

This Supta is a very famous Buddhist shrine that I spent an hour 
walking around taking some beautiful pictures.

I especially liked all the colorful prayer flags.

The next morning a group of 18 volunteers boarded a bus and traveled 7 hours
 to the village we would be working in for the next 5 days.

22 bricks!

We arrived in the village of Bhorletar (pop 2500) situated in a beautiful valley below some towering peaks of the Himalayas.  The highest peak in this group  is 26,781 feet above sea level.

When we arrived at the village,  much of the town came out to greet us and lead us in a procession to the small college where we would be housed and where our project was to take place.

 In Nepal when someone special arrives they get the FULL treatment!  
Flowers, special scarfs, and red powder, red powder and more red powder.

 CHOICE Humanitarian is working to rehabilitate this small college (180 students) that is for very poor students that live in local villages up to 3 days walk away.  They had already repaired roofs, installed window frames, and added another floor to a classroom building.  We were there to help students and community members to paint the buildings.  Later, glass is being added to the windows and a computer lab is being developed for the school.

 OSHA approved scaffolding.


 Women gathering wood near the school.

One morning we hiked through the village and up a hill for about an hour to a very small 
settlement to see some of the other projects that CHOICE has been involved with.  
Some (if you saw the movie Meet the Mormons) might recognize Bishnu Adakhari, the director in Nepal.

Here is a farmer, his wife & grandson

Pig raising operation.  Farmer borrows $250 from bank to buy pigs and builds pens, 
6 months later sells the pigs for $1000 and pays back bank and raises more pigs.  CHOICE 
is teaching these subsistence farmers how to borrow money and expand their operations.

Biogas system.  Animal manure and human waste create methane gas that is
 collected and burned in kitchen instead of a wood cooking fire.
CHOICE has helped over 1,000 villages in Nepal over the past 18 years.


 Every night villagers would come and play music, dance and have us join in.

One of the CHOICE staffers that LOVES to dance.

Men I met in the village.  GB is wearing a traditional Nepalese dhaka topi (hat). 
He was a soldier in Croatia.  Many Nepalese men have been soldiers in 
various conflicts around the world.

After our stay in the village I traveled an extra day to Pokhara, 
a  scenic area near the Anapurna Range.

There were some great views of the high mountains and I even did a little hiking.

Buddhist Peace Memorial

After Pokhara I flew back to Kathmandu and had one more afternoon free
before my trip back home.  I chose to go to the Pashupatinath Temple.
It is a Hindu temple situated on the banks of a river that flows into 
the Ganges, so it is a very important location.  Hindus believe that the dead 
should be cremated as soon as possible after death.  This temple performs an 
average of 50 open air cremations per day, 24/7.

It was very interesting watching several cremations at various stages being conducted.

After the cremation is complete then the ashes and remaining wood are pushed into the river.

 These Hindu monks were more than willing to have their picture taken...for a price.

The trip was a great success.  I got to see old friends from China and participate in 
a worthwhile service project in Nepal.  I had the added benefit of of some beautiful
scenery, new friends, and new cultural experiences.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Post China

It appears that someone has been checking our blog recently so I thought I would give a little update.

We arrived home the end of June and spent the next two months reconnecting with family.  We had a wonderful time in August when we went camping for a week with Jonathan's family.  The first half of the week was spent at Jedidiah Smith Campground near the coast of Northern Calif.  It was green and lush and just beautiful.  After exploring that area, we headed to Lassen Volcanic Park.  What a contrast.  We should have switched the order so that we ended up at the green and lush park.  Lassen was a little drier and barren. We went through a lot of smoke to get there as California experienced many forest fires this last summer.

I had surgery on my finger (the Chinese doctor did not do a good job on my cyst) at the end of August.  We headed for Mi Wuk to spend Labor Day weekend with my parents right after the surgery.  It was good to be where I had nothing to do as I was in a lot of pain and could NOT do anything.  I was told not to take the bandaging off until I saw the doctor again after two weeks.  I kept thinking that the finger was rotting in there without getting any air.  When he took off the bandages finally, I cringed when I saw it.  It was pretty nasty.  I think the stitches came out too early and so it did not heal smoothly.  There was a hole on my finger!  
 I wasn't going to put the picture in but it just looked too good not to!!

The doctor had told me the cyst could come back and he was right.  It came back under my fingernail and so the nail was growing very strangely and I was in pain again.  I had the finger operated on again a week ago.  He removed the nail bed and fused the bones together and says that this will make it so the cyst will not return.  The pain was pretty bad the first two days but is not too bad now.  I can hardly wait to see what it looks like in another week when I will get the bandaging off.

In September, we got to go stay with Thomas, Lucas and Caroline while their parents went to San Diego.  It was fun to get acquainted with their school, friends and life style of the Bay Area.  I don't know if the kids enjoyed it but we did.  We got to see Thomas play baseball also.

In September we also had visitors to our house.  Stan and Nancy Pace came from Portland.  They were here for about 5 days and we had a really hard time trying to think of things to do with them.  Fresno really does not have much in the way of tourist entertainment.  We ended up taking them to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks where we were able to do a bit of walking and viewing of the big trees.  We went to the Temple one day and then since we were on the other side of town, we took them to Forestier Underground Gardens.  It was Waynes first time to see them.  I think everyone enjoyed that.  The rest of the time we just enjoyed each others company reminiscing about China and sharing our doings since being home.

In October we took all the children and grandchildren to Disneyland.  We spent 3 days in Anaheim and did a full day at Disneyland and another full day at California Adventure.  And what an adventure it was. 

 Disneyland was all decorated up for Halloween.  There were pumpkins everywhere and kids were dressed up in Disney costumes.  Adeline went as Elsa. 

The kids all seemed to like the rides that were like the teacups.  I think we hit every one that Disneyland and California Adventure had.

From there, we went to Oxnard and spent 3 days at the beach.  I found this wonderful house that accommodated all of us and was right on the beach. It was two story with the main floor being divided into separate quarters.  Everyone congregated upstairs in the large living area.  The dining area had large windows that looked out on the beach.

The kids had a blast playing in the sand and boogie boarding.  All in all, it was a great week.

As we were driving back from our trip, we got a text saying that there was a special Stake meeting that afternoon (we had had Stake Conference that morning but we missed it).  We made it home just in time to change clothes and get to the church.  Boundary changes were announced and what a shake up it was.  They took 4 Wards and made them into 6.  Our old Clovis 7th was scattered into 3 different Wards.  Ashley is now in our Ward again.  Jason and Stacy are in two different Wards and both of them don't meet until the afternoon.  It kind of messed up our Sunday dinner time but we have adapted.  I like our new Ward but there are a lot of people who are really upset about the changes.  Wayne is a counselor in the Young Men and I am a counselor in Relief Society.  For me, my calling is really helping me to get to know everyone.  It has been kind of fun, too, because there are a lot of people who used to be in our Ward before changes 24 years ago and now we get to be reacquainted.  A little shake up is good every once in a while.

Lucas was baptized in November.  The whole family went up to attend and we had a great time there.
Everyone else just went for the day but Wayne and I stayed the night and went to church with Lucas the next day.  

We have now been back home for 5 months.  Life is a bit slower in some ways but we find that there is plenty to keep us busy.  My parents have doctor appointments several times a month and so we get to play "Driving Miss Daisy".  We are both volunteering at the American English Institute one day a week.  Wayne goes on Tuesday to be a conversation partner with a Chinese student and then helps our friend, Jane, in an oral English class.  I go on Wednesday.  I have a young lady from Saudi Arabia that I am a conversation partner to and then I help in Jane's writing class.  I am very jealous of the size of classes that she works with.  The class I help in has 2 students from China, 1 from Mexico and 3 from Saudi Arabia.  I think of all the fun things I could have done with my classes in China if they had been as small as the classes here at AEI.  It was just too hard to work with 55 students in a class.  When they all got to talking in practice activities, you could not hear to tell them if they were not speaking correctly.

The big activity This week is Wayne's trip to Nepal.  He is doing a humanitarian project with a group called Choice Humanitarian. I took him to the airport yesterday.  He flew to Beijing. He is going to spend 3 days in Jinan before joining his group in Nepal.  He has been so excited because he has lunches and dinners scheduled with lots of our friends there.  We have Christmas stockings with little gifts that he is going to give to several of my students, our friend Lulu from the Branch and our friend Dr. Trisha.  I am jealous of his time there but am glad I will not be accompanying him to Nepal.  I will post his pictures when he gets back.  We all know he will have plenty to choose from.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

English Corner Girls

I have several girls from my first semester Sophomore class that organized our English Corner and have continued to run it even though they are no longer in an English class.  They have been so motivated to improve their English and we have gotten quite close to a few of them. 

Ivy said that she had never been to the Cultural Market, and neither had the others, so one Saturday morning we took them to check it out.
 Ivy, Hailey and Cindy.
Ivy likes to take pictures and so Wayne was returning the favor.  Every time we turned around she was taking a picture of something.  Of course there are some interesting things there but I thought they would be common things to her. We also took them over to the New World Market and then went home to fix chicken salad sandwiches.  The girls all helped with chopping and I had made a pasta salad earlier.  I don't know if Hailey and Cindy liked everything but Ivy certainly ate a lot.

We have had the girls over for American Food a couple of times and last night they brought a young man with them to sample lasagna.  Ivy came  early and helped to put the lasagna together.  She is the most interested in all things American.
 Lasagna, green salad, garlic bread and Jello salad - which they had never had.

Wayne cleaning up in the kitchen while I explained to the others how to play Baseball (cards).

Hailey the dealer practicing for Las Vegas.
Hailey and Apple
Ivy next to me and Cindy down at the end

 This is Doctor Trisha.  She is our go to person when  there is a medical problem.  She used to live near our apartment and has been friends with the BYU teachers for years.  She moved closer to her hospital just before we arrived last August but she has managed to visit us at least once a month.  She has set me up with a dermatologist, orthopedic specialist and a physical therapist.  She accompanies me every step of the way and interprets.  She is our guardian angel and it is going to be sad to leave her. 
 Just thought I would show what our laundry looks like when we take it out of the machine.  We are so thankful that we have a washing machine but it ties everything up in knots. 

Last week we had a young man come and sit with us in the canteen.  He is going to be going to Michigan for a 17 month internship with a doctor to do Prostate Cancer studies.  He invited us to have dinner with he and his wife and a former roommate who will be going to UC San Diego for the same amount of time.  The young man lives in the housing at the Olympic Stadium.  That is what the stadium is called but the only games which were played there were qualifying games and the Asian games.

 We are on a big open square which is over the parking and road area.  He wanted Wayne to fly this kite but the wind was not co-operating.  In the background, you can see one of the facilities.  The middle one is shaped like the Lotus plant with surrounding structures like Willow trees.
 There was a man nearby who was flying a RC helicopter that he had made.  It was pretty cool.  He was checking out the balance and it seemed to do pretty good.
 We watched for a while until he landed it.
 After touring all of the area we went to a Hot Pot restaurant below one of the arenas.  I really like this type of meal.  Each person has a pot of broth which is kept hot on an electric burner set into the table.  You put meat, vegetables, noodles, etc. in your pot to cook.  There are also about 20 different oils, soy sauce, garlic, and so on that you combine in a little bowl for your own dipping sauce.  Yummy.
 Okay, so I can't remember names.  The man on the left is Xiang who is going to Michigan, next his friend who is going to UCSD, Wayne, me, Amber a friend and Xiangs wife.  You might notice she is pregnant.  The baby is due in August and he leaves, without her, in October.  They know that they are having a boy.  In China it is against the law for the doctor to tell the parents what they are going to have.  Xiang has a copy of the ultra sound though and he can read it.