Called to Serve

We have loved traveling and being with family for the past two years but we felt the call to serve another mission so here we are in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania for the next year.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mid Autumn Festival Explorations

September 19 and 20 were school holidays due to the Mid-Autumn
Festival which occurs at the time of the full moon.  On Friday all
the BYU teachers decided to get together and travel to a local scenic
spot away from the hustle and bustle of the city. 

We all jumped on a very crowded city bus and took a 1.5 hour bus
ride to Red Leaves Valley.  The bus was so crowded that we had to
stand for the entire trip, it was only 45 cents each so we didn't
complain too much.

None of us were sure where to get off the bus but we finally found
some young people that spoke enough English to help us.  From
the roadside stop we got rides up to the park.  $2 each.

The park was very nice even though very few leaves had started to
turn fall colors.

There were lots of nice scenic spots and everyone took pictures.
The women were even coaxed into posing at a not so Chinese part
of the park.

Few could resist the challenge so it was decided to hike up to 
the pagoda.


While at the pagoda, the vendor cooked up some lunch and
didn't seem to mind us watching - he never asked if we wanted
a taste.

We also visited a Buddhist temple in the park.  We had a great 
time and even got to sit in the bus on the way back to town.


After Libby and I got back to town we took a stroll through
our local park that is just across the street from our campus.
We had fun watching the families walk through the park and
the teenagers riding the rides.

One ride made us feel sorry for the poor kids that were stuck
on it till it finally stopped.  A few had a tough time getting off.

The following day I went for an early morning walk  on Hero
Mountain, about 10 minutes walk from our place.

About a half mile down the trail there is a large cemetery and
memorial honoring soldiers who lost their lives in the battle of
Jinan in 1948.  It was a battle between Nationalist and Communist
Chinese forces that resulted in the Communists taking control
of this part of China.

Exercise group, one of many in the park.

Later that morning Libby and I went to the Cultural Market at
the foot of Hero Mountain.  It is a flea market with all kinds of
things for sale by local vendors.

Fake LEGO action figures - I bet my grandsons wish they could be here.

This man was carving a Chinese chop, a carved stamp or seal
that the Chinese use as a "signature" in signing documents,
letters, and artwork. The one he was working on is made of

Next week we have the 7 day long National Day school holiday
and we will be traveling on the silk road with a bunch of other BYU
teachers.  Hopefully we will have some nice pictures to share.  I
also plan to take some pictures of our campus, classrooms, and

Friday, September 20, 2013

Jinan - City of Springs

Jinan means "City of Springs" and it lives up to
that title.  There are almost 100 springs, many that
produce thousands of gallons per minute.  Outside
Baotou Springs is this sign that states "The best
spring in the world".  It very well could be.  It is
only about a 20 minute walk from our apartment.
The bridge I am standing on was built about 500
years ago.


These springs are natural artesian springs that flow
underground from the nearby mountains and bubble up
into the pools that have been developed over hundreds
of years.  The water then empties into a series of canals
that was once a moat that circled the wall around the city.


 This picture shows a battle that once took place in the
city and you can see the inner wall with the moat around
the outside.  The inner wall is about one mile on each of
the four sides.  Today the wall is gone but the moat has
been developed into a beautiful recreational area for the
city to enjoy.                                                                                                                                       

Some springs flow up right in the center of the canal
others have been developed into the sides.

This is Black Tiger Springs.  The water flows out of the
mouths of three tigers.  Residents come to the springs
to collect the pure water to take home to drink.  No
one in China drinks the tap water so this is a free
source of clean water for those that live near enough.

Last Saturday we went to 1,000 Buddha Mountain
with David and Zina Cox, two other BYU teachers
in Jinan.  I can walk to the entrance in about 40
minutes but we took a 5 minute bus ride (15 cents

On our way to the bus stop I found a snack I couldn't
refuse, egg on a stick.  Actually 5 small eggs cooked
onto a stick. 

We even rode the lift part way to the top of the
mountain to check out the view.

The air was thicker than usual that day so the view
was not very good.

There are several wonderful parks with nice trails 
all within 10 minutes walk from our apartment. 
Here are a few pictures from some of my walks.  
A couple are also from the central square and huge 
shopping mall near Baotou Springs.


Man practicing calligraphy with water in the park.

Morning exercise - 6:30 AM

There are also a few very interesting streets to
explore in the downtown area.  Fun!