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.

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.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Qing Dao

I mentioned our trip to Qing Dao but today I downloaded pictures and thought I would tell a little about the International Horticulture Expo that we went to.

First I have to mention another restaurant that we went to.  We are always looking for good western style food so our friends took us to a bar-b-que place.  When I saw the name I thought it was a beer joint but it is Karona with a K not a C and it was a very good place.  Hanson is eating the giant sized hamburger that he said was "delicious".  That is the word they say for all food they like.  I had a pulled pork sandwich which was also "delicious".  We are in hog heaven when we find these places.

Saturday we spent the day in the rain at the Horticulture Expo.  There were exhibits from many countries but the one I think was best was Thailand.  Their building was beautiful and really gave you the feel of their country.

We are always taking pictures of children.  They love to pose and are always so cute.

Wayne thought this was really interesting.  It is a solar powered water station.  The Chinese only drink hot water so this filtered the water and heated it.

The grounds were absolutely gorgeous.  The Expo was spread out on several hundred acres so there was a LOT of walking but it was pleasant because of your surroundings - even in the rain.

These two pictures were taken inside of a building where they had created a tropical paradise.  One area was just trees and walkways but then you moved into a rainforest from there.  Beautiful orchids, waterfalls and just green everywhere.
This was a topiary beside a small lake.  In the middle of the lake were some fountains where they did a giant water show every so often.  I loved the music they played and the water was syncronized perfectly.

Just one of the many, many areas.  The building themselves were quite far apart but they had landscaped everywhere in between.  The pictures below were taken in a childrens dreamland.  They had several different themes and all were really cute.

This was the ceiling in one of the buildings.  It was like you were walking under hundreds of jelly fish.  This led into an aquatic themed area where we were able to go in a tunnel with sea life swimming all around us.
Bet you can't guess which country this represented.

Our weekend was really fun and especially because we were with fellow BYU teachers.  They treated us royally while we visited their city.  We were able to meet for church on Sunday with them and it was such a treat to be with so many other members (even though the total there only equalled 34) and sit in a meeting where the speakers were actually with you (not speaking over Skype).  We left right after church and took the high speed train back to Jinan.

I will throw in just a few other pictures that show happenings in the last two weeks.

Graduation is not until the end of July but we see kids in their gowns almost daily.  They have been taking pictures of individuals and groups all over the campuses.  I say campuses because we see this when we go to the other campuses also.  I mentioned that the kids love to pose for pictures.  These girls were having their picture taken by a friend and I just pulled my camera out and stood next to the friend.  The girls (oops I see one boy) all just laughed and smiled big for me.
This is my downfall when we go to the concerts at the Arts school.  This bakery has the best raspberry, craisin bread.  We buy two small loaves and eat one on our way to the concerts.
These are the instruments I mentioned earlier that were played at one of the concerts.  The girl on the left is playing the Erhu, a one or two stringed instrument.  The other is playing something that is like a big Auto Harp.  I do not know the name of it.  The stand it is on is so pretty.

Most of the concerts we have been to have been filled with the aroma of fresh flowers.  At the end of the concert, kids will rush to the performers to present them with these bouquets. 
This was the diva from one of the singing concerts we went to.  I finally had to stop looking at her because she was so over the top dramatic.  Her singing was great but I just could not watch her.

This is the group of ladies at church. Kathy Gou, Zina Cox, Lulu Pilson, Nancy Pace, Pam Carter, Wendy Purnell and me peeking from the back.

Lulu had worn some bead work from her native South Africa and that was what started all the picture taking.  She always looks so cute when she comes but this was so ethnic we had to snap her.

After stuffing ourselves at our usual Sunday potluck, we had another potluck to attend for the Foreign Teachers.  All of the BYU teachers brought desserts and we only ate some jello and the desserts.  One of the other Foreign teachers had brought a cake from the bakery that was really special.

There were only a few pieces taken out of it and so she let me bring it home to serve to 7 Chinese students who are coming to dinner tonight.  I am serving them all American foods.  I will blog about that another time.