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.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tianmu Hot Spring Resort

On Tuesday January 14, six Shandong University teachers, a friend Kathy Gou, and 
her son Hansen went on an excursion to the Tianum Hot Spring Resort in Liaocheng. 
 Liaocheng is located about 70 miles west of Jinan and the resort is about 10 miles
 outside town in a rural farming area.  The resort is situated on a large pond and
has a hotel, restaurant, and indoor and outdoor hot springs.  There are also 
several large indoor swimming pools and indoor water slides.

The building on the right is the hotel and the
one on the left is the indoor hot springs area.

As soon as we got settled in our rooms we
headed for the hot springs

There are many small pools with water of 
different temperatures so you could choose
how fast you wanted to simmer.

The pool Libby had the most fun in was the one
that had hundreds of little fish that feasted on
your dead skin.  It tickled so much that I could 
not take it for more than a few seconds but Libby
 and the others spent a long time feeding the fish.

After soaking in the various pools or swimming
laps we could relax in a comfortable chair and 
have some snacks.  In order to visit this room
everyone was required to be properly dressed.
They provided these stylish unisex kumonos.

Stan and I even took a power nap before returning
to the spa area. 

Hansen, Stan, and I also took advantage 
of the water slide.  We spent the night and
then traveled back to Jinan the next day.  Everyone
 had a very interesting, unique and fun experience.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Missing Buddhas

 There is a large park near where we live with a mountain in the center and it is called 
Thousand Buddha Mountain.  Well, I had hiked all over the mountain and around 
the park and had only seen about 50 Buddhas and I had always wondered where all 
the others were.  While on one of my walks back in December I decided to look
one more place.  There is a ticket booth next to a large Buddha along one of the 
main paths and I never wanted to pay 15 RMB ($2.50) just to get a closer look
at the Buddha.  This time I paid the money and soon realized that there is
 a path that goes past the Buddha to something else.  A CAVE.

This is Wanfo Cave.  I had read that there was a cave that contained 
28,000 Buddhas.  And now I had found it!  It goes 500 meters into the
mountain and is packed with Buddhas.  There are replicas of the most 
famous Buddhas from all over China.  Every square inch is covered with
Buddhas.  I really don't think there are quite that many but there are
far more than I would like to count. 

These guys greet you at the entrance.

And then it just goes on and on and on.  When I later came back 
with Libby, it was freezing outside but by the time we were 2/3 
of the way into the cave it seemed nice and toasty.

 Notice all the small Buddhas behind and above me on the wall.



At the end of the cave is this large Buddha in a much larger chamber.
On both sides are the two red cones made of small lighted Buddhas
 and of course there is incense burning on the alter.

 The cave is very impressive and well worth the admission fee.  I'm 
glad I took a chance and found the missing Buddhas.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Christmas in China

I was so focused on getting our Harbin trip on the blog that I forgot 
all about Christmas. The first sign of Christmas came shortly 
after Thanksgiving when this Christmas tree appeared in the 
lobby of the hotel where we go to attend church.

Soon stores and shopping malls started decorating and displaying 
merchandise.  We found decorations but no Christmas wrapping
 paper.  We eventually found some regular non-Christmas wrapping 
paper after looking for several weeks.


We were even able to buy a Santa suit for our English
 corner Christmas party - $3.50.  This next Christmas tree
at a big shopping mall is made of 2014 teddy bears!


Then other decorations began popping up outside malls and department stores.
We decorated a small tree in our apartment but really enjoyed the much nicer
ones all around us.  I especially liked going at night.

You could even visit Santa in his log cabin.  He was even there
 after Christmas until January 4th.

For our English corner Christmas party Libby made a bunch of
gingerbread houses and the students had a great time
decorating them.  You can see that they were very proud
of their creations.  Santa even made an appearance.

The girl on the right is Lulu, a medical student from South Africa
that is a member of our Branch. We really enjoy having her in 
our group at church.  

For Christmas Eve our BYU China Teachers
group was invited to sing at a local Protestant Church.  The other
choirs and groups looked much better than us us but we were
glad they invited us.  We even got to sing the Hallelujah  Chorus
with the choir and congregation.

 Even though we missed our family and
friends at home we still had a very nice Christmas celebration
with all our good friends in our Branch.  We had to teach on Christmas 
day but we were able to have a wonderful Christmas dinner after
church on the Sunday after Christmas.