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.

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.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

This and That

These are just random pictures to show some of the things that go on here in Jinan.

You would never guess what is happening here.  For church, we have virtual meetings.  We meet in the apartment of one of the BYU teachers who lives in a hotel.  We Skype to listen to Sacrament Meeting together and then we break into groups for Priesthood, Relief Society and Primary.  This picture happens to be David Cox and Wayne "listening" to the Elders Quorum Meeting.  I think they should have been tested on what was said.  They meet in a bedroom while the women are in the living room.  I meet in the other bedroom with my one little Primary boy.  We call him handsome Hanson.  He is 9 years old.

After our two hours of meetings, we always have lunch together.  It is potluck but Wendy (lady in the black top) always makes about 5 different things so we always have too much food.  Sundays are our favorite days for eating.

Normally the only time I really cook is for our Sunday potluck.  Several times we have invited some of our Chinese friends to sample American food though.  These are some of my students from last semester.  They organize English Corner for us.  Ivy (Cindy on the left, Hailey in the middle and Ivy on the right) was saying she wanted to taste mashed potatoes so we invited the for pork chops and mashed potatoes.   Next week they are coming for lasagna. 

In our classes, our aim is to get the students speaking English.  To do this we try to have activities for them to discuss things.  The picture is from the day we did "Who Gets the Heart".  The students role played doctors deciding which of 7 patients would receive a donor heart that had just become available.  They really got into this activity.  One boy told me he did not want to discuss it because the heart should just go to the person who was on the list first.  Most of the students were really considering health condition and family status.

Student did Readers Theater earlier in the semester.  They love to do Power Points to accompany the presentations that they do.  This particular story was the Brave Little Tailor who killed "seven in one blow".  Seven flies that is.  The picture shows the giants that he out smarted.
Another activity that the students really like to do is the double circle questions.  Each student has a question which they must ask the person in front of them.  That student must answer and then ask his question.  I give them a minute and then they rotate to change partners.  I have between 50 and 60 students in each class and so it can get really noisy.  I am supposed to be listening to them so I can correct any problems with their English but I can just barely hear individual voices.

I have been asked several times by my students to judge some activities they have planned.  The next group of pictures is from an environmental contest that they had.  Each group was given a bunch of materials to recycle into outfits.  Then they had a fashion show where we judged them.  It was fun and there were some really interesting outfits.
The shiny silver is actually DVD's that have been broken up.
A wedding dress made out of recycled paper?  Very economical.
This group had a cute presentation taking them around the world.  They painted all the designs on the material.
Another group did Chinese minorities costumes.
I don't know what is with the guy but the girls look pretty glamorous.
This is NOT a recycled outfit.  For the last two months we have been attending concerts at the Shandong Arts University.  The graduating students have been giving what I guess you could call their senior recitals.  We have listened to pianist, trombone players, urhus, and singers.  Some have been better than others but we have enjoyed them all.  The school is about a 40 minute walk from our campus so we use this as an evening walk.  It doesn't hurt that there is a really good bakery on the way.
All of the people involved in these concerts are always dressed in very fancy dresses and we have wondered if the dresses belong to them or does the school have a costume department that they choose from. 
We never know when there is going to be a concert so sometimes we just go to the school and take a chance that something is happening that night.  This past Wednesday we showed up at 6:50 and my "friend" the guard indicated that there was something going on on the third floor.  We walked in and were a little surprised that so many people were there already.  Then we found out that it was a play and it started at 7 instead of the usual 7:30.  We had made it just in time.  The play was of course in Chinese and we could not understand a word. Wayne slept through a lot of it or he might have gotten a few things from the actions.  It was a Russian play so I googled it afterwards and found that I had guessed correctly on several things that had happened.  After 2 hours and 15 minutes we got up and left.  

Each semester the teachers are given a free lunch for every day that they teach.  Credit is put on our faculty cards to buy the lunch.  Because of our teaching schedule, we rarely are able to eat in the canteen so occasionally we will rent a room on the Central Campus canteen and invite all of our Branch members here and anyone else we can and we buy dinner for them.  This picture was taken when we did this in May.
Front, Hansen. Middle row: Nancy Pace, Wendy Purnell, Stan Pace, Eva (the Cox's co-teacher).  Back row: David Cox, Me, Wayne, Jim Purnell, Simon and Kathy (Hansen's parents) and Lily (another Chinese friend).

A few weeks ago, all of the Jinan group went to spend the weekend in Qing Dao - famous for Tsing Tao beer.  Germans had settled here many years ago and we had been told there was still a strong German atmosphere.  This city is on the coast so it is supposed to be very beautiful with clean air, something we do not see too often.  Unfortunately, it rained most of the time we were there.  Just outside of town they were holding the International Horticulture Expo and so we had arranged to go with the BYU group that teaches there.  This really was an amazing exhibition but the rain kind of doused our enthusiasm.  It was spread out on several hundred acres and we had to walk quite a ways from one exhibit to the other.  Remember it was raining.  We did enjoy it but it left us with very little time to see the city. 
Wayne went with several of the other teachers to walk down near the beach.  This was a monument they have to honor some battle.  You can find these in most of the cities commemorating one battle or another.

Saturday night we had a room reserved for us in a German restaurant.  The restaurant thought we were all ordering the set meal and had everything set out very nice.  When we saw what that meal was and how much it cost, most of us decided we wanted to just order separately.  I guess the fancy settings do not apply to individual orders.  They came and took away the dishes before we ordered.  The food was good but the service was not the best.  When there is a language barrier it really is best to go with the set menu.

This is what our table looked like after being cleared of the fancy dishes.

Well I am sure that this is enough for now.  We have finals all next week and so our work load has lightened immensely.  One of us should be able to add some more China Experience then.