Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dad, we had our last hurrah. Hangzhou was so great! I've been wanting to go ever since I got here because that's where my good friend, Lisa, taught dance last year. We left on Thursday night on a sleeper bus. Oh man, one of the more stressful moments here in China. Della, a girl that works with us at the school, told us that the bus was waiting for us so she had the school van take us to the bus station. I was super frantic, trying to figure what bus, out of the several that were pulled over, was ours. Yeah, the bus wasn't even there, Dad. I was just nervous we were going to miss the ride we had paid 180 yuan for. We got on the bus just fine, once it had arrived. It left around seven and took about 8 hours. We got off the bus at 4:30 a.m. in the very chilly morning air of Hangzhou and took a van to the hostel. It dropped us off in front of the zoo (good thing I had printed off some directions in chinese characters, because there was no way we were going to be able to figure out the public transportation directions we were given at that time of day and with that amount of sleep). And because we were there so early, once we located our hostel there was no one there to receive us. Pretty sure they were all still snoozing, which resulted in us sitting on the couches out on the patio for two hours. The first sign of human inhabitants of the location was of a man in a chef's coat. We followed him into the indoor sitting area only to wait some more. Entertainment then came in the form of a 25-year-old male from California. He was on holiday because China was "the jam" and he was "hella" cool and he was not about to be bogged down by his family- "f that noise" (that is the lingo he used- we got a kick out of it for the next few days by using his Jr. high vernacular). Finally, we crossed the threshold into our ten bed dorm room and slept for a couple hours to recoup and get warm.

West Lake was calling our names, so we pried ourselves from our beds to see the famous scenery in which we were so nicely located. Dad, it looked like the east coast of the U.S. and it even smelled like it! What a glorious thing. We walked around the lake for a while. Lauren and I had a hey day with all of our picture taking. We pretty much ran amock. But Yu Ling was waiting to meet up with us, so we left so we could attempt to make our rendezvous. Yu Ling is one of Lisa's friends she made while she was living here. She's pretty much the sweetest Chinese woman. Before I actually got to know how sweet she was, we first had to travel to meet her. Taxis ignored us left and right. We had no clue how we were going to get there, as all we had was the address in Chinese and no directions by bus. Luckily, the traffic conductor looked at our little post it and was able to communicate with us what bus we needed to take and that we would have to point at the paper once we got off the bus to get further directions. Turned out to be just fine. We got there with no problem- other than the fact that we were an hour late. Yu Ling was so sweet even though she had waited so long for us. She had chosen a really nice restaurant, too. It was a hot pot place. Chinese hot pot is simply a wok in the middle of the table that is on a hot plate and it has two sides (spicy and not spicy) and you get it boiling and add the things you want to eat. Kinda like the melting pot I guess. So much fun and such good food! I tried lotus root (a cold dish) and it tasted like a sweet potato but looked really funky. It was such a good time. I got to sit next to Yu Ling and we talked about all sorts of things. I wish we could've spent more time with her over the time that we were in Hangzhou.

After a few hours of chatting and eating, we took the bus back to the hostel and crashed. We were going to be getting up early to go the the materials market with one of Yu Ling's English students. Her name was Iris and she was just as cute as Yu Ling. Again, we were late, but only a half hour this time and it was because we had to walk quite a ways from where the bus dropped us off. But we found our way and met Iris and her friend Amanda. They helped us through the maze of booths with fabric. Wow! Talk about overwhelming. It was huge! An entire wing of the second floor was dedicated to buttons and such. We only lasted a few hours when our bellies started to growl. But priorities are priorities, so we went to the train station first to purchase our tickets home. And what was there? A Burger King. Where do you think we ate for lunch? Burger King. I knew we were going to be eating Chinese for dinner because Yu Ling was taking us out again, so I thought Burger King wouldn't be too bad. I was right, it wasn't too bad, but I would never eat there back home. I'm ready to be able to turn down Burger King and McDonald's. More shopping was calling our names, so we made a run for it. I got my last couple things before we met up with Yu Ling.

Dad, she is one of the most generous people I've met while here, and she's so loving. She paid for dinner for all six of us for a second night in a row! It was just as good as the night before, and then we got to go over to her house for tea. It was a really good night.

The next and final day was all on our own. We went out to lunch for some pizza and then headed to the other end of town to check out one final shopping area. That's where I got this really pretty coat! I feel like such a grown up in it, Dad. I'm all grown up! What're you going to do? Dad, I'm almost 21! Weird.

I'm almost home now. Can't wait to see you. I've missed you so much. Love you and hope you're doing well, Daddy.

Your little adventurer,

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Mandarin Style?

Thanksgiving. What a day. It was so different, but at the same time very similar to back home. I never realized the stress that comes with cooking things so that they'll be ready on time and remain warm so that it can be eaten warm.

Lauren and I woke up pretty early to start setting up. We went down to the Kindergarten cafeteria and put some red tablecloths down. I made a table runner out of the checkered table cloth and then we put down the paper cup turkeys that Lauren made with her kids this week. We put up the rest of the arts and crafts that were made and it really came together. A Chinese cafeteria began to look a little bit American and more homey. The rest of the day was spent helping people prepare their dishes and clean up their messes.

Around 2 was when I started my potatoes. I went down to the Kindergarten kitchen to boil the potatoes in what seemed like an oversized wok. The potatoes turned out to be easier than I thought they'd be. As soon as they were done boiling I transferred them to the bowl, mixed in the butter and garlic and began to mash. They were super soft so it wasn't a problem that I had two pieces of squiggly wire to call a masher. Dad, they turned out to be really tasty! I didn't want to have high hopes for them, but I totally did and it worked. They were potatoes worthy of our American Thanksgiving. And the girls loved them! Mom sent me three packets of pearls to make, which were really good, but the girls liked the ones I made from scratch best. It was so nice!

My two favorite dishes besides my potatoes were the roast that Lauren made and the sweet potato pie that Jessica made. Oh my goodness! I was back home for a second. The roast tasted just like home and the sweet potato pie melted in my mouth. It was all so delicious. I was so full. I don't even get that full back home on Thanksgiving. It was a good night beside the fact that Bailey shook the bottle of vinaigrette all over me. Oh! And there was jello, chocolate cake and pumpkin pie! So yummy in the tummy.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Guilin and Yangshuo

What a trip! Dad, I just had one of the best times. Yangshuo and Guilin were so much fun and a definite must-see. Remember how I was originally assigned to Kunming? Well, that city is really close to Guilin and the cool mountains there, so I've wanted to see those mountains since I signed up to come to China. We left on Friday the 13th and actually caught some bad luck. We arrived in Guilin on a chilly morning when we were expecting it to be a warm vaca. The sleeper bus we took to get there was quite an adventure. At one stop we got off to stretch our legs and we got back on to see two beds put up between Bailey's, Barlow's, and Sarah's beds. Madi and I then moved to those beds so that the other three wouldn't have to spend the night cuddling with strange Chinese people. I was kept warmer because of the body heat, but comfort was not included in the trade. Tina said she looked over at one point during the 20 hour ride aboard the bus and saw Madi's long legs hanging over the edge, Bailey cuddling Madi, me hanging half way off the bed, and Barlow turned upside down.

It was 6 a.m. when we arrived in Guilin and when we discovered just how cold our weekend was going to be. I knew we could reach our hostel by walking, so we started- in the wrong direction of course. We stopped at another hostel and figured out how to get to the correct location. Once there and checked in, we climbed five sets of stairs with our numb limbs and pilled six girls on two beds. At the time, I didn't think I was tired, so I laid there squished against the wall listening to my iPod only to wake up three hours later- warm. But don't worry, Dad, we all got up and did more than regain normal body temperature and z's. We rode buses!! And lots of them! Our first destination was to the train station to get our tickets home. The hostel gave us correct directions. Our second destination was elephant trunk hill. The hostel did not give us correct directions. Our alternate second destination--McDonald's, for hot chocolate. Oh, did it taste and feel so good! We did some more bus riding without arriving anywhere at all, really. We took the hostel's directions to the commodities market to only find what looked like a massage parlor from the outside, but very well could've been featured in the movie Taken if the inside was a location. Creepy! We booked it out of there. But then we did find some sort of market where we all purchased items to help keep us warm, as we would be riding down a river the next day. I got a beanie, gloves, leggings, and a blanket and do not regret a single one of those purchases.
Even with all of the wrong buses that we had taken that day, we never did get lost. We always found our way back, thank goodness. As we got off our stop outside our hostel, Tina decided to smell something. She's very much into smells, Dad. It's quite funny, actually. A woman was holding pita/tortilla type things and Tina walked up to her, pointed to her nose and then the food item as she was speaking English that she was sure the woman didn't understand. To all of our surprise the woman said, "Try some." I literally took a step back I was so shocked. So Tina took a bite and decided that we all had to run across the street and buy these from the muslim men selling them on the corner. They were quite delicious. I ate a little bit of it there but wanted to save some for the tomato soup that the hostel offered for 12 yuan. With the soup it was delicious! It was then up to the room to attempt taking a shower in the cold air. I would've talked myself out of taking one because the shower was down the hall and the hall was not inclosed or indoors, but it was necessary. The shower was finicky and had moments of scalding hot and moments of icy cold, but the result was the same. I was clean. Our room had warmed up quite a bit because of the heater, so we were all able to sleep in our own beds that night.

The next morning, after bundling in our new purchases, we headed down to the lobby to rendezvous for our raft trip down the Li River. It was going to be us six and Bartos from Poland and Christine from Germany. Bartos had arrived in Guilin after being in Hong Kong, where it was quite warm. He got there in short sleeves and shorts. Now, he was wearing pants five inches too short for him, two zip up hoodies, and his sleeping bag wrapped around his middle. Quite comical if you ask me. It took us about an hour to get to the part of the river we would be entering at. Barlow, Bailey, Tina and I were on one raft and Madi, Sarah, Christine, and Bartos were on the other raft. It was one of the most bitter sweet rides I've ever been on. Remember when we were in Alaska and you wanted to go on the boat ride to see all the wild life and it was freezing? Yeah, this was pretty much that, but in China. And instead of seeing Alaskan wild life, we saw famous Chinese mountains, and instead of hot dogs on the river, we had fried rice. Staying warm didn't really happen. The only thing we could attempt to accomplish was not falling in the river, and at times that even seemed impossible. There was one instance where Barlow was out of her seat to get a picture and the driver left his post to persuade her to sit back down. In that short time, the raft was no longer going straight down the river, it was turning sideways and that's when water started coming up over the edge and he darted the two feet to get back to steering. I think every muscle in my body clenched. From then on I was always nervous of capsizing. At the end of the ride we took a Chinese version of an extended golf cart to the bus station where a bus proceeded to take us to Yangshuo. Walking in the rain from the station to our hostel was not the most pleasant thing, especially with our luggage, but it made it that much more sweet to actually arrive at our beloved hostel. And, oh, was it beloved. Free towels, internet, drinking water, breakfast, a heater, our very own bathroom and a great view. Best hostel so far. As great as it was, we couldn't miss out on West Street--the street our hostel was on that was loaded with all sorts of cute shops and cafes.
We wandered around looking at all the trinkets and items for sale. I tried several stores to get a North Face jacket down to the price I wanted it for. They were not budging. So we took a break and had dinner at Ryley's. I had lasagna, and it was every bit as good as home. With my belly now full, I headed out with a new determination to get that North Face jacket for the right price. Finally, a store offered me a jacket (not the version I was looking for, but still good) for a decent price and I got it. Then it was off to The Drifter's Cafe, where we had apple crumble, to show off my new purchase. That apple crumble was the topper to a wonderful day. You would've loved it, Dad! With the scoop of ice cream on top and the chilly air, it was like I was back at Girl's Camp and President brown had just dished me a good helping of his dutch oven apple cobbler. Yum! Needless to say, I slept well that night.
Tina, Barlow, Sarah and I woke up the next morning to go to the mudcaves. Yes, it was cold, but we weren't going to miss out on this, are you kidding me?! It was all a little sketchy getting there, but we got there just fine. To actually get into the cave we had to board a row boat. Kind of Harry Potter-esque. The sixth one, to be specific. It was a little chilly inside, but the further we went back to warmer it got. At the very end were some pools, so we changed into what we brought to get messy in. Barlow was the brave one and decided to jump in. The moment her head broke the surface of the water was the moment I realized I was okay not following her lead. Sarah wanted to get in as well, but she didn't want to jump, so she awkwardly slid/fell in. It was quite the sight. Love you, Sarah, but that was super funny. We then walked back to the mud to get all sorts of messy. We were unaware, however, that the mud bath was a foot deep. Probably a good thing. The mud felt so strange in between my toes. And who walks into the cave as we're playing in the mud but Bartos and Christine! It was nice to see them again. They were really cool. Before we could head to the hot springs, we had to wash all the mud off. Our guide made sure to point out any mud still on our bodies. The hot springs turned out to be more like bath water that was once hot and left standing for a half hour. Warmer than luke warm, but nothing special, other than the fact that it was very unclear where the water was originating.
Back to the hostel to shower! The real hot spring. My shower was pretty much a sauna. Glorious thing. The rest of the day was spent on West Street and eating at Ryley's, this time I got creamy spinach soup and garlic bread, and Drifter's for another apple crumble. We did not want our stay here to end. But the next morning we did have to get on a bus back to Guilin, where we barely made it to the train station on time. Or so we thought. We ran into the waiting room thinking we had missed it or would very soon miss it. Tina jumped over the rail and ran to find someone who spoke English to help figure out the situation. Turns out that everyone else in the waiting room was also on our train and that the train was late. And now we're back in Fuqing, safe and sound. How've you been, Dad? Hope you've had some adventures as cool as mine. Love you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dad, remember when I had my learners permit and we would drive everywhere? You wanted to see where the road by Tooele took you. It was a two lane highway. I distinctly remember getting stuck behind a car that was going slightly slower than our cruise control speed and you said I didn't have to pass the car if I didn't want to. Yeah, we stayed behind that car until it turned off. Passing on a two lane highway freaked me out. Yesterday, we were driving with our director, Mr. Li, and he was driving like a typical Chinese man. On a two lane road he tried to pass a dumptruck as a moped was heading his way. Of course, he went for it. Chinese driving is so crazy and so unlike the driving back home! Dad, almost right after that he pretty much drove on the opposite side of the road, weaving through cars until he could get to the correct side and he was never worried. Kind of funny. Aren't you glad I'm not driving here so that I don't pick up the habits? Or, better yet, so I don't die when I'm not used the Chinese driving?! Don't worry, Dad, I'm fine and will survive this last month. Love you and miss you. Your baby girl.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween In Fuqing

TRICK-OR-TREAT! Dad, Halloween was so fun! Tina, Lauren and I went out to get some things for their costumes and candy for the kids, then we grabbed some lunch. Lately, the guards have made it hard to let us out. Apparently, there has been some swine flu scare so they don't let anyone out, except us. Explain that. And on our return they have a laser gun that takes our temperature from our foreheads. They're really quite paranoid here with their masks and caution tape on their gate.

As soon as we got back we started assembling our costumes. Lauren and I were fairies. I was good and she was bad. Tina was a new age American-Indian. For wings, Lauren and I used cardboard and covered them with color appropriate paper. Tina made a really cute head dress and earrings. Lauren Bailey, Madi and Sarah put on their colorful wigs and headbands with cat ears. Jessica was also a cat minus the wig. Emily was an emo/punk, which is the completely opposite of what she really is making it that much funnier. Katrina was a Mormon hick with a tattoo. Nicki was some sort of Pixie. And Jeshua was a cowboy. We made do with what we had and it worked out well. Emily was the make-up artist for the day. She did Lauren's, Della's and her own make up. They looked really good!

Pressed for time, we rushed down to our classrooms and arrived there at the same time as our kids. After teaching them to say 'trick-or-treat' we went to our individual classrooms and waited for them to knock on our door. It was a little backwards. Instead of the trick-or-treaters dressing up it was the candy hander-outers that did the dressing up. Once the kids knocked on my door I got a little bombarded. I don't think they understood the purpose of their bags because the kids that had them still held out their hands instead of their bags. Also, I don't think they understood that they only get one candy from each door instead of the whole bowl. That made it hard to know who had gotten candy because I was just putting candy in hands because there were so many kids around me there was no way to really tell what hand went with what face. After an hour of trick or treating it was back up to our rooms to watch some Office. Tina, Lauren and I watch The Office a lot.

It was then out for the night. There's a street in downtown Fuqing that we know as Garden Street. Lauren found a nut shop there the other week that sells almonds for cheaper than Trustmart. She also got some awesome sesame-covered cashews and walnuts. I got some really good raisins there that one of the Kung Fu teachers had me try. After a little dinner we went to Pig City Games. I'm thinking the translation is off, it's too funny to not be. There we did this funky ride that twirled us round and round. Nearly got sick. But the whole point of going there was because they had a haunted house. It was really small and rather pathetic, but quite pleasurable. The girls were rather skittish so I just smiled and rolled my eyes at them. It was quite dark, but the mechanical dummies were never really hidden and sometimes a guy would reach through holes and try and grab them. Just hearing their screams was funny. You know me, Dad, I don't really do haunted houses back home because they just don't scare me, and they're pricey. But it was entertaining to hear the girls freaking out as they were hesitant to push onward through the maze after feeling an arm on their shoulder. We asked if we could go again for free, and, of course, they let us. I think they let us because they were with me in thinking it was rather hilarious how much the girls were screaming. I think they did it for their own entertainment. The Chinese people must not react like that.

All in all, it was a pretty good Halloween. Tell Bart Happy Birthday. Love you, Dad.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Rice Sock

You passed away on December 1, 2008. I had just driven back down to school the night before. After only 24 hours away from home, I was on a plane. I stayed the whole week. Many friends came by and gave us many things. Flowers, food, cards. One of my best friends gave me a rice bag. I used it every day. It gave me comfort and literal warmth. It was my safety. Mom said that the smell of rice would forever be a part of my smell. I slept with it, I warmed it up when we were going out, I had it on my lap when I ate. When it started to get warm in St. George I was sad. I wanted an excuse to use it and cuddle up with it.

Today I made a rice sock. It reminded me of that. The smell of rice and the warmth of it against my skin. I miss you, Dad. It's hard thinking that you won't "be there" when I get home from the airport, and that I won't be able to see you, but I know you're there and I know you're even here sometimes. That's where the rice sock comes in. It's my reminder that you're here and that you're near and still love me. I love you, Dad.

I'm in LOVE!

Dad, today was so tender! There's just something about about having a hand a fraction of the size of yours in your hand. I was walking, holding Lee's hand and he looked up at me with his cute squinty, Chinese eyes and I swear he has four sets of dimples. One on each side in the normal spot and then another pair closer to his eyes. And when he smiles all four are engaged and he sucks on his bottom lip and his little teeth poke out a little. Melts my heart!! I have to bring him home. He's adorable. And the class he was in gave me a kiss on the cheek after following his example. I had a million miniscule, white butterflies surround me. He's so precious, Dad! I hope I can get a picture that captures his cute smile. You've had to have seen it by now, but I have to show everyone back home. I told you before and I'll tell you again, Dad, I'm in love. That little boy has stolen my heart and is holding it hostage. I have no idea how I'm going to leave him.

Mom sent me some pictures of Christ. I hung one up right above my bed. He has a little boy close to his shoulder with his hand on his head. It makes me think of you. I don't know why. You didn't really do that. You gave me hugs, but you never did that exact thing with me. I sometimes feel like you are now, though. I miss you a lot, Dad. I haven't 'seen' you in so long. I know you're there. It's hard thinking I won't see you for a while. I hope you're doing well, Daddy. Stay near, okay?

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Our trip here began with such a fabulous day. We got to our hostel with plenty of time to get ready for church and we actually got to attend the branch that we just listen to over the phone. Relief Society was so great! Sister Ricks gave a fabulous lesson. She's one of the most tender people I've ever met. You would have enjoyed the meeting, Dad. The Lewis's then had us over for dinner. They even provided a van to take us all the way out to their house. So generous. And it wasn't just us they had over. There were four groups. Our nine, four from another ILP school, three from a university up north, and a family that just moved here from Brazil.

Dinner was fabulous! Taco soup with cheese, wheat rolls, salad with ranch dressing, fruit salad and then a cake for one of the sisters' birthdays and homemade chocolate chip cookies with ice cream. I had everything. Licked my bowl clean, had two wheat rolls, a salad and plenty of fruit salad. I was so full from that alone but decided to have a small slice of birthday cake and then two cookies with ice cream in the middle. I felt like I needed to lay on the couch and just moan I was so full. But I couldn't just not have some of that fabulous food! It made me miss home with all of the normal food and good company we have there. Afterwards, we got a group picture on the stairs.

As we were waiting for the van to take us back to the hostel, President Lewis told me to put all of my stuff I was holding in one hand and he grabbed my empty hand by the wrist and proceeded to give me multiple high fives with the other hand. It took me a second to realize what he had done and why, and when I did it was all that I could do to not burst into tears. A few glistening tears did streak my face. Okay, so more than a few. Thank you, Dad. Thank you for being there and reminding him of what he had read in the newsletter. It really made me miss you.

Once back at the hostel we just wanted to chill. We had had a full day. We didn't get back until six with all the time we spent at the Lewis's. It was there that we met up with the two girls that stayed behind in Fuqing while we were in Xi'an.

We woke up the next day and went to the Forbidden City and Tienamenn Square. It was so crowded! So many people. And there's this huge portrait of Mao right before you enter the Forbidden City. Weird. That's like hanging a portrait of Hitler in Germany.

The Forbidden City was cool, but I wish I had known more about it before going. There was a Cartier Jeweler Show that we got to see. Crazy expensive jewelry! Then we found a red wall to take pictures next to. We spent a good afternoon there and then we went to a park opposite it on a hillside and could see the city from the mountain. That was cool!

Then it was off to the Olympic Park! So cool! Now that I can relate to. It was cool to do ancient China and then modern China in one day. The Bird's Next and the Water Cube were so cool! I sat in the arena where Michael Phelps won eight gold medals! I got a cool shirt from there, right before I ripped my pants trying to do a runner's start in front of the Bird's nest. Kind of funny.

The next day was the pearl market! Got quite a few cool things there! And for cheap. Can't wait for Christmas now.

Wednesday was the Summer Palace. The place of residence of the emperor in the summer. So gorgeous! The group was a little pooped so we didn't get to see as much as I wanted, but that's okay. We then ended up with a lot of free time and I did something really stupid, Dad. I went to a Chinese hairdresser and got a perm. It pretty much fried my hair and he cut off quite a bit too. I cried so hard! I've since done things to help my hair recover and it's actually looking pretty good now, but the cut is still awful. I'll just have to wait until I get home to fix it.

Thursday was the silk market. People there were a lot more aggressive and a lot more stubborn. It was really hard to barter. I did get some good things for family for Christmas! I'm so super excited to give them out!

Friday was the best! Nihao ma Great Wall?! Instead of taking the cable car up from the parking lot like most groups do, we hiked up the stairs. So we really did climb the great wall. Took us a good twenty minutes, but it was so worth it. It made it so much more sweet once we were actually on the wall. We ran into the NBA Pacers. That was cool. I think that was wasted on me though. I don't follow basketball or really even care about NBA players. It would have been better if they had bumped into someone else. But on our way down I saw an old man inching along and I offered him my shoulder. He was so cute! He clung to my shoulder and asked all about me. His name is Bill. He wanted to introduce me to his wife. So cute!

Saturday we finished shopping and then headed to the train station. Another wonderful, very smoky twenty hour train ride. It's good to be back to Fuqing, Dad. I still miss you and home. Don't worry.



Wow! What a trip! Dad, I'm a little explorer. Can you believe it? I only kind of can. Part of me still can't believe that that's what I came home from doing.

We left September 30th for Xi'an (she-yawn). This time we were smart enough to get a sleeper train. It would have been death on a train if we had attempted to do that thirty hour train ride in a hard seat. Before we left we were under the impression it was only a 24 hour train ride, but the last six hours were do-able, so it wasn't so bad. It was so nice to have my own space. I read my scriptures, listened to my audiobook of Edgar Sawtelle, talked with the girls, got food from some nice Chinese people and actually slept when it was time. Quite luxurious if you ask me. Toward the end, Lauren and I were getting super bored so we started having a little rave. Who says you need disco lights and music that everyone can hear? It was hilarious. (photo number one and video)

The video is of us listening to this song called Sandstorm. You'd probably just roll your eyes, Dad. Once we pulled into the train station we worked our way out to the street and no taxi would pick us up! It was so frustrating. We were already going to be arriving to our hostel later than our hostel wanted to and I was just super nervous. I almost teared up I was so frustrated. Turns out the reason why they weren't picking us up was because that time is a shift change and people were going home. Finally, we did get three taxis and made it to our hostel with almost no problem. The taxi I was in dropped us off on the opposite corner. Good thing we ran into a Chinese man who not only spoke English but who knew where all the hostels in the area were.

That night I was pretty exhausted, but Tina convinced me to go walk around some. Out of the entire week of holiday that night was the actual holiday. Down the street from our hostel we saw some people with paper lanterns that they'd light something in and then they'd float off into the sky. So cute! Tina's exhaustion caught up with mine and we went and showered the train grime off of us and hit our beds. We had to be fully rested for the day that was awaiting us!

The terra-cotta warriors gave us a wake up call. They were a little late. We were supposed to be out of the hostel by 8:30, but I think most of the girls missed their thunderings through the hall. We didn't realize, either, that it would take us an hour on the bus to get out there. But, oh boy, am I grateful that we've figured out public transportation. The bus ride cost us seven yuan, a little more than a dollar, where a taxi would have cost us upwards of 130 yuan. It was so cool to get there and see something I've only studied in a textbook! There were so many of them.

It was while there that we discovered that we can't sit down for an extended period of time without getting mobbed by Chinese people and their cameras. Muslim Quarters were then calling our names away from the herd of Chinese paparazzi. One of the coolest places in China I've been. Alleys packed with people selling awesome things and funky food. On our way there my flip flop broke. So annoying! My nice volcom ones, too. So I bought myself some cheap Chinese slippers.

We then headed to our hostel because it was dumpling party night!! We got to make dumplings! The meat ones were quite good, but the leek ones weren't so much. It was fun making them too. I really want to learn how to make the dough and the filling though. All I did was put the filling in and close it up. While we were eating our dumplings we had some interesting conversations with an English and Scottish guy. They asked about the church and such. That's the only time we're allowed to even mention the gospel. After a long convo, we went to a dance club in Xi'an. It was pretty fun, but not really my cup of tea. You know me, Dad. I enjoy dancing and goofing off, but really only with my best friends back home and not in a place that is bogged down by clouds of smoke. Emily, Katrina and I left early. Fun, but not worth making myself super exhausted for the next day.

And the next day was so fun! We biked the city wall. It's more ancient than the Great Wall. What a bumpy ride! It took us a little more than an hour and was so fun. I whipped out my iPod and was listening to my music while riding a bike in China! The plan was then to go to the museum, but once we made it there we found a line that would take us 3 hours to get through and we had a train to catch that night, so we opted for the Wild Goose Pagoda instead. Not a bad plan B if you ask me.

The pagoda and it's surroundings were so pretty. We loved Xi'an because it felt more like ancient China with it's architecture and sites like this. Fuqing is definitely more of the modern China. But the pagoda was huge! We didn't go up in it, but all of the little rooms of worship around it were so captivating. It was there that I first saw people actually praying to statues. Kind of weird and foreign to me. First thing I thought was how personal I feel God is to me compared to a statue that they can actually touch and see. I may not be able to touch and see Heavenly Father, but I know he's there and that he loves me. I just got a really strong feeling of how lucky I am that I know my God knows and loves me individually and separate from any of his other children.

We then had to book it back to the hostel after getting snacks at Walmart for the train. Rendezvous happened as planned and we were on our way to the capital of China.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cooking Class

Dad, remember the time when I made homemade lemonade when I was 13 or 14? It was back in the old house. That's how I remember. You were really skeptical. I don't think you tried any. At first I was really sad, but then when I tried it and it turned out really, super yummy, I was glad that I had more to myself. Well, I made lemonade for my kiddies today. I'm going to take lemons and talk about them and we'll roll the lemon and squeeze the juice out and pretend to add sugar and water and then I'll pull out the pitcher full of the already prepared lemonade. It turned out so good and it made so much! I'm really quite proud of myself.

Oh! I can't believe I almost forgot! Yesterday was one of the best days in Fuqing! I found cheese at the store! And for class, I made salsa. My original plan was to make guacamole, but they didn't have avocados at the store. I was really nervous for my salsa, too. All it was was a tomato, some cilantro, a little bit of green onion and some seasoning Mom sent me (thank goodness for that, because the stuff I bought at the store did not smell appetizing at all). Wow! It was so good! The closest thing I could find to tortilla chips were Lays potato chips. They did the job, but because they're thinner it was a little harder to pick stuff up. And then for dinner we had grilled cheese and fried potatoes!!! Jessica made the grilled cheese and Nikki made the fried potatoes. We are getting really good at improvising and working with what we have. My belly was quite satisfied.

After dinner we had to teach the older kids. It was hard. I really struggled with coming up with things to say to them. They could understand basic things, but I couldn't carry on a conversation with them. Next time will be interesting. As soon as we were done with that, Jessica invited me to do her pole dancing workout. It was interesting. She takes classes in Sandy back home. I'm glad I went with her because I did something active, but it wasn't as hard as the stuff I would do.

So, conclusion, it's been a good week. A nice kick off for the Beijing trip. We leave tomorrow morning from Fuzhou, the capital of our province that is just a half hour away, for Xi'an. It will take us a little more than 24 hours to get there. We'll arrive in Xi'an on the first, the beginning of the national holiday, and we'll be there until the third. Then we'll be on a train overnight to Beijing and hopefully arrive in plenty of time to get ready for church. We'll be gone until the tenth of October. Should be a good trip. I'm super excited.

I love you, Dad. I'll be thinking of you and the fact that there are no golf courses here, to speak of.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

THERE'S AN EPIDEMIC! We didn't teach for three days straight. The first day was because so many of us were sick and the other two were because the kids were too sick. So we had a lot of time on our hands, Dad. The first day, I had a little bit of a sore throat, but I definitely wasn't one of the sicker ones. Lauren and I took that opportunity to deep clean our room. We washed our concrete floor three times. It was pretty dusty and dirty. I attempted to wipe the walls down, but the sheet rock would just come off on the sponge, so I kinda gave up on that. The next day, I was running out of Airborne so I didn't want to use it so much, which may have been a mistake because I was a little worse. I didn't do much that day. We kinda all stayed in an just chilled. We did walk down to the round-about for some yummy yummy dumplings. I really want to see if the people at the dumpling place will teach me how to make them in exchange for teaching them English. How cool would that be?! But then again, maybe I don't want to find out what's in them. We'll see.
Yesterday was a very filled day. We were so sick of just sitting around, so we went on an expedition. There's a temple on the mountain we're at the foot of. We think it's Taoist, but we're not entirely sure. Whatever it was it was gorgeous! But before our trek up the mountain side, a few of us needed to go to the bank to exchange money. It was at the third bank that they finally accepted our cash and my passport. The second we didn't really try. It had a line, and the third one didn't. The lady helping me was so nice and patient. It's funny how much you really can communicate with someone even though they don't speak the same language. I had to keep asking her for smaller bills because we had to divvy it amongst o
urselves. I felt so bad and slightly embarrassed, but she was nice about it. Good ole Bank of China.

From there, we headed toward the foot of the mountain where the entrance to the temple grounds was. We took a cable car up and wandered around the first temple. There were cute Chinese women everywhere. One in particular showed us around and took us to all the different rooms. I wish I could have understood what she was explaining to us. After exploring the first temple, only three of us stayed to explore the rest of the mountain. It only cost us 25 yuan (a little more than 3 bucks, roughly). There were temples scattered all over the mountain!! It was a fun day. There was one part that was like a cave- went straight into the mountain. It was eerie but awesome. Then we ran into some people who loved us. They took like 50 pictures of us. Some with us actually posing with them, and some just of us walking. They were so cute. Leaning on us and holding our hands. Oh, don't worry, Dad, we still have all our money. I just think they were excited to see three American girls. So cute!

Lauren, Tina and I had been at it for about five and a half hours when we decided to head down the mountain to find something to eat. Lauren had to pee so bad. I had peed up on the mountain at the temple in a nice little trough. That was a first. But Lauren did not heed my warning when I said she should go. She ended up going in a wall of bushes off the side of the road while Tina and I kept watch. It was hilarious! We were laughing the whole time. As soon as she came out, Tina pointed at her hands and said, "You better sanitize those babies." She's hilarious. Love her.

Our stomachs were on the verge of collapsing when we made it to Martin Luther King's. It's this place called MLK. I actually think it's MKL, but we call it what we want. It's a chicken sandwich place. Talk about yummy! No dark meat, just good quality chicken. On our walk home, Tina and I got some milk tea. It's this really milky, creamy drink with tapioca balls in the bottom. Filled us the rest of the way up. Lauren got the Chinese version of shaved ice. And then we saw our faces all over the city! Our school put of posters with a picture of our group on it all over the place! It was so weird. So Lauren stole one and now it's in the supply room.

It was a good thing we left when we did, because twenty minutes after our arrival we were on our way back out to the city center. Sixty years of communism!! Wahoo! It was a rehearsal that we went to see. Lots of people singing loudly in Chinese and waving different flags. It was interesting, but not our choice of entertainment. There was a little boy totally enthralled by two nearly deflated balloons. We started playing with him. He loved it, and so did we.

A long day finally came to an end and I was able to take a shower. Never felt so good! Nice and warm, too. But little did I know that this was not the end of my evening. We ended up having four other girls in our apartment until 2 a.m. just talking. It was fun! Good day.

That was my day, Dad. How was yours? I love you.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Beach Day!

We went to the beach today, Dad. It was a little overcast still from that big storm last night, but it was still pretty warm. It took us an hour and a half to get there. We almost had our driver just give up. We were super frustrated with him. In addition to getting us lost and taking so long to get there, he also became a dog killer in the process. Lauren, Katrina and I were in the back seat and turned around after we felt the van run over something. Oh, how we wish we had not turned around. Needless to say, the driver did not get lunch like we had planned to give him.

Once we got there, I was so excited! There was this real funky lighthouse that we walked to, but the majority of our time there was spent on the sand and in the water. It was so cool! I was on a beach in China!!! As cool as it was though, it was so frustrating, Dad. There was garbage in the water and on the beach. I could have hit someone. Biggest pet peeve right there. But I still had a blast. We would see if we could jump over the really big waves. Jeshua tried to launch me and Lauren over one, but it didn't really work. I've never had more fun at a beach! Because it was overcast, I was forced to just play in the water. There was no laying on a towel. As nice as that would have been to just lay in the heat, I'm glad it turned out to be overcast.

Lauren and I were also buried in the sand up to our waist! We got so sandy. It was a really fun day trip. Once I got home I was in the shower. I felt so gross. And then we watched Earth. The happiest movie ever! That movie makes me happy to be alive. And it more than testifies that we have a Heavenly Father who created this beautiful planet and us as well. It makes me excited for life and what's ahead of me. I just get giddy thinking about it, Dad. I'm so excited to be going to BYU this winter. Hopefully the college life will be fun there. It'll be interesting dating there. I remember that I didn't want to go there straight out of high school because I didn't want to get married right away. I was a little silly. I'm also very excited to go back to school! Now that I'll be back at a big university I can take all sorts of classes! I already have some in mind. I can't wait, Dad. Tell Mom "Hi" and give her a kiss for me.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Lauren and I made a playlist thus named to prepare ourselves for a night like tonight. I've never seen I rain like this before, Dad! I la la la LOVED it! We were all in our room talking about our trip to Beijing when we saw flashes out the window. Next thing we know, it's coming down like lions and wolves--not just cats and dogs. Despite the fact that I had just showered, I went and danced in the rain.

Within a minute, I was soaked all the way through! It was so much fun to dance in the rain. We've been waiting for weeks for it to rain like this! Today definitely felt like the most humid day we have had so far, and now I know why. Rain was on it's way! We ran down to the track and ran around a little bit until the lightning scared us. It was so funny, Dad. We're all standing in a circle and we decide to take our pants off and just start running! It was hilarious. My pants were really hard to get back on because of how drenched they were and then a car was coming so we all laid flat on the ground. One of the most fun nights ever!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I've really found myself here in China!

Dad, life doesn't get better than this. Life truly is so great! I could not be more glad that I'm here in China. So much has happened! I've learned so much and grown so much and have found what's really important in life and what I can do without.

I remember when you sat me down to talk about China. You asked why I was doing this when I talked about how much I wanted to go to Italy. You wondered why I wasn't planning that first. As soon as I explained my reasons and you understood that I was doing this to hopefully make it easier to get a scholarship to send me to Italy, you were behind me one hundred percent. Even if I don't get to go to Italy, I will never regret my decision to come to China. I've really found myself here, Dad.

It's different from just being at a semester of college. Moving away from home, I learned better habits and things like time management and self discipline, but living in a different country adds another factor. I've never clung tighter to the gospel and my Savior. Before, sure, I would read every day, but if I was tired, sometimes I would just read a few verses just to say I did it. That's the good version. Like Elder Oaks said, there are three degrees of quality: good, better and best.

I'm better at scripture study now. I love reading. There's always something waiting for me on the next page. What would it be like to have people read what I wrote several hundreds of years from now and be affected by it? I'm not directed by the Spirit like these men are in the scriptures. They have nations and generations they were entrusted with preaching the gospel to, which is what allowed them to write things that stand the test of time and can change a person's life in the 1850's and in this millennium. What a blessing!

In addition to having better study habits I have also improved with the small things--I'd like to think at least. I floss my teeth more now. I know I won't be seeing a dentist for a while and Mom reminded me that you said to floss the ones I want to keep, so I do. I pay more attention to what I'm eating and really try to make sure I am have some veggies every day, but if I don't, it's not entirely my fault because I can only really eat what the cafeteria serves. I sure hope I'm making you proud, Dad. My time here isn't even half over and I already know that it's going to change the rest of my life. Thank you for sitting me down and being the objective person you are by making sure I wanted to do this. Because of that talk, I knew I couldn't back out just because you had to leave. I knew you'd still want me to do this, and now I see why. I love you, Daddy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lee is a little angel!

Today was so great, Dad! I love these kids! There's this one, Lee. I've told you about him. I was helping my roommate, Lauren, with her lesson and he was in there. She did a marble chute and needed help controlling the kids once they started rolling the different balls down the ramp. When it wasn't Lee's turn he was either sitting in my lap (if the spot wasn't taken) or had his arm around my shoulders with his cheek pressed up against mine. It made my heart pitter patter! He's going to make my heart break when I have to leave him. Dad, he's such a little angel! His smile just makes my feel goods soar! There's something about this little boy. The other kids are great, don't get me wrong, but he loves me, dad. It's a good thing that none of theses kids are mine because then I couldn't have a favorite, but I totally do and he's it. Once the other kids saw what he was doing, they all started climbing all over me. Mia was in my lap, Lee pressed up against my cheek, and Newman was trying to squeeze a place to lay his head. Milo couldn't care less what the other kids were doing. He was having fun spinning on the floor. But Brock, when he wasn't entertained by the chute, was all over me too. It made me feel so good.

My kids are pretty good too. I just love Lee. But my kids are super smart. Today they were pretty much yelling at me trying to make sure they were heard saying what they needed to say so they could get a token. We made finger puppets today. Not the best lesson, but it still went well. In the picture, from left to right, is Dallin, Doug, Kara, Riley, Ashley, and Patch. Everyone is named after a friend but Patch. No other name would work for him. He's too cool for any other name. Dallin and Doug are the stinkers, but they're so smart! Ashley is good, but I think she has a speech problem. Kara has her days where she smart and then her days where she's a stinker. Patch is way smart and way helpful. Now that they've gotten used to my routine of doing things I really enj
oy teaching. Once Jeshua left after taking the pictures, Dallin got out of his seat to lock the door, and then he ran straight back to his seat with me having to ask him. They pretty much rock.

I hope you come and see me teach sometimes. I really enjoy, and it really does remind me of when I would help you with your primary class. I'm sure you're being there is why all of the classes are really good for me (except the all boy one- as much as I owe you for calming them down, some boys are just big stinkers and won't listen. Don't take it personally). I love you, Dad. I'm really having the time of my life here :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

China. What a short name for such a huge country!

Hey, Dad! Favor! Remember how when I had papers to write for classes I'd always give them to you to read? To have another person tell me what can be made better? So, even though I'm not in school right now, I have to ask that favor of you. Sister Lewis, the branch Relief Society President, asked me to write a "get to know you" article for the newsletter. Her requirements were that I talk about my experience here in China so far, and that I include my testimony of my Savior. This is what I sent her. I hope it's okay, Dad. Let me know.

"China. What a short name for such a huge country jam-packed with adventure. I've only been here for a month and I feel as though I have so many tales to tell. My name is KC Christoffersen. I am from Taylorsville, Utah. I've gone to two years of college--one at Utah State University and one at Dixie State College. For a twenty-year-old I've experienced a lot. Growing up, we traveled a lot as a family. I got to see a lot of the U.S. Our little family of five was pretty tightly knit. Because of this, it was really hard losing my dad this past December in a car accident. But I've felt him near while I've been here.

"We left Utah August 17th and spent two days in Hong Kong. I was able to go with a group of some of the teachers to the temple to do baptisms. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that the gospel remains the same half way around the world from my home. It's a glorious thing when I don't have to worry about shopping for a new church with every move. We've been in Fuqing since the 20th. I never knew how diverse the world could be! There are so many new and different things I've already experienced and I'm not even half way through my stay here.

"Everything I've experienced has made me a much more grateful person. A few years ago in a Family Home Evening, my dad challenged us to have at least one prayer a week where we just gave thanks. I've tried to do that ever since. To always have my 'thank you's' out weigh my 'bless me's'. So, I've always considered myself fairly grateful, but my eyes have truly been opened to the tender mercies the Lord has given me in my life. Things like a hot shower, a soft bed, food I'm used to, family close by. As much as this has made me more grateful, it's also humbled me. I've learned to live without a hot shower or a soft bed because it's what I've been dealt.

"A month before my dad passed away, he had my mom put a quote on our fridge--'No misfortune is so bad that whining about it won't make it worse.' I love my dad, and I miss him. I decided that while I'm in China I would keep a blog to easily communicate with people back home and let them know what's going on. I write it to my dad. Telling him everything that's going on gives me a different perspective of the day than if I were to just relay events. He taught the Sunbeams, and the kids I teach are 4-5, so just a little older. There was one time when I was playing with the kids and I gave them a high five like my dad would give me when I was little. He'd hold my hand still at the wrist while he slapped my palm with his other hand several times, very fast. When I caught myself doing that, I just grinned.

"Elder Holland gave a talk about angels and how those closest to us beyond the veil choose to be around those they love the most. I've felt him around me so much. What a blessing the gospel is!! I know that it is through the atonement of Christ that I will be able to see my dad again. The gospel is also the cause for all of my joy. It is my anchor in the storm. My rock that I have built my life on."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dad, I got to tuck in my kiddies tonight. They were so precious. We walked into the Kindergarten area and went into their room. The kids were watching some cheesy Asian movie. Like Power Rangers, Asian style. It was quite hilarious. As soon as Lauren, Tina and I walked in they all said hello to us. Lee came running toward me and sat on my lap the whole time we were in the common room watching the movie. He loved talking to me. Even with the language barrier, it was so great! He would look up at me and smile and point to the TV. My favorite- I started tickling his neck with my hair and when I stopped he grabbed my hair and started shaking it until I tickled him again. Cutest thing ever. It was then time for the kids to put their chairs away and get ready for bed. Incidentally, I saw a few little boys pee-pees because the door to the bathroom was open and they just stand above a trough. As soon as the little boys were done doing their business, I poked my head in and saw Lee at the sink. As soon as he saw me he put his cup away and ran to me and held my hand and took me to his wooden plank for a bed. I've been told that these are the rich kids. That the parents of these children spend a lot of money to send them away to school. While they sleep, they remain in the clothes they wore during the day. I wonder what it's like for the poor kids then. Once Lee laid down, I laid next to him. These kids are so cute, Dad! They love unconditionally. Most of the time they don't even know what I'm saying. They may not know anything I'm saying and just repeat things because they've caught on to the fact that they're rewarded for speaking English. But, Dad, Lee made my day. I was having a few rough moments today, and just having Lee sitting on my lap and showing me some genuine affection really lifted my spirits. They're so close to the Spirit and such innocent little souls, and so tender. One of the boys, Newman (named for the Seinfeld character), was crying. Just whimpering. It was so hard to watch. Lauren sat next to him to get him to calm down. It broke our hearts. Kara was sweet. She had her hair down when it's usually back. She's the prettiest little girl. I want to bring her and Lee back so bad! They make my heart happy. All of them remind me of teaching primary with you. Trying to keep their focus. Entertaining them. And falling in love with them. It's such a blessing to be around little kids. Your kids miss you, Dad. I don't think I told you, but I'm sure you saw it. Your kids made a book for you nine months ago saying how much they miss you. They loved you as their teacher. You brought the good snacks. You always had the good snacks around the house.

Well, I'm off to bed myself. Goodnight, Dad. Sleep tight. Don't let the bed bugs bite.

Wait!!! Will you tuck me in, Dad? I miss you.


DAD DAD DAD!!! Shanghai (pronounced Shung- high) was so super fun!! We left immediately after teaching on Friday for the bus station. Before the bus got there we had time to get some dinner so we went to our favorite hole in the wall for some noodles and dumplings. Once on the bus, I was reminded of how gross the sleeper buses are. This one was a lot louder too. And bouncy. It was interesting. We then reached a stop and the lady on the bus started yelling at us to get off. Apparently we had reached our destination already. Finding our way to the hostel wasn't too bad. In Shanghai they have this calling service to help you communicate with the taxi driver, and that first driver told the next two where to go. The Shanghai Blue Mountain Youth Hostel was right across from metro line 4 and in a really central part of the city. It was a pretty nice hostel too. We checked in at 7ish and put our stuff in the rooms that were ready and had breakfast there at the hostel- a fried egg, two pieces of toast, some ham, a banana and an orange drink. It was such a luxury!

A group of 8 of us then went to the Shanghai Wild Life park. It was so frustrating at first because it took us so long to get there! I really thought the taxi driver was taking advantage of us. The ride cost 130 yuan (about $20), which is really expensive over here. But once there, I didn't care. We were at the wild life park!! I was so excited! Tickets for the park were 100 yuan. This was definitely a more expensive day, but so worth it. Once in the park, we stopped at the pigeon pavilion and if I just held out my arm three pigeons would land on it. It was pretty cool. But not as cool as the rest of the day.

Right after that, I got to take a ride on a camel. He wasn't stinky at all. It was fun riding him too because the hump was floppy and he swayed more than a horse does. Plus it's cool to say that I've ridden a camel. But not nearly as cool as saying a got lifted up by an elephants trunk!! DAD! Elephants are hairy! Did you know that?! I did not. It was so fun to be picked up by the trunk. We stayed there with the elephant for a while. Her name was Mary. She liked something about my shirt or something on my backpack because she kept reaching her trunk out towards me. It was hilarious. It resulted in elephant snot getting on my shirt, but I couldn't care less. In fact, now I can say that that's the shirt that got snotted on by an elephant. My cool ranking just went up a few points because of the snot.

After the elephant was the baby goats. They were so cute. Brand new, too. Lauren, my roommate, caught the cutest one. It was black with a white dot on it's head. She let me hold it.

If you thought I'd done a lot by now, you might be correct. But none of it amounted to what happened the second half of the day. I held a baby tiger. A one month old tiger. Yeah, I held it. In my arms. Pretty much the coolest thing ever!! It was so adorable. I was the first one to hold it and by the third person, it was whining, so a few of us got to feed it too. Ah! So cool!

The lemurs were next. We walked through this dome and didn't see much until one of the last turns. I was eating an apple and there was a lemur on a tree and I lured it close to me with the apple core. Maybe not the smartest thing, but I still have nine fingers. Wait. . . Ten. I have ten. But it was so much fun that when we saw an apple core in the garbage can outside, Jeshua picked it out and broke it so we could go back.

Well, we hadn't eaten since 8 and it was now 2:30. We were famished! And guess what was for lunch?! A teriyaki burger from Carl's Jr.!! Talk about a little piece of heaven. Oh! And I can't forget the chili cheese fries and the Coldstone!!! It was much needed and as good, if not better, than any other meal I have had so far in my life.

Despite how achey my feet were, I pushed to stay out, so five of us walked around People's Square and Nanjing Road. This city really comes to life at night. We were taken to a little shop with a back room where we bought some DVDs. We did a lot of wandering after that. It was cool just to see all the people and all the lights. We didn't return to the hostel until 9:30 or so and we were pooped. But what a fabulous day!!

Sunday. I love Sundays! Lately, they've been hard because we've had to do church over a teleconference in our supply room where it doesn't really feel like church, but we actually got to sit among a congregation today! Remember the DeVris? Of course you do. I got a hold of Tonya last night and she gave me directions. I love the Shanghai metro. It's so nice and convenient- cheap, clean, easy to understand. So we just took the metro there and we even beat them there. It was fast and testimony meeting and I bore my testimony about how if it weren't for the gospel to keep me grounded here, I wouldn't be able to be doing as well as I'm doing. The gospel gives me so much strength when every thing else has changed. The Lord is the one constant in my life. He is the only person I can rely on. It is through him and him alone that I am happy. Even though I'm in a place where things are so different and I have 'less' than I do back home, I'm still so blessed. I have my health and my family and the knowledge that I can be with them forever. Sunday School and Relief Society were equally good. We got three dinner invites. The Devris offered, of course, so we went there.

THAT was the best meal I've had in my life. It was like an early Thanksgiving. Roast, crock pot veggies, creamed veggies, mashed potatoes, croissants, brownies, ice cream and some chinese cookies that were really good. I have not come away from a meal feeling so full for a while. And Cameron was nervous there wasn't going to be enough food to go around for the seven of us and the nine of them, but there were even some leftovers! Loaves of bread and fishes. That's all I have to say. It was pretty much a miracle. They were so nice. So hospitable. They talked to us for a while. We were there for a couple hours. They gave us the in's too. Told us where to shop and a few other places to visit. We stopped by the underground shopping at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum metro stop. Jackpot!! I got a 32 centimeter strand of pink pearls; a pretty, gold chinese dress; a green, chinese robe; an outfit for Grace; and some cool chopsticks. What a day.

Our last day in Shanghai was filled with more shopping. The Yu Garden was first. It as beautiful! I'm so glad we got to go to that part of town. The architecture of the buildings was the traditional Chinese and it was all so beautiful!!! It was a land-mine of beautiful art work, buildings and merchandise. I got seven more strands of pearls here. It was so much fun bargaining. Last night the girls kept asking me to get them things for a certain price because they thought I was so good at it. I was pretty good. After a while of watching me, they got a hang of it, so they didn't need me as much today. I also got some beautiful bracelets, gorgeous earrings, a silk fan, and some KFC for lunch. Living the high life.

After lunch, Tina and I were just wandering when we happened upon a pond in the middle of the shopping and there was a guy selling baby turtles that you were supposed to through into the pond. We assumed it was some sort of good look thing. Tina is in love with turtles, so she really enjoyed looking in the pond at all the baby turtles. We then left for the underground shopping again. I got a fabulous hat, a very pretty skirt and a floral scarf. They all pretty much combine to make the cutest outfit. I know you don't care, but I really like it. At this point my feet were about to fall off! Especially with my whole foot tendonitis thing. So as soon as Emily, Katrina and I got back to the hostel, we went next door and got an hour long foot massage for 30 yuan! Which is about $5. I could stand again! It was so fabulous. Once the rest of the group caught up with us we went out again to The Bund and saw the tallest building in China. We ate dinner beneath it's shadow. . . kinda. If the sun were out, we would have been in it's shadow. It was a good way to close our trip.

Tuesday morning. We still don't have our train tickets, and the train leaves in three and a half hours. It's suggested you get tickets twenty four hours before. Jeshua told us he was going to do it so that's why we left it up to him. Never again. I was genuinely nervous that we weren't going to be able to get a ticket. I said so many silent prayers. He was listening. We got to the train station and got all eleven tickets with no problem. The train ride sucked though. Sixteen hours in a straight seat. It was a hard night, but an experience worth having, but only worth having once. It's good to be back to my box spring after that night. I never thought I'd say that. What would really be nice, though, was if my bed was like the one in the hostel minus all the bug bites.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Confucius says, "Why crap in your pants when you can crap on mom's arm?"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

DAD!!! I did it!!! Today was so much better! The kids didn't make what I had made, they didn't really follow instructions, and I was still a little flustered, but I was ready for all of that! I knew it could happen, so I simply adjusted! It was so much smoother than yesterday despite all the things I just said. I feel like it was more of a success.

My roommate, Lauren, her dad sent me something. It was entitled the Ministering of Angels By Elder Holland. He said:

"My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face."

"May we all believe more readily in, and have more gratitude for, the Lord’s promise as contained in one of President Monson’s favorite scriptures: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, … my Spirit shall be in your [heart], and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”

"The ancient prophets who died were those who came to visit their fellow creatures upon the earth…It was such beings-holy beings if you please-who waited upon the Savior and administered to him on the Mount…In like manner our fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters and friends who have passed away from this earth, having been faithful, and worthy to enjoy these rights and privileges, may have a mission given them to visit their relatives and friends upon the earth again, bringing from the divine Presence messages of love, of warning, of reproof and instruction, to those whom they had learned to love in the flesh."

Thanks for coming and helping me, Dad. I couldn't have done it without you. All the things you would do that were affective in your primary class came to mind, and that really helped in my teaching. As I was laying in bed last night, feeling a little 'woe is me,' I felt comforted just laying there. Thanks for coming. You always know what to do or say when I'm down, and I may not remember what you did or said to cheer me up, but I remember how I felt. I love you so much, Dad. Tell everyone back home that I miss and love them. Oh! And tell them to enjoy their good food, because they may not know how good they have it ;)

Love love.

Dad, what have I gotten myself into?! I taught my first lesson yesterday and it was a disaster! Never give kids who can't understand you a pair of scissors. They so did not follow the lines I traced for them. It was really hard to get them to talk too. Sometimes they'd repeat what I wanted them to say, sometimes they wouldn't. Sometimes they'd repeat everything I was saying! Needless to say, I got tired really quickly.

What if I'm no good, Dad? What if my kids hate me and don't learn a lick of English? What if my time here is wasted? I know what you would say. You'd say I'm a good teacher and that the first day doesn't reflect on the rest of the semester and that as long as I am learning and having a good time that nothing is being wasted. Hopefully I'll get better.

I went to bed really early yesterday. I was just so exhausted and homesick that the only thing I could think or muster to do was sleep. Let's hope I got enough hours on my box spring to give me enough energy to teach them how to make a frisbee today. I love you, Daddy.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My wart that I got shot finally came off! Remember the time you took me out to Dr. Halliday to get the one on my toe shot? I made you hold my hand. I was 13. . . Okay, fine, more like 18. I loved going to Tooele with you. I remember one time you took me out there because one of your stops on your route was a woman with a clothes shop and you wanted to support her. That was probably the one and only time you were happy to buy me clothes. I also remember when I was working with you a year and a half ago and you took me to American Burger, the best burger place in Tooele. Working with you was so much fun! Kinda. You taught me how to work long and hard without complaining, and it was just nice to spend the time with you too.

I practiced my piano today. I thought you'd be proud. I remember when you would open the door I had closed so that you could listen as you watched your golf. It always made me feel good knowing you wanted to hear me. I think I'm getting better. I can accompany better than I used to be able to. Hopefully I'll be able to play a few hymns for our little church meeting tomorrow.

I love you so much, Daddy. I miss you here. It's hard being away from you guys. Little Grace already looks so much bigger and Jesse's in college! My mind is practically blown. Love you.
It's official. I can live anywhere now. Almost. Maybe. Okay, so maybe I won't get ahead of myself. But I see the world with new eyes now. Not everywhere in the world is like Utah or the places we've been to on vacation. We are so lucky to live where we are. I almost feel like Bart in France with the five floor walk up and the extreme heat. Now that I know just how different a place can be from home, I think I'd be more okay with living in another place. I'm really enjoying it. Playing charades is a daily routine and can be quite fun! Sweating buckets is also a daily. I thought I perspired a lot in Cancun. Nope. My skin is almost at least moist if not drowning in sweat all the time. Which means I stink pretty much all the time! I used to be able to make an undershirt last at least two days in Utah. Not here. And, Dad, you'd be proud of me. Instead of showering when I feel dirty, well, I still do that, but it's everyday now because I really am dirty everyday!

Oh oh oh! Last night we were playing with the kids so that they'd be comfortable with us this morning when we were recording the TV commercial, and when they said what we were trying to get them to say, I would give them a high five like you would give us when we were little!!! I had totally forgotten about it until now! You, know? The way you would hold our little hand still in your much larger more calloused hand and give us several high fives really quickly? That one!!! I felt so big and grown up, oddly enough. I can't wait to have kids and have them get to know their Grandpa Christoffersen through the silly things you do that have rubbed off on me. And then when they see you they'll understand.

Back to China. Yesterday, we went into town to Trustmart. I don't know if I told you about it, but it's pretty much our favorite place!! It has saved our lives on several occasions. We found peanut butter, honey and bananas there and would make sandwiches. We bought almonds so we wouldn't have to have any of the funky meat here for protein. It's been interesting. They also have every flavor chip. Tomato flavor, chicken flavor, kiwi, lychee, mango. It's been fun seeing which one of the odd flavor choices they offer is the best.

We just barely got back from a noodle place. The people who were in charge of the commercial decided to take us out to eat as a thank you. It was one of the better places we've been, but still different. We had some pretty good noodles, spicy beef, orange beef, fish, corn, and this funny stringy, leafy, green vegetable we see everywhere. It could be really good if they prepared it a different way. Right now, it's okay.

On our way back to the school there was a naked man walking down the middle of the street. We saw his rear end. He was surprisingly calm. Like Jeffery Chaucer in A Knight's Tale.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

You'll never believe what we ate for dinner last night. . . . Pizza! And not China's version of pizza with banana chips and clam sauce. But American style with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and pepperoni! It was so yummy and so greasy! But SO glorious! It was Chinese lovers day so our head teacher, Jeshua, bought a bouquet of flowers so each of us got a flower. So I'm set. I have a flower and two slices of left over pizza.

We also got to play with the kids yesterday and I made a few things to teach with. I'm nervous to start teaching. I have to plan five lessons tonight. All I can think about is when I would help you teach your sunbeams when I would come home for the weekends. You were so good with the kids. You knew the things that it would take to keep their attention, like the time you made little footprints for them to follow. I hope I can be as good as you. So far I have a few ideas of things to make with them. For the first month I'll be teaching arts and crafts. I'm hoping that won't be too hard.

I miss you, Dad. I'm reading the Book of Mormon for the virtue value in hopes to have it finished by the time I get home. I'm trying to read them like you. Notice the things like 'barges again!' I'm keeping a journal so I'll let you know if I discover anything cool. I love you so much, Daddy! Give mom a big kiss.

This one is of me on Victoria's peak- the highest peak that overlooks Hong Kong. There are high rises everywhere!!! it's insane!

This one is of me and Lauren on the sleeper bus.

The last one is looking into our apartment on the fifth floor.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Daddy! I'm really here! I'm doing it. It's taken a few days of bad food, but I finally feel like I'm in China. You wouldn't believe some of the stuff that is served to us here at the school. One day we were given fish cut into bite sizes, but there were pieces that we could definitely see bones in. My stomach has been turned quite a few times. We've found ways of avoiding the food. For breakfast, we have a big bag of oatmeal and we put peaches and brown sugar in it. The food is going to be the hardest part for me. Last night we were talking about some of the restaurants back home that we love so much. I had to walk out on the conversation before I produced too much saliva to swallow.

The other day, my roommate and I wandered around campus. Yeah, it's pretty much as big as a University campus. They have a nice track and astroturf field. They have a pool as well, but for some reason it is empty. As we were walking around, we found out just how close the campus gets to the mountain we're next to. We're pretty much at the bench of the mountain, and it's so gorgeous! It's so green here! But what makes it so green is, of course, the humidity. The other day, our regional director, Mista Li, said we were going on "trava," which turned out to mean travel. We thought it was just going to be a morning thing. No, it was the whole day! It was hard! We didn't bring enough water and we had been sweating so bad. Once we got back we were so happy. A few of us had some nasty headaches from the dehydration. My body is not used to sweating that much.

I love you, Daddy. I miss you. Tell the family I love them, even Mom, even though we talk everyday on Skype.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

DADDY! I'm in China! Okay. . . Not quite yet. I'm actually in the Taiwan airport, but pretty close. I pretty much skipped a day while in the air. I left on the 17th of August at 9:30 P.M. and it is now the 19th in Taiwan, approximately 5:30 A.M. My twelve hour plane ride from San Francisco ended up not being too bad. I ate like a queen for breakfast!!! I don't even eat like that at home. Scrambled eggs with a hashbrown and sausage link, fruit, a roll and classic OJ. Pretty sure that's the last 'American' breakfast I'll have for the following three months.

Dad, I'm so excited. My 'separation anxiety' from everyone has subsided. . . for now. I'm just ready to start my adventure!! I'm bound and determined to hold a panda bear. I opened my chinese teaching aid on my iPod and started practicing words. Yeah, it was pretty much a joke and a half! Cross your fingers I won't make a fool of myself.

I love you, Daddy. Tell mommy I love her and give Jesse, Bart, Paige, and Grace a big hug. I can't really see you giving Matt a hug, so a friendly pat on the back will do. Love love.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

leaving home

Hi daddy. I just got done packing for China! It still hasn't set in. Crazy! I was trying so hard to make 57 pounds into 50. Definitely didn't happen. I had to give up a few things, but mom says she might send them to me once I'm there. I have quite a few dresses and skirts packed that I didn't want to give up because they'll be really easy to squat in and I don't want it to be easy for people to just check me out either. As much as I'm scared and nervous, I think I'm more excited. I can't wait to meet the little kids I'm teaching. Dad. Do you think I'll be a good teacher? Do you think I'll be able to do all that I want to do? Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with all that I know I have to fit in to four months. Can you help me? Thank you, daddy.

Oh! I had my friends over last night and it was so nice to see all of them and to know how many good friends I have. I know you were there too. Probably back in your room with the Golf channel on, but still. I still can't believe I'm old enough to go live in another country!! I still feel like your little girl. The one you had your arm wrapped around at graduation and the one you'd carry on your shoulders. Mom went all out. She got me a box of leis and hula skirt decorations. The whole shabang! I had Kneader's make me some mini fruit tarts, peach tarts and eclairs. Talk about yummy yummy in my tummy. Mom was bad. She had. . . three or so. She would cut them in half telling herself that she was only going to have the one half. She did that to one of each kind I think. I love her and need her. She makes me smile.

I love you, daddy. I'm so excited to do this and go on a grown up adventure! Maybe I'll finally feel like I'm two decades old. Hope you're having fun where you are. Talk to you later.

Your baby girl