Monday, May 29, 2006

A field trip with Eli

I wanted to write about the field trip I went on this morning with Eli. His school class decided to collect toys and clothing to give to a less fortunate school, here in Nanjing. Eli had a difficult time parting with his toys, so I was happy he was going to get to see where the toys were going, and feel good about it. We rode over in the bus. This school has many children that come from transient workers. They are lucky, as there are so many children here in Nanjing that don't get to go to school at all. The parents here in China, have to pay for their children to be in school, and of course, the quality of the school depends on what you can afford. We are so blessed in America. The children can get a good education no matter what the income of their parents is. It is a sad cycle. Most of the parents of those children who can't go to school, didn't get to go to school themselves, and therefore can't get jobs to pay for their child's education.

We arrived at the school, that looked more like old warehouses, than school-rooms. We went back to the kindergarten. It was so humble. We had to be careful not to trip over the outdoor carpeting that was laying on the cement with lumps everywhere. The children were all dressed in their best clothes. They were so sweet an sang for our children, and shared some poems. The children then went out and played some games together. Each of the kids from our school gave a stuffed animal to the children from their school, and we left our boxes with them. I could tell that this was a special day for Eli. I feel like he caught the good feeling of it all. Today, he and I were the only westerners, but I could see that Eli has really learned to fit into his class. These are special experiences that are priceless.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

May 28, 2006

Me and Mike before the ball

A closer view of the dragon boats

Can you see that little white dot on the water? That's the Ford team:-)

Today, we had such a wonderful experience, in church. A woman named Amanda De Lange came to church today with two beautiful little Chinese children from her orphanage. Yes, her orphanage! Amanda is from South Africa. About a year ago, she was in Xian, getting ready to go to Korea for a great job. She had been volunteering in an orphanage, and she was deeply saddened by the state of so many of the children. She prayed to be able to help in some way, and wanted to care for a few of the children from the orphanage. She told the orphanage her idea, and though it is normally, such a difficult thing to get clearance, she was given six children immediately. All of the children had medical problems. She has twelve children now. She is here in Nanjing with two of the children for cleft palate surgery. Our group just ate up those cute little children! One boy, and one girl. We get to help Amanda take care of the children this week at the hospital. She has gone through all of her savings, and spends 24 hours a day with hardly any sleep (as many of the children are infants). It is such a blessing to get to help. She shared her experiences with us today, and it was so touching.

The end of the school year is coming. The children are so excited to go to Utah for a visit with family. Eli is so excited to be in the same school as the older kids next year. Rachel went to Shanghai this week for her last CISSA tournament for the year. This was a basketball tournament. Though our school didn't have a real strong team this year, Rachel had a good time. She got to see a friend she met in Beijing and the youth conference.

Saturday morning were the annual Dragon Boat Races. We were invited to a friend's home who lives in a high-rise apartment building on the edge of Mochu Lake, where the races were held. Companies from Nanjing put together teams of 16 to compete in a rowing competition. It was lots of fun to watch. Unfortunately for the rowers, it was one of the most windy days I've seen here in Nanjing! Ford had three different teams. Some teams are really serious about practicing. Teams have been out on the lake constantly the last two months all day long. Unfortunately, Ford didn't win their races, but Mike's office came in first out of the three Ford teams, and that's all he cared about. :-) Sadly, or luckily, for Mike, his size isn't a great benefit for a rowing race, so he wasn't on the team. There was a joke made about forming a Ford wives' team next year, and some of the ladies seemed pretty serious about it. We'll see...

Last night, Mike and I went to the Spring Ball. It was lots of fun. The theme was Arabian Nights, and there was some great Mediterranean food served. They even had a dancer who would come out periodically. I was happy to see that Mike was embarrassed and wouldn't watch her! Good Boy! There was a Philippino band, who was really good. They played lots of 80's music, so that kept us all happy. Mike was a good sport and danced with me. Unfortunately, there were technical difficulties, and we spent much of the night without a sound system. To make up for this, the hotel offered drinks on the house. Mike and I didn't stay long after this. It's interesting to see how, hmmmm, uninhibited,people become with unlimited free drinks. All I can say is WOW!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Pics of SuZhou, Etc.

Jay and Eli at the Slide Park

A Traditional Chinese Wedding on the SuZhou Canal

Mom and Dad at the Slide Park

The SuZhou Canal

A trip to Suzhou

This last week was really great. I think I've kept my Mom and Dad busier than they could have imagined. They have been great sports about it all. We went to the silk factory on Monday, and on a bike ride Tuesday to see a cemetery I found a while ago. I think that Dad really enjoyed seeing a Chinese Cemetery. It looked like it was a government official and military cemetery. There were only a couple of plots that were made for a whole casket. The rest were small boxes for cremains. We even got to see some people burning money for their family to have on the other side, and some fireworks. They scare away the evil spirits with fireworks. The ride to the cemetery is also quite interesting, with many small farms along the way.

Wednesday, we rode the train to Suzhou. That was great. We saw some beautiful gardens, and went to Zhouzhuang the next morning. It is a small canal town. We were able to see some huge old houses. That afternoon we went back to Suzhou and saw a silk factory, and rode on a boat down the Suzhou canal. It was so beautiful, and interesting. The houses backed right up to the river. We even got to see a traditional Chinese wedding. They were all dressed in their traditional costumes and got onto a decorated boat. They went down the river and continued their procession on another street. It was fantastic! We got back to Nanjing on Thursday night. On Friday morning we went to the Nanjing massacre museum, which was very disturbing. It is a memorial for the Japanese invasion of Nanjing. It was hard to see. There were so many horrible things that were done to the people of Nanjing. Friday night we made pizza and watched a movie. On Saturday, Mike had to work , which we were all sad about. We took Mom and Dad to the slide park on Purple Mountain. Dad kept an eye on the boys, but Mom did the obstacle courses and did a great job! Mike and Dad took Mom and I to dinner that night to a Thai restraaunt as a special Mother's Day treat. We had a foot massage, and Hagen Das ice cream!

On Sunday, was what everyone joked as the Wadley Family Primary hour. It was the primary program. The kids did great. Eli gave a scripture, and Nicole, Jay and Caitlin each gave talks. Nicole and Caitlin wrote their own talks and did a much better job than if I had helped them. They sang some songs they had been working on with their awesome teachers. Eli had a hard time sitting still. First his tie came off, then his shoes, and socks. I think he would have been naked by the end if I'd let him. He was supposed to give the closing prayer. When I went up to help him after their last primary song, he said very loudly,"Mom, my P___s hurts!" Yea, that was fun. He got through the prayer, though, after tipping over a chair. He was the comic relief for the program.

Mom and Dad will leave for Shanghai tomorrow. We will be so sad to have them leave. It has been a wonderful time with them here. And I'm proud to say, that I've worn them out so much, that Mom has slept almost every night! It will be so hard to say good-bye, but we will see them in just over a month when we visit Utah. Hurray!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Mom and Dad are here!

Wow, it's been a great couple of weeks. Well, actually, the week before my Mom and Dad came seemed like the longest week ever! On Friday, Nicole, Eli, and I left a little after 1:00pm to drive to Shanghai to pick them up. Nicole got to come, because it was her birthday. I can't believe our second daughter is 12 years old! She has grown up so much. It was so exciting to meet Mom and Dad at the airport! They had to be so tired, and our drive home took so long. They had listened to us, and stayed awake for most of the flight over to "trick" their system into the time change. I think it worked pretty well, because they slept well that night, even though it was day-time in Utah. They have done really well with their sleep!

On Saturday, we let them relax a bit, and then we took them to the kite park in the afternoon. We had a terrific time. We were actually able to fly our kite! I haven't had much luck with this in the past. There were lots of kites flying. Then we crossed the street to another old park where the "Yo Yo People" (lots of old men join in the park to do the Chinese Yoyo, which is VERY difficult) were having a great time. One man spent time giving each of the kids help trying it out! It was terrific! Later we went to a Japanese Tympanyaki (I'm sure I spelled this wrong, but remember I'm studying Chinese, not Japanese) that Nicole had picked out for her birthday dinner. It was delicious! I'm sure you are wondering why we took them to Japanese, but I was certain they would get enough Chinese on our trip to Beijing to last a lifetime! It was fun to have them here on Sunday, and we had a relaxing afternoon. We had a great time listening to stories about Grandma and Grandpa when they were young. On Monday, I took Mom and Dad to the Bu Bu Bu (fabric market) where Dad ordered a couple of suits and Mom even ordered a suit. We'll see how they are coming tomorrow. Dad really got the hang of the bargaining, and bargained for the second suit fabric all by himself! That night, we went with all of the children to Fuzi Miao, and both Mike and I forgot our cell phones! It was so packed, because it was the start of the Chinese Holiday. We waited and waited, and finally tried to get a taxi to go home in, but none were to be found. It was quite the adventure. Finally we got one for some of us, and then our driver, wondering why we hadn't called in so long, drove by and saw Mike and Dad. Just one of those things that happen. Mom and Dad were great sports about it all!

Rachel had left on Friday night to go to Youth Conference in Beijing. We flew to Beijing on Tuesday morning, and picked her up. She had a great time. They had a missionary theme, and actually got to go in companionship to teach a discussion to a family from the Beijing branch and have dinner with them. They had a wonderful service project in an orphanage for children with health problems. She shared in testimony meeting today what a special experience it was for her, and that she felt uplifted meeting with the sixty youth from all around China.

We started right away on our big adventure. We first went to Tienanmen Square, where we had lunch at the National Museum, and Mom and Dad got an inkling of how people everywhere like to take photos of our children! We had people coming up from all over asking to have photos with us, and then we would be stuck there for a long time because people would be in a line. The city was packed. I honestly think that if you didn't see it, you can't imagine what I mean by packed. It was the Chinese holiday, and SO MANY people were touring! The Forbidden City was an amazing thing to see. We were all amazed at the size of it all. We went through gate after gate to get to the actual city, and the city itself was huge! The only movie that has ever been made actually inside the city, is the Last emperor. So, if you've seen that, it's the real thing. That evening we went to the Chinese Acrobat show. That was lots of fun! They did some amazing things. The kids especially enjoyed it. Afterward, we wanted to try the famous Peking (the former name of Beijing) Duck. When I got the menu, I just stared and stared at it, because the only things to order were strange duck parts. I just said we would take 2 dishes of the Peking Duck, and some rice and a vegetable. I didn't realize I had ordered 2 whole ducks! They brought them out and cut them up right in front of us, and left us the most treasured part, the head. Dad actually tried some duck brain!

The next day we went to the Simmatai part of the Great Wall. We had heard it was the best place to go, and that it was 2 1/2 to 3 hours away. Because of traffic it took 5 hours to get there. I feel that everyone thought it was worth it! First we had a Chinese meal outside with a beautiful view of the wall up on the mountain. It was amazing and breathtaking! We rode a tram up part of the mountain, which was very scary for Mom. Then we had a big climb to the wall, and walked across the top, from tower to tower. There were these local women who tried to be helpful and make friends with you, and then would try to get you to buy souvenirs from them at the end. They wouldn't leave poor Mom alone! She had one lady holding each arm. And Mom is so nice! We had to help her out and stick right next to her to keep them away. We did end up buying a couple of books from them, but nobody is ever glad to find out I live in Nanjing, and know how much I should pay for things. After the big hike, we got to ride a zip-line down the mountain and over a river. It was so much fun! Mom even did it! Dad just walked down, I think because he wanted to get photos. The long drive was definitely worth it. It wasn't even busy, because it was so far from town.

On Thursday, we went on a trip to the Cloisone factory, and saw how it was made. It was very interesting, and amazing to see all of the work that goes into it. We did some good shopping:-) Then we went to the Summer Palace, a beautiful, but very crowded palace where the emperor would live 6 months out of the year. We had a little extra time before flying to Xi'an, so we stopped at a Tibetan Medicine Clinic and had an overview of Chinese Medicine, and were diagnosed with several ailments and recommended cures (available for purchase) while receiving a foot massage.

On Friday, we went to see the Terracotta Warriors. This is another thing that is almost too amazing to comprehend. We even got a photo with the man who discovered them in 1974. He is old now, but signs books and has photos. He was given 30 yuan for his discovery, by the government. This is equivalent to less than 5.00 US dollars. It is really hard to grasp the magnitude of the terracotta warriors without seeing them. It was truly incredible. That night we went to a dumpling dinner and Tang Dynasty show. You know, the dinner wasn't really great, but the show was wonderful. Everyone's favorite were the young Yo Yo girls.

On Saturday, we were privileged to visit the cave of our tourguide's grandparents. They actually live in a cave along with over 100,000,000 other Chinese people that live in caves. It was such a humbling experience. His grandfather is 95 years old! The cave was so sparse, and had just been wired with electricity (meaning, a couple of simple lights) five years ago. They got a phone 2 years ago. Taking up a good portion of the room, was a huge coffin. Apparently, thirty years ago the grandfather was very ill, and expected to die. They had a coffin made for him, and then he got well. People from all over the village come to touch the coffin for luck! Eighty percent of the people in China live as poor farmers. It is hard to get a true picture when you see the big cities. It was such a blessing to see a part of China that is so closed to the foreign population. On our way to the airport, we stopped at the Han Dynasty emperor's tomb. He did the same thing, building an underground palace, with all of the clay people and soldiers, but his were all done in 1/3 scale. This was a time of peace, and he didn't feel the need for large warriors to protect him.

We had such a wonderful trip. It is all so surreal to think about the things we were able to see and do, and to have Mom and Dad there with us, it was that much more special. I think that Mom and Dad got their share of Chinese food, in case you were worried. And they still have plenty of time. I think they are still in shock about the over 100 photos people took of our kids (this is an under-exaguration). Even though there are tourists here in China, not many are children, so they are amazed to see foreign children. Wow, this was a long one! It's been a good week!