Are you there?

Are people actually reading this? If no one is paying attention to this I'm going to put my efforts elsewhere. Please let me know one way or another that you (whoever you are) are following and interested. I just never get any comments and I wonder if I'm just taking up space on the internet.


Merry Christmas

Something I have enjoyed recently has been the telling of the Good King Wenceslas story, as told by Jane Seymour and sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

I have never heard the story. It warmed my heart. Have you heard the story? Have you actually read the words of the song?

It is an amazing story that gave me good bumps. A king who wants to make sure while whole kingdom feels the warmth and spirit of Christmas.

Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night, tho' the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gath'ring winter fuel.
"Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know'st it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain;
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes' fountain."
"Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither:
Thou and I shall see him dine, when we bear them thither. "
Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together;
Through the rude wind's wild lament and the bitter weather.
"Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer. "
"Mark my footsteps, good my page. Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage freeze thy blood less coldly. "
In his master's steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing

 Make sure you feel that true spirit of Christmas this year. Remember Christ our Lord and all he did for us. I am so grateful for him and all that his life means for me and my family. I'm glad we celebrate by giving gifts to those we love and those who need it commemorating the greatest gift of all, the life of Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas to all and on earth, peace, good will toward men. 


The Rest of Hong Kong

After that we headed to the the central area and went up the Mid-level escalators. It is a path of escalators that goes for 800 meters, about 2,600 feet. It was very unique. Some were steep, like steps, others were shallow steps and others were more like conveyor belts. It was very interesting. Instead of taking a taxi down we walked down and saw some fun things. We walked a cool path and enjoyed out Mrs. Field's cookies along the way (they have stores in a lot of the MTR stations). 

 Looking down into the streets.
 The mosque we saw on the way up. 
 A drainage tunnel.

The the roadway system on the way down the peak. It's pretty steep.
Then we headed to dinner. We did some wandering because one of the places we wanted to eat was originally not open and then when it did it was too expensive. They told us because we didn't have a reservation that we could only eat if we finished before a certain time. Dumb. So we wandered a little more. We ended up at a yummy reasonably priced Thai food restaurant. We really enjoyed that. I'm really missing authentic Thai food here in Utah. Gosh, as I type this I realize I'm homesick (word choice?) for Asia. I miss it a bit. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to be home, but that was home for 18 months and it included so many wonderful things and people. I really miss it. And I'm not sure if I'll ever get back. Here's hoping I get to take my kids in 10 years. China is just such a huge part of our lives, I can't imagine not sharing it with my kids. 

Then we headed to Mongkok to do some shopping, at which we were successful. We had fun bargaining. At least I did. Daniel makes me do it because he's not as hard core as I am. I love it. It's like the thrill of the hunt. Can't hunt that way in Utah. I miss that a little too. 

Then we headed back to the hotel to relax. 

Our last day in Hong Kong was Disneyland. That'll be my next post!


Hong Kong

We did a few other things while in Hong Kong. We headed over to the Kowloon Walled City Park. (Click the link for more info and old pictures). It was very interesting. It was a small area that had been walled in sometime in the 1870s by China has continually remained Chinese land throughout this whole Hong Kong/England land exchange. It was set up a little like a fortress. In the 1960-1990s it had buildings that were 8-10 stories high with almost 15,000 people living there. It occupied space just under 700 feet by 400 feet. The sidewalks were about 3 feet wide. The buildings were extremely close together and the neighborhood had become known as a place of drug dealers, shady business and lasciviousness. So they knocked the whole place down and created a park with monuments and remnants of the original wall. It was a nice little park. Hong Kong is very rich in history. The more time I spent there, the more I realized how little I know about it.

 The dog in the Zodiac garden.
 The Zodiac garden.

What the city inside the walled area used to look like. Pretty dense, right?

We went to the temple and did a session in English. We met a wonderful young woman there who was a Chinese national. She had returned from her mission to Temple Square just a month before and was in town to spend time in the temple before returning home. I could tell it broke her heart to be back in a country where she couldn't share the gospel with friends. She gave me a hug. She says she's applying to BYU-Hawaii for next fall. I hope she gets in and is able to return to America.

After the session we went over to the ward house and changed. There was a wedding there. It was interesting to see Mormon wedding culture mixed with Chinese wedding culture. Very few of their friends and family were members so they did the Chinese customary ceremony afterwards at the ward house, without the alcohol. She was beautiful. We told them congratulations and were on our way out. 

Then we went and did the Mid-level escalators. That's the next post.


Expounding upon propagation...

I'll get back to our Hong Kong trip next post.

In the last week I have had three people approach me, share with  me, or message me about missionaries getting calls to China accompanied with a note that says "Please call Pres. Monson." Take a moment and think about it. If the prophet wanted to talk to you, wouldn't they just call you? His number isn't given out.

After hearing this rumor three times, I called down to the Church Office Building and talked with the Missionary Department. I asked them about the China thing and she said it was false and would I do my part  to quiet those rumors with the people I come in contact with. She also told me that this kind of thing could potentially be damaging to the Church's current relationship with China. We have the liberties that do in China because of the positive working relationship and the adherence to the rules by the members of the church in China. There were many times I wanted to break the rules, but never did because we have to be above the idea of "but I won't get caught" or "no-one will know." We have to be unimpeachable.

This incident brought to my mind similar things or potential situations. I have the "friend," we'll call her Janet. In high school Janet's friend, we'll call her Molly, asked a guy to a dance. We'll call him Johnny. One day in a class Janet heard Johnny's cousin say "he just doesn't want to go because of the upcoming game and he needs his rest." Well, Janet thought she was taking about Johnny. So Janet told Molly that Johnny didn't want to go. Molly then decided to ask another guy, We'll call him Charlie. The next day both Charlie and Johnny answered Molly and said yes. Now Molly was stuck with two dates. Oops. Maybe Janet should have checked her facts. The situation was resolved and they had another friend with a guest in town and Charlie went with the out of town visitor. But let's just say awkward? Check your facts Janet.

It's also like me being the first to find out my friend is pregnant. Then I get on facebook and tell everyone. Not my firsthand info the share. I would have just harmed the relationship with my best friend and potentially other friendships of hers.

So whether something is true or not, if it's not your first hand knowledge, it's not yours to share. Janet learned that lesson in a very awkward way. We may hear it first hand, but as soon as we share, it's not first hand information anymore.

We as members of the Church enjoy sharing good news and sometimes we get a little carried away. I myself have been guilty of this, I'm sure. If the Church were to benefit from such a wonderful opportunity, they would surely announce it and not be clandestine about it.

I love China. I would desperately love for my dear friends there to be able to hear the gospel preached in their land in their own tongue. But we are years away from that still. The Communist party is still the same. Their ideals and goals for their people are still the same.

Daniel described it as an older brother looking after the hot teenager sister. He is very protective until he is sure that things won't harm her. Right now the relationship with China is good. We have their trust. But we have to keep it and keep earning it. They know we do good. But they have to be sure it's good for their people, not just good in general. So there are small allowances. We can share with Chinese nationals outside of China. Chinese national members can share with with their family - parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, siblings, cousins. This is a fairly recent development (2 years, I think. Don't quote me on it though.) Things will change little by little according to the Lord's plan. Let's have faith in his timing and in his hand.

The Lord will not lead us astray or do something that people aren't prepared for. He knows what he's doing. I always tell myself, he hasn't messed up yet, so why would he now? We know how fair he is and that everyone will get a chance to hear the gospel, whether in this life or the next. Maybe someone alive today will get to be part of that amazing opportunity of sharing the gospel openly in China. Until then, let's enjoy the amazing opportunities that are ours today and share the gospel wherever else we can.

Thanks for listening to my rant.


Being Home

As of writing this, Daniel and I have been home from Xiamen for 9 days. People keep asking us how it feels.

Well. I'm home. That's about all there is to say. It was a little surreal the first two days being back in our own house, but with only a bed and our suitcases. But Daniel and I both went back to work Monday morning and we've gotten back into the swing of things pretty easily.

The hard parts for me are when I think about Xiamen and realize I have no idea if and/or when I'll ever get to go back. I'm missing my friends there and I'm seriously craving some of the food. We ate lots of international stuff there. I went to a couple of grocery stores this week and scoured the international sections for spices and seasonings to resemble some of my favorite foods there. I'll let you know how they turn out.

I even went to the Oriental Market in Riverdale Road to see what they have. The dumplings were disappointing. They should have been marketed as pot-stickers, and not dumplings. My favorite dumplings from China were what is called shui jiao. Boiled dumplings of, most often, pork and Chinese leeks. Yummy. I like to eat mine dipped in black vinegar. Don't boil pot-stickers. They don't taste very good.

I bought 6 different yellow curries to find which is closest to the Malaysian Yellow curry I ate there. I loved the Chicken Malai Tikka at the Indian restaurant. And the cheese kebabs? Oh my. I'm sure I'll never find things like those again. It's like a deep fried cheese churro. Yummy.

The other big adjustment is the prices. We forgot how expensive some stuff in America really is. I find I was quite disconnected from the US dollar. I'm learning to grocery shop all over again.

But it feels good and right to be home. We are getting our house settled in. In the coming weeks we hope to be able to get our adoption profile back up and going.

Some people have also asked if Daniel is working for the same company. Yes. We went to China for the same company he has worked for for over 10 years. It was a single project. Now that we are home, Daniel will continue to travel fior longer, more frequet periods of time until the project is done. Then he will travel less just keep things current. He is still working for Lifetime and is happy there.

Any other questions?

Thanks for all the welcome home's we've had. We are happy to be back!


Hong Kong!!

On our way home we stopped for four days in Hong Kong. We had a good time. It was a nice vacation. Our first day was kind of tiring though because we had to get up at 5 to catch our flight to Hong Kong. We landed, checked in, grabbed the camera and headed out to see a few things.

Our first stop was the 10,000 Buddhas. It is a monastery that has literally over 10,000 statues, many life size, of various Buddhas. Each with a different face. It was very odd. But cool. I would recommend it to anyone visiting Hong Kong.

 Riding the train into the city. I love his new geek glasses. They are so him.

These are some of the more interesting Buddhas we saw on our hike up the mountain.

 I think this one is actually the Warrior Emperor Guan Yu.

 He had a little Buddha in his tummy. Ewe?
 I think this was my favorite.

 I'm sure there's a story here.
 And this one.
 Those are eyebrows on the guy on the far right.

 This is the hall where there were 6"in Buddhas on shelves in alcoves from floor to ceiling - a 24" ceiling probably.

It was pretty interesting. Something I would do again.


Yimi and Stuart

Yimi was probably our biggest help in China. Every time I needed something translated, or someone to interpret, or money on my phone, I called Yimi. This spring she started dating, her now boyfriend, Stuart. He is awesome. They bath have been very good to us. The Wednesday before we left they took us to dinner. It was a yummy dinner and a good time.

They are awesome and we wish the best for them. I am planning on keeping in contact with these two. We love you and miss you Yimi!