I had the chance to explore a few places on Gulangyu that I have not explore before. So this is mostly a picture post.

The view of the beach from an outcropping.
The Piano museum is those two buildings.
Sunlight rock in the distance.
Beautiful blooms.
The rockery. A collection of concrete "rocks" stacked creating a maze like slope with stairs and caves. It's pretty cool.
Hiking up sunlight rock.
The view from Sunlight Rock.
The stairs back down one part of Sunlight Rock.

A temple in the park area of Sunlight Rock.

An enormous organ at the Organ Museum.
The beach and the Zheng Chenggong statue. He was a great general for chasing the Dutch out of Taiwan. That the Chinese honor. Go figure.
Gulangyu is a great place to wander and explore. I'll have more pictures from other trips in my coming posts.

Some of our latest adventures

Have included:
Ducks in the hallway over Chinese New Years. Because doesn't everybody have ducks in the stairway?

Some New Year's decorations:

Boiling water to wash dishes because the kitchen tap doesn't have hot water. Having fun yet?
 I am.
 Creepy inflated things at the mall.
 Who like to hold your arm. Super creepy.
We've also done some structured specific fun things that I will blog about soon.


Some thoughts

I'm sorry I haven't posted much recently. I have some back blogging to do and some catching up for you all. I have some fun random pictures to post. Things have been pretty busy for the last week and half. 

I have some thoughts I need to put down in writing. There are some circumstances at home that are contributing to a feeling of homesickness. When things go on 8,000 miles away that can't be changed by your being there, but you still want to be home, it's very easy to get frustrated. I'm being tested in ways that I've never been tested before. I'm dealing with challenges that, at times, seem unfair. Add that to the fact that we are committed to a short extension, and all of the sudden I want to be done and just move home. Fortunately we are going to have a few trips coming soon, then in May more Lifetime people are coming for six months, so our time will go quickly.

At the same time as our good experience will go by quickly, it's amazing how much can go wrong in a very short amount of time. During the last week I had two tender mercies shared with me that have given my heart comfort. A comfort that I need as the ache sometimes becomes physically painful. I'm going to share them here and hope they can benefit other people too.

The first: I read a blog called Segullah. There was a post on Saturday, the 17th, that was really what I needed. It was titled "That Thing That is of Most Worth. A woman wrote about a time when that phrase struck very true wherein she had a moment when those things that valued most could have been taken away from her. Then she remembered the following scripture:

Romans 8:35-39
 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I got the overwhelming feeling that if I did not feel the love of Christ and my Heavenly Father at any point, it was my fault. How wonderful to know that no matter what, Christ's love is there for me to feel. Things that go wrong are not his fault. Most of the time they are part God's plan to turn me into the most amazing "me" that he has planned. Unfortunately I'm going to get a few bumps and bruises along the way.  I just wish the bumps and bruises along the way didn't hurt so much. 

On Sunday I shared this is our Relief Society "Lesson." Once a month the sisters in our group go into a separate room while the men have Elder's Quorum over skype. We had a discussion and share helpful things. It's always enjoyable. This week we talked about the George Albert Smith Lesson #3: Our Testimony of Jesus Christ.

As we talked about President Smith's testimony and a few other things, I felt compelled to share the Romans reference. Then our group leader shared a corresponding thought. She had had a stillborn child in the late 80s and had just gotten home from the hospital feeling empty, in so many ways. She had children at home, but the pain was still very acute. She opened up the Ensign and read a poem, almost never reading the poetry at any other time. It was this:


Little one,
remember when I took
the five brown pennies
from your hand,
and in their place
I put a gleaming silver dime?
To my surprise,
you cried with rage—
replacing five with one
could not be fair!
I smiled, then,
at childish reckoning …
until I thought how often
that our Father takes away
the copper blessings
from my hand
and in their place
He puts more precious ones.
Yet, angrily, I count myself
defrauded by the gift.
I have not understood
Eternal reckoning.
Someday I hope to understand eternal reckoning. Right now I cannot imagine anything more valuable than what I fear I will loose this year, but the Lord' love is there for me and there will be something amazing that he blesses me with at some future date. I feel I'm at risk of loosing my "dime" like blessings all too soon and I can't yet see the quarter or silver dollar that is coming my 
way. But they will come and I just have to search for the love of my Savior in the meantime. I pray it comforts me through my "太硬" (tai nan) trails right now.

I'm so glad I have a testimony of the gospel. I'm so grateful that I have the gospel. In China, that gratitude is felt with more conviction as we are more on our own than we would be at home. I'm so grateful for my husband who is a worthy priesthood holder and can give me a blessing when my heart is unsettled. Without the gospel my life would seem to crumble around me. That is my testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 



Well, to state it bluntly, we are extending our time here in China by 10 weeks. It's easier to think of it in weeks, rather than months. They asked us if we'd stay longer and after some negotiations and some perks, we are staying until mid-December, rather than coming home the first week of October. In all honesty, I will probably come home around Thanksgiving and start getting things ready and move back into our house. I'm very anxious to have my home and my puppies again, but this extra little time is going to be okay. The perks are worth a little more of our time.

We did turn down the opportunity to stay here long term, so you all know. We know in December we are supposed to move home and begin the process of starting our family. I have a few things I've acquired over here that are just dying to used by some chubby slobbery baby!

The other thing that this means is that we will be home for a visit some time this fall. We don't have the exact dates yet, but I'm sure I'll make it a long one, like my others have been.

Don't cry my friends, it will be such a short time, I'm sure you won't even notice!! haha. I will though.


Shanghai Part 4

On our last day in Shanghai we saw the Jade Buddha Temple and the Xuhuijia Catholic Cathedral.

 Warrior guardian.
 This temple was much more crowded and popular than the other one.
 This statue was awesome. Super expensive, but really cool.
 Carved from a single piece of wood and containing 18 Buddhas.
 Lanterns up for new years.
Koi pond.
The larger the fish, the older the fish. That really big one is probably close to 100 years old, according to the Chinese.

Xuhuijia Catholic Cathedral.

This guy was the "bouncer." According to the laws of China, Chinese nationals and foreign nationals are not allowed to meet together for religious purposes. There was a Chinese mass in session and so as foreign nationals we weren't allowed to go in the cathedral at the time. He was there to make sure we followed the rules. We would have waited, but it was close to time to head to the airport.

We flew back to Xiamen late that night. According to Chinese custom, our flight was delayed. We got back to Xiamen around 1 am and asleep around 2. Long day.

Shanghai was good. I'm glad we went, but I'm not sure I have to go back. I'll go back with family if they come visit, but Daniel and I are up for a new adventure!


Shanghai Part 3

The next day we went to The Bund and the Jing'An Temple.

The Bund is the waterfront area along the Huangpu River which winds through the middle of Shanghai. From the Bund you can see the newer part of the Shanghai. The Bund is where the banks and businesses set up business in the early 1900s. Most of the buildings are around 100 years old or so. It was nice, but it was super cold with the wind coming off the river.

 Pizza Hut, a Brazilian Grill, and two Chinese restaurants.
 Cables lines still used for trolleys and buses today.
 We thought the statue was Mao. It wasn't. But interesting anyway.
 Some of the building.
The obne with the clock tower is a bank.
 The newer side of the river. The large needle looking thing is the radio broadcast tower. The one that is to the right of center, with a gap and a bridge is the tallest building in mainland China.
 We were cold.
 Built in 1906.
 The Bund is now a place of banking and expensive stores.

Then we went to the Jing'an Temple

 The wood is all Myanmar Camphor wood. Expensive.

 A solid silver Buddha that weighs over 15 ton.
It was pretty cool.