Sunday, July 29, 2012

When you fall on your face...

Today I wore one of my new dresses to church. It's floor-length and lovely. As I jumped off the bus at my stop (because if you know me at all you know that I do not walk--I skip, and rather than stepping down the bus steps--I always leap to the landing) the dress prevented my legs from reaching the ground and my body plummeted instead. (The one good thing about this is that my arms caught me in a nice strong push up position. Yay muscles and reflexes! You caught me!) The whole bus proceeded to burst into laughter at me. I picked myself up and walked away when I realized that my ipod that was in my hand was rather shattered. I've never seen such a sad ipod before. Better the ipod than my head I guess. It was rather a humiliating experience.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lost Puppy

Sometimes I feel like a lost puppy in Beijing.

The first time was when I tried to find my way to Church all by myself. My Chinese family told me which direction to walk and what bus number to get on. So pretty much I just walked out the door and prayed. I left an 120 minutes early and 120 minutes after sweating on the bus I was wandering around the streets without a clue of where to go. I asked 6 or 7 Chinese people on the street how to get to the building (doing my best to translate its name into Chinese since I only had its English name) and pretty much just followed their pointing fingers until MIRACLE OF MIRACLES I found the Church building!!! However, I will admit that along the way I was frustrated. I was lonely; I REALLY wanted to be at Church; I wanted to take the sacrament; I was tired of the dirty street; I teared up from frustration and was not happy.

Last week at 10:30 pm I was on bus towards home after playing in the city with friends. I was so lucky to have caught one of the last buses! Especially since I was laden down with humongous bags of stuff from the store. Seriously, I practically was carrying all my possessions like a homeless person--backpack bulging, purse, and an enormously heavy garbage bag full of stuff. When the bus sign alerted that we had reached BaJiaLu (my stop) I hopped of the bus realized that it was a stop too early. Unfortunately, the bus was already gone. So I picked up my stuff, reminded myself that Confucius said the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, and began stepping towards home. It was dark. The streets were basically empty, except for random guys hanging out and walking around. I wasn't sure if I was ever supposed to turn or just go straight. But I kept walking. And you know what? I was not frustrated. Albeit I had been carrying all my stuff around for 14 hours that day, and I still hadn't done my homework due at 8:00 the next morning, I was quite jolly. I was filled with profound peace and contentment with the world. And eventually, after walking for 30-40 minutes down the road, I reached my apartment safe and happy.

Conclusion: I may still get lost, but I have grown. I think I am stronger puppy than I was when I first came to Beijing.

Baptism

Today I had the opportunity to go to Dhady-Khalou's baptism. Holy smokes this is the coolest branch ever.

Dhady-Khalou is from the Congo. He doesn't speak much English, and he doesn't speak much Chinese. He speaks French. He's very tall and seems rather humble and quiet when you meet him. When he smiles his face radiates joy. He grew up in the Congo in very difficult circumstances; his parents didn't show love for him and kept him at a distance; his sister was killed; he was captured by the liberals in war; when captured, he was put in a group of 50 men---all of them were killed except Dhady. I'd say his life has been pretty difficult. I believe he moved to Beijing to work. His friend, Armene Gasagara, is from Rwanda and was baptized here in the Beijing Branch a few months ago. Armene now has the priesthood, taught Dhady about the Gospel, and today was the one to baptize Dhady.  It was such a beautiful baptism. Dhady bore his testimony of how he knew the Church was true, and that the Church now felt like his family. Throughout the day he kept on tearing up, and looking down to hide his emotions. But he also kept flashing his brilliant smile which was lit up with the Spirit. Man, I barely know him, but I feel honored to have met him and attended his baptism!

Here's Armene baptizing Dhady in the swimming pool.

Dhady and Armene after the baptism (I don't know why this is sideways but I can't fix it)

All of us went to Dairy Queen after to celebrate Dhady's baptism. I love these people!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Childlike Chinese

I have discussed the general mentality of Chinese with many people and the best possible word I can find is "childlike." Of course, this is a stereotype, and there are exceptions. But to me, the Chinese people are some of the most childlike people in the entire world.

First of all, they are humble. Many of them because they are compelled to be. But overall, they seem very humble and teachable. This is one reason why I think the Gospel is going have great progress in China once it's allowed.

They are also childlike in that they a bit gullible and this often causes them to do silly things. For example, after the hurricane and nuclear problem in Japan, there was a huge run on salt! Why? Because iodine (in rather large amounts) is supposed to help against radiation. And of course, salt has iodine (though not nearly enough to have an affect against radiation) and so millions of Chinese people ran to the stores to buy salt. Soon, all the salt was bought up. So what then? To the ocean! Drink the water! When I heard this story I just could not believe it! It is crazy how the Chinese people just take an imperfect idea, with flawed logic, and run with it to the ends of the earth.

Personally, I think that the childlike mentality in China is very endearing. Sometimes it is annoying, because it causes weird things to happen. But then I just have to remind myself how much I love these wonderful little Children of God.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Floods and Poo

On Saturday my three friends and I went shopping at this huge clothing market. It was so fun. :) After a few hours, many purchases, we were laden with plastic bags and ready to go back to hotel. When we walked outside, it was pouring! I have never seen such ferocious rain in my life. But taxis were scarce, and the hotel was only a couple blocks away, so I ran into the rain and they followed. No, we were not smart enough to buy umbrellas. It soon became apparent that the walk was longer than we had remembered. Also, it seemed the longer we were in the environment, the angrier the rain became. Within minutes we were all soaked to the core. And, as luck would have it, 3/4 of us were wearing white shirts. As we ran and screamed through the streaming shower and waded through rivers and waterfalls, Chinese people stood dry in the shops and restaurants watching us. You can bet we caused a few smiles and laughs that day. :)

Later that night we ventured out again, and this time the water in the street was about a foot tall! It was so tall that I couldn't see where the street/sidewalk ledges were, so I tripped and lost a flip flop. And all the while, the rain continued coming down and the heavens thundered. It felt like the end of the world.

Go here to look at pictures of the Beijing Floods.

The next day I learned that this was the worst Beijing rainfall in the last 60+ years! At least 37 people died, (I don't know if that number is honest or not, probably not). And worst of all, some of them died by falling into open sewage pipes. They couldn't see the opening because the water was so thick on the streets, and before they knew it, they were drowning in sewage. I'm just sayin, that's a bad way to go. Also, the next day the streets smelled like poo. Because they were poo-ey. It was not my favorite thing.

Oh China is such an adventure. :) Thank goodness for good friends and the Holy Ghost to help me survive.

Missionary in China

I honestly think I came to China to prepare for being a missionary.

I met this awesome girl here who is investigating the Church. Oh she is awesome! Her faith is tremendous. I have been going to Church with her and yesterday and tonight I went to missionary discussions with her.

First of all, missionary discussions are the best thing in the world. Holy smokes I love them. I am so excited for this to be my one purpose for the next year and a half.

Also, I wanted to share this completely awesome story of another girl in the branch who was just baptized in China in the last month. She is from England and has been working in Beijing for the last year. She had a good friend who was Mormon with her in Beijing. One day, they were riding the subway discussing what to give up for Lent (she was never religious, but most people in Britain practice Lent regardless of religious devotion). She was running out of ideas, and then she spouted, "Why don't I give up Atheism? I could be Mormon for Lent." As you can imagine, this idea slightly shocked her friend. What an idea! Be Mormon for Lent! So she gave up coffee, tea, and alcohol. She started praying and reading The Book of Mormon. She said that praying felt very strange to her, because she never believed in God. But as she went through Lent, her heart was open to the spirit and she was touched. She received the missionary discussions in the Beijing Branch and was baptized. Her testimony is golden and her faith is truly inspirational. Oh I look up to her so greatly. And her conversion is one of the coolest things I've ever heard!

Pretty much the Beijing Branch is full of fantastic and inspiring people. I am so blessed to be here. I so look up to all of them. I feel like a small chick hanging out with golden eagles. There is so much to learn and study and accomplish. I have to keep on reminding myself that it will all happen in due time. I'm doing my best and the Lord knows it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

798

On Saturday my tutor took me, Julia and Chris to 798. 798 used to be a big factory area, but then developed into the major art section of Beijing. There are tons of art exhibitions, interesting statues, and fun shops to look at. 

First we went to the CAT store. It sells all things cat--statues, earrings, necklaces, books, all focused on CATS.

Me and Jade (my tutor) next to a cat statue outside the cat store.

One of many un-interpretable statues.

I liked this golden fish. It stood out from the rest. Way to be original. :)

The graffiti here was way cool!

798

A scared caged man. Standing next to him, I am equally afraid.

Baby riding a tank marked as MADE IN CHINA. 

Creeper children: AKA Steve and Greg.

I liked this sketch because of the wild natural lines of nature and then the little hidden house in the right corner. Its lovely.

A French art exhibit we went to. Not gonna lie, I liked its art better than the Chinese art exhibits. I guess I'm just more used to European-style art. That, and it was less modern than the Chinese art.

Old factories at 798. You can see Bumble sculpture on the right.

I thought this was beautiful too. I love the starkness of black and white and the long reflections of the people. 

Its amazing how at an art exhibit, a parakeet can be the most entertaining thing, ha! I walked around and looked at the art while everyone else gathered around the little bird.

I met Bumblebee!

I drank this "sour milk" drink which is basically just yogurt. Its so good! Made me so excited to go to Bulgaria, home of yogurt! Yay!!!

Pretty much, I need to go there again. There was so much to see! I love art!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Made In China




Not gonna lie, I love shopping. I know its silly, but I do. Especially in China because everything is unique, and most stuff is comparably cheap. These are some things I have bought. I love them.

Yellow Bow Belt: $2

Adorable Hat: $20. 
I realize that this is expensive. But I love it. A lot. 

Headbands: $1-2 each

Lacey Shirt that I love: $20
Once again, I realize that this isn't cheap. But I fell in love. Look at the details!!! The lace! The buttons!!


Cardigan: $10


Coral Shoes: $8

So some is cheap, some is not so cheap. I suppose it all evens out in the end.

Kite Making!

This week I signed up for a Kite-Making class! So fun!!!

This is my Phoenix Kite. I still haven't flown it, but I am quite proud of it. Unfortunately, my teacher didn't like it very much. Notice how the strands are extensions of the tail though? And notice the Oriental-detailed claws? Definitely the best (and only) phoenix I've ever painted.


I also made and painted this lovely butterfly. This one I have flown and its quite delightful. It's connected to a stick with a two foot string and you swing it up into the air while walking and it glides along for a while and then falls, so you do it again. I have her hanging above my bed, and she blows in the breeze when the windows are open. Its lovely. :)


And this is the bird kite that my teacher gave me. Its much sturdier than my butterfly, and not nearly so cool since I didn't paint it.


I think I've found a new hobby. :)

Meat

I miss salad. A lot. A stinkin lot. Because all I eat are oily carbs and fatty meat. Seriously. Every meal is fried carbs, sometimes then on top of rice. The meals with my family are better but still not quite satisfying. 

One of their most delectable dishes (according to them) are these little fishes. Bones, fin, eyeball, brains, are all there. the fish are dried and then marinated in something. The flavor actually isn't too bad, texture a little chewy, its just the fact that its staring me down as I eat it that freaks me out.




One night we had chicken soup at the end of dinner! (Chinese people drink soup at the END of every meal to fill in the holes of still-emptiness). I was so excited that it was chicken instead of pork! I miss chicken! After eating a piece, I dug in for more and found........ CHICKEN FOOT! Not quite the same as American chicken soup.


You better believe I didn't eat the foot. I honestly didn't eat the fish head either. I did eat the fin though. And I have now become accustomed to eat shrimp with their heads, outer shell, legs, and everything. It's too mafan/troublesome to just eat the meat.

When I'm home I'm grilling some white meat chicken breast. Just sayin.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The First Pizza: Made In CHINA.

A few delightful things today.

First, I rode my bike to school. :)



Meaning this little beaut. Faster than taking the bus, plus no crowding in with other sweaty people first thing in the morning. The weather was really cool because of last night's rain and it felt lovely. I quote my exact thought as I was on the road, "Golly G Willickers I like biking."

Other fantastic things happened, and then this.

The Li Family calls it a Xianr Pin (filled bun), but I have chosen to dub it Moon Bread Filled with Delectible Goodness.

Gaze your eyes on this:



It is this delightful bread/scone/heaven stuffed with a mixture of meat and veggies. Not too much meat, but doesn't taste green. It tastes GOOOOOD. I ate the whole thing. And the family was proud. :) 

Funny story about these guys. Here's some Chinese culture for ya. 

Before the Italians ever made pizza, the Mongolians swept through Italy and with them they brought.....Moon Bread Filled With Delectable Goodness. The Italians were so overwhelmed by this Delectable Goodness that they when the Mongols were gone, they wanted to make it themselves. But they got it all wrong! They didn't remember to put the top on it!!! And thus pizza was created. 
(Now, I would like to point out that Li Baba did say this story was just a joke, so its not really taken seriously, I don't think........But I think it well demonstrates the Chinese opinion that China is the center of the universe.)

After dinner I got to watch Madagascar in Chinese with Fiona and her friend. Let me tell you, it wasn't as funny in Chinese, since the voices are different, and the background music is absent, but it is still funny. 

And it was a good day.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I am happy to say that I am much more myself right now.

First of all, there is a thunderstorm outside right now. There is something so comforting about thousands of water bullets pelleting a window, knowing that just feet away you could be drenched to the bone. And yet you are dry, away, enjoying the danger and turbulence through a thin sheet of glass. Part of me wants to go dance out in the rain, but I don't think my family would appreciate that.

Today in dinner I even ate the fin of a fish. The family insisted on having me eat some, and proceeded to cut off the fin for me. Better the fin than the head, I suppose, since all the bones and eyes were still in the fish, ready to be devoured. Not gonna lie, it was yummy. I just don't have the appetite for fish yet.

During dinner Grandpa smiled at me as he said "You want to be a Chinese teacher! You can't be a Chinese teacher! You can't even speak Chinese! You can't become a Chinese teacher! You can't become a teacher!" To which I courageously looked down at my rice and ate a few pellets. I made them stop giving me food by telling them over and over that I was full, even though I was starving. And I waited to leave the table until they told me I could. And then I went to my room, shut the door, and took out my box of Cheese Nips from home. Thank you mommy!

So, I have a confession. I honestly don't think I can be a Chinese teacher. Now, let's be honest, I think I'd be a stinkin great Chinese teacher. My tones are great. My pronounciation is on par. My basic grammar is just dandy. My beginning or even intermediate Chinese is bangin. And by golly I could pass these all along to my students and get them ready for college or missions or whatever! But in order to become certified by the State of Utah to teach Chinese, I need to pass a huge test with an Advanced Medium level. Which is high. And, considering the fact that I can't speak Chinese, I honestly don't think I can do it. Which sucks, because that's the only reason why I decided History Teaching as a major. Without the Chinese, I'm stuck with a major I don't like very much and won't ever be able to get a job with.

Now this may all sound depressing, but be reassured, it isn't. Not really. Because I will give it my best. And if I don't pass my Chinese exam with an Advanced Medium, I still graduate with my major. And I will try teaching History and hopefully get a job. Yay for High Schools! And if I don't like teaching, I will only do it long enough to put myself through business school, or study yoga long enough to become a yoga master, or find some way to find some other job I am crazy about. That or I'll use my womanly wiles to marry a rich man. :) Ha ha, just kidding. But really.

My point is, there are always options open. Choosing one major doesn't close the doors to other options. And discovering that you aren't quite skilled enough (and probably never will be) at one thing doesn't mean you don't have a niche somewhere to find. After a storm, there's always a pretty rainbow :)

(did you get the tie back into the first paragraph? clever girl.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

7 Reasons Why I'm Hilarious Right Now

Guys, I am hilarious. No one else around me knows it, because they're not inside my head, and I can't communicate with them, but I am. How do I know this? Because I've been cracking myself up all morning. And I mean laughing out loud kind of cracking up.

Here are 7 potential reasons why I'm so darn funny right now:

1. I've been alone in my bedroom pretty much non-stop for the past six days.

2. I may or may not be dehydrated. Nurse Willyerd suggested this one to me on facebook, and I immediately chugged some water. I'm legitimately trying to work on this one.

3. The little contact I have had with humanity for the past week has been pretty much with Chinese people. It has mostly consisted of me telling them whether or not I have a fever, and them shouting at me to eat. So not a lot of conversing or anything around here.

4. I'm on a LOT of medicine. Let's take roll: 1 big orange pill from the doctor, 2 big white pills from the doctor, 10 ml of cough medicine from the doctor, 2 ibuprofen, and at night time 1-2 pills to help me sleep. Plus all the stuff the family keeps having me drink and take.

5. I just woke up after 11 hours of sleep. It was fantastic. You should've seen my dreams--they were VIVID. I'll probably write about one of them in a bit.

6. All the fevers have finally left my brain a-mush. Sad little brain. :(

7. I'm legitimately really funny. I like to believe that, in spite of the above mentioned conditions, this one still remains true. The glass is half full, AND half empty kind of mentality.



Sad Independence Day :9

I don't know what emoticon I accidentally put in the title, I've never seen it before, but I kind of like it. Looks kind of sick, kind of disturbed, kind of like me!

I don't like complaining, but right now I want to. And since there's no one I can complain to in English in a long distance (and even then I'd have to pick up my sick self and get myself over there) here wins the prize. Here, I can speak/write English. And I don't have to go anywhere.

I have been sick for more than a week. First few days, just sick with a cough. Not too bad. runny nose and a nasty cough. I can handle it. Sunday, the calamities start. Meaning diarrhea that I can't imagine could in any way be worse, and an off and on fever between 101/103 degrees Fahrenheit. Great fun, I'll tell ya.

All I want to do is sleep, rest, watch movies, and occasionally eat a little rice. Oh, and drink Sprite. The American way of healing, right?

So what does my Chinese want me to do? Eat. Eat lots. They wake me up breakfast, lunch, and dinner,  sometimes in between, to have me come eat with them. I'll pick at my rice as they shout at me to "EAT MORE! MORE! Don't you understand me?" Okay, I understand you, I just don't want to do what you're telling me too! I tried to explain to them that I have diarrhea, and when you have diarrhea you should only eat rice and bread because its easy to digest. So what do they do? Give me lots of vegetables, and eggs, and tomatoes in soup to eat. Which, I'm sorry, but those just do not sound good right now, and definitely don't sound digestion friendly. I dodge the eggs, have a little broth of the soup over my rice and try a couple of vegetables and disappear to my room before they can shout at me again. I love my family. But really, right now I just want to be with my American family in Kaysville getting better. My mommy would know exactly what to do to help me get better. She wouldn't make me eat any canned-spinachey-looking-vegetables-that-taste-like-garbage.

And for real, if anyone knows any tricks to get rid of diarrhea, please post or email me to let me know. This is getting really old.

Oh, and its the Fourth of July. Hurray for American Independence from Britain! I am sort of really depressed I'm sweating out a fever in China instead of watching fireworks and eating hamburgers in America.

All will be well. The body's gotta heal eventually, right? Right.

WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER!!!!! STAND A LITTLE TALLER!!! LABLA BAL BLA LONELY WHEN I'M ALONE!!!!! (Kelly Clarkson Lyrics with minor editing by myself)