Thursday, December 31, 2009

Processing the Second year.

Hi it's Dana....
How do I describe my 2nd year in China? The first year was so amazing I wondered when I returned how it could be any better. It is sort of like how can I love another child the same as I have loved the one I already have. Like that situation where love can always be added to and made better.

This year started with me liking a thing called dumplings or in USA they are called hot pockets. In fact when I returned that is the first thing I knew I had to have. Sort of like Roakes hot dogs in Oregon City, Oregon. When I arrived this year it wasn’t trying to figure out where to go to buy things or what bus to catch to go some place or even how to tell the taxi driver the direction to some place. (It all comes down to how well you can point and say stop – “daola”). Arriving was like coming home and going to sleep in my own bed and knowing how and where to go to get simple things like toilet paper, milk, butter and the ingredients to make bread.

So with this feeling of being home we started to discover the wonders of Jinan. I really didn’t know how beautiful this place was or what wonders there were to see here. It was also fun to be able to show the people who were new all the things that we had already discovered last year. Of course, since many had been here for a couple weeks before we arrived they were also able to tell us a lot. They showed us some great powder milk that actually taste like real milk and we also found this wonderful real milk that was a hundred percent and taste just like being home in USA. Of course we don’t have it very often, but it is really close to our apt. And so we do know where to get it fast.

Teaching has been even better than last year. Last year I loved teaching a lot because I loved the students. This year I love the students but I figured out how to do it better and feel I am doing a much better job. My students are learning how to listen and speak better and because I know my campus better I have been able to do more things with them and be more a part of their lives. As this semester comes to a close I don’t feel as sad as I did last year at the end of the semester. I will be able to teach the same students next semester and perhaps even next year. It means more work and adding to my curriculum but makes excited about the next 16 weeks of teaching.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas in China

Well it is Christmas after noon for you and it is the day after Christmas for us. 7:00 am to be exact. This year in class we talked about Christmas and had a Christmas party with Santa and everything. I taught them the last two verses to “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” we changed the line “God is not dead nor does He sleep” to “Love is not dead nor does it sleep.”

Then at our Christmas party we sang the whole song and they joined us on the last two verses. Last year we thought we should not even talk about Christmas, then second semester the book we taught out of had a whole section on Christmas and Christ being the savior of the world, so this year we thought we would have fun with that. Jay was Santa Claus, I really have become grateful for Santa Claus, because in China he is everywhere along with so many Christmas decorations which makes it fun to talk about.

This year we had the opportunity to sing at a government accepted Christen Church. It was a wonderful experience.
Since I was in front of the microphone I mouthed the words. Anyone who has ever heard me sing knows that I really can’t carry a tone.

Christmas day we taught our class. When we got home at 6:15 pm we got ready for our twig Christmas party. The weather has gotten so cold here, it reminds me of Alaska. You forget how cold it is until it hits again.

We really had a lot of fun. There were five couples that were able to make it and we did white elephant gifts that I was really excited about. We had gotten this one gift from our school. Jay got one and I got one. It was this sculpture in plastic of an elephant. We both got one so we were able to really give a fun one. We had such a fun time. The O'breins came down and participated in the evening. At the end of the evening we went downstairs to the Watkins apartment and sang songs around the electric piano and ended the evening with one dance. It turned out to be a very special China Christmas eventing.

This year has been really a good one. I have enjoyed teaching and think I have a better handle on how to do it right. I video all 258 at the beginning of the semester and then did it the last week at the end and have been so excited to see the progress they have made. Most important they have all learned that it is okay to say, “I don’t understand you, would you please talk slower.” The book I have been given to teach out of has really been helpful. They had a whole unit on thinking and brainstorming and the importance of thinking “outside the box.” I am excited about next semester and what I will get to do be with them next year.

For the Christmas party we decorated a really great room for the party. It seated over 400 students and has a great screen to show movies. My nursing students game over to the house and made 600 sugar cookies in 4 hours. They really had a great time and I had fun with them.
My kitchen counter is perfect for making sugar cookies.

I went to the wrong room. I was scheduled for the West Library and I had told everyone the East Library on the 5th floor. They let me stay in the East Library on Saturday but we had to do the second night in the West Library. I would like to note that there is no elevator in a building unless it has 7 floors. Because of my mistake we had to decorate twice.

We had one on Saturday night for my freshmen and then on Sunday we had a Christmas sing a long with the Watkins, Jay’s and some of my students. That night was really great also. I asked Jay if he would be Santa and he remained me of the last time he played Santa in Utah and how he told me he would do it one more time, but to never to ask him to do it again. I guess being in China helped to change his mind. He did a great job and he said that it was a lot more fun with the college students than the little Ward children who always pulled at is beard.

Paula Watkins setting up the sound system for Sunday Night Christmas sing along. She is an amazing teacher and performer. It is fun to watch her and Richard in action. They had Saturday Dance English Corners.

About half way through Judy Judd & Sarah, Joann’s granddaughter, came in and the students were so excited. We once again sang, “I Heard the Bells.” Most impressive was they said, then, the, and earth, with the “the” sounds perfectly. We had been working on that.

I am going to show the movie “Flower Drum Song”. They love movies, but the teacher in me has a hard time letting me show one during class time so I have had movie night every Tuesday and Wednesday. I have shown some really great ones. This last week I had to do a “One on One” with all my students and so I showed them “Homeless to Harvard.” What an amazing movie, I don’t think there was a single person who had a dry eye at the end of it.

Well, I started this in the morning yesterday and now it is Monday morning. Last night two of my students came over and helped us with a couple of computer problems. Then I fixed them American food. A piece of one of the best bread I have made this year (Actually Jay and I work together on it. I start it out and use the beater to mix it – we actually found here, so I don’t have to use my electric drill – and then Jay takes over and finishes it off. He is really good. He said he learned how to do it by watching his mother when he was young. We brought some instant Chicken Noodle soup, to have when we get a cold, and so I made that for them. They found it interesting to see such little noodles. I had made macaroni salad for our twigs (our name for our Branch group) Sunday dinner and I gave them that. We sat around and talked. They both speak really good English and so we had a great talk about a great many things.

This year President Lewis, our Branch President, said if any of our Chinese students or friends ask us what religion we belong to we can tell them that we are from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or some times called Mormons. That we have a Word of Wisdom and do not drink alcohol or smoke and use wisdom in our eating, and that we believe strongly in the family unit. That has been nice to be able to say that much.

Of course, when they ask us to tell them more, we always follow up with the statement, “we can’t tell you any more, we have signed a contract with your government and we believe in opining the laws of the land, so we really can’t talk about it. I then say, “What I say I will do or not do is what makes what I believe important.” But last night one of the young men said, “Mormons, oh I have heard about the Mormons, they were mention in the movie “Sherlock Homes.” He said that in the movie they said Mormons were a mysterious religion, I asked him if he thought I was mysterious, and then we both laughed and left the subject.

It is now Tuesday morning and I just got home from getting some Chinese medicine. It doesn’t taste very good but it seems to be working really well. Two more days and we leave on our journey through China. I am really excited about it. I some times don’t think we are really going to be doing it but if it happens it should be one really great adventure. I feel we have been so blessed this last that I have become a little worried that we will have to go through some new testing experience. We will be staying at youth hostels so that should be a new and interesting (and cheap) experience. The last place we will be at will be is Xi is where the Terracotta worries are.

Also, Amanda de Lange, who received BYU Humanitarian award for her work in building the is making it possible for us to stay a week and work at her place as volunteer. It was Paula Watkins idea and we should be there the same time as them. We will also spend a week in Hong Kong at the temple patrons hostel and will be doing temple work every morning. I have been packed for almost a week now, I am so excited.

Well I will close now, there really are so many things that I could write about, I would like to remind you to remember China and all the other nations where the church can not be in you prayers.

With Love, Dana

Friday, December 25, 2009

Recent Correspondence

Here is the first letter....

Holly Twigs,

Thank you for a splendid Christmas performance this evening in downtown Jinan. I sensed that the congregation seemed pleased with our humble part on the program. I appreciated leading your warm, heartfelt, and harmonious voices while watching your glowing countenances.

For you who arrived at the planned hour, I seek your forgiveness of the director and accompanist for being an hour late. The Thelins, Paula and I left our apartment at 5 p.m. We had intended to hail a taxi at the south gate. For about 40 minutes, the four of us waving, we could not secure an available taxi. With help from a few Chinese at the south bus stop, we attempted to board Bus #2. The bus was crammed with passengers. As we were about to take the first step, the bus driver motioned "no more" and closed the sliding doors. Back to taxi flagging. Two young Chinese girls took note of our dilemma and offered help. They tried their cell phone to call a taxi. Finally, another crowded #2 bus came on the scene. We boarded, barely, then took a long start-stop ride to the location nearest the church where we then caught a taxi. The two girls rode the bus, stayed with us, waved us goodbye as we drove off in the taxi to the church. Once inside, here were the two girls. They wanted to be part of what we were hoping to experience Christmas Eve.

Had it not been for these two young girls, we would have arrived much closer to performance time, if at all. I'm sorry we couldn't explain what happened before the program because of rushed attention to last-minute details. Yes, we should have left our apartment much earlier.

Here's hoping for some extra forgiveness from all of you this season of good will to all men, including those who fail to fully meet their Christmas Eve commitment.

Richard (and Paula) Watkins

P.S. One taxi pulled over just as a women jumped us and drove off. Dana said: "Hum, no room in the bus, no room in the taxi."

And here is the second letter I wrote.....

Dear Holly Twigs,
For Brian and for all of you, here are last nights photos taken by someone sitting right in the front & center. The other photos I took.
Here is the story from another perspective. Last night, I certainly failed in the roll of a wise man. Richard forgot to tell you that I left home without a top coat, only wearing a shirt, light suit coat and tie as planned. Of course I was thinking I could just jump into a warm taxi and speed to the church, then quickly get out and hurry in.. No such luck. It was well below zero. I froze. Dana was worried I would catch a deathly cold so she took off her coat and placed in on me. I ran about wildly trying to flag a taxi and wolf whistled at every taxi I saw much to the delight of our little group and of passers by. I learned that loud whistles do not stop taxis in China when they are already carrying passengers. However, Paula did even much more in her efforts. She was animated and so involved in hailing a taxi, that for the 40 minutes she could be seen by our group and by passers by, running this way and that through the dusty shrubs, jumping over bushes and waving her arms with all her might. What a night! What a sight all because our time was tight!
We were made humble. This was Christmas eve, but nothing seemed work. The busses were full and indeed there was no room in the taxis.
With the help of two Chinese angels, by number 2 slow bus and then a taxi, we made it to the church a half hour before the program started, which was much better than an hour later. We were blessed to even get there at all. Thank you Richard for our travelling group's apology to the rest of the choir. We love you and you are a great choir director and your light shone last night as did the spirit of your Holly Twig Choir.
Last night's Christmas eve adventure was certainly one to remember. The program was awesome, the costumes, the choirs, the songs, and the primary age children's performances were so good. That we were privileged to learn how the Chinese people love Christmas, was not just simply a new China adventure. It is clearly a rare and special blessing. What a thrill for Dana and me just to be there and to witness a Chinese Christmas eve program.
I can say that we really enjoyed the cold, freezing, Christmas eve with good Jinan people, and with the O'briens, our Weihai friends, and by choir invitation, with our Chinese Christian friends. What an unusual and inspiring musical performance dedicated entirely to the birth of Jesus Christ and love for the savior of the world. They tried their very best to sing the songs of love and praise for the savior. This was a night to remember. This was an exceptional China adventure. To see and to learn about these wonderful Chinese people is why we were sent to China. With a new spiritual perspective, I feel happy to be able to now proclaim "That's China!"
Dana and I love and appreciate you.
Thank you.
Merry Christmas to all!!
Jay Thelin

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Jay's birthday is coming up and so we spent the celebration with our twig group. Jay, Judy and Mac were all having a birthdays this month. We went to the best Pizza place in Jinan to celebrate. It is an Italian restaurant called Lydia's. The medium size pizza cost $2.50, they don't have any other size. Pizza Hut cost around $12. The tuna salad cost $ 1. The cake cost $1.40. We sure are going to miss food prices when we get back to USA. We had a fun time together. The Birthday candles are really great. I was in charge of pictures.

Well Dad is back to baking. He loved doing it as a child, as a father and now as a person who has a lot of free time here in China. He has been making cookies.

This is a picture of our really darling red kitchen. I got the idea of a read kitchen from Tricia. The counter space by the window was one of my inventions. It is really nice for making homemade bread.

The bread hear is something to be desired, but I have started to like it. It is cheap and Skippy peanut butter taste really quite good on it. We found some Nestle powder milk, and it is also quite good.

It amazes me how one learns to enjoy so many things.

We have put up Christmas directions. This little tree is one we found in apt. last year.

When my students come to English corner on Sunday night they always walk into the apt. and say, "Oh how beautiful." This is a picture of an English corner. I have 27 students come every week.
It has been a special evening. Actually they come and are taught about what they will do the next week in class and have the students in the group prepared for what they are going to learn.
We just finished putting on skits this week. Some of them were really quite good. This next week they will come and watch DVD of the skits and pick the 10 who will be preforming in the Christmas program in a week.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


In church last week one of the BYU teachers told of this women from BYU that started this place in China, I have heard that if you get on someone blog and tell them what you are thank full for she will send $1 to this organization. So get on these blogs and maybe we can add a lot more to this wonderful organization.
Cell: 86.1348.812.4847

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Meet His Excellency, US Ambassador to China, John Huntsman Jr.

Every day is a new adventure. After we finished teaching our English classes today, we went on a new, different type of adventure. These are photos of our most recent adventure here in Jinan, China. It was a normal Tuesday afternoon until this happened.
We were invited by University officials to attend this event and we certainly enjoyed the afternoon activities at Shandong University with former Utah Governor John Huntsman Jr, now serving in China under the Barak Obama administration as the United States Ambassador of the Shandong University Business School here. This seemingly small set of books you see, contain a complete set of "American Law" Books translated into Chinese. The books were presented and they were very well received by the Shandong University President, (President of a 70,000 student body in several campuses). It was a media event and as foreign english teachers, we were invited to be a part of it and to be in the photos. It was a real thrill.

We also attended His Excellency's presentation to the Shandong Business School in a conference room in the impressive 40 floor, Shandong Hotel, were the Ambassador was the keynote speaker for the event which included a large historical photos display/show. He gave a great talk and even spoke in Chinese for part of it. However, most of his talk was translated into Chinese by his official translator, a tall, caucasian looking, older American man who probably lived in Taiwan or in China most of his life. There were media men everywhere. I personally talked in half Chinese, half English, with one magazine reporter/photographer and one newspaper reporter just to be sociable. We left as friends.

Many of our English students were also able to attend this event. Some teachers brought their whole class. Dana brought three students who managed to get their photo taken with the Ambassador.

We watched Ambassador Huntsman in action on the TV last week in Beijing with President Obama where he was his right hand man in discussions on North Korea, Economic Recovery, Global Warming and Climate Change, etc, etc. and this week he is here taking photos with us. Whoda thought? We were all glad to see him and to talk with him simply because he is from our home state of Utah. He specifically wanted to know something from our group of English teachers -- "How was China treating us? ...or was he just making friendly conversation? You decide. He is the ambassador and a good diplomat and just a really nice guy.

We as foreign English teachers here, are sort of like US ambassadors too, on our own time, and in our own way. We are happy to do it. We do it every day! We teach English.

Here is a little example of the feedback we experience in our jobs teaching English to Post Graduate college students in China. We have wonderful students who appreciate us and who really want to succeed and to be better people.

We are lucky to be teachers here where we are trully making a difference in their lives.
Dear Jay, Thanks to your reminding, I know that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day! In this mail I want to express my thanks to you! I am so lucky that you are my foreign teacher. After that, you have taught me a lot of things, especially a lot of different experience.
Since the first time that I met you and your wife in hospital when my classmate and I looked after Babara, you have left a deep impression on me. Because the cultural differences, we have a lot difference in life and that also enriches my life.
After you have become my teacher, you told us the correct pronounce that we always make mistakes in. You have told us to practice our oral English at anytime and anywhere. I still remember that once when I was on the bus, I thought of your words and practiced the “V” pronunciation at that time.
You are such a kind and optimistic person that sometimes your optimism affects me a lot. Every Monday I see you, I will become in good mood. You invited me to your home to attend the English Conner, and that was also a wonderful experience. You asked us to have a play performance. You let us to find p penpal to improve our English so that now I can type the English more quickly.
Our class has plenty of wonderful activities that we are happy to join in.
You also remind us that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day so that we have a chance to thank the people we want to. That is also a good way to express our appreciation. You also let us to write a letter to our parents, and that is great! That is a good chance to express thanks to our parents!
Thank you again and good luck!

Best wishes,

Yours, Sun Junzhe (Sharon)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Winter has come with Snow.

Oh... it has been snowing here in China, wet snow. We miss the dry snow of Utah but now we take cabs every where as it is to snowy and cold to walk. I guess there is always a up side if you look for it. Here are some pictures
Love you all

Sunday, November 15, 2009

China Updates

We went to this really neat place to eat, It is so cool. it reminds me of China and an exciting movie. The restaurant was upstairs.

The place was so full with people. It was our first noodle dinner, and it was really good.
The thing I am holding could count as a beginning of a Chinese pizza.
The next several pictures are us going out for a night with the twig group. It was at night and we planned to take a to take another boat ride down the canal, but the boat closed at 5:00 pm, we missed it by 15 minuets. We enjoyed our self, and we went out and I ordered the food In Chinese with the help of James (one of our last year students that we went to the wedding in September.) Every one said I did well, but I think they were just being kind.

Above is a picture of Paula Watkins playing a Chinese musical instrument and below is Jay playing his harmonica with her.

Here is a picture of Jay working at his computer. It was freezing in our apartment. The day before had been really warm. The next day it got cold, but there is a rule in China that they do not turn on heat until the 15 of Nov, and so we had to wear coats till then. But then on Sunday it came on, which is wonderful, because it got winter cold here on Monday, and it would have been torture to wait another week to get heat. Today it is snowing. Last year we saw a lot of rain in the spring, but the only snow came while we were on our spring break. This is suppose to be a really big storm. Luckily, we have the next 4 days off and it should be fun to stay in the apt