Friday, September 25, 2009


An Authentic, Chinese Church Wedding in Lai She, China.

This is the latest, biggest, most enjoyable China adventure we have had so far, and we have really had some. One of Dana's medical student (English name, James) from last year invited us to attend even though it was far far away. His home town is about 6 hours from Jinan by bus, and perhaps he thought that we would not be able to break away from teaching our English classes, or to go that far for such an event.
He did not know us, if that is what he thought, as we decided to attend. It was clearly going to be an opportunity of a lifetime, not only for him, but for us. We came to know that five of best student friends who live here in Jinan, in the same medical school, decided to go with us and help us along the way.

These are the five medical students which are now fast friends: Gordon, Jonathan, Martin, Harry, and Ken.
James helped to get us and the five of us there, by facilitating out tickets, our travel and hotel arrangements. We were so well taken care of. We loved every minute of these two whirlwind days. The photos show some of the wonder and awe we experienced as we met their families in there homes and in their church, as these two beautiful people were married.

We arrived by bus after a long trip, slept in the Hotel overnight on our air mattresses we packed with us to put over the hard bed mattresses in China, and we were welcomed into the wedding entourage the next morning. We traveled by black car caravan from place to place. We had a big day ahead of us. Dana is clearly dressed for a Chinese wedding in her new dress which she made for the event. The wedding flowers were all so beautiful, even the decorated car to which the flowers were taped with some super tape. These flowers never once came loose as we sped from place to place, sometime 40 - 50 miles between places.

We both loved the extra effort of a loving family to decorate the car for this wedding day. I love Minnie and Mickey Mouse. They led the way as the caravan sped through towns, villages and rural farms to making this day a truly memorable one.

Jane and her Maid of Honor, enter the back of the church on their way to the front where James and his best man await. The Brides march music is playing.
After the Elder performed the wedding, and the choir sang, there was a slide show of both of them growing up. Then photos began. They took photos with all of those attending who wanted to. This whole wedding was covered by a videographer, so that they will have a grand DVD of their wedding...and we are in it. We had them take this photo of us with the bride and groom, husband and wife.

The new Husband and Wife with the performing Church Choir. James is also in his church choir and his new father in law, who is one of the city governors, is also active in his church. The choir sang beautifully and were very colorful and kind.
This is their family photo with Jame's family, Parents, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles.

Dana is outside the Hotel where the Wedding Dinner and reception was held, with the husband, James and his new wife, Jane as we all await the start of the big Chinese Wedding Dinner.

This is a photo of the sea cucumber with rice and the Pork meat balls. The pork was really tasty, but the centers were rare. Jay enjoyed them. The sea cucumber is supposed to be a delicacy, and we know it is very expensive, so Jay had his first bite of sea cucumber. Courageous! He did not want the rest though. Dana -- No way!
Jay and Dana enjoy the fabulous and voluminous variety and quantity of Chinese delicacies. There was crab, fish, dumplings, squid, oysters, and sea cucumbers, and about 12 other plated choices of various sundry culinary items. Most were edible. Jay tasted his first slice of rotten boiled egg. He told Dana not to try that one and washed it down with Sprite. There were two bottle of vodka and two bottles of red wine on each table, and Dana spent a lot of time trying to convince the 5 doctors to be who were seated at our table, not to drink! She was successful with about 70 percent of the them.

After the wedding dinner, Jane and James came to our table for toasts and to visit. They were so kind and they were so happy and so in love. They will make a great family. Jay could understand some of the wedding nuptials and recognized when the Elder was addressing children in their marriage -- "haizi" is children. We were told that the Elder who married them, blessed them with more than one child. That is quite possible in their specific case, because she is her parent's only child -- a girl.

That fact is cause for them to have at least two children. They will be blessed.

Dana and James, the Groom, holding the Wedding Bouquet on his way up the stairs, 4 flights to his and his brides new 3 bedroom apartment, where the Bride, (English name Jean) and her family are waiting for his arrival. He wends his way upstairs and tried to knock and enter their apartment, but is buffeted by those on the inside, demanding payment of some several money in red envelopes until he is admitted into the apartment. They are finally satisfied. (Of course, these are all fun and games that are played as tradition, to make this day a truly memorable one) There were many more fun, games, and social and traditional requirements demanded and played that day. Most of these were situated and orchestrated on the bed.

After leaving their apartment and sharing Chinese food and dumplings with here parents, Uncles and cousins, the caravan drove a long way ( one hour) to a Large Chinese farm way out in the country, on muddy, narrow paths. It was near another city, near Lai She, where his parents live and where they were expecting them. The Bride, (Jean) veiled her face with a red veil, before formally meeting his parents and family for more tributes, fun and games, again all on the bed in his father's house.

As they go down the path toward the Groom's parents farm house, there are cannons filled with confetti shot off over the wedding party. It was a sight to behold. This was really fun. On the way into the house, we were shown the farm animals there and Jame's Aunt, an English teacher, spoke with us. She was clearly happy to have us there and took us by the hand and showed us the pigs, and goats, and chickens. She said they had 3,500 chickens, and 200 pigs. The smell was ragingly sweet and they all live inside the family compound together. After a short while, we got used to it too. It was good to be there in their wonderful and loving home.
The Groom carries the bride all the way from the car to his father's house and into the house, but not before the Groom's father carefully takes off the veil with a long stick and hangs it on the front porch.

The Groom's (Jame's) Mom and Dad, Grandpa and Grandma in front of their farm house. They have a large number of peasants who work for them on their farm. For all of them, they have work enough to do til the sun goes down. They were all so welcoming and loving toward us and made us feel like we were so special and that they were so please to have their son's "English Teachers" there to celebrate with their family.

This is the Aunt (James' father's sister) who showed us around the farm and took us to see the giant hog and the brood of piglets, as well as a proud Billy goat and coops and coops full of chickens. She was so happy that we came and that she could talk to us in English, that she was actually shaking with excitement all the time she talked. She was certainly one of our best friends by the time we finally left.

James and Jean again take to the bed and stay there for most of the time, as well wishers, family and friends come in and sing, bring gifts, and require the couple to perform several "getting to know you" type wedding games, activities, and Chinese rituals for fun. The bed was covered with about 15 beautiful quilts, or comforters, all unique and colorful. They uncovered them one by one and showed the lovely gifts that were given to the couple by those who loved the. The large bulk of the heavy quilts were clearly a show of love, and kind of a dowry. They were so beautiful.

Dana and I were asked to sing a song, and we quickly sang our easy one, called: Dang me! Then after another tribute, we asked to sing a better song, one about their family. They asked us to sing, so we gave our best duet rendition of: "Families Can Be Together Forever", there at their wedding bed reception.

As we sang, as I expected, Dana broke into tears, and I had a hard time singing as well, but chugged along, only to notice that the Bride's Maid of Honor was singing along with me. She was behind the Bride and clearly new all of the words as I could hear her singing with us right up to the end. As we finished our song, they brought in tissues to repair the brides eye makeup as she too had felt the strength and power in our gallant, but weak effort to sing our short tribute. James stated that Dana had made her cry, kindly referring to the spirit that Dana brought to that wonderful song.

Dana and Jane outside the hotel after the wedding dinner and as we prepare to depart by train for our home in Jinan. We are good friends and hope to see them many more times and to remain friends for life.
Jay and Jean, a colorful couple -- of close friends.

We wait at the local, rural green train station to catch the slow train back to Jinan, a 6 hour trip with the five medical students, soon to be doctors. They were great fun as we played games, ate noodles, and talked all the way home.

Our train lacked a lot of comfort, and style, but it got us there, back home a 10:00 PM. We were gone only two days and one night, but what an wonderful adventure we had in China. There is no place like home however!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ahh what a life

Hi, Dana here, I went to the salon yesterday and had my nails done and got lovely new eyelashes. They glue them in and they last about a month until you get the next ones. It is such a great price and makes you feel great. No need for mascara.



Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fun in China

Hi Dana here, Yesterday we went to visit another BYU couple and we took the back road and were not able to get into their apartment area because it was a gated community. The locals told us that there was a place we could try to go through at the end of the gate.
Here are the picture of Jay going through.

I made it through but Jay was so interested in if I could make it and if he needed to help me that he did not take a picture of me accomplishing the task. I actually did it quite well. I went through backwards. Here I am looking through the gate.

Here we are in front if the sign celebrating the National Holiday that wend from 8 days to 1 day because of the flu, also there is a beautiful Catholic church in the back ground, it is really big.

Here is a man who is using a machine to make popped rice.

Here is Jay with the RS president, Lugene West

Here is our church twig (that is smaller than a branch) at the Hanlin hotel on the 7th floor

The next picture is Jays counselor is on left with his wife. Also Mac and Marilyn Nelson on the right who are our neighbors who are really nice. Next are Paula and Richard Watkins, they are really musical.

I watched Dad teach his class last night and he is so good and fun and they all love him so much. This experience sure does give us purpose.

Monday, September 21, 2009

English Corner

Hi it is dana again. Above are two pictures of our English Corner. This year we have two sets of English corner. I do my Freshmen from 5-7 and Jay does his Graduate students from 7 to 9 once a week. Since I haven't started classes yet we just had our first English corner with Jay's class. We were going to try and not have so many come, but many brought friends and so we ended up with about 30+.
We show them a movie of the Homestead and then we usually play some games and talk. For refreshments I make cinnamon rolls with cream cheese topping. Most of the time they like it but there are few that don't and we tell them they do not have to eat if they don't like the way it taste. This week I made about 45 rolls so we had a few that wanted seconds. That made me feel good.
We had discussions about USA and I ask one of the students what was one idea of American they had that is now different. She said, "I always thought that the USA is only made up of large cities, but after having your class I found that you have a lot of beautiful space. For most Chinese there only impression of USA is Friends, Sex's in the City, & Desperate Housewives, of course they do watch movies but they then think all of us have guns and drink a lot of alcohol. They were amazed on Sunday when Jay said he had never drank anything with alcohol in it. For men it is right of passage, and they think the only way to become successful in their jobs is to drink with the boss.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

First week in China... Again

Jay here with "this week in China"....We enjoyed a wonderful virtual fireside meeting via telephone with all the USA saints in China, close to 200. What a great meeting and so spiritual. Elder Dallin Oaks, our governing general authority, and his wife,gave wonderful talks as did several other members here in China. We, as the Jinan Twig off the Beijing branch gathered to listen together in our apartment.... Then we had Taco Soup, chips and tossed salad made and served by Dana.

Canada called us on SKYPE. She is so cool. We recommend that you have one clock in your home to tell CHINA TIME. That is what we did for USA, so we know what time it is there when we want to call. Call us some time.

REMODELLING: Some other photos are included for you to see our new decks which were remodelled and improved while we were gone for the summer, and our I CAN SPEAK ENGLISH t-shirt placed on our fur blanket which we cannot take to the US...Yup, it is Chinese Wolf Dog Fur! Google it!

STUDENTS: Our English Classes are so fun and these students seem to like them. They really want to learn English from least how to listen, understand and speak English.