Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Long Update

I feel like there is so much to write! First off, I want to go through the days of this past week and tell you all what happened!
On Sunday we tried going to church but weren’t able to get there so we went back home and Skyped into church instead. It has been an amazing experience listening to church over Skype. The spirit is very strong and you can feel the dedication of the Saints that call in from all over China and other places. It’s really nice to have that opportunity.
Monday was a normal teaching day and my lessons and teaching are starting to go better. What helps is that I know my kids better and I am growing to love them all. Tuesday most of the volunteers out here were sick so we had the day off for resting. I have not been sick once since I got here! (Knock on wood) I feel super lucky! I haven’t had a stomachache, a cough, NOTHING. Wednesday was pretty normal and Thursday night we all went out to WalMart which was quite a journey and… not really worth it. We discovered that WalMart here is about just as good as Tesco or worse. Not very many American products at all. The weirdest thing happened though! I saw an American guy in the store! It was honestly the weirdest feeling! I had to do a triple take it was so shocking! That moment made me realize that I’m really used to things here. I’m used to seeing Chinese people all day every day (aside from the 19 Americans in my group).
Friday I taught an ELE class in the morning and it was awesome! The kids in that class don’t take our regular English classes every day, so they only see us once a week. They LOVE me! It’s sooo fun teaching a class that is so ready to learn! It’s hard though because they don’t know any English. I guess that gives us a lot to work on! We are supposed to be teaching “greetings” and so far they know “How are you?” with the responses “I’m good, I’m fine thank you, I’m okay and I’m not good,” “What’s your name?,” “Where are you from?,” “Nice to meet you,” “How old are you?” and “Hello/Hey/Hi.” They know those but it’s hard for them to remember so we always review. This week I’m going to teach them “What’s up.” When I walked in the door on Friday it was like I was a celebrity! Like a swarm of insects they all jumped out of their seats and rushed the doorway, mobbing me until I almost fell over! Just picture 40 cute, crazy Chinese kids pulling on my legs and giving me the biggest group hug! I loved it! Those moments really make everything worth it for me. Throughout class the kids were coming up to me and asking for my name, asking for hugs, peeking in my notebook, etc. It was so cute!
Next we had clubs to teach, which is pretty much anything we want. They are supposed to be more fun and less language oriented. So Jocelyn and I taught our kids “What does the fox say?” with lyrics and motions! I will try to get a video soon J Friday night the Chinese teachers took us out to see a movie at the Jackie Chan theater! My group had tickets to The Hobbit and the most exciting thing from that night was the carpet! That theater was the first carpeted place I’ve seen since… the airport? I think! It’s something I never thought I’d miss but I do! Tile/marble floors just get really old after a while!
We stayed up late that night playing games and watching movies. Our whole group loves to stay up doing those things. It’s really fun! Dan and Patty (the married couple) have a projector set up in their room with stadium seating couches so it’s perfect for movies and video games. Everyone always gathers in there for games, etc. Our favorite one has been Werewolves. If you haven’t played this game, you have to find it! It comes in a deck of cards and it’s tricky the first few times you play but then it’s super fun! Actually if you haven’t played it, then wait until I come home so you can play with me J
Saturday we bought our vacation train tickets which was a 3 hour long nightmare, but we got it done! After that we needed massages and that was a really entertaining experience! The Chinese people were slapping us and throwing us around, contorting us in every possible way! We were all dying laughing. We got neck, arm, back and foot massages for only $5 American dollars.
We stayed up all night that night too and then woke up at 5 for church! It was a really great day! If you know me, you know how much I love seeing new things. So riding that train was very exciting for me! I loved watching China go by out the window. It was our first time leaving the city since we got here! Church was super nice. It was in this beautiful house where the first 3 stories are similar to a church building back home and the family lives on the 4th and 5th floors.  It was small but perfect. Talking to all the Americans made us feel like we were back home. They even had a western toilet HALLELUJAH! The congregation was small, about 40 people total and many of them were from all over the world. It was a great experience and we hope to go again soon.
After church, our Branch President Okeson had us over for dinner and it was like heaven on Earth. We were SO excited to have a real American Sunday dinner. They made a ton of food too so we got to have seconds and thirds! It was spaghetti with garlic bread, corn, green beans, salad with ranch dressing and cinnamon cake for dessert. We thanked them about a million times. We were so so so happy! Then our journey home took forever. We took a bus for about 30 minutes and then rode a metro for about 15 minutes, another hour long metro, (the song “riding on the metroooooo” kept playing in my head), then we had to wait in a long line for an hour just to buy train tickets. After we had the tickets we had to wait another hour and half before we could leave. The train ride was 30 minutes, then we took another bus for over an hour. It was kind of miserable by the end but we all slept really well!

I have been told that what’s more interesting to hear about is the little things… So here are some things you might find interesting!
Laundry: There is a water faucet on the wall that I attach a plastic hose to and then I place my clothes in a bin and make sure the drains are closed at the bottom. I fill it with water and soap and then place a lid on top and let it swish my clothes around for about 15 minutes. Then when I come back it is soapy so I drain all the water out and then attach the hose again to rinse everything. It is soaking wet so then I ring it out. Next I place it in a spinner that rings the clothes out so they aren’t soaking. They are still wet so then I hang them up to dry!
Eating: I am now willing to try almost anything. I have grown to love eating things that I hated the first time I tried them. I am an expert with chopsticks ;)
My bed: Let’s just say I dream about my bed back at home.
Water: The water jugs are extremely heavy and must be carried up about 100 stairs.
The city: There are no traffic rules, people just drive wherever they want and then honk so that others clear the way. When the crosswalks signal for us to walk, it still is not safe because cars and tuk tuks and scooters will still be flying through the intersection even though it’s not their turn. There aren’t a whole lot of trash cans so people just drop trash as they go... in fact, I do it too! It is heavily polluted. We were super excited this week when we could see the stars! We hadn’t seen them since we got here! It’s rare when we see the sun or the moon, I think it’s only happened a few times.

I love you all and I’m so thankful to be here! I love your support and I apologize that I don’t have much time to communicate with you! Let me know if there’s anything you want me to write about!
After the massage, one of the salon owners wanted me to take a picture with his dog.
This dog was sooo cute, it reminded me of Gordon!

Me on the train headed to SuZhou for church!

NO, I don't really eat these chicken feet.
 I have had like 2 bites. They scare me!

These ones are duck feet... note that they are webbed.
I had a few bites of this and then ate all the tofu next to them.


  1. WOW!!!!!! IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE HAVING THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE! That is so wonderful that going to church was somewhat similar to home. I bet that was nice to experience familiar things! Good for you trying new foods....who would have thought? haha! I love the pics you posted of your adventure and 1st grade students! Keep up the great work! love you! xoxo

  2. Thank you Danie :) I am loving it here! Haha so many new experiences! I love you and all the support you give me!

  3. Brynn - so fun to hear all these stories! Brings back so many memories! I remember Tara saying how awesome it was to go to church and have a wonderful home cooked meal! I have been copy and pasting your posts to Tara and she loves reading them. Have fun on your trip! Can't wait to hear more adventures of Teacha Brynn!