Mei Chi, China
We're wrapping up the school year with these little Chinese children. I'm not sure how much they've learned from me but I learn and stretch every time I step into the classroom. Next year we'll have some redone classrooms with more flexible seating in the new "International Department". I hope it works well. We fly out a week from tomorrow for Houston for a week then on to Utah until the 3rd week of August. That time will whiz by for sure.
GOOD SAMARITAN- This actually happened several months ago. Standing in pouring rain on the side of a street in Zhuji, we had just left the Chinese Traditional Medicine Hospital where Richard tried unsuccessfully to pay for a past visit he had made there. The cashier didn't understand what he wanted to do and the folks doing acupuncture were not in their office, although there was a bunch of people waiting outside their door. After calling friends and co-workers to try to get them to translate and everyone was busy, Richard decided that they just didn''t want his money.
So back to the street corner with water dripping down Richard's neck--at least I had a hood on my coat. I held out my hands to some coals that just happened to be burning in a habachi thing on a shelf under a canopy held up with bamboo poles. I asked Richard if he thought the section of the street was one-way because there was a clump of cars taking up the road going one way, definitely not in lanes. He said he didn't think so because.here comes a bus coming the other way. It just honked its' horn and the cars magically made a space for it to pass.
We were trying to flag down a taxi to take us to a grocery store. Plenty of taxis, all full. Usually we take a bus but we didn't know the route. So we were dripping. Up pulled a man in his mini-van.
In Chinese "where are you going?".
"Da Ren Fa" (RT Mart in English)."
He let us know that he would take us there.
I'm suspicious. "How much?"
"You are in the rain. I will take you.", he said.
Richard was game, Kate is thinking of "you should never get in the car with a stranger who is offering you candy" and thoughts of Ron Gierisch (a Mormon bishop who was murdered in Houston years ago after picking up a hitch hiker).
Finally Kate decided, "OK, but if I'm held hostage, you get the blame."
Riding in the back seat, we heard the driver talking on his phone about taking his friends to Da Ren Fa. "Maybe it's ok", I thought. We thought he said he had a cousin in Canada. (never quite sure about the translation) Anyway, after a bit, he pulled up in front of Da Ren Fa (RT Mart). Didn't accept any payment. A modern day good Samaritan. He just saw us in the rain and wanted to do a good turn.
THE WRONG BUS. Richard was sick so I ventured to go to church on my own. When the man wouldn't take my money for awhile and when the bus turned the wrong way, I knew I was in a tough spot. I had the address and directions to the church written in Chinese....so we went on down the freeway. Poor Richard didn't get much sleep that morning because he got a call from his wife asking for advice. We called a Chinese friend but he wasn't familiar with the area. Finally we pulled off and the conductor motioned for me to get off. He got off with me and talked to a lady at the bus stop with "will you please take care of this American lady?" That lady looked at my paper, walked me across the street and made sure I got on a bus heading in the right direction. When I got off that bus as one of the passengers directed, the bus driver stopped the bus, got off and motioned for me to get back on. When we got to the bus stop that had #113 (my friend, I know that bus takes me to the church as long as it was going the right way!), the bus driver again stopped the bus, got off, and made sure I knew what to do. Nice, don't you think? I was only 1/2 hour late for church.
BIRTHDAY SURPRISE. We had a wonderful time on my birthday with our friend's husband (who speaks maybe less English than Richard speaks Chinese) who took us up into the hills to some scenic spots. (see pictures). We saw the farmers out in their rice fields mucking around in the mud/water planting rice. A Buddhist temple was at the top of a hill. After catching the bus back into our little town we stopped to eat. I told Richard that that could count as my birthday meal and we wouldn't have to go out again on Monday. That had been the plan. He said, "no no no, let's go anyway. Let's go at 6:00" Hmmm. Ok then. Looking back on it, I thought it was not really very "typical Richard" but who am I to turn down 2 birthday meals? We got to the restaurant on Monday and he had arranged a surprise with 7 of our friends. There were presents and flowers and a most happy time. We realized that we've met many of our friends on the bus ... or they are friends of friends of those we've met on the bus. I loved my birthday surprise.
FLOOD. We got back from Yiwu and took our little cart to go eat noodles. Nope, the main roads of town were flooded. So we parked the cart and walked around the corner on the much higher side walk. We actually saw fish swimming in the street. The funny thing was that nobody seemed very upset or were even talking about it much. Our coworker told us later that this is very normal for Mei Chi. It floods once or twice a year. Who knew?
NOODLES. Love, love, love those homemade noodles. I always get the egg/tomato noodles because I know what I'm eating. The people at the shop already know to not put MSG in my noodles. Richard usually points at the menu on the wall and takes a chance on something new, a surprise. So fun to watch the show owners stretch and flip the noodles. They don't even cut the noodles at all, just stretch the dough and folds it back over until it pulls apart.
YIWU; Went to visit the Lazarini family. He is from Brazil and she is from Georgia (near the Black Sea). They speak most of the time in Chinese or Portuguese at home. Their little girl, 3 years old speaks mostly Chinese to her father, usually Georgian to her mother. The mom speaks English with no accent, Portuguese she learned from her husband within a few months in Brazil. Goergian, Russian, English, Portuguese and Chinese. Amazing. That little girl could learn 5 languages just by talking to her mom. She's not even Chinese but that is her native language. We had a fun time staying up way too late playing games. We just invited ourselves over because we wanted to get to know them better. He grew up in the church in Brazil...looked up online and found our little branch.
OUR LITTLE BRANCH. Just love it. Love the potlucks twice a month. We really have some of THE BEST cooks ever in our branch. We usually eat it all even though it looks like quite a bit when we start. Of course we go for spiritual food also. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We have 8 or 9 women for Relief Society. We just have the best time in that house/church in Hangzhou. We are truly blessed to have each other.
DNA match. Richard's brother, David, sent in a blood sample to a company that matches samples for purposes of connecting families doing Genealogy research. He's come across some pretty close matches but is yet to tie in conclusively on his Armstrong line. He's having fun with it, and genuinely hopes a prolonged dead-end at his Armstrong great-grandfather will be extended.
HONG KONG. We went to the temple and stayed with our friends from Beijing, the Woos. They were so kind and kept the baby in their room so we could have the baby's room. We spent a night at the temple housing which is on the second floor of the church across the street. So fun! I talked with a boy from Thailand who was the only member of the church in his family. There was a lady from near Beijing who travels to the temple every other month who invited me to eat with her and told me her story.
Well, that's it for this school year. I am relieved. Those kids are smiling to be done with school but they are not any happier than this "foreign teacher".
Love to all,
Kate and Richard
Photos: Flooded Streets, Lazarinis and Armstrongs eating noodles,, Duck Anyone? John and Delona Roth, our good friends, An old truck, Wet field, Hong Kong Temple, Kate with students on our cart