• 30Apr

    Hey All!

    Things have been sorta busy around here lately!  I’ve barely had much time to sit in front of the computer and post things.  Busy can be tiring but it’s also a ton of fun!

    School has been going really well.  I feel like my ability for conversation continues to grow.  I actually felt pretty good after Friday’s class as I could understand around 80% of everything my teacher was saying.  She speaks to me mostly in Chinese with some random English words here and there.  I didn’t know some random vocabulary but I was easily following along with a lot of it!  I’ve been told that my character writing is improving as well.  I’ve been trying pretty hard to practice writing everyday as I’ve found that if I can’t say it or remember how to say it… if I can remember how to write it… then I can still “communicate”.

    We’ve been getting little bits of rain for the past week (although now it’s gone), but it seemed like every time I was riding my bike last week it was raining!  I got soaked twice and sorta wet a third time.  I’ve also found that while I thought riding a bike with someone siting on the back of my bike was tough… it’s even harder when someone is STANDING on the back of the bike.  The other day Ruth had brought her bike to work and then we went with our friend from Singapore (who’s in town for a few weeks) to dinner.  XiaoLu had gone to a different meeting, so after dinner it was just Ruth and I going home.  She informs me that she’s going to stand on the back of HER bike while I ride it (I had taken the bus that day so I didn’t have my bike).  It added a whole new dimension to riding a bike… so it’s not like she’s standing on the pegs that you would normally have on the back of a bike… she’s standing on the rack that’s above her back tire.  Now given her bike a small bike so it’s not super tall, but it’s a good foot and a half off the ground to the rack.  So she’s standing on this rack holding my shoulders while I’m trying to pedal.  Now that wasn’t all… not only is she standing on the back of the bike… but she’s screaming the whole time.  Every bump, every crack in the road, every car we pass… I didn’t have a backseat driver… I had a backseat screamer.  Haha!  I think I was laughing 90% of the ride… the other 10% I was trying to catch my breath.  So funny.

    Friday was Susanna’s birthday!  We went out to “hotpot” for dinner.  Yum.  Hot pot is basically a huge pot of broth with some veggies and meat of your choice in it.  Then as the dinner goes on you continue to add new/more veggies.  The table has a burner thing in the middle so the pot sits on it and is continually cooking.  It’s super tasty!  Here’s a picture of us.  (From the left: Rachel, ChengCheng, Fernie (XiaoLu’s cousin), XiaoLu, Apei (our friend from Singapore), Ruth, Susanna (the birthday girl!) and Pam. img_3591

    After hot pot we went to shaved ice!  Yum.  Some of the girls also bought an ice cream cake.  Apparently there is one shop here that sells ice cream cake.  It’s kinda weird in that it has a taro flavor in it… so it’s a little pasty.  It’s really pretty though.  I personally think that the shaved ice is WAYYYY better.  Here’s a pic of the cake.


    And here’s a picture of all of us at the shaved ice place.


    The person on the far right that wasn’t in the other picture is Jessica (it was her birthday on Wednesday!).  These girls are super fun to be around.  We love playing cards (uno, spades, and other games) and we are always laughing.

    Some hesitant but strong praises as Pam yesterday probably was successful in getting the contract that she needs to work in Wenshan with the orphans down there.  We’re excited but still a little hesitant as it isn’t quite complete complete and afterall this is China… things can change in the blink of an eye.  So we’re really excited but also a little cautious… but it was good news as the head official has cleared some of the paperwork (thanks to Hillary Clinton’s signature on one of the documents!! So cool!)  So things are underway now in planning.  Please keep praying that everything will continue to progress in His direction.

    Today’s Labor Day here so it’s a 3-day weekend!  I still have my 1-1 class on Monday, but the girls are off from work.  It should make for a fun weekend.

    I hope all is well where you are!

    I send my condolences to all of the Hubert Himes family.  I will surely miss his warm hugs, his jokes, and kind heart.  Luckily we can rejoice that we will meet again when we are all together with our Father in heaven!


  • 21Apr

    I know that it’s now Wednesday, but I’ve been pretty busy these past days….

    Last Sunday was an great day.  It started with Sunday worship at the local Chinese service.  I decided to go check it out.  It was a good service I only wish I knew more of what they were saying.  I think it’s a great way for me to continue to work on my Chinese and maybe learn some words that wouldn’t be taught in school.  It would be nice to be able to translate more of it, but I think if I keep going I have a good chance of learning.  I really like listening to the singing because the characters are on the screen so I can follow along with the words and learn new characters.  I had Ruth guiding me through the passages of the message so I could kinda guess how to connect the dots…

    After service we came home ate some lunch hung out for a bit then it rained for about 10 minutes.  They were the biggest drops I have ever seen.  I felt as though someone was throwing water balloons at my window.  After the 10 minute shower the weather cleared up and Ruth and I headed out to inquire about internet again and at least replenish my USB internet card.  We walked down to the local telecom shop and I had told Ruth to maybe find out how much it would cost to install a new line into the apt since my neighbor stole ours.  Instead she just asked a general question on what they offered and told them that we couldn’t do the phone line kind.  The shopkeeper asked where we lived and upon finding out told us that we should get the kind that uses the TV wire.  Looking a little worried/confused, Ruth translated for me and I think I stood there shocked for about a few minutes… this whole time I could have had CABLE internet??!!?!?!  I think at first she took my shock for disgust and so she asked if I wanted that.  I said YES!  Who would want DSL if they could have CABLE???  So I paid the money for the fastest connection they offered.  It turns out that it is CHEAPER than DSL… again I ask why would people want DSL???  However, as past experiences have taught me, I was so very very very cautious to get my hopes up.  I told myself over and over again… don’t be happy until you can connect to it with your computer and see for yourself.

    On the way back we stopped by a small hardware shop as I was still in the market for some GOOD PVC pipe that was a medium size.  It took me a few minutes to get XiaoLu to translate exactly what I wanted but low and behold they had it!!  Two shopping successes in ONE DAY!  Amazing!  I could hardly believe that this was happening.

    Now I was beaming from ear to ear.  Ruth noticed the huge smile on my face and asked if I was happy about the internet.  I stated, nope I’m soooo happy that I actually found this PVC it’s soooo hard to find!  HAHA.  My project is now around 80% complete and I think maybe one more working day and I’ll be done.  Picture surely to follow as soon as it’s complete.

    Our next stop was the vegetable market.  Ruth and I went while XiaoLu headed home with some of our other groceries we’d bought.  In the market as we were just about finished shopping we stopped at one last vendor.  He was selling 2 kinds of squash and cucumbers.  We find out that he’s selling it for $1.50/kg!  That’s about 1/3 of the normal price!  And it’s actually good looking vegetables!  THREE wins in one day…. What a great Sunday.

    Here’s a view of the market!


    This just goes to show you that it’s the little things in life that count.

    On Monday the guy came to install the internet… while nothing can be a simple as it seems here… it took around 4 hours for him to get it up and running properly.  But it works!  PRAISES.  And it’s quite fast and reliable.  I was able to enjoy a smooth Skype call to my parents with no interruptions or disconnection!  I’ve also been able to catch a few Dodger games so that makes me really happy!

    Before I know I mentioned one of XiaoLu’s friends, who’s arm was infecting (through some type of condition that swells up her whole arm) the rest of her body, in a previous post.  HaiYan, was back in town this weekend to revisit the doctor and try to figure out a plan.  In two weeks she’ll be returning to Kunming to undergo an operation that will hopefully allow her to keep her arm and also prevent the condition from spreading to more of her body.  Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers as she was telling us what a scary time this is for her.

    Here’s a picture of the two of us!


    Other than that all has been going well over here.  Last night was cool as I met an Australian who likes ice hockey and who’s favorite team is the Anaheim Ducks!  So fun!

    I hope all is well at home!


    Here’s a few answers to some of the comments:

    Linda… I’m not sure of the crime rate here.  I haven’t noticed any large amounts of crime but I hear stories about pickpockets and such in the really busy areas.  I hear a lot of stories about how people’s bikes are stolen and such but nothing huge.  The only people who are allowed to have and operate guns are the super special police (the regular police are unarmed with guns) and the military people (only when on duty) so I have a feeling that helps keep major crimes down.

    Syl… let’s see that day I had potatoes, celery, oranges, squash and meat.  It’s amazing when I’m riding the bike by myself how much easier it is!  Hah!

  • 13Apr

    I just want to make sure that everyone knows that all is fine here in Kunming in regards to the earthquake that hit Qinghai earlier this morning.  Qinghai is around 800 miles northwest of where I live so we didn’t even feel a thing.  Be sure to keep these people in your prayers as this earthquake hit a very rural area meaning that their buildings are in no condition to withstand such a quake.


  • 12Apr

    Hey there readers!  Sorry I’ve been MIA lately but I’ve been busy having fun (plus the combination of not that great of internet connection doesn’t help).

    All has been going really well over here.  My classes are moving along really nicely.  We just found out that 2 of our classmates dropped the “classroom” class in exchange for more 1 on 1 time with their tutor.  So today’s class there was only 2 of us.  Man class went so fast.  It’s a totally different environment with just the 2 of us.  There are less people to hide behind and sooo much less idle time.  On the one hand I’m totally bummed that my two classmates are gone because they were a ton of fun to have in the class, and I really feel like you can learn so much from other people’s mistakes, but at the same time it’s sort of nice in the sense that now I’ll get more practice and it’s a super small class!  We actually have 3 in our class but David wasn’t in class today.  ALSO, Isabelle (my other classmate) told me that she’s leaving from May till the middle of June to take tests and return home to France for a little bit.  So then our class will be even smaller!  My 1 on 1 class is also progressing well we’re learning a lot of vocab and basic sentence structure.

    Bike riding has been fun.  Yesterday I went around 10 miles on my bike (4 with XiaoLu PLUS 10 lbs of veggies).  It was really draining but it makes for a really nice sleep at night.  It doesn’t help that it’s really starting to warm up here too.  Yesterday was the hottest day since I’ve been here.  We were in the mid 80s but there was a nice breeze or rather there was wind to help keep it a little bit cooler.  (Mom, skip to the next paragraph) I’ve only felt like I was going to die once maybe twice.  It’s no fun to have random old people walk into the bike lane and then just stop in front of your bike.  I thought for sure at least the old man was going to die… but luckily I was able to brake and bail from the bike before hitting him.  The other things that drive me crazy are when people are biking in the opposite direction in the bike lane (especially if they’re doing it with their friend riding side by their side!!!) and people walking in the bike lane when there’s a perfectly good sidewalk to walk on.  Other than that riding is pretty much like driving on an LA freeway without the constraints of lanes.

    I’ve had a few fun nights of games.  Last Monday was “grave cleaning holiday day” so most people had the day off.  My friends invited us over to their house for games.  We started with a different variation of Spades where you can play with 5 people and the scoring is a lot different.  I failed.  I was negative for most of the game…. luckily we moved on to speed scrabble/bananagrams.  I did much better in this game!  We finished the night with an epic game of Chinese style Uno.  It was so much fun to play games!  Two nights ago I was at Pam and Susanna’s house for dinner with a few of their other friends.  We played traditional spades and unfortunately I wasn’t much better at it.  However towards the end of the game Pam and I started to mount a comeback but it was cut off because it was getting late.  So much fun.

    My toy building is moving right along.  I’ve been working on the PVC pipe toy and it’s actually coming out the way I wanted it to.  Pam and I have been taking pictures as the projects been progressing and as soon as we’re done I’ll post some pictures.

    I’ll conclude with stating how much fun it is to just ride or walk around.  There is always something on the side of the road or in the road to make you laugh… here’s what I saw yesterday in front of a car dealership place….


    More than meets the eye…..

    It’s pretty huge… (observe the ratio to the real cars behind it… ).  But let’s just say there’s pretty fun stuff like this to see everyday… just most days I’m not quick enough to take a picture of it!

    I hope all is well with you.  If you have questions or want me to write about something in particular let me know and I’d be happy to blog!


  • 02Apr

    Ah yes, “made in China”, famous last words here…

    Yesterday Pam, Susanna and I headed down to the B&Q.  B&Q is China’s rip off of Home Depot… right down to the orange aprons.  We were shopping for supplies to make some rehab activities for some orphan kids in Wenshan.  Pam had found some pictures of some of the things that are used in the States to help improve motor skills for kids with disabilities.  The concept of one of the things was to have different types of locks, valves and other various things all together on one board so the kid will have to unlock the padlock, open the valve, use the type of lock often found on a bathroom door, etc.  She asked me on Thursday if I could build it… and I said yeah for sure no problem.  What I meant to say is yeah no problem if I were in the States!  HAH!  The other activity board we wanted to build is a peg board where kids need to put pegs into holes in a board.  I knew this one would be a little bit harder but I knew that it was totally do-able… but once again IN THE STATES.

    The concept of our lock board was fairly easy.  Buy a thick piece of wood and install everything on it.  Our first fail came with not finding any thick pieces of wood.  After asking several associates where the wood was and walking to the front of the store and the side of the store… finally an associate actually knew where it was and directed us to the back corner.  When we got to the wood area all they sell is plywood and 2x4s and 2x6s… a pretty sad selection.  So now we’re brainstorming on something different to use for the base of both of our projects.  We didn’t find anything useful until we were leaving and saw shelves that you would put on your wall.  It was perfect and reasonably priced.  I’m pretty sure our only success of the day at B&Q… read on.

    So my concept for the peg board was to take PVC pipes, cut them down into various lengths and use various circumferences of PVC.  Basically make a version of common toy that kids play with where they have to put the column things in descending order.  I wanted to take a thick board and use a plane to create a tri-leveled piece of wood where we could put the biggest size of PVC on the back row and the smallest in the front.  I knew that it wouldn’t be hard to find PVC in different sizes so all we would have to do is drill holes in the board for the PVC to fit in.  First fail: they don’t sell planes.  Second fail (as mentioned before): there were no thick boards that would work.  So we went to the PVC aisle and I found a solution!  I could use PVC couplings as the hole… just glue the coupling to a board and this eliminates the need for a drill and plane.  I’m stoked.  I take a coupling and go to see how easily it goes on and off the PVC… and it doesn’t fit.  I’m so confused.  So thinking that maybe it was just a bad coupling or a bad pipe I try others… fail.  I try a bigger size coupling… FAIL.  Pam tries corner pieces and T connectors… all FAIL.  Nothing fits.  Now I’m getting super frustrated… how do they use this???  Then I look at the sample that’s on the wall of some piping.. and low and behold… THEY MELT THEM TOGETHER!  What the?!?!  We could see in sample that the PVC pipes were crinkled where they are inserted into the connector in a melted pattern.  To make matters worse this stuff was EXPENSIVE! (80 RMB for around 4M… and this is in CHINA… where it should be sooo cheap) Why would you pay more for SOOOO much extra work??  So now I’m getting a little angry that my concept is thrown down the drain because the pvc pipe is dumb!  Totally discouraged we leave buying just the bookshelf in hopes that the “mom and pop” stores on the street will have something else that’s inspiring.

    We journey all the way back towards Pam’s house and we walk by one of those mom and pop shops which was fairly new.  She has PVC sticking out of the rafters and we wanted to see all the different locking mechanism that she had anyway.  So I’m rummaging through some of the bags on the floor with PVC things in them… and I find some couplings.  I figure I might as well try, as these couplings actually look like they have better potential.  I reach up to the PVC to try and IT WORKS!!!!  The pipe slides and fits right in!  I’m so excited!  We look around further and find a really nice thick cutting board!  The kind of wood chunk we were looking for.  Plus we found all sorts of gadgets and gizmos a plenty for our lock board.  After spending about an hour in her 10 ft x 10 ft shop we spent 100RMB and got: 2 4M PVC pipes of 2 different diameters, 28 couplings, 2 padlocks, 2 latches, a water valve, a cutting board, a set of clothes pins, a hacksaw with 3 blades, a bathroom style lock, a door handle, and 15 sheets of sandpaper.  And imagine… it was 80 RMB at B&Q just for ONE piece of PVC!  After we left we were wondering if a) the shopkeeper thought we were nuts for buying all these random things b)the shopkeeper was stoked because they just made a week’s worth of sales in an hour and c)if all that only cost 100 RMB how do these shops stay alive!

    Tomorrow we’re going to start constructing.  We’re pretty excited.

    All of your guesses for my last week’s picture were all totally what the ad SHOULD be for.  I’d say that my Mom’s guess with “Bottoms up” would be an excellent slogan for what the ad is actually for…

    ::insert drumroll::

    If you were thinking “Oh it’s probably an ad for the PROCTOLOGY hospital”, then you’d be right.  Go figure eh?  Kunming’s Number One Proctology and Intestinal Hospital.

    Fun times.

    All is going well over here.  Classes are going well.  Thursday’s class was pretty entertaining when one of my classmates was practicing sentences for buying things at the vegetable market and she stated “Wo yao mai qi zi”.  Meaning, “I want to buy a wife”.  She meant to say “qie zi” meaning eggplant… my teacher and I were laughing so hard.  My classmate stated that she was glad that she made the mistake in class… as she could hardly imagine what the vegetable seller would think of her as she’s asking how much for a wife.  HAHA.

    I had a fun ride on the bike on Wednesday.  I went to the library to pick up XiaoLu like I do on some days when they’re there.  As we were riding back I was feeling more tired than usual.  I thought maybe it had to do with this fact that I’ve had this cold and maybe wasn’t breathing great, or I thought maybe it was because I made all the signals so I wasn’t getting any breaks… I come to find out that when I go to take my backpack off XiaoLu’s back (so she doesn’t have to carry it up the stairs)… that the thing weighs a ton!  Apparently they stuffed 4 kgs of potatoes, 4 kgs of oranges, meat, and other veggies in the bag!  It weighed at least 20 LBS!  So not only was I carrying XiaoLu… but all the extra weight PLUS all the factors I listed before… needless to say I was tired after all that!

    I hope everyone has a great Easter weekend!



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