Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This is mostly a copy of my service journal for this month - I never recorded our Romeo and Juliet experience here, so I thought I'd do that now.

This will be my last month writing this, as I’ve already finished my 15 hours of service (although I plan on going to the YMCA a few more times in December, because we still have the end of semester presentation with our kids).

The YMCA has been the same as always – our kids are crazy, and it’s hard to keep them occupied for ten minutes in between games.  I feel like they’ve enjoyed the semester, though, and they have learned a few English words here and there.  It’s also hard when they’re at such different levels.  Kevin requires individual attention to learn even three words, when Helen has learned the entire lesson in the same amount of time, and the other three are in the middle.  I hope my kids aren’t belligerent or hard to discipline, because otherwise I’ll need a lot more patience than I have now.  It’s been a good experience, though.

Most of my service hours this month weren’t at the YMCA, however, they were spent preparing and putting on Romeo and Juliet!  Seth had the idea for all the single Flagship guys to perform Romeo and Juliet for 光棍节, or Singles Awareness Day, November 11, 2011, because it was 11/11/11.  We started at 10 am, so we were still performing at 11:11:11 on 11/11/11!  I was the Nurse and Paris, both of which were fun, but the Nurse especially, because I got to declaim in falsetto and got lots of attention from the crowd.  Ben was Juliet, and Chandler was Romeo – a more hilarious and apropos combination could not be had!  We performed in the fountain by the campus cafeteria, and there was a crowd of about 50 to 100 people that came and went.

Now as to why this was service: Seth’s roommate had the idea to use the publicity to raise money for someone in need, so we collected money and donated it to a family.  The wife has cancer, and they don’t have enough money to cover her chemotherapy treatments, even with government aid and her husband’s income.  After the play, several of us went with some reporters to their apartment and gave the husband the envelope with money in it.  It was a very emotional moment all around, and he thanked us repeatedly with tears streaming down his face.  I’m very grateful for the opportunity to bless his family through our service, and things like this remind me how much joy service can bring to us and to those we serve.

We got on TV and Seth was interviewed by reporters, so in the end I think even more money was donated to this family.  There were also several articles in the local papers, which we'll be including in the Flagship Times.  I bought Ben a wig and a mask, and one of the Chinese guys watching thought he was a 美女 (pretty girl)!  Awesome.

Count Your Many Blessings

...every doubt will fly!

This will be short, but I wanted to record my second Thanksgiving dinner experience.  Joel got invited to Thanksgiving dinner over the weekend at a family friend's house, the Butters, in Shanghai, and he brought me and Seth along.  Before we left, we ate at Carl's Jr. at the Nanjing South Railway Station!  It was great - much better than Carl's Jr. in Malaysia - and they had actual portobello mushrooms on the mushroom swiss burger.  Yum.

The high speed rail is so convenient here - I wish we had it in the States.  You go through security in seconds, get on the train, and get to your destination comfortably and quickly.  We finally arrived at the Butters' house around 10 pm, and they were putting the younger kids to bed.  They have 5 kids, and they've been in China since shortly after they were married.  They actually remind me a lot of my family - I think we would have been friends, had my parents been a bit younger and lived in China.  Friday night we stayed up late and watched Mystery Men - it was funny, but probably one of those watch-once-and-done movies.

Saturday morning, we got up and helped prepare for dinner - they had 20 or so people over (again reminding me of my family), so we helped set up tables and such.  Before we knew it, it was time for dinner.  It was fantastic!  Way better than the branch dinner, and the branch dinner was great.  We had two enormous turkeys, stuffing, yams, salad, fresh homemade rolls, mashed potatoes, jello, and homemade pumpkin pies for dessert (six of them, which Sister Butters made on Friday and warned us not to eat Friday night or face serious consequences)!  We sat outside and played with their youngest child, Dorothy (Dot) on the lawn - she made us close our eyes while she hid berries and had us look for them.  Oh to be a child again and find joy in such simple things!

After dinner, Seth and I went out looking around for apartments for his internship here in a couple months. He's working at a neuroscience research lab that focuses specifically on cancer, which is exactly what he wants to do.  I wish I were that confident in what I want to do with my life.  Anyway, we took the subway for 40 minutes or so, got off and walked around the area near his internship.  We looked for newspapers with classifieds, but didn't find any.  It's a nice area, though, and he should be able to find something when he gets there in February.  I'd really like to intern in Shanghai, but at the moment it's looking more likely that I'll be in Beijing.

Sunday, we went to church in Shanghai, but it ended up being the Asia Area broadcast that we already saw in church in Nanjing.  I learned a few new things this time, however.  After that, we headed for home.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving is Here!

The last few weeks have been so busy!  Actually, they haven’t been nearly as busy as my most hectic times in Provo, but my capacity for juggling a million things at once has diminished considerably since I stopped practicing the piano so much.  Well, at all, really.  I practice maybe a couple hours a week.

Where to begin?  The weather finally got colder this week (though the high tomorrow is still 17 degrees, barely an autumnal chill in Utah).  The leaves are all changing and falling; Nanjing has many wide, tree-lined streets, and lately they’ve been piling up with leaves.  The street sweepers keep them mostly under control, however.

The branch here had a Thanksgiving dinner yesterday – we had several turkeys and basically everything else you could want for Thanksgiving, and it was wonderful.  Seth and I were in the very back of the line, so we went for dessert first and then rejoined the food line.  I got a slice of cheesecake, a mint brownie, a slice of raspberry pie, a slice of pumpkin pie, and a cookie.  Overkill?  Hardly.  All 100 people there got more than enough to eat and there were leftovers, quite a feat for a potluck affair.  After dinner, there was a talent show, the highlight of which was the China Horizons girls (here with an English teaching program) strapping glow sticks all over their bodies and faces and dancing in the dark to “I’m a Believer”!  I think I’ll steal that idea for the next talent show I’m in.

Six of us went on a group date with some girls here teaching English last week; we made fajitas and went bowling.  Fajitas were incredible after months of basically only rice and noodles!  Our first game, we had a lane rivalry going; everyone was pretty terrible at bowling, though.  I won overall with 121, which I wasn’t terribly proud of.  I should go with Grandma Ida more if I ever get the chance.  The second game, we drew a random M&M every bowl and did something crazy depending on the color – eyes closed, backwards, between the legs, kick the ball (that hurt!), and using your other hand.  There were still three or four strikes, incredibly.  For the last few balls, we all got up and danced in front of the person bowling to distract them.

I’m still behind on my schoolwork; I keep meaning to catch up, but it doesn’t seem to happen.  Maybe tomorrow.  Same story with my law school applications.  I need to buckle down this week and get all those things taken care of.

I don’t really know what else to say – that’s the problem with waiting too long in between updates.  Blogs are more manageable in bite-sized pieces.  Hopefully my next post is a short update on how much homework I’ve done!  I like the sound of that.