Surprise Birthday Cake for Megan

During Spring Break we traveled with two other families to QingDao, China, located on the shores of the Yellow Sea and also the site of the Beijing Olympics Sailing venues.   I had traveled to QingDao a few weeks earlier to attend our organization’s annual ladies retreat. One of our sister schools is located in this city, and staff there have arranged special deals with certain hotels in the city.  We were so blessed to be able to stay at the Shang-Gri-La hotel.  The offer for us was to have a hotel suite, with two extra beds, for about one hundred US dollars a night.Upon checking into the hotel, the staff asked if they could take our family picture in the front lobby.  This is not very unusual in China.  One other important note about hotel check-ins in China, is that all guests must show their passport and all the information of each guest is recorded.  Shortly after we arrived in our room, which turned out to be very lovely, we received a call from the front desk.  The hotel guest relations lady, Ms. Chen was on the line.  She noticed that this day we checked in was Megan’s birthday and asked if they could send a cake up for her to celebrate her birthday.  I was completely shocked!  I said, of course.  We scheduled a time later that evening.   After a late lunch we returned to our room in time for the cake delivery.  When the door bell rang, we were surprised to see the housekeeping lady for the evening turn-down.  She saw Megan and immediately offered her a pair of small hotel slippers and a little stuffed teddy bear.  She also brought fresh flowers and fruit for our room.


Soon after the bell rang again and it was Angela and her colleague with the cake.


Megan was very surprised and we all sang Happy Birthday and took pictures.   The cake was delicious!!  Which is not always the case for cakes in China.


We felt so special.  I am thankful for the way that the Lord blessed our family in the celebration of Megan’s 4th birthday.  Although I do admit that I miss being with extended family for special holidays, I see how clearly God provides for those absences.Now one big difference we have noticed as we have traveled a bit in Asia, is that most hotels have a buffet breakfast included in the room rate.   And we’re not talking about the continental breakfast that you might find with many American brands, like coffee, juice and a few pastries.  These breakfast buffets include a full spread.  One can find a full American breakfast including omeletes and eggs to order, pancakes, bacon, juices, and fruits.  Also included in these breakfast buffets;  Chinese foods like fried noodles, steamed dumplings, rice and noodle soups.  The favorite items of our family is the bread and cheese area.  This particular hotel had various types of cheeses; parmesan, swiss, gouda, and even goat cheese, along with smoked salmon and french baguettes.   My favorite breakfast was a green salad, with french baguette and cheese.  And to top it off, I could order a cappucino for my coffee drink at no extra charge!We spent most of our three days in Qing Dao indoors at the hotel, either at the pool or in our room.  The girls enjoyed the ladies locker room, which included a steam bath, sauna, hot and cold tubs, showers, a hair and makeup room, and a relaxation room.One of the days we had to venture out to try to find Rachel a dress for the spring banquet (coming up in four days)!  But that is a story I’ll let Rachel write.

Service Day

This year for our Service Day me and my house went to a preschool/kindergarten. It was about a 20 minute ride to the school. When we got to the school we put our stuff down and went outside to sing some songs with all the kids. We sang London Bridges, If Your Happy and You Know It, and Bingo. The kids seemed to enjoy singing very much. After we sang for a while we got into groups of 5 people and played outdoor games with the kids. Our group played a game where we have a ball in a circle and we can’t let the ball get out of the circle. It made me so happy to see all these children having so much fun! Then we went inside with our same group and made crafts with 5 and 6 year olds. We made little paper plate birds! Everyone enjoyed making their bird and when we were done they gave us lovely goodbye! This was a great experience for me to interact with these children!


This the game we played in our small group.


This is our bird craft we made together.


This our whole house!

Basketball Tournament

This Saturday at 7:30 I had to be at the school to catch the basketball bus to Beijing.  Our team was heading to Beijing to compete in a basketball tournament against 3 different schools. The bus there was fine, but a little long.  Once we got there we warmed up and then watched the other two schools play a game.  This was my second game I have had since basketball season began, so I was pretty excited.  Unfortunately we lost, but I would give us some credit (I mean those girls DID NOT look like Middle Schoolers).  Our first and second games were back to back.  Maybe that’s why we lost our second game as well.  We had sub sandwiches for lunch; they tasted so good after two games in a row!  I had to finish up quickly before our third game.  At the beginning of our first game we were doing very well and winning, until the team realized they were losing and switched in their “A” team.  Unfortunately I had to play them.  There was one girl on the “A” team that we dubbed “Chopsticks” because her legs were SO skinny, skinnier than you can imagine, and additionally her outfit number was 11, hence the name “Chopsticks”.  Well Chopsticks happened to be the best player on there team and stole the ball from me at least three times!  Thanks the Chopsticks and her team we lost the third game as well.  At least I can truthfully say that we learned a lot!

Service Day

Today was the Middle School’s Service Day.  Split into 5 groups, each one went to a different place to give service.  My group went to an Autistic Preschool.  When we arrived we were divided into 2 groups there; my group went to the Preschool’s exercise room.  In the room they had balls, a small plastic slide, and a few other toys to play on.  First off the kids had their singing and dancing time.  They danced to three songs for us; they looked so cute!  Then we played balls with them.  Later another class of kids came and did the same thing with us, sing and play, mostly with the balls.   Then we went to another of the rooms to draw pictures with them.  I helped one little boy, his name was Wang Qing Chong.  I drew the outlines of animals and foods and he colored them.  At first he seemed really shy, but at the end he was showing me that you can’t color a dog orange, it has to be brown.  I had a good time and was glad to have the opportunity to share God’s love with these children!

Sing and dance time for the children.


Somebody doesn’t have time for pictures!




This is a picture of our group and the children we did activities with!

Afternoon Walk – First Day of Spring

We were all happy to have Sean back from his trip, and also especially happy to see the sunshine, and a tad bit warmer temperatures.  We took a walk to easiest choice for a meal for lunch—Mc Donald’s.   Although it’s not our favorite, it’s nice to have the choice of familiar french fries.  The girls took Megan out ahead of Sean and me.  We found them in the courtyard playing tag.


On our walk we found many of our Chinese neighbors out enjoying the day.  Along the way we saw an interesting sight…split pants hanging on a clothesline.  Here in China, the babies are very overdressed in winter, sometimes with two and three layers of clothes.  But the funny thing is that, for toddlers down to infants, all the pants have a split in the crotch of the pants.  This is for easy “potty” times.  Chinese babies are toilet (or ground) trained at the very young age of 2 or 3 months.  Very few people use diapers for babies.


The girls enjoy their walk with daddy.


Chicken strips are on sale, down from 7 rmb to 5 rmb.


很好玩 (Lots of Fun)

Today my friend Amelia, and I decided that because the weather today was so nice that we would spend some time outside at an exercise park.  For those of you who do not know what an exercise park is, it is an outside area with different activities to stretch your muscles or your legs/arms.  So we just sat on the equipment eating the snacks we brought from my house.  While we were talking a group of Chinese kids that were playing there came up several times to stare at us and talk about us in Chinese; for example: “They are foreigners!”.  We ignored them, but then when the most brave of them stepped out and asked Amelia if we would play with them, she agreed (without asking me).  At first I was hesitant to play with them.  We were playing Hide-and-Go-Seek-Tag with them, a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors to determined me as “it”.   Playing with them was so much fun!  there was one small girl, probably 5 years old, who would not let go of Amelia’s hand, and another boy that was the youngest of the group that was constantly following me and by the end of the games was holding my hand.   All of them wanted to be on our team when we played a different Chinese game after Hide-and-Go-Seek.  They were all adorable and were very fun.  I was surprised that between Amelia and I, could understand most of what they were saying.  After we had been playing a game that, Amelia and I only later discovered was the Chinese version of Sharks-and-Minnows, there were two boys about the other kids ages that started throwing little nuts they found on the ground, at the girls.  The girls all came to Amelia and I saying that the boys hit them with the nuts, expecting us to deal with it,  So Amelia and I gave them a stern look and told them to stop.  The thing that I notice, now looking back on the experience, was how much the Chinese kids remind me of myself a few years ago; playing with my friends when I was younger at the park.  I thank God that He gave the opportunity to play with those children.  I believe He was trying to show me that while I’m identifying the differences between myself and the Chinese, I often miss how we are the same.

“What is the Name Again?”

More and more I’ve realized how much you forget about things in America. Such as food brands. A few days ago me and mom were trying to figure out the name of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. We had totally forgotten the name of it! It always makes me laugh thinking about all those things you have forgotten. When I think about that I wonder if I’ll ever forget about China! I hope I never will! When I go back to America I will be sure to remember everything!

Science Field Trip

In Science class we have been learning about Light and Sound. Last week our class traveled to Beijing to a science museum!   We left school soon after arriving, loaded onto buses and headed to Beijing. When we got there we ate an early lunch, got in groups, and started for the museum. In the basement was the light exhibit.  There were many fun things to touch and play with! Then upstairs there was the sound part. I personally liked the sound display better. You could touch everything in the museum! It was a great opportunity to get see in real life some of the things we are learning in class!


Light Exhibit


Some of my 6th grade classmates


Spring Cooking Class

For St. Patrick’s Day I had the children make some fun green snack foods in their Cooking Class.  We made cucumber clover, open faced sandwiches with green cream cheese.


We also made a sweet treat using graham crackers (a very special treat to find here in China), green frosting, green Skittles and a Rolo chocolate candy.   The Rolo candy was supposed to represent the leprechaun hat.


Xian Xiang, one of my TA’s, brought her camera and shared pictures with me, pictured below.


I also read to the students the true story of Saint Patrick and why he is celebrated in Ireland.   Read exert below:

When he was 16, he was captured by pagan Irish raiders and sold into slavery to a chieftain named Meliuc in Ireland. He spent his teen years and time alone as a shepherd tending to his master’s sheep. During this time, his spirituality awakened and his belief in God became strong. He would pray many times in a day. After 6 years being in slavery, he had a dream that he would find a ship to take him to freedom. He escaped to follow his dream.

He managed to return to his family and home. Although Patrick was born a British, he considered himself an Irish because it was in Ireland that he discovered God. He had another vision. This vision would take him back to Ireland to preach the Gospel later.  The Bishop, St. Germain recommended Patrick to the pope. He was called to Rome and made a Bishop by Pope Celestine in 432 before he went on his mission to Ireland. It was during that occasion that the name “Patercius” or “Patritius” was given to him. The name comes from two Latin words, “pater civium” meaning “the father of his people”.

More students with my second TA (teaching assistant) helper, Dorothy Zhang.


Our Visit to the Country Side

During our break for Chinese New Year we were invited by our friends the Ogdens to a school out in the country.  We spent one night at the school and left on new years eve.  I think my mom already covered most of the trip in her blog but I just wanted to also add a few things. First about the village itself.  I really loved walking around in the village because of all the beautiful nature, it is winter so of course there are no flowers or leaves on the trees but in its own way the land was pretty.  The stretched out country with no interruptions was a big change compared to the crowded city of Tianjin. I loved just seeing the open country side all around me!  Second, I wanted to talk about the students themselves.  They had no heating, running water, or proper toilets and stoves.  Yet they were still so thankful and cheerful.  No matter how cold it got they didn’t seem to notice. I was amazed by their attitude despite their situation, it really made me think about the blessings that God has given me!


Maddie and I eating sugar cane!


On our way to the school, riding in little mini-vans!


Students bringing us around the village


Dancing and singing 🙂


More sugar cane…





Some of the town girls and I pose for a picture


Jessie and I way in the background!