Saturday, May 31, 2008

White Tiger Show

The white tiger show was really good. They have so many. They are just majestic. We took a lot of video but it won't allow me to post video, so here are a few pictures.





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Britton's Long Lost Twin

Britton always says that he is a monkey because he's so good at climbing and swinging on things. So, of course he loved seeing all the monkeys. In this first picture he got to play catch with an orangutan.


After the monkey show, a man brought this chimpanzee onto the stage. It was just playing, doing somersaults and things. Britton started doing them too and the monkey started wrestling with him. It was so cute. Britton loved being able to just play with a chimp.
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Baby Tiger



I love this picture. The zoo worker is trying to make Haley go be in the picture but she's scared.

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Chimelong Safari Wild Animal Park

We went to the Chimelong zoo. As I was looking back through our pictures, I noticed that we only took pictures of the monkeys (my favorite) and the white tigers (Jason's favorite). How funny. They do have all kinds of other animals there too though. We just don't like them enough to take pictures of them I guess. We also have a very graphic video that Jason took of two elephants, but I won't post that here. Anyway, we had a great day. It is a really fun zoo with lots of shows and a safari part where you drive through and the animals wander freely. It was a fun family day.

This monkey was reaching out of the cage to try to grab Jason's hand. It was really cute.


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The Camera Timer

We took some pictures with the Chow Family a few weeks ago and we used the timer on the camera. Haley was AMAZED that the camera could take pictures by itself. A few days later I saw her setting the timer and taking pictures of herself. This is how they turned out.





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A Few Pictures from the Last Few weeks


With the Chow Family
At the pool--the kid's favorite thing
A typical day
Cute Haley
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Progress

Last night we were coming home on the subway. Haley sat down next to a little girl with her dad. The little girl was holding a bouquet of flowers. Haley smiled and said hi and they kept staring at her and smiling, etc. Then the dad took a few blooms out of the bouquet and wrapped them with a string and handed them to Haley. I really didn't know how she would react. Sometimes she can be so mean to people because she doesn't like all the attention she gets. I really didn't know if she was going to throw the flowers down on the ground or be polite and grateful. Luckily, she amazed me. She smiled, smelled them, and said, "Xie, xie" (thank you) and then she even called the little girl "mei mei" (little sister). I was so relieved that she wasn't rude and so proud that she even spoke a little Chinese. That's progress.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

3 Days of Mourning

I just wanted to get some of the thoughts and feelings out of my head and remember this time. The Chinese government declared the first 3 days of this week to be "Days of Mourning" for the entire country to remember the victims of the earthquake in Sichaun province. It all started Monday at 2:28 pm (the time that the earthquake struck). The whole country had 3 minutes of silence while trains, buses, and cars all stopped and honked their horns or turned on their sirens. This was a very powerul, moving experience for me. I had my prep period at this time, so I walked into the office of Chinese teachers to have my moments of silence with them. I was very moved. I got quite choked up as we all stood there with our heads bowed, thinking of the many lives that were lost.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday everyone was told not to sing, dance, do recreational sports, or make merry in public during the days of mourning. All the pools and gyms and massage parlors were closed. None of the TV channels worked and all the internet sites with games on them were blocked. It's amazing how much control the government has here. (But that's a completely different topic and I don't want this to be political.)

It was so interesting to watch my students during this time. Instead of hurrying out to play basketball during the breaks, or pulling out their PSPs to play, they were making posters honoring the Sichaun people and planning ways to make money to send to them. All my 8th grade classes have been bringing things from home to sell everyday after school and all the money is going to Sichaun. They are so passionate about doing SOMETHING. The school has been raising money ever since it happened. It's been really neat to see the people I know unite together to try to do some good.

Everytime I see pictures of the disaster, I can't keep myself from crying. They do not censor the pictures at all here. I've seen numerous pictures of piles of rubble with bodies of dead children in it. In one picture, all I could see were the legs of a young boy and he was wearing the same shorts as Britton wears all the time. There are pictures of mothers holding their dead children, wives holding their husbands, etc. It's just too much. I can't even imagine the devastation they are all feeling right now. I've had to stop looking at the pictures because it's too hard for me.
But, the pictures have definitely given me a face to all the many victims. These are real people who have lost everything within a matter of minutes.

A friend of mine here, Danielle, is heading up some of the relief efforts from this part of China. She is organizing projects and collecting donations and coordinating the delivery of everything. It is going to be an effort that takes many years. Here are some of the statistics that I got from her.
1. Amount of people homeless: 5 Million
2. Amount of people living on the streets: 10 Million (another 5 Million are too scared to go into weak homes)
3. Number of orphans from this disaster: Over 10 thousand
4. Number of Schools destroyed: 700
5. Total Area of massive destruction: 70,000 Square miles
6. Fact, 99% of all Chinese homes are made of brick or concrete.
7. Type of people effected: Small villages, containing farmers
8. Average percentage of deaths per village: 50% with one town having 90% of it's population perishing.
8. Death toll: 30,000 and rising
9. Out of those deaths 90% the elderly and children.
10. Estimated time to rebuild 2 years.

A lot of the teachers at the school are helping and getting their students to help with some of Danielle's projects. The organization she's working with deals mostly with the orphans of China. Britton's class had the opportunity to help donate a backpack filled with things to give to an orphan. So, yesterday, we went to buy all of the stuff and fill the backpack. Haley wanted to do one too. They are both doing one for a child their own age. They got to pick out the backpacks, an outfit, underwear, toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, soap, towel, notebook, pencils, etc. I think they are very excited about being able to help.

I can't help but think about the earthquake that is going to happen in Utah. We have been warned that a big one is coming soon. We cannot live in fear of things that are out of our control, but there are a lot of things we can do to prepare. I hope everyone is preparing their food supplies. I hope everyone that can will put a tent and sleeping bags and 72 hour kits in their cars. All our houses may not fall down, but it can't hurt to be ready. And, most importantly, this experience has reminded me to prepare spiritually and to show love to my family every minute. We don't know when the end of this life will come. We can't worry about that. But, we can love while we are still living.

Sorry, for this long post, I just needed to get my thoughts down on paper. And I wanted to record some of what we are experiencing. If anyone wants to know of some ways they can help the earthquake victims, email me and I can give you information. Even small amounts of money go a long way here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mu Shan Village

I posted this earlier, but apparently it didn't actually post, so here it is. In Yangshuo, the hotel we stayed at was just down the road from a village called Mu Shan. We had a lot of fun walking around there and seeing how differently the people live in the small villages. It seemed like the people were living in ruins. The house were partially built and some didn't have windows or roofs. All of them had dirt floors. It was interesting to see.


Some kids out playing.

Every mornig the women were down at the river doing their laundry

The road to Mu Shan
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Morning People

Every morning on our trip, Haley and I would wake up super early and let the boys sleep in. We would go down and have breakfast together and then play outside. Our hotel was small enough that everyone staying there knew each other and all the workers/owners knew everyone. It was really a fun place. Here are some pictures of the last morning we were there.



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More Rafting




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Bamboo Rafting

Friday morning on our vacation, we took a bamboo raft ride. It was so beautiful.




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