Just a quick update so you know that I haven’t fallen off the edge of the Earth.
Miss M and I spent the last week in Beijing for her high school graduation trip. The internet service at the hotel was nearly as slow as dial-up service, so I could not check email or do much of anything else, though I did try.
Anyway, Beijing – we went to Tian’anmen Square, a big flat paved-with-stone gigantic place with a Monument to the People’s Heros, Mao’s tomb (way long lines for that – we didn’t go there), and bordering on the entrance to the Palace Museum, aka, The Forbidden City. We also went to the Forbidden City, once we figured out how to get in. A thing that was much easier to do after we figured out that it was called "The Palace Museum" on all the signs (duh – and it only took touring two extra gardens and 40 minutes to do that!)
The Forbidden City is Huge, and full of stairs and flatness as well as some really big buildings. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures before and we’ll post ours online soon.
That evening we went to the Silk Market (biggest tourist trap in Beijing) and over-paid for some good stuff, but it was still cheaper than in the U.S. Some things you just have to be able to say you’ve experienced and the Silk Market is one of them I guess. Living here in China, we have had so many other opportunities for shopping and we know how the bargaining works, it made us appreciate "home" in Guangzhou that much more, considering we can buy the same things here (if we can find them) for even less. Still, if someone asks, we can say, "Yes, I’ve done that." The Pearl Market is another similar place to "experience" but we didn’t go there. One can only take a limited amount of high-pressure sales techniques. Perhaps another time.
The next day we went on a hiking tour of the Great Wall of China. Eight kilometers of up and down some very steep stairs, crossing a suspension bridge over a river, and riding a zip line across a reservoir. Glad to have done it, but it was hard and exhausting. I just kept reminding myself that if the pioneers could cross the plains and face the difficulties of the Rocky Mountains, I could handle this puny (ha!) little "hike" on the Wall. It was a beautiful day for it though, with sunny blue skies, and helpful locals willing to sell water to us at every tower. We both got a little sunburned.
Our last morning in Beijing, we stayed close to our hotel and shopped in areas where "the locals" shop. The prices were more reasonable, and there was a bigger variety of goods to choose from. That afternoon, we hopped back on the sleeper train and made our journey back down to Guangzhou and "home".
It’s a little weird having two homes, a U.S. home, and a China home. I find it rather difficult and I feel spread very thin at times. My heart has trouble knowing where I live.
On Sunday, Miss M spoke in church on the topic of "Never Give Up", and she was awarded her Young Womanhood certificate (but the silver medallion still hasn’t arrived, so she’ll have to get that later). We had a small seminary graduation program after church for her as well. Miss M bore her testimony and Miss S played a piano piece as part of the program. It was short but nice.
Miss M is leaving in two days to travel back to the U.S. by herself. She has a job waiting there for her and looks forward to working and earning some money. She will be bicycle reliant for transportation since she has not gotten a driver’s licence yet. One more goal to work on this summer. We plan for her to have a cell phone so that anyone who needs to can get in touch with her there. If you want to see her, you will probably need to take yourself to her (at least for a month or so) since a bicycle is only practical over limited distances.
The rest of the family will return to the U.S. at the very end of June, after Miss S and Mr. J return from their school trip to the Shanghi World’s Fair. We are looking forward to celebrating the 4th of July with vigor!
Some of you have asked about Miss M’s graduation. Being so spread out as a family, doing the ceremony with the homeschool association is not going to work out this year and she honestly wasn’t too interested in it. She feels justly compensated for it anyway and considers the opportunity to live and learn in China well worth any other sacrifices that may need to be made. She has been living her dream and plans to return here to China in the fall and enroll in an intensive study of Chinese at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies for one school year. If you want to send her a card to our U.S. address, I’m sure she’d love to get mail. If you want to take her out to lunch or dinner, we’ve missed good Mexican and Italian food (really anything not Chinese) here in China and we’ll let you know her U.S. phone number as soon as she gets one. (Just don’t expect to see it on this blog!)
We are moving to a new apartment in a couple of weeks. One where the shower doesn’t flood the bathroom floor, the shower drain-pipe doesn’t leak and spray all over the side-walk outside, the toilet doesn’t leak all over the floor if you use it too much or flush it wrong, and where there is no mosquito-breeding pond just outside the front door. Also, where the electrical system works and we will have both a washer and a dryer.
Miss B returns home to the U.S. from her mission on the 14th or 15th of July – YAY!!! She has sent a letter I need to post on her mission site but the VPN is not working today and I can’t access it so you will have to just wait and be looking for that.
Our plans for next school-year are a little convoluted and we are still working out details so we aren’t talking about them right now. We will let you know what is going on as far as school goes as soon as we have things more solidified. One thing is for certain, moving to China has not been as easy as zip lining off the Great Wall.
Ok, maybe this wasn’t such a quick update after all!