Sunday, December 27, 2009

First of all MERRY CHRISTMAS to everybody! Since I've been home, things have been crazy and a little weird but I've been meaning to blog again about our adventure coming home and what it was like to leave China. Right now is still not that time :) But I did want to hurry and do just a few things about it.

When we said goodbye, it was a totally new feeling for me. I have told missionaries goodbye, bye to my family and friends for 4 months abroad, bye to high school friends when I go to Dixie and bye to Dixie friends when I go to Provo. With all of these, I have never had the feeling of "This is it! I will NEVER see you again...." but in China I did. It broke my heart and was definetly one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Be prepared for more blogs within the next few days but for now here's just a couple pictures and little stories!

I was so excited to do presents (after keeping everything a secret for 4 months!) that I couldn't wait any longer! Even after flying for 3 days, I was wide awake and wanted to talk and show my family everything I got. This was the jersey crew when we finished.
The airport ended up being a lot more surprising than I thought it would have been. I thought that just my parents would come, and with the exception of Taylor (who was at work), my whole family was there! It was so good to see everybody and get such big hugs. Mom of course cried :) I was coming down the escalator and was surprised to see a poster, balloons and krispy kreme waiting for me! It made it even nicer coming home! The third and finally surprise is the left hand side of this picture. My neice Keznee was born 15 days before I left and I was only in Provo for about 8 of those days so I hardly got to see her. Ashlee told me that they weren't coming to the airport because of all the germs and stuff and they didn't want her to get sick. Understandable..I was bummed but I understood. After talking with everybody else for a little while, I turned to grab a bag and there was the Brandt family! I was SO excited I screamed. (Sorry again about that Kez!)
Our last meal in China! :) If you look really close you can see a reddish/brown thing off to the side of the cabbage. That is our beloved duck blood :) However, the cooks did pull through for us and made us our FAVORITE meal to send us off: chicken, potatoes and of course mantow, mifan!
This was the last time I saw Colin :( He was so sad and really didn't want us to leave. This was Sunday RIGHT before we loaded up the bus. He went home that Friday night (knowing we were leaving) so when he got back Sunday and saw that we were still there, he was SOOO excited, until we explained to him that we were leaving within an hour. He started crying. "No teacha! No go! No go! No go!" When I took this picture, he kept refusing to smile and you can see how he's holding onto my neck and shoulder. He gave me a HUGE hug after and I walked out of the building SOBBING!
Kelly oh Kelly! This woman is amazing! She spoke english pretty fluently and she was our coordinator between us and the school officials. We would have DIED without her! She was a life saver and our best friend. I hope that everything goes great for her in life because she definetly deserves it! The hardest part of our first airport was saying bye to her with all of US crying and her sobbing.

It's GREAT to be home! I'm definetly missing it though. I think I have more culture shock coming home than what I did when I got there. I tend to cry a little bit at random times. I went and picked up pictures I had printed and totally LOST IT flipping through them! Just you wait...lots of China stories coming up! Or if anybody had 7 or 8 free hours and are bored...give me a call! ;)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"You bray-kuh my heart!"

This is the common (and overused) phrase of the crazy women at the silk and pearl markets of Beijing. When you try and barter with them, they insist that you are bray-kuh their hearts because we go low even though "we friends, we friends!"

Last night however, this phrase took on a new meaning to me. Last night was the our end of semester/Christmas performance with the kids. We knew that when it was over, their parents would take them home for their winter break, and with us leaving tomorrow, it meant that it was our time to say goodbye to them. What we didn't realize when we started the perfermance,was how quickly they were going to disappear as soon as we were done.

For the last song, half of the teachers were on stage singing Jingle Bells with the kids while the other half of us were "elfs" throwing candy to everybody. I was an elf that ran out of candy before the kids were done and I had wanted to give them some. I knew I had a bag of it in my backpack backstage so I ran to grab it really quick. When I came out, I handed some to MAYBE 4 kids. Looking around, I saw a lot of the other teachers already crying and a nearly empty auditorium. We were so confused and everyone asking each other where the kids were. It was so sad and almost a little chaotic at the same time, everyone desperate to find their kids to hurry and say our goodbyes.

Ask any of the 18 and they will probably tell you it was NOTHING like what we had imagined! All week we were dreading having to say goodbye to them FOREVER, because there's no way we'll ever see them again, but the fact that we didn't get ANY closure to it, made it worse than how sad it would be to talk to them.

Some of them really started to get the idea of us leaving this week. Take Kim's class for example: Tuesday she drew a picture of America and a picture of Weihai and then an arrow that showed how we would be leaving Weihai. They started to get mad and cross out the arrow, telling her no. After that they just got depressed about it. I was helping Shelley the same day and Ruth came in to have somebody take a picture for her. When I walked into her room, Colin came BOOKING it across the room screaming "TEACHAAAA!" and just totally threw himself on me! It totally made my week :) I am definetly going to miss that little guy! He has always been my bud and it kills me I didn't the closure I needed.

Thursday night, Allie, Ruth and I went down to tuck the kids in for 1 last time. I'm so glad that we did! I have the most ADORABLE picture of Dave just grinning and so happy! I was able to spin around with Jesse and Emma again. Ben and I had another "kung-fu" off. It was fun to see everybody else too and see how excited they were to see us!

These kids have been AMAZING and ADORABLE and just all around great! I am going to miss them so much! It broke my heart though the way that things ended with them.

I'm off to finish packing! For as excited as I've been, I'm actually really sad now to be leaving tomorrow :( China has been such a huge thing and has changed me so much. It's sad that I won't be with these girls all the time, and it KILLS me I'll never see my kids again! It's been great though and it'll be good to get home. Both of my bags are 10 pounds over right now....BOOO weight limits!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

..inside the mind of....

So 3 am tends to be the best time to get internet connection in China! Which works out great since I'm much more of a night person anyways. Checking my email tonight, I once again came to a very interesting one. Apparently I don't let people get to know me very well and nobody gets to see the true me...??? WELL, ok then! I used to be an extremely open person to anybody that I was close with, but yes that has changed quite a bit in the last year. So for the sake of the email, I figured I'd do a quick little "get to know" me list of a few very random things about me...

I would rather slit my wrists than go running "just for fun"

I only go running when I'm so pissed that nothing else helps. At this time, it's best to just completly avoid me

I know that good music+good food can fix anything!

I believe that everything looks better in the morning

I live off of Mt. Dew, chocolate milk and pink lemonade

I say I'm fine...I'm lieing

I believe All American Rejects, The Veronicas and Daughtry are the best songs to vent to

I don't care how attractive you are, you still don't get to act like an ass

I have only tried on skinny jeans once in my whole life

I actually really ENJOY driving in the snow

I get super attached to people

"There's never a right time to say goodbye..." (Chris Brown)

I love love like what they have in movies and books.

I'm typically an optimist

I miss my Red Dragon more than you'll ever understand

I used to be very self consious that I have 2 fake teeth

I get addicted to things very easily

I take more pictures in a month than what you will in your whole life

I would listen to Rascal Flatts all day everyday if I could

"....we adore who ignores us and ignore who adores us"

I cry more than I like to admit

I think that rumors have more power than the people that start them care to admit

I LOVE motorcyles, take off on planes and rollercoasters. They make me feel alive

"I'm annoyed" is a phrase I use a lot but I get over things super quick

I am down for almost anything people suggest so if you say it you better mean it

I can think of 2 specific times I've laughed so hard I've peed my pants and countless time that I've cried

I may forgive but I never forget

I have never before tried drugs or alchohal

I have changed between wanting to be a doctor, teacher, actress and banker. The one thing that remains is that I've ALWAYS wanted to be a mom!

I would marry any man on SPOT that got me Rascal Flatts concert tickets

I want to travel to at least 1 country on every continent

I can eat more than you on almost any given day

I LOVE photography and writing

I laugh hard and you can hear me over a mile away

I do not care what other people think of me

I like getting dressed up but I like my sweats even more

I love sports and every single day I miss playing them

I am excited to go to school...for the first time in my life

I am loud and random and spontaneous

I can down Mt. Dew like you wouldn't believe

I know that I'm incredibly far from perfect, but I like to believe I'm becoming better and better

Sunday, December 13, 2009

6 days and counting....

2 posts in 1 night...I'm on a roll! :) I've already watched 8 hours of One Tree Hill today and Allie is sick so I'm trying to avoid our room so I figured why not blog again?

Things are so crazy right now! AHHHH! Only 6 more days and my 4 months in China will offically be over. In fact 1 week from right now, we will be landing in the Beijing airport. From there we will board a plane to Hong Kong. From Hong Kong we go to Taiwan. From Taiwan, to LA and from LA to SALT LAKE! It's 24 hours of flying, and 24 hours of lay overs so it will once again be QUITE the trip!

This week was interesting. It started off as HELL but today I'd say it ended great, with maybe just a touch of sad. We had TONS of chaos Monday and Tuesday morning. Our teaching schedule got changed to early morning instead of mid afternoon and nobody told us that were actually teaching so we were awakened to POUNDING on our doors at the crack of dawn, told the car was waiting for us and that we just had to take off with whatever we had. I HATE mornings as it is. The earlier they are, the worse they are. The "meaner" I'm woken up, the more I want to kill whoever did. And the STUPIDER the reason for the mistake, the more pissed I get why I think about it. Needless to say, there wasn't much pleasant talk in the car that morning.

Wednesday and Thursday were okay but Friday was a BLAST! Ruth and Shelley have been great about making sure that everybody that had a birthday over here, had a great day. Ruth's birthday is Decemeber 29th and Shelley's is December 27th so we'll just be getting home for theirs. We decided to throw them a surprise party here also. We have our big Christmas/end of semester performance coming up this week and Friday we had a dress rehearsal for it with the kids. After that, we all went down to the teaching building to surprise them while Melanie lured them down with a story that the rooms had flooded (Sadly not too far from the truth since this has happened TWICE) It was sooooo much fun! It was a great break to a crazy day and it's always fun when all 18 of us get together because it's pretty rare. Like anything else we do, we immediately started dancing and eating. About 20 minutes in, and Melanie starts up a huge cake fight....OF COURSE! It's a long story but lets just say there was cake alllll over the floor, down the hall, smmmmmeared in Allie's hair and ALL OVER Ruth, Allie, Kim, Melanie, Reili, Shelley and me. An interesting fact about China is that there are very few hours in the day where they turn on hot water for showers. We had no idea what time it was so we all were immediatly depressed thinking that we'd have to go shower in ICE water to get the crap out of our hair. I was against it enough that I was literally just going to wash my face and pull my hair back and sleep with it. I DO NOT do cold water!

However we realized it wasn't as late as we thought it was...THANK HEAVENS! Realizing we had only 20 minutes before it turned off, Ruth and Allie and I just take off running without thinking twice. China is FREEEEEEZING! I honestly have never been more cold in my life! We were in such a hurry and so disgusting that we didn't even think to put on our coats. So we jump out of the building in our t-shirts, into the RAIN and take off running! Our teaching building is at the bottom of our massive hill we have to climb to get to our dorm building. Once we've reached the building, we then have to run up 5 flights of stairs before we get to our rooms. We counted's about 400 stairs and it is hell!

Once we got cleaned up and got back down to the building, we played Catch Phrase with Lauren, Laurne, Reili, Rachel, Kim, Melanie, Shelley, Ruth, Allie and me. This has become a favorite here! We play it a lot and it always gets extremely competitive. We had hauled our microwave down there so we made popcorn and just hung out. Then Reili pulls out this baggy with a bunch of papers in it to play "The Question Game." It was HILARIOUS! We talked about everything from people in our group, to wedding nights to first kisses to getting married 1 week after getting home etc. Really just EVERYTHING! It was sooo much fun! One of the questions was what will your first food be once back in the States? We spent 2 HOURS talking about this question alone! That's how ridiculous we've gotten :)

Kim, Rachel and the Laurens headed back up and we stayed. Back on Halloween the rest of us decided that at some point on this trip we were going to sleep down in the building, for what reason I don't know! China has sound activated lights...NOT pleasant when you're trying to fall asleep and the wind is blowing so hard that it's blowing doors opened and closed all night. Luckily though I'm an extremely deep sleeper so I was out quick and out for the night. UNTIL a little Chinese man awoke us in the morning by trying to get into our room. He was banging and rattling the handle and looking in our little window. It probably would have been scarier if we weren't so tired but none of us cared enough to even get up.

Yesterday and today were also a great days! I'm burned out from typing the last part so I'll just summarize a lot. Last night, we ran into Kelly (school coordinator) and some of the Korean boys. She told us that they wanted to take us out to sing...karaoke! A classic China favorite :) It was SOOOO much fun! I loved watching them try and sing the American songs and was impressed when they actually turned out to have really great voices! I got some great videos I'll have to try and post later. We went to church with the O'Briens for the last time today. DEFINETLY went out with a to expected! It was hilarious and it's one of those "had to have been there" moments for the most part. The Muchada boys (from Brazil) were there and they are ADORABLE! I would love to take them home with me! :) After, we went over their house and had dinner and did a white elephant gift thing. It was hilarious and it was the perfect note to leave on.

This week is going to FLY by! I already have 1 of my 3 bags packed. As excited as I am, it really is so sad to be leaving here. It's had a HUGE impact on me! It's weird to think that 4 months is already over. Friday night when we were talking so long, it started to hit me how weird it's going to be to not have these girls with me anymore. I've learned so much from them and have become such good friends. We've spend 24/7 together (literally) for 4 months, so I can guarantee it's going to seem lonely when I first get home. I'm going to miss them a ton! And don't even get me started on my kids! :(

Run down for the final week:
Monday-cleaning and packing. Pick up DVD's at market
Tuesday-party with the kids. Rehearsal for assembly
Wednesday-hitting up Weihai sites one last time. Kelly's birthday! Going skating and to dinner
Thursday-rehearsal ONCE again! More cleaning and packing
Friday- Christmas performance! The kids have semester break starting that weekend so when their parents come to watch, they'll take them straight home after so that afternoon will be the last time we see them :( Christmas party with US that night before Bree and Reili leave the next morning.
Saturday- lucnh with school officials. Last night in market, hang out in dorms
Sunday-last chance to pack! Load the bus and head out! Final goodbyes with everybody :(

Anybody that even remotely knows me, knows that I do NOT do well with goodbye so this should be interesting.... see ya in 7!:)

My amazing "little" brother!

So I'm late OF COURSE, but I'm still using my excuse of being in China to justify things! :) What can I do when the government hates the world and shuts down the internet access?

December 4th, Taylor turned 18! WOOOOW! That's crazy to think! We have definetly come a long ways. It wasn't too long ago that Taylor was still shorter than me. Now however, he is probably 5-6 inches TALLER! That is almost as weird as the fact that he's gotten so old. With the heighth now in place, I'd say that he is just about officially the older brother, not the younger....

Taylor is an INCREDIBLE example to me! In every way shape and form he is a much better person than me. I can NOT save money, if my life depended on it! Taylor not only does save money but he paid off his own car in a matter of months, at the age of 16/17. I am late to EVERYTHING in life! Taylor is on time and early to everything. My senior year, he actually told me that he'd rather take the bus than go with me sometimes because I was always so late. Thinking back to when me and Brittany were in school together, I didn't care what time she left or if we never went at all, just as long as I didn't have to take the bus!

Taylor is one of the most responsible kids I know. For PROM last year, he took our dads truck and a bunch of fourwheelers on a trailer with a bunch of other kids and I guarantee that my dad didn't think twice about letting him take it. (I have driven that truck ONCE....when Taylor was with me ;) )

If he says that he's going to do something, he'll do it hands down and he'll do a better job than what he had promised or what was expected! I look up to this kid SOOO much! He will never know just how large of an impact he has had on my life. No matter what life throws at him, he has an attitude of "Okay what's next? Bring it on!" He's a lot better than even the friends I have that are 5 years older. I know this whole thing is rambling and all over the place, but I really can't say enough of just how much respect I have for him! He is the GREATEST!

I love you and hope that you had a great day!

Monday, December 7, 2009

I love my dad and "Fred"!

First of all, I LOVE my dad! This one is a given. When I still lived at home, we definetly had hard times and didn't see eye to eye, but since my senior year it's been getting better and better. Today we were down in the cafeteria, having more gosh awful food (eggplant, mushroom, rice, steamed bread and "chicken" that was more fat and arteries than anything else) when good ol' Tim came walking over with ILP mail. Low and behold, I had something today! WOOHOO! It's always exciting to get something and feel like we're still connected to America in some small way. I was even more excited when I saw that it was from my dad: a card for Thanksgiving! It was awesome and it was such a needed boost for today! He said he was sorry because it wouldn't get to me by Thanksgiving, but the surprise of it made it that much better. I loved it! What girl doesn't like to hear her dad say that he's proud of her and glad that she's his daughter? :)

Then tonight, One Tree Hill marathon ended for the night and I thought I'd hurry and check for an expected email (BOO DIXIE!) before I went to bed. Even better than a school email, I got a totally unexpected one from an old friend! I don't know if anybody really reads this besides my family, but I know at least he still does so for the sake of "privacy" we'll call him Fred.

I met Fred a little while ago. We DEFINETLY got off on the wrong foot and remained that way for about a year! It's a really long story how we met, and why we had negative feelings towards each other before meeting, but let's just say that feelings were hurt on both ends within the first 20 minutes of "Hi." However, about a year ago we started to fix things. He saw me driving down Canyon Road and sent me a semi-sarcastic text to tease me and say hi. That little effort started it all.

Since then, we have become a lot closer. Back in April, we went to dinner and talked about the type of people we wanted to be, where we wanted to go in life, what we wanted in life etc. I'll never forget what he said. "I'm only 22 but I feel like my life is so screwed up. I'm no where near the person I want to be." That really hit me because in some ways I felt the exact same. I didn't say anything then, but it was because of my good friend "Fred" that I made some changes in my own life. I haven't seen him or talked to him since I left for China.

I have trust issues with people. On many different levels in fact. When people say that they want to change, (depending on WHAT they're changing) I have a hard time believing them because my history and past experiences teaches me that people never REALLY change. However tonight Fred proved me wrong. Apparently after our dinner that day, Fred really did make a huge change. He gave up drinking. He gave up drugs. He gave up partying. He gave up talking bad about people. He gave up picking fights. He pretty much gave up every negative thing about himself, that he had said before he didn't like.

On top of all that, he's getting baptized next week! I could not be more excited for him! I love hearing how he's changed just through the email, I can't wait to see for real when I get home! So thank you Fred for being such a good example. Thank you for being a good friend. And thank you for proving me wrong and showing me that you can always change no matter what, as long as you really want to! (And thanks for making me laugh with all the other stories! ;) Ever heard that song "Some People Change" by Montgomery Gentry? Yea it's a GREAT one! And now I'm starting to believe it!

Home in 2 weeks! WOOOOHOOOOO!