I just don't know what to do...I have procrastinated blogging to such an extent that now I don't know if I should make several smaller posts or one big huge massive one. I think today I'll just post what I can until I get sick of it, tired or called away...whichever comes first :)
Many of you know, Courtney and Madisen went to Zhongshan, China for a wild adventure teaching English to young students, grade school age. Maddi had always wanted/planned on going and then recruited Courtney...who was reluctant at first. Boy, were we glad she decided to go because we are markedly more at ease knowing they're together...taking care of each other. They live in a small apartment with a squatter toilet (haha) and a 3rd girl named Bre. They have a small class of 6 students who were all renamed with Book of Mormon names...Jarom, Nephi, Moroni, Abish, Emma and Jennie (with 2 exceptions) They have purchased bikes and ride to school. They are practically celebrities in their town which is an hour & 1/2 out of the city with no tourist action. Many people have never seen white Americans and therefore, wherever they go...people stop and stare, point and laugh. Anything they do is of interest and apparently very amusing.
Rainey (Chinese interpreter), Bre, Courtney and Maddi
The girls left Aug. 25th and will return Dec. 19th. Fund raising is one way volunteers can participate in this program...since Maddi had always planned on going and Courtney had a pretty good job, only Maddi chose to fund raise and many of our dear family and friends donated to her fund raiser. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping her reach her goal and be able to have this most incredible experience full of excitement, learning, TRIALS and culture shock. All things we couldn't have taught here in America and many things that boys learn on their missions. A true appreciation and love of the good ol USA is one of the many things they've learned and gaining a confidence that there isn't anything in the USA they couldn't do. They also love toilet seats more than ever now :) Simple things are wildly missed and longed for by our little girlies.
Here are some tasty tidbits from their letters...they have such great stories to tell and I'll try to be better about posting them.
was so awesome. There was a window on the floor of our room at the hotel-which was the 21st floor! Every single time I walked by I had to stand and look through the window. It is mind-blowing how many buildings there are. It is seriously a sea of sky scrappers. It was so different from , but there was a similar feeling. I remember looking around while I was in Gustavus and just feeling over whelmed with the size and how the forest continued on for miles and miles. In Hong Kong I had the same feeling of being in this huge place that seems like it is never going end. ~Maddi
First day of school: The kids are so cute -- I already just love them. They are so stinking smart and funny. Kids are funny cause you can kind of guess what they are saying by their expressions and what they are doing. And they keep speaking to us in Chinese ! We just nod and smile and laugh and then they will run off and come back with something else to tell us. Today they kept wanting us to do animal sounds -- they would bring us a stuffed animal and would just laugh when we would do the noise. ~Courtney
The Chinese teachers are really nice and just keep trying to talk to us and I feel bad cause we just have absolutely no idea what they are saying. They were funny though when they found out me and Maddi were sisters – they were surprised and kept pointing to our hair and eyes and skin shaking their heads saying no no no – its different! It was pretty funny. ~Courtney
Regarding their situation at a new school that has never had an English program...something they weren't expecting when they went...being outside the city and away from the group:
I was talking to Courtney and I just got this feeling that I should stay. I think that is why I was so mad when they said I was going to get switched. I just got this high, thinking to my self... I can do this! Yes, this is going to be hard and I might complain about it in the near future but I am not a quitter! I have and will continue to do hard things in my life and get through them.
The next day went a lot better. I just knew what to expect and I made the decision to work through this. I loved that first day of teaching. Just being there with the kids and seeing them smile and respond I knew... this is why I am here. I was so happy! It was the first time I had really felt like my self in along time. I just wanted to talk and laugh and just talk and talk about how cute the kids were. Then we were walking around with Rainy and she is so cute. I just kept getting this feeling of knowing I was supposed to stay. I really think Heavenly Father wanted me to be there and go through whatever is to come. ~Madisen
There are people everywhere and there is honking all through night. Everyone just drives around honking. It's pretty funny. Another crazy thing is everyone not in a taxi is on a bike or a scooter and they have like 3 or 4 people on the scooters and little babies! Its so crazy it's funny. ~Courtney
Our. Chinese. Kids. Are. Crazy! I looove them though. Every day me, maddi, and bre laugh so hard we are crying. I had forgotten how funny and entertaining little kids are. You are totally right though -- they are exhausting. Children are bipolar -- they are happy and laughing one second and then you turn around and they are crying on the floor. I feel like I am always thinking, " What the heck happened?!"
Little guy not wanting to be touched is "Nephi"
Mom -- don't ever come to China cause I have no idea what you would eat. I don't even ask what they give us cause I am scared at what they will say. The girls at the other school said that one day the were given rat meant -- gross.
Dragonfruit at a market they eventually found
Today we went and got our hair washed at one of the salons. It was seriously so amazing. They rubbed our head for about 20 minutes and then they rubbed our arms, legs, and back. They cleaned out our ears with these weird q-tips that felt like it touched my brain. It kind of hurt but I think I can hear better now. We all took pictures with the guys who styled our hair. When Bre asked her guy for a picture-he fixed HIS hair, hair sprayed it, and then grabbed his trophy from the shelf before posing for about 5 pictures. They all had freaky long finger nails so they could grab your hair. ~Maddi
Whenever the kids talk in English, we give them tokens and at the end they get to buy stuff with their tokens. has been trying to get this sword for about 2 weeks now. He won't save them though! I had this pile of tokens sitting by me and he came over and was acting like he just came by to look at my stuff. Then he started taking the tokens and putting them in his bag when he thought I wasn't looking. That Nephi isn't living up to his namesake. He is actually super smart and adorable! He has been one of my favorites since day one. ~Maddi
Trying to be good, waiting in line to shop in the store with their tokens
Everyone is so nice to us here -- they get so excited to see us and help us its always fun to go and buy from their little shops. We are the laughing stock of the city though. Everything we do is very funny to them. Every time we go to throw away the trash , a little crowd gathers to watch us throw it in and then they laugh. Now we just laugh back. It is pretty funny cause we stick out so much and probably do look so lost no matter what we do.
This little paragraph scared me and made me so happy and grateful all at the same time...Heavenly Father really is watching over them:
Maddi saved my life yesterday. This car was on the wrong side of the road and was speeding but i had stepped out to look the other way to see if we could cross and maddi pulled me back just in time. the van was inches from my face and it made my hair blow and my heart was racing for the rest of the day. it was super scary. the funny thing is maddi didn't ever remember pulling me back. weiird. thanks for the prayers :)
I asked Maddi for details after reading this, she says she just remembers going to touch her arm AFTERWARDS to see if she was okay
Okay, it happened. My not-very-great computer desk is hurting my wrists so there you have it, time to stop blogging. I will post letters they send more often & pictures soon. This long post is dedicated to GRANDPA...I know he won't be put off by the sheer length of it and push through it's entirety!