Thursday, May 22, 2008

I You Love

We had an amazing experience tonight. Maybe this is why we came to Guiyang early. We were invited by the performing arts department at this university to sing in their end of year concert. It really was so nice of them to invite us, they've been practicing for a long time and... well we're dancers, but I think it went well. The best part was that we got to sing "I Am a Child of God". Probably one of the best experiences of my life. When they read the title to them in Chinese they all cheered...? We all really tried to prepare for the experience, that we would be able to share what we believe so strongly with them through the only means we could, by singing. They also loved it when we sang a Chinese song for them, I doubt it sounded right at all, but whatever. It was awesome.

But if you couldn't tell, we're in Guiyang! It's the most beautiful place I've ever seen. The entire city is just rolling green, peaked, misty mountains. They also have the most amazing fruit here, ones I've never seen or heard of.

We've hit our half-way point! I have three weeks left, two in Guiyang and one in Beijing. Only two more weeks of classes!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Earthquakes R Us

Well as some of you may have heard, there was a little bit of excitement here in Chengdu... I have now officially experienced my first earthquake. Not something I hope to repeat again but definitely unforgettable. First I have to say how amazing the Chinese people are!! I have never felt so much concern and selflessness from people I don't really know. They were concerned for our safety and comfort before theirs was ever considered. So as you probably know, more than me even, (we don't speak Chinese and don't have the internet in our hotel right now so we're getting updated pretty slowly) about the damage that was done at the epicenter in Chengdu. It was registered as a 7.9 at the center but we're about 60 miles Northeast (I believe...) from there so where we were it only registered as a 5.8. We were sitting in our dance studio on the second floor of the Sichuan Conservatory of Music when we felt everything shake. It got harder and harder as we realized what was happening. We ran under door frames like I was so well prepared to do in elementary school, and after a little while a group of hysterical Chinese girls ran around the corner and into the bathroom that I was in. It was hard to see them so scared knowing that they didn't have anything to turn to for comfort, but I was praying harder than I ever have before. Plaster and tile started to fall and I just hoped that it wouldn't get any harder or I knew the building might now hold up. After a few minutes it finally stopped and we all ran through the plaster and dust down the stairs and out the door. The professors in the school made sure everyone was out quickly and we all counted to make sure we were all there. It took many hours of just hanging out outside, watching the martial arts performers that had come to teach us, and dancing with our Chinese hip hop boys, before we were allowed to go into the cafeteria to eat. It took another few hours outside, getting to know the Chinese dance students better, before we could go back to our hotel. It was night by then and we tried to sleep outside but it rained on us so we slept on our hotel lobby floor. Everyone was pretty jumpy and it didn't help that there were pretty big aftershocks every once in a while. Tuesday we went up to our rooms and saw the small cracks and plaster but for the most part we were all so lucky and still have nice facilities to stay in. I wish I could say the same for all of Chengdu but it's hard knowing that there are so many people suffering so close to us. I know we were so blessed and that even though it was a hard experience, I have learned so much by it already. I will never forget the Chinese people and their goodness and optimism. I talked to many of the students on campus afterwards and no one complained about having to stay outside in the rain for over 40 hours or not knowing if their buildings were safe enough. So we were blessed in our little area of Chengdu and life is getting back to normal already. We're learning to enjoy our aftershocks, kind of fun, right? Our professors think that we will go to Guiyang early so I'll let you know if I fly out soon. I will miss this city and the amazing people we've met. Thank you all so much for all of your prayers and concern for us. We're doing well, we're actually having a party tonight with the dance students from the University.

Thanks Monica for your help with the blog:) I love you all and hope you are all doing well. See you soon.
Love, Nicole

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I Heart China

Hey everyone! Hello from the land of China. I'm there. I see lots of Chinese people and I eat Chinese food. I also speak a little Chinese. I like to dance. Dancing in China is fun. My sister Monica is the best sister in the whole world, definitely my favorite. She does so many nice things for me like posting pictures for me on my blog. I will tell you all about the pictures on my blog later. But for now, here is a photo journal of what I have been doing in China. Notice how cute I am. And how high I jump. But especially notice my cute skirt that I bought here. I am going to buy Monica one just like it. I am going to buy her a lot of cute clothes. I am going to do that because I love her.

Okay, here are some pictures.

Friday, May 9, 2008

I Love Cheap Chinese Massages

So it wasn't too good to be true like I thought it must be for only $7. We went into the city (in my first taxi cab), swerving in and out between cars so that the four taxis could stay together, and went upstairs in this random building. They had two large rooms for us, ours had five beds with five little in-tables and five little Chinese girls, with five buckets of milk stuff and flowers, and a cute little man who brought us five little glasses of tea and flowers and sugar, and plates with orange slices, and wet towelettes that we didn't know what to do with at first. The girls gave us a full body massage, focusing the majority of the time on our feet, for, yes, a full 100 min. It was incredible. They didn't speak any English and all the girls who spoke any Chinese were in the other room so we tried to communicate as best we could by saying all the Chinese words we knew. They were all really young, around 18, and they were so cute. If I can get any sort of picture through then I'll try to show you what it was like, so you can all imagine what really is possible, only in China.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Hello everyone. Our internet doesn't allow us to view blogs for some reason so apparently my words were the same color as my background. Keep informing me if wierd things happen. I can't get to my comments either:( but maybe someday I'll see them. Things are going well here still, my body is completely exhausted though. We pretty much go from 9-5 straight through in one room. But our professor found a place for today where we get to have a massage for 100 min. for only 50 yuan ($7)!!!!!! Ridiculous? yes. Man, I love China! I'll let you all know how it was so you can all be jealous. Hopefully.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Hola China

I made it!! I still can’t believe I’m finally in China, where I’ve wanted to go for so long. I love Asia! I love the feel of it. If I were to pick what Asia would feel like it would feel like this. The air is so thick and humid (I feel muggy all the time) and it smells like spices, new foods, cigarettes, incense, and… Asia. The streets are my favorite because there are people everywhere walking, cooking random meats, scraping pineapple, riding bikes, scooters, mini cars, buses, and they stare at us wherever we go. I guess they aren’t used to white people in this area. Some people act so happy when we say hi, or ni hao, or when we try to talk to them. A lot of them surprisingly know English pretty well. We met three awesome boys today on the campus of the Southwest Petroleum University and they told us they have studied English since they were 14, a little each year. I’m getting used to the squatter toilets here. I was pretty fearful that I would relive horrible childhood camping experiences, and while I want to shout for joy when I see a normal toilet they aren’t so bad I guess.

It took two days to get here, with a stop in San Francisco and Korea before getting to Chengdu. It took a long time to get to Korea, and to experience how long 13 hours on a plane really is I want you all to sit on a kitchen chair right in front of a small TV, with two people sitting next to you sandwiching in your arms, while blowing your nose every few moments, then sleep by leaning on a card table positioned directly over your thighs for 13 hours. It was strange skipping ahead 14 hours into a new day. I’m living in the future… if you ever want to know what tomorrow is like I’ll fill you in.

I think the traffic laws in China are taken more as suggestions. They just drive or walk wherever they want. It’s hilarious driving down the street in our bus, our drivers always honk at everybody to get out of the way, and I always swear we’re going to hit somebody. People just cross lanes and flip U-turns whenever; our driver on the way from the airport got a phone call and just stopped in the middle of the freeway for a few minutes to talk. But for the most part I am pretty confident in our drivers. I figure they’ve lived in China their whole lives, they can maneuver pretty quickly.

Thursday and Friday we took classes on campus most of the day. It’s fun getting back into so much dancing but it’s been hard to get used to the full schedule. We took a Chinese classical dance class on Thursday. You have to be so precise in your movements down to exact placements of your fingers. In the dances they take these quick tiny steps by rolling their feet from heel to toe. Monday we learned how to play a Chinese instrument that looked like a cool recorder, and then today (Tuesday) we learned a couple Chinese long-sleeve dances.

We had a Christmas miracle when we were chosen as one of the two students’ rooms to get the internet. Now we can use it (when it works) instead of walking down to the internet cafĂ© on campus. When we went there on Thursday night it was awesome, just a huge room full of computers and male Chinese gamers. Kind of like your old living room Matt, minus the Chinese.

This weekend was fun. Saturday we took a tour through Chengdu and went shopping in a little market. I got lots of things and bought a skirt just in time for church. And I love Asian food! I thought that would be the hardest part for me but I’m really liking it. And they actually do have Asian pastries. Today instead of dinner me and my friend bought a big pastry-cake thing. Mmm sugar. At our hotel or on campus we are fed three meals a day, seven days a week. I can’t even think about being hungry again before we have another giant meal prepared for us.

All in all I am loving my experience over here so far. The people are so kind and generous. It’s so fun to go up and talk to random people and get to know them a little bit. Sometimes I almost forget I’m not in America, which is weird.