Monday, August 4, 2008

The Weekend Catch-Up

(Covering) Saturday, August 02, 2008-Monday, August 04, 2008
So I have much to catch up on from yesterday, I was much too tired when I came home to write. I took a shower and then went straight to bed. It is strange that I was so tired as it didn’t seem like we did that much, but I guess that it was a very long day.
Actually before I go any further I realized that I haven’t really told who all the people that I am interacting are, and I probably should write it down so that I will later remember who people are.
Natalie: from Utah (parents living in Australia for summer) other teacher that will be here until December with me.
Brooke: is here till the end of August, she came for the summer, only to “help,” someone left and so she ended up teaching every day until I came here. She is in the other apartment until she leaves with Brooke.
Luke and Kaylene: Newlywed couple, (7 months!!) that has been here since April and they also leave at the end of August. They were staying in my apartment but because I came they had to leave, they are now staying at a members home until they leave. Luke is here studying Chinese at the Buddhist College.
Yuling: “My boss,” she is the director of the preschool. I have not yet met her as she has a baby two weeks ago and in the Taiwan culture when a woman has a baby she does not leave her home for a month.
Teachers- Stephanie, Jane, and Michelle: pretty much describes itself :D
Dennis: I doubt that I will ever mention him again, but I never know. He is the guy that picked me up at the Taipei airport; he is a friend of Yuling’s that works at another English school in Taipei. I guess they have been friends for nearly 10 years.

Yesterday our day started out pretty early for a Saturday, we were picked up at 8:30am by General Wong and Director Tsai. We had thought that Kaylene and Luke were going to come to the preschool but when they were not there when they arrived to pick us up Director Tsai called them to find out where they were, they had thought that we were going to pick them up where they were staying so we headed over there. It was kind of funny, when Kaylene got in the car, the first thing that she said to me was “you smell good,” (I had been chewing gum), then Brooke spoke up saying that she was funny as she had gotten in the car and smelled the gum but hadn’t known what it was so she had been just enjoying, but the first thing Kaylene says is that (once again it is one of those things that is funnier when you are there :D). They then drove us to the Buddhist College (Tzu Chi College of Technology—founded by Master Cheng Yen) where they were having a Elementary aged Children’s Art Festival. We first went to the college where we picked up our lunch boxes and then were given breakfast, I had eaten before we left but everyone else ate, there was these donut like things that had jam in the middle and then these pizza like things that had hot dogs on them and corn, Natalie said that she wasn’t that impressed with it but Luke must have liked them as he ate four of them. We then sat and waited for Venerable Yin (Yin Shifu (one of the nuns)) to arrive, it was kind of funny as when they had picked us up they kept on telling us that we were late and that we must hurry, but then we got there and had to wait for like 20 minutes waiting. After Venerable Yin had arrived she told us about the plans for the weekend and asked us what we were able to commit to, next we followed them to the opening ceremonies. It was really cool, since we were with the nun when we walked in everyone stood up and waiting until we got to our seats and then we had to wait for permission to be seated. We just had barely sat down when everyone stood up again to pray, I didn’t realize at first that they were praying to their three Gods and so I bowed with them on the first one but then I looked at Luke (which I would be doing a lot of during the day as he knew what he was doing and I really didn’t want to disrespect them) and saw that he wasn’t bowing, so I stopped, on the fourth bow they bowed to the nun and we did that as it was a respect thing. Again we sat down. The opening ceremonies were really cool, this group of ladies came up on the stage and they taught us all how to do this dance, it was funny as they kept on saying that look even our friends can do it. After the dance part the nun went up on stage and talked for a little bit. She had us stand up and introduced us as American friends, she told them how we come from BYU and that besides Luke none of us know any Chinese, but we came to spend the day with them and we all know how to use chopsticks (which at the time was SOOO not true for me) and even how to hold the bowl during mealtimes or something like that. She had us stand up and wave to them many times, at the very end of her talking she had everyone stand up, and then they bowed to us and we bowed to them all of us saying “It’s nice to meet you” (all in English- it is kind of cool, they are more than willing to say English words but they will all say them rather slowly) After the opening ceremonies the children were dismissed. We stood up and were waiting to find out what we were going to do when the nun again started to try and convince us to stay for the whole weekend (she had planned on us staying for the whole weekend, she had even made rooms for us in the dormitories), Luke and her had been talking back and forth when he asked Director Tsai how to ask if the nun had been a sales person before she became a nun, everyone thought that it was really funny (as that is how she was trying to convince us to stay). We then got into the cars and drove over to the Elementary School where they were having most of the activities for the children; Natalie, Brooke, and I were in the car with Director Tsai to the elementary school. While we were driving she asked us questions about our Sundays and why we could not participate in the activities that were planned for today. We explained as much as we could, I like to think that she was impressed with that we were willing to stand with our beliefs. She also kept on telling us that if they had known further in advance they would have moved different activities to be on Saturday so that we could have been more involved, Brooke felt that they should have known as they have been working closely with Luke and Kaylene for the past several months.
(Sorry Kyle I meant to end that past paragraph sooner than I did :D)
I almost forgot, while we were waiting for the nun’s car to be driven up she actually told Luke that his Chinese was terrible, I found that kind of funny but rather insulting at the same time, as I had always believed that people were quite impressed when others were willing to try and speak their language, I guess not.
We all felt kind of frustrated for the kids as when we got there they were again sitting in a auditorium watching another presentation, this one on hygiene and how we should keep our rooms clean, wash our hands, go to bed, etc. They probably sat in that auditorium for 2-3 more hours (and we along with them), most of us were falling asleep at least once during this time, if not more and at one point I looked to the back corner where there was a group of leaders and there was probably 15 people fully asleep, I kind of found it entertaining but didn’t understand how those kids were doing so well and sitting quietly. We talked about the earthquake during this time (it is crazy to think that it was only yesterday morning- that seems so far away), I guess Kaylene is a heavy sleeper but it woke her right up and she sat straight up and grabbed Lukes arm in a death grip, asking what it was: Luke told her it was just a earthquake and rolled over and went back to sleep. I thought it was kind of funny when they told us, but I had to disagree, in my everyday life the earth does not just start shaking so it was not “JUST” a earthquake (oh and I did find out that there was an aftershock about an hour later, not very big but I was back out by then and didn’t feel it- poor Brooke first got woken up by my phone at midnight, then the earthquake at 3, the aftershock an hour later, and then she got up at 6 to go running- she had a very long day by the time we got home at 8).
I felt kind of silly the whole time as they have “uniforms” for whoever volunteers or works for them, what we were supposed to wear was white pants and a grey shirt (they provide both, and are huge on everyone I guess), but as I had just gotten permission to come Friday night I did not have a uniform so I was just wearing whatever was the closest: a white skirt ( I didn’t bring any pants) and a light green shirt (it wasn’t until later in the day that I realized that I was the only one with my shirt not tucked in :D). I guess that the Buddhist like the color grey as all of their buildings were the color grey, they believe that you should not show tons of emotion (getting too excited, etc.) and they believe that grey does that or something.
After sitting for what seemed like forever we all left the auditorium for lunch, Director Tsai gave us a quick tour of the courtyard area of the school and then we went to line up to go into lunch. All of the kids were already standing at the tables but we were coming in with Venerable Yin, we had to walk in, in a single line and we could not talk. We walked in and walked around the table and then everyone faced the front and prayed to their God’s again, we then sat down and we were allowed to pray and then we set out our bowls. (With the bowl to the left of the plate and then chopsticks set down below them), we then waited while the elders served us. This was my first time ever using chopsticks so I was quite worried, I had a lot of trouble but meddled my way through it, I did get in trouble at one time though as I was talking and was told not to. By the time I had finished my one bowl of food I do believe that Luke was on this 3rd or 4th. I did ok with most of the food except the last dish of food that I had to eat, it was a soup…made of seaweed!  They tell me that I will get used to it, but I think that there are going to be some things that I will never get used to. When I go back to the Buddhist College I will try and eat it, but it is definitely not something that I will seek out on my own (I gagged about 6 times just eating a couple of bites).
After lunch we again went back to the auditorium, we walked in later then everyone else and right when we were outside the door we were told to be quite and then we walked in, all of the lights were off and everyone was “sleeping,” they were having a nap (yeah about 5 minutes!), as we were walking up the stairs the lights came back on and everyone “woke up.” As we were sitting down they introduced this lady, I guess she is amazing at music and was like one of the first TV people in Taiwan or something like that (I was not right next to the person that was translating so I didn’t catch everything). She told us that she was going to teach 3 songs to these kids in one hour!! (we didn’t think that she could do it), but succeed she did. After that hour all of the kids were dismissed, they were going to go and do these rotation things. As we were walking out, the Nun came up to us with the music lady- I guess before she had become a nun she had majored in Music and gone to Japan and stuff, anyway this lady was her teacher and she was very excited to introduce us.
Brooke had been asked to do this recycling class as part of the kids rotation thing, the rest of us didn’t have anything to do so we decided to go and watch her. She was supposed to be doing the mini class 4 times so she asked if we would be willing to help her and each take a time (there were 5 of us so I didn’t have to do :D), we first told them that there are many things that can be recycled rather than thrown away and we showed them the things (with a translator the whole time) and then we played a game where each group was given a bucket of recycling and they had to separate it the quickest, it was kind of cool as we went along we got better each time and were able to figure out the best way to do things. They videotaped the first group, we kind of wished that they had done the last group.
After all of the groups were done it was time for dinner, again we went into the room in a line, this time though we were sitting at the table with the nun (I am not sure but I believe that it is kind of cool thing to be able to sit at the same table as the nun). I was quite impressed with myself, I was still a little slow at eating but I kept up with most of the white people ( I doubt that I have any chance of keeping up with the Buddhists). Again most of the meal wasn’t that bad and I was able to eat it all, the only thing that made me pause were the peanuts, they were cooked and like a purple color, really dry and had a weird taste- that did not agree with my taste buds.
When dinner was over we were asked if we wanted to walk with the children back to the college or if we wanted to ride in the car, they told us it was about a 15 minute walk, we decided to walk with the kids in hopes of having a chance to interact with them better. The children have to walk to two perfect lines and so I had gotten pushed back a little, away from the rest of my group, but it was kind of nice to walk and hear Chinese, I didn’t know what they were saying but I could definitely tell that it was children chatter—it was kind of neat to see that, that can be understood through the languages. When we arrived back at the college we all went to the auditorium where the Sign Language Opera was set to begin. So when I heard Sign Language Opera I thought that it sounded really funny, but actually it had to be one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen. It was Chinese music danced to by a group of “ambassadors (that is what they call them),” they use Chinese sign language and move so gracefully like a swan. I am sad, right as they were finishing the first dance I was pulling out my camera, so I did not get any pictures of it or it recorded (it was my favorite), but I did take some pictures of the second one and recorded a little bit of it (will post them in another one). (*This group will be coming to BYU in September—I believe the first weekend, everyone should take a opportunity to see it if they can (look for the Taiwan Sign Language Opera from Hualien, Taiwan- Tzu Chi College of Technology), if you can go it is an opportunity worth seeing). When they were done some of the children from the camp did a short play (a version of Cinderella), though I couldn’t understand what was going on the whole time (Luke was at the other end of me) it was entertaining and quite funny.
I am not sure whether or not I mentioned it or not, but a lot of the public bathrooms are basically like guys urinals tipped onto the ground (a whole in the floor). I know that I will eventually have to use one of those but I would like to sustain as long as possible from using one of those, so anyway Saturday night I had to go to the bathroom and asked Kaylene where one was, she showed me and I walked in there and checked every stall, when I realized that they were all the urinal floor toilets I realized that I didn’t have to go to bathroom as bad as I had thought (:D!!!)
After the plays were over, Luke and Kaylene had to stay and practice some for Sunday night but we did not so Director Tsai took Brooke, Natalie, and I home. We arranged when they would pick us up the next evening. I was quite exhausted when I got home, I took a shower and went straight to bed (which is why I am just getting to writing now :D).
Now, I am sure all are sitting in anticipation of how my Sunday went :D. I am sorry to inform you, but, I didn’t go to church yesterday….. just kidding :D ( it’s ok mom, stay sitting in your seat). It was actually a very interesting experience. I was quite worried about having to ride a bike in a skirt to church (yes, I know that people do it all the time, but that doesn’t make it any easier for me), but it actually wasn’t that bad (except those couple of times that I flashed people, hehe). It wasn’t very far away to our branch building (ha branch my foot, it’s bigger than our ward building at home and it’s 3 stories!!!), we parked our bikes in the “underground” parking garage and then walked inside. In this ward they have Relief Society first, than Sunday School, and finally Sacrament meeting. We walked upstairs to the Relief Society room and sat down, at the very beginning I had to introduce myself and write my name on the board (I find it funny that somehow my name more times than never ends up sounding like Bhet), we sang a opening hymn (they have a couple of hymnals that at least have the “words” in Chinese, Brooke said that it will come time when I will be able to read those perfectly), I am considering buying a hymnal in English and then singing along with them. The very beginning of Relief Society was spent discussing the activity that will be this next Saturday and what size material people should be buying. After that we had a lesson on a General Conference talk, about how we should be member missionaries and befriend those who are investigating the church and those who have recently been baptized. Sister Wood (one of the sister missionaries) translated for us most of the time, it was kind of funny at one point this lady was talking Sister Wood told us that she was basically not saying anything, she was just rambling and she was not going to translate it.
Next was Sunday School, we actually stayed in the same room and stayed for the Gospel Doctrine class, as that is where the missionaries go and for some reason we like to have them to translate for us (:D). The class was about lesson #23 (I think :}) about service. Something that I noticed is that all of the classes are shorter than normal, they all end about 10 minutes early to allow for moving time (maybe that is what all wards should have, then maybe you wouldn’t have as many people late to class or skipping class). Again I had to introduce myself and have my name written on the board. The guy that opened the class actually was white and spoke English, it was kind of funny at one point he was looking to the missionaries to translate a question to us, when he realized that he could just speak English to us himself ( I guess he married a Taiwanese girl and moved back here as he liked it so much). Also another funny, Sister Wood was translating for us again when at the end Elder Pendleton asked if she wanted him to translate, she said sure and he then translated one sentence and the class ended.
Last (but not least) was Sacrament meeting. I am definitely used to a normal ward and not a branch, it was quite smaller than I am used to (oh and I almost forgot to mention, the Sacrament room was on the third floor). We began normally, this time with Elder Pendleton translating for us. It was fast and testimony meeting so he had a lot of different things to translate. There were two kind of funny things that happened during sacrament meeting. The first one I missed but Brooke told me about it later, the first part Elder Pendleton was translating, something about how the lady felt that no one loves her, etc. but I guess after awhile he stopped translating as he said that the lady was basically speaking blasphemy and he felt that it wasn’t something that needed to be translated for us. The other one was the same lady from Relief Society whom Sister Wood had said had been just rambling not saying anything, she was part way through her testimony when Elder Pendleton said the same thing, that she was rambling, he told us what he was telling us was not really what she was saying but what she should have been saying. I kind of thought that, that was funny.
After church we came home, I tried getting caught up on journal but a nap sounded much more appetizing at the moment, so I wrote a couple of pages and then took a nap. When I woke up, Brooke, Kaylene, and Luke were making dinner..(I guess they started this thing where Luke, Brooke, Kaylene, Natalie, Amy (a investor who is getting baptized this Saturday), and now I! have dinner every Sunday together).. they made a really yummy dinner of rice (of course), breaded shrimp (not so yummy), a sauce with pineapple and then fresh uncooked pineapple to put on top of that. When we were done eating dinner Natalie and Amy came home (Amy goes to the 1pm branch and so Natalie has been going then too so that she has a friend), they ate dinner and then it was time for us to go. At about 6:10 General Wong picked us up to take us back to the College for last night’s musical performance.
The musical performance last night was beautiful, there were many different selections of singing, piano, violin, cello, and the best was of the kids singing the three songs that they had learned the day before. After the performance we came home, I was feeling kind of panicky as we had not prepared our lessons for the week yet and I knew that they were due this morning. As soon as we got home last night Brooke came in and helped explain a little bit but she didn’t help me completely with it all. I called Mom and was basically in tears as I didn’t know what I was doing and it was already midnight my time. I was exhausted and didn’t know what I was doing. Mom helped me a little bit get things planned and then I went to bed on a prayer. I woke up this morning feeling a little better but still a bit panicky. I started my first class not really sure what I was doing, but it got better by the time I had finished the 3rd rotation. I quickly ran upstairs in order to finish preparing for my next class and to try to join in on the family phone call (sadly it didn’t happen ), but I got it all planned and I went down to teach how to brush my teeth, it was quite fun actually- I got to pretend that I didn’t know how to brush my teeth and do silly things and they corrected me to do the right thing (all in all I believe that I brushed my teeth 6+ times in a hour and a half). I also taught them a song, strangely the last class was the one where I had the most time a the end. I came upstairs to prepare for my last class of the day during my break, those couple hours went very very quickly it felt like. I was teaching on a what a garden was. The first group did not go very well, I sped through the talking very quickly and was done in 15 minutes (the class was 45), Brooke stood up and helped a little and then we played a game. So I took some breathers and prepared to do the second group, this time I did a lot better, I slowed myself down and spread out what I was saying and we made it exactly to the end of the time. I am still feeling very nervous about all of this but am feeling a little better. I don’t like this planning the minute before I start the class and so this week I hope to have my lessons done by Wednesday, and Thursday at the latest (we will see how that goes).
As I have been finishing this journal entry it has been raining like crazy (of course we have plastic roofing so it sounded a lot worse), but it was going for like 45 minutes and there was also thunder and lightning. It is still raining, but not as hard. Oh and I have washed my first load of laundry here today, I actually need to go downstairs and grab it and bring it up to hang (will certainly take a picture ;D).
Tonight for “FHE” Brooke and I have been invited over to June’s house (a girl from the Branch who is actually going to BYU and speaks English fairly well), I guess she is fairly bored and has invited us over to her house to watch a movie. Brooke is being nice and making us dinner and we will be leaving soon. So I guess thankfully I am all caught up. I hope that I do not get this far behind again, as that was a lot to type at one time and because I was doing so much I probably missed details too! But that is all for now and this is Betherd, signing off!

*Some things that I learned today about Buddhist:
-They don’t believe in killing animals (even bugs- Kaylene told us how once she started to squish a bug when she looked up and everyone in the room had physically flinched when they saw her do it)
-They pray to 3 Gods
-There are both nuns and priests and they both shave their heads.
-Elders are very important to their community.
-They don’t believe in food waste, they will try and get you to eat everything (which was frustrating, as they thought just because I am larger I must want tons of food so they kept on trying to shove more and more food at me—poor Luke got the most of it, during Dinner he rushed through his food and then washed his dishes so that they would know that he was done).
-You must try at a least a little of everything at each meal.
-Buddhists do not eat meat, but they make some very good replacements that look like meat.
-They like the color grey.
-Do not talk at meals!
-You should bow as you look at people or are meeting new people.
-Do not cross your legs.
-They have great respect for their elders.
-There are 12 million members in the Buddhist sect.

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