Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hallie the Star

I mentioned in a previous post, that Hallie was in a commercial.  The commercial was filmed over two days.  The days were very long.  We arrived at the first location around 6:30 am and were not finished until 9 pm the first day and  about 5 pm the second day.  Hallie was great.  She got up early and did not complain.

The production director is a Chinese born Canadian living in China.  The camera guy or filming director was from New Zealand.  The main director working for Turner (CNN) was from Singapore and spoke English with a British accent.

The commercial will be shown on CNN in the US and Europe.  It will be about a family visiting Hangzhou on vacation.  It should be on very soon.

It takes a big crew of people to shoot the video for a 30 second commercial.

Hallie on a boat on West Lake with some of the crew and her  "parents".

Wherever they were filming, lots of people took pictures.

Hallie's "parents" taking a picture of their girl.

Simulated sun set.
Our Super star!

Trick or treat

The Chinese do not really celebrate Halloween.  Like Christmas, Halloween is starting to catch on here.  But it is not really a big deal.  However, for my kids it is a very big deal. It is difficult to get good costumes or even the stuff to make a good costume, so I have to plan far in advance.

I got the stuff for the girls' costumes this summer while we were in the states.  I did not get anything for Liam.  Luckily I found the idea and directions to make this spider costume on the Internet.  Liam thought it was cool, and I could get the stuff to make this costume here!

Eryn was a princess.  She was going to be Rapunzel, but decided that she did not want to wear a wig.  I am glad she told me before I made the wig.

Hallie was Big bird.  The feathers were  boas that I bought at a fabric store in the US

Hallie was big bird and her best friend Bliss was Elmo.  (I made Elmo's hat too)  Jon helped.

Bliss, Hallie, Eryn, Carissa, and Liam ready to go trick-or-treating.

Margaret brought over several kids to all go trick or treating together.  This is not a normal Chinese activity, but she told several families to be ready for us.

I am thankful that the kids were able to celebrate and have a good time with their friends.

We found pumpkins!

Every year in October, we look for pumpkins that actually look like pumpkins.  This year, we were able to find three small orange (and round) pumpkins.  
When we cut them open, they looked like real pumpkins too!

Hallie actually carved her own pumpkin this year!

Here are the finished products!
And here they are all lit up!  They molded in a week--I did not take a picture of that.  

Guest Blog: the Russells

This past week, Marti and Ray Russell from Clear Creek were visiting China. I asked them to write something about how they saw China.  We have been here long enough that we do not see it as other people do.  Ray wrote this before he left our house.  They continued their adventure by taking to a train to ShaoXing, staying a couple of days, and then taking another train to Shanghai.  They are at a hotel in Shanghai right now and will fly home tomorrow evening.  You should ask them about their trip!

Here's the guest blog:

This week my wife Marti and I have had the unique experience of spending the week in Haungzho. As our week with the Davis and Hardin families come to an end Jennifer asked me to write down some thoughts and reactions to our first time in China. The first thing I would like to express is our gratitude to both families for allowing us to intrude their homes to experience what life is like. They have been so gracious and loving to us while we have been here. Now to the experience.... First, China is very different from what we imagined, it is full of life and is very modern in many ways. It is not however at the same level as we are when it comes to toilet hygiene. That may have been our biggest challenge when in public. Another challenge is of course the language, in many countries you are able to function through reading text or finding an English speaking individual, China is not one of those places. The language is so different that it is very hard to get where you need to be without a base knowledge of Chinese. We also realized the modern amenities we take for granted like clothes dryers and dishwashers, these things make our lives so easy and the lives of the families here in China so much more difficult. The final thing we have notice on the negative side is the second hand smoke! China has not received the news that smoking will kill you yet and they do quite a bit of indoor smoking! On the positive side, the food is outstanding! From the first morning where Jon took us to street a vendor the eating experience has been fabulous! The food is full of flavor and so very healthy, it is also very different from American Chinese food. I was also able to go to class with Jon and Josh this week which was a great. They both allowed me to to answer questions and ask questions Of the students who were so excited to speak to a 'real' American! Also I was given a Chinese name meaning 'so very handsome' much to Jon's chagrin. These students were fun to interact with and I was even given a demonstration of real Chinese hip hop dancing, if only I had thought to video! Finally, is it so very obvious to both of us that God is at work through the team here. The study I was able to experience was amazing and the believers here truly want to serve and follow. God is blessing these families and the work they are doing here in China!
Thanks for sharing Ray.  We had a great time with you!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Visit to ShaoXing

Last year, during the National Day Holiday in China we went to X’ian.  Since it was the holiday we had trouble getting back home and ended up staying a few days longer than we had planned.  This year we did not want to get stuck anywhere, so we went somewhere much closer.  ShaoXing. ShaoXing is only about 40 minutes away by train or bus.

We did not stay very long in this city but we did have a good time visiting with the Clarks and the Taylors while we were there.  As and added bonus, Joanna was visiting the Clarks as well. 

We actually got to ride in one of these boats

Joanna took pictures too.  

The boat ride was fun.

Then we rode in these little carts pulled by bikes.

Another view in this interesting city.

Super Models!

This is an interesting story that starts the second day the kids and I were here in Hangzhou this year.  We were walking down to the Police station. You are supposed to register at the police station within 24 hours of arriving in a city (if you stay in a hotel it is done for you).  Usually Jon goes and registers all of us, but since he was still stuck in the US, I did it.   Anyway, back to the story… As we were walking an older lady can up to us and started asking how tall Eryn was.  She asked some other things too, but I don’t really remember what they were.  Then she started talking about her son taking pictures of  the kids and something about clothes.  Hallie translated most of it.  It sounds crazy, but I ended up giving her our address.  Later that day, a guy came by.  He could speak semi-decent English.  The lady we had met on the street was indeed his mother and he was a photographer with a Studio in the North part of town. 

He took some quick pics of the kids with his phone, and mentioned a modeling job for the girls.  A couple of weeks later, he called and the girls went to their first modeling shoot.  They just played with some stuffed animals.  They even got paid for their job.  They did discover that modeling is not as simple as just taking pictures, there is a lot more involved.  The did enjoy the job though.  The pictures were used on a Taobao (Chinese Ebay) sight.  If you are interested the site can be found here

Since then,  Eryn has had a photo shoot modeling some clothes and Hallie has actually shot a commercial that will air in the US! But that is another blog post.

At the last photo shoot, I saw a Bible in the studio.  We hope good things can come from this relationship.

Friday, September 30, 2011


We may have talked about Shane before.  He was a student at ZUST (Jon's old school).  He started studying the Bible with Josh and came to believe.  He was ready to be baptized, but he told his parents about his decision and they were against it.  It was very disappointing that Shane decided not get baptized.

Thankfully God has continued to call him and he has continued to study and attend worship services.  Shane lives and works very close to our apartment.  He has been coming to our house on Sundays.  Shane is very serious and thoughtful.  He knows what he really needs to do.

At the beginning of the year (right when we came back from the US) he announced that his goal this year was to be baptized.  He is still fearful.  Then he said that he would set a date after the October holiday (next week).  He has set the date for October 16.
We are very excited about this!  Shane is a great guy!  He will be an even better Christian.  He will already lead singing, and is working with Jon to learn how to do other things in our service.  He is also interested in teaching.  He does talk to his friends about his beliefs.

Next week Shane will go back to his hometown for the National Day holiday. His parents just want what is best for Shane, and they do not see how in a country of atheists how being a Christian would be good for him.  Please pray for him.  Please pray to protect Shane and his conviction.  Pray that he can be a good influence on his family.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Smooth trip

Jon's paperwork finally came through.  He has his passport back with a visa in it, and he has a plane ticket! He will leave Memphis early, early Thursday morning, and arrive at our apartment about 10 Friday night (we hope). That will be Friday morning in the US.

Our trip went very smoothly.  I almost left the passports and boarding passes at security in Memphis, but someone picked them up for me.  It was a little crazy getting everyone and everything through the security. It wasn't bad, but I was trying to put back computers, shoes, jackets, our few liquids... I just forgot one thing.  I would not have gotten very far with out those!
All three of our planes were on time, and very smooth.  There were people along the way that helped when we had trouble (not much trouble).  I even had time to grab some snacks for our lunch before we left Chicago.
Everyone was worrying about me handling all the luggage in Shanghai, but it was not that bad.  Two of my bags were delayed in San Fransisco, but that was really a blessing.  I did not have to worry about those two bags.  Two bags makes a difference.  They were delivered to my apartment Sunday evening.  I did not have to carry them up the stairs.  Hallie helped push a cart and Liam and Eryn took care of their carry-ons.
We checked into the hotel with no problems, and went and got something to eat.
Then we crashed!  We slept until 4 am.  Then we skyped Jon.
We were told that a bus went to Hangzhou at 11.  We ate breakfast, and rested a bit.  We got two carts and I loaded them up while the kids watched a video on my computer.  When it was time to go check out, I discovered that the carts would not fit through the door with the bags on them!!
I had to unload the bags into the hall, push out the carts and reload them again.  It was kind of funny.

We went down to where the buses are, and discovered that the one  we wanted, did not leave until 1:00

We went back to the airport and found a place to sit down.  We ate snacks for lunch and then played Uno.

When it was finally time to go back down to the bus, I sent the girls with one cart down the elevator.  Then before I could do anything, there was a long line at the elevator!  It took forever to get down to the girls.  The lady that works down there, was worried that we would miss the bus.  She took me to the front of the line and got our tickets.  We gave the bags to driver to load under the bus, then we got our seats and were off.

When we arrived in Hangzhou, Frank had got us a small moving van and two guys to help with the luggage.  We found them before Frank did.  We loaded up the bags on the back of the truck and then set out to our apartment.

It was so nice to be home!  We went back out and bought some milk and fruit and stuff.  We ate a small dinner  and then went to bed.  I took a shower and just fell into bed.  My bed felt amazing! It was so comfortable.
Now, we are pretty much over jet lag and things are almost back to normal.  We are looking forward to seeing Jon tomorrow night.  We are also looking forward to enjoying some cooler temperatures next week.
We are thankful that this have gone as smooth as they have.  Please pray for Jon's trip.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

paperwork headaches

Jon will be working at a different school this up coming year.  We were not sure how it was all going to work out.  Jon actually signed the new contract 2 hours before he left Hangzhou.  With a new job, we need a new visa (and not renew our old one).  In order to get a work visa (which allows us to stay in the country longer than 90 days) we need an invitation letter from our school.  We do not have that letter yet.  It has been sent, but is not here yet.  We thought this might be a problem, so Jenn and the kids got a  regular tourist visa, and will change over to z visas.  We were told that Jon cannot do this.  Well, we still do not have the invitation letter, so Jon has no visa.  We are scheduled to start flying at 6:57AM Thursday.  Jon will not make it.  Jenn will be making the trip with the kids and most of the luggage.  Right now, we don't even know when Jon will be able to make it.  The tracking number on the letter shows that it arrived in New York in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday.  It has not moved since then.  We do not know why.  It is possible that it is on the way and just not scanned.  We hope that is the case.  If it arrives tomorrow, it is possible that Jon will just be a day behind us.  We will just wait for him at the airport hotel.  If it will be several days, we will continue on to Hangzhou on Friday.
Please keep us in your prayers.  Pray for safe and smooth travels for Jenn and the kids.  Pray for helpers when she needs them (luggage).  Pray for the paperwork issues to resolve themselves and for Jon to just be a day or so behind us.  Pray for the up coming school year to be a good one for us.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


I am sitting in the Golden's basement .  It is a little loud right now.  No, the kids are quiet.  Hallie is playing a game with Jon (Dungeons and Dragons), Eryn is watching a movie (Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles) and Liam is in the bathtub.  But the dishwasher is finishing our supper dishes, the washing machine is washing a load of clothes, and the dryer is drying a load I washed a few minutes ago.
I am thinking about how nice it is to have machines that do the washing for you.  This post is about laundry, so I will skip talking about the dishwasher.  We have to do laundry a little different in China.
This is a picture of our washing machine in China.
Don't worry those wires are not always hanging out, this was when it was broken and we finally got a repairman to come and fix it.

This was also before it was fixed.  Our washer machine is much smaller
 than standard US washing machines.   We just wash smaller loads.  We are very thankful that we have a working washing machine.  This winter, our washing machine broke just before Chinese New Year holiday. We had to wait two weeks before anyone could come and fix it.  

Our washer only washes in cold water.

We do NOT have a clothes dryer.  Once our clothes are washed, we hang them out to dry on our back balcony.  In the summer they dry pretty quickly, but on wet cold days, it takes a long time for clothes to dry.  We usually bring some inside to finish drying during the winter.

Especially in the winter, we wear our clothes for more than one day.(just not undies)  Everyone does.

Since washing machines are so small, it is pretty hard to wash comforters and blankets.  On sunny days you will see blankets put out to "sun".  Sunning clothes and blankets not only freshens them, but it also kills germs. When there is a sunny day, we also sun our blankets and pillows.

This is not all bad.  Many of these habits could carry over to the US.  It could save a lot of money.  If you washed your clothes in cold water at least most of the time. You could save a bunch.  You could wear your clothes more than one time before washing them.  How many times do we wear something for just a few hours and then throw them in the laundry?  You could hang your clothes to dry.  Dryers use a lot of electricity.  It is also healthy to let your bedding sun occasionally.  Just something to think about.
Right now, I am thankful for the luxury of having a large washer and a dryer.

Friday, July 22, 2011

culture shock

Sometimes when people return from overseas they have reverse culture shock.  Reverse culture shock is just culture shock that you experience when returning to your own culture.  We have not had it that bad this summer, but I have noticed some aspects of American culture that the kids do not understand.

Church culture is a little different here than in China.
Liam and Eryn were a little confused as to why we had another  worship service on Sunday night.  In China we only meet once on Sunday.
In the past, my kids were pretty well behaved in Church.  We usually sat near the front and they were expected to be quiet and well behaved.  When they were little, we had times when we had to take them out, but for the most part they were pretty good.  I think they have forgotten how to act.  In China, we "have church" in our home.  We sit on our couch and the kid are allowed to play quietly in their room during the adult Bible class.  They are expected to participate in worship, but the atmosphere is more relaxed than here. So if you see my kids doing something strange or not acting like they should, please remember that it is really different here.

We have gone to the movies a couple of times here.  We had to see Cars 2 and there was a movie shown the last night of Summer Jam at Clear Creek (VBS).  My kids kept forgetting to be quiet and whisper if they needed to talk.  It was  a little funny, but I had to keep shushing them.
In China, it is more common for people to talk (and not necessarily whisper) during movies, speeches, etc.

Going to the bathroom is different here too.  Eryn was very excited to see that the toilets were "western" and not squatty at  the airport.  I get a little embarrassed because  I know that people can understand what Eryn says in the bathroom here.  In China, if she comments on sounds, smells, or what I am wearing, I know that probably no one understands what she says.  Here, they understand.  Jon took her to the bathroom  at a restaurant and she had a guy cracking up with her comments.

When we were waiting to board a plane in the  San Francisco airport on the way home, Liam wanted to go to the bathroom.  Jon was not with us, because he was getting us something to eat.  I told Liam he would have to wait a couple of minutes.  He told me that he knew where the bathroom was.  He had no concept on the fact that he could get lost and he really has very little concept of "stranger danger".  In China there are very few white kids.  He really can't get that lost in a crowd.  Also, no one is going to take him (probably).  The criminal justice system is such that there is a deterrent for that sort of thing and because my kids look so different than everyone around us.  I am not saying that we let our kids run around anywhere, but they do have a little more freedom than here.  They do not understand when we suddenly shrink their boundaries.  Even if we explain it to them, it is still an adjustment.

On another note, the kids love water fountains!  They do not exist in China.  They are much fun.

We went to eat Mexican food the other day.  When we finished our meal, Jon went to pay the check.  The kids and I were finishing our drinks and getting our things together.  Then Liam noticed the tip that Jon put on the table.  He grabbed it and started to bring it to Jon, he said,"Daddy you left your money on the table!"  We put it back and then tried to explain why we did that.

Funny!  Overall, the kids are doing very well.  They have jumped back with their friends and are enjoying English television, time with grandparents, and eating "american" food.

Monday, July 18, 2011

We are Here.

I am so far behind on the blog.  I am sorry.
Well, we made it home to the US.  We can't say that our trip was uneventful but it could have been a lot worse.  We made all of our connections, and we have all of our luggage.  We thought that we might have lost one piece, but we did not.  The worst part of the trip was on the last leg.  We flew through some weather as we were coming into Memphis.  We were in a small plane, and it got a little rough.  Liam did not do very well.  But that is why they have those bags available on airplanes.  Everyone around us was very sympathetic and sweet.

We spent the night in a hotel in Memphis.  Most of us were tired enough from traveling to go to sleep right away.  I think that helped our bodies adjust quicker to the new time and jet lag was not that terrible this time.
I spent several days in Milan with my family.  Hallie went to MSYC for a week, and now we are in Hixson with our wonderful church family here.

We will be here for about 2 weeks (3 Sundays).  Then we will be back in Henderson for about 9 days and then we head back to China early morning August 11.

(This is how Hallie waited for our flight to Chicago.  I think all the kids slept most of that flight.)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's that time!... well, almost

Yes, it is almost that time of year again.  We dusted off the suitcases that have been stacked on top of the wardrobes.  I have started packing!  We are come to the US for the summer.  We will be in the U.S. for almost 2 months this summer.  We are pretty excited about visiting our friends and family.  We will do some shopping to stock up for next year, and hopefully get to enjoy some peaceful time with family and friends.  We will leave our apartment and head to Shanghai on Wednesday.  Our flight leaves Thursday around noon.  We will fly to San Francisco (11 hours) then a short lay-over (2 hr. 40 min) then fly to Chicago (4? hrs) another short lay-over and then fly to Memphis.  We plan to spend the night in Memphis and be in Henderson the afternoon of Friday the 17th.  We will be in Hixson on July 17 and stay for a couple of weeks (actually 3 Sundays) (I think).  Please pray for smooth travels.  When traveling that long and that far and with 3 kids anything can happen. We can't wait to see everybody!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cook-out (part 2)

Benjamin called these " water trees" I don't know what they are called, but they were really green and growing in this swampy area.

We did not go fishing this time, but there were several ponds.

There were many rose bushes planted on the hills.

The kids played hide and seek among the terraces. This is Eryn running.

Jon LOVED being here. He is not a city boy. Spending time out here was good for him.

It was beautiful, and so peaceful.

The drive back to the city. The highway and mountains almost looked like the smoky mountains, except for the huge buildings in the middle of it all.

This Saturday was great. Li Wen and Li Hong are so sweet. Their family is welcoming and relaxing to be around. We are thankful to the beauty of God's creation. We are thankful for Li Wen and her family. Please pray for her as we continue to minister to her and she to her family.

Cook- out

This post is going to have a bunch of pictures. As a matter of fact, I had so many pictures that I felt like I needed to break them into two separate posts. About the time, I finished uploading them all to Blogger, I thought that I could have made a video out of them. Oh well, maybe next time.

A couple of weeks ago, we were invited to go with Li Wen and Li Hong's family to a barbecue. We drove for about an hour. We were outside of Hangzhou, but not very far. They called it the country side. It was really a great day.

Right away, we found a HUGE snakeskin. Thankfully we did not see the snake that shed this!

Honeysuckle! Jon taught Grace, Ching Ching, and Benjamin (an American) how to eat honeysuckle. My kids already knew how to do this.

Setting up for the cook- out.

Grace (Li Wen's daughter) and Ching Ching (Li Hong's) watch as Jon prepares to build a fire. This is where we cooked the potatoes.

This guy is studying art. He drew Benjamin's picture. He also drew one of Liam, but I did not take a picture.


Don't worry, we had veggies too! See the beans?

I think Hallie and Ching Ching are playing "Mother may I"

They called these wild strawberries. They were good. They were like raspberries.

They spotted some more berries up this ravine...

The berries on the plant. Li Wen and Li Hong said they used to pick these when they were kids.

Some of the scenery. It was beautiful and very peaceful!