September 30, 2007

No Better Medicine than prayers and friends

Hello Friends and Family,

Just wanted to let you know that I am feeling much better. The hospital has shown us a place where we can get wireless internet and we wanted to give you an update. Initially after a few tests, etc., the doctors determined that I had a very serious infection of my frontal and maxillary sinuses. My nasal septum is also deviated (bent) and prevented the release of puss and other liquids so the pain and infection built up quite fast. They put me on an array of medicines and IV of antibiotics for almost four hours a day. They also did an endoscopic examination of my nasal cavity to determine if I needed emergency surgery. After examining the infection, they determined that no surgery was needed and that a consistant dose of antibiotics over the next week should cure the infection. A CT Scan, EKG, Lung and chest x-ray, as well as blood tests revealed that the infection had not spread throughout the rest of my body so everything seems to be contained. I have a occassional cough and am fatigued, but after three days in the hospital the infection is getting better and the doctors will send me back home today. I will still have to come into the hospital for four more days for 'nasal washing' (a pleasant experience) and more IV, but I do not need to stay here overnight.

Thank you for all of your prayers and thoughts over the past few days. It was initially a little scary, being in China with such a serious infection, but according to the doctors and our school we are at the best hospital in our province and many of the doctors here speak good English so they can give us detailed information. Kealy is taking very good care of me, and many people from the college and friends have stopped by to hang out and chat. We have felt your love and God's presence here and we continue to praise Him for His protection and thank Him for your love. We love you all and we'll keep you posted.

Ryan and Kealy Thorson

September 29, 2007

Please be thinking of Ryan

Ryan is okay but could use some prayers. We will be spending the next couple of days at the hopitel taking care of Ryan's sinus infection that got pretty bad. He is being treated and in a couple of days he will be good as new. Thanks for all your prayers and support.

September 19, 2007

Climb Every Mountain

Hello Friends and Family,

Well it has been quite the last few days. We had a great time this past weekend with a two day tour of a small town called Shanglin outside of Nanning. We traveled with a Canadian, a man from Florida and a man from England. Each were teachers that had been living in Nanning for a while and we enjoyed listening to their traveling stories and gained good insight into the best places to travel. We visited a beautiful lake called Dalong (Big Dragon) Lake, pictured above, and took a boat around and explored the lake. Afterwards we explored a beautiful cave and swam in a mountain river. We had a great time together and enjoying the incredible scenery. The next day we took a van up into the mountains of China and hiked up to a village that was up in the middle of nowhere. They were excited to see us and the village had some incredible views, as well as river pools with large rocks to explore. Kealy even played basketball with a four year old chinese boy, and afterwards he gave her some of his milk from a cooler.

While traveling with this tour group, we learned of another opportunity occuring this week to travel to the Sichuan province of China, a province in the western central part of China that borders TIbet. The tour is a week long and we weren't sure whether to ask for the time off, but the trip sounded so incredible that we asked and were granted the leave. But we have to make up the classes that we will miss, so the last three days we have been trying to cram two weeks of lessons into three days. Needless to say we are tired, but we leave tomorrow night for Chengdu and a week full of exploring; visiting a panda breeding center, seeing the world's tallest buddha statue, as well as visiting many natural wonders and cultural gems. You can visit our travel blog for an itinerary of our upcoming trip, as well as more pictures from Shanglin.

So, we will be offline for one week. We will miss you all terribly and if we get a chance might be able to send an e-mail from an internet cafe. We have been here one month, as of today, and it has been intense, but good. We are learning so much and growing together in our patience and our love for each other. We are learning to be flexible and realize that plans sometimes change and that life is good because we are together and we know that whatever we face will bring good. We love you and miss you.

Ryan and Kealy Thorson

September 14, 2007

A Busy Week and Exciting Weekend

Hello Friends and Family,

Wow! This week has flown by. We did so many fun and interesting things. Here are just a few:
-On Tuesday and Wednesday we had no classes because new students were arriving at the college. We did not have to teach, but we were still expected to be at the college. We thought we would be put to work helping students fill out paper work, etc. Instead, we were told we could walk around and all we had to do was 'meet the new students'. We later deducted that we were advertisements, a way to let the new students know that foreigners are here at the college. Needless to say we had a fun time walking around the college, meeting new students and getting to know more of the students we have in our classes. We had a lot of pictures taken of us and even were interviewed by the local news channel about our impressions of Nanning and the college. It was a long two days, but a lot of fun.
-On Tuesday and Wednesday, we had dinner with new friends. Celia again invited us to her home for dinner and she taught us how to make another type of dumpling that was delicious. We will be sure to teach all of you when we arrive home. A great party idea. On wednesday, we invited two other english teachers to our home for dinner; Richard and Ellen from the Phillipines. They are very kind and we had a wonderful evening talking with them.
-On Thursday night, we had our first 'English corner'. A chance for students to come and ask us anything they wanted and we simply talked with them in English. It was a fun informal time to talk with students and they were all very curious about America and our lives there and we were able to share with them more specifically about who we are and what our life in America is life. We look forward to more chances like that in the future.
-Today, we finished teaching our lessons on family. The students especially enjoyed talking about good qualities in a wife or husband. Tonight, we were invited by a man from Ghana, Appiah, who is a teacher here at the middle school, for coffee at a local coffee shop. Little did we know that it would turn into a staff party! Chris and Hua, our American friends were there, Appiah was there with his fiance who is also Chinese and a new teacher from Canada named Ben was also there. So there we were, sitting with two Chinese, an American, a Ghanian and a Canadian! Quite an almagamation of people from different countries but we had a great time together!
-This weekend, we are taking a tour of Shanglin, a mountain and lake outside of Nanning. We are leaving early tomorrow morning with a tour group of other foreigners in Nanning. We have never met them before, but we are looking forward to making some more connections. The trip is cheap and should be a lot of fun. It will be nice to not have to worry about how to get somewhere or what to order on a menu, at least for a weekend. Here is our projected itinerary, just to give you an idea of what we will be doing:
The backyard of Nanning-------Shanglin two-day trip

1st day: Starting at 7:30am, leave from Nanning Hotel and go to Shanglin. Arrive around 10:00am, and then go to Dalong Lake and Daling cave. We take the boat around the lake, and then go into a big cave. Afterwards we will have lunchtime.

After lunch we will drive to the mountain and go swimming in the mountain lake, have dinner there and stay overnight in the hotel on the mountain. We can enjoy an evening together with friends at the hotel.

2nd day: After breakfast, we will go rafting on the Yangdu River and visit a communist village and have their famous wild-fish lunch. After lunch we go by boat which is driven by rope, to visit Qinpai. After Qinpai we will go to Binyang for their famous acid noodle dinner (cost is extra), then come back to Nanning in the evening.

-Should be pretty exciting. We'll be sure to post some pictures on the travel blog when we get back! Have a great weekend, we'll keep you posted.

Ryan and Kealy

September 10, 2007

Happy Teacher's Day

Dear Friends and Family,
Today we celebrated Happy Teacher's day here in China. Some students gave us cards, notebook, flowers, candy, and one class even sang a song in Chinese for me (Kealy). Everyone at the college said "Happy teacher's day!" as they passed by. It was fun! Instead of going home for our three hour break we decided to stay and have lunch at the college with some students and then walk to the park across the stree to take a nap on the benches by the river. It was a much cooler day because of the rain last night and early this morning. After our nap we went and I had cold water and Ryan enjoyed some ice cream. We also got our first paycheck, actually cash for the days we worked in August. Later this evening we went and sat and had some fresh BBQ vegetables and mystery meat, maybe beef, maybe dog? It tasted delicious.

This isn't a picture of what we ate tonight but it is similar. It is basically meat on a stick that is basted with spices and cooked over charcoal. It is very good.

We found out that the next two days we get off of teaching to greet the incoming freshman. It sounds like it could be an all day thing so we'll see how it goes, but it will be fun meeting the students and other faculty. We had a Staff meeting today and it was all in Chinese so our friend Kate translated some for us. We only have two more classes two teach the rest of the week and then it is on to Shanglin for the week. We'll keep you posted.

Until next time,
Kealy and Ryan

September 9, 2007

Beautiful Nanhu Park and an exciting weekend!

Hello Friends and Family,

Sorry it has been a few days since our last post. We have had a fun and busy weekend and we hope the same for you. Congrats to the WOU wolves on their second victory this season! This last Thursday, we hoped on the 704 bus and rode it to Nanhu park for some relaxation and exercise. The park sits on a manmade lake in the middle of downtown Nanning and has a walking path all around the lake. Their are beautiful foilage and flowers everywhere and the walk was magnificent. We walked one half of the lake, probably one mile and the weather was fairly cool and comfortable for Nanning:

Okay, so maybe we're not walking here, but it was such a beautiful spot and I had such a beautiful girl with me that I had to prove that I was actually there and not dreaming.

There's that beautiful girl again!

Beautiful green palm trees and the city skyline behind.

We enjoyed our walk together and the good exercise as well. On Friday, we finished our classes by noon and went swimming again at the pool. We are trying to be active. We figured living in China could be the ultimate weight loss program: Walking and taking the bus everywhere, eating noodles and vegetables and a little bread for each meal, walking the equivalent of one mile of stairs a week and throw in a little extra exercise and hopefully its a healthy recipe...oh yeah, and sweating profusely all day long, that helps too. We still have our sweet tooths though, we found snickers and oreos at a Wal-Mart close by, so we will have to monitor our addiction closely.

On Saturday, we were able to visit the ancient city of Yangmei. Four of Kealy's students were kind enough to go with us and take us to this intriguing village 30 KM outside of Nanning. Check out the travel blog for pics and more info. Today we hung out and listened to the football game, cleaned the apartment and then went into town to explore. We enjoy sometimes just jumping off the bus in random places and seeing what is there. We bought a basketball and some ping pong paddles to play with here at the school because they have ping pong tables and hoops, more ways to stay active and interact with the kids. We celebrated our three week anniversary here with more high class dining at Pizza Hut and savored each bite of the warm and flavorful supreme pizza with real cheese...mmmmmmm. We even saved some for lunch tomorrow...mmmmmmmm. It is quite the treat. we also got caught in the rain again, maybe we should start carrying our umbrella, it is kind of fun though.

We can't believe we've been here for three weeks already. In some ways, its gone by fast, in others, it feels like we've been here forever. But we are continuing to adjust and are enjoying each other and each day is a new adventure. This week we are talking about families in our lesson plans. We'll keep you posted.

Ryan and Kealy Thorson

September 5, 2007

"My Father is a Fish!" and "I feel sexy!"

Hello Friends and Family,
Did the blog title capture your attention? Hopefully. We have had a good week of teaching classes and some hilarious things have been said. We thought we would give you a quick recap of some of the comical moments:
-Yesterday, in Kealy's class, one of Kealy's students was describing her family and what her parents do. She said, ever so proudly, that her "father is a fish". Kealy managed to finally stifle the classes laughter and the girl took it well when Kealy explained to her that the correct sentence is "my father is a fisherman!" a little bit of a difference.
-Today, when I was in class, we were talking about: "How do you feel? I feel..." and coming up with different emotions we feel. Some ideas were; I feel happy, sad, excited, terrible, nervous, in love, jealous, hungry, fantastic and the person suggesting the emotion had to act out what that emotion looked like so that everyone understood what they meant. One gentleman in my class stood up, threw back his head and gave a sneaky look and said, "I feel sexy!" We laughed pretty hard at that one too.
-Another comical situation has been the different ways that people have asked to use the restroom in English. In Chinese, I think they allude to something else because it is rude to simply ask, "Can I use the bathroom?" So here are some funny english versions of asking to use the bathroom:
-"I need to answer nature's calling."
-"I need to ease myself."
-"Can I have 30 seconds to myself?"
hard not to laugh at those, right?

Another hilarious thing about China is that some of the shirts that have English on them, simply have English on them. They don't have a rhyme or a reason, its just the fact that it has English on it that makes it stylish. The shirt above said:He play mahjong for long time, I never see him win except one, his name is zhu lian jin. I asked Chris if there was a secret meaning behind that statement, he said no. We saw a shirt that said "Abercrombif and Titch"...think about it. We saw a shirt that said, "Surfing championships" and had a picture of a cartoon character with a snow coat on and two bunnies hopping around.
So when we are feeling homesick, we try to recall this hilarious moments and curious things about the new culture we are adjusting to. When we are on the bus, which is very often, we sing songs, poke each other, copy each other, make funny faces...we figure the Chinese are already staring, we might as well put on a show! We also watch on the bus for what kinds of curious animals are brought on the bus with their human friends. We've seen roosters, ducks and chickens in potato sacks and boxes (I think their doom is sealed) and we've seen turtles and frogs in water bottles (not sure of their fate). We also saw a kid drop a mouse at the school down the stairs and slowly picked it up and poked it to see if it was still alive and we think we saw a rat in the shadows last night, maybe a small raccoon, who knows...we don't want to.
-We had dinner at KFC tonight, more high class dining. We had a great meal and listened and reminisced while the Backstreet Boys CD played over the speakers. They love the Backstreet Boys...and Titanic.

Hope these silly stories cheered you up. We miss you and we'll talk to you soon.

Ryan and Kealy Thorson

September 3, 2007

Too Much Fun To Count!

Hello Friends and Family,

It has been a wild last couple of days to say the least. We spent the weekend here after not sleeping well on Friday night. Saturday we watched movies and relaxed inside because it was very hot. In the evening, we met some new friends from the college, Richard and Ellen from the Phillipines and Kate and two English students took us to Nanhu park and we explored the park and watched a brief watershow.

From left to right: Kealy and I, Kate, a english student named Sunny and Ellen and Richard from the phillipines.

Tisting (one of Kealy's english students and Richard wanted to get a picture with the 'da gu se' (giant)!

-On Sunday, after listening to the Western Oregon Wolves gain a victory over the Bearcats, we went with our American friends into a new part of the downtown area. We experienced milk tea for the first tea, a cool, smoothie like drink with delicious flavor and they introduced to one of our favorite parts about China so far. For 10 Yuan, roughly $1.25, we each got a professional hairwash, scalp massage and arm and back massage. It was amazing. Besides being so cheap, it felt great. And, they will even style your hair for you afterwards for free. Angie, I think you should start offering this at your salon! After a morning of feeling a little homesick, a one hour massage for one buck was just the trick to relax us and enjoy the rest of our day.

They have you lie down on the table while they wash your hair and give you the massage. It felt great! We were all lined up during the massage so it was very fun talking and experiencing it together.

Here are Chris and Hua, are new American friends. They have been really kind in showing us around the city and what is good to eat.

-After the massage we went shopping for a little while and bought Kealy a purse to carry her things in. The mall was underground and was virtually all women's clothes, etc. I don't think they have anything in my size anywhere.
-After shopping we went and had some high class Pizza Hut! No joke, to the chinese, this is high class. They all use forks and knifes to eat their pizza and the restaurant was fancy and everyone was dressed up except us. Nonetheless, the pizza never tasted so good. We paid a pretty penny for it but it was well worth it.

-Today we started our second week of teaching. This week we are working on: Introducing others, How to answer interview questions, a favorite childhood memory and some tongue twisters. The classes are each very different but most are eager to learn English and enjoy Kealy and I.
-Tonight after class we decided to go swimming again. It feels so good to cool off in the pool and it is good exercise also. At the pool we had it to ourselves and while we were swimming, the heavens opened up outside and it was raining so hard that the outside pool was overflowing! THere was thunder and lighting every thirty seconds and it was fun to watch from inside the pool. The lightning here is only heat lightning, it doesn't touch the ground, so there is nothing to fear. It continued to rain constantly for the hour and a half that we swam and when we changed into our regular clothes, we realized we hadn't brought our umbrella. We contemplated putting our swimsuits back on and trying to walk the half mile to the bus stop, and a Chinese man even offered us his umbrella but we couldn't take it. Finally we asked the people at the pool to call a taxi for us. of course the line was busy! They could have given up and left us to the second flood, but they continued to call until they got through and a taxi finally arrived and took us to the front gate of the school. After wading, ankle deep, through the quarter mile new river that was our path to our apartment, we finally made it up the stairs and into dry shelter. Now we are sweating again! We are either drenched with sweat or rain, at least the rain is cool. It was a long day but a great one and very memorable.
-We have taken pictuers of some new food and I saw a new bird today, so tomorrow we will update those blogs. We think we have a three day weekend this week so we are contemplating going to Hong Kong or Guilin. We'll keep you posted.

Ryan and Kealy Thorson

September 1, 2007

Keeping Busy

Hello Friends and Family,

It was nice finsihing work are 10:00am and Ryan at 12:00. We met up with Chis and Hua our American friends for lunch and shopping downtown. Ryan went with chris to look at computer stuff and we went to buy Hua some fashionable clothes from a magazine, it is very common to have custom closthes made because it is cheaper. We met up and ate at a BBQ resturant and had some good cooking. It is a little different then what we know to be as a BBQ but the flavor is very tasty. Both Ryan and I enjoyed shrimp and fish when we don't usually like the the taste of sea food. We are growing in our food likes. We caught the bus back and poor Ryan was squished in the very back of the bus like an accordian, it was only bad because it was a full bus. Earlier that day Ryan got on a double decker bus and hit his forehead and the bus started to go and got Ryan off balance, what a sight to see for the Chinese. Our night was not done, we went to a coffee shop that our friends like to go to often, I'm starting to like the coffee more and more because they don't have any frappuccinos here. However, they had some delicious ice cream. We met some of the the American's friends and they were really friendly. Ryan can't handle coffee very well late at night he was up until 4:30 in the morning, luckly he kept busy making our triangle lake film together along with our behai trip into short clips. We are still trying to put them on Youtube so that you will be able to see it.

Today was slower but really nice as we walked around our campus and market area filming the life around us and the scenery. We picked up some movies and came back here and watched a really boring one. Tonight we are going to meet a couple from the Philipians who are also going to be teaching English at the college. Our friend Kate is coming as well and we are going to watch a movie in the park, we don't know if it will be in English or not, most likely in Chinese but you never know.

Even though we are meeting people here and hanging out with them, we miss everyone back at home and wish that we could be hanging out with you as well. It is hard missing youth groups, staff get togethers, Sunday hang out nights, and the first football game of the season. Seeing mark play and talking with family and friends in the stands. Fortunatley we can watch the game online. GO WOLVES! Thank you for continuing to think of us. We'll take some pictures tonight and you can see Nanhu Park in downtown Nanning. See you soon.

Kealy and Ryan Thorson