Monday, May 28, 2012

Yu Gong Moves the Mountains, a Chinese Myth

In ancient China, there was an old man named Yu Gong.  Yu Gong lived in a remote place and had to travel by foot to the nearest town to get supplies for his farm.  Because there were two great mountains between his home and the nearest town, Yu Gong’s journey took many hours.  One day, Yu Gong decided that he had had enough of these mountains that added much time and walking to his journey, and he set about to move the two mountains out of the way, one stone at a time.  Yu Gong’s sons and grandsons also helped him as he moved the stones.  Many people laughed at him, but Yu Gong replied, “These mountains are never going to get any bigger, but my children’s children will only increase.”  The gods were so moved by the determination of Yu Gong and his family that they helped by moving the two great mountains out of the way.  This story shows that, though a task may seem impossible, with one’s family anything is possible.  (Pic:  Annie ponders the "He Lan Mountains" during a hike.  We can see these mountains from our living room window.)

Kuafu Chases the Sun, a Chinese Folk Tale

In ancient China, Kuafu was a farmer who had extraordinary strength.  Everyone said that Kuafu could run like the wind!  One year in Kuafu’s village, there was a terrible drought in his village, and all the crops died as a result of the scorching sunlight.  Kuafu decided to teach the sun a lesson, so he set out running toward the west with the goal of overtaking the sun in its path.  Kuafu ran and ran and became very thirsty.  He drank all the water in the Yellow River.  Then he drank all the water in the Wei River.  Kuafu, however, was still thirsty and tried to reach the North Sea so that he could drink that water, too.  Unfortunately, Kuafu died of thirst before he ever reached the North Sea.  His body became a mountain on which groves of peach trees grew that would give nourishment to passing travelers.  The moral of the story is that one should not attempt the impossible because nothing will be gained.  (The pic is "The Sun Gate," a feature at the "Western Film Studios" near our city where many famous Chinese movies have been made.)

Jingwei Fills the Sea, a Legend from China

Many years ago, the Chinese god called Yan Emperor had a beautiful daughter.  One day he took his daughter out on the East Sea in a boat; however, the boat was capsized by a large wave, and the daughter drowned.  Her spirit became a beautiful bird that flew over the sea and cried out “Jingwei!”  This bird hated the East Sea and decided that she would fill it up.  Every day, without rest, the Jingwei bird would carry stones and tree branches from the nearby mountains and drop them into the East Sea.  She never tired of fulfilling her mission to fill up the East Sea so that no one else would ever drown in it again!  (The pic is the coast of the Indian Ocean, Thailand.)

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Baby's First Picture with... um... Santa?

At our annual Christmas banquet for foreign workers in our province we had the opportunity to take our little girl's picture with Santa, the Chinese version. This "Teenage Chinese Santa" was super excited to have his photo taken with our family. He is also proudly displaying our little girl's Christmas gift, a stuffed dragon in honor of the Chinese New Year on January 23, 2012. Happy Year of the Dragon!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas in China

Christmas is always a very busy time for us. We keep our schedules full of parties with students, the annual provincial banquet and final exams. Below are some photos from this very exciting time.

One of the traditional Hui People dancers at our annual banquet. Our province is the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, a special province for the Hui ethnicity. They are descendants of the Middle Eastern traders along the Silk Road, so Middle Eastern styles influence their traditions. Click here to watch a short video of this performance.

Ladies performing a traditional Chinese dance at the provincial banquet honoring "foreign experts" who work in Ningxia.

One of 45 students who came to our apartment for one of four Christmas parties. One activity was helping us decorate our Christmas tree. Students made some very creative ornaments. One even made an ornament with a special message for Brian, "Dear Teacher, I want to pass my exam."

We also had visits from some of our former students. These three were Annie's students last year. They were very excited to visit and meet our little girl for the first time.

Of course, this was also our little girl's first Christmas. We think we were more excited about it than she was. We excitedly helped her open some presents. We want to thank everyone who sent us care packages and gifts for our little one this semester. We feel very loved by your kindness and generosity.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

4 Month Milestone

We admit that being new parents we are super excited by every small thing our little girl does. So, to share this excitement, here's another video. This was taken this morning. She is 4 months old today! As you will see and hear, we are quite excited! Click here to see our newest video of our little girl.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Parents

As we are learning so many new things about our little girl we are often amazed at what she can do. Click here to see some of her first giggles. On some of our more difficult days we can just watch this and it makes us smile.