We have only been here a week and I already have stories that have filled pages in my journal. I'll just tell you one quick story of our adventure to get here.
The flights/journey here was quite a challenge; from Sitka to Anchorage to Minneapolis to Seattle (were we got to hang out with Grandpa and Grandma Phylis and Kristian and Kiana), to Beijing, and finally to Xining. The most interesting stint was our 12 hours in the Beijing airport. We got to Beijing at 12:00am and our hotel reservations had been candled. What to do? There was 5 of us (the Leisener family; Tom, Wendy, their 5th grader Zoe, Jeff, and me) and 500 plus lb of luggage. Wendy and I ran into a guy in the airport that showed us a broacher of a nice hotel and a good price, so we jumped on the deal. Well, as they say, "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is". A "hotel shuttle" (a rickety old van) came to pick us up. We piled our 500lb of luggage and all 5 of us in. And there, at 1am in Beijing, we learned how they/Chinese drive. HOLY MOLY! Was I praying ever SO hard as the horns honked, the van smoked, the tires lifted on sharp FAST turns. But that wasn't the worst part. As he drove us away from city lights and through a back alley and stopped in front of what I can only call a hallway with rooms and doors, I knew this wasn't going to be good. They started yelling in Chinese to each other as they unloaded our bags and a guy from a beaded doorway came with a hand full of card keys and started swiping them in any door until one opened. We looked in the room. There was a bed and a toilet in the corner...Wendy and I locked eyes, this was NOT like the broacher! We did NOT feel safe! Where were we? Who were these men? Where was that dog that kept barking? We told the driver to take us back to the air port. He said, "NO!" Oh crap! In the end we paid him 100RMB (15bucks) to take us back. And there, in the Beijing air port, on a bench, we spent the next 12 restless hours.
The next day we arrived in Xining. Jeff and I are staying with a couple in an apt they are renting from someone else. Our apt will be open on Sep 1st. We will have to buy EVERYTHING, as it's an empty shell. Luckily the school will help us buy some of the things (like a bed, stove, and fridge).
Here's a kicker for ya...the people that lived here last had a dog...that dog had friends...those friends lived in my bed after he left...and now they are feeding on me! Yup! FLEAS! I have NEVER had flea problems so I thought they were other bug bits, but after getting over 20 every night, we decided what the source of they bites were and now Jeff and I are sleeping in the living room.
This week Jeff and I have been at the school from 8am to 8pm getting stuff ready and doing training. It has been very tricky and quite a growing experience to start with an empty shell of a room and turn it into a classroom with little money and hardly any resources. But we are foraging ahead knowing that we are gonna be some KICK BUTT teachers after this year!
Welp, if it wasn't hard, we wouldn't know how good we got it later on...
Gosh it's weird to say it's only been a week. And I still have MORE stories...I'll have to share those next time (:
Love you all and thank you for your prayers and support!