Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Summer Travels

While Alma was in Germany, the Bents Family Reunion was held on the last weekend of June. Rod, Rodrick and I flew from Louisville to MSP and Victor flew from Huntsville, AL. We met at the airport and traveled together in a rental car to Cumberland, WI.

Three weeks later Mark & Lori Bents had a celebration in the same locale and invited all their friends and family. Alma wanted to go, since she missed the reunion and she could see a lot of people she wouldn't see for 18 months. So we drove up. Our '98 Saturn is still running quite well, getting 36 mpg sometimes.

Soon after we sent out an announcement that we were going to Taiwan, we got a reply from Rose (her Chinese name is Liu Suyuan). Not only was she glad to hear from us, but more importantly, she was coming to Kentucky to teach Chinese at Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington.


Rose was the biggest help to us when we went to China in 2000 to teach English. She was teaching English at the college in Jinan and she looked out for the foreigners. Then at the semester break she became a tour guide for six of us, making train and plane reservations and choosing sites to see. We went west to Xian, site of the Terracotta Warriors. We went south to Kunming Province and then east to Guangzhou. The six of us continued to Hong Kong for a meeting of the BYU China Teachers and Rose returned to Jinan.

Rose arrived in Kentucky on August 10 and we picked her up on August 13 to come to our home, along with Linda (her fellow teacher) and Linda's daughter Lily. We took Annmarie and Bailey along to see the Stephen Foster Story in a large, outdoor amphitheater
We introduced them to Mr. Tierney who was in the hospital that week.

They stayed with us two nights before returning to Lexington.

A week later we drove to the Chicago area for a wedding of a cousin once removed. It had been a long time (40 to 50 years) since I had seen Norma Kay Silbaugh Trautmann and her brother Joe Silbough, my cousins. It was Norma's daughter, Denise, that was married. Also present was my cousin David Schmidt, his daughter Sarah, and his wife Jeanette (not in this picture). It was good seeing them all again.

Just before leaving home we were invited to Grandparents' Day at the Elementary School where Amanda attends Kindergarten (Rodrick and Donna are raising her). She is the middle child waiting in the lunch line and they were marching in place just for fun.

Finally, the last two weeks in Kentucky we were frantically cleaning and moving things out of our ground floor. Here you see our living room, devoid of everything except the piano and organ. The smaller stuff was carried to the basement and the larger stuff (two couches and a bedroom set) were taken to our property on Hill Street. We are renting out our home while we are gone to a family named Cassady.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Spring Travels

In May we spent a week in Colorado and then we were joined in Tucson by Emily and Annmarie.

The occasion was Brian's graduation from the University of Arizona.

We ate "Chinese" after the graduation.

At the end of May we had a family reunion in Peoria, Illinois and one day some of us went on a riverboat ride, the Spirit of Peoria.

All five of our children, their spouses, 10 of our grandchildren came to hear Grandpa play in the Old Time Piano Playing Contest.

In June Alma got to go to Germany and see some friends that we knew there 25 years ago, including Irene.

She stayed several nights and toured with Judy and Bob Palmer and on this occasion was leaving from the Mannheim train station.

The reason for going to Germany was to accompany her niece Debbie who was taking a group of her students who are studying German.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

How Did This Begin?

We are going to use this space to share experiences and photos as we live life in Taiwan for the next 18 months. We have been called by a prophet of God to serve in the Taipei Taiwan Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during this time.

You might be thinking, "How did this happen?" We had been thinking that we would continue to take care of Mr. Tierney for the next two years as we had been doing for the last 4 years, 3 months, while Alma finished her nursing program. But then circumstances changed and she was not able to continue her study. So we decided we were free to go on another mission.

So in mid-April we began the application process. Our previous two missions required paper applications, but this time everything was automated and we submitted our forms online. We needed physical exams and dental exams and scans of IDs and passports and a photo. We are not asked where we want to go, but rather are asked if we are willing to go anywhere in the world. There was one box where we indicated that we had an interest in going to the Kyiv Ukraine Temple. And so we intensified our Russian language study.

In mid-May we had everything ready to submit and in mid-June we received the envelop extending the call listed above. Alma was in Germany at the time, so I arranged to call her at midnight (which was 6 AM in Germany) and we opened the envelop "together". It was a surprise to us, but we feel it is what the Lord wants for us. It would seem that our previous 11-month experience among the Chinese people in 2000-2001 had some influence in the decision since we now need to learn Mandarin Chinese. We did not learn very much before because we were teaching English.

For the next month we were getting additional medical tests for a visa. This form had to be notarized, and the county clerk had to certify the notary, and the Kentucky Secretary of State had to authenticate the county clerk, and that had to be authenticated by the US Dept of State. By mid-July that visa application was able to be sent off with passport-type photos. We ordered Chinese study materials and began nine weeks of tutoring sessions two or three times a week on Skype (video conferencing).

And we made plans for leaving our house and packing less than 100 pounds in two suitcases (each) and getting another crown (on our teeth) each and terminating some utilities and saying goodbyes and speaking in church and