Hello peeps. I've been so busy so I haven't been able to do a day-to-day blog entry. My brother Jeremy suggested I write a few sentences down everyday, but I can't even seem to do that. So instead for the next couple of posts I will just have topics that I will talk about: Church, Work, Tutor, Apartment etc....
So I'm going to start out with Church.
I love my branch here in Shanghai! We've had two Sundays here so far. Everyone is very welcoming! (Especially the Relief Society.) The Relief Society president is so cute and bubbly. She wanted to know all about me. She had me fill out a questionnaire about myself. I purposely left out that I play piano because I often get callings that involve playing the piano.....I want a different calling. =) But thankfully there is a lot of people who play the piano in this branch, so hopefully that will not come up. =)
In Relief Society we did a quiz that was two pages long about how well do we know the history of Relief Society. I think I got like 50%—so not so good. It was a very good lesson and I learned a lot. I really like this branch because of the fact that we are in a far country from our homes so there's a lot of stress placed upon bringing the spirit with us wherever we go, and there's a feeling of sisterhood more. The RS president talked about how because we don't have our mothers and sisters and aunts with us, that the RS will take those roles. So I think the RS have been there for multiple womens' baby births.
So anyway, it does feel like one giant family. The second Sunday we came, I got a visiting teaching assignment. I couldn't believe it! It usually takes months for the RS to give me a VT assignment. My companion is named Michaela and she seems really on top of things. I contacted my sisters and asked them to email a picture of themselves so I can see what they look like and one of them said that they are my Visiting Teacher as well! She is having a baby this week.
So for some reason I thought that there would be a lot of English teachers in my ward but we are the only ones besides the older men and women that work for the Kennedy institute. Most of the people our age actually are here for their company's business, mostly advertising. Most of the sisters don't know Chinese and most of the brethren do, so Ramsey and I are the opposite since I know more Chinese than he does. People will just assume that I got dragged along with my husband. There is a lot of women here who were not happy to go to China but went with their husband's wishes and now they love it here.
So the branch president must have a read our file because they were really excited about us and talked in the meeting about how much of a pleasure it was to have the Deweys in their branch and how much of a great contribution we will make. So as you can see people were very, very welcoming.
Our ward is an expatriate branch, pretty much if you don't hold a Chinese passport, you can go here. It's English-speaking. It's quite big for a branch. Surprisingly, I found that the branch was very diverse. There are a lot of Koreans, Japanese, Cantonese (Hong Kong), Singaporeans, Chinese American, Chinese Canadian, Chinese Australian, Indians, Nepalese; New Zealanders, British, etc....so only about 1/2 of our ward is actually American. Everyone meets together in Sacrament and the Chinese speakers have a headphone that they listen to a translator who translates all the talks. And then they separate for sunday school. Then we have opening announcements in RS together, and then they separate from us to a Chinese RS class. So as you can see it's very diverse in this branch. I will meet a lot of new cultures and we are have a RS enrichment bingo game later this month where we will discuss upcoming activities and its potluck-you must bring a dish from your home country, so I'm sure I will eat a lot of different delicious foods.
So we joined the branch choir. I haven't done that for years! But I have so much time on my hands. I don't feel that urgency to leave church like I usually do. Before, when I worked 60 hours a week, my Sundays were precious for doing leisure activities. Now I'm always experiencing leisure all the time so now Church is a very exciting thing for me and I actually look forward to going every week!
So I just found out we have district conference this weekend and guess who's speaking? Elder Dallin H. Oaks from the Quorum of the Twelve. Yes and area 70 too (Elder Anthony D. Perkins). Only in Shanghai I'm sure will have an apostle come to our branch!!! So ward members from Nanjing, Suzhou etc... will have to travel to our branch building! We're so lucky we don't have to travel. (I guess I shouldn't say we don't have to travel...actually we travel quite a bit to get to church)
To get to our branch we walk 10 minutes to the bus stop. We get on bus 69 and ride that for 20 minutes. Then we get off to go to Metro line #2 and ride the metro for about 35 minutes. Then we walk another 10 minutes to get to our building. So you can see. It's definitely a journey to get there! And they just recently changed the building. It used to be only 10 minutes from my apartment =( But I don't mind, the building is gorgeous! It's in a Japanese conference center, and the chairs, carpet and lights are all very elegant. You feel like you're in a classy hotel. They even have a bell person who escorts you on the elevators. You know the ones with the hats and gloves. =)
Anyway, so we just found out that because we're in the ward choir we are singing for the apostle this Sunday. Cool huh! We are singing "More Holiness Give Me", some different arrangement with 6/8 time.
So now let me talk to you about our new ward friends. So the first Sunday we got here Ramsey and I sat in the back. And then I thought to myself: "This is typical! We are sitting alone. We're both kind of shy. But why don't we actually go introduce ourselves to another young couple and make some friends?" So after sitting all alone in the back for about 2 minutes, we get up and look for another young couple. We sat down next to this young couple and the guy quickly said "we saw you walking in and hoped you would sit next to us!" He told us his name was Cameron. I said..."Archibald?" He looked really shocked like how I could possible know that. I told him my Aunt Joyce told me they might be in our branch. There are two English-speaking ones in Shanghai-Puxi and Pudong-so there was a good chance he was in ours.(Puxi). So anyway, I explained that my cousin Brittany is his sister-in-law. (She is married to Jordan Archibald). He recognized my mother's name. And Charlotte (his wife) said that my Aunt Joyce was the reason they met. So that was really cool. He is very nice and out-going. He gave us a lot of great advice. He also invited us to FHE at his apartment.
FHE was a blast. There was us and another young new couple (The Cannons) that went over to the Archibald's apartment. Their apartment is so beautiful. It looks like an upper-class apartment in New York. They have a beautiful view because they live on the 17th floor. So their apartment is actually located in the city center, so they can see everything. It's just breath-taking. I was thinking about our apartment and how I thought it was all nice and now this puts this one to shame-but I don't care because at least I feel more Chinese living in our apartment. In their apartment, I felt like I wasn't in China anymore. Seriously, gorgeous. The furniture...pretty much everything was 1st class. We had so much fun. We had a lesson and then we played the name game, where we put celebrities, fictional characters etc on a piece of paper and then we have to act them out and have everyone guess (kind of like Charades but there are 3 different rounds which limit what you can do.) We played The girls vs boys. The boys beat us very badly. Ramsey had a terrific time. He really got into it. There were cookies that Charlotte Archibald baked that were exquisite. She told us about this American store that you can buy chocolate chips etc.... The Archibalds and the Cannons both have baby girls and so they have a lot in common but they are still very inviting of me and Ramsey and they are the coolest friends we have here in Shanghai. I'm very grateful to have new, wonderful friends.