I’m starting to settle in a little better. I’ve gotten out and explored by riding the bus around and walking around a bit so even with the language barrier I’m feeling more comfortable being able to get myself around. My computer has also been set up on the internet so I can peruse Google Maps and feel so much more connected than before.
Today, being Sunday, we got together for church, Aaron, Melissa and I. We make up the group in Hefei as part of the virtual branch in the China International District. The Spirit can do wonderful things in helping calm the soul. I am so grateful for the technology and the permission from the Chinese government that we can meet as members of the church. We are not allowed to actively or passively proselytize the gospel but we may meet together privately as foreigners for church meetings.
Each Sunday, we will gather around our computers or phones to call into a conference call for our sacrament meeting and then rotating weeks for Sunday School, Relief Society and Priesthood for the second hour. We can also participate in Institute each week and do home and visiting teaching over the phone or computer.
I received two callings today, one on the branch level as co-group leader for our little group and one on the district level as a Young Single Adult representative for our branch.
Another thing that has helped me settle in a little more was a trip to the Metro store. It is a German store kind of like Costco. Since it is a foreign store, you can find Western food and brands. Knowing that I could get some of these things and find comforts of home nearby is so nice. Now I can have great Chinese food from local places and have some of my favorites from home. Some people would not understand how much this helps with homesickness. I had KFC yesterday and it was amazing what greasy fries and a chicken sandwich can do for you.
Another random observation for you of Chinese culture; since I’ve been in Hefei there have been fireworks set off every day at different times and who knows for what reasons. They haven’t just been set off at night when you could see them in all their glory but in the morning, afternoon, evening – you name it.
It also seems there are no restrictions on where you can set them off. The other day there was I think a wedding party for someone in the building next door. I think it was a wedding with the nice shiny car all decorated with flowers and stuff. When I set out for a few hours they were just gathering. When I got back the driveway was covered, and I mean covered, with spent fireworks. I wish I had been there when they went off to get a video but I was somewhere across town.
Now all of these fireworks as far as I can tell have been amateur, personal fireworks. I can’t wait for a real professional show if they take their explosives this seriously. I only mention the fireworks because a couple of hours ago I was sitting here thinking that I hadn’t heard any fireworks today and then just a few minutes ago I heard some.
I also got to talk to my sister Susanna on Skype Sunday afternoon. It was great to talk to her and see her. I hope I get to Skype with some of the others of you too. Its free and easy. If you want to add me to your contacts, my user name is kevinsearl or you can find me by my email.