11-21-2011 The week before Thanksgiving

Statue from the Longhua temple

Monument to the Martyrs in Longuah, SW Shanghai

Monument to the Martyrs of the Revolution

Pagoda in Southwest Shanghai 11/19/11

The Longhau pagoda is near a temple complex and the Monument to the Martyrs museum in Shanghai

November21, 2011

Last week on Monday I substituted in the sixth grade at the same school where I taught before. It was kind of fun. I had wondered about the history and literature curricula. I looked through a history book and saw solid ancient world history. In English class, they were studying some of the same mythology that Classical School studies in second and third grade. These myths are about the right level of solid literature for students who started learning English in kindergarten when they were five years old.

It is flu season, so there was another teacher sick the same day. As I was writing my notes to the English teacher, another teacher came running in and asked me to substitute for a science class. They were studying volcanoes, a good earth science topic. I had taught about plate techtonics in the fourth grade class I taught the week before, so I had something pertinent to teach them while we waited for another student to get the video from the library. These students didn’t remember studying plate techtonics in fourth grade. I wonder if the curriculum has changed in the last two years, or if they just didn’t remember what they had been taught.

The school follows the IB program, which I am interested in because it has a good reputation. If I end up teaching here in Shanghai next year, I would like to see all the different topics that the schools here teach. I think many of them follow the IB program. I’m also interested in the Singapore and British schools, which also teach in English, and which are reputed to have strong academics.

The next day, I was sick myself. The school called me to substitute again, but since I couldn’t really talk, I stayed in bed. I am almost over the cold I had. Dad had a cold, which he cured in three days with zinc. Alas, my cold did not relent to the zinc prescription. I have had the cold for a little over a week. It is almost over now. I just have a bit of a cough left.

Saturday Dad and I went to a pagoda called Longhua Pagoda. There was a seven story pagoda, plus a temple complex with a bunch of temples with cool statues incense burning. I have decided that I don’t like the smell of incense, but Dad does. After we walked around in there we went to the neighboring park which is called the monument to the martyrs. It is dedicated to some revolutionary Maoists who were executed on the spot. The park is really beautiful even if you don’t agree with the politics. At the end of the park there is a huge statue of a man half buried in the grass. His arm is reaching out of the sod. He has a lot of muscles, but I guess he is one of the dying martyrs. The landscaping is peaceful and lovely, with treed areas, and open areas marked by walls of tall shrubs.

After that we went to Ikea, a large home products store with inexpensive furniture and housewares. We bought some silverware, plates, glasses, bathmats, a laundry hamper, spice bottles, and baking pans, and a small toaster oven. It is nice to have all these little things that make life easier. I finally have a little oven where I can bake if I want to. I haven’t used it yet. The business model of Ikea is interesting. Once you get in, you follow a serpentine path through the whole store. In the middle was a cafeteria. Theoretically, if you got lost and couldn’t find your way out you at least would have food to eat. While we were there we found the cheap bedroom set our landlord used for our bedroom. We took the subway home carrying all our purchases and then I started cooking for dinner the next day because we invited a cool family with three boys and one girl. They have grown up almost their whole lives in China. They could be you if Dad had moved us here fifteen years ago.

Yesterday was Sunday, and I taught Relief Society on signs of the Second Coming of the Savior. I loved some of the scriptures I read, like this one from Doctrine and Covenants 88:96-97 “and the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him. And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened: and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven.”

And as I was reading, I also saw scriptures which made me think of you on your mission, verse 84, “Therefore, tarry ye, and labor diligently, that you may be perfected in your ministry to go forth among the Gentiles for the last time, as many as the mouth of the Lord shall name, to bind up the law and seal up the testimony, and to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come.”

After church we had the delightful family for dinner. I was a bit worried about how to cook in my little kitchen with only two burners and a pressure cooker. I decided to make green bean casserole with a mashed potato top. The potatoes here are kind of different from the white potatoes we use to make mashed potatoes in the U.S. The potatoes are a bit gooey, like red potatoes. At first they tasted really weird to me, but after I put enough salt and butter in them they were okay.

This week is Thanksgiving. It won’t be the same without all my children and grandchildren. We will have dinner Thursday with some friends, and a different dinner Saturday with some friends. We have so much to be grateful for. We are the most blessed parents in the world to have you and your brothers for our children. Now we have three lovely daughters by marriage, and three adorable grandchildren. It is a wonderful life.

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