Sino-James 简明 Relations (12/29/15)

So I'm speaking Chinese and having conversations with my friends. It happened almost overnight. I thought I was gonna just suck for the rest of the trip, but now I think I'll suck less. I'm saying more in 3 months of Chinese in China than I was saying in Russian in 7 months in Russia. Granted there is something to be said in being allowed to use technology to learn and having a grammar teacher.

I met with the Elders quorum president. He was down here from a city an hour a way to go rock climbing with his family. Young guy in the Air Force. Special permission to study in China. The Skype branch covers all of China. It's pretty cool.

I'll be off the grid January 1st unless I stay in a hotel or hostel. I've got a solar charger and power bank, but it can only do so much. Even if I find WiFi, I'll only want to upload pictures and backup my phone. 


Sino-James 简明 Relations (11/1/15)

It's been insanely cold. I don't get it! I was sweating on Monday, then bam, I can't get out of bed because it's 50 degrees in my apartment and my clothes are still soaked from last night



I don't think I've experienced humidity before

I can get on American News sites and blogs. Government sites are ok. But everything loads really


I can't Gmail, or even most the time Google doesn't work. Outlook is the same. If a page does load, half the content doesn't load and almost every webpage gets a security certificate error at first

I was watching all the general conference talks that I missed today. That was nice. I taught a girl how to pray the other day


Everyone wants to be my language partner and study with me. All the ladies say I'm handsome and speak very clearly, haha. I don't have an accent like the Europeans

My Chinese teacher gave me my Chinese name. She was explaining to me a week earlier names are special and that one of her favorite teachers have her a name. In China, teachers are allowed to bestow names after thoughtful observation of the student they like. The student then feels it a privilege and honor. 简明. It's pronounced Jien Ming. My Chinese surname is Jien. My first name is Ming. People go by surnames here, so people will call me Jien. Ming 明means bright and clear. It has the sun and moon characters. 简 Jien means simple and concise. It has the characters for bamboo and midpoint.

I now introduce myself as Jien Ming. The students tell me immediately that it's a really prestigious name... so I guess it's good my name sounds cool.

She chose it because she says I "look bright and sunny" and am wise, polite, and kind.

Her words. I think it's nice I'm fitting in here.


veryone invites me to do everything. I don't have time to say yes.

Family Reunion

Dear Family!

Looking forward to Thanksgiving!

The Yes' are: Grandma Denny, Dennis, Diana, Richard,Sarah, Penny, Renee, Nelson, Jessica R., Celeste, E.J., Geoffrey, Melanie, Scott, Jessica, Melissa, Chad, Audrey, Amanda, Madeline

The Maybe's are: Joe, Beth and munchkins, Gerrit, June, Jon, Lee, Kelly

The No's are: Rochelle, Ed and boys, Kelly, Kevin and family, Jim, Lynette, Grant, Josh, Jared, Amanda,fam, Grant, Andrea, fam, Eric, Jody, Gloria, Robby, Jacob

More info. soon

Sino-James Relations: 10/24/15

Going night hiking alone by Blue Sky Hotel and resort outside of Yangshuo.  I'll be walking south of the hotel towards the dirt paths and the village houses.

Those pictures are from earlier today

That girl is one of my bestest friends here. Astrid is the English name she goes by. She knows where I can find stuff in this town.


Sino-James Relations 10/12/15

--But check out this view! It’s from my apartment window.

--Roommate is super cool.  He bought me a smoothie and food first day.  All the Chinese students here are great! I help him with his homework, he helps me with mine.  I’m having a blast!  I’ll be able to get down a good amount of Chinese before I go

-This city is nuts. No driving laws. Cars drive on the wrong side, pedestrians step in front of cars. Pedestrians truly have the right of way here.  All the scooters and cars will come within a few inches of you, but they all manage to swerve around. Everyone here are like Jedis. They know their surrounds really well.  Pedestrians can trust no one will hit them, cars and scooters trust the pedestrians to not make huge movements while walking in the street.  It seems chaotic, but it’s cool to see.

Sino-James Relations 10/11/15

Jim’s in country and getting settled in.

According to him:

--I made it to the school but only with the mercy of strangers that came to my rescue like little angels. One even kept a taxi driver from ripping me off.  Classes start tomorrow so I’ll start picking up the language.

--I haven’t slept for 48 hours because I was running to catch buses and metros. Luckily picking the correct routes, but I’m here, and all the students, including my roommate are awesome.