Thursday, April 19, 2012

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles


The sky is really that color.

Our trip to Shanghai, China to visit Kelsey and Joe and then to Bangkok, Thailand to pick up JT from his mission is one I will never forget. This is a very long post so be forewarned.
After a 13 hour flight from LA we arrived in Shanghai. We left on April 6th at 1:30 pm and landed on the 7th at 5:30 pm. We lost about 16 hours. If you want to see what we looked like check out Kelsey's blog linked to mine, not so pretty. Kelsey and Joey were at the airport to escort us to the hotel. It was so great to see them standing there. It took several trains and subways to get us there. It was nice to have them know how to navigate and to help us with our luggage.
The hotel we stayed at was beautiful with 47 floors and a revolving restaurant at the top. We stayed on the 12th floor and had a great view.

The Double Tree Hotel Lobby in Shanghai, China

The first night we went out for Indian food which was excellent.
Fresh coconut juice.

The next day we went shopping in an underground market. It was crazy. Too much wheeling and dealing for my liking, but we got a few good deals. After recovering from our shopping experience we went to explore the Bund. It is an area of Shanghai that sits on a river. On one side is the new world and on the other side of the river is the old world. I was surprised to see that the old world wasn't Chinese but more European, do to French influences in the past.

The shoping area is under this park.



Pearl Tower under very grey skies.
The New World
The Old World
More Old

Kels & Joe at the Bund.


Cherry Blossoms 

A street for pedestrians.

The new world at night.


Such a beautiful view of the Bund from the restaurant where we were the only people in it.
The next morning we headed to Changzhou where Kelsey and Joey live.

A really nice fast train.

The school where they teach english and also live.


Kelsey's class room and kids, below.




Changzhou Sheridan Hotel Lobby, so beautiful.
The host in the restaurant in this hotel offered to have his Indian chef make us vegetarian Indian food because they had nothing on the menu that would work for us. We had a feast. They were so nice to us. We loved this hotel.


The next day we took a taxi back to the train station to go back to Shanghai.
Changzhou train station.
The view from the train. Everywhere we went we saw huge high rise apartments either finished or under construction.
Food venders on the street in Shanghai

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Kelsey picking out the best roasted sweet potatoes for our dinner. They were delicious.


The next morning we had to say,"see you later" because we are not allowed to say goodbye. Warren and I left to catch our plane to Bangkok and Kels and Joe had to catch a train back to Changzhou.
 It never gets any easier to let go.


Intermission
Take a potty break or a snack break because now I tell you about our adventures in Thailand.


We flew 4 1/2 hours to Bangkok, Thailand on China Eastern Airlines, which happens to be a really nice airline.
When we arrived in Bangkok we were greeted by a very beautiful, sweet, Thai sister by the name of Jom. Her husband works in the mission office and is in charge of visas for the missionairies along with many other responsibilities. They are both so great. We fell in love with them immediately. Jom would be our driver for the rest of our time in Thailand, which you will soon see was no easy task. I nick named her The Angel on Wheels. 
A friend of Jom's needed a ride from the airport as well so she joined us as we drove to our Hotel. Her name was Aisunee. We called her Ai. She was also an angel and spoke excellent English, She had taught Thai at the Provo MTC and still does a lot of work with the missionaries in Thailand. 
When we got to our hotel they informed us that none of the rooms had hot water. When I looked at Warren he said, "that won't work". Then the desk clerk made a phone call. Little did we know that she was calling JT who was waiting in our room to surprise us. She told him that we probably weren't going to be staying there. He had told us he would meet us at dinner later that night. While Warren was taking care of getting us out of the room I went outside to get our luggage put back in our car. When I looked through the window into the lobby I saw JT hugging Warren and I yelled, "that's my son" and I ran back in. There is no greater feeling that wrapping your arms around your son after missing them for 2 years. It is the best !
JT's friend video taped the whole thing. When he sends it to me I will put it on the blog. 
After we got checked into a much nicer hotel that Ai had told us about we went to a member's restaurant for a Thai feast. Many of JT's friends from the mission were there and a couple of them he had baptized. If I would have had to fly home after that I would have thought the whole trip was worth it but little did I know there would be many more wonderful experiences ahead. 












The next morning we were invited to attend the mission transfers meeting. All of the missionaries in Thailand attended. 17 missionaries were leaving for home and 16 new greenies were coming in to begin their two year journey. They were all so enthusiastic and happy to receive their new companions and to find out where they would be serving . They would all clap and cheer as their mission president would read their new assignemnts. One of the missionaries sang a beautiful solo and another one told a very inspiring spiritual experience he had had. When they sang Called to Serve in Thai I started crying. They sang it with such conviction and power. It is far more enjoyable to hear it at the end of a mission rather than at the beginning of one. We absolutely loved being at that meeting. The Spirit was so strong.










We then left JT to finish up his last day as a missionary. One of the sister's that Elder LeSueur had baptized by the name of Sister Duck took us out to lunch. She was so kind to us, we begged her to let us pay the bill but she refused.We had the best papaya salad I have ever had. The food was really good but the company was even better.





Above is Jom our angel on wheels.



The mission office in Bangkok


Jom and Ai then drove us to a Buddhist temple and then took us shopping.









Napping cats at the temple.




Inside the temple.


As we were going out the door of our hotel to pick up JT at President Smith's home we got a text from Jimmy telling us that Meghan was being taken in for an emergency C-section because the babies heart rate was too low. Needless to say we were a little freaked out at the point. It was hard to be so far away from them and wondering the whole time while we were getting JT if they were going to be OK. We were excited though to finally have JT be with us. It also was our 37th wedding anniversary. An hour later we found out that everything went well and Meghan and the baby were doing great. Our new little granddaughter, Avery, weighed 7 lbs 2 oz and is absolutely perfect.


The next morning we started our road trip to Ubon which took 11 hours to get there do to traffic. It was Songkran which is the Thai new year and everywhere we went there were people throwing water on everyone. They would throw it  on our car as we passed by. People were playing loud music and dancing in the streets. It was really fun to see.








We gave Sister Alisa a ride home. She had just finished her mission as well. She lived in a city that was on our way to Ubon. Below is a picture of her on the left with her mother and sister.




We had fun in Ubon. We met Ice and his brothers who Elder LeSueur baptized. Ice will leave on his mission next week. He traveled with us back to Bangkok so he could see JT leave at the airport. He is such a nice young man and he will make an amazing missionary. His brother is 18 and he will go on a mission next year. We went to a ward building in Ubon where they were celebrating Songkran as well. Below are a few pics of that.




JT taught this family who were baptized after he was transfered out of their area. On the right is Ice.





Members playing Songkran.


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They fed us a delicious lunch and after many goodbyes we jumped back into the car for a 5 hour drive to Korat. It was a really nice city. 
The next morning we went to church and met many people who were so excited to see JT. We attended all three meetings while JT and other members translated for us. We really loved being there. After church they had lunch made and served it at the church. It was delicious. They even made us sticky rice with mango, my favorite.











Thank you to everyone in Korat who made us feel so welcome. We loved meeting all of you. After all our goodbyes again, we jumped back in the car for a 3 1/2 hour drive to LopBuri, the city of monkey's. LopBuri was JT's last area. 




Poor piggy's. They look so miserable. 


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After looking at the monkeys we went to some members home where they had prepared a feast for us. Over 20 people showed up to see JT and to meet us. It was so fun to listen to JT speak to everyone in Thai as if it were his own language. Where ever we went people were amazed at how well he could speak it. Missionaries truly are given the gift of tongues.






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Everyone we met were so kind to us. We are so grateful for the love they showed JT over the last 2 years. They will forever be our brothers and sisters.
One last set of goodbyes and we were off to return to Bangkok about 2 hours away. With all the traveling we did on our entire trip everything went almost flawlessly. Our rental car had some slight problems and we had to turn it off and let it rest a couple times but then it would start right back up and be fine. We were truly blessed throughout the whole trip. 
We arrived at our hotel at about 10:30 pm and by the time we got in our room and repacked everything it was about 1 am before I lied down in bed. Our alarm would be going off at 2 am so we could get to the airport by 3:30 am. Our plane left at 6 am Monday April 16th.
We first flew to Tokyo, Japan which took 6 1/2 hours. I slept most of the time. We had a 2 hour layover there. We flew 9 1/2 hours to San Francisco. I slept most of the time again. We had a 3 hour layover there, then another 2 hours to get to Phoenix.  We landed at 2:45 pm Monday, April 16th. We gained back the 16 hours we had lost going to China. That was the longest I have ever flown in one day, but it went by really fast because I was pretty much in a coma the entire way home. 
It was so fun to see everyone waiting for us at the airport. Even Jimmy, Meghan, and Avery showed up by wheel chair. It was an amazing trip but it was so good to get home.






Welcome Home Elder LeSueur