Father/Son Campout



B texted me these pictures Friday night.


Our church tends to do a Father/Son Campout each year and it is usually around May to commemorate the restoration of the Priesthood. This was tricky in China. Last year, I think the boys were just invited over to the apartment of our Branch President and they had a BBQ in his apartment’s courtyard with hot dogs and such. This year, our district (3 English speaking congregations of our church) decided to camp together. The location was out near the Ming Tombs in far far northern Beijing.

There were a lot of crazy logistics to work out. B had to work Friday until 4 ish, then get to the right train station with all four boys and their overnight stuff at the right time to meet someone from church who was going to pick them up and drive them to the camp site and loan them a tent and sleeping bags. That all took forever. Meanwhile, we also had to work out our Saturday logistics. A sweet friend from church was going to teach some of us how to make Chinese food. So Saturday morning, Princess Sparkley and I had to be on the eastern side of Beijing, an hour from home. And to make things more difficult, Saturday was also when B had his HSK level 1 test, the first in a series of Chinese government-recognized Chinese language tests. And I think his phone battery was dead, making it difficult for us to coordinate.

PS and I went and cooked and left as soon as we could, traveling to a north/central part of Beijing to meet the boys at the university where B’s test was taking place. But we hadn’t quite worked out how/when/where the meeting would happen. And then phones weren’t working. B ended up getting to the school and leaving the boys with their luggage near the front courtyard area while he went to take his test. He’d left them with some money and when PS and I showed up about 15 minutes later, luckily showing up at the same gate to the university, they had just returned from buying water outside the gate from a street vendor. We waited together for B to finish and then all headed home together. I should mention that Squidgems was sick. He’d seemed okay, maybe not perfect  when he left for the campout the afternoon before, but he was feverish and drowsy when I met up with him the next day.



B took these beautiful pictures at the camp.










Youth Conference in Hong Kong – a guest post by PS


I just had Youth Conference in Hong Kong, and it was SOOOOOOO much fun!

At the transfer to Airport Express, getting ready to leave!
Opening exercises on Friday. I’m in the front row on the left.
A sign at Community Sports, where we were staying. Everyone kept joking that it was the creepiest sign they’d ever seen.


My cousin Pickles gave me a stuffed platypus key chain before I moved, and Bobby Joe came to Hong Kong with me!


We got super cute water bottles and drawstring backpacks.
Outside the temple on Saturday for our Family History class.
The Hong Kong temple! So pretty!


When Will saw this picture, he joked that this is the only church sign that says VISITOR’S WELCOME in China, because every other sign says COME BACK WHEN THE CHINESE BRANCH IS HERE.
(We’re not allowed to talk to Chinese members of the Church.)


Getting ready for the dance!
We went on a walking tour on Sunday, which was annoying in our fancy Church shoes, but we got to see the skyline.


An abandoned fishing pole fishing in Victoria Harbor.


It was so foggy that the tallest building in Hong Kong disappeared!


It is possible that this might be the cutest statue ever!
I love Hong Kong!
I love all the British influence in Hong Kong!
Cars drive on the wrong side of the road! Floor #1 is called the Ground Floor!
(That caused a lot of confusion.)
Piecing a scripture together during The Amazing Race.


My team at the finish line for The Amazing Race.
The table I was at for the Service Project on Sunday.
Team yellow! Also known as the best team! 😉
Silly picture!
The whole entire group of youth from all over China, Hong Kong, and Macao,
Silly picture with everyone!



I loved it so much! We got to do baptisms for the dead in the Hong Kong temple, and we got to make dinner for a bunch of the domestic help in the one branch, and we got to have a dance, and we played The Amazing Race, and went on a walking tour, and we did lots of other fun stuff! We made a WeChat group that everyone from Youth Conference is in, and we’re sending out pictures through it, so I might have more pictures to add to this post later. It was SO MUCH FUN!!!!!!!! 😀

Hong Kong – Day 2


Every morning Buddy and I got up, got dressed and went out in the neighborhood in search of bakeries and grocery stores where we could buy breakfast to bring back. The other kids slept in a little (but were usually awake when we returned) and B could start out his morning working on reading, catching up on the news, etc.


Buddy is a HUGE fan of 7-Eleven (and their Slurpees) so we’d been excited to find out that

(some of) the 7-Elevens in Hong Kong have Slurpees.


Money here is way more exciting than in Beijing. First, instead of dividing by 6 (now 6.5) to get the US price, divide by 8 (or more accurately 7.77). But it looks cooler and they have 1, 2, 5 and 10 dollar coins! So British! B tweeted, “My 1st time in a country w/ competitive note issuance. We’ve had money from 3 different banks so far! Might be the highlight of my trip!”

Buddy and I, along with breakfast-like foods, also brought back new candy to try. For some reason, there is no Cadbury chocolate in Beijing so we were excited to have it in Hong Kong.

A lot of the stuff we wanted to do (Big Buddha and Victoria Peak) involved being able to see a view. The air pollution in Hong Kong wasn’t bad (compared to Beijing) but it wasn’t great and add to that fog, so we skipped both of these destinations. Victoria Peak is where the post card pictures of Hong Kong everyone is used to seeing is taken from. It would have been nice, but we’d only be looking at fog.

Outside our hotel there was a double decker tram stop (in Hong Kong, they are called ding dings by the locals because of the bell sound they make). This was super fun for everyone.

 On the tram around Hong Kong Island.



Our first stop was the Central-Mid-Levels Escalators on Hong Kong Island. In the morning, they go down (toward the northern coast of the island) and the rest of the day they go up. It’s a series of maybe eight escalators.

Next would have been Victoria Peak but instead we walked around a bit (making our way back down from the Escalator’s top) and made our way toward Star Ferry to ferry across to the mainland part of Hong Kong.


Next, exploring Tsim Sha Tsui, Mongkok and Kowloon areas of Hong Kong. We wandered around looking for lunch and ended up getting a variety of pork buns (zhu par bao or maybe Char Xin), pineapple buns (bo lo bao), cocktail buns (coconut -guy may bow), egg tarts, etc. from a bakery. Then we made our way to the subway and headed toward the Hong Kong LDS Temple.

I wish I’d gotten a picture of our little camera tripod wrapped precariously around a street sign pole in order to capture a self-timer picture of our family in front of the temple.

It was late afternoon by now and we were pretty warn out (and pretty far away from our hotel), so we headed back to Hong Kong Island, had dinner (at Uncle 4… picture below), got Slurpees at 7-Eleven and tried some new candy.


 Once we got the kids in bed, B started flipping through different tv stations and came across a live horse race in Hong Kong. Our hotel was right next to the Happy Valley Racecourse so we looked out the window. The track was lit, but we could only see 1/4 of the track so we had to wait until the next race started on tv and then watch for horses outside. Sure enough, it was live from our race track!


President Nelson visits Beijing


With only about two weeks notice, we were told about a special member devotional. Elder Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles, was going to be speaking to us (just our district, 3 branches in Beijing and 1 in Tianjin) at our church building. 

We arrived and were privileged to hear from our area authority, Elder Toronto (he lives in the district, so we see him frequently) as well as Elder Sam Wong and his wife, Elder Gerrit Gong and his wife and ending with Sister Nelson and President Nelson. Each of the speakers before President Nelson spoke very briefly (5-7 minute). Elder Nelson spoke for the remainder of the time that wasn’t music. He spoke of his history with China (he’s lived here and speaks Mandarin), a lot of this is summarized in the Deseret News article below. During his talk he offered an apostolic blessing to the congregation. It was neat because going to the fireside, Squidgems wasn’t feeling well, it was his bed time and he was sleepy and as the evening went on his ttemperature seemed to get higher and higher but he fell asleep on the train ride home and now other sign of illness ever showed itself.  After his talk, Elder Nelson asked everyone to remain in their seats for a picture of the leaders, their wives and the congregation (I’m hoping we’ll get a copy of this picture) and then he invited everyone to come and shake his hand. So generous of him!



One of my visiting teachers snapped a photo at the perfect time for us. This is our family lined up to meet President Russell M. Nelson and shake his hand. Princess Sparkley is in yellow, followed by me in red holding Squidgems in red/blue actually talking to President Nelson in the picture, then Buddy, Little Guy and B.

I asked the kids to write about it in their journals. I made a point of making Squidgems look at him. President Nelson and his wife said something about Squidgems being shy and I said he was just tired. He said something to Buddy about there being school tomorrow. For the most part, they were thanking us for being there.



The Primary had an Easter activity.
Hunting for Eggs on Sunday around the apartment.  He’s looking at a list telling him which eggs are for him to find.  Funny thing, it’s not colors or pictures, but words, so the list is unreadable to him.
We also didn’t have baskets so he used this Thomas backpack. He’s been wearing it, backwards and full of eggs, all week.
I failed to get a picture of the kids all dressed up. It wasn’t anything special anyway. We didn’t have baskets. Thankfully, the Primary activity supplied us with eggs and we stuffed them with tiny Dove bars, snack sized Snickers, Skittles and sour gummy worms.

Tie Dying

PS’s church Young Women’s activity this week (4/7) was tie dying t-shirts at the young women’s leader’s apartment. The shirts all turned out great and everyone had a fun time. One yw was out of town (-1), the leader’s niece was visiting (+1) and there are three leaders (-3). So, only three of these are actual young women in our branch. Actually, the two branches are combined (-1), so only two of them are yw in our branch. 🙂