Sunday, August 17, 2008


We received an email today from one of my fellow teachers at the Shiyan University in ShuangTaShan, Chengde City, China. Her name is Belinda Bu and she is currently on holiday (vacation) in Guilin, China after experiencing some personal health concerns. Belinda sent us several photos from the Guilin countryside and nearby village areas.
She, her husband Dave and daughter Sunny, became my very good friends while I was living in China. They also became my unofficial tour guides whenever I wasn't teaching class or tutoring some of the University staff. Mr. Bu was a great host, a wonderful friend and made certain that I received the royal treatment whenever and wherever I traveled with them.

It's always great to hear from these very, very special friends in China. Several of my students have also kept in contact with us via emails, text messages and even an ocassional phone call. They remember well - and often remind me of - the times when Lynne would call me while I was teaching a class. I would put my cell phone on speaker and let her talk to the class. They would shout back to her in English and Chinese. . .some of them were confident enough in their English that they spoke to her directly on the phone.

They were fascinated. . .and it was a great time for them - and for Lynne. On more than one ocassion, they would hand the cell phone back to me and ask, "Doesn't your wife speak English? I am not understanding all of her words." This, of course, due in large part to Lynne's honey-warm, smooth but sometimes deliciously molasses-sweet southern accent.

Also because Lynne has a tendency to use such phrases as . . "ever li'l whip stitch" . . ."rippin' and runnin'" . . . "grabbin' and snatchin'" . . . "oh, bless your heart" . . "y'all are just sweet as the dickens" and the ever famous "y'all hug up on my hubby and give him a squeeze for me"! That last one particularly mortified some of them (especially the girls) when I translated it from southern speak to English and subsequently into Chinese. We still get a good laugh when we talk about it and Lynne loves to tell the story.

I really 'miss the dickens' out of my friends, associates, students, fellow teachers and the Chinese people in general. . . and we look forward to going back for a visit soon. Lynne is even more eager and excited to go after watching the Olympics and several documentaries/specials on Discovery Channel Atlas, etc. We hope you enjoy these photos from Guilin and can begin to experience, in even some small measure, the love we have for this very beautiful place and its people.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Today (Saturday) we drove up to Tell City, Indiana to visit Sister McFarlane and her companions, Sisters Ita'aehau and Zamudio. It was a fun filled day and actually somewhat bitter-sweet . . . especially for Lynne. In little more than one week, Sister McFarlane will leave her mission in Kentucky behind and depart for home in Morgan, Utah. We, along with many others, are really going to miss her. It's always a bit difficult for Lynne whenever one of 'her girls' goes home. Even though she is very fond of and close to all of the missionaries, Sister McFarlane - like Sister Roque before her - soon became one of Lynne's favorites.

We gave Sister 'Mac' (her real first name is Jacci) a farewell gift and treated all three of them to fun times in Santa Claus, Indiana (home of Holiday World Amusement/Theme Park and Splashin' Safari). Holiday World has the number one rated wooden roller-coaster in the world and some other awesome rides. You can check out Holiday World at the link we added in the sidebar.

The entire city of Santa Claus is completely be-decked in Santa Claus and North Pole themed regalia all year round. Christmas arts & crafts stores, candy stores, even a fully staffed Santa's workshop are among the many places to see and visit. One of the places we stopped into was called Santa's Christmas Candy Castle. Neat place. All of the tables and chairs were pretty much miniaturized to kids' sizes. Lotsa fun and some great homemade chocolates, 'cold' hot cocoa (that would be chocolate milk-shakes) and divinity. We also took them out to dinner at a nice restaurant called The Patio where we introduced them to frog legs for the very first time.

There was some initial hesitation, especially by Sister Ita'aehau, when it came to the frog legs. There was, on the other hand, NO hesitation whatsoever from from Sister Zamudio. . .she simply refused to even contemplate the ordeal. Sister McFarlane, hardy-stock country girl that she is, attacked the frog legs with zeal. Ita'aehau needed more coaxing and convincing, but ate her fair share after being assured that frog legs were indeed 'seafood' and not 'swampfood'. "If they're seafood, why don't I see them in the ocean?", she would ask.

After a wonderful dinner we accompanied them down to the banks of the Ohio river for the fireworks display celebrating the Tell City Days Festival. They had been invited by several members of the Tell City Branch. Great fireworks and the night was perfect. . . no wind, 80 degrees and beautiful. We had originally planned to stay overnight and attend church in Tell City with the missionaries, but there were absolutely NO motel rooms available because of the festival. Bummer. . . so we just took the sisters back to their apartment and drove back home to E-town. A really good day.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


I pulled some photos off the internet and put them together for a brief slideshow of the Beijing opening ceremonies. That was an absolutely jaw-dropping, eye-popping, awe inspiring, breathtaking, display! AMAZING! Hope you enjoy this.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Last week, Cheniel and Kayden stopped in Idaho Falls to pay a visit to Gramma and Grampa Great. It was Grampa's birthday so the visit was a nice surprise present for both him and Gramma Hutchens. Like all of the grandkids and great-grandkids, Kayden has always been fascinated by the mounted animal heads and other trophies hanging on the walls and otherwise displayed in Grampa's den. Many of those trophies are a result of dad's safari to Africa and his hunts in Canada twenty years ago.

Included in his collection are a kudu, nyala, impala, red hartebeest, black hartebeest, blesbock, water buffulo skull, caribou, pheasants, badger, mule deer, tarantula, iguana, red fox, scorpion, antelope, bear skull, blackbear rug and who knows how many other critters (including rattlesnakes in the basement freezer). One of Kayden's favorites is 'Sven", the blackbear rug. He's never been frightened or taken aback by any of the animals and has especially enjoyed romping around on Sven since he was an infant.

While Cheniel and Kayden were there, Aunt Susan, Whitni and Lauren stopped by and a good time was had by all as evidenced by the pictures in the slideshow below. Susan even brought her new dog . . . at least, she says it's a dog. It's a white pomerainian that evokes images of an albino lab rat on steroids that just came out of the clothes dryer. Got it? Get the picture? Totally out of character with the other dogs she has owned. She's losin' it man.

Before Cheniel and Kayden left to go home to Utah, Grampa Great gave Kayden a trophy of his own - a bobcat skull. Kayden couldn't believe his good fortune. He threw his arms around grampa's neck and smothered him in kisses and hugs. He also told his Gramma Great that he loved her 'more than all the stars in the sky'. Kayden plans on placing it in a plexiglass case and Cheniel will forward some pictures later. Another responsible, gun totin', target shootin' and huntin' lovin' kid is born, thanks to his mother and his great grampa. You gotta love it.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Three and a half weeks ago, Lynne received the results of her visit to the doctor for persistent coughing, headaches, chills, etc. She was diagnosed with double pneumonia, which came as a surprise to her. "It's not even cold outside, how can I have stinkin' pneumonia?", pretty much summed up her reaction. But she did, she still does, and it's gradually getting better. She was placed on a regimen of antibiotics and cough medicines that seem to have helped, but she still struggles to keep her stamina and endurance at the levels to which she is accustomed. My problem has been trying to convince her that pneumonia isn't something you just overcome in a day or two. I've not been meeting with an abundance of success in my efforts. She still pretty much does what she wants, when she wants . . . and then pays the price when she realizes she's over done it . . once again. She just smiles, looks at me and bats those baby aquas and says, "But honey, I been bein' good." Yeah right.

One of the advantages of having so many missionaries in our home, is that we get to stay in touch with a lot of them when they go back to their homes and go back to school, get married, etc. We have even heard from the parents of some of these missionaries. That's pretty cool. It's very satisfying and we really enjoy keeping up with them. Tonight was a good case in point. We just got off the phone with one of 'our girls', Sister Roque and her husband. We talked to them for over half an hour. Sister Roque (Madella) was in the Phillipines and her husband, Tim, was in Salt Lake. They were married April 12 this year, but Madella had to return to the Phillipines and is awaiting her new visa. This has been a very long, frustrating and time consuming process for both of them. It was so good to hear her voice. She came to Kentucky from her mission at Temple Square, remained here 5-6 months and then returned to Temple Square to finish her mission. We paid her a surprise visit on Temple Square when we flew out there last fall. She had no idea we were coming and cried when she saw us. She called us Momsie and Pops, even while she was here in Kentucky. She, like all of the others, is absolutely adorable.

We also got a call from Sister Hartmann earlier this week. She is home in Boise, making preparations for the winter session at BYU-Idaho in Rexburg. She is kinda bummed because we were initially planning on being moved back out west by now and the plan was for her to stay with us while she went to school. She has, however, forgiven us that grievous sin. She really misses Kentucky and will be coming back here in September. She is going to stay with us and we will take her on a tour of some of the places in Kentucky that she didn't get to see while she served here. We are also going to take her to visit some of the areas she served in while here. Cool.

Sisters McFarlane and Ita'aehau sent us a letter last week. They were transferred to Tell City, Indiana a couple of months ago. We are still going through withdrawal for them and Sister Nakajima who returned to Temple Square (like Roque) at the same time they (McFarlane and Ita'aehau) were transferred. Sister McFarlane goes home in three weeks to Morgan, Utah. Sister Ita'aehau still refers to herself as the 'Polynesian Princess', a name Lynne coined for her in the short time she was here. They don't know it yet, but we are going to drive up to Tell City in the next couple of weeks and pay them a surprise visit on P-Day. Hard to believe so much time has gone by and so many sisters (and elders) have had such an impact on our lives. We have also heard from Sisters Curtis, Hair (both married) and Jensen and Gregory among others and several elders also.

And then there's Sister Anderson who went home to a 'new' home and a new country two months ago. Although she never 'officially' served in Elizabethtown and was never in our home, she was here for three days with Sisters Curtis and Roque and knew Lynne from seeing her so many times at the Mission Home for transfers. Sister Anderson dubbed Lynne the surrogate 'Mission Mom' and was almost single handedly responsible for spreading that title throughout the mission. She was called to and left for her mission in Kentucky while living in nearby Pennsylvania shortly after receiving her Master's Degree from BYU. Four months before the end of her mission, her parents moved to England. The British saints in particular and England in general have absolutely no idea what's in store for them. That young lady has such a dynamic, ball o' fire personality. She is vivacious, full of energy and definitely does not come equipped with a volume control or a mute button (which was a real treat).