Why I LOVE China

Did you know that I lived in China for several months?

Yup – it’s true. During college, I found out about the International Language Program (ILP). Through this program you could travel to another country and be an English Teacher for a semester. I decided to take a semester off of collage and go to China and convinced my best friend and cousin to come too.

{The Summer Palace in Beijing & The Shaolin Warriors in Xi’an}

We had the BEST time ever. It truly was a life-changing experience. We met so many wonderful people, traveled to many beautiful places and ate some amazing food! We had Fan Dancing and Kung Fu lessons every morning and had people wanting pictures with us everywhere we went – it was so FUN!

{Duck head…. and no I didn’t eat it!} 🙂

During the time I was there, SARS broke out. Remember SARS? Yeah, not so much fun. We {us teachers} didn’t really know how bad things were until our parents started freaking out {again – not so much fun!} We were just getting used to life in China and were making life-long friends. The parents wanted us to come home, and that was the last thing we wanted to do. Because of their concern and with more people getting infected {and dying}, we were quarantined at our school. That was hard because we couldn’t leave for any reason and couldn’t do any extra travel on our vacation days. With our parents’ persistence {my mom and aunt}, my cousin and I finally decided that maybe it was time to go home. We were so sad to leave but knew it was probably the best thing to do. At that time, the schools had started taking our temperatures every day to ensure we had not contracted the disease. Two days before we were suppose to leave,  I came down with a very high fever, {which is a symptom of SARS}. They thought that maybe I had the disease. This didn’t make sense to me because the other major symptom of the illness was coughing and difficulty breathing which I did NOT have. They had suggested I go to the hospital to be checked out, but I was insistent that I did NOT go because the hospital is where all the SARS patients were!! I knew that I could actually get SARS if I went to the hospital. I finally just told them that I wasn’t going to the hospital.

I then remembered that the airports would be taking temperatures and would be quaranting any that had a temperature {CRUD!!} I started to panic… and worry… and cry. I called my parents that Saturday bawling. They were  a little stressed out about the whole situation, but I remember my dad getting on the phone and suggesting that I say a prayer {little did he know that I had been praying the whole time}. After saying a prayer and reading the scriptures, I felt so much peace and knew that everything would be okay.

Monday came and I still had a temperature. We flew into Korea and as we landed, my cousin felt my head and said “You are burning up!” I was scared and a little nervous, but my cousin reminded me, “Don’t worry. If they quarantine you, I’ll go with you!” LOL. What  a good cousin, right? I prayed until we got to the end of the terminal where they were taking our temps and for those few seconds when they put the thermometer in my mouth, I felt my body cool down. No temperature. I was so grateful!! Minutes later I could feel my body warm up again. It was the craziest thing ever. I knew then and there, more than ever, that I had a Father in Heaven who loved me and was watching over me.

We made it back to California and then on to Arizona without any problems. The Local News Station had found out our story and were there with camera crews to film the reunion with our families. I must admit that it was a great feeling to be back on American soil and to be with out families out of harm’s way. We were quarantined at our homes for a week and people hesitated to come see us in fear that we did have SARS, but the fears slowly faded.

{Traveling home – masks and all}

{Some of our friends and students}

You’re probably wondering why I shared this story.

Today is the start of the Chinese New Year and this is the time of year we arrived in China 9 years ago. I often think of this wonderful and life-changing time in my life, but think of it most this time of year. This experience changed my life and has helped make me the person I am today. It has also instilled in me a love for China, and the culture, and the people. Most importantly, it has strengthened my testimony and has brought me comfort in time of need.

I truly hope that one day I will be able to return and reunite with those people that will forever hold a place in my heart. 🙂

{Some of the students in our Basic Reading Classes}

{And one of my Favorite little girls and students ever!!}

Stay tuned later today for Some Chinese New Years CRAFTS and a BIG Giveaway from P.F. Chang’s to kick off the Chinese New Year!

YW Theme 2019 Printables

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Kristyn Merkley

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative – from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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    1. Same! Never knew that such a fun experience could end in such a scary way, but at the same time, I wouldn’t change it a bit. Overall, it was wonderful!!

  1. Oh wow! I bet that was terrifying at the time! It’s amazing the things prayer and faith can do, right!?! So glad to hear you made it home safe and that you can look back on that time in your life as a good one!

    1. Hi Kassi! Thanks for the sweet words. It really was a scary situation, but also taught me so much and really has been a life-changing experience. 🙂