Note: various links or
other references may be mentioned below that no longer apply.
Sorry for the
"Spring City" (Kunming) welcomed the new year with especially cold
weather. We are wearing heavy coats, power is being cut throughout the
city to deal with shortages, and we've heard that puppies are freezing to
death in the dog markets. It isn't a pretty picture.
In contrast, Gimli (our new puppy) was snatched from an uncertain fate to
become a beloved (and already spoiled) part of our family. She doesn't
realize it, but she was fortunate to be "chosen."
So are we all. Those of us who can read, and who have access to the
Internet, are among the world's "chosen few." We can study the past to see
what has worked and what has not, contemplate the mysteries of life and
faith, and follow the truth as it is revealed to us. We do not have to be
stuck (like Gimli's brothers and sisters) in a freezing cage with those
born around us, because someone has chosen us and blessed us with comfort
and opportunities that we are often as blind to as Gimli is!
Perhaps a worthy "New Year's Resolution" would be to make greater use of
the blessings around us, and also to be more thankful for them.
Today I did the former by registering for a private tutor this coming
semester at a different school (less expensive than the Normal University
I've been studying in). Even in a small class, I tend to sit quietly,
letting outgoing students do the talking and reading in class. But with a
tutor I won't be able to hide; I will need to be more active, and that is
very important to language acquisition. This may be the last chance I get
to study Chinese formally, so I want to make the most of it.
May you, too, find the courage to make needed changes and face helpful
challenges in the months ahead.
As I said last month, Vivian and Andrew are as busy as ever. Andrew's
Christmas presentation went great and we enjoyed sharing the holiday with
friends (see Christmas photos by clicking here). We are also looking
forward to seeing my parents, who arrive in February to join us on our
first visit to Thailand. I'll be leading at least two seminars during the
conference, as well as catching up with colleagues and friends from around
Wishing you a "Happy New Year,"
Michael for the family
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We couldn't believe our eyes. Snow! Here in "Spring City" (Kunming)! We
didn't think it ever snowed here. What a surprising way to start February!
We have several heaters running in the apartment bedrooms around the
clock, and we put a curtain between the bedrooms and the
living/dining/kitchen area (which we just leave to freeze). It's so cold
in the other part of the house that we have been eating our meals in
Andrew's room (it's the only bedroom with floor space). Of course we
bundle up to go outside, and even put a jacket on Gimli for her daily
venture into the cold, but mostly we just stay by a heater.
Our hearts go out to the multitudes in this city who have no heat, or who
experience electricity cuts (because so many are running heaters). We also
feel sorry for all the shop workers; businesses always open their front
door during operating hours, so it's just as cold inside as it is outside.
It's a common sight these days to see several sales clerks huddled around
a heater (not far from the open door) or passing around a hot water
In a few days, Michael's mom and dad will arrive from the US. After
spending a few days here, we all head to Thailand for a conference. It
will be our first visit to that country, and it is supposed to be warm
there, so we are really looking forward to it! Some of Michael's former
students will house-sit to take care of Gimli while we are gone.
Well, there is a lot to do before we leave, so we'll close here. Michael
hasn't had time to change much on the website, but there are few things
Waiting for spring,
Michael, Vivian and Andrew
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Sorry that I haven't had the time to update
this page. If you will look at the "new" stuff below, you should
understand why! Our time with mom and dad (both here and traveling last
month) was great, and we generally enjoyed our time in Thailand (see that
page for details). The cold weather disappeared while we were abroad, so
it really feels like Spring City now--and will probably feel that way
until the rains come in a few months. If you live in Kunming, I'll be
leading a few English Corner meetings and showing a few movies in my home
over the next few weeks--send me email and I'll give you details. I'll
also try to post a new update in April. Thanks for the patience!
What is new?
I update our
regularly, and recently added a third page (dog page 1,
page 3). In late March I also added photos from our
trips to Thailand,
Dali & Li
Jiang, and added some new snapshots from around Kunming (page
3, but you can also see pages
two). I finally updated the text on the "Student
Connection" page (but the links need work). You'll find new links
on our links page (including some to
websites that can help you choose a camera). There's also a new page featuring my
new school (Kun Shi Zhuan).
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A common English idiom says: "time flies
when you are having fun." I find that time flies whether I'm having fun or
not! But being busy is a lot better than being bored.
Monday to Friday I am busy studying Chinese
Kun Shi Zhuan, or reviewing characters outside
of class. I'm trying to learn at least 10 new words per day--and if that
doesn't sound like much then you are either younger than I am, or you have
never tried to learn Chinese characters! I'm doing well, but I could use a
few friends who would make me speak Chinese with them (almost everyone I
know has English that is better than my Chinese). In my spare time I have
been working on this website, corresponding to my publisher about my new
writing textbook (I hope to have a contract soon), leading English corners
or showing English movies to friends, helping other English teachers (and
occasionally former students), looking for a job for next year, trying to
untangle the mess my computer filing system is in, taking care of
Gimli (our puppy), eating with friends, or doing
things with my family. Vivian helps with most of the things on that list,
and has also been working diligently to figure out our financial situation
and file our US tax return (Americans must file a tax return every year
before April 15). Andrew is busy at school (I went there on Thursday to
see his entry in the annual Social Science fair), and he has just
celebrated his 14th birthday. Friday was a holiday for his class, so the
guys came here on Thursday and stayed overnight, watching Lord of the
Rings films and playing several games (including a humorous board game
called "FarseWars" that Andrew and I created for the occasion).
We are also getting ready for
Easter, which is Sunday, April 8, this year. I
led an English Corner on the subject last week, and will do something
similar this week elsewhere. Several former students and new friends came
over to watch
The Robe with us a few days ago--you
can see the Movie Study Guide I created for them by
clicking here. A friend has posted a
translation of my Easter for Kids story on his website--check it out!
I'm also scheduled to be in a choir next Sunday. During the week, my
family hopes to watch a few classic Easter films, if we can find the time!
I find studying Chinese to be difficult,
though I generally enjoy my classes. I have fun doing all the other stuff
listed above, but all this activity sure makes time fly, and sometimes I
just feel worn out from all the fun! There is also a long list of things I
want to do someday--books to read, articles and songs to write, people to
spend time with, web pages to add or edit, things to create, and so forth.
With all this fun going on, I wonder if I'll ever find the time for all
Another American saying comes to mind: "The
way to eat an
elephant is one bite at a time."
In other words, when you face a huge task, don't think about how big it
is; just work on one manageable piece at a time and eventually you will
accomplish the task. I guess I had better close now so I can "take another
Michael for the family
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May 8, 2007
passing of Easter tells us that spring is starting to give way to summer.
All of the activities we were involved with during April and Easter went
here to visit the archives if you missed last
month's update). It is always fun sharing special holidays and events with
our friends here.
Since our last update, we also had a chance to have
over to watch a Chinese movie, and we enjoyed several plays at
Otherwise, we are still busy with all the things listed
are combining our May update with June because June looks like it will be
particularly full. While we are expecting a quiet summer in Kunming, we
have to get through May and June first, and they are starting to run
together as one. As you may know, we are associates of the
Foundation (Hong Kong), which helps
professionals like us to live and work in China. They also do a lot to
meet needs around the country. Our JHF CEO and the Chairman of the
International Board will be visiting Kunming this week. Michael and Vivian
will be accompanying them on their visits to our JHF orphan projects in
When we return, there will be two weeks to get things in order before
Vivian and Michael travel to Bangkok for about three weeks. Vivian has
finally scheduled a little time to have some needed surgery. Travel to
Thailand is easier and less expensive than traveling to the US for this
procedure. Andrew will be staying home (with friends) since he will still
have two more weeks of school to finish and we don’t want to leave
alone for too
Michael is trying to get some studying in, even as he is preparing to
spend time helping to take care of Vivian for the few weeks she will be
off her feet. He is also waiting (1) to hear back from a university about
a teaching contract for the coming fall school term, and (2) to receive
the final contract and copy-to-proofread of his textbook.
Thanks for stopping by. We'll probably add photos later in the month of
Gimli and some of our other activities. If you live in Kunming, be sure to
write and ask about our next English Corner and movie!
Michael, Vivian and Andrew
PS): May 25 was a great day. First, I
signed a contract to teach English next year at the Kunming Medical
College, and then I received (by mail) and signed a contract to have my
textbook published by the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.
Both of these contracts had been in negotiation for a while, so I was glad
to get them signed before we headed to Thailand.
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July/August Update (July 13, 2007)
“There’s no place like home!”
We spent three weeks in June in Bangkok, where
Vivian was having surgery at one of the world's leading hospitals.
(Sorry, we haven't had time to work on any photos from that adventure, but
hope to post some in August). We really appreciated all of the notes
and thoughts that helped get us through that ordeal. The planned surgery
went better than expected because the doctors knew exactly what to do and
how to do it. However, she had a severe allergic reaction when bitten by
an insect on her first trip outside the hospital (a week before our return
to Kunming). After being treated in early July for a slight infection, we
are happy to report that Vivian is now doing very well. We hope the worst
is over. It really is good to be home in Kunming!
Andrew came through his “home alone” experience in good form. Many of our
friends kept an eye on him and made sure he had a couple of good meals to
supplement the microwave popcorn and imported easy-to-make macaroni and
cheese. He was ready for us to get home, until Vivian started getting him
to help her with all the little “pick-up and move this” type jobs around
the house (her doctor said she couldn’t lift anything for over a month).
Honestly, he has been a great help around the house. He is also helping
another friend make improvements to a
computer program (for
learning Chinese). This is keeping Andrew away from computer games for at
least a couple hours a day!
Michael finished his Chinese language classes in early July. He is now
trying to sort out several computer problems, update our website, and
prepare for his new teaching position. All initial contacts with Kunming
Medical University have been very positive, and he is looking forward to
teaching graduate students next semester.
Unfortunately, when Michael got a new passport in Thailand, it also
canceled his Chinese visa (we had been told this would not happen).
Therefore, we have to go to Hong Kong before mid-July to get work visas
for next year. This means that another friend will be spending a week in
our apartment to watch
In the month since we returned from
we have already invited local friends over to see two videos. In memory of
Ruth Bell Graham (you
can read about her on Xinhua),
we watched a documentary of Billy and
Ruth’s life, and we also celebrated America’s national holiday by watching
“ID4.” We hope to have one or two more “guest nights” in August, so if you
live in Kunming, please be sure you are on our email list!
In late August, before school starts back for both Michael and Andrew, we
will be participating in the Board of Directors meetings for the JHF
orphan projects in Yunnan. Other than that, we hope the rest of the summer
will be uneventful so Vivian can fully recuperate and we can all complete
some projects that have been put on hold.
Thanks for your interest in our lives. Drop us a note sometime so we can
find out how you are doing! And have a great summer!
Michael, Vivian and Andrew Krigline
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September (I am waiting for classes to
begin before I write the Sept. update. As of today, August 30, the
university still hasn't told me when my classes start, but I expect it to
be any day now. The students have already been on campus for a few days.)
September (Sept 10, 2007)
It feels great to be back on the right
side of the desk.
I enjoyed taking a year off to finish my book and to study Chinese, but
I really do love to teach so it is great to be in front of students
again. I'm just starting to get to know my 92 new graduate students at
Kunming Medical University, but I think the are among the brightest
young people I've had the privilege to teach. My initial placement tests
show that they have a wide range of English levels, but it is also clear
that they are very intelligent. As advanced medical students, this
should be expected! They say they have chosen my course out of other
options, so motivation is high--and that is a key ingredient in language
acquisition. So far, they show a willingness to participate, ask
questions, and do homework. I am really looking forward to helping them
help themselves over the next 17 weeks.
In addition to Vivian’s constant work to keep our family going, she has
also returned to her role as Michael’s behind-the-scenes teaching
assistant/grader now that school has started. She also continues with
her volunteer administrative duties for local Jian Hua associates (that
means lots of email, and hospitality to associates as they come and go
Andrew has started high school, but the process of education lost some
of its charm when his best friend moved back to America over the summer.
Still, we hope that he will keep up with his work and good grades while
developing new friendships. Beth is doing well (in America), and
recently took a trip with relatives to Mexico.
Health wise, Vivian’s recovery is on schedule. She knows when she
reaches or exceeds her limits with walking and shopping, but overall she
is doing very well. We are very grateful that everything went well in
Thailand, and the timing for her recovery over the summer was prefect!
Vivian and Michael were able to participate in the bi-annual Board of
Trustees meetings for the JHF Yunnan orphanage projects in August.
Everyone was grateful that Vivian is now on the Board, since she does
such a great job of keeping the minutes! These two facilities (in
Lijiang and Ninglang) are currently caring for approximately 93
children, and we can't say enough good things about the work being done.
There is great cooperation between officials, foreign administrators,
local caregivers and the children themselves. It is a privilege to be a
part of it all.
Progress on Michael’s textbook is going slow but steady. A distinguished
Chinese professor has written a wonderful preface in Chinese, and the
publisher assigned a new editor who contacted Michael last week about
layout/art changes. The book is scheduled to be ready by February, but
you can get a sneak preview by clicking on the Real World link.
I've made lots of changes to this website over the past few weeks, but
I'm too busy to write about them now (and there is a lot more to do!).
Check back in a week or so and maybe I can say more.
That's all I have time for! Thanks for visiting!
Michael Krigline for the family
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It's mid October and I've haven't found time to create our "monthly"
update. It is also likely that I will be too busy for a while, so this
will have to do until December.
Classes are going great. I have over 90 bright, responsive grad students
in a multitude of medical majors. Almost every week, they do role plays
for their classmates after reading and discussing health-related
articles. It looks like they are enjoying themselves and learning new
things, and most importantly all this oral English is reducing their
fear of speaking in front of others.
Meanwhile, Vivian is spending three weeks in the US (until Oct 22) to
spend time with our daughter Beth, her husband, and other relatives.
Sometimes a mommy just has to act like a mommy, even for grown children.
Back here in China, Andrew and I are coping as well as can be expected
without the glue that holds our family together. We have started
teaching Sunday School (grades 1-3, for foreign kids), which is a lot of
fun. Andrew is also working on a science project, which he says isn't
much fun. Too bad they won't let him do a project related to computers
(which is his favorite distraction)!
In spite of our busy-ness, I've added a few things to our website--see
the details below. There is more to add and say, but I've got to get
back to work!
See you in December,
Michael for the family
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What is new?
Click here to see photos
new students, photos of
revised version of the
to my forthcoming book, and several
resources for my current students.
In the past month or so, I added a new page
Medical University, new
movie guides (House
Lost Worlds), and new
choosing an English name and
for young people seeking career guidance).
(Dec 2, 2007)
As we do every year, we have been looking forward to the Christmas season!
We have some new Christmas CDs to add to our wonderful collection. We have
already started watching classic movies (we saw The Grinch a few
days ago; we will enjoy
Last Holiday with
students soon, and Capra's
It's a Wonderful Life
with students in our home later this month--two of those movies have
on this website). Just after Thanksgiving, my class monitors (student
helpers) came over to help decorate our Christmas tree. This year, Andrew
and I get the added joy of teaching foreign children about Christmas every
Sunday morning (grade 1-3) in Sunday School. Of course, December also
means exams for Andrew and for my students. I created a quiz this past
weekend, and have to create the final exam later this month. Add oral
interviews for my students, email from the publisher asking me to edit
parts of my
book, taking care of
(no longer a puppy), editing a monthly
teachers' newsletter, and the never-ending tasks around the
(mostly borne by Vivian) and it is easy to
see why we rarely have time to work on this website! But if you will
pardon the out-of-date sections, there is plenty to see, read, and learn.
It is easy to see the attraction of this international holiday. Red and
green decorations and colorful lights provide a bright contrast to the
dull colors of early winter. Everyone likes gifts (both giving and
receiving!). Add the warmth of baked goods and parties, and the season is
almost irresistible! If you don't know much about Christmas, there are two
articles on this website that you might find interesting. One is called
Who is Santa
and the other is Finding Christmas.
For us, Christmas is a time of joy and
peace. May that and more be yours this holiday season!
Michael Krigline for Vivian and Andrew
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