Visiting Friends in Xi’an

Our dear friends, Ruth-Ann and Mike Martin from South Africa, taught at CFAU with us until this year. Since we were tired of American English and craved linguistic chaos, especially when talking about food, we decided to visit them at XISU (Xi’an International Studies University) in Xi’an (pronounced She-an). What an incredible trip! We went with other dear friends, Kent and Ruth Demke (I know, we are aware that 33.3% of our group shares the name “Ruth”). The Demkes have been serving as humanitarian missionaries with LDS Charities in China and are nearly ready to return home.

We highly recommend the hotel where we stayed: Eastern House Boutique Hotel in Xian. It was probably one of the only 10.0 (Hotels.com)-rated hotels we’ve ever been to. It was also very inexpensive.

Our 5+ hour high-speed train ride from Beijing was pleasant, especially since we got to share the time with the Demkes. They are such an inspiring, faithful couple who have chosen to serve despite physical difficulties. Ruth is fond of saying, “If I can serve a mission, ANYONE can serve a mission.” The Demkes have traveled extensively throughout China, working with professionals, NGOs, and people in remote areas of China who need wheelchairs. As they tell of their experiences with grateful, Chinese people who have had such difficult lives, it is often hard for them to talk through the tears.

We had been to Xi’an twice before, and thought we knew the town pretty well. We were amazed at the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that we had never experienced.

We hope you enjoy the pictures below.

A very apropos sign welcoming guests to the housing area at XISU. Ruth-Ann is to the left, Mike is taking the picture.
Our visit to Xi’an was topped off by a Sunday morning church meeting at the “Villa,” a 3-4 story used by the branch for meetings. It was in a very beautiful, expensive part of town, and the home would have been lovely as a house even though no one actually lives in it. As a chapel, it was rather surreal. Here is the room where priesthood meeting is held. I think there should be a mandatory bed for all church meetings throughout the world, just in case anyone gets sleepy. Of course, high priests would control the room.

Some final thoughts: The Martins were great hosts, as we vacated our hotel room and spent one night with them on an air mattress. They even sent us away with a bag of snacks and goodies for the train. What a great experience! When we returned to Beijing it was in the middle of a giant snowstorm, with several inches accumulating on the roads. This is highly unusual for Beijing.