Sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin with these blog posts. I feel torn between loving China, laughing at the often ludicrous situations we find ourselves in, enjoying the thrill of so many adventures, and longing for my family & friends back home, hating the way people drive here (It’s not racist to say everyone here is a terrible driver because it’s so true.), and missing so many comforts of America. But I suppose I should put my money where my mouth is, since I am a believer in the idea that Sisters and Brothers are not Called to be comfortable and pampered, but rather the very opposite. That in our relationships with one another we should have the same attitude of Yeshua, who made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, and humbled himself, despite being in the very nature of his Father (Phil 2). So I really shouldn’t sit here and miss seat belts and Mexican food and cardio barre classes and Trader Joe’s and my yuppie green detox juices from Nektar.. Right??
Anyway, last week we had a break from school for China’s National Holiday. One of the students here was so kind as to house 8 of us foreign teachers in her home in Zhoshan (joe-shawn). It’s a small island town on the east coast of China and it was so lovely! The Chinese countryside was such a treat! Blue skies and fresh sea air were embraced wholeheartedly (although, sometimes the present odor of fertilizer was a bit overwhelming. Such is life in the country). We were treated with home-cooked meals each night. We ate like royalty sampling the local seafare of steamed clams with zesty green onions, sauteed green beans and squid, tender bitter melon soup, pale green squash and thinly sliced tofu, little tempura style fish, savory olive leaves, and salty, steamed bok choy, just to name a few. And I grew quite fond of eating rice porridge with sugar for breakfast, which our Chinese friend found amusing because she only ate sweet rice porridge as a baby. (But then again she also thought it was “silly” that in America we have to wear seat belts every time we drive somewhere and “so serious, so strict” that someone could go to jail for driving on the wrong side of the road). One night we all cooked for her parents, and while her mom had several servings of the garlic mashed potatoes, I think they were mostly being polite about our grilled cheese and vegetable soup since some leftover fish made its way from the fridge to the table that night.
We kept ourselves fairly busy, one day visiting White
Mountain Hill where we hiked walked along stone paths and explored boulders while absorbing views of the island and snacking on roasted pecans and banana chips. Another day we spent the afternoon at a beach famous for it’s sand sculpture competition. The beach was such an odd scene with most people wearing pants, long sleeve shirts, and sometimes head scarves in order to preserve the porcelain skin that is so desired in China. There were also designated swimming areas, but most people still only ventured into the water to ankle depth.
That was also the day we experienced our first “real Chinese bus experience.” Meaning we were part of over 100 people who flooded into a single bus, with no control over who we were smashed against as the tide of bodies swelled up and pressed in. Miraculously, our whole group managed to get onto the same bus. Tammy and I were close enough to the bus doors when they opened that we didn’t have to actually make any move to get onto the bus, but rather the crowd easily carried us inside. One poor girl was calling and reaching for her dad as the merciless crowd forced her towards the front of the bus while he remained near the center. Somehow (my money’s on apparation), the father was able to swim upstream to be reunited with his daughter.
Most nights, after some fruit for dessert and a game of Uno, we would climb onto the roof of the home that so kindly received us and gaze at the stars with appreciation. The last night we were there we spent most of the evening at a beach barbeque with our friend’s Family. It was an uplifting experience to see so many gathered together knowing we all shared a love for the same One. After we were stuffed to the brim with grilled squid and rice dumplings, we sang and danced around the bonfire, sharing in so much happiness. Although we couldn’t understand what was being said by most people, the Love and Joy in the atmosphere was palpable. I left smelling of salt and bonfire smoke, feeling Humbled and gratefulto this extension of my own Family for welcoming us. He is Good.