This tomb, seen along the roadside in Israel, reminds me of another tomb where God testified regarding eternal blessing and renewal.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Chinese Excursion

We returned home from Beijing Tuesday morning--early; we were in bed and turning out the lights just as the Lord was raising one very large one to begin a clear blue central Texas day outside our bedroom window: 5 a.m. Today is Saturday, my birthday, actually, and I was hoping that tonight might be the night I went to sleep before midnight and didn't awaken until the next morning--not just a couple hours later. It is now after midnight! I am not so good at uploading these pictures!

China was full of surprises. One minor surprise was the fact that Facebook and all blogs are blocked in the People's Republic. Thus, it was impossible to post. I hope to write more about various thoughts and impressions, but tonight I want to post a few of the surprises that awaited us on the other side of the globe:
We rarely saw the sun--and NOT because it rained every day. The air was extraordinarily polluted. We were blessed with one day (in 14) when we could see blue sky through the haze. Thankfully, it was the day we went to the Great Wall (an amazing sight!). On another day, we could "see" the sun. Check out the picture at the right. We are told that once upon a time residents of Beijing could see that the city lay at the foot of mountains. No longer. The view from our 18th floor hotel room did not always allow a view more than 5-6 blocks away.
  • We worshiped in a government building on our last Sunday. I had to pinch myself throughout the days of the Asian Missions Forum to remind myself that I was in Communist China.

The food:

We ate Tex-Mex twice! Maybe it wasn't the best, but I have had MUCH worse in the Lone Star State! And, oh, what a treat in China!

We learned we could eat with chopsticks. Barry thought that if we stayed long enough, we would have definitely lost weight, though. Check out the size of his bite in this picture!

Additionally, KFC appeared to be a Chinese staple--every 100-200 yards in some places and always crowded.

Unless I have missed something, today's Chinese architecture is far more advanced than in the U.S. This building was built for the Olympics, representing the "flame." Barry and I wondered whether the lack of such diversity in the U.S. was strictly due to the artistic passions in China or whether labor costs here might prohibit such daring design? Whatever it is, I loved it, and I have heard that Shanghai is even more amazing.
No gray hair! Well, almost none. I was told by someone that gray hair is disgraceful. (Is that true?) We did see this older, and I think rather distinguished looking gentleman, on the street, but otherwise among hundreds, even thousands of heads of all ages--almost everyone had dark black hair.

Many love their pet birds, taking them out for walks, carrying them along the street, and to outings in the park. (It is a bird in the older gentleman's cage on the left).

My experience at the Asian Missions Forum was a total blessing--one of the most positive teaching experiences to date and a spiritually uplifting time personally. Thanks to Gary and Danita Jackson, Beijing missionaries, and the other teams of missionaries in Beijing who played host to all of us, and thanks to Monte Cox and Dan Rodriguez for inspiring and challenging messages and to everyone who attended from various areas of China, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Russia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the United States and I know others I am forgetting--only because of my feeble mind.
A special thanks, to Timur and Irena Rahimov from Tomsk, Russia, who met Barry and I at AMF (and to everyone who helped make that possible); you are (all) a blessing to my life.

Since I lost the camera I had taken before the conference began), I am greatly indebted to Timur Rahimov for most of these photos. Longtime friend Ron Green took the one of us on the Wall.