Hello Faithful Readers. It has been another two months since our last post. In that time Maggie has returned to the US for good and I made a quick visit to the US to see my sister graduate from seminary and my niece graduate from high school. Someone wondered if we could still call the blog 647 Miles Apart since were were now so much farther away, but I am resistant to change in general.
I thought not having any of my family here in China would make it even more lonely. Perhaps it was the visit home, or the fact that I am now so very busy every day and even on the weekends, or maybe that I have only two months left here, but I seem to have a new peace and patience, even to the point of thoughts of returning for a longer stay sometime.
Though I could write much about my thoughts in that direction, I promised a post about church in China and so the next few days will bring stories of my experiences in my quest to find other Christians. Here it begins…
Church in China (part one)
One of the things I most missed when I came to China was my church family. Church has been a part of my week from infancy. In the US, six days of the week were spent at my church since I also worked there. So not having a church to call home left a big hole in my life in China.
Since I had heard that Christianity was a sensitive subject in China, I had been keeping quiet about my faith. I wore a cross daily hoping someone might ask about it. I had tried searching the internet to find a place to worship but as I was behind the Great Firewall information was limited (plus I still didn’t really know where I was living).
One day I was riding an elevator with some of the preschool teachers. When the door closed one of them with passable English asked me, “Do you believe in God?” My pulse traced a little and I nodded. She motioned to two of the other teachers and told me they believed in God too as they looked at me with bright, eager eyes. “Finally!” I thought.
I asked the two if they went to church and was pleased when one of them nodded. “Take me!” I said eagerly. She nodded. Our elevator ride was over as was our discussion.
I kept waiting for the invitation to go to church with her. The other teachers lived in a dormitory in the apartment building next to mine. I didn’t see them apart from school so I didn’t know how they spent their weekends. The weeks of waiting began to add up and eventually became months.
Aside: Someone mentioned it would be nice to have more pictures. I’ve been taking pictures aplenty always with a thought of the stories I would tell you. At first, behind the firewall, it was hard to get blog posts published let alone pictures. But now that we have a way to tunnel through (called a VPN–for those planning a trip to China a necessity if you wish to still have decent internet access) posting pictures isn’t a problem. So, just to start wading through the big backlog, here are some somewhat related pictures. ;-D
When I first arrived in China, the Yanjiao preschool was just getting started. The building was new (one of the tasks Maggie, Molly and I had was to decorate a room “western style”). We didn’t have a kitchen yet, but we had a cook. We would leave the preschool at lunch time and walk to the cook’s apartment which was in the building behind the preschool. [It was on one of these trips that we had the elevator discussion about church.]
We all scrunched around a small table sitting on chairs, stools, overturned buckets, and anything else that might make a sitting place. The two cooks are on the far left and far right.