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Continued from Church in China (part 1) 

Once I had asked my roommate, Vivian, the school director, what religion she was after reading about the many different “religions” practiced in China. She gave me a confused look, not understanding what I was asking. I tried to specify, “are you Buddhist, Christian, or do you study Daoism or Confucianism?” She was still confused. I tried to mimic the pose of the happy fat man I see related with Buddhism and talked about the temples and monks. Finally she understood and told me that she didn’t have a religion but that she tried to be a good person. She said not many people in China have a religion at all. “How sad,” I thought, “to live in a faithless country.” I couldn’t even imagine what that must be like.

Every now and then I would tell Vivian that I wanted to find a church, that it was one of the things I missed most about my life in America. One day, just before Thanksgiving, she ran into our shared office at the preschool with a big grin on her face. “I found a church in Yanjiao!” she exclaimed as she grasped a small pamphlet. She said we would all (meaning all the teachers) go to it on Sunday. She wanted to investigate it for a possible field trip to teach the students about Christmas. I was thrilled—at the prospects of going to church, with the teachers, and about teaching the children about the real meaning of Christmas.

The Saturday before, three of the teachers, Secret, Music, and Flower, had invited me to lunch. We shared a delightful meal of dumplings and jovial conversation. On leaving the restaurant they asked me again if I believed in God. I nodded. They told me they had found a church and would take me there soon. I figured this was the church Vivian was talking about.

The next Saturday, Vivian, her husband, and I went shopping at a mall about an hour away in SanHe. On our way back home, Vivian wanted to try to find the church so we would know where we were going on Sunday since service started at early. She was expecting a big beautiful church building, but was disappointed to find it was a room in an apartment building. I thought it was beautiful. It was on the top (30th) floor of the building and had a grand view of the city. The room was spacious and looked church-like. There were chairs stacked along the wall that they must use to set up for service. There was a piano and some other sound equipment so it looked like they have a band that plays. I was excited. Vivian was disappointed and asked if I still wanted to go. I told her YES! So we had plans to go to the 7 a.m. service on Sunday.

Aside: Somewhat related pictures (i.e. the view from the church window)? This was the view out the kitchen window of my apartment in Yanjiao which was on the 26th floor. I don’t know what direction this was looking but I think we’re on the edge of town as there weren’t many tall apartment buildings in this direction. We were at the end of the bus line to Yanjiao, too. It was a rare day when we could actually see clouds in the sky and the mountains in the distance rather than the usual orange-tinged smog. This usually only happens after the rain or a very windy day.

August 18, 2011. Looking straight out the kitchen window.

August 15, 2011. The view to the right. It seems to be a mostly industrialized area. I wonder what goes on in those huge flat buildings…

August 15, 2011. A look to the left out the kitchen window. Grain elevators? And a yard for construction materials for the virus-like expansion all over China.

August 15, 2011. To the left of the sand pile in the last picture were these buildings. They are the closest thing I’ve seen to houses here, they even have yards. But I never saw people or cars around them. Maybe I was too far away. I always thought I should take a walk and investigate them closer but I didn’t want to get lost.

August 15, 2011. Looking straight down you can see the parking lot for the apartments and the bus yard. It’s rare to find a parking lot this empty.

Church in China (part 3)