Saturday, January 15, 2005

January 15, 2005

***Click here to view the latest pictures from China. 6:15 AM Wake up to a clear, cold day in Beijing. I can hear Nick and Mark stirring in the next room. Marlene turns on the TV and we watch a Chinese game show. Very colorful, much brighter than American game shows. Everyone in the audience seems to be wearing bright green, blue, orange or yellow. The host has stylishly-long hair plus a coat and tie. He calls up contestants amid much cheering, the first fellow talks for a while, then sings something (to much cheering), then a woman in an evening gown brings out what appears to be two glasses of beer. The host and the contestant both drink the beer in one gulp. The next contestant comes out, talks and sings, and then the woman brings out what looks like two glasses of wine, the host and contestant drink it down, much cheering and merriment. Then a woman contestant talks but doesn’t sing, they bring out a smaller drink. She and the host drink it. Much cheering. A fun show, esp. since we have no idea what we’re watching. 9:17 AM Went next door and found Mark, Nick and Alan side by side in bed watching a movie on DVD on Mark’s computer. One of Alan’s patients baked a big container of chocolate chip cookies which he brought with him from Mississippi. That was our breakfast. Plus some M&Ms. Josh will come by at 9:30 and we’ll start our day. 10:17 AM We ate breakfast at the Sunshine Market in Changping. I guess you would call it an indoor food court, sort of. It’s in what looks like a small airplane hangar with translucent plastic covering. Once inside, you can walk left or right down narrow aisles as the food vendors grab you and try to steer you to sit at their tables. They cook the food while you wait. Josh ordered several dishes, one being pot stickers, the other being some kind of thick dough with a meat filling. I happened to sit near the cook. Laid out next to him were various rows of meat. Josh said one was chicken hearts. The next one was skinned baby bats. That’s hard to believe, but I guess it was true. You can order it and they serve it on a skewer. 11:06 AM We ventured to an indoor market with hundreds of vendors side by side. Clothing mostly, but also some household products. Lots of knock-off items, such as North Face jackets for 1/3rd of the US cost. Bargaining is welcome and expected. No one pays the quoted price. You usually offer 1/3rd of whatever they ask and then go from there. I walked up and down the aisles saying, “Knee-how” (more or less the Chinese word for Hello). The people laughed and said it back to me. Lots of comments about how tall I am. Many more comments because Mark and Nick are wearing shorts in 30-degree weather. 11:38 AM I met a young man from a city in southern China who is “like-minded.” Though he was not raised in a religious family, he become interested in spiritual things in the last year or so. As a matter of detail, I’m not free to say anything more at this moment, but I can say that there are many others who are “like-minded.” 1:47 PM We saw a store that sells Western CDs and DVDs. Evidently everything in the store is pirated (copied illegally). You could buy the latest movies for less than $1, including some movies currently showing in American theaters. 4 PM Josh, Mark and Nick went to a local barber where Nick got a haircut and a 20-minute massage for $2.50. Earlier today we met the rest of Josh’s ELIC team. Very sharp group of guys and gals. They have about three weeks between semesters so they are scattering all over Asia–-Thailand, India, Laos, an island in the Pacific, etc. 7:51 PM We ate supper tonight at a restaurant that serves Korean barbecue. We cooked the meat at a grill in the center of the table. Two girls from Josh’s team sat at our table. Last summer they served with ELIC in “Inner Mongolia,” which is actually a Chinese province next to the country of Mongolia. They said it was like being in a Midwestern city where everyone speaks Chinese. More laid back than Beijing. They talked about the spiritual openness of many people who were raised atheist but have curiosity about what Christians believe. Telling the story in China looks different than in the West. One young man told me that he had gained great confidence in the message because he now understands the importance of how you live day by day. He quoted the famous dictum of St. Francis: “Tell the story every day. Use words if necessary.” In this part of the world, you live what you believe and wait for people to ask questions. It happens.

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