China Trip—Day 6

January 23, 2006

4:45 PM The Friday night meeting was rescheduled for tonight. Just found out it has been canceled again. Same as before.
4:28 PM So far we’ve seen two church buildings–a Three-Self Church and another that might have been a Catholic Church.
4:24 PM By the way, there is a thriving ex-pat group here called the Beijing International Christian Fellowship. Hundreds attend the east branch (in the Embassy Row area), and there is a growing west branch that attracts several hundred students. You have to be an ex-part to attend. They ask to see a foreign passport at the door. It was while attending BICF last year that I met the folks from ZDL Books. They have many small groups that meet throughout the city and hope to open several new branches in the future.
4:15 PM I have not said much about the meetings we had for various reasons. The big meeting on Friday night was suddenly canceled. We were to meet at a hotel but it was canceled by the hotel at the last minute. Various reasons given, but probably because it is near Spring Festival and larger meetings are discouraged. This sort of thing happens from time to time and you just roll with it. My hosts did not seem perurbed or particularly surprised.
12:15 PM Beijing has a thriving Arts District that preserves the ancient Chinese practices of paper-cutting, ornate calligraphy, pottery, and scroll-making. You take a taxi to what seems like an older section of town, then you walk through a narrow alley past shop owners who call out, “You come in. We have good price.” Finally you come to a tiny shop that is so narrow that I can almost stretch my arms from one side to another. It’s a little Beijing miracle–a scroll shop run by “like-minded” people who sell beautiful hand-painted wall hangings adorned with Scripture verses in Chinese. It is a sign of the new trends in China that such a store could exist at all. The owners unashamedly put verses in the store windows. I think they have one that says, “The Lord is My Salvation” in English. Earlier this week the owner and his wife welcomed us as brothers and sisters and we had a good time of fellowship together. This time the owner was by himself and was watching a video about Paul when we arrived. I have a picture of Marlene and I with the owner that I hope to post later.
10:38 AM We just found out that through a mix-up, we won’t be staying at the Mac Center tonight. So we packed in a hurry and made reservations to spend our last night at the Holiday Inn Chang An West. Once we check in, we’re heading for the scroll shop.
8:04 AM This will be a busy day because we have to make a trip to the scroll shop, and Mark leaves this afternoon for Thailand. The ELIC teachers have almost a month off during Spring Festival. They gather in Thailand for a conference followed or preceded by quick vacation visits all over Asia. Since the teachers are all college-age or older, they fan out to places like Singapore, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, India, Guam, or the interior of China to do some exploring. And this is the time when families come over for a visit.

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